Simulated Reality, ‘Tower’ Director Keith Maitland, and More: This Week’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. This week, we recommend a piece looking at the implications of an unsettling obsession among some tech billionaires, a piece on Oldchella, interviews with Tower documentary Keith Maitland, and more.

Sam Kriss writes for The Atlantic about the worrisome nature of the of a side note in a recent New Yorker profile of Sam Altman; in the Atlantic piece, Kriss gets at the implications of two tech billionaires’ interest in the simulation hypothesis, and how the New Yorker article mentioned their alleged attempts to secretly get scientists to help break the world out of what they think is a simulated reality:

The news was snuck without attribution or comment into a New Yorker profile of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sam Altman, a brief sentence that might be our first warning of the apocalypse: “Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer; two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

And in a strikingly different California setting Desert Trip, aka Oldchella, the Dad-Rock festival (including the likes of the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, and more) happened last weekend. Former Flavorwire Music Editor Jillian Mapes wrote a piece for Pitchfork that neither aggrandizes rock nostalgia in all its exclusive maleness/whiteness nor dismisses the talents of the artists present:

Whatever the reason may be, Desert Trip was not an insufferable experience if you actually cared about seeing the bands. But it was also a slightly bizarre one, particularly if you were a listener who was looking towards the future as much as the past. I love this music, I was raised on it — but are we really supposed to keep on pretending that no one will ever make music this good again?

Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey wrote this week about the newly-released documentary, Tower, (about America’s first mass school shooting, in 1966), saying that the film’s usage of rotoscoped animation helps the film seem like it’s “not looking back on the tragedy – it’s living in it, a tick-tock of an afternoon’s terror, as uncertain of its causes or its outcome as the people on the UT campus were that afternoon.” Bailey emphasized how important it is for this film to seem like it’s set in the present — since these shootings have only become more and more common since 1966. Vice featured an interview with the director of the film, Keith Maitland, who described in his own words the reasons for using rotoscopic animation:

It was… really important to me that we capture the campus authentically. The animation was a tool to overcome that obstacle, but it was also a tool to engage much younger audiences. Claire [James, a survivor of the shooting] is 68 years old, recounting a story of when she was 18. But I want to see that 18-year-old, and I want to hear that 18-year-old and live in that moment with that 18-year-old. Everything that’s in the film is the words of the people that were there.

Maitland also spoke with Filmmaker Magazine; they ask him about his own experience as a student at the University of Texas, and whether stories of the shooting still pervaded campus when he attended. He responds:

When I went to the university… I expected to learn about it on campus, as an important part of the university’s history. What I discovered was that there was a complete vacuum there. I took a student tour on the first day of my freshman year, and when I asked about it, the tour guide said “you know, we’re really not supposed to talk about that.” That always stuck with me. There’s that old saying that “those who don’t acknowledge their history are bound to repeat it.” That’s just not a history that I could bear to repeat and so I’ve always wanted to understand it.

Here’s the trailer for that film, for context:

And lastly, for anyone who hasn’t yet read the New York Times’ letter to Donald Trump’s lawyer after Trump threatened to sue the paper if they didn’t take down their piece on two women accusing Trump of sexual assault, it’s excellent, and you should absolutely do so. The letter, penned by Times vice president and assistant general counsel David McCraw, ends particularly powerfully. McCraw writes:

If [Mr. Trump] disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.