The body itself can smell

In other words, we use our noses to smell food after it’s inside us, as well as before. But, in a fascinating snippet of news based on a presentation given yesterday at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting by German food chemist Dr. Peter Schieberle, it seems that our noses may not be not alone in that ability, and that other cells in our bodies are able to “smell” food too. (##)

Cells themselves will move toward volatile organic compounds that even the nose cannot smell in a process called chemotaxis.

The first part, about smelling through the mouth, is an important part of why you should disregard all those articles, usually about wine, that say “you can only taste five tastes, so any complex favor profiles are mumbo jumbo.” I mean, one should discount those based on experience alone, because, like, well, can you taste the difference between broccoli, cauliflower, kale, romaine lettuce, arugula, and sorrel? Yes. Of course. That’s six.

The second part is even more interesting, as if the body itself, beyond any sensory input, craves certain foods and aromas. Or rather, again, we need to redefine and broaden what we mean by the senses.

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (via cabbycan)

I’m sure F. Scott would have loved this movie. I haven’t read anything about it (I like to go in fresh), but at least the idea of it. Maybe what it takes to be modern is a) the automobile and b) the movie. Until we get past these things, the Lost Generation retains the vital life of the present.

Google Is Alive, It Has Eyes, and This Is What It Sees

Beautiful art by Samuel J Bland, digital collages composed from google image searches. Lacking intuition, the algorithm finds surreal patterns in mundane images. Mechanism in the articulation of a stuffed woodcock, the echo of a tiger from a fuzzy orange object in a plastic bag, these images percolate up through the digital froth of images and haunt these other, everyday objects, visual ghosts.

As I wrote before, when we imagine alternative/artificial intelligences, we tend to fixate on symbolic consciousness (i.e., the Turing Test) at the expense of what Lacan calls the imaginary, that layer of consciousness closer to animal ethology and the machinic. Consciousness emerges not just out of language, but out of a constant processing of images and environmental stimuli. Give the AI sense, then engage in a constant and distributed Turin reality-testing (Turin avec Freud), and see what emerges.