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Laurence Scott is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing. His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, the Financial Times and the London Review of Books, among other publications. In 2011 he was named a 'New Generation Thinker' by the Arts and Humanities Council and the BBC. In 2014 he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in London.
It is the winner of the Jerwood Prize. A constellation of everyday digital phenomena is rewiring our inner lives. We are increasingly coaxed from the three-dimensional containment of our pre-digital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information and global connection. Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with these recoded private lives? Tackling ideas of time, space, friendship, commerce, pursuit and escape, and moving from Hamlet to the ghosts of social media, from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, from Facebook politics to Oedipus, The Four-Dimensional Human is a highly original and pioneering portrait of life in a digital landscape.
In Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert Humbert offers a memorably brief account of his parents' death: picnic, lightning. Picnic Comma Lightning, too, opens with death-that of Laurence Scott's mother-because, for a philosopher, death raises a profound existential question: How do we know what is real, especially when we have come to question the reality of so many of our day-to-day experiences? Writing from the intersection of philosophy, politics, and memoir, Scott transforms his personal meditation on loss into a beguiling exploration of what it means to exist in the world today. It used to be that our lives were rooted in reasonably solid things: to people, places and memories. Now, in an age of online personas, alternative truths, constant surveillance and an increasingly hysterical news cycle, our realities are becoming flimsier and more vulnerable than ever before. Scott's far-ranging examination charts the ways our traditional mental models of the world have started to fray. He ponders how ubiquitous cameras reframe our private lives (an event only exists once someone posts the video), how mysterious algorithms undermine our attempts at self-definition through their own data-driven portraits, and what happens in those moments when our illusions about reality are ruptured by incontrovertible facts (like the death of a parent or a bolt of lightning). A report from the front line of the online generation (Sunday Times), Picnic Comma Lightning is an essential account of how we've started to make sense of our strange new world.
**A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK** 'Laurence Scott ... writes beautifully about the experience of reality in the digital age, and about how grief changes our perceptions ... I'm besotted with Scott's writing.' Derren Brown, i paper 'Clever, funny and deeply moving... an engaging and thought-provoking journey through the fakery of modern life.' Mail on Sunday 'A stylish, playful exploration of what digital life is doing to the way we find meaning in the world.' Guardian, 'Book of the Week' ________________________ In Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, the narrator offers a memorably brief account of his mother's death: 'picnic, lightning'. Picnic Comma Lightning similarly opens with the death of Laurence Scott's parents, and the definitive ending of their deaths raises for him one fundamental question: how much of what we live through is truly real? With humour and insight, Scott transforms this personal meditation on loss into an exploration of what it means to exist in the world now. It used to be that our vision of the world was rooted to reasonably solid things: to people, places and memories. But today, in an age of constant internet debates, online personas and alternative truths, reality feels more vulnerable than ever before. Picnic Comma Lightning looks at how digital life is distorting, echoing and magnifying our age-old preoccupation with what is real and what isn't. Where do we draw the line? How is technology shifting these boundaries? And how do we maintain a sense of reality in an increasingly unreal world? ________________________ 'A report from the front line of the digital generation by someone superbly well-equipped to read and decode the signals.' Sunday Times
Random House presents the audiobook edition of Picnic Comma Lightning written and read by Laurence Scott.A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEKA spellbinding examination of the nature of reality, by one of the brightest thinkers of today.Cognitive science proposes that we have evolved to build mental maps of the world not according to its actual, physical nature, but according to what allows us to thrive. In other words, our individual and collective realities are fictions - carefully constructed to enable us to maintain our particular perspectives. It used to be that our fictions were rooted to reasonably solid things: to people, places and memories. Today, in an age of online personas, alternative truths, constant surveillance and an increasingly hysterical news cycle, our realities are becoming more flimsy and more vulnerable than ever before. Ours is now a zoomed-in perspective, where the backstage is centre stage. We are both camera person and subject, with new powers and new weaknesses. Our personal and political spheres are dangerously merging. How will the form and grammar of our feelings have to change in this over-exposed environment? Should any of our stories remain secret? How are these phenomena changing the way we live? How do we maintain a sense of reality in an increasingly fantastic world?Picnic Comma Lightning is an innovative examination of the nature of reality in the twenty-first century, one that explores the key ethical, political and neurological forces contouring our inner selves, but also the old influences of grief and desire, memory and imagination. In it, award-winning author Laurence Scott provides a lively and accessible new philosophy for this epoch in Western civilisation, one that will change the way you see the world, and your place within it.
Simon English: my big self decoy justin beiber brings together a significant new body of painted drawings by the artist that format themselves around the double page spread, with both image and text on the page to invite and resist quiet contemplation. These exquisitely delicate and brutal drawings tussle with one another for space, pulling the viewer into the energetic and colourful vortex of the artist's psyche. Diaries jostle with devotions, desires and disputes-a confabulation of friction and fiction in a place where fetish and fact collide. Simon English draws across the blank page with the instincts of one entering cyberspace. His surfing history is left only too clear on the surface of the page, or buried beneath heavy black deletions and overpainting. His are the 'old' gremlins, the monsters within that say one is too much and more is never enough. In 2004, Bill Arning wrote that for picture addicts like myself, English is the equivalent of a crack dealer . ,br> The work within the book is brought together with written contributions from Laurence Scott, who will contribute a text emanating from English's imaginary drawing database, and Sally O'Reilly, who will construct a voice for the work somewhere between art, theory, fiction and fantasy.
You are a four-dimensional human.Each of us exists in three-dimensional physical space. But, as a constellation of everyday digital phenomena rewires our lives, we are increasingly coaxed from the containment of our predigital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information, and global connection.Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows, and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public with these recoded private lives?Laurence Scotthailed as a "e;New Generation Thinker"e; by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBCshows how this four-dimensional life is dramatically changing us by redefining our social lives and extending the limits of our presence in the world. Blending tech philosophy with insights on everything from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, Scott stands with a rising generation of social critics hoping to understand our new reality. His virtuosic debut is a revelatory and original exploration of life in the digital age.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2015 WINNER OF THE JERWOOD PRIZE ONE OF WIRED's NON-FICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE We spend more time than ever online, and the digital revolution is rewiring our sense of what it means to be human. Smartphones let us live in one another's pockets, while websites advertise our spare rooms all across the world. Never before have we been so connected. Increasingly we are coaxed from the three-dimensional world around us and into the wonders of a fourth dimension, a world of digitised experiences in which we can project our idealised selves. But what does it feel like to live in constant connectivity? What new pleases and anxieties are emerging with our exposure to this networked world? How is the relationship to our bodies changing as we head deeper into digital life? Most importantly, how do we exist in public with these recoded inner lives, and how do we preserve our old ideas of isolation, disappearance and privacy on a Google-mapped planet?