Third Culture

John Brockman: Books on the Web
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By The Late John Brockman (1969)

"Don't believe any of this. Place no value in the book, in the author. Give it up, the idea of author, of truth. Give up all belief: believe only in yourself. You: you are nothing but my experience. Me: I don't. I don't believe any of this."
—John Brockman

"Like a Dead Sea Scroll or long-vaulted Beatles outtake reel, By the Late John Brockman is destined to recontextualize the works of a century's greatest thinkers. First published thirty years ago, this radical, seminal work emerges only now, at the dawn of the 21st Century, as a remarkably prescient topology of the landscape directly ahead. This sequence of plainspoken textual fractals are at once soothing and mind-blowing, disorienting yet familiar. Herein lie the navigational keys to the ever changing map of human consciousness."
— Douglas Rushkoff, author of Media Virus

"The most important book since Wittgenstein's Tractatus."
— Alan Watts, philosopher, author of The Way of Zen

"Post-Wittgensteinean epistomologists first wrestled with, and are now slowly beginning to understand, the last proposition (No. 7) of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Of which we cannot speak we have to remain silent.” Brockman understands. (His words) silence themselves. His last proposition (No. 292) is: “Nobody knows, and you can’t find out.”

"OK. If this is so, why bother? Because Brockman takes the mystery of language and puts it right back into its own mystery; that is, he ex-plains the mystery of language by taking language out (“ex-”) of the plane of its mystery, so as to become visible to all before it slips back into its plane. This in itself is a remarkable achievement that has been denied to almost all linguists, for they stick to the description of the plane without seeing that it is the plane that holds their descriptions.

"Intrigued, one follows the construction of Brockman’s formidable machinery for doing the undoing, whose cogwheels, levers, pegs, interlocks, springs, etc., are anatomy, anthropology, architecture, astrophysics, biology, cybernetics, epistemology, heuristics, iconography, linguistics, logic, magic, metaphysics, neurophysiology, neuropsychiatry, philosophy, physics, physiology, poetry, proxemics, psychology, quantum mechanics, relativity, zoology, etc. to name a few. All who are concerned about the violence committed in the name of language will appreciate the useful uselessness of Brockman’s un-book.

"A remarkable achievement."
— Heinz Von Foerster, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Cybernetics and Editor of The Cybernetics of Cybernetics.

"There are certain writers whose thought is so important that it doesn't matter whether you agree with them or not. A verbal tension so powerful, an ascetic appetite so huge and consuming forces us both to accept the vision as a revelation and to resist it as a duty. By The Late John Brockman deserves to be read and experienced as few books do in these times of informational overload.

"For John Brockman is the kind of writer you both agree with and don't agree with at all. Either way you must pay a profound attention to what he says in this remarkable book. In short, sharp strokes of words, he breaks through the very forest of meaning by denying meaning, eschewing traditional forms of activities, thoughts and emotions. It is not what he says that is so valuable; it is his whole manner of negating what can be said. His words backtrack on themselves, stalk their own meanings, and thrash about in the underbrush of our sensibilities. There is a total devastation of language, isolating and withering the very hands our dreams are made of."
San Francisco Review of Books (cover story)

"John Brockman’s trilogy is not as incomprehensible as it might initially seem; indeed they are at base quite simple. The first takes information theory — the mathematical theory of communications — as a model for regarding all human experience. The second is a print portrait of Heisenberg’s theory of indeterminacy. The third investigates the limits of words as tools for understanding.

"What distinguishes this trilogy is not their informing hypotheses, which are familiar to various degrees, but the author’s unfettered exploration of their implications. I also admire enormously their style and structure, as well as their remarkable capacity to implant themselves in the reader’s mind."
— Richard Kostelanetz, author of Conversing with Cage

"A unique living fishnet which captures important ideas... there are flashes of cosmic humor, dispassionate critiques, important operations of the mind, and a super head trip."
— John C. Lilly, M.D.; author of Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer
"Part of John Brockman's radical and yet strangely ancient strategy is to embrace those various avenues beyond thought and language that lead directly toward illuminations of the present, toward, in effect, liberation. To occupy those spaces is to be very high indeed."
— Rudolph Wurlitze, author of Nog.

After Brockman: A Symposium (1974)

There are certain writers whose thought is so important that it doesn't matter whether you agree with them or not.

In 1969 and 1973, the first volumes of John Brockman's work were published. By The Late John Brockman (Macmillan) and 37 (Holt Rinehart and Winston) received little notice when they appeared. These two early works have been included in his remarkable Afterwords (Anchor Press, 1973), a book which has stirred profound interest among his contemporaries because of the serious challenge it poses to contemporary ideas of language, thought, and reality. Many people are beginning to believe that Brockman, at 33, is unique among the writers and thinkers of our time. Still, the public reception to his work remains, at best, a puzzled silence. This volume is the first attempt to remedy the situation by offering readers a series of approaches to his work.

The Symposium consists of contributions by artists, critics, cyberneticists, logicians, mathematicians, novelists, philosophers, poets, and sociologists. Each of the contributors has an established reputation in his own field: Jay Bail, Jeff Berner, Magda Cordell, Ira Einhorn, Hugh Fox, John Hackett, Dan Isacc, Douglas Kelley, Richard Kostelanetz, Paul A. Lee, John C. Lilly, John McHale, Richard Morris, Michael Perkins, R.S. Picciotto, Bern Porter, Edwin Schlossberg, Alan Sondheim, Gerd Stern, Heinz Von Foerster.

The Third Culture (1995)

"Astonishing...the most important book on how science is done since The Double Helix."
New Scientist

"Fascinating...reading The Third Culture playing tennis with someone who’s better than you are. It will really make you stretch those mental muscles."
San Francisco Chronicle

"...the Michael Ovitz of the New Intellectual Elite....High octane literary agent John Brockman has been a powerful presence in the American cultural vanguard for the past 30 years."

"Captivating....undoubtedly a valuable and engrossing document."

" A provocative author and intellectual himself....he is the lead catalyst for the book’s title concept."
The Philadelphia Enquirer

"....makes for surprisingly good reading. The voices of the scholars Brockman has edted are clear fluent and gets a good feel for the kind of intellectual ferment that attracted Brockman to scientists. "
The Sciences

"A rousing read full of bloodthirsty intellectual combat."
—Stewart Brand

"Never less than fascinating, either because some of the pundits are interesting or because they slag each other off. Oddly enough, everyone is relentlessly polite about Bill Gates. Fun to dip into."
The Guardian

"A worthy read--the revenge of the nerd is far from over, and this book might just show you why."
San Francisco Review

"Readers get the joy of listening to these fascinating people speak--sometimes from their well-polished soapboxes and sometimes with their guards down. Many of these people we know from their writings, but there's a fresh rhythm and excitement to their words when they come from their mouths instead of their word processors."
— — Recommended Book