Living into Focus, by Arthur Boers

Spring books

My fifth-grade son used to walk around the house pretending to be texting. Rehearsing what has become a central practice of 21st-century life, he would move his thumbs across a cast-off cell phone that no longer worked. Finding no solace in the fact that he had the rest of his life to be beholden to gadgetry, he had decided that feigned distraction was better than no distraction at all.


Christian juxtapositions: How We Became Posthuman

There is a good chance that you are a cyborg. A cyborg is a cybernated organism—which is anyone whose normal biological systems are en­hanced or extended by technological mechanisms, especially electronic and communication devices. The word "cybernetics" comes from the Greek word for "steersman" (kubernetes) and describes one who is in control, who is both flexible and agile in response to a given environment and who can tame it to certain ends. To the extent that we exercise such control through technological devices, our lives have become cybernated. If you have a hearing aid, a pacemaker or an artificial limb, if you use a computer or telephone or drive a car, you are a cyborg.


The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet, by Freeman J. Dyson

An English theoretical physicist, Freeman Dyson came to America after World War II and held a coveted position at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. Now retired, Dyson has one of the most interesting minds of our time, concerned with topics ranging far beyond relativistic quantum field theory, the discipline that made him famous among physicists.


Signs of the times

Holding on to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium, by Albert Borgmann


Plowing the Dark, by Richard Powers

The abundance of ideas Richard Powers throws at readers can feel overwhelming. As I read this novel, Powers's seventh, I was tempted to try to identify each literary allusion or reference to popular culture. Yet, though Powers is one of our foremost novelists of ideas, his narratives engage our attention through characters who do more than toss around profound thoughts.