Happy site news: today we welcome our 2 new mods travelingthyme and loup! Is this viral? I received a strange book I got a strange book unexpectedly in the mail.
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Happy site news: today we welcome our 2 new mods travelingthyme and loup! Is this viral? I received a strange book I got a strange book unexpectedly in the mail. I got a book in the mail yesterday. It came from Sweden, with sufficient postage. It was in a white envelope, with my name and work address written by hand in pen. On the envelope, there was also a note that said "Will tell you more when I return! The author is given as "Joe K".
There is also a sticker that says "Warning! Please study the letter to Professor Hofstadter before you read the book. Good Luck! Inside the front cover is, indeed, a neatly typed letter to Doug Hofstadter, with the right Bloomington address etc. It is dated Nov 9, It relates to what is presumably a prior acquaintance between the letter writer and Hofstadter.
The letter is signed "The Writer". I'd reproduce the whole letter, as this is getting interesting at this stage, but then I'd have to do the same for the whole book, because it is an interesting little text, quite incoherent in an artistic way, that mingles themes from Hofstadter's Strange Loop, Douglas Adams, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The text is vaguely related to some christian themes, but also to recursion and the meaning of life. Now, I have no idea who sent this, nor can I imagine anyone I know in Sweden doing so although this is the second time I have received mysterious mail from Sweden.
The first time did turn out to be personal. If this is viral marketing, WTF? Pic here. Disclaimer: I actually know Doug Hofstadter slightly from my student days. I have expressed admiration for his writing occasionally on the internet, but not published anything big that mentioned him or anything.
What do you think? Would it be too much of a pain to scan it to PDF and post it to Scribd? Seems like others have received it as well. Just to add to the references involved: Being and Nothingness is Sartre's seminal work on Existentialism "Josef K" is the main character of Kafka's The Trial Both authors are highly critical of religion and other institutions, so this may be an attempt to leech intellectual credibility for the mystery book.
Interestingly, yes, it would be too much of a pain. I guess I'm not a good vector for this meme. But that's surely sufficient description to find out what kind of thing this is The expensiveness factor rules out the viral theory, unless the campaign is counting on their carefully-selected targets to ponder about the mysterious book online. Why don't you ask Hofstadter and if you get a response, please report back!
Seems like the kind of thing he'd appreciate. Why don't you ask Hofstadter? That isn't to say I'm assuming the letter is real. But if they went to trouble of finding his correct address and sending it to someone who presumably non-coincidentally knows him, then it's possible that they're the sort to also have been in contact with D.
What kind of contact, who knows. Maybe they sent him some random mysterious shit too. I knew of the Kafka and Sartre references, and I know the Kafka, and its not a big part of the "plot". I don't know the Sartre. Perhaps I am becoming a vector, because I am willing to work this much to discuss it. So I'll quote a bit: He got up and went to the bookshelf, the mouse slowly following him. B reached for Goedel, Escher, Bach, a book by Hofstadter where these issues are discussed. Unfortunately the book next to it was knocked over and fell straight towards the mouse.
Is there something about who you are or what you do that would make you a good vector for viral marketing, if that's what this is? It has crossed my mind that this might be an exercise in applied memetics, with Doug Hofstadter behind it all. But then, I'm a dreamer: posted by fcummins at PM on November 12, Most new office copiers have a built-in scan to PDF function.
I'm kind of curious to peruse this thing posted by Burhanistan at PM on November 12, I'm not sure. I'm a philosophically minded cognitive scientist, but not well known at all. Yet, looking at the amazon reviews, and this discussion, it appears that it is succeeding in getting people to peel it apart collectively. That's surprising. Now I'm really wondering if DH isn't behind this.
I don't think I'll ask: our acquaintance is slight. But I might if it persists. I cant follow this for a few days. I'll report back on Monday. I might, Burhan. There is a bit of a nutty to my jaundiced eye faux-Christian tone to it that does not sound like DH at all. This sounds like the launching of an ARG.
Some other recipients - 1 , 2. Could be. A peculiar one, if ever there were one. We might all be playing now, of course. Could it be both? That would be some serious propaganda, reminiscent of Edward Bernaise in the Century of Self. Hold the letter closely over a lamp or try the iodine vapor test on the letter. There may be some secret writing on it in another type of ink.
I may have just gone crazy posted by at PM on November 12, [ 1 favorite ]. No joy. It appears the punch line is "choose faith.
More book info. It's an ad for a ski resort. Oh geez. The viral is working on me at least, because after this: I have just read the book. It is completely incomprehensible. I need to find a copy of this book : posted by naju at PM on November 12, You've been around here since , otherwise I'd lean towards hypothesizing that this very question was a purposeful spread of the meme. Maybe he just really thinks ahead. See, it is viral, cause now I wanna see what all the fuss is about.
Or maybe not. Earlier this year I got a book in the mail that had been signed by Clive Barker, but didn't have a note in it. So I sent him a note and said "Hey, thanks for the book. So we were both confused.
Turns out it was a friend of mine at a bookstore in San Francisco, who saw Clive at a signing, knew that I had a bunch of Clive's books and paintings, got me a copy of the book thinking it would be a great present, mailed it, and forgot to include a note inside.
Mystery eventually solved. Point of my long anecdote, is that the vector is probably someone who knows you, and either knows the author or knows that you find the subject interesting.
Also; can I read it when you're done? As someone with more curiosity than common sense, I went ahead and ordered one of the two Amazon copies after confirming with the seller that it was indeed the book in question, mysterious letter and all. I'm afraid I've got nothing to help with fcummins questions and conjecture, but for those curious to read the book, I'd be more than happy to scan it when it arrives.
I suppose I'll follow up in this thread once that actually happens. You got this? I'm a religion journalist and I didn't get a copy! Can you send me yours? We'll do a story about it on my old public radio show. This is something I've heard about before they started mailing it.
It's funny, because an editor from a large Evangelical publisher owned by a major newspaper and television company suggested doing this at the American Academy of Religion conference in October of
Searching for Joe K
She received a mysterious book from an unknown sender several years ago and went to investigate…. In July I received, to my office address, a book, sent anonymously from Sweden. It is a short hard-cover book, in which the publisher info page was physically cut out. The book discusses, in a self-referential, disjointed, and poetic way, the meaning of life, consciousness, self-identity, religion, from what seems to be an existential perspective. Hofstadter , who is famous for his work on the mysteries of consciousness. And there were a couple of words physically cut out from the text.
Joe K.’s Being or Nothingness Revisited: A New (and Bizarre) Interpretation?
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