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And now a word from Stanley Kubrick:

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

I ganked this from Tavi Gevinson, who I just adore. She featured it because, well, she has fantastic taste. It’s sort of her job. More like a calling, actually. I honestly can’t wait for the moment Tavi takes control of the world, because it will be a far fairer and more beautiful place.

Kubrick said this in an interview with Eric Nordern for the September 1968 issue of Playboy, probably in promotion (or explanation) of 2001. Apparently, Playboy used to have great interviews, along with their great fiction. The moment my mother told me that all my favourite writers were once published in Playboy is etched permanently in my brain, such that when my freshman roommate received a subscription as a joke, I made her save the magazine so I could go through it.

“These women all look the same,” I remember saying.

“Are you done, yet?” she asked, looking pointedly away.

“The fiction submission guidelines aren’t listed anywhere!”

“I can’t believe ____ sent that to me. He said he would, but I didn’t believe him.”

“He likes you. Jamming a Playboy in your mailbox is like sticking gum in your hair. Welcome to the twenty-first century.”

…Or something to that effect. (Pro-tip: Unless your target is kinky, don’t try communicating your affection with an issue of Playboy. And even if she is kinky, an issue of Playboy won’t do it. Do some damn shopping, first, and try to get something that doesn’t have fold-open samples of AXE.)

I make fun of the magazine, but I should also mention that Hugh Hefner is one of the most polite Tweeters I’ve ever read. For a guy who almost never changes out of his silk dressing gown, fills his home with models, and basically enjoys the kind of life we all wish we had, his tweets are surprisingly sweet and normal. He talks about his favourite classic films, watches Jon Stewart, and sends out birthday wishes to Playmates old and new. He sticks by his employees, both current and former, and is a perfectionist when it comes to both layouts and punctuation. (Seriously, I defy you to find a misplaced apostrophe on his feed. This man had a stroke years ago, but he still disciplines his thumbs to text correctly. Think of that the next time you type “imma” for “I will.”)

In my dream world, Tavi and Hef actually meet, and afterward she designs the centrefolds each month and meets the models and asks them how their day is going and is in general the complete opposite of Terry Richardson. I know that this will never happen (I suspect it might even be illegal), but, well, consider Kubrick’s words. It’s our own responsibility to make beautiful things happen, no matter how unlikely they are.

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  1. Tavi Gevinson is pretty awesome. I seriously wish I’d been THAT together as a 14 year old.

  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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