Hi, I’m Emma, welcome to my website. I’m an instructor and PhD student at Virginia Tech, where my research exists at the intersection of continental philosophy, critical data studies and political theory. I also write fiction, poetry and music.

Disclaimer: there’s not much rhyme or reason to what I post about on o-culus. Early 2018 has seen a lot of experimental creative writing and music YouTube.

A web-based version of my CV is at this page, and here is a downloadable PDF:

Emma Stamm CV


Behind this link is a page where I’ve indexed a lot of recent writings, some published.
My academia.edu homepage has other content, including teaching materials.
Music: http://stamm.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @turing_tests
I dig it when people put things here
New for 2018, this site has a blogroll! Yes, like it’s 2003. Check it
And you can contact me via email: stamm@vt.edu.

Thanks for visiting!

— Emma Stamm

writing warnings

[1] Fact: writing is made of words, not ideas.

[2] “Nothing is like an idea so much as an idea” — Bishop Berkeley

[3] Fact: writingideas, and content all refer to different entities.

[4] “I myself prefer an Argentine fantasy. God did not create a Book of Nature of the old sorts Europeans imagined. He wrote a Borgesian library, each book of which is as brief as possible, yet each book of which is inconsistent with every other. For each book, there is some humanly accessible bit of Nature [‘the natural’] such that that book, and no other, makes possible the comprehension, prediction and influencing of what’s going on” — Ian Hacking on Borges and Berkeley

[5] Writing done right self-contextualizes and self-legitimates.

[6] The writing I like cuts through the hell of sameness that is the digital space (and capitalism! Capital writ large).

[7] Magic is stronger when it remains in the occult, and writers have to be careful as they pick from their spellbook. Like the joke about jazz, it’s what you don’t hear that counts.

/*this post is from oct. 2017, stuck at the top of my blog for occult reasons*/


Today is my birthday. It’s also my brother’s birthday (we’re twins) and my cat’s. She is 2.

I am 29. I thought a little about getting older today. All I have to say is that I’m happier at age 29 than I was at 19, but probably not happier than when I was 9. When I turn 30 perhaps I’ll have richer thoughts re: aging to share.

In more important news, last week I scheduled a defense for the proposal of my doctoral dissertation. The working title is “Psychedelic Science and the Epistemic Regime of Data.” It’s a blend of philosophy, political theory, cultural studies and STS-inflected interventions into how computation structures knowledge, using contemporary research on psychedelic drugs as a case study.  Such interdisciplinarity is encouraged by my PhD program (link here).

I would like to say more about these ideas, but it’s wise to keep my lips sealed until I’ve at least formally proven their worthwhileness in front of my advisory committee. That’ll happen (or not) the morning of May 1st. Then I’ll go celebrate International Workers’ Day.

If all goes according to plan, I will defend the actual PhD around May 2020.

I made up a list of sources I’m drawing from. This is not the entirety of my citations/inspirations (far from it), but it does represent a great deal (years) of research. A lot of the articles are freely available online. If you’re interested you should look them up — they’re all great, believe me, I have had almost 3 decades to refine my taste in weird stuff.

Just remembered this great joke from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy:

PREFECT: You should prepare yourself for the jump into hyperspace; it’s unpleasantly like being drunk.

ARTHUR: What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?

PREFECT: Just ask a glass of water.

At one point I was in the habit of making music on an almost-daily basis. It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to regular religious worship.

The lyrics of the second song are taken from an epigraph to this graphic novel.


“I knew two things to be true of your world

here and there, there and here
there and here, here and there

And that I stood Here at all times —
I knew it.

When I realized the two were whole
I lost sight of the boundaries of my home.”

everyone alive wants answers

A young-Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-looking guy in a dark t-shirt. A few inches north of his solar plexus a beam of light is refracted into rainbow through the slender quadrilateral of the Ethereum logo — the dark side of the cryptocurrency. He’s leaning over a café counter, shoulders drawn toward his heart, and he takes my order in illegible penmanship before switching the music to LCD Soundsystem. I heard I’m blowing Marxism to pieces. I tell him I like his shirt, I mean I like this town’s casual relationship with the future. We could talk about it if we weren’t at work.

They say libido doesn’t deal in organic wholes; I know the pornographic arts require mastery of surfaces, cut-ups, debasement of the codes that seal the self airtight to maintain homeostasis. What cybernetics tried to discover and replicate.

So the younger are happy to trade ghost money. Maybe they read substance into the flatness. Some days it chills me to feel known exclusively from two dimensions — but that’s just leftover teenage romanticism; I’ve got a new mind now that assimilates lossiness, the magazine quality of desire, depthless rumors about the possibilities of skin on skin.

He’s a nerd. Probably into H.P. Lovecraft. I haven’t read “The Color Out of Space” even though a few years I totally said I had to gain someone’s respect.

And I’m sitting in his café reading this card I got over the weekend which lists the effects of 2C-B (4-Bromo-2, 5-dimethoxyphenethylamine):

A psychedelic drug first synthesized in 1974 by Dr. Alexander Shulgin. At lower doses 2C-B produces a mild entactogenic effect, with few or no hallucinations. At higher doses 2C-B produces intense visual effects. Moving objects leave “trails.” Surfaces may appear to be covered with geometric patterns and may appear to be moving or “breathing.” Colors may appear from nowhere.

I want to talk to this man about the net worth of nothing. The epistemic value of no, omniscient narration, colors that appear from God-knows-where. How pop music taught me that nothing turns itself inside out (i.e.) and has healing power (i.e.). How in the world of things bound by open secrets, nowhere absorbs the autonomous horizons of the mind.
If money appears as if by magic it should at least grow on trees, that’s my opinion. I want to tell him.

Last weekend I met a man in a mauve belly shirt and acid wash jeans. He had long slim sticky fingers and long hair. A manic pixie dream boy. He only had one name, that’s what he told me at least and he invited me to a party. I said I’m Emma Stamm and I don’t want to join any party, I am very tired of parties.

He said the town he’s from is so small that he swiped through all his Tinder matches in a single hour, that he had to expand the gender options, then — skipping half a conversational beat to hand me a postcard — he circled to pornography. He revealed a lot of the nothing at the peak of his dreams. A claw-foot bathtub with bubbles spilled over onto the warm lacquer floor, soundless as an anechoic chamber or sensory deprivation tank. A place of nothing-privilege where nobodies mind their own business. That’s the party boy’s fantasy.

And he fell silent as he produced another card. This one’s about ketamine he told me, over-steady eyes like a hypnotist in training. One for nitrous oxide, another for cocaine. He said it was for safety and I replied that after so many years I know how to stay healthy, nimble, to be the weaver or world-bridger as so many students of the digital like to express themselves. That I give equal attention to knowledge and its other, but it’s hard to behave normally after a pure encounter with either one.

And now some of the cards are in my regular haunts in southwestern Virginia and some stacked among the books in my living room. I took so many. I don’t know if they’re souvenirs or notes of affection or something else. For some, personal integration means learning everything there is to learn about oneself, for others it’s an article of faith.


Yesterday: five hours slicing through apocalyptic gales with my car, listening to Tom Zé and Bill Hicks comedy, around 8PM landed in Baltimore for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference.

Coming up:

The 22nd-25th of March: Doing Interdisciplinarity, the 2018 ASPECT Conference at Virginia Tech. I will be giving a talk titled “Psychedelic Research and Data Positivism.”

10 April I will be at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers in New Orleans, giving a presentation on a similar subject. The title is titled “The Electric Kool-Aid Turing Test: How Psychedelic Research Challenges Data Positivism.” The abstract is here.

13 April I am hosting this event at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech. (And I’m still looking for participants, hint hint…)

27-28 April is Theorizing the Web 2018, I am an invited participant on a panel called “Bot Phenomenology: What it means to exist with technology, and what it means to exist as technology.”

Somewhere in there I’ll be traveling to Dallas for a wedding and turning one year older. And hopefully by the semester’s end, defending a dissertation proposal (!)(!)(!) (emphasis on “hopefully,” yes, I’m full of hope).


you are a light

Not halfway through the week. A minute, an hour, no more, a day, a moonrising-setting, half a minute I’m sitting alone at this bar and an uncomplicated sage interjects to split my order. Across the room his face was cubed through the bubbles in my wine. He wants a friend with soapy skin and a sickness to be cured.  Paint my liver and lips oily goldochre. Not mead, honey wine. I said I’m busy trying to make things simple. I need to be alone. Two minutes don’t make me sicker just so you can heal me. Conditionally attracted because my blood floats on water. Pneumatic illness, a sentient plague, don’t be too excited by it. I can afford my own co-pay.

Silly girls purposefully casting off mirrors to push their luck, walking under ladders, giving black cats edible rats. I’m so green. Half a yard beneath the dismal ladder I’m trembling for the construction workers. Oh my god, it’s only Tuesday. I hate the new shape of the workweek. The disordered time gets heady. No clue whether it helps to be flexible or arrhythmic. I can’t stop causing confusion among my peers. Is that why he’s here?

Make a diversion, obfuscate, I’m not looking to be picked up or put together even though I can’t stop coughing, my system will reintegrate in time but he’s still hustling me. The confusion trance of a simple man, yeah, but good-looking in a sort of  clinical way, he smells like disposable latex. Pitching me against myself, reading me as homeopathy, an instruction manual like I should follow my own paths like inscriptions on a tourist map, not sober or drunk, not good or bad, I’m alone by design, reward me with your restraint, please let me be.

Unshadowing a medicine man, scrawling erroneous diagnoses on his fat pad, tell him to dose me strong and make a legible diary, deliver me to you doubly, fit like a teenager, rewritten with pleasantries and a pretty smile, talkative sometimes, living equally off charms and wit, well-read, most important: knowable, winnable, in a high castle but not too darn high. Do your slick thing like the tapsters do, mix my virus into the vortex, suck it from my lungs and restore (again) my fortune as you do perennially (again) despite how and why we flirt with different qualities of luck. Little evil me, yes evil, only hanging out since I thought you were a doctor.

Wrote this song when I was 17 — still haven’t figured out how to play it the way it sounds in my head.