Thursday, January 16, 2020

the right to say nothing

“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.” -Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze, Gilles. 1995. Negotiations. Columbia University Press. P. 129

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Swiss Cheese Schedule

The premise is that a good day, a well scheduled day, is like an ideal slice of Swiss cheese.

You have to picture what an ideal slice of Swiss looks like for you. Maybe it has just a few holes, maybe lots. You can think of the holes as breaks between tasks or you can think about the holes as the tasks. In either case, the size of the hole represents a chunk of time.

There are many methods for how best to break up the day. When it comes down to it, the most important part is that at the end of the day it *feels* like a day. (Preferably a good day.)

A slice of Swiss cheese is a slice of Swiss cheese because it has holes and yet remains whole.

Monday, December 24, 2018

14 words by Muriel Rukeyser taught me how to appreciate Cézanne

The right words presented at the right moment can change your entire worldview. When I was younger, I enjoyed going to the Philadelphia art museum. There were even specific paintings in the permanent collection I liked to visit. I also took quite a few art history courses in college. The work of Paul Cézanne came up frequently and yet I never found an inroad to appreciate his work; that is, not until Christmastime 2018 when I stumbled upon Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry. Stumbled upon isn’t quite right. Khadijah Queen mentions Rukeyser’s book in conversation with Rachel Zucker on Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People), a podcast I highly recommend. The Rukeyser book is mentioned only briefly and my reason for buying the book is because it had been a while since I’d read an “on poetry” book (or what I like to call “poetry self-help books”).

In The Life of Poetry, at the beginning of Chapter 3, under the sub-section “The Security of the Imagination”, Rukeyser speaks of Cézanne writing, “These trees are not what trees look like, they are what trees feel like.” And with that an epiphany in the form of sudden appreciation of Cézanne’s work. In my mind’s eye I recalled Cézanne’s “Mont Sainte-Victoire” (1887). I pictured the mountain, but now there was more—without even having to look at the image I could feel, well, an emotional response. More than the image you can gaze at, the takeaway can be empathetic—bearing witness to Cézanne’s emotional honesty on the canvas and, in turn, a sense of kinship.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Pitchfork needs to stop making cross-genre "Best" lists

Why Pitchfork needs to stop making cross-genre "Best" lists
(something of an Open Letter)

I feel like I’m about to age myself. In high school, Pitchfork was just coming into its own as a music resource. What was especially useful about Pitchfork was, at that time, it seemed primarily concerned with “our” music (and that felt special in a way that's hard to put into words).

As you get older oftentimes your music tastes diversify. As I got older, so did Pitchfork. (Well, sorta.)

There’s science suggesting as we age we tend to prefer more melodic and less atonal and dissonant sounds. Ok, sure. This would certainly explain a few things for your average listener.

Maybe you have diverse tastes in music. Maybe you only like one or two genres. Whatever the case may be, I have a feeling you think you know good music when you hear it. If you hate country music (or tell yourself you hate country music) it’s less likely you would take a step back and think, You know what, this new album by X country musician is actually rather impressive.

Pitchfork has done these Top (best of) lists for a long time now. I don’t think you have to be the High Fidelity type to enjoy a good list. Some of Pitchfork’s lists are excellent and a useful reference (especially if you were not around (or of age) in the 80s or 90s and so are not sure which musicians/albums are a good place to start with). Other lists are confounding (at best) and, increasingly, irritating.

I’ve reached that point where I’m inclined to suggest Pitchfork stop making multi-genre lists of the best tracks / best albums of the year -- in part because these lists end up feeling schizophrenic (too many egos in the writing room).

[aside] The tv shows LOST and Breaking Bad, I feel, had similar issues (in their case with characterization).

Reviewing the 2018 "Best" lists, there are songs and albums I’m glad to see highlighted. Still, there's a lot of eye-rolling. Why is this song/album placed where it is on the list (whereas X song/album by X artist I’ve never heard of is ranked much higher)? Moreover, the lists ultimately prove useless by mixing the genres. You can’t really compare Snail Mail’s Lush with Ty Dolla $ign / Jeremih’s MihTy.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out Pitchfork’s The 100 Best Songs of 2018


The 50 Best Albums of 2018



Friday, April 1, 2016

The Human Debacle

"Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it." -Milan Kundera


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Driven To Distraction

[2008 to 2016 & Beyond...]

"The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction."

-Nicholas Carr 

Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation

"It is hard to say whether most damage to the country at large would come from entire failure on the part of the public to supervise and control the actions of the great corporations, or from the exercise of the necessary governmental power in a way which would do injustice and wrong to the corporations. Both the preachers of an unrestricted individualism, and the preachers of an oppression which would deny to able men of business the just reward of their initiative and business sagacity, are advocating policies that would be fraught with the gravest harm to the whole country. To permit every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation, to take any action, no matter how iniquitous, in the effort to secure an improper profit and to build up privilege, would be ruinous to the Republic and would mark the abandonment of the effort to secure in the industrial world the spirit of democratic fair dealing. On the other hand, to attack these wrongs in that spirit of demagogy which can see wrong only when committed by the man of wealth, and is dumb and blind in the presence of wrong committed against men of property or by men of no property, is exactly as evil as corruptly to defend the wrongdoing of men of wealth. The war we wage must be waged against misconduct, against wrongdoing wherever it is found; and we must stand heartily for the rights of every decent man, whether he be a man of great wealth or a man who earns his livelihood as a wage-worker or a tiller of the soil."

[from] Teddy Roosevelt's 8th State of the Union address