Thursday, April 24, 2014
  • Not long ago, I set my copy of The New Yorker out on the curb with the recyclables. I thought, no, it goes with the regular trash. Because trash is something you don’t want to see again – resurface. So to The New Yorker goes the The New Yorker and others of the same ilk who believe that to express oneself differently, to take an alternate, unpopular position is akin to treason against the established order and the very nation itself.
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  • Originally I intended for this piece to be a statement in regards to form. I remembered enjoying Exley’s book when I first read it, and was quick to identify myself as his fan; I thought a literal application of this title would be a fun and easy project for me. I have a very active way of consuming text, in which I scribble and underline frequently as I read. I often use cheesy acronyms, such as “vom,” “wow” and “omg.” I also like to fold the top parts of my favorite pages as I encounter them, so that I can easily find them the next time I decide to look at a book I have read before. Even emoticons are fair game!
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  • Before my reading yesterday, I sat there and sat there and sat there (nervous, sitting through my nerves, the life of nerves, the work of nerves) waiting for my turn to read and thinking about how I now know there are things we can only say to each other, about each other, about living, in writing. That we can only respond to certain things in writing. And how we can only know and recognize certain things when they’re written down.
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  • Why would an investigation into the cartographies and timelines of literary production, and the contemporary histories of locating and placing people and peoples differentially and relationally within systems that call themselves “global,” matter to our understanding of ourselves, and our choices of acting one way, rather than another toward others?
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  • Lassitude, indolence, extreme laziness, idleness beyond belief - I don't know how to convey the degree of my incapacity for activity. People don't believe me. You don't believe me. You think I exaggerate. No, I don't. You won't believe that either. You think it an affectation. So yesterday I went out. I did a reading with the estimable Francis Spufford at the Small Wonders Festival at Charleston. There was nothing unpleasant about it (apart from the Bloomsburyness of Charleston. Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Virginia visiting. God I hate that drippy painting and twee tastefulness).
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  • Some classics re-emerged. Baldessari re-interpreted his 1977 video event of ‘Six Colourful Inside Jobs’ that paid homage to a legendary art origin in Sol Le Witt’s work by paying painters to repaint the room continuously in a changing palette of colours. In the Abramovic room, her 1997 classic performance ‘Luminosity’, of a nude woman poised on a bicycle seat, was restaged using a roster of paid performers.
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  • It is difficult to form a correct idea of a desert, without having seen one. It is a vast plain of sands and stones, interspersed with mountains of various sizes and heights, without roads or shelters. They sometimes have springs of water, which burst forth, and create verdant spots.
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  • Against a black background, part of the face of a fair-skinned woman. The tone and texture of her skin. The curve of her lips. Especially the black of her eyes — as if we could look through her. All these exceed not only what we expect to see when we begin to watch a film, but what we desire to see. Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises.
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  • As we move deeper into the twenty-first century our world seems evermore bifurcated between the known and the hidden, and this visible divide characterizes our own psychotic state. On the one hand, as the Snowden documents show, we are all of us watched by groups whose names we don't even know, for purposes that remain obscure.
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  • “Paper’s most powerful magic? Simply this. That paper allows us to be present—or appear to be present—when we are in fact absent,” Sansom writes in Paper. “It both breaks and bridges time and distance. I am talking to you now, for example, on paper. You cannot see me, and you cannot hear me. I may, for all you know, already be dead.
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  • As perfectly represented by those countless talent shows that have work as their topic and employment as their prize, contemporary work propaganda aims at filling the position of the inner motivational figure with the totemic figurine of the ‘employee’.
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  • It's a truth universally acknowledged, and confirmed by VIDA, that, though women read more books than men, and female authors are published in comparable numbers, they are more easily overlooked: a smaller presence in literary journals both as reviewers, and the reviewed, they also account for fewer literary translations.
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  • What a different earth do we inhabit from that on which our forefathers dwelt! The antediluvian world, strode over by mammoths, preyed upon by the megatherion, and peopled by the offspring of the Sons of God, is a better type of the earth of Homer, Herodotus, and Plato, than the hedged-in cornfields and measured hills of the present day. The globe was then encircled by a wall which paled in the bodies of men, whilst their feathered thoughts soared over the boundary; it had a brink, and in the deep profound which it overhung, men's imaginations, eagle-winged, dived and flew, and brought home strange tales to their believing auditors.
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by Albert Rolls
The pun on “drugs,” in a somewhat obvious way, calls attention to and undermines the division between substances that contribute to the formation of the freak community and those prescribed by doctors, as does Pat Dubonnet’s disappointment with a career reduced to “penny-ante collars, kids under the pier dealing their moms’ downers”.
by Kristen Zipperer
There are very few Urdu writers who have written about these despondent days in Pakistan’s history, with perhaps one notable exception. Intizar Husain is a novelist and short story writer whose work takes an unrelenting look at man’s attempt and ultimate failure to keep his humanity during the post-Partition period.
by Daniel Bosch
Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises, the first frames of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo have made us conscious of how a camera and a screen limit and fix visual perception — even with all their jump cuts, films concentrate better than we do. And so it is strangely a relief to fall as we do into the pupil of the eye that Hitchcock’s camera enters.
by Stephen T. Asma
In his 1790 Critique of Judgment, Kant famously predicted that there would never be a “Newton for a blade of grass.” Biology, he thought, would never be unified and reduced down to a handful of mechanical laws, as in the case of physics. This, he argued, is because we cannot expunge teleology (goal-directedness) from living systems. The question “what is it for?” applies to living structures in a way that has no corollary in physics.
by Eric Schneider
Were Philadelphia police different? In some ways, yes; in other ways, no. City police may not have exchanged their badges for the white hoods of vigilante groups, but a nearly completely white police force held the same racial prejudices of the Philadelphia neighborhoods from which they were recruited.
by Russell Bennetts
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself as a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
by Michael B. Katz
The biological definition of poverty reinforces the idea of the undeserving poor, which is the oldest theme in post-Enlightenment poverty discourse. Its history stretches from the late eighteenth century through to the present. Poverty, in this view, results from personal failure and inferiority. Moral weaknesses – drunkenness, laziness, sexual promiscuity – constitute the most consistent markers of the undeserving poor.
by Volker M. Welter
Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention.
by Albert Rolls
Consider, for example, the Pynchon anecdotes told by the television producer Deane Rink — who attended Cornell a few years after Pynchon and studied creative writing under Walter Slatoff, with whom Pynchon had also studied. Rink tells his stories as part of an early Web exercise in which he sent emails for publication to the B&R Samizdat Express at the end of 1996, when he was in McMurdo, Antarctica, to work on Live from Antarctica (1997) for PBS productions.
by Cain Todd
In an effort to be interdisciplinary, and to keep up with the current trend for all things neuroscience, I recently attended a conference in Berlin on neuroaesthetics. One of only two philosophers in the room, I found myself on the receiving end of an incredibly hostile attack after asking a question of the founding guru of the discipline, the neuroscientist Professor Semir Zeki of University College London.
by Frank R. Stockton
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.
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