Thursday, May 21, 2009

Construction, New Haven, 7:17 AM, 21 May

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

daydream #7

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Daydream #6

Friday, May 15, 2009

Daydream #5

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hotel Room

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wilmington, Delaware

Saturday, May 09, 2009

daydream #4

Friday, May 08, 2009

A memory.

A thick-aired, cloudy evening in June. I’m in my kitchen, hot with the stove and summer heat. Seeking relief, I walk out onto the fire escape and lean out over the rail. The wind has picked up with the promise of rain and slams open the screen door behind me. Fat thundering drops begin to splash and lightening flashes hazily in the distance. The trees bow and lean with the wind. The rain is suddenly loud, streaming noisily down the drain, hitting clay flowerpots, plastic chairs, thudding into clothes left out to dry. From somewhere above and out into the night comes the anxious sound of a baby crying. And at that moment, from the brick school across the empty lots, lit up with an evening event, comes the opening strains of Copland’s "Fanfare for the Common Man" through open windows and into the rain. This is my memory: distant thunder, rain, wind, the dull wet sound of traffic below, the sound of a baby’s tears above, and the heralding horns of Copland on a summer night.

daydream #3

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Negative liberty expresses a fear of completion; if you never start a work, then at least there is no chance of your having finished it. To complete something is in some ways to make it disappear, not starting it is a preemptive strike against loss, a way of elegizing what has not yet disappeared. (Tellingly, Dyer has been repeatedly drawn to writing about epitaphs - ruins, cemeteries, and photographs, which are epiptaphs of a frozen moment.) Time is what completes us, and time is what forces us into the endless repetition that is boredom and the tyranny of habit. Travel, sex, and drugs - Dyer's recurrent interests - are ways to cheat time, are moments out of time. 'For a few minutes anything seemed possible,' Dyer writes of getting stoned in Rome. Getting high, Jeff Atman thinks, was 'like a concentrated version of everything he had ever wanted from life.' Getting high might be seen as a maximization of negative liberty, where everything really can be pure potential."

--James Wood, reviewing Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Relatedly, this. Let our untested potential reign in the golden land!

daydream #2

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

daydream #1

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Presently he rose and approached the case before which she stood. Its glass shelves were crowded with small broken objects - hardly recognizable domestic utensils, ornaments and personal trifles - made of glass, of clay, of discolored bronze and other time-blurred substances.

'It seems cruel,' she said, 'that after a while nothing matters...any more than these little things, that used to be necessary and important to forgotten people, and now have to be guessed at under a magnifying glass and labelled 'Use unknown.'"

--Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

Monday, May 04, 2009

"You know nothing of my work. You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is amazing."

I just re-read most of this 1969 interview with Marshall McLuhan in Playboy. It's both abstruse and enlightening, and often provocative. One thing I do agree with which is pursuant to my previous post on The Brady Bunch is McLuhan's insistence that all media are an extension of the human body and senses that invariably influence him and his environment deeply. The famous cool/hot media distinction is one that I don't quite get, other than conceptually - Cool media is low definition that invariably invites viewer participation in filling out the details. Television is cool. The telephone is cool. A seminar or conversation is cool media. Hot media extends a single sense in high definition. Radio is hot. Photographs are hot. Film is hot. A lecture is hot - but I think it is overplayed at the expense of McLuhan's wider observations.

Anyway, read that interview. It should take about a week. If only Marshall McLuhan were alive today to tell us how the interwebs and high def TV and 24 hour news cycles conspire to connect us in ways more intimate than ever, but also make us feel more alienated than ever, and are quite possibly going to lead to nonviolent secession. All these things are happening people, and yet we're too immersed to parse it into hot and cold media or whatever MM would have done!

McLuhan also says in the interview that "TV is revolutionizing every political system in the Western world" and, in a pithy representation of the idea that it's the medium that matters and not the message, that "the people wouldn’t have cared if John Kennedy lied to them on TV, but they couldn’t stomach LBJ even when he told the truth." Here is a clip of McLuhan analyzing a 1976 debate between Carter and Ford. It really gets going about half way into it -"You're assuming that what these people say is important." Watch it and bemoan that this mystic is not with us today.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The redoubtable Siskel and Ebert on criticism:

Try to ignore the chap who bears a blurry resemblence to Mark Linn-Baker at the one minute mark and watch this. They've narrowed criticism down to saying what you honestly feel in direct language. I've always liked Siskel and Ebert's emphasis on the subjective experience of movies, and simultaneously their style, one both serious - movies are worth arguing about - and without pretension. The bits about the latent desire to be liked and the fear of the revelation of fraud are, I think, acute observations into the psychology of criticism. Finally, you can't let this go without comment: "Political correctness is the fascism of the 90s." -- Roger Ebert. I wish that had been my quote in my high school yearbook instead of a selection from the Tao Te Ching.