Thursday, February 21, 2008

February 19-21, 2008

The Learners
Chip Kidd
7 cards

The Learners was all you can ever hope a sequel to be. Chip Kidd continues to educate the masses about graphic design but in a rich way that informs while also changing your perception of the world. He also taps into life's rich simplicity. I could imagine myself in the New Haven Utrecht store like Happy, riding on the train to New Haven- the stops as they are called out- and best of yet know the very experiment by Stanley Milgram that is a constant in the story. Perhaps a Communication major is exactly where one needs to start in this world.

Highlights that will not give (too much) of the story away.
p. xii "Shoes are our friends."
p. 4- "Who am I? I am Happy." (this resonates with my recent encounter of Bob Dylan's statement about being happy, that anyone can be happy and his rather so what attitude to that)
-as a graphic designer seeing the world as a problem to solve "one typeface, one drawing, one image at a time."
-"Life is a lifelong assignment that must be constantly analyzed, clarified, figures out, and responded to appropriately."
p. 5- sports comment
p. 12 machine age couch (Tim's class!)
p. 15- Mr. Speer going on inspirational walks (I'm reading Wanderlust a history of walking right now)
p. 17- associations and artificial constructs
p. 19- sign
p. 21- description of the air
p. 22- Baby Laveen!
p. 53- "to draw was to breathe, so the air became lead."
p. 40- drawing a straight line
p. 41- records as distraction
p. 51- the diary of billing hours "recorded evidence of my life on Earth that I otherwise wouldn't have created."
p. 52- a diner booth!
p. 54- good clients (back to my own advertising days)
p. 58- typography
p. 59- "It's not just about what you're saying anymore, it's how your're saying it."
p. 62-63 ad
p. 64- Himillsy!
p. 65 "For Himillsy, living dangerously was the only way to live."
-"...rescuing her from something she didn't want to be saved from."
p. 67- "My whole body was smiling."
p. 68- New Haven's claim for pizza (and hamburgers which Elizabeth supports- I love food history claims and debates.)
p. 68- "but not me"
p. 69- brains..."I'm crazy for them....It's not fair to be actually informed on the subject."
p. 74- "...You have no idea. I listen to you all the time. I always did."
p. 76 "...jumpstarted my heart..."
p. 77- Mom
p. 79- "Time stopped."
p. 80- making the whole page black
p. 81- map
p. 83- Noah's Diner
p. 84 "People are awful."
p. 85 and 86
p. 88-89- quote about Time magazine
p. 90- piece of me- best parts
p. 116- memory and learning
p. 117 "Because, you must know by now: You already test my memory."
p. 118
p. 128- Waltham, MA, Helvetica
p. 141
p. 143- Stanley Milgram
p. 145 "Me: State U- the identity of my life."
p. 146- form
p. 105-06
p. 107 Rheingold ale (like Torpor!)
p. 111- looking inside you
p. 112 "...I became one sock."
p. 115 "I was trying to start a conversation."
p. 159- "Not. Fun."
p. 160- 2 kinds of people
p. 163- "If you intend to die you can do anything."
p. 165- Underwood typewriter (Duchamp!)
p. 166 "a legacy of heralded mediocrity."
p. 173- "What people really want, no matter who they are, is someone to listen to them."
p. 175- Antisappointment
-"wide-wale caramel, duck-patterned corduroys" (also mentioned on p. 178
p. 184 "Christ on a cracker." (Joel!)
p. 187- "...changing the records on the turntable. I loved anticipating what he would play next."
p. 191
p. 199- marcel permanent (Duchamp and Ray!)
p. 203- pickle
p. 205- "Humanity deserved to see itself explained."
p. 206- "Something always means something else."
p. 207- fate
p. 209- "Knobs. Switches. Levers. Buttons...."
p. 211
-"What does Evil look like?"
p. 249- "I am in control of my own undoing."
- Winter and Milgram
-"I. Hate.You."
p. 250-51
p. 253 "I will be twenty-two again, instead of a hundred."
-the solution
p. 254
p. 257
p. 258- last line

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 19, 2008

The Learners
Chip Kidd
Hardcover, 2008

I can't remember the last time I bought a book on the day it came out (ok except for those two Miranda July books)- this is almost like buying R.E.M.'s Monster at midnight when I was in high school! I love Chip Kidd's The Cheese Monkeys and I am starting this right now. Genius.
or in person if you live in New York or Michigan and some other places.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 14-15, 2008

The Principles of Uncertainty
Maira Kalman
2007 hardcover, library
5 cards

Maira Kalman is fabulous. The word fabulous exists because of people like Maira Kalman. If you've seen the new Elements of Style you know who Maira Kalman is; she painted the wonderful pictures in a fabulous new version of that book. She also wrote/painted/created/thought of this book, The Principles of Uncertainity, a conceptual walk that's also a picture book for those in a reflective and contemplative state of mind. I first saw this book during the holidays but I didn't look at it too much for fear that I would need to have it. The book jacket's inner sleeve confirmed my suspicion but I put the book back before leafing through. Then the library had it. Thank you library! Kalman's paintings are unique undertakings, seemingly simultaneously drawing upon Milton Avery, Francis Alys, Florine Stettheimer and Jenny Holzer's Truisms- completely magical and profound. The index and the appendix are also delights for bibliophiles and collectors, not to mention a map (A MAP!!!) in the back!

It's all fabulous but these pages I found particularly fabulous:
p. 3 dodo
p. 4 Evdaimonia
p. 5 stuffed Pavlov's dog
p.8-9 map her mother drew
p. 20 looking between slurps
p. 26 walking and cities and magnificent chairs
p. 28 "excellent United Pickle tag lying on the sidewalk" (pickles!!)
p. 37 old people and walking (so true)
p. 42 "How are we all so brave as to take step after dtep? Day after day?"
p. 46 we are all going to die
p. 47 fruit platters
p. 50 obituaries "Maybe it is a way of trying to figure out, before the day begins, what is important. And I am curious about the things that make up a life."
p. 52 (fabulous painting of a donut shop)
p. 55 bundt pan
p. 56-57 Tolstoy and Gorky
p. 65 Alzheimer's
p. 83 "The world is coming to an end. What to do Spend the day on the subway."
p. 97 string
p. 99 "How do you know who you are?"
p. 102 collections "...tangible evidence of history, memory. Longing, delight."
p. 111 Abe Lincoln
p. 122-23 candy collection (I had one of these when I was younger)
p. 124 "It is well known how much Goethe loved candy."
p. 162 "The silent sink in the Corbusier house that speaks the truth." (Tim would like this.)
p. 163 "The ottoman on the way to the Proust room."
p. 164-65 Proust notebook
p. 166 museum guard
p. 176 Sabine- "clothes and shoes she made herself." "She tells me to read "Butterball" by Maupassant. I will."
p. 184-85 Louise Bourgeois
p. 186 "I think of her Bed Construction that says, 'Art is the guarantee of sanity.' I really hope that's true."
p. 192 "Washing dishes is the antidote to confusion. I know that for a fact."
p. 194 Alzheimer's, Sweet 'n Low packets
p. 195 Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest "That is a very big poin in the plus column of life."
p. 208-211
p. 236-38
p. 242 "How do you go mad? How do you not go mad?"
p. 245 "The truth is everybody gets on everybody's nerves."
p. 251 Freud and Wittgenstein
p. 252-53
p. 259 "Berlin Childhood around 1900" by Walter Benjamin
p. 261 Helen Levitt
p. 270 "One thing leads to another."
p. 284-85 Cartier-BResson photo
p. 287 "You cannot order a Deluxe grilled cheese sandwich. There are limits to deluxe."
p. 296-97 "Keep calm and carry on"
Fabulous index
Fabulous appendix- especially: things that fall out of books, packets, postcards

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 10 - 13, 2008

The Gum Thief
Douglas Coupland
2007, hardcover from the library

I can't remember whether Shampoo Planet or Generation X was the first book I read by Douglas Coupland. Whichever one it was I was in high school and I remember thinking how he wrote in a way that was relevant to my life at the time. While I found a similar relevance in The Stranger and The Catcher in the Rye, it was the way Coupland caught the details of daily life, like macaroni and cheese, that resonated in an exciting way. I've read most of his books, though more recently I no longer eagerly anticipated his next novel. That is until after reading The Gum Thief. Filled with snippets of life in 2007 and truisms on par with Jenny Holzer's I can't wait now for his next book. This letter driven books turns and turns again within itself in a brilliant manner while also celebrating the tangible letter and the postal system.

While not giving too much away, there's a statement at the end of the book that I think echoes what I most like about Douglas Coupland's writing. The person says, "I don't need or want art that tells me about my daily life. I want art that tells me about somebody- anybody- else but me." Art should have purpose, it should change the way you see and think about and perceive the world, and by focusing on daily life, Douglas Coupland does just that, once again.

14 cards for this book- some of the highlights:
p. 1- 1st sentence
p. 2- age in your head- 34
p. 7- "God made the originals, and cloning is only making photocopies."
p. 9 the colour of crows and wearing black
p. 17- jobs- marker test sheets- Alter ego day
p. 22- hitchikers and signs (reminds me of The Cheese Monkeys)
p. 24- "(Question: Who buys coffee at an office supply store?)"
p. 29- white teeth
p. 47-48 "In particular we discussed all of the ugly houses and apartment buildings that had been built here in the city in our lifetime." (had assumed they would be demolished) "Imagine all of our dumb, ugly, contractor-built little houses standing there long after we're gone. ... All they'll ever do is draw attention to ou narrowness of ambition and vision."
p. 48-49- chronology of Roger's life- Halloween candy, collating function
p. 51- plural for Kleenex and babies and silence
p. 54- growing old an invention
p. 55- dreams. snails
p. 57- course in real life- "Falling out of love happens as quickly as falling in."
p. 58- "If someone's big in your life, you dream about them." and dreaming about dead people.
"I don't think anyone ever gets over anything in life. They merely get used to it."
p. 71- "...pretend you're an anthropologist..."
p. 73- cd of songs containing the world moon (if DC had said Antartica then I would be certain he was spying on me)
"The end is near."
p. 76-77- what happens to the things from office supply superstores- "To Kyle, the office superstore was a slow-motion end of the world in progress."
p. 77- novel in second-hand store
p. 79- making lipstick
p. 85 "Or maybe memories are like karoke...on stage...that you didn't know even hald the lyrics to your all-time favourite song...someone else on you realize that what you liked most about your favourite song was precisely your ignorance of its full meaning- and you read more into it than maybe existed in the first place. I think it's better to not know the lyrics to your life."
p. 87- wishes, North Korea, 1990s
p. 92- trouble believing in the future- books
p. 93- Winesburg, Ohio
p. 96-97 Alzheimer's
p. 99 China
p. 116- makeup
p. 118-119 "Dreams Can Come True" sticker
p. 126- beauty- " isn't only about the traits you possess, it's also about the traits you don't possess."
p. 132- "the voice that narrates a book in your head when you're reading."
p. 157- Things-I-Used-To-Do-List
p. 168-169- cancer
p. 170- "But then I don't even know if record stores still exist. Do they? Maybe that's where my plan went wrong."
p. 175- Hampstead being where Wallace and Gromit would live
p. 176- Punch and Judy- wifebeating (it's like he was spying on my when I learned this at the DIA)
p. 179- paper and pen
p. 186- "Imagine growing younger instead of older." (brings to mind Bob Dylan's My Back Pages)
p. 187- dreams and getting out of bed
p. 188- Groundhog Day (almost getting scary here)
p. 192- "... but I don't think you see things properly when you're with someone else." and comments about Christmas lights
p. 192-193 digital camera and life
p. 202 KitKats
p. 203- Chunnel
p. 204-205- Cherry tree petals- "Write me- but I don't know where I'll be, so there's no address to give you. Isn't that all of life compressed into a sentence."
p. 216- "It feels like we're working inside a photocopier."
p. 233- Christmas
p. 256- knowing who you are
p. 260- forming a club
p. 265- people in books
p. 266- bright orange 25 ft. long extension cord and 2 kinds of walks in life.
p. 273 grade

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 3 - 10, 2008

torpor by Chris Kraus
2006- paperback

One Chris Kraus's earlier books was recomended to me a few months ago. It made me fall in love with fiction and literature again even though her books seem to blur fiction with non. As soon as I finished her earlier book I wanted torpor, but it is a book one has to seek out at enlightened bookstores. torpor, in a sense, sought me out since Chris Kraus, who is participating in the Sex Worker's Art Show tour, and it traveled to where I live.

One aspect of this book that caught me by surprise was Sylvie and Jerome's trip to Romania. Before this past August I knew little about Romania. As I learned this fall about this country and its history and art (Dan Perjovschi, Lia Perjovschi, Kristine Stiles, Andrei Codrescu's Hole in the Flag, the film 12:08 East of Bucharest and, soon, the new film 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)torpor added yet another voice to my unserstanding of the country. I love unexpected overlaps like this that I encounter in reading.

Ghost of Georges Perec, you are next.

This reading resulted in 18 notecards so I will just mention some resonances here.
p. 18 (Thirtysomething the tv show and people at this age) "They no longer want to change the world. Now, they are creating families."
p. 23 fond de l'air
p. 24 (French rationalism) "The notion that the world could be contained by classifying." Mention of Comte de Buffon's Encycolpedia of the Animals- described in terms of what they are not.
p. 25 Rheingold sign
p. 45- (travel) "The future is a promise that's been deferred so long you've nearly given up, but it can be suddenly fulfilled."
p. 46 "All the saddest songs, she thinks, have happiness inside them."
p. 48 and 49 Bedouins
p. 50 Romania's reproductive policy
p. 54- Jerome and Sylvie memorizing Nausea at age 13- proof they "were actually the same person."
-the photograph labels included throughout the book
p. 63- "...places in the world where time stands still..."
p.66 underlining passages in books
p. 67- mention of Dadaist collage (also mention of prints in the manner of George Grosz twice)
p. 68- leaving traces
p. 72 "Do you really think you have accompolished enough to have a child?"
p. 75- city going to sleep
p. 79- history
p. 98- chaos engineered
p. 101- "Were the poets still in charge?"
p. 103- "...when language isn't written down, it's nothing."
p. 107- happiness
p. 117- "What do people do?"
p. 118- "She's terrified of flying. She hates to think her life will end before it has begun."
p. 119- "All she wanted was to talk about the things that interested her and be listened to by someone other than Jerome."
p. 127- Munson's Diner
- Hannah Arendt, you are next after Georges Perec
p. 137 and 186- "'The crisis in language,' Perec once quipped, 'is not in words.'"
same page- holding onto memories in fragments
p. 150- "What if the whole concept of 'relationships' that tormented her was unnecessary?"
p. 152- "Deep down, Jerome didn't merelyl want to be a friend to all the artists: he longer to be one."
p. 157 tenses
p. 189- books, rants
p. 191 "..she thinks: I'm 35 years old. Everything I do now has to matter."
same page- definition of Debrouillard
p. 192- women on the list
p. 193 "...the evening dusk seems Kodachrome and magical..."
same page- buildings holding hands
p. 194 books comment and playing a Lydia Lunch record
p. 196- shoe repair
p. 199- The Balkan Wars (echoing my recent viewing of the film, The Secret Life of Words)
p. 225
p. 269- colors, children's books
p. 270- Proust
p. 273- alone together
p. 280- digging her nails in
p. 283- working at a post office
p. 283- corduroy
same page- grilled cheese at the Town and Country Diner
last chapter- would have tense
p. 285- "The photo is a strange artifact: a souvenir of possibilities that never came to be."