Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 26-27, 2008

n+1 Pamphlet Series #2
What We Should Have Known: Two Discussions
2007, paperback
14 cards

I was looking for another book when this and other treasures found me. Six books and three days later I found the book I was looking for in a place I never would have visited otherwise, but that's how the best living comes about. I've always held n+1 the magazine in high regard, but the quality and ideas shared within these two discussions are to be appreciated by any reader or anyone who teaches college students. The initial impetus for the conversations was reflection upon what writers and professors in their 30s mostly wish they would have read as undergraduates, as well as what they wish they hadn't and what they read too late. College freshmen can even get a free copy of this pamphlet by writing the email address on the back cover. It includes lists as well as discussions. Some of my reading this year was reflected in these discussions. I fully agree with the importance of reading Emerson, whom I have just begun to read this year. This is one of many of exquisite statements made, "No book is for you, until it is." Adding to the discussion on page 79, luckily I discovered the Velvet Underground when I was 17, if not 16.

Some selections:
-3- "Books we should have read earlier"- "For me, one thinker I should have read earlier is Foucault."
5- forming a self from reading
7- "books as enthusiasms"- "books that you are lucky enough to find when you are ready to find them."
11- "And what you can't do is ask a school to schedule your enthusiasms, exactly."
12-13- (students) "They pick up teachers and fall in love with them and then abandon them, throw them away like bits of trash or crumpled up paper. But this is what you have to do as a student....And the process is similar when you fall in love, and you want to read the books that the person you fall in love with most likes."
-"reading fiction is all about the tension between the book and you, and the book has to make you want to keep going. If it's assigned to you on a reading list, that tension disappears. So you're not really understanding the book, you're just reading it."
14- "poetry was the most important thing to happen to me in college"
15- periodicals club
18- "What I found that I couldn't very easily do was to sit at home and read Kant's Critique of Judgment, though I tried, and also I had no one to talk to about it."
20- "So books can speak to the world around you, but how are you going to get them to do this for you?"
21- "C.A. Bayly's Birth of the Modern World, which I don't agree with, but at least he'll give you a map. And hopefully then you'll start questioning that map..."
23- "The landscape of the future is completely blank."
27- "Because you're learning, you're being exposed to great things and discovering some sort of enthusiasm in yourself."
28- "...because time is limited in our lives...books that were read instead of other books"
32- "No book is for you, until it is."
-"I'm glad that I didn't encounter the Frankfurt School earlier because I know that I would have been doomed to be a Frankfurt School epigone."
60-61- Kierkegaard's Either/Or
63- "I went to graduate school to make up for undergrad."
64- "Nobody can get a proper undergraduate education. You'll never know in advance what that education should be. Regret is the feeling you have when you finally realize what the education is that you want. Right? And you're always going to come to that after it's too late."
66- Proust
67- "You move through your mistakes toward the absolute...Proust is another great author for regret- the purpose of all this retrospection is to redeem your regrets in whatever ways are possible."
68- "The world is not a text!"
71-72- "The books that one reads tend to take on a sort of naturalness within one's life, so they seem to come to you when you want them, and when you're ready for them. And so for me, the fact that we're on the verge of total civilizational 50 or 60 or 70 at most years- makes me regret the lateness with which I've figured that out."
73- (being dazzled by a boy) "...part of what dazzled me was certainly my sense the he knew about things that I did not."
-"I didn't know at the time that you could have a crush on someone who seemed to embody things that you wanted to be yourself."
76- "...almost everyone in academia feels like an outsider, nobody knows what's going on. Academia's an empty vessel, but the ones who don't realize it end up going all the way and end up in charge."
78- "I could have discovered the Velvet Underground when I was 16, as opposed to 26, and you might say this is a minor matter, but it's a matter of style."
79- "What would have changed?"
-"I wouldn't have been such a stupid idiot, I think, and such a romantic and such a moralist. And maybe I wouldn't have married so early."
81- VU song "Sunday Morning"- theme of this symposium- "You wake up, it's Sunday, what have you done with your life, or week."
-"...Sunday's for doing nothing. But actually you know, Sunday is the day to move on from your regrets."
86- reading in a vacuum- useful framework
87- "your education shifts from this sheer accumulation of stuff, to a posing to yourself of certain fundamental questions, and then in certain ways life becomes very easy thereafter."
89- "many of our ideas about the world still seem to come from the field of classical economics- earth's resources are finite (not seemingly abundant as in classical times)
90- "Emerson instead of Nietzsche"
101- Emerson's Circles
114- advice to young people- keep a journal- read seriously- think about everything that happens
118- courage- remain open to things and serious about them

May 17 - August 22, 2008

The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language
Michel Foucault
1972, paperback
18 cards

150- "Contradiction is the illusion of a unity that hides itself or is hidden: it has its place only in the gap between consciousness and unconsciousness, though and the text, the ideality and the contingent body of expression. In any case, analysis must suppress contradiction as best it can. At the end of this work, only residual contradictions remains- accidents, defects, mistakes."
151- "contradiction, then, functions throughout discourse, as the principle of its historicity."
-"Discourse is the path from one contradiction to another."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

July 25 - August 14, 2008

Michel Foucault
This Is Not a Pipe
25th Anniversary edition, 1982, paperback
11 cards

While I'm just starting this summer to read books by Foucault I was surprised that I had not heard about this one before discovering it on a shelf in a DC bookstore. Foucault takes as his subject Magritte's infamous painting as his subject, discussing it with the complexity that it deserves but in a way that doesn't overwhelm. Foucault discusses two pipes (a 1926 drawing, and a 1966 painting) that both contain the phrase "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," however there seem to be even more. It was surprising to me that he didn't mention the 1964 painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (part of the Bergman collection) also containing this phrase but titled "L'Air et la Chanson." It makes me wonder how many additional paintings with this phrase were made by Magritte and their titles. Foucault's comments on Klee and Kandinsky broadens my understanding of elements of both artists' work.

Selected notes:
Translator's Introduction:
2- de Chirico's "The Song of Love"- Magritte claimed to have realized "the ascendancy of poetry of painting.
4- Borges
9- Magritte: "it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say."
15- handwritten script
20- "what misleads us is the inevitability of connecting the text to the drawing"
21- "As a sign, the letter permits us to fix words; as line, it lets us give shape to things."
24- "The text must say nothing to this gazing subject who is a viewer, not a reader. As soon as he begins to read, in fact, shape dissipates."
25- "They very things that is both seen and read is hushed in the vision, hidden in the reading."
-"Magritte redistributed the text and the image in space."
33- Klee
34- "The essential point is that resemblance and affirmation cannot be dissociated."
-"the colors that Kandinsky called 'things.'"
36- Magritte: "The titles are chosen in such a way as to keep anyone from assigning my paintings to the familiar region that habitual thought appeals to in order to escape perplexity."
37- "Magritte secretly mines a space he seems to maintain in the old arrangement. But he excavates it with words..."
38- Magritte: "Between words and objects one can create new relations and specify characteristics of language and objects generally ignored in everyday life."
40- "the sort of things that cannot be names and that in fact 'name' themselves bear an exact and familiar name. The painting is the converse of a rebus, that chain of shapes so easily recognized as to be immediately identifiable..."
41- "In order to deploy his plastic signs, Klee wove a new space. Magritte allows the old space of representation to rule, but only at the surface...beneath, nothing."
43- resemblance and affirmation
44- "To me it appears that Magritte dissociated similitude from resemblance, and brought the former into play against the latter."
-"Resemblance presupposes a primary reference that prescribes and classes."
-"Resemblance serves representation, which rules over it; similitude serves repetition, which ranges across it."
46- (resemblance)- "...reveals the clearly visible; similitude reveals what recognizable objects, familiar silhouettes hide, prevent from being seen, render invisible."
-"Resemblance makes a unique assertions, always the same: This thing, that thing, yet another thing
46-47- Magritte: "Only thought can resemble. It resembles by being what it sees, hears, or knows; it becomes what the world offers it."
-"Thought resembles without similitude...."
47- "Magritte's painting doubtless rests here, where thought in the mode of resemblance and things in relations of similitude have just vertically intersected.
48- "Who speaks in the statement?"
49- infinite games
51- mirror- Les Liaisons dangereuses
54 "...Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell."
57-58- letters from Magritte to Foucault
57- "Las Meninas is the visible image of Velazquez's invisible thought. Then is the invisible sometimes visible?"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 10 - 13, 2008

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs*
*A Low Culture Manifesto
Chuck Klosterman
2003, hardcover
15 cards

Lately I've been mentioning to people that I'm reading Chuck Klosterman's books. Everyone seems to have read this book, if not his others. I was wondering why I missed out on this slice of pop culture. I think I know now. By the time it came out in paperback, every weekend I was driving to Detroit and sleeping on the couches of friends and going to shows; at the time I was the only person living in East Lansing in their mid-twenties who was not married or not enamoured with sports bars. It would be amazing if I ever lived in the same city as my friends. While I bought a lot of books I didn't read too many of them. I think it's good I didn't read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs because I might not have read the other two Klosterman books I read before this. I might have, but I might not have. He's great at discussing the minute details that form the core existence of people my age (most of us watched Saved by the Bell, have some conscious of Sims, listened to bands like R.E.M. and Billy Joel and the Dixie Chicks, saw Reality Bites, etc.) but as he's written more, he's gotten better at it. The track on cereal is first rate and full of acute observations (that's right- all those creatures wanted to steal cereal- what is up with that?) The front pages includes a CD and the stories song titles and play times. Klosterman draws a distinction between a mix tape and a mix cd, placing the mix tape in a higher category. This book is an enjoyable mix cd, the other two are mix tapes.

-(life)- "...nothing stays the same and that nothing is inherently connected, and that the only driving force in anyone's life is entropy. The second is that everything pretty much stays the same (more or less) and that everything is completely connected, even it we don't realize it..."
-"...I am alone. And that everyone is alone. I guess I am not a morning person."
-"an evening book"
-"The goal of being alive is to figure out what it means to be alive, and there is a myriad of ways to deduce that answer" (low culture vs. Kant or Wittgenstein)
1- "No woman will ever satisfy me....But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either."
3- (movies) "We will both measure our relationship against the prospect of fake love."
-assessment of Coldplay
4- "...perfect illustration of why almost everyone I know is either overtly or covertly unhappy."
-"They think everything will work out perfectly in the end..."
-"The main problem with mass media is that it makes it impossible to fall in love with any acumen of normalcy."
6- footnote- Jordan Catalano from MSCL not being able to read
9- (When Harry Met Sally) "it gave a lot of desperate people hope."
-"Nora Ephron accidentally ruined a lot of lives."
13- (SIMS) "There is no way to win, except to keep yourself from becoming depressed."
15- "Seinfeld was about nothing, but its underlying message was that nothingness still has a weight and a mass and a conflict."
16- quotes Talking Heads lyrics
-"video technology cages imagination"
19- "I never enjoy the process of buying anything, but I get the impression that most Americans love it. What the Sims suggests is that buying things makes people happy because it takes their mind off being alive."
36- definition of postmodern
41- (Big Brother not having music) "...without a soundtrack, human interaction is meaningless."
44- (Billy Joel, important songs, loneliness) "And it's not 'clever lonely' (like Morrissey) or 'interesting lonely' (like Radiohead); it's "lonely lonely," like the way it feels when you're being hugged by someone and it somehow makes you sadder."
-"Black Sabbath is the most underrated band in rock history."
45- "Cheap Trick was good at being cool for everybody."
65- Black Sabbath
70- humorousity
70- Rivers Cuomo- "the Cubism didactic-hobo-core three-piece"
102- "This is why men need to become obsessed with things: It's an extroverted way to pursue solipsism. We are able to study something that defines who we are; therefore, we are able to study ourselves. Do you know people who insist they like 'all kinds of music'? That actually means they like no kinds of music."
104- (cars- the IROC and Chevy Cavalier make their first appearance- because of my car it seems I fall into the Celtics fan category but it does have 2 doors, not 4)
119- Sylvester Graham!!!! [former resident of the building that houses Sylvester's in Northampton]
120- "Saturday morning commercials for all the best cereals are teaching kids how to figure out what's cool."
121- "They're the first step in the indoctrination of future hipsters: cereal commercials teach us that anything desirable is supposed to be exclusionary."
-"premise that a given cereal is so delicious that a fictional creature would want to steal it."
122- corduroy
124- "The desire to be cool is- ultimately- the desire to be rescued. It's the desire to be pulled from the unwashed masses of society."
125- 3 questions [#1- No, #2 No, #3A]
127- mix tapes vs. mix cds
128- Saved by the Bell- "people born between 1970 and 1977 [you're wrong here- 1978 factors in too]
130- "I watched it because it was on TV, which is generally the driving force behind why most people watch any program."
-"universities always spawn little cultures of terrible TV appreciation..." [yes!]
131- diner
133- "Important things are inevitably cliche."
138- Angela, My So Called Life- "But Angela was so much an individual that she wasn't like anyone but herself; she didn't reflect any archetype. She was real enough to be interesting, but too real to be important." [but this is why she was so great]
140- "Life is chock full of lies, but the biggest lie is math."
147- Reality Bites- Gen Xers- cynical optimists [I owned this soundtrack on tape]
-"This is why Ryder has to pick Hawke."
-"She pursued a path that was difficult and depressing and she did so because it showed the slightest potential for transcendence."
156- (films) "What is Reality?"
161- forgetting stuff- "The strength of your memory dictates the size of your reality."
167- "...The most wretched people in the world are those who tell you they like every kind of music 'except country.'"
167- but not "old country"
173- "Tastee Freezes are iconic structures in the rural Midwest, because they say something about your hometown; they irrefutably prove your community does not have enough of a population to sustain a Dairy Queen." [Williamston did have a Dairy Queen when I lived there]
175- "lyrics do matter"
176-177- Bob Dylan and Liz Phair cds
178- Johnny Cash- coffee
183- Esprit t-shirts
185- Gacy and mail
194- (list of people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing] "...that virtually everyone's life is only remembered for one thing."
-"I think this is what motivates people to have children...."
211- acquaintance" "'There's one thing worse than talking to a person who knows about nothing,'" he said, 'an that's talking to someone who knows about nothing except music.'"
219- "dying is always original"
229- "As far as I can tell, the nicest thing you can say about children is that they haven't done anything terrible yet."
230- Kierkegaardian leap

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

July 29 - August 10, 2008

Chuck Klosterman IV
A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas
Chuck Klosterman
2006, hardcover
17 cards

I think this may be my favorite Chuck Klosterman book. If you're following this you might say, but you've only read one other one and you haven't even read the one everyone in the world seems to have read (Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs). I am reading said book now, and while I am enjoying it, I think Klosterman excels at the essay. Killing Yourself to Live was a well threaded story of stories, but the essay lets Klosterman engage an idea and then beat it around for a while before declaring victory over the topic. This collection of essays also touches on so many great topics, where in a book there are only a few main ideas he weaves together. Klosterman is also saving the footnote by making hilarious asides and revisions when gathering essays like this together with hindsight.

Three comments/thoughts: Klosterman mentions Black Sabbath a lot. I guess maybe it was just twice in this book but it seemed like more. His Chicken McNuggets diet also makes me think of a button Joel told me about seeing in a bar. It read, "Or will it be Chicken McNuggets?" I always look for this button in treasure shops. If I found it I might not give it to Joel (he found a sweet Chin Tiki ashtray that he kept) but I might give it to Chuck Klosterman. Maybe. His comments about the Olympics are also perfect to read right now.

Some selections:
1- "Can I tell you something weird?" he asked..."Always."
14- Britney Spears- "She is not so much a person as she is an idea, and that idea is this: you can want everything, so long as you get nothing."
24- " Bono's entire life a performance?"
28- Bono: "I write feelings not thoughts..."
37- Val Kilmer is nice.
43- OED and Webster's Second
45- Bob Dylan
50- (Morrissey) 30-year old ex-wallflowers "reminiscing about how The Queen is Dead convinced them not to hang themselves while everyone else was at the prom."
58- (McNuggets diet) "We are a nation obsessed."
59- orange drink
-"Does life make more sense if you're homeless? Perhaps."
60- (McDonald's) "It's the last universal place in America."
61- pirates, scurvy!
63- "Staying alive is complicated."
76- "...we were more like relationship spectators." (mentions Raymond Carver here and many times)
84- "If you're a true fan of a band, it doesn't matter where that band plays- you just go."
94- (Robert Plant) " cannot classify anything anywhere. Classification is a killer."
108- arrested development
109- Post traumatic stress disorder
110- Lars Ulrich from Metallica owned a Basquiat, but he sold it.
115- White Stripes- "Everything will be raw and unrehearsed and imperfect. And that's why it's so f***ing good."
116- formed on Bastille Day in 1997
117- "Detroit people"
119- "People in Detroit know their records."
120- "Record collectors are collecting. They're not really listening to music."
126- (Goths, Disneyland) "What makes someone a normal?"
-"The are not us...They wear polo shirts."
131- Radiohead- "All the wanted to talk about were books."
132- Radiohead's music- "smart on purpose"
138- exhibits Colin told him to check out
-"Everyone in this band probably reads more than you do..."
140- picking words for how they sound
149- footnote- hobo
155- Akron- at the time- "home to the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame"
156- "Is life akin to bowling, or is bowling akin to life."
-"In bowling, your score is not only dependent on what you've done, but also on what you will do."
169- Billy Joel- "...he expresses absolute conviction in moments of wholly misguided affection"
181 and 194- Black Sabbath
200- (Ramones vs. Ratt) "what matters is who likes what you do artistically and what liking that art is supposed to say about who you are."
201- "The things that matter to normal people are not supposed to matter to smart people"
208- "Choice makes us depressed."
209- loss of shared experience
211- "...these shared experiences are how we connect with other people, and it's how we understand our own identity."
211-212-"...they are only pockets of a shared existence. They are things individual people choose to understand and finding others who understand them equally are products of coincidence."
226- "what you need is a) one quality nemesis and b) one archenemy."
235- (Advancement) "For example, Michael Stipe's lyrics don't really mean anything so any 16-year-old can convince himself that those words can mean whatever they want."
237- "'How can you hate the Olympics?' they ask me."
238- "I do not hate the Olympics. I just don't like they at all..."
-"...the Olympics are designed for people who want to care about something without considering why."
-"In order to enjoy the Olympics, you can't think critically about anything..."
240- "Life is f***ing confusing. I don't know anything and neither do you. But this is not what the Olympics want you to believe."
244- "I feel like a mannequin."
253- The Wonder Year- "the only tv program that allowed me to be nostalgic at the age of 17"
254- Kevin- "Did these girls 'like him' or did they 'like him like him'"
-Do we need to be liked, or do we merely want to be liked."
255- human rights, China
256- Bush- "Over 57 million people voted against him."
257- "At some point people confused being liked with being good."
259- "suspect that the most widespread problem we have is the ever-growing sentiment of anti-intellectualism that seems to infiltrate everything..."
-"guilty pleasures"
262- "It never matters what you like; what matters is why you like it."
263- "These things that give us pleasure- they are guilty of nothing. And neither are we.:
268- "If you feel betrayed by culture, it's not because you're right and the universe is f***ed; it's only because you're not like most other people. But this should make you happy, because- in all likelihood- you hate those other people, anyway. You are being betrayed by a culture that has no relationship to who you are or how you live."
277- talking about music too much- 2 words- "overrated and underrated"
283- pirate renaissance
287- "pro-pirate" vs. "pro-chump"
292- if it was 1904 "you wouldn't be reading this essay. Your life would be horrible, but your life would have purpose."
-"Machines allow humans the privilege of existential anxiety."
313- CNN Classic
322- "Pants are on my horizon..."
-"I might feel like putting my hands in my pockets later this afternoon..."
324- "Driving.
325- "Like all geniuses, I don't work before noon."
326- "Tonya is the kind of person who goes shopping the day after Thanksgiving."
332- "'Here's what's been on my mind,' I began, since intelligent people have no need for salutations."
333- "Part of the reason I have managed to thrive as the smartest man alive is because I'm still willing to keep learning. I totally enjoy evolving."
341- girlie girl [i always though it was spelled girly girl but how would I know]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 10, 2008

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
The Art of Isaiah Zagar
Text by Betsy Augustine
2004, paperback
2 cards

Someone wants me to know about Isaiah Zagar and I appreciate their persistence and multiple channels. Though I just realized it, my path first crossed with Zagar this spring when Full Frame showed the documentary about Zagar by his son. I wanted to go but it didn't work out. I didn't pay attention to the details of the film at the time so I didn't realize until today that the film was about Zagar who I have since encountered in other ways. When I was in Philadelphia this summer Joel, Amanda and I noticed a few of his mosaics and became intrigued by them and wondered who made these? Luckily the day after at the American Visionary Museum I found this book which provided the answer. Chances are if you've been in Philadelphia you've seen at least one of his mosaics since in 2004 he had made 64. This proves to be yet another of Philadelphia's many fabulous treasures and I can't wait to see more of his mosaics when visiting the city again. Poems, dreams, mirrors. Brilliant.

A few excerpts:
8-When Zagar visited Clarence Schmidt's garden of mirrors he "called it the singled most important day of his life."
13- "relief he experienced when he began making mosaics"
14- mirrors and dyslexia- qualities of reversal- printmaking
-"I never get tired of working. The mirrors is endless energy reflecting everything."
18- doesn't know WHY, MUST make them
-"process of sharing dreams"
-calls them "poems"
-in his neighborhood- "which he says has made him what he is"
21- grotto basement
22- "His goal, he says, is to live in an expanding world of his own creation"
-mirror- "Yes, it's YOU. YOU'RE here. YOUR dreams matter too."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

August 4 - 5, 2008

Maps and Legends Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
Michael Chabon
2008, hardcover
13 cards

Michael Chabon stop spying on me. I realize there's no way he was spying on me because this book came out before I encountered some of these things, BUT in this book there were a number of overlaps with things I'm interested in or have encountered recently. I love this convergence factor, but the ones that came up in this book were unexpected and just random. I received the book as one of the McSweeney's Book Club releases.
Many people have mentioned to me that they've enjoyed reading Chabon's other books but I haven't gotten around to reading any of them. The sticker on the back says its Chabon's first nonfiction book. It took me a few essays to realize, oh there are essays about maps and then there are some about legends and then there are others about writing. The phrase maps and legends makes me think of the R.E.M. song but that didn't come up anywhere.

Some selections:
14- proposes- "expanding our definition of entertainment to encompass everything pleasurable that arises from the encounter of an attentive mind with a page of literature." [Maybe we need a new word. I think he's right about the magic of books but when there are magazines called Entertainment Weekly can you really use the same word to refer to literature?]
15- pirates and Proust [in the same sentence but as a list, not next to each other]
16- "Pleasure is unreliable and transient."
17- nurse romances [this made me think of Richard Prince's Nurse paintings]
20- "'Science fiction' therefore, becomes any book sold in the section of the bookstore so designated.'" [I tend to steer clear of science fiction but Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower made me think that I might be misguided in my impulse.]
23- Benjamin name dropping
25- Borges [I just bought Borges's Labyrinths in DC]
-Kelly Link [whose book I read in July]
30- map [maps were the theme for my zine]
-street names
-"To me the remarkable thing about those names was not their oddity but the simple fact that most of them referred to locations that did not exist."
31 -"It was a powerful demonstration to me of the incantatory power of names and naming."
33- "...just because you have stopped believing in something you once were promised does not mean that the promise itself was a lie. Childhood, at its best, is a perpetual adventure...a setting- forth into trackless lands that might have come into existence the instant before you first laid eyes on them."
35- Sherlock Holmes [the title of a song I've been listening to]
37- "Like most writers Conan Doyle wrote for money. His misfortune as an artist was to make piles of it, and become famous around the world by writing stories he did not consider worthy of his talent, while receiving less credit or pay for works that meant more to him..."
38- secret sharers
43- inspired guessing
45- titles- The Adventure of...
46- Bentham's panopticon [Just learned about this a few months ago]
49- "Empires are built, however, by laying the groundwork for their own destruction." [Reminds me of current events but also Jared Diamond's book Collapse]
52-53- People who have written letters to Sherlock Holmes
56- Tolkien- end paper maps- "never visited or even referred to by the characters in The Lord of the Rings. All enduring popular literature had this open-ended quality, and extends this invitation to the reader to continue, on his or her own, with the adventure." [brought to my attention with the maps zine]
51- "All novels are sequels; influence is bliss."
59- D'Aularire's Book of Greek Myths [learned about this at work this fall]
63- "Loki is the God of Nothing in Particular yet unmistakably of the ambiguous world itself." [this is one of the found cats' who came with this name at my parent's house]
79- De Chirico streets [he uses this phrase at least 3 times, but it is a good one]
84- Harriet the Spy [one of my favorite books that made me excited about reading when I was younger]
88- "A quest is often, among other things, an extended bout of inspired madness."
91- comics abandoning children [This exhibition allowed me to discover the wonderful power of comics.]
93- "We should tell stories that we would have liked as kids. ...stories that, over time, build up an intricate, involved, involving mythology that is also accessible and comprehensible at any point of entry."
-"retell the same stories with endless embellishment...The key, as in baroque music, is repetition with variation. [I've been learning about Baroque art all summer.]
-"Let's blow their little minds."
93-94- "...but a mind is blown when something that you always feared but knew to be impossible turns out to be true...that everything you know is wrong..."
98- pop artisan incorporates "all the aesthetic moments her or she have ever fallen in love with in other movies or songs or novels..."
-"...a record of consciousness that was busy falling in love with those moments in the first place."
100- Bladerunner [saw this on the big screen this spring]
115- "In order to destroy the world it becomes necessary to save it."
120- "...testament to the abyss of a parent's greatest fears. The fear of leaving your child alone, of dying before your child has reached adulthood and learned to work the mechanisms and face the dangers of the world, or found a new partner to face them with."
124- King's College Cambridge [I stayed here a few nights while studying abroad]
125- H. P. Lovecraft [read about him recently in The Believer magazine]
132- "Perhaps all short stories can be understood as ghost stories, accounts of visitations and reckonings with the traces of the past."
133- Lawrence Weschler [just read one of his books]
137- Julius Knipel's regrets
139- "In the end it isn't nostalgia but loneliness of an impossible beauty and profundity that is the great theme of Knipl."
-clubs- "'Fellowship,' as a loyal member of the Holey Pocket League tells Mr. Knipl, 'is the only thing we crave.'" [I'm a big fan of clubs and fellowship- well when they're for the right things like pickles and corduroy.]
146- "I missed Pittsburgh."
151- "this time The Great Gatsby read me."
153- Bruce Springsteen [see last post]
154- dirigible [word bandied about this spring]
167- "Literature, like magic, has always been about the handling of secrets, about the pain, the destruction and the marvelous liberation that can result when they are revealed."
170- "One search, with a sole objective: a home, a world to call me own." [parallels here including the D.H. Lawrence book I read by Geoff Dyer earlier this year.]
205- "a baby chick of a man" [baby chicks!!!!]

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 3, 2008

Bye-bye Natalia
Michel Faber

While I don't usually post short stories (well ones not in books) or magazines I can't resist mentioning this one since it fits into this theme of writing about music I've become immersed in once again. My friend Megan passed along this is a story of a Ukrainian woman who needs to get out of the Ukraine- needs to get out. Her favorite band is Inward Path, a "dark metal" band. Natalia corresponds with a man through a mail-order bride service, Montana Bob. They start talking about music and it turns out he likes Bruce Springsteen. I'll let you read the story before giving it all away. Let's just say it matters that he likes Bruce Springsteen. Natalia is fabulous.

A few bits:
257- "she isn't much of a smiler"
267- (gloomy poster images) "...they make her happy, these things. Or, to be more precise, they don't make her unhappiness any worse."
-"Explaining what makes great music great is impossible, especially in a foreign tongue, but she can at least give him a flavor of Inward Path's poetry."
275- "What does it matter what music anyone likes?"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

July 30 - August 2, 2008

Killing Yourself to Live 85% of a True Story
Chuck Klosterman
2005, hardcover
16 cards

Chuck Palahniuk and Chuck Klosterman are different people. I now know that. Even better, Chuck Klosterman's books are about music and they are interesting and they are well written. Klosterman writes about music as a listener but his gift is talking about it as it fits into a person's life, how it infiltrates thinking and understanding and relationships. While the larger subject of the book is an assignment about how rock stars have died, the personal epiphanies and thoughts of Klosterman loom larger than any discoveries that could be made (and rarely were) when say, standing on the spot of the plane crash of the Big Bopper Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The observations Klosterman offers appear true to life he lives and there's a sense of honesty in the way he writes about them (even though that might factor into the 85%, 15% ratio). While he's wrong about a few things (no one needs to own Brittney Spears releases p. 16- thinking like this is why there are so many Jethro Tull records where used records are sold), that's ok, no one is perfect and if they were, that would probably be boring.

Some excerpts [with my comments in brackets]:
1- "Ohio. I was qualified to live in Ohio."
4- "We are all tourists, sort of. Life is tourism, sort of."
9- Chelsea Hotel- Stanley Beard, "The kind of person who wants to stay in Room 100 is just a cultic follower. These are people who have nothing to do....You will see that they are not serious-minded people. You will see that they are not trying to understand anything about death."
11- "I have no idea how people travel."
-"Death is part of life."
-"However, this is not necessarily true for rock stars; sometimes rock stars don't start living until they die." [The NYTimes recently had an article related to this- artists and death]
13- "Somewhere, at some point, somehow, somebody decided that death equals credibility. And I want to figure out why that is."
14- missing Car Rock
15- not owning vinyl or a turntable [hmmmmm]
18- diners [not that he really goes to many- chain restaurants instead]
19-compares a woman to the one in "Jolene" by Dolly Parton [How is this the first book I've read this year that mentions Dolly Parton????]
29- Honesty Room
-"...and one day I was structuring my entire life around spending time with her."
33- Springfield, Mass. Basketball Hall of Fame
-"Springfield is a poorly organized town." [So true!]
-"Like all museums, it's a rip-off." [not always true, but understood. Hall of Fames are always a rip-off.]
-"In theory, the Basketball Hall of Fame should simply serve as a pleasant distraction from the road and an opportunity to buy a t-shirt."
34- (Great White concert fire)- "In West Warwick, what used to be a tavern is now an ad hoc cemetery- which is the same role taverns play in most small towns, but not as obviously as this."
42- "Half the people who attend concerts only go so that they can tell other people that (a) certain shows were amazing, and (b) other shows sucked."
42-43- "I honestly believe that people of my generation despise authenticity, mostly because they're all so envious of it."
- Chevy Cavaliers [a friend, when I told her about his mentioning of Cavaliers as a working class car alongside IROCS, said that he probably meant Cavaliers from the 90s. And if he's not, Jettas and other non-working class cars are for suckers.]
45- Synchronicity by The Police
46- "Like all modern people, I had no relationship with anyone in my building."
53- (Washington monument) "but what is this 500-foot masonry structure supposed to tell me? What is it supposed to make me understand? ... I'll never understand why people need to see things just so they can say they saw them."
57- Petula Clark Downtown list
58- "Artists who believe they have any control over the interpretation of their work are completely fooling themselves."
61- "Every summer, Hollywood movie studios convince millions of people to see blockbuster movies they know they're going to hate."
-"Who really cares who Lindsay Lohan is dating? Almost no one."
-"But it's still information they need to have. This is because those people care about something else entirely; they're worried about the possibility of everyone else understanding something they're missing." [v. true]
63- North Carolina
64- "...I must run: Running keeps me alive." [also in agreement here]
64- "This NC oxygen is delicious..." (mentions Superchunk) [yes except when it is above 90]
67- "At their core, the final outcome to every football game (including the Super Bowl) is wholly meaningless.
70- Mary Beth- dreams and media
79- The Standard Hotel
84- (people talking about dreams) "It's a way for people to be honest without telling the truth."
86- Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot- 9/11 [The thing he missed with this is that the album was streaming on the internet when 9/11 happened. That was the really eerie part of the album and 9/11.]
87- "...what can you say when skyscrapers collapse?"
91- "Right now, most rock journalism is just mild criticism with a Q & A attached. Nobody learns anything (usually) and nothing new is created (ever).
92- "...the pursuit of intellect and the so-called 'life-of-the-mind' makes people broaden their classification for what can be reasonably classified as important."
112-113- "We are always dying, all the time. That's what living is; living is dying, little by little."
141- Rumors Fleetwood Mac [which I discovered is a fabulous album only this year]
143- Jeff Tweedy- transcendent moments, unintentional
-CK mentions guitar strong at the beginning of Fleetwood Mac's "I Don't Want to Know" [my favorite song on the album]- "we loved hearing the inside of a song."
164- "Nothing is going to happen tonight."
166- "...reading was a kind of neutral, reactive way to spend an evening."
171- (3 import stores) "I will never understand what people want out of life."
173- "...the things I write are often things I would never say."
195- Thomas Jefferson to Lewis and Clark- seeing mastodons
196- westerly
198- Led Zeppelin and guys
201- talk radio- though Dick Cheney dead
202- "Right now it would be easier to find uranium than college kids."
205- "I don't miss high school at all."
-"I have nothing to say, but I can't stop myself from talking."
216- "That's the history of KISS and those are the contents of my heart."
217- "I love KISS because the world makes sense when I think about them. Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you. It's understanding the unreasonable."
224- Kurt Cobain's death- people unconnected to Kurt, Seattle or grunge- "...suddenly chose to remember themselves in a completely different way."
227- "...his death changed the history of the living."
-"Kurt Cobain was that popular-yet-unpopular kid who dies for the sings of your personality."
230- (people needing to believe he lived under the bridge) "...Maybe it's something they need to believe, because if they don't, they will be stuck with the mildly depressing revelation that dead people are simply dead."
-"...everything else has nothing to do with the individual who died and everything to do with the people who are left behind..."
231- checking email
232- "We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy."
-"But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like....4 or 5 of these people."
-"the individual who embodies your personal definition of love does not really exist. The person is real and the feelings are real- but you create the context."
233- Lucy Chance- "The bar misses you."
235- "I am ready to be alone."

July 10 - August 2, 2008

Everything That Rises A Book of Convergences
Lawrence Weschler
2006 Hardcover
10 cards

I was aware of this book when McSweeney's released it, but at the time I didn't have time to read it. This fall I had time to listen to Weschler's talk from U of M's Penny Stamps lecture series and now by August I've finally finished reading the book. There are four very different sections of this book. I found the first two the most interesting in the connections the essays explore between works of art and other things. One of my favorites is a photo of the moon that Weschler compares to a late Mark Rothko painting. I also appreciate that he also puts forward such observations without trying to tie them up into perfect explanations or lines of influence.

Before this book I've experience synchronicities with material I've read and things in daily life, but this book led to a great one. On page 99 there's a reproduction of Velazquez's Aesop. Unfamiliar with this painting until encountering it here, while reading this book I saw a copy of Aesop's face by John Singer Sargent (a copy of the original Velazquez) at the Ackland Museum of Art. (I also have some photos from when I was younger that look somewhat similar to the photo on page 79 which is just creepy.)

Some excerpts:

15- "What's interesting to me is that history repeats itself, not only in how people arrange themselves but in how the portraits of them stands in relation to them."

22- Joel Meyerowitz: " is always carrying a chapbook of images around. ...For a street photographer like myself, randomness is everything, because that's one thin the world has in abundance and I am just passing through it with my share."

33- "The artist's task is not to alter the world as the eye sees it into a world of aesthetic reality but to perceive the aesthetic reality within the actual world."
-James Agee: "how deep and deft creative intelligence must be to recognize, foresee and make permanent [that world's] best moments."
42- Benjamin: "...There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism."
47- Rothko: "The people who weep before my paintings are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them."
-Rothko "If you are moved by the color relationships then you miss the point."
-"it draws you out and gives nothing back. Its presence, like that of a black hole, is of such density that you might lose your self there."
-"For those Rothkos do not make a statement; rather, they raise a demand, or more precisely maybe, a question."
-"There is a moment in looking at those paintings when we stop looking at them and they start looking at us- and if we are not careful, if there is not enough of us there, straight through us."
-"Rothko keeps bleeding out of aesthetical categories and into ethical ones. Not, is it beautiful? But rather, how should one lead one's life?"
-p. 46 and p. 49
-"And yet on the moon, there was nothing there...A vast interminable emptiness: a howling airless silence. A vacuum of meaning: absolute silence."
-W.H. Auden: "Out apparatniks will continue making/the usual squalid mess they call History:/all we can pray for is that artists,/chefs and saints may still appear to blithe it."
51- Eisenstein
-footnote- Larry McMurty (Lonesome Dove) (forefathers) "What they dreamed, we live and what they lived we dream."
53- "Funny the way mirrors (time or otherwise, canvas or crystal) are constantly doubling and redoubling possible significations in a vertiginous regress."
-Magritte, La reproduction interdite, 1937
54- Diebenkorn- solitary women
-"Abstraction: to be lost in thought, lost to thought transported out of oneself. But out of oneself toward what?"
57- trains- standard time
-Einstein- theory of relativity- trains- "one of the principal motifs in the exploration of simultaneity"
58- Einstein- day job- Swiss patent office- "mindless drudge work, something to help pay the bills while the real work of genius transpired late at night and around the margins."
-Georg Simmel's Philosophy of Money, 1900
-GS: "The meaning of money lies in the fact that it will be given away."
59- "As a tangible item, money is the most ephemeral thing in the external practical world; yet its content is the most stable since it stands as the point of indifference and balance between all other phenomena in the world..."
69- (Edward Snow- Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring) LW- "Has she just turned toward us, Snow asks, by way of entry into the image, or is she just about to turn away?"
-"Capture and release. A punctum."
80- poster tribute to Bruno Schulz
89- (Herb) "He'd be my best reader and I was writing for him."
93 (Vermeer's Lacemaker) " everything in it is slightly out of focus, either too close or too far, except for the very thing the girl herself is focusing upon..."
133- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Midnight clock [currently it's 5 minutes to midnight]
159- (heart bumper stickers in 1981) "The phenomenon seemed at once naive and a bit hopeless- another American effort to single yourself out, to differentiate yourself (and your car) from the hordes of apparently identical beings and things. At the same time, it seemed like an attempt to reach out across the asphalt to signal your humanity (through what you hearted) to other souls..."
169- Persian proverb- "Fear those who fear you."
182- Rhonda Roland Shearer wrote in 1999 about Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q.- "Duchamp had subtly superimposed a photo of his own strangely feminine face onto Da Vinci's portrait, before pencilling in the wicked little moustache and goatee."
-decades speculation about Da Vinci superimposing his face on the Mona Lisa
218- Proust
220- every cell in our bodies replaced every 7 years
223- W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn- "The greater the distance, the clearer the view..."
232- Lao-Tzu- "...We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want..."