Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 11 - 18, 2008

by J. Nimi
33 1/3 books, 2007, paperback
14 cards

When I met Peter Buck I thanked him for R.E.M.'s introducing me to the music of The Soft Boys and the Velvet Underground. My friend Joel was shocked that I failed to express my love for R.E.M. to Peter Buck. It just seemed a given, I do hope he knew that. R.E.M. for me was like those friends who introduce you to things that help you figure out what you're about as well as share things that they know you will love. J. Nimi does just that in this book on Murmur. I also realize now I don't really know that much about Murmur and, while this book fills in some of that, his discussion of Walker Percy's The Message in the Bottle is his gift, as well as this thoughtful text about Murmur.

A few selections:
xi- "But isn't that how we feel about records we love- that without us, they wouldn't exist? That they continue to mediate your existence, even after you shut off the stereo, shelve the records, "outgrow" the band?
-Francisco Varela: "Every act of knowing brings forth a world."
xii- Richard Brilliant's My Laocoon- "how a personal experience of a work of art can become tainted by what history has to say about it."
xiii- restrain the imagination
-"Murmur is part object...part text...and part performance."
xiv- "Murmur was and is about not understanding things too quickly or too assuredly. An artist wants his or her work to be "understood," but by a particular means also inscribed as a part of that work."
1- recorded in Charlotte, NC
2- Carrboro
12 (being in a band) "is not so much about freedom as it is about the giving up of one kind of burden for another."
43- "the common fear of not being heard"
50- Marat's death
52- "tell now what is dreaming"
55- Lionel Trilling: "The poet...may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather."
56- Thoreau: "each railroad tie was a soul- the passing of a freight train was a night requiem to the railroad ties..."
61-62- Kudzu- James Dickey- "unkillable ghosts"
62- kudzu to a Midwesterner
63- Gerhard Richter
68- Edmund Burke
74- 1st demo tape- sticker, "do not open"
76- David Rothenberg: "The Phenomenology of Reverb" quoting Edmund Husserl: "...once a sound happens, it immediately goes away; and the moment it's over, we begin to forget it. That's what memory, in fact, is: the history of forgetting."
79- Irving Howe: "the Reaganites have largely succeeded in restoring popular confidence in the virtues of capitalism, the mystical beneficence of "the free market," and the attractiveness of a "minimalist state" even though that state, faithfully attending to corporate needs, has never been close to being minimalist."
80- "Coca-Cola didn't sell soda pop; they sold corn, in the form of corn syrup, a product that greatly offset the economic gap created in the wake of the gasoline crisis of the later 1970s."
89- Michael Stipe: "We want our records to be like doors to other worlds."
90- Walker Percy's "Metaphor as Mistake"
90-91- naming
93- Robert Frost, "poetry is what gets lost in translation"
-Eli Khamarov: "poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition."
93-94- MS: lyrics "a blank chalkboard for people to pick up and scribble over"
98- "Murmur is a record that needs to be completed by the listener, but she has written herself out of the picture altogether, not to mention the music."
101- "When you illuminate the sublime, you get a sharper darkness."
108- "For most of history, up until very recently, music was heard only when it was performed."
114- Magritte
125- "But part of projecting yourself into a pop song is the tacit notion that you're able to momentarily leave behind the real narrative that you normally inhabit."
126- strategy

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 8 - 12, 2008

Chicken with Plums
Marjane Satrapi
2006, hardcover
1 card

7- "As someone once said, 'To live, it's not enough to be alive.'"
63- Rumi- The Story of the Elephant
64- "Each one had given his interpretation of the animal according to what he had touched. Life is the same. We give meaning to life based on our point of view."
-"The key to wisdom is doubt."

October 1 - 10, 2008

Fargo Rock City
Chuck Klosterman
2001, hardcover
9 cards

8- "As a writer, there is nothing more flattering than having someone invest their thoughts into something your wrote."
18- "Whenever people look back on their grammar school days, they inevitably insist that they remember feeling 'safe' or 'pure' or 'hungry for discovery.' Of course, the people who say those things are lying (or stupid or both). It's revisionist history..."
25- Brian Eno, "Only a thousand people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but every one of them became a musician."
55- "Sadness and evil are always more believable than happiness and love."
58- metal and interpretation
71- "What music 'means' is almost completely dependent on the people who sell it and the people who buy it, not the people who make it. Our greatest artists are the ones who understand how they can be interesting and unique within those limitations."
72- "Glam is a struggle against normalcy."
73- who has listened to the New York Dolls
105- "The only thing important about art is how it affects people. It only needs to affect one person to be interesting, but it had to affect many to be important."
118- males, loyalty to bands
138- "Life makes art."
221- Americanphile
225- "Hating (and sometimes mocking) music is just as important as loving (and embracing) music."
272- Stone Temple Pilots, Interstate Love Song

Monday, October 20, 2008

August 27 - October 5, 2008

Looking Up Rachel Whiteread's Water Tower
Public Art Fund
Hardcover, 1998
10 cards

Many people who have walked with me in a city know about my interest in water towers. I have given some thought as to why these structures interest me. Partly it's because they signify city to me, there were no such water towers in town I was from. It seems as if they're a tangible expression of time- particularly in Detroit, they're a sign of earlier life and vitality, the towers haunting the sky to some degree. They have a presence in the sky and they also have a function. I try to capture as many as I can in snapshots since each feels unique. Rachel Whiteread also took an interest in water towers and explored, researched and created a project inspired by the water towers of New York. I've had my eye on this book for a while but the truly wonderful Strand Bookstore had it for $5 or so, and thus I found my copy.

Whiteread's tower now seems to be on MoMA's roof. Whiteread chose a trasnslucent material to cast her water tower unlike the dense materials of her casting of house interiors (I saw Ghost this summer at the National Gallery) prevent one from entering the former interior. What is it about water towers that lets us in? I'm still not sure but perhaps in continuing to return to such a question there the answers will become as interesting as the question. I just started thinking about the way water towers are part of networks, relationship which I realize more and more each day underlie many projects and interests of mine.

Some excerpts:
13- Joan Didion, The White Album, "Water is important to people who do not have it, and the same is true of power."
-arid climates, water- "liquid capital"
15- "The skyline of old New York is the engineering consequence of the reserves of water held in upstate regions."
-1998- 17,000 rooftop water tanks in NYC
16- "Human habitations must be protected from their own effects."
17- "In present-day New York City, the politics of land values can be read in the architecture of the skyline. Water, like any other system, is political: power that can be channeled, streamed, diverted and stored."
18- "To look at Whiteread's Water Tower is not only to be reminded of the origins of what we take for granted but also to delve into the functioning of a larger system of which wooden water towers are merely the visible pinnacles."
20-Ilya Kabakov, Monument to the Lost Glove
22- David Hammons
-"the projects in their city locations are 'open texts' which invite many possible readings and individual perceptions."
23- Gordon Matta- Clark
24- 1st research trip- walking
25- Bernd and Hilla Becher
-"The water tower is part of the complex system by which water is collected and distributed. Consisting of a water tank and a tower-like substructure, it fulfills 2 purposes at the same time: storage and the maintenance of pressure."
27- almost disappearing, invisible
-"part of the sky itself"
28- "those who seek it out will find it"
45- Foxwoods
47- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."

Cabin the Sky
, Luc Sante
89- "Although omnipresent, and comforting, in their omnipresence, water towers have nevertheless managed to avoid dull familarity. You never quite cease to see them..."
-"strictly functional idea"
92- Bechers- "It is the Bechers's mission to document with scientific rigor the architectural remnants of the age of industry."
-"They were never intended to be any more than strictly utilitarian."
-"their abject and uncompromising simplicity."
The Immigrant- Molly Nesbit
99- Gerhard Richter- city of New York
100- Rem Koolhaus- "count the rabbits"
-"to make something not there"
-"she would retreat from the skyline to return to it."
101- J. G. Ballard's Crash
102- Nietzsche
105-106 "She gave peace an urban shape in her inverted tower of water"
106- country moment "When there are no birds singing, and there's no wind, you just get this silence that is absolute concrete, it completely smothers you."
-"But New York is not itself capable of this kind of silence."
-"What is an artist? Neither tourist nor traveler exactly."
-107- "For a large work of art like Water Tower is in effect asking to be held only by the world."
108- "No city on earth, no life on earth, has the scale of sky."
-"Clouds are notoriously silent."
163- Moondance Diner (now closed)
166- RW: "I really wanted to make something that was more like an intake of breath."
170- Robert Leonard: "It reflects the idea of a monument without marking a site that a monument would normally mark as being significant. It is an empty form waiting for meaning to attach itself to it."
171- Trisha Brown: "people didn't look up; artists probably did"
173- Trisha Brown, Roof Piece, Soho, 1972
176- Dan Graham- Two Way Mirror Inside Cube
183- Ingrid Schaffner- "this city's particular capacity to inspire whomever is simply prepared to look."
188- David Zwirner: "Looking for it is almost just as satisfying as finding it."
195- Diane Lewis: "The city is a text...But an existential description of the city as a history is that history has no objective, the art is to give it one, by reading of the city not as a history but as une histoire, a story."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Books are places of identification, receptacles of collected insight. Even if you only read a book once in your lifetime, as it stands on your bookshelf it symbolizes a storehouse of experience on which you repeatedly draw in the process of remembering. A subjective selection of ten favorite books, therefore, represents an intellectual spiritual storehouse in and through which individuals rediscover, nourish and redefine themselves. Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are."

-Bernhart Schwenk writing about the artist the work of Peter Wuthrich

Saturday, October 4, 2008

September 16 - 29, 2008

Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
2005, hardcover
27 cards

I've been meaning to read one of Haruki Murakami's books for a few years now. A couple of years ago a co-worker recommended The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and, more recently, his memoir that overlaps with running sounds interesting. But it was when Jen recommended Kafka on the Shore and sent me the New Yorker review of the book (Jen reads New Yorkers cover to cover in order, I think she may be up to June right now but I could be wrong) that I decided this was the one to start with.
A meditation on life, Chances are you the reader has not become involved in a murder like part of the storyline, there are moments that may reflect your own grappling with a life lived, or at least that's what this book offered me. Thoughtful insights abound resulting from ordinary life moments as well as a few of the extraordinary variety. And Chip Kidd designed the cover.
4- "Distance might not solve anything."
11- map
15- "You know how it is. When kids start playing together and get completely absorbed by whatever they're doing, they don't care about things like that anymore."
18- clouds- angle
21- "In traveling, a companion, in life, compassion."
-"'I think it means,' I say, 'that chance encounters are what keep us going."
30- map
31- diner
31- "Like the clouds floating across the sky, I'm all by myself, totally free."
32- libraries
36- odor of books
-"This is exactly the place I've been looking for forever."
37- "people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half."
-"my point is that it's really hard for people to live their lives alone."
44- cat and name- "I had one, I know I did, but somewhere along the line I didn't need it anymore. So it slipped my mind."
46- cats- creatures of habit
54- (Kafka) "I think what Kafka does is give a purely mechanical explanation of that complex machines in the story...that's his own device for explaining the kind of lives we lead. Not by talking about our situation, but by talking about the details of the machine."
68- (apartment) "Seedy, all right, but at least it had the feel of real people living real lives."
83- (no kids) "But it's not a good ideas to make decisions so soon. There's no such thing as absolutes."
94- "Was the sound of birds I was hearing real?"
99- clinging to something- Goethe- "Everything's a metaphor"
102-103- (Schubert) " that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason- or at least they appeal to certain types of people....You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart- or maybe we should say the work discovers you."
104- "...People soon get tired of things that aren't boring, but not of what is boring."
105- "But solitude comes in different varieties..."
122- (pencilled note, Eichmann bio)- "It's all a question of imagination. Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine. It's just like Yeats said: IN dreams begin responsibilities. Flip this around and you could say that when there's no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise. Just like we see with Eichmann."
127- "...silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear."
141- "...whatever is it you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting."
174- "People who look normal and live a normal life- they're the ones you have to watch out for."
175- "The more connections, the deeper the meaning."
-"What matters is that you see things with your own eyes."
-"If you try to use your head to think about things, people don't want to have anything to do with you."
176- "Boundaries between things are disappearing all the time."
182- labyrinth
189- "A theory is a battlefield in your head."
191- diner
203- record player and record- "If possible I'd like to listen to the record to hear how it originally sounded."
-"All like the ruins of some not-so-distant past."
210- (song) "One by one the words find a home in my heart."
225- pirate
-"Artists are those who can evade the verbose."
-"If the words can't create a prophetic tunnel connecting them to the reader, then the whole thing no longer functions as a poem."
232- Bob Dylan
235- "My grandpa always said asking a question is embarrassing for a moment, but not asking is embarrassing for a lifetime."
236- pickles
238- diner
240- Colonel Sanders
248- bird- branch- wind- "vision shifts"
253- Bergson- "The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory."
255- "A revelation leaps over the borders of the everyday. A life without revelation is no life at all. What you need is to move from reason that observes to reason that acts."
265- "God only exists in people's minds."
-"If you think God's there, He is. If you don't, he isn't."
276- "Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who's in love gets sad when they think of their lover."
276- painting
278- "All of us are dreaming."
284- "Nakata's like a library without a single book."
292- "People actually prefer not being free."
-Australian Aborigines, fenceless civilization until 17th century
294- "Or maybe I just wanted to keep myself busy, so I set a goal that kept me running around and my mind occupied."
-"If it wasn't for that project, I probably would've withdrawn even further from reality and ended up completely isolated."
299- "the post rain scent in the air"
302- "The world would be a real mess if everybody was a genius. Somebody's got to keep watch, take care of business..."
326- "So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you're stepping into the labyrinth inside."
327- "The longer people live, the more they learn to distinguish what's important from what's not."
-"You're in the middle of something wonderful, something so tremendous you may never experience it again. But you can't really understand how wonderful it is. That makes you impatient. And that, in turn, leads you to despair."
332- pickles
334- map- diner
334- "'But what the heck are you looking for?' Hoshino asked after they'd eaten. 'I don't know. But I think-' 'that you'll know it when you see it. And until you see it, you won't know what it is.'"
349- "Believing that art itself, and the proper expression of emotions, was the most sublimed thing in the world, he though political power and wealth only served one purpose: to make art possible."
359-360- "War breeds war."
365- "The process of writing was important. Even though the finished product is completely meaningless."
365- painting
370- letter- secret
373- "Why does loving somebody mean you have to hurt them just as much? I mean, if that's the way it goes, what's the point of loving someone? Why the hell does it have to be like that?"
377- "Can nothingness increase?"
379- "You changed my life...things look different to me now. ... I've started to see the world through your eyes."
382- pickles
390- Truffant- 400 Blows
392- names- "There's no need to call me, she says. If you need me, I'll be here."
405- hold a book
427 (quiet, power) "People that don't get it never will."
432- "Every one of us is losing something precious to us...Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That's part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads- at least that's where I imagine it- there's a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in the library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in a while..."
-"People need a place they can belong."
435- time