Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A life of its own

1) David Byrne on Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (2003)

"I began this project making fun of the iconography of PowerPoint, which wasn't hard to do, but soon realized that the pieces were taking on lives of their own. This whirlwind of arrows, pointing everywhere and nowhere — each one color-coded to represent God knows what aspects of growth, market share, or regional trends — ends up capturing the excitement and pleasant confusion of the marketplace, the everyday street, personal relationships, and the simultaneity of multitasking. Does it really do all that? If you imagine you are inside there it does."

2) Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Power Point (2010)

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war."

Monday, April 19, 2010

The amazing thing

1) From “Solar,” by Ian McEwan (2010)

“The silence in the room was not so much stunned as embarrassed. Meredith stared helplessly as Beard brought his fist down hard on the table. ‘So come on. Tell me. Let’s hear you apply Heisenberg to ethics. Right plus wrong over the square roots of two. What the hell does it mean? Nothing!'

“Barry Pickett intervened to move the discussion on.

“That was an isolated discordant note. What was memorable and surprising came every evening, usually late on, in the bright tones of a marching brass band or the sound of massed voices in unison, elated in common purpose and obliterating for a while all disappointment, all bitterness. Beard would not have believed it possible that he would be in a room drinking with so many seized by the same particular assumption, that is was art in its highest forms — poetry, sculpture, dance, abstract music, conceptual art — that would lift climate change as a subject, glid it, palpate it, reveal all the horror and lost beauty and awesome threat and inspire the public to take thought, take action of deamd it of others. He sat in silent wonder. Idealism was so alien to his nature that he could raise an objection.”

2) From “Art Made at the Speed of the Internet: Don’t Say ‘Geek’; Say ‘Collaborator’” by Randy Kennedy in the New York Times (April 18, 2010)

“When Robert Rauschenberg and a buttoned-down Bell Labs engineer named Billy Kluver began thinking, in the mid-1960s, about ways that people from the world of technology could help artists make art, Mr. Kluver surveyed the mighty gulf between the two groups and almost thought better of the idea. ‘I was scared,’ he said once in an interview. ‘The amazing thing was that it’s possible for artists and scientists to talk together at all.’”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A leafy afterlife

1) “Red Virigina Creeper,” by Edvard Munch (1898-1900)

2) “Creeper,” by John Updike (December 2008)

With what stoic delicacy does
Virginia creeper let go:
the feeblest tug brings it down
a sheaf of leaves kite-high,
as if to say, To live is good
but not to live—to be pulled down
with scarce a ripping sound,
still flourishing, still
stretching toward the sun—
is good also, all photosynthesis
, quite quits. Next spring
the hairy rootlets left unpulled
snake out a leafy afterlife
up that same smooth-barked oak.

Monday, April 12, 2010

You are in it

1) From the episode “The Gold Violin,” Mad Men (Sept. 7, 2008)

image by Dyna Moe

“I don’t think it’s supposed to be explained.”

“I’m an artist, okay? It must mean something.”

“Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you’re just supposed to experience it. Cause when you look at it, you do feel something. Right? It’s like looking into something very… deep. You could fall in.”

“That’s true… Did someone tell you that?”

“How could someone tell you that?”

“This is pointless. Let’s go.”

2) From “Escape Artist,” by John Lahr (April 12, 2010)

"The Red Studio," by Henri Matisse

"For a month in 1949, Rothko went to the Museum of Modern Art to stand in front of Matisse’s 'The Red Studio,' which the museum had newly acquired. Looking at it, he said, 'you became that color, you became totally saturated with it.' Rothko turned his transcendental experience into an artistic strategy; his work demanded surrender to the physical sensation of color. 'Compressing his feelings into a few zones of color,' Rosenberg wrote, 'he was at once dramatist, actor, and audience of his self-negation.' Rothko escaped from the hell of personal chaos into the paradise of color. 'To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience,' he said. 'However, you paint the large picture, you are in it.'"

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Paler and Paler

1) From “The Long Goodbye,” directed by Robert Altman (1973)

2) From “Friends,” by C.K. Williams, Collected Poems (2007)

My friend Dave knew a famous writer who used to have screw-
drivers for breakfast.
He'd start with half gin and half juice and the rest of the day he'd
sit with the same glass
in the same chair and add gin. The drink would get paler and
paler, finally he'd pass out.
Every day was the same. Sometimes when I'm making milk for
the baby, cutting the thick,
sweet formula from the can with sterilized water, the baby, hun-
gry again, still hungry,
rattling his rickety, long-legged chair with impatience, I think of
that story.
Dave says the writer could talk like a god. He'd go on for hours on
the same thought.
In his books, though, you'd never find out why he drove so hard
toward his death.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

That notoriously uncomfortable bed

1) From “On Self Respect,” by Joan Didion (1961)

"To do without self-respect, on the other hand, is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that deals one’s failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening. There’s the glass you broke in anger, there’s the hurt on X’s face; watch now, this next scene, the night Y came back from Houston, see how you muff this one. To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, the Phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice, or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves."

2) From “Anything You Want,” by Spoon (2001)

You're at your best you got the guns turned a hundred eighty degrees
and finding out if it adds all up right.
We go through all the same lines or sell out to appease,
but go to sleep in a bed of lies.
I made my own more than once or twice.