I began this blog at the start of 2019 as a project of sorts - it barely has structure or consistency, which is how all good projects should start (I think). After graduating, I've tried to be more attentive - capturing floating thoughts and content from left and right. This is an attempt at an evolution - attention with consolidation. Consolidation is a process of solidification, a sort of an end-of-day inventory check of the brain; what stayed, what didn't, what's lingering.
On a quarterly basis, I want to complete an inventory check of what's crossed my mind - what's been significant and made an impact. (Inspired by what Alan Jacobs does weekly if you follow his newsletter). The idea is to solidify the quarter, to end with a statement of what it was - this creates a mental entity that occupies a place in the mind, providing a reference for future thoughts. (Freezing water into ice cubes makes it easier to carry it with your hands). Here goes.
Born to multiply,
Born to gaze into night skies
We come in doing cartwheels.
We all cut out by ourselves,
And your shape on the dance floor
Will have me thinking such filth I'll gouge my eyes.
I recently found an interesting song by Belle & Sebastian titled 'Marx & Engels'. I'm fond of interdisciplinary connections and Duchamp's idea of conceptual art, so as expected, a Scottish indie-pop band referencing Marx just had me ecstatic.
Belle and Sebastian are a smart group, and one would assume well-read with the amount of times they reference books. There is definitely a literary-romantic-philosophy vibe around them akin to the feel one gets from people like Roland Barthes. Many of the ideas in their music reference a melodrama of love that surrounds the non-conformist, idealistic, and romantic youth. The protagonists of Belle and Sebastian are readers, inquisitive, and full of heartache since the novels they hold so dear to their hearts (with plots like the comic above) never come about in reality. But they are not recluses, nor ascetics - the desire to integrate in the culture, to belong and be part of the dynamics of relationships and society is ever present. The thematic heroes of Belle and Sebastian are amateurs, dilettantes in the loving sense of the label. Their characters are captured in the song, The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner:
Basic Relations to Keep in Mind :
(format: In Umbrella Academy = In Violence by Zizek)
- The Commission = Objective Violence
- Number Five (+ Umbrella Academy except Vanya) = Liberal Communists, brutal humanitarians (+ variants)
- Vanya = Subjective Violence
- 'The Way Things are Meant To Be' (Correct Historical Course) = Current socio-economic order (Liberalism-Capitalism)
Warning! This post is full of spoilers.
Before I begin, despite how it seems, this is not a technical post.
GUI is short for Graphical User Interface - something that, I think, is a big part of the figurative 'box' in the wisdom of 'thinking outside the box'. Recently, I've been exploring data visualization - design of visuals for encoding and propagating information - leading me to take a closer look at the structure behind webpages and applications that we use regularly. More specifically, I'm pondering how the structural properties of Social Media networks like Twitter and Instagram or content distribution apps like Spotify effect my cognition (process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses).
A new bill is looking to find a replacement for Seattle's iconic Lenin Statue. Yes, I know, I had the same question: How in the hell did Lenin get to be in Seattle? I'll tell you, along with why I think the statue's journey gives us a caricature view of the social creative act.
A recent article, critiquing modern literary theory, brought up some questions for readers of my kind - i.e. those who read primarily for pleasure. While academia may have a certain viewpoint of what literary theory should behave like, I wonder if that same criteria bleeds over to the amateur reader? I'll quote parts of the article below and question the assumptions.
I've modified Bob Dylan's '7 Simple Rules for a Life in Hiding' to create 7 Simple Rules for a Life [of Authentic Relevance].
One, never trust a cop
in a raincoat.
Two, beware of [anything devoid of] enthusiasm and of love,
eachit is temporary and quick to sway.
Three, if asked if you care about the world's problems, look deep into the eyes of
he who asksthe one's you love, hethey will never ask you again.
Four, never give your
Five, if ever asked to look at yourself,
don'ttake your time.
neverdo anything the person standing in front of you cannot understandcan learn.
and finally Seven,
nevercreate anything, [though] it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life.
Those of us who explore ideas on whim may find ourselves oscillating between the philosophical and the poetic. Often, the effect of one pushes us towards the other - why?
Recently a statement by the director/screenwriter of Godless (a ‘feminist’ Western) caught my eye as he was explaining his placement of women in the plot:
“I worked hard for them [women] to save themselves. The army doesn’t come; they have to fend for themselves.”
— Scott Frank (Director of Godless)
Often people comment on art as if representing against the status-quo is simply a matter of choice - forgetting the skill required to not break the spell of an art work as it represents something outside the norm. I’ve often seen friends applaud ‘representation’ and I have to kind of nod and smile in a politically correct fashion even if I think the ‘representation’ was detrimental for the art.
I know many curious folks (myself included) tend to enjoy exploring the narcissistic killers we make movies/series about (Ted Bundy, etc.). The danger of staring into the abyss is captivating, but at some point, you ask the question, 'Why do I want to understand these terrible, narcissistic killers?'.
With regards to this question, I keep coming back to a monologue by Felicity Jones' [Jill Barker] in True Story (which, ironically, is about a narcissistic killer..).
But ideas may lose their intellectual quality as they are habitually used. When a child was first learning to recognize, in some hesitating suspense, cats, dogs, houses, marbles, trees, shoes, and other objects, ideas—conscious and tentative meanings—intervened as methods of identification. Now, as a rule, the thing and the meaning are so completely fused that there is no judgment and no idea proper, but only automatic recognition.
— John Dewey
I often find myself thinking about 'what I think about' and the irregular periods of intense engagement versus a general indifference associated with any given topic. I've tried to mentally model this dynamics in various ways (sinusoidal - maybe its just an up and down kind of thing?, diffusion - do I gradually bleed out from one idea to another?) but have never quite been able to put a finger on it. There are too many irregularities, too uneven of intervals between one engagement versus another.
Then I came across a piece by Paul Griffith that presented another analogy: falling in love.
Researching GDPR and its impact, I came across some elements of GDPR that piqued my interest for what they implied about our culture and paradigms around data privacy:
A. What is ‘free’ consent?
B. Data as an ‘object’ vs. data as an ‘experience of you’
C. To be forgotten by the network beyond the individual
Some years ago, when I decided I wanted to be actively reading — in classic DIY fashion — I picked up How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading.
Maybe one of the most tragic love stories is between language and the need for meaningful communication. Neither is completely capable of each other. Neither asks for help. Sometimes, in the middle of conversation, attempting to transfer our inner workings on to another, we are hit with the despairing realization, "It’s not working, I’m not getting through, I can’t". Suddenly, something gets caught in the gears of words and tones, and the heavy feeling of something noncommunicable takes over our limbs.