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Image from Living Architecture: India via butdoesitfloat
LINK REMIX: Drowning our debts and worries in the techno bog.

The mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters. 
- D. H. Lawrence. via whiskey river

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Ideology Of Technology In America:

We buy our books to give shape to our thinking, but it never occurs to us that the manner in which we make our purchases may have a more lasting influence on our character than the contents of the book.

Forgive Us Our Debts:

When dollar-gold convertibility was abandoned once and for all in 1973, borrowers and lenders began to ply a more insubstantial trade. .. Paper money debts, being no more than titles to future slips of paper, multiply more easily than debts reckoned in fixed sums of specie, and, starting in the early 1970s, overall indebtedness has indeed grown faster than most national economies.

In the Arcadian Woods. On the nature of anxiety and its varied history:

The Reformation .. emphasized a Protestant’s private communion with the Lord. Thus, individuals were left to manage their own bad consciences .. Kierkegaard and then the existentialists would riff on this theme of a dread that attends individual freedom and responsibility.

The Call of the Future:

new technology typically sets in motion a now familiar script. At first, the technology is deemed to have little import or to fulfill only very specific, limited uses. Consider, for example, this casual dismissal by The New York Times in 1939: “The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.”

Neuroskeptic dialogue about politics and the point of voting:

How dare you call me a Nazi?”
"You effectively are behaving as one. You’re not voting against them. Which has the effect of helping them.”
"That’s ridiculous. I like Schindler’s List as much as the next guy. I hate Nazis!"
"Just not enough to do the one thing they don’t want, to vote against them."

Charles Foster on Living Prudently:

We are all living a dream that our hearts are pure tuning forks, and we simply have to tune out the noises around us and listen to the pure vibration coming from our hearts, and then – beyond all concern for evidence or the reality of the way things work – we will know what to do.

Invoking Ireland - John Moriarty and Mythology:

I was literally glutted with culture, I had to come out and put my head in a stream in a bog in Connemara and let it all wash out and start again and remake my mind.

♫ Music: Waves in Water via shellachead:

Jal tarang is an instrument that consists of ceramic bowls tuned by water .. It’s used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.

Image from Living Architecture: India via butdoesitfloat

LINK REMIX: Drowning our debts and worries in the techno bog.

The mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters. 

- D. H. Lawrence. via whiskey river

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Ideology Of Technology In America:

We buy our books to give shape to our thinking, but it never occurs to us that the manner in which we make our purchases may have a more lasting influence on our character than the contents of the book.

Forgive Us Our Debts:

When dollar-gold convertibility was abandoned once and for all in 1973, borrowers and lenders began to ply a more insubstantial trade. .. Paper money debts, being no more than titles to future slips of paper, multiply more easily than debts reckoned in fixed sums of specie, and, starting in the early 1970s, overall indebtedness has indeed grown faster than most national economies.

In the Arcadian Woods. On the nature of anxiety and its varied history:

The Reformation .. emphasized a Protestant’s private communion with the Lord. Thus, individuals were left to manage their own bad consciences .. Kierkegaard and then the existentialists would riff on this theme of a dread that attends individual freedom and responsibility.

The Call of the Future:

new technology typically sets in motion a now familiar script. At first, the technology is deemed to have little import or to fulfill only very specific, limited uses. Consider, for example, this casual dismissal by The New York Times in 1939: “The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.”

Neuroskeptic dialogue about politics and the point of voting:

How dare you call me a Nazi?”

"You effectively are behaving as one. You’re not voting against them. Which has the effect of helping them.”

"That’s ridiculous. I like Schindler’s List as much as the next guy. I hate Nazis!"

"Just not enough to do the one thing they don’t want, to vote against them."

Charles Foster on Living Prudently:

We are all living a dream that our hearts are pure tuning forks, and we simply have to tune out the noises around us and listen to the pure vibration coming from our hearts, and then – beyond all concern for evidence or the reality of the way things work – we will know what to do.

Invoking Ireland - John Moriarty and Mythology:

I was literally glutted with culture, I had to come out and put my head in a stream in a bog in Connemara and let it all wash out and start again and remake my mind.

Music: Waves in Water via shellachead:

Jal tarang is an instrument that consists of ceramic bowls tuned by water .. It’s used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.

12:11 pm, by jamreilly3 notes Comments



Link Remix: Melancholic Cyborgs Singing in My Head.
Despite several days of overcast skies, the weather’s been pleasantly mild and dry  this week in this corner of the west of Ireland. Among the stories that have most caught my eye and mind recently:
Are Smartphones Changing What It Means to be Human?

It’s gotten to the point where my phone now somehow knows more about me than anyone else in the world, including my own darling husband. My gadget has become a tiny black mirror, reflecting back how I see myself. Which means things are getting more complicated between us.ᔥ via Boston Magazine

How Memory Works and the Pill of Forgetting.

Memories are not formed and then pristinely maintained, as neuroscientists thought; they are formed and then rebuilt every time they’re accessed. “The brain isn’t interested in having a perfect set of memories about the past,” LeDoux says. “Instead, memory comes with a natural updating mechanism, which is how we make sure that the information taking up valuable space inside our head is still useful. ᔥ via Wired

The Making of W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.

Our spread over the earth was fueled by reducing the higher species of vegetation to charcoal, by incessantly burning whatever would burn. From the first smouldering taper to the elegant lanterns whose light reverberated around eighteenth-century courtyards and from the mild radiance of these lanterns to the unearthly glow of the sodium lamps that line the Belgian motorways, it has all been combustion. Combustion is the hidden principle behind every artifact we create. The making of fish-hook, manufacture of a china cup, or production of a television program, all depend on the same process of combustion. Like our bodies and like our desires, the machines we have devised are possessed of a heart which is slowly reduced to embers. ᔥ via Quarterly Conversation

Bones of the Book: the past, present and future of ebooks.

Writing is a miraculous technology all its own—a code that, when input through the optic nerve, induces structured, coherent hallucinations. An equivalent experience does not exist. Words have shape and musicality. They almost have a flavor. But they are too easily drowned out by stronger stimuli. ᔥ via n+1

Two Minds in One Brain: In this short, humourous and enlightening clip, in a discussion moderated by Alan “Hawkeye” Alda, neuroscientist Giulio Tononi talks about the odd phenomenon of “split-brain” patients with filmmaker Charlie Kaufman. ᔥ via World Science Festival
Sticking to brains and their two hemispheres: Pirate-Eye Pigeons Reveal How The Brain Talks To Itself. 

there is also a lot of evidence suggesting that even if both hemispheres contribute equally to a cognitive task such as speech or creating a visual model of the world, each half may favor particular aspects of that task. For her part, Mann hopes to untangle these issues. And she thinks there is no better model than bird brains. ᔥ via Scientific American

The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene. I’ve only watched the first two of four episodes so far and aside from the occasionally silly (though often helpful) televisual gimmicry it’s a very good lesson in contemporary physics, both thought-provoking and thought-stopping.  ᔥ via Open Culture.
In the week that #STOPJOSEPHKONY hysteria gripped the interweb, some needed perspective from netizens in Uganda: Can A Viral Video really #StopKony?

We could be reading the world just as wrongly as the world is reading us. ᔥ via Global Voices

On a similar note, I watched a Ted talk recently by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie and her message was that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

"Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person”
ᔥ via Ted.com: The Danger of a Single Story.

Finally some music, a haunting piece from Gavin Bryars, the first release on Brian Eno’s Obscure record label in 1975, deserving of renewed interest in this the 100th anniversary year of the event commemorated therein: The Sinking of The Titanic. ᔥ via youtube

This symbol ᔥ used in places above is from a new project aimed at encouraging the culture of attribution for the stuff we share on the web. You can read more about it here from Maria Popova ᔥ Brainpickings: Introducing The Curator’s Code. 
Image at top of post  ᔥ  via Data Garden: Expanded Cinema

Link Remix: Melancholic Cyborgs Singing in My Head.

Despite several days of overcast skies, the weather’s been pleasantly mild and dry  this week in this corner of the west of Ireland. Among the stories that have most caught my eye and mind recently:

Are Smartphones Changing What It Means to be Human?

It’s gotten to the point where my phone now somehow knows more about me than anyone else in the world, including my own darling husband. My gadget has become a tiny black mirror, reflecting back how I see myself. Which means things are getting more complicated between us. via Boston Magazine

How Memory Works and the Pill of Forgetting.

Memories are not formed and then pristinely maintained, as neuroscientists thought; they are formed and then rebuilt every time they’re accessed. “The brain isn’t interested in having a perfect set of memories about the past,” LeDoux says. “Instead, memory comes with a natural updating mechanism, which is how we make sure that the information taking up valuable space inside our head is still useful. via Wired

The Making of W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.

Our spread over the earth was fueled by reducing the higher species of vegetation to charcoal, by incessantly burning whatever would burn. From the first smouldering taper to the elegant lanterns whose light reverberated around eighteenth-century courtyards and from the mild radiance of these lanterns to the unearthly glow of the sodium lamps that line the Belgian motorways, it has all been combustion. Combustion is the hidden principle behind every artifact we create. The making of fish-hook, manufacture of a china cup, or production of a television program, all depend on the same process of combustion. Like our bodies and like our desires, the machines we have devised are possessed of a heart which is slowly reduced to embers. via Quarterly Conversation

Bones of the Book: the past, present and future of ebooks.

Writing is a miraculous technology all its own—a code that, when input through the optic nerve, induces structured, coherent hallucinations. An equivalent experience does not exist. Words have shape and musicality. They almost have a flavor. But they are too easily drowned out by stronger stimuli.  via n+1

Two Minds in One Brain: In this short, humourous and enlightening clip, in a discussion moderated by Alan “Hawkeye” Alda, neuroscientist Giulio Tononi talks about the odd phenomenon of “split-brain” patients with filmmaker Charlie Kaufman. via World Science Festival

Sticking to brains and their two hemispheres: Pirate-Eye Pigeons Reveal How The Brain Talks To Itself.

there is also a lot of evidence suggesting that even if both hemispheres contribute equally to a cognitive task such as speech or creating a visual model of the world, each half may favor particular aspects of that task. For her part, Mann hopes to untangle these issues. And she thinks there is no better model than bird brains. via Scientific American

The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene. I’ve only watched the first two of four episodes so far and aside from the occasionally silly (though often helpful) televisual gimmicry it’s a very good lesson in contemporary physics, both thought-provoking and thought-stopping.  ᔥ via Open Culture.

In the week that #STOPJOSEPHKONY hysteria gripped the interweb, some needed perspective from netizens in Uganda: Can A Viral Video really #StopKony?

We could be reading the world just as wrongly as the world is reading us. via Global Voices

On a similar note, I watched a Ted talk recently by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie and her message was that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

"Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person”

via Ted.com: The Danger of a Single Story.

Finally some music, a haunting piece from Gavin Bryars, the first release on Brian Eno’s Obscure record label in 1975, deserving of renewed interest in this the 100th anniversary year of the event commemorated therein: The Sinking of The Titanic. via youtube

This symbol used in places above is from a new project aimed at encouraging the culture of attribution for the stuff we share on the web. You can read more about it here from Maria Popova  Brainpickings: Introducing The Curator’s Code.

Image at top of post  via Data Garden: Expanded Cinema


01:59 pm, by jamreilly3 notes Comments

Image: illustration by Alexander Surikov (1931) via A Journey Round My Skull.
LINK REMIX.
It’s been a week of persistent wind and rain here in the northwest of Ireland. My attention was blown hither and thither along the internet. In Capital Realism; or Zombie World Redivivus I found an outline and excerpts from a book by Mark Fischer that dissects the problems facing our, as he sees it, artificial culture:

"In his dreadful  lassitude and objectless rage, (Kurt) Cobain seemed to give wearied voice to  the despondency of the generation that had come after history, whose  every move was anticipated, tracked, bought and sold before it had even  happened. Cobain knew that he was just another piece of spectacle, that  nothing runs better on MTV than a protest against MTV; knew that his  every move was a cliche scripted in advance, knew that even realizing it  is a cliche."  Like a dead man in an imaginary museum Cobain  adapted to the masks of an unreasoning culture to show forth the zombie  styles of an age of revolt that was itself never a revolt, but only  another decadence of hyperstylization of the transglobal machine that  feeds upon such detritus with a relish that makes any form of rebellion  seem nothing more than a final capitulation and affirmation of  megacapital’s very power of inscripting and incorporating all  rebellions. (link)

Do we ever know anything for sure? Jeff Carreira has a good post about  Charles Sanders Peirce’s view on this topic of epistemology and how our thoughts are more like a painting of reality than a mirroring of it:

Imagine that a  painter paints a landscape. The landscape on the page may be beautiful,  but it will not be a perfect reflection of the landscape in front of  him. Now let us imagine that this painting is given to another painter  who tries to paint the landscape himself based on what he sees in this  picture. Then that painting is given to another painter who uses it as a  model for a third painting and another and another. If we could take  the one thousandth painting that was painted based on the nine hundred  ninety ninth painting and bring that one back to the original landscape I  wonder how different it would be. What if we did this a million times? Peirce saw our own thoughts building in something like this way. (link)

Along the same subject line, George Lakoff, on explainer.net,  in a discussion of the need for journalists to decode the metaphors they use, makes the very important point that

language is not a neutral system of communication, because it is always  based on frames, conceptual metaphors, narratives, and emotions. (link)

With reference to the current turmoil in Egypt, Vinay Gupta explains what he sees as wrong with our present thinking about the world and rightly decries our lauding of “democracy” as a goal and a good in itself:

I am scared that the current generation of political activists, by seizing on democracy as the cause are completely missing the point. Democracy is a means to an end: good,  just government. Right now we have democracy, but without good, just  government, and this is the crisis of our times. We have fallen from  grace, while retaining our vote. (link)

In The Guardian Jon Savage celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of the album Stormcock by the seminal and eccentric British folk musician Roy Harper, who turns 70 this year. I attended a concert last year by Joanna Newsom and was delighted to discover the legendary Harper to be playing the support gig, my first time to see him and it was a rivetting and joyful performance. From that album:
 ♫  Roy Harper - Hors D’Oeuvres
I watched a good BBC documentary on Youtube this week -  Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany -  with many interesting interviews with the now much elder protagonists of that time in German culture when ‘between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would  look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original  and uncompromising music ever heard.’ (link)
Finally, bearing in mind the great influence exerted by that German music scene upon the genesis of techno music in Detroit in the 1980s, some, perhaps unusually ambient to some ears, techno from 1996:
 ♫ John Beltran – Ten Days Of Blue 
Take care out there ;)
Jamreilly, 05/02/2011.

Image: illustration by Alexander Surikov (1931) via A Journey Round My Skull.

LINK REMIX.

It’s been a week of persistent wind and rain here in the northwest of Ireland. My attention was blown hither and thither along the internet. In Capital Realism; or Zombie World Redivivus I found an outline and excerpts from a book by Mark Fischer that dissects the problems facing our, as he sees it, artificial culture:

"In his dreadful lassitude and objectless rage, (Kurt) Cobain seemed to give wearied voice to the despondency of the generation that had come after history, whose every move was anticipated, tracked, bought and sold before it had even happened. Cobain knew that he was just another piece of spectacle, that nothing runs better on MTV than a protest against MTV; knew that his every move was a cliche scripted in advance, knew that even realizing it is a cliche."  Like a dead man in an imaginary museum Cobain adapted to the masks of an unreasoning culture to show forth the zombie styles of an age of revolt that was itself never a revolt, but only another decadence of hyperstylization of the transglobal machine that feeds upon such detritus with a relish that makes any form of rebellion seem nothing more than a final capitulation and affirmation of megacapital’s very power of inscripting and incorporating all rebellions. (link)

Do we ever know anything for sure? Jeff Carreira has a good post about  Charles Sanders Peirce’s view on this topic of epistemology and how our thoughts are more like a painting of reality than a mirroring of it:

Imagine that a painter paints a landscape. The landscape on the page may be beautiful, but it will not be a perfect reflection of the landscape in front of him. Now let us imagine that this painting is given to another painter who tries to paint the landscape himself based on what he sees in this picture. Then that painting is given to another painter who uses it as a model for a third painting and another and another. If we could take the one thousandth painting that was painted based on the nine hundred ninety ninth painting and bring that one back to the original landscape I wonder how different it would be. What if we did this a million times? Peirce saw our own thoughts building in something like this way. (link)

Along the same subject line, George Lakoff, on explainer.net,  in a discussion of the need for journalists to decode the metaphors they use, makes the very important point that

language is not a neutral system of communication, because it is always based on frames, conceptual metaphors, narratives, and emotions. (link)

With reference to the current turmoil in Egypt, Vinay Gupta explains what he sees as wrong with our present thinking about the world and rightly decries our lauding of “democracy” as a goal and a good in itself:

I am scared that the current generation of political activists, by seizing on democracy as the cause are completely missing the point. Democracy is a means to an end: good, just government. Right now we have democracy, but without good, just government, and this is the crisis of our times. We have fallen from grace, while retaining our vote. (link)

In The Guardian Jon Savage celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of the album Stormcock by the seminal and eccentric British folk musician Roy Harper, who turns 70 this year. I attended a concert last year by Joanna Newsom and was delighted to discover the legendary Harper to be playing the support gig, my first time to see him and it was a rivetting and joyful performance. From that album:

♫ Roy Harper - Hors D’Oeuvres

I watched a good BBC documentary on Youtube this week -  Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany with many interesting interviews with the now much elder protagonists of that time in German culture when ‘between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard.’ (link)

Finally, bearing in mind the great influence exerted by that German music scene upon the genesis of techno music in Detroit in the 1980s, some, perhaps unusually ambient to some ears, techno from 1996:

♫ John Beltran – Ten Days Of Blue

Take care out there ;)

Jamreilly, 05/02/2011.


11:05 am, by jamreilly1 note Comments

Image via Old Paint : Carnival  by Henri Rousseau (1844 - 1910)
LINK REMIX.
In The Guardian, Saul Hampton writes about the relation between some of the concerns of 16th century French essayist Michel Montaigne regarding human sympathy with contemporary neurological research about mirror neurons:

Montaigne has a reputation as a sceptical and slightly otherworldly  observer of human affairs, surveying life from the isolation of his  ivy-covered tower. But in the body of his work – his Essays and the Travel Journal of his trip to Italy – his writing displays an obsessive concern with  the power of personal presence in moral life, and a fascination with how  people act on, influence and affect each other through their physical  being. In this, Montaigne can be seen to reflect a characteristically  Renaissance concern with gesture and deportment. Shakespeare, in The Winter’s Tale,  describes Leontes and Camillo as having “speech in their dumbness,  language in their very gesture”. And Francis Bacon observes: “As the  tongue speaketh to the ear, so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” (link)

In The New Republic Nicholas Carr reviews a new biography of Marshall McLuhan by Douglas Coupland:

The Gutenberg Galaxy, published in 1962, explored the cultural  and personal consequences of the invention of the printing press, and  argued that Gutenberg’s invention shaped the modern mind. Two years  later, Understanding Media extended the analysis to the  electronic media of the twentieth century, which, McLuhan famously  argued, were destroying the individualist ethic of print culture and  turning the world into a tightly networked global village.
McLuhan was a scholar of literature, with a doctorate from Cambridge,  and his interpretation of the intellectual and social effects of media  was richly allusive and erudite. But what particularly galvanized the  public was the weirdness of his prose. Perhaps because of his unusual  mind, he had a knack for writing sentences that sounded at once clinical  and mystical. His books read like accounts of acid trips written by a  bureaucrat. That kaleidoscopic, almost psychedelic style made him a  darling of the counterculture—the bearded and the Birkenstocked embraced  him as a guru—but it alienated him from his colleagues in academia. To  them, McLuhan was a celebrity-seeking charlatan. (link)

An article in The Millions - Darts and Philosophy, Bowling and Metaphysics: A Primer on the Novels of Jean-Philippe Toussaint - has me curious to find and read some of this, previously unheard-of, writer’s work: 

He placed great importance on humor at the beginning of his career, and  though to an extent he still does, he’s since balanced it with a certain  wistfulness. He eschews shades of gray, but he places so many black and  white extremes so near to one another that, if you step back, they look like gray. He believes novels have no political role, only an aesthetic  one. He deals with both the little irritations and the Big Questions,  usually in as close a proximity as possible. He respects no boundary  between fiction and nonfiction. And as he said in that Bookworm conversation, you can perform all the experimentation, all the rigid structuring, all the nouveau roman stuff you want, but if your book isn’t first and foremost exciting, hang it up. (link)

I recently discovered the very interesting research and work of psychologist George Ainslee (several essays here) on the roots of human motivation, including a precis of his 2001 book Breakdown of Will :

Behavioral science has long been puzzled by the experience of temptation, the resulting impulsiveness, and the variably successful control of this impulsiveness. Breakdown of Will presents evidence that contradicts rational models in which discounting the value of future events at a constant rate keeps preference consistent. Both people and nonhuman animals discount the value of expected events in a curve where value is divided approximately by expected delay, a hyperbolic form that is more bowed than the rational, exponential curve. This finding implies that conflicting reward-seeking processes will arise spontaneously to get incompatible goals available at different times, that in humans these processes will in effect bargain with each other, and that this bargaining can create ego functions like willpower from the bottom up. Motivation-based models of classical conditioning, compulsiveness, empathy, and the social construction of belief become possible. (link)

My sole musical offering this week is a piece of mesmerising (to me anyway) minimal techno from 2006 by Tunisian-born Yassine Ben Achour (a.k.a. Loco Dice) :
♫ Loco Dice – Paradiso
Take care out there ;)
Jamreilly, 29/01/2011.

Image via Old Paint : Carnival  by Henri Rousseau (1844 - 1910)

LINK REMIX.

In The Guardian, Saul Hampton writes about the relation between some of the concerns of 16th century French essayist Michel Montaigne regarding human sympathy with contemporary neurological research about mirror neurons:

Montaigne has a reputation as a sceptical and slightly otherworldly observer of human affairs, surveying life from the isolation of his ivy-covered tower. But in the body of his work – his Essays and the Travel Journal of his trip to Italy – his writing displays an obsessive concern with the power of personal presence in moral life, and a fascination with how people act on, influence and affect each other through their physical being. In this, Montaigne can be seen to reflect a characteristically Renaissance concern with gesture and deportment. Shakespeare, in The Winter’s Tale, describes Leontes and Camillo as having “speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture”. And Francis Bacon observes: “As the tongue speaketh to the ear, so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” (link)

In The New Republic Nicholas Carr reviews a new biography of Marshall McLuhan by Douglas Coupland:

The Gutenberg Galaxy, published in 1962, explored the cultural and personal consequences of the invention of the printing press, and argued that Gutenberg’s invention shaped the modern mind. Two years later, Understanding Media extended the analysis to the electronic media of the twentieth century, which, McLuhan famously argued, were destroying the individualist ethic of print culture and turning the world into a tightly networked global village.

McLuhan was a scholar of literature, with a doctorate from Cambridge, and his interpretation of the intellectual and social effects of media was richly allusive and erudite. But what particularly galvanized the public was the weirdness of his prose. Perhaps because of his unusual mind, he had a knack for writing sentences that sounded at once clinical and mystical. His books read like accounts of acid trips written by a bureaucrat. That kaleidoscopic, almost psychedelic style made him a darling of the counterculture—the bearded and the Birkenstocked embraced him as a guru—but it alienated him from his colleagues in academia. To them, McLuhan was a celebrity-seeking charlatan. (link)

An article in The Millions - Darts and Philosophy, Bowling and Metaphysics: A Primer on the Novels of Jean-Philippe Toussaint - has me curious to find and read some of this, previously unheard-of, writer’s work:

He placed great importance on humor at the beginning of his career, and though to an extent he still does, he’s since balanced it with a certain wistfulness. He eschews shades of gray, but he places so many black and white extremes so near to one another that, if you step back, they look like gray. He believes novels have no political role, only an aesthetic one. He deals with both the little irritations and the Big Questions, usually in as close a proximity as possible. He respects no boundary between fiction and nonfiction. And as he said in that Bookworm conversation, you can perform all the experimentation, all the rigid structuring, all the nouveau roman stuff you want, but if your book isn’t first and foremost exciting, hang it up. (link)

I recently discovered the very interesting research and work of psychologist George Ainslee (several essays here) on the roots of human motivation, including a precis of his 2001 book Breakdown of Will :

Behavioral science has long been puzzled by the experience of temptation, the resulting impulsiveness, and the variably successful control of this impulsiveness. Breakdown of Will presents evidence that contradicts rational models in which discounting the value of future events at a constant rate keeps preference consistent. Both people and nonhuman animals discount the value of expected events in a curve where value is divided approximately by expected delay, a hyperbolic form that is more bowed than the rational, exponential curve. This finding implies that conflicting reward-seeking processes will arise spontaneously to get incompatible goals available at different times, that in humans these processes will in effect bargain with each other, and that this bargaining can create ego functions like willpower from the bottom up. Motivation-based models of classical conditioning, compulsiveness, empathy, and the social construction of belief become possible. (link)

My sole musical offering this week is a piece of mesmerising (to me anyway) minimal techno from 2006 by Tunisian-born Yassine Ben Achour (a.k.a. Loco Dice) :

♫ Loco Dice – Paradiso

Take care out there ;)

Jamreilly, 29/01/2011.

11:28 am, by jamreilly2 notes Comments

Image: via Booktryst: The Art of War: Lakota Style

At the time of Red Cloud’s War, the Plains  Indians had just become familiar with the white man’s tools for writing  and drawing - graphite, colored pencils, ink, and, of course, paper. In  Native American hands, Moore’s accounting ledger began a second life as  the pictorial battle record of a band of Lakota warriors.

LINK REMIX.
The Guardian reports that we must learn to love uncertainty and failure, according to leading thinkers responding to an annual question posed by Edge.org, which this year was: "What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?"

Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Centre for Bits and Atoms wants everyone to know that “truth” is just a model.  “The most common misunderstanding about science is that scientists seek  and find truth. They don’t – they make and test models,” he said.
"Building  models is very different from proclaiming truths. It’s a never-ending  process of discovery and refinement, not a war to win or destination to  reach. Uncertainty is intrinsic to the process of finding out what you  don’t know, not a weakness to avoid. Bugs are features – violations of  expectations are opportunities to refine them. And decisions are made by  evaluating what works better, not by invoking received wisdom." (link)

The Chronicle Review interviews Sherry Turkle about the possible dangers of social technology from robots to the internet, which she has wrote about in her latest book Alone Together:

Imagine standing in front of a robot, gazing into its wide, plastic  eyes, and falling in love. Your heart revs up, and you hope this  Other—this humanoid machine—turns your way again, tilts its head in  interest, likes you back.
It happened one summer to Sherry Turkle, at a lab at the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is a professor studying  the impact of technology on society. She met a metallic robot named Cog—made to resemble a human, with  moving arms and a head—which was programmed to turn toward whoever was  speaking, suggesting that it understood what was being said. To Turkle’s  surprise, she found that she deeply wanted Cog to interact with her  rather than with a colleague who was there that day. She realized this  human-looking machine was tapping into a deep human desire to see it as  alive—as good a companion as any human. She describes it almost like a  schoolgirl crush. The experience unnerved her. (link)
The 99 Percent has an interview with Francis Ford Coppola. In response to the question “How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?” he answers:

You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much,  that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists  had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or  somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have  another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the  money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in  the morning and write your script. This idea of Metallica or  some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to  happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be  free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download  music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art  has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money? In  the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you  could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor,  because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There  were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of  cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are  ways around it. (link)

In The Killing Fields of Inequality, via Eurozine, Göran Therborn writes about the three kinds of inequality prevalent in our world - vital, existential and material - their causes and how social status hierarchies are, literally lethal: 

In l910-12 an unskilled manual worker in England and Wales had a 61 per  cent greater risk of dying between the age of 20 and 44 than a  professional man. In l991-93 the extra risk of early adult death had  risen to 186 per cent. For a semi-skilled worker the extra mortality  risk was 6 per cent before the first world war and 76 per cent in the  early l990s.

Few people are likely to argue that a society which awards 28 fewer  years of life to people in the most disadvantaged neighbourhood (Glasgow  Calton) than to those in the most privileged ones (Glasgow Lenzie,  London Kensington and Chelsea) is a decent society. Is it a vindication  of the superiority of capitalism that male life expectancy in capitalist  Russia is now seventeen years shorter than in Cuba. Social status hierarchies are, literally, lethal. Why should those on  the lowest rungs of the Whitehall ladder have a four times higher  likelihood of dying before retirement age than those on the top rungs?  The USA – the richest country on earth, and the most unequal among the  rich countries – has the third highest rate of relative poverty of all  the 30 OECD countries (after Mexico and Turkey). Such relative poverty  means being excluded from many parts of the social and cultural life of  your society. But the US also scores badly on absolute poverty rates:  the poorest tenth of the US population has an income well below the  average poor of the OECD; the income of this group in the US is lower  than that of the poorest tenth in Greece. (link)
Finally, some music. I’ve noticed some online reports this week about the neuroscience of why we like music, such as here. Be that as it may, as Geraldine Hunt sings in her disco classic from 1980 “you can’t fake the feeling”:
♫ Geraldine Hunt – Can’t Fake The Feeling
Some seminal “post-rock”, from their 1991 album, Spiderland:
♫ Slint – Good Morning, Captain
From a 1991 album collaboration called Passages, the opening track:
♫ Ravi Shankar & Philip Glass – Offering
Take care out there ;)
Jamreilly 22/01/2011.

Image: via Booktryst: The Art of War: Lakota Style

At the time of Red Cloud’s War, the Plains Indians had just become familiar with the white man’s tools for writing and drawing - graphite, colored pencils, ink, and, of course, paper. In Native American hands, Moore’s accounting ledger began a second life as the pictorial battle record of a band of Lakota warriors.

LINK REMIX.

The Guardian reports that we must learn to love uncertainty and failure, according to leading thinkers responding to an annual question posed by Edge.org, which this year was: "What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?"

Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Centre for Bits and Atoms wants everyone to know that “truth” is just a model. “The most common misunderstanding about science is that scientists seek and find truth. They don’t – they make and test models,” he said.

"Building models is very different from proclaiming truths. It’s a never-ending process of discovery and refinement, not a war to win or destination to reach. Uncertainty is intrinsic to the process of finding out what you don’t know, not a weakness to avoid. Bugs are features – violations of expectations are opportunities to refine them. And decisions are made by evaluating what works better, not by invoking received wisdom." (link)

The Chronicle Review interviews Sherry Turkle about the possible dangers of social technology from robots to the internet, which she has wrote about in her latest book Alone Together:

Imagine standing in front of a robot, gazing into its wide, plastic eyes, and falling in love. Your heart revs up, and you hope this Other—this humanoid machine—turns your way again, tilts its head in interest, likes you back.

It happened one summer to Sherry Turkle, at a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is a professor studying the impact of technology on society. She met a metallic robot named Cog—made to resemble a human, with moving arms and a head—which was programmed to turn toward whoever was speaking, suggesting that it understood what was being said. To Turkle’s surprise, she found that she deeply wanted Cog to interact with her rather than with a colleague who was there that day. She realized this human-looking machine was tapping into a deep human desire to see it as alive—as good a companion as any human. She describes it almost like a schoolgirl crush. The experience unnerved her. (link)

The 99 Percent has an interview with Francis Ford Coppola. In response to the question “How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?” he answers:

You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it. (link)

In The Killing Fields of Inequality, via Eurozine, Göran Therborn writes about the three kinds of inequality prevalent in our world - vital, existential and material - their causes and how social status hierarchies are, literally lethal:

In l910-12 an unskilled manual worker in England and Wales had a 61 per cent greater risk of dying between the age of 20 and 44 than a professional man. In l991-93 the extra risk of early adult death had risen to 186 per cent. For a semi-skilled worker the extra mortality risk was 6 per cent before the first world war and 76 per cent in the early l990s.

Few people are likely to argue that a society which awards 28 fewer years of life to people in the most disadvantaged neighbourhood (Glasgow Calton) than to those in the most privileged ones (Glasgow Lenzie, London Kensington and Chelsea) is a decent society. Is it a vindication of the superiority of capitalism that male life expectancy in capitalist Russia is now seventeen years shorter than in Cuba. Social status hierarchies are, literally, lethal. Why should those on the lowest rungs of the Whitehall ladder have a four times higher likelihood of dying before retirement age than those on the top rungs? The USA – the richest country on earth, and the most unequal among the rich countries – has the third highest rate of relative poverty of all the 30 OECD countries (after Mexico and Turkey). Such relative poverty means being excluded from many parts of the social and cultural life of your society. But the US also scores badly on absolute poverty rates: the poorest tenth of the US population has an income well below the average poor of the OECD; the income of this group in the US is lower than that of the poorest tenth in Greece. (link)

Finally, some music. I’ve noticed some online reports this week about the neuroscience of why we like music, such as here. Be that as it may, as Geraldine Hunt sings in her disco classic from 1980 “you can’t fake the feeling”:

♫ Geraldine Hunt – Can’t Fake The Feeling

Some seminal “post-rock”, from their 1991 album, Spiderland:

♫ Slint – Good Morning, Captain

From a 1991 album collaboration called Passages, the opening track:

♫ Ravi Shankar & Philip Glass – Offering

Take care out there ;)

Jamreilly 22/01/2011.

11:24 am, by jamreilly2 notes Comments

Image: via russianavantgard: The Blue Rose, catalogue cover, 1907.
LINK REMIX.
Over at The Bricoleur, Mark Kerstetter discusses The Mysteries of David Lynch:

He decided to forgo psychoanalysis because of the chance it could damage  his creativity. He doesn’t draw a consistent or clear distinction  between knowing and revealing—the possibility that an artist may know as  much as he can, but only reveal what is necessary. He is more verbose  about INLAND EMPIRE than his other films. It is also the most abstract. But he gives us a verse from the Upanishads: We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it.  We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is  true for the entire universe. (link)

Daniel T. Rodgers, in The Chronice Review, writes about changing intellectual paradigms and  Economics in an Age of Fracture:

Words and visions for common and interdependent fates had fractured.  Across the multiple fronts of intellectual debate, concepts of human  nature that had been thick with context, social circumstance, and  history gave way to an understanding that emphasized choice, agency,  performance, language, and desire. Ability to imagine spheres of  collective solidarity—class, neighborhood, or the common good—shrank;  notions of structure and power thinned out in favor of self-acting  markets and worlds of choice. The drag of history persisted, of course.  The pressure of social forces on choice was no less weighty than before.  But the concepts that might have helped to hold them clearly in mind  had disaggregated. (link)

In Forensic Psychologist there’s an examination of the mental health dangers of solitary confinement:

Since the supermax craze took off in the early 1990s, almost every U.S.  state has signed on to the dubious concept, and an estimated 25,000  American prisoners are now locked 24/7 in these tiny, antiseptic  cubicles. Although SHU housing was originally intended for relatively  short terms of confinement, nowadays prisoners may remain in these  constantly lit and electronically surveilled sensory deprivation holes  for years - or even decades. (link)

In Market Mysticism, via Eurozine, Roman Frydman and Michael D. Goldberg study the ideology of self-regulating markets and its pseudo-scientific foundations:

whatever their flaws, financial markets and private property are the  only social institutions known to us that are able, adequately though  imperfectly, to consider diversity of knowledge and intuition in  allocating capital. Incentives to innovate and to manage ever-imperfect  knowledge are the main underpinnings of capitalism’s success.  Conversely, the inability of the planned economies of eastern Europe and  the Soviet Union to innovate was one of the main causes of their  ultimate collapse – and of the complete disappearance of central  planning as a serious economic alternative.  Paradoxically, however, contemporary economic theory has kept alive the  core ideas of central planning, because it relies on a similarly false  concept of rationality – one whose inadequacy was already proved by  Friedrich Hayek. Central planning, Hayek concluded, is by its nature  impossible, because no mathematical model can precisely mimic the  behaviour of markets.  But mainstream contemporary economics understood Hayek’s conclusion  about rationality as if it applied only to planned economies, while  basing economic theory on a belief that economists can predict future  market changes exactly. The creation and legitimation of today’s most  controversial financial instruments rests on this false premise.  (link)

The UK’s first scientific trial of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) was reported upon in a BBC programme this week:

"Our aim was to identify the precise areas inside the brain where the  drug is active. We thought when we started that psilocybin would  activate different parts of the brain. But we haven’t found any  activation anywhere. All we have found are reductions in blood flow"
A fall in blood flow suggests that brain activity has  reduced. The areas affected were those parts of the brain that tell us  who we are, where we are and what we are. When these areas were dampened  down, I was no longer locked into my everyday constraints. (link)

 Slavoj Zizek writes about Good Manners in the Age of Wikileaks, comparing “cablegate” to the film The Dark Knight and considering the role of secrecy in political history. He quotes this amusing anecdote from the film Baisers volés regarding the difference between tact and politeness:

‘Imagine you inadvertently enter a bathroom where a woman is standing  naked under the shower. Politeness requires that you quickly close the  door and say, “Pardon, Madame!”, whereas tact would be to quickly close  the door and say: “Pardon, Monsieur!”’  (link)

Some music for your listening pleasure:
Dub meets the sounds of Ethiopian soul and jazz:
♫ Dub Colossus – Azmari Dub
Funky rhythms in an instrumental remix of an Aril Brikha techno classic:
♫ Christian Prommer - Groove La Chord
And finally an epic song rendition from the qawwali legends of Pakistan:
♫ Sabri Brothers – Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi
Take care out there ;)
Jamreilly, 14/01/2011.

Image: via russianavantgard: The Blue Rose, catalogue cover, 1907.

LINK REMIX.

Over at The Bricoleur, Mark Kerstetter discusses The Mysteries of David Lynch:

He decided to forgo psychoanalysis because of the chance it could damage his creativity. He doesn’t draw a consistent or clear distinction between knowing and revealing—the possibility that an artist may know as much as he can, but only reveal what is necessary. He is more verbose about INLAND EMPIRE than his other films. It is also the most abstract. But he gives us a verse from the Upanishads:

We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe. (link)

Daniel T. Rodgers, in The Chronice Review, writes about changing intellectual paradigms and  Economics in an Age of Fracture:

Words and visions for common and interdependent fates had fractured. Across the multiple fronts of intellectual debate, concepts of human nature that had been thick with context, social circumstance, and history gave way to an understanding that emphasized choice, agency, performance, language, and desire. Ability to imagine spheres of collective solidarity—class, neighborhood, or the common good—shrank; notions of structure and power thinned out in favor of self-acting markets and worlds of choice. The drag of history persisted, of course. The pressure of social forces on choice was no less weighty than before. But the concepts that might have helped to hold them clearly in mind had disaggregated. (link)

In Forensic Psychologist there’s an examination of the mental health dangers of solitary confinement:

Since the supermax craze took off in the early 1990s, almost every U.S. state has signed on to the dubious concept, and an estimated 25,000 American prisoners are now locked 24/7 in these tiny, antiseptic cubicles. Although SHU housing was originally intended for relatively short terms of confinement, nowadays prisoners may remain in these constantly lit and electronically surveilled sensory deprivation holes for years - or even decades. (link)

In Market Mysticism, via Eurozine, Roman Frydman and Michael D. Goldberg study the ideology of self-regulating markets and its pseudo-scientific foundations:

whatever their flaws, financial markets and private property are the only social institutions known to us that are able, adequately though imperfectly, to consider diversity of knowledge and intuition in allocating capital. Incentives to innovate and to manage ever-imperfect knowledge are the main underpinnings of capitalism’s success. Conversely, the inability of the planned economies of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to innovate was one of the main causes of their ultimate collapse – and of the complete disappearance of central planning as a serious economic alternative.

Paradoxically, however, contemporary economic theory has kept alive the core ideas of central planning, because it relies on a similarly false concept of rationality – one whose inadequacy was already proved by Friedrich Hayek. Central planning, Hayek concluded, is by its nature impossible, because no mathematical model can precisely mimic the behaviour of markets.

But mainstream contemporary economics understood Hayek’s conclusion about rationality as if it applied only to planned economies, while basing economic theory on a belief that economists can predict future market changes exactly. The creation and legitimation of today’s most controversial financial instruments rests on this false premise.  (link)

The UK’s first scientific trial of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) was reported upon in a BBC programme this week:

"Our aim was to identify the precise areas inside the brain where the drug is active. We thought when we started that psilocybin would activate different parts of the brain. But we haven’t found any activation anywhere. All we have found are reductions in blood flow"

A fall in blood flow suggests that brain activity has reduced. The areas affected were those parts of the brain that tell us who we are, where we are and what we are. When these areas were dampened down, I was no longer locked into my everyday constraints. (link)

Slavoj Zizek writes about Good Manners in the Age of Wikileaks, comparing “cablegate” to the film The Dark Knight and considering the role of secrecy in political history. He quotes this amusing anecdote from the film Baisers volés regarding the difference between tact and politeness:

‘Imagine you inadvertently enter a bathroom where a woman is standing naked under the shower. Politeness requires that you quickly close the door and say, “Pardon, Madame!”, whereas tact would be to quickly close the door and say: “Pardon, Monsieur!”’  (link)

Some music for your listening pleasure:

Dub meets the sounds of Ethiopian soul and jazz:

♫ Dub Colossus – Azmari Dub

Funky rhythms in an instrumental remix of an Aril Brikha techno classic:

♫ Christian Prommer - Groove La Chord

And finally an epic song rendition from the qawwali legends of Pakistan:

♫ Sabri Brothers – Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi

Take care out there ;)

Jamreilly, 14/01/2011.

12:00 pm, by jamreilly3 notes Comments

Image: Bookbinding by Pierre Legrain via Feuilleton.
LINK REMIX.
The first week of the New Year (as so defined by the Gregorian calender) has passed us by and it would seem Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s dictum still holds true: “If things are to remain the same, things will have to change.”
At Thinking Out Aloud, Lorenzo writes on Scepticism about our Knowledge of Causation :

David Hume’s sceptical argument about our knowledge of causation is the most important piece of reasoning in modern philosophy. Modern philosophy may be said to have started with Descartes trying to find a certain basis for reasoning – his cogito ergo sum – but his method turned out to be fruitless.  It is Hume’s sceptical empiricism from which modern philosophy  descends, with differing lines of philosophy deriving from different  responses to it. (link)

At Spike Magazine, Hugh Graham writes on Rigour for A Dying World: Houellebecq and Gnosticism:

Once, very long ago, yet not far from our own moral circumstances, a  kind of thinking loosely called Gnosticism dealt with the lone  individual possessed of a spirit in a world of suffering, evil, and an  absent god. Gnostic thought had its roots everywhere in pagan antiquity.  It re-emerged in philosophies of individual existence in the 19th  century and flourished in our own time as existential thought before  being effaced by the triumph of the free market. The latter’s masquerade  as a philosophy of life has indeed helped to discourage philosophy  itself. But the old philosophy of man and his existence in the world is  not dead; it is only asleep. (link)

On NYRB, Charles Simic has a poetic short essay: Winter’s Philosophers:

“Everyone who thinks is unhappy,” says Sergei  Dovlatov in one of his stories. Some crows caw all day, some have  nothing to say. I see one of them pace back and forth on my lawn the way  I’ve seen Hamlet do on stage. Whatever is bothering him seems  insoluble, too much for one crow to figure out on his own. Still, no  harm trying, I suppose, even with the racket his relatives are making as  they fly to and fro, as if the road they oversee is not covered only  with fallen leaves and patches of ice, but also with fresh road kill. (link)

At Sentence First, Stan Carey says Omit Needless Criticisms of Redundancy:

Redundancy has a poor reputation in writing and editing. Its modern  linguistic sense – which I think derives from information theory – has  to do with predictability, but it is more generally associated with  needless repetition or wordiness, and is therefore often automatically considered a failing in prose. This, however, is only part of the story. (link)

On NPR there’s a piece on Jay Rosen and American Media’s true Ideology: Avoiding One:

the “view from nowhere” too often limits political reporters to  obsessing about winners and losers — who’s up or down — rather than the  harder work of determining who’s telling the truth or the effects of the  policies those politicians adopt. “Removing  all bias from their reports is something that professional journalists  actually aren’t very good at,” Rosen says. “They shouldn’t say that they  can do this, because it’s very clear to most of the people on the  receiving end that they fail at this all the time.” (link)

The Economist reviews Evgeny Morozov’s book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom :

In fact, authoritarian regimes can use the internet, as well as greater  access to other kinds of media, such as television, to their advantage.  Allowing East Germans to watch American soap operas on West German  television, for example, seems to have acted as a form of pacification  that actually reduced people’s interest in politics. Surveys found that  East Germans with access to Western television were less likely to  express dissatisfaction with the regime. As one East German dissident  lamented, “the whole people could leave the country and move to the West  as a man at 8pm, via television.” (link)

I watched a fascinating documentary on the Irish channel TG4 this week called The Lightbulb Conspiracy about the planned obsolescence of consumer products and its relationship to our world of economic growth for (it would seem) growth’s sake - but at devastating cost to our environment. No sign of an English-subtitled version on the web yet, though it will be broadcast in a few other European countries over the next couple months:

Planned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life  spans to guarantee consumer demand. As a magazine for advertisers  succinctly puts it: “The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy  of business “ - and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies  on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing  away.

 TVE - Title COMPRAR TIRAR COMPRA Spain  Jan  9, 2011 at 22:00:00 				 		TSR2 - Title PRÊT À JETER Switzerland  Feb  6, 2011 at 00:00:00 				 		ARTE Title PRÊT À JETER France Feb 15, 2011 at 00:00:00 				 		ARTE - Title KAUFEN FÜR DIE MÜLL Germany  Feb 15, 2011 at 00:00:00 				 		YLE Title PYRAMIDS OF WASTE Finland  Mar 13, 2011 at 00:00:00. 
(link)

Finally some music:
A (very) deep house classic, released on a 12” b-side in 2001: 
Theo Parrish: Lost Angel  ♫ 
Motown, mid-seventies, electro-progressive-funk (featuring, though too sparingly, a lovely little keyboard riff that was sampled in a song of recent times, the name of which escapes me now):
 Mandré  - Solar Flight (Opus I)  ♫  
 
And some laidback jazz:
 The Hampton Hawes Trio : Sonora   ♫ 
Take care out there ;)
Jamreilly, 08/01/2011.

Image: Bookbinding by Pierre Legrain via Feuilleton.

LINK REMIX.

The first week of the New Year (as so defined by the Gregorian calender) has passed us by and it would seem Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s dictum still holds true: “If things are to remain the same, things will have to change.

At Thinking Out Aloud, Lorenzo writes on Scepticism about our Knowledge of Causation :

David Hume’s sceptical argument about our knowledge of causation is the most important piece of reasoning in modern philosophy. Modern philosophy may be said to have started with Descartes trying to find a certain basis for reasoning – his cogito ergo sum – but his method turned out to be fruitless. It is Hume’s sceptical empiricism from which modern philosophy descends, with differing lines of philosophy deriving from different responses to it. (link)

At Spike Magazine, Hugh Graham writes on Rigour for A Dying World: Houellebecq and Gnosticism:

Once, very long ago, yet not far from our own moral circumstances, a kind of thinking loosely called Gnosticism dealt with the lone individual possessed of a spirit in a world of suffering, evil, and an absent god. Gnostic thought had its roots everywhere in pagan antiquity. It re-emerged in philosophies of individual existence in the 19th century and flourished in our own time as existential thought before being effaced by the triumph of the free market. The latter’s masquerade as a philosophy of life has indeed helped to discourage philosophy itself. But the old philosophy of man and his existence in the world is not dead; it is only asleep. (link)

On NYRB, Charles Simic has a poetic short essay: Winter’s Philosophers:

Everyone who thinks is unhappy,” says Sergei Dovlatov in one of his stories. Some crows caw all day, some have nothing to say. I see one of them pace back and forth on my lawn the way I’ve seen Hamlet do on stage. Whatever is bothering him seems insoluble, too much for one crow to figure out on his own. Still, no harm trying, I suppose, even with the racket his relatives are making as they fly to and fro, as if the road they oversee is not covered only with fallen leaves and patches of ice, but also with fresh road kill. (link)

At Sentence First, Stan Carey says Omit Needless Criticisms of Redundancy:

Redundancy has a poor reputation in writing and editing. Its modern linguistic sense – which I think derives from information theory – has to do with predictability, but it is more generally associated with needless repetition or wordiness, and is therefore often automatically considered a failing in prose. This, however, is only part of the story. (link)

On NPR there’s a piece on Jay Rosen and American Media’s true Ideology: Avoiding One:

the “view from nowhere” too often limits political reporters to obsessing about winners and losers — who’s up or down — rather than the harder work of determining who’s telling the truth or the effects of the policies those politicians adopt. “Removing all bias from their reports is something that professional journalists actually aren’t very good at,” Rosen says. “They shouldn’t say that they can do this, because it’s very clear to most of the people on the receiving end that they fail at this all the time.” (link)

The Economist reviews Evgeny Morozov’s book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom :

In fact, authoritarian regimes can use the internet, as well as greater access to other kinds of media, such as television, to their advantage. Allowing East Germans to watch American soap operas on West German television, for example, seems to have acted as a form of pacification that actually reduced people’s interest in politics. Surveys found that East Germans with access to Western television were less likely to express dissatisfaction with the regime. As one East German dissident lamented, “the whole people could leave the country and move to the West as a man at 8pm, via television.” (link)

I watched a fascinating documentary on the Irish channel TG4 this week called The Lightbulb Conspiracy about the planned obsolescence of consumer products and its relationship to our world of economic growth for (it would seem) growth’s sake - but at devastating cost to our environment. No sign of an English-subtitled version on the web yet, though it will be broadcast in a few other European countries over the next couple months:

Planned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life spans to guarantee consumer demand. As a magazine for advertisers succinctly puts it: “The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business “ - and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing away.


TVE - Title COMPRAR TIRAR COMPRA Spain Jan 9, 2011 at 22:00:00 TSR2 - Title PRÊT À JETER Switzerland Feb 6, 2011 at 00:00:00 ARTE Title PRÊT À JETER France Feb 15, 2011 at 00:00:00 ARTE - Title KAUFEN FÜR DIE MÜLL Germany Feb 15, 2011 at 00:00:00 YLE Title PYRAMIDS OF WASTE Finland Mar 13, 2011 at 00:00:00.

(link)

Finally some music:

A (very) deep house classic, released on a 12” b-side in 2001: 

Theo Parrish: Lost Angel

Motown, mid-seventies, electro-progressive-funk (featuring, though too sparingly, a lovely little keyboard riff that was sampled in a song of recent times, the name of which escapes me now):

Mandré - Solar Flight (Opus I)  

And some laidback jazz:

The Hampton Hawes Trio : Sonora  

Take care out there ;)

Jamreilly, 08/01/2011.

09:59 am, by jamreilly2 notes Comments



Image via MF: Kalavela Plates of Finland.

*

LINK REMIX: 
 As we raise our heads above the New Year’s parapet and consider perhaps our possible destinies, Wildcat2030 has wrote about Plugging into the Epic: A Rational Poetry of the Future and talks to Max More, one of the founding fathers of the transhumanist movement :

Mother Nature …What you have made us is glorious, yet deeply flawed. You seem to have  lost interest in our further evolution some 100,000 years ago. Or  perhaps you have been biding your time, waiting for us to take the next  step ourselves. Either way, we have reached our childhood’s end. link

 I can’ remember now how or why but I came across a dissertation called Ghost in the Machine: Sound and Technology in Twentieth-Century Literature by Michael Heumann. In a section   called Shut Your Mouth, Close Your Eyes: The Cable in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake he quotes this amusing tale from Neil Stephenson:

In 1870, a new cable was  laid between England and France, and Napoleon III used it to send a  congratulatory message to Queen Victoria.  Hours later, a French  fisherman hauled the cable up into his boat, identified it as either the  tail of a sea monster or a new species of gold-bearing seaweed, and cut  off a chunk to take home.

Posting an excerpt on tumblr, I added a picture of James Joyce playing guitar which had a revealing note attached to it :

Joyce in Trieste, 1915. Ottocaro Weiss, a friend  who took the  photograph, was impressed by Joyce’s singing voice but was  “scandalised”  by his guitar playing. link 

 Physorg.com had a post about research on the neurobiological mechanisms at play in general anesthesia. It revealed that being under general anesthetic is more akin to a coma than to sleep.

People have hesitated to compare general anesthesia to coma because the  term sounds so harsh, but it really has to be that profound or how  could you operate on someone? link

 Early one morning I was pointed (by STomaselli) to and read a short story called Slump at 3:AM Magazine which to me (along with lots of deep breathing) had a nice Beckettian air to it, though I was perhaps even more impressed by the brief author biography at the end :

John Barker  was born in North London where he still lives. He was imprisoned in the  70s as an Angry Brigade conspirator and served a further sentence in  the early 90s for hash smuggling. link

 A couple weeks ago, on a Tuesday, close to midnight, I was flicking through the television channels and fortuitously encountered The War We Don’t See, a new documentary film by John Pilger 

tracing the history of ‘embedded’ and independent reporting   from the carnage of World War One to the destruction of Hiroshima, and   from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan and   disaster in Iraq. As weapons and propaganda become even more   sophisticated, the nature of war is developing into an ‘electronic   battlefield’ in which journalists play a key role, and civilians are the   victims.

This week I found the film posted in its entirety on Youtube. link
 Tedxnaperville guided me to an interesting 1991 interview by Sy Safransky with psychologist James Hillman : The Myth of Therapy.

There are many who have located the roots of the  therapeutic movement in the individualism embraced by nineteenth-century  modernism, in which everyone is the author of his or her intentions and  is responsible for his or her own life. Own. Own is a very big word in therapy; you own your  life, as if there’s a self — an individual, enclosed self — within a  skin. That’s individualism. That’s the philosophy of therapy. I question  that. The self could be redefined, given a social definition, a  communal definition. link

 Finally, a couple of musical discoveries:
For those not immune to the charms of a pulsing beat in a sea of sparse electronic textures, from his 2010 album Black Noise: 
 ♫ Pantha Du Prince – The Splendour. 
And some sweet melancholy from Jan Johansson, a Swedish pianist who died in 1968. He is accompanied here by Georg Riedel on bass: 
♫ Jan Johansson – Emigrantvisa

*

Happy New Year.
Jamreilly, 01/01/2011.

Image via MF: Kalavela Plates of Finland.

*

LINK REMIX:

 As we raise our heads above the New Year’s parapet and consider perhaps our possible destinies, Wildcat2030 has wrote about Plugging into the Epic: A Rational Poetry of the Future and talks to Max More, one of the founding fathers of the transhumanist movement :

Mother Nature …What you have made us is glorious, yet deeply flawed. You seem to have lost interest in our further evolution some 100,000 years ago. Or perhaps you have been biding your time, waiting for us to take the next step ourselves. Either way, we have reached our childhood’s end. link

 I can’ remember now how or why but I came across a dissertation called Ghost in the Machine: Sound and Technology in Twentieth-Century Literature by Michael Heumann. In a section called Shut Your Mouth, Close Your Eyes: The Cable in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake he quotes this amusing tale from Neil Stephenson:

In 1870, a new cable was laid between England and France, and Napoleon III used it to send a congratulatory message to Queen Victoria. Hours later, a French fisherman hauled the cable up into his boat, identified it as either the tail of a sea monster or a new species of gold-bearing seaweed, and cut off a chunk to take home.

Posting an excerpt on tumblr, I added a picture of James Joyce playing guitar which had a revealing note attached to it :

Joyce in Trieste, 1915. Ottocaro Weiss, a friend who took the photograph, was impressed by Joyce’s singing voice but was “scandalised” by his guitar playing. link

 Physorg.com had a post about research on the neurobiological mechanisms at play in general anesthesia. It revealed that being under general anesthetic is more akin to a coma than to sleep.

People have hesitated to compare general anesthesia to coma because the term sounds so harsh, but it really has to be that profound or how could you operate on someone? link

 Early one morning I was pointed (by STomaselli) to and read a short story called Slump at 3:AM Magazine which to me (along with lots of deep breathing) had a nice Beckettian air to it, though I was perhaps even more impressed by the brief author biography at the end :

John Barker was born in North London where he still lives. He was imprisoned in the 70s as an Angry Brigade conspirator and served a further sentence in the early 90s for hash smuggling. link

 A couple weeks ago, on a Tuesday, close to midnight, I was flicking through the television channels and fortuitously encountered The War We Don’t See, a new documentary film by John Pilger

tracing the history of ‘embedded’ and independent reporting from the carnage of World War One to the destruction of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan and disaster in Iraq. As weapons and propaganda become even more sophisticated, the nature of war is developing into an ‘electronic battlefield’ in which journalists play a key role, and civilians are the victims.

This week I found the film posted in its entirety on Youtube. link

 Tedxnaperville guided me to an interesting 1991 interview by Sy Safransky with psychologist James Hillman : The Myth of Therapy.

There are many who have located the roots of the therapeutic movement in the individualism embraced by nineteenth-century modernism, in which everyone is the author of his or her intentions and is responsible for his or her own life. Own. Own is a very big word in therapy; you own your life, as if there’s a self — an individual, enclosed self — within a skin. That’s individualism. That’s the philosophy of therapy. I question that. The self could be redefined, given a social definition, a communal definition. link

 Finally, a couple of musical discoveries:

For those not immune to the charms of a pulsing beat in a sea of sparse electronic textures, from his 2010 album Black Noise

♫ Pantha Du Prince – The Splendour. 

And some sweet melancholy from Jan Johansson, a Swedish pianist who died in 1968. He is accompanied here by Georg Riedel on bass:

♫ Jan Johansson – Emigrantvisa

*

Happy New Year.

Jamreilly, 01/01/2011.



02:12 pm, by jamreilly3 notes Comments