Sunday, February 1, 2015

books read in February 2015

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).


all 2015 booklist posts

Saturday, January 31, 2015

lazy Saturday afternoon

Sitting in bed next to napping partner, streaming Sly & the Family Stone, drinking coffee and eating grape tomatoes like jellybeans. Kitten at the foot of the bed. #nicelife

Friday, January 30, 2015

kate zambreno

and one more

song of the day (all day.....every day)

also, THIS treasure


The other night I sat down at my desk. I used to always write at night, often very late, but the last few years I've taken to writing early in the morning and going to bed before midnight. Lately, though, I've returned to my nocturnal ways. And it works.

Writing at night: all those hours before you in the dark. Nothing in the way. And the room dark, and outside dark, and just the spotlight of the lamp and the screen, the desk a small stage. I light a candle every time and start the music (I'll listen to the same album hundreds of times when I'm writing, usually something instrumental like Sigur Ros or Amiina or Kammerflimmer Kollektief, lately it's been Yo La Tengo's They Shoot, We Score.) My notebooks around me. The little flame flickering. Just like I always have, from Brooklyn to Iowa City to Portland to Berkeley to Portland to Oberlin to Virginia. It is the most familiar thing in the world, this small pretty space in the dark. And more than anything else I know it feels like home.

- Chelsey Johnson

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

- Andrew Sullivan
A dear friend sent me this link with the awesome title, 'St. Jude vs. Santa Muerta: Steel Cage Match!'

As seen in these stunning photographs of St. Jude's annual feast day on October 28, 2014, the celebrations of the patron of lost causes are wildly colorful affairs with devotees from all walks of Mexican life, but especially the working classes, lugging life-sized statues of the holy man, and many others dressed in his trademark green and white garb, which are two of the three colors of the Mexican flag. What really stands out at the monthly fiestas attended by thousands is the presence of marginalized teens and 20-somethings, hundreds of whom are huffing glue and smoking marijuana on the sidewalks that abut the temple. Ironically, the saint who is depicted with the flame of the Holy Spirit on his forehead, has a reputation for healing drug abusers.

via (more pictures)

read a book read a book read a motherfucking book

The Worst Muse

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

sound the bells

Gorgeous song (my favourite on the album), gorgeous vid. Wow.

my whole life / was like a picture of a sunny day

Monday, January 26, 2015

To paint is to love again. It’s only when we look with the eyes of love that we see as the painter sees....To see is not merely to look. One must look-see. See into and around....I remember well the transformation which took place in me when first I began to view the world with the eyes of a painter. The most familiar things, objects which I had gazed at all my life, now became an unending source of wonder, and with the wonder, of course, affection.

- Henry Miller

Ceramic sculpture, Katharine Morling

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

When I am dead and over me bright April
      Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted,
      I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
      When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
      Than you are now.

- Sara Teasdale, "I Shall Not Care"

Emily Dickinson, quietly and eternally abiding between two big male hot-shots. Elliott Bay Book Co

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We live in an era where the hard sciences are valued far and above other academic disciplines and where the humanities are frequently treated as luxury pursuits. This has resulted in a clinical culture, especially within psychiatry, that tends to treat neuroscience as the only rubric for understanding human experience, a clinical culture that applies the language of chemistry to describe patients' suffering, as in "titrating" a patient's emotional response to "prolonged exposure" therapy, as if a person suffering from a mental health disorder can be balanced like a chemical equation....As William Normand, a practicing psychoanalyst in New York, said succinctly, "Psychiatry has gone from being brainless to being mindless."

- The Evil Hours, David J. Morris

under "sublime" in the dictionary it says "see this"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

'It’s not punk, exactly, and it’s sure as fuck not indie rock'

Before we even get into how good the new Sleater-Kinney album No Cities To Love is — and it is very good — we should take a moment for what a miracle it is that the album exists in the first place. Sleater-Kinney’s self-titled debut turns 20 this year, and they are, without question, the best rock band to come along in the past two decades. (Who’s their competition? Seriously, who?) But when Sleater-Kinney announced their “indefinite hiatus” in 2006, it clearly was not one of these “we’ll be back on the festival stages in nine months” situations. They were done. They had other things going on. Corin Tucker had two kids, and if you know any women with small kids, you know that Sleater-Kinney’s relentless touring and recording schedule is not exactly compatible with doing mom stuff. She went on to record a couple of low-stakes solo albums and only barely toured on them. Carrie Brownstein wanted to try things like writing and acting — a sideline that started with a promising-enough NPR blog and somehow led to straight-up TV stardom. She’s more famous for Portlandia now than she ever was for Sleater-Kinney. Janet Weiss is the best drummer in the world, and she’s also an extremely fun hang, so she was never going to be hurting for work. The only Portland bands that didn’t try to recruit her were probably the ones who were scared to ask. When they went their separate ways, it wasn’t because they started hating each other. They were always friends. I went to Portland to interview them in 2005, when The Woods was about to come out, and learned that they still did shit like assembling at Tucker’s house to watch the Super Bowl or the Oscars. They probably still do that. But they’d done what they needed to do, said what they needed to say. They were ready to end that chapter and move on to other things. They did it. Those other things worked out. They didn’t need to come back. And yet here they are. Thank fuck.

- Stereogum

I'm not the anthem, I once was an anthem That sang the song of me

We are born in debt, owing the world a death. This is the shadow that darkens every cradle. Trauma is what happens when you catch a surprise glimpse of that darkness, the coming annihilation not only of the body and the mind but also, seemingly, of the world. Trauma is the savagery of the universe made manifest within us, and it destroys not only the integrity of consciousness, the myth of self-mastery, and the experience of time, but also our ability to live peacefully with others, almost as if it were a virus, a pathogen content to do nothing besides replicate itself in the world, over and over, until only it remains. Trauma is the glimpse of truth that tells us a lie: the lie that love is impossible, that peace is an illusion. Therapy and medication can ease the pain but neither can suck the venom from the blood, make the survivor unsee the darkness and unknow the secret that lies beneath the surface of life. Despite the quixotic claims of modern neuroscience, there is no cure for trauma....Trauma is our special legacy as sentient beings, creatures burdened with the knowledge of our own impermanence....The best we can do is work to contain the pain, draw a line around it, name it, domesticate it, and try to transform what lies on the other side of the line into a kind of knowledge, a knowledge of the mechanics of loss that might be put to use for future generations.
- The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, David J. Morris

(He's clearly remembering Feeble's "we owe God a death" from 2 Henry IV, which is neat, as part 1 has Lady Percy quizzing her husband on his PTSD symptoms: "Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth, And start so often when thou sit'st alone?....")
There was no end to Williams’s guilt, remorse, and anger for having survived his sister, in particular, and his family as a whole. No survivor is ever free of his history of disaster.

- review of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, by Hilton Als
Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry. Writers hover between a decent poverty and an indecent one; they are expected to render the fruits of their labors for little and even for nothing, and all the miracles of electronic dissemination somehow do not suffice for compensation, either of the fiscal or the spiritual kind. Everybody talks frantically about media, a second-order subject if ever there was one, as content disappears into “content.” What does the understanding of media contribute to the understanding of life? Journalistic institutions slowly transform themselves into silent sweatshops in which words cannot wait for thoughts, and first responses are promoted into best responses, and patience is a professional liability. As the frequency of expression grows, the force of expression diminishes: Digital expectations of alacrity and terseness confer the highest prestige upon the twittering cacophony of one-liners and promotional announcements. It was always the case that all things must pass, but this is ridiculous.

Meanwhile the discussion of culture is being steadily absorbed into the discussion of business. There are “metrics” for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers. Economic concepts go rampaging through noneconomic realms: Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be. Quantification is the most overwhelming influence upon the contemporary American understanding of, well, everything. It is enabled by the idolatry of data, which has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology. The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past. Beyond its impact upon culture, the new technology penetrates even deeper levels of identity and experience, to cognition and to consciousness. Such transformations embolden certain high priests in the church of tech to espouse the doctrine of “transhumanism” and to suggest, without any recollection of the bankruptcy of utopia, without any consideration of the cost to human dignity, that our computational ability will carry us magnificently beyond our humanity and “allow us to transcend these limitations of our biological bodies and brains. . . . There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine.” (The author of that updated mechanistic nonsense is a director of engineering at Google.)

 And even as technologism, which is not the same as technology, asserts itself over more and more precincts of human life, so too does scientism, which is not the same as science. The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions of life must be explained in terms of the material dimensions, and that nonscientific understandings must be translated into scientific understandings if they are to qualify as knowledge, is increasingly popular inside and outside the university, where the humanities are disparaged as soft and impractical and insufficiently new.

- Leon Wieseltier

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.

how to know when your neighbourhood is rapidly gentrifying

When we went to our sketch grocery store in our sketch part of town last night, the ENTIRE stock of extra virgin olive oil, every brand, had been cleaned out. Empty space to the back of the display shelf. No other kind of olive oil was gone, or even that depleted (not even the artisanal kind with shit floating in it, which always reminds me of specimen jars). Just the extra virgin.

ETA: how many fucking kinds of fake gourmet pepper do you need, anyway

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marc Simonetti, cover art for "The Neverending Story"

what I'm (re)reading

Guards! Guards!  There is no comfort reread like a Pratchett comfort reread.

Amazing, gorgeous art by Marc Simonetti. (I want that Hat Full of Sky art as a poster.)

no cities to love


I might have slept in it. Just maybe. (The grey is darker than it looked on my monitor, it's very pretty and classy. I am pleased.)

I usually don't wear shirts that advertise stuff because I think people who pay to make themselves into walking billboards are chumps. I am happy to be a walking billboard for Sleater-Kinney.

Saturday, January 17, 2015