Saturday, January 31, 2015
Friday, January 30, 2015
In my fragment grad class someone talked about the Sesame Street book Who is the Monster? and Grover discovers at the end it's him. Amazing.— Kate Zambreno (@katezambreno) January 28, 2015
Perfect leaping off point for unreliable narrator, we are all monsters, narrative as suspense.— Kate Zambreno (@katezambreno) January 28, 2015
and one more
I am the Monster at the Beginning and end of this Book.— Kate Zambreno (@katezambreno) January 28, 2015
CW TV Pitch: Socrates in High School. Have it all worked out. A bunch of gorgeous boys & then this ugly-hot Latin teacher who wears no shoes— Kate Zambreno (@katezambreno) January 24, 2015
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
- Andrew Sullivan
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)
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
- Henry Miller
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
- The Evil Hours, David J. Morris
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
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?....")
- review of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, by Hilton Als
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.
ETA: how many fucking kinds of fake gourmet pepper do you need, anyway
Monday, January 19, 2015
MY SLEATER-KINNEY T-SHIRT THAT I ORDERED ALL THE WAY BACK IN OCTOBER ARRIVED
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
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Ava DuVernay is the eighth woman to direct a film that is nominated for Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director.
— Kevin Fallon (@kpfallon) January 15, 2015
“Boyhood" will win because apparently there are still aspects of straight white male life art has yet to examine.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) January 15, 2015
This will be the whitest Oscars since 1998 http://t.co/SeuPmM65zd
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 15, 2015
SELMA was robbed, but it's just as sad that it only took the snubbing of one movie to whitewash the Oscars acting noms.
— Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) January 15, 2015
Also robbed: Pride, and Angelina Jolie. You KNOW if a male actor/director had had two huge popular successes in the same year, one or both of his films would have been nominated.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
- St. Augustine, Confessions
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
"In recent weeks and through December’s bitterly cold nights, the doorways and old patio area of the Piecora’s building had become a refuge for homeless campers. Along with some piles of garbage, the campers have collected blankets and backpacks along with random treasures like a discarded Casio keyboard."
Meanwhile: "The most expensive single-family home sale in 2014 on Capitol Hill according to real estate site Estately was the $7.7 million plunked down for Harvard-Belmont Historical District mansion that at one point listed for $11.2 million....Overall, the top 5 home sales in our rankings averaged a price tag of $4.38 million."
Monday, January 12, 2015
Whoever is doing that fucking sublime piano part (this is the more jazzy Fellow version) deserves a seat in heaven.
("When The Beatles first arrived in New York City in 1964, they requested Murray the K play the song on his radio station." Ahh fuck you, Wiki, I didn't need to cry any more today.)
(The Funk Bros....Standing in the Shadows of Motown....who the fuck is it, Joe Hunter maybe? Earl van Dyke? This is upsetting me more than it should.)
But then you're done, tapped out, and you turn to go but.... wait a minute............................ you have one token left. Stop now, look at that one, look carefully at it, it is your contract with the Devil, it is the selling of your soul. What is its value? Look at it, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters what you think-- which means what you are about to do has already been decided.
You could pocket that last one. Go home with something other than nothing. Or, you could play that last one with superstitious hope, praying and bargaining that if you hit you'll X/Y/Z. But neither of those are what you think, right? Instead you think, "whatever" and you put it in the machine-- NOT because you think this time it will pay off-- be honest with yourself, you know that that initial optimism of game play is gone-- you do it precisely because you know it will fail-- you are throwing it away, on purpose, so you can walk away from the machine "clean", finished, so you can play-act at catharsis. "This is the last one!" you cry, like you're yelling out "it is accomplished!" The final suffering, look for a brand new me in a few days. And unlike Amy's cab ride, you are turning this experience into a story in real time, you are writing the ending as if someone else is watching, as if it were a reality show or you were offering a voice over, you are constructing that experience, saying your lines, as the last Act of a story being told to an imaginary audience, a god, your future self, the balance of energy in the universe-- The Big Other.
And you think you're done but what you don't realize is you're only done with Act III.
That's the last chip in the bag-- "whatever, might as well." That's the last swig, "I'm never drinking again." That's selling your stocks into a downturn, that's your sexual history, throwing it away one more time not because this time the guy is going to be great but because it's not going to be great, it's a sacrifice to the volcano.
You throw it away, on purpose, because it's not worth holding on to it, you've already disavowed it as useless, evil, pointless, hopeless-- it is the last remnant of a part of you you want gone. You play that last coin, drink that last drink, eat that last chip and throw your vagina at a billy goat-- all of those are the splitting off of a piece of yourself that you then can leave behind. The act is the "physical expression of an intrapsychic process"-- you are acting out what you wish were true, like a rape victim scrubbing herself clean. "That's not me--- anymore." If only it were that easy. I sympathize, you have no idea.
What's most sad about it is that you might have been right-- it might have worked-- except that instead of making that be the end of the story you drag it out for one more Act, and ensure that the pattern repeats, ad nauseam. You don't want the story to end. It's not a great story, but it's the one you know, the one you understand.
- The Last Psychiatrist
Friday, January 9, 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Ich nam nat goinge to lye. Ich am prettye y-psyched for the newe Sleater-Kinneye record.
— Chaucer Doth Tweet (@LeVostreGC) January 8, 2015
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
In case you need it... You will get through this. Keep breathing.
— TheBloggess (@TheBloggess) January 7, 2015
Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.
— Night Vale podcast (@NightValeRadio) January 6, 2015
Then there was news about a gun massacre in France, a bombing in Yemen and the Colorado Springs NAACP office was firebombed, just for a little perspective on my daily issues.
aaaand then the BBC felt compelled to inform me "Bill Gates drinks water distilled from human faeces" only sadly I can't give any details because I closed that tab with superhuman reflex speed. THANKS BEEB.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
- Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
- Jane Austen
Are you crying because you didn’t get to study enough Torah? Rabbi Yochanan asks. Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter how much you learned, only how sincere you were in your studies.
No, that’s not why I’m crying, Rabbi Eleazar says.
Well then, is it because you were always so poor? Don’t worry. You can’t have everything in this life, and after all, you were a great scholar.
No, that’s not it either, Rabbi Eleazar says.
Well then it must be because you lost a child. Don’t worry. This bone I wear around my neck is the bone of the tenth child I lost, so you don’t really have it so bad, do you?
No, Rabbi Eleazar says, that’s not it either. And then he cuts the ground right out from beneath Rabbi Yochanan. I am crying because of cal hai shufra d’baley b’afra - I am crying, he says, because of all this beauty which is fading into the earth. I am crying because life is impermanent, evanescent, and everything keeps disappearing and I don’t have the slightest idea why. I am not crying because of any of the reasons you suggest, and I am not comforted by any of your foolish explanations. I am crying because I live in a dangerous world, which I don’t understand. I am crying because this is a world of great beauty, which keeps disappearing on me and I don’t know why.
….All right, rabbi, so what do we do? And especially, what do we do with these feelings of despair and rage and impotence?
I think there’s an answer to these questions suggested by the ending of that story from the Talmud I started to tell you before. After Rabbi Eleazar finally tells the nudnick Rabbi Yochanan why he is weeping - that he is weeping lcal hai shufra d’balei bafrah - for all this beauty which is fading away - Rabbi Yochanan finally gets it right. He tells Rabbi Eleazar, well if that’s why you’re weeping, then of course you should weep. In fact, I’ll weep with you. Then the two of them weep together. And Rabbi Yochanan says. ten li yadchah - give me your hand - and Rabbi Eleazar gives him his hand and he is healed, the Talmud tells us.
- Alan Lew
Monday, January 5, 2015
et nos ergo manum ferulae subduximus, et nos
consilium dedimus Sullae, priuatus ut altum
(New Loeb: "Well, I too have snatched my hand from under the cane. I too have given Sulla advice, to retire and enjoy a deep sleep." Old Loeb: "Well, I too have slipped my hand from under the cane ; I too have counselled Sulla to retire from public life and take a deep sleep....")
(AND YET CAN I EVER REMEMBER MY HUSBAND'S CELL PHONE NUMBER? WHY NO.)
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Friday, January 2, 2015
Thursday, January 1, 2015
1. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit (2009) (reread; forget exactly when I last read it) (this is why having lists all over is a bad fucking idea)
2. The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found, Mary Beard (2008)
3. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (2015) (yes, I read two serious books and then a trashy thriller. SIGH. I am trying to cut this kind of crap out)
4. The Goblin Emperor, "Katherine Addison"/Sarah Monette (2014) (absolutely smashing, an unexpected delight)
5. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning, Elizabeth Sigmund and Gail Crowther (2014)
6. The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (1902) (comfort reread, but of nice new Penguin edition with charming notes by Christopher Frayling)
7. Teach Us To Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing, Tim Parks (2010) (quite enjoyable)
8. The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, David J. Morris (2015) (really excellent)
9. The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson (2012)
10. Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, Niall Ferguson (2000) (Morris mentions it)
11. Conversion, Katherine Howe (2014) (man, I swear I am done with freaking YA books)
all 2015 booklist posts