Tuesday, September 16, 2014

But when you talk about Nabokov and Coover, you’re talking about real geniuses, the writers who weathered real shock and invented this stuff in contemporary fiction. But after the pioneers always come the crank turners, the little gray people who take the machines others have built and just turn the crank, and little pellets of metafiction come out the other end. The crank-turners capitalize for a while on sheer fashion, and they get their plaudits and grants and buy their IRAs and retire to the Hamptons well out of range of the eventual blast radius.

There are some interesting parallels between postmodern crank-turners and what’s happened since post-structural theory took off here in the U.S., why there’s such a big backlash against post-structuralism going on now. It’s the crank-turners fault. I think the crank-turners replaced the critic as the real angel of death as far as literary movements are concerned, now. You get some bona fide artists who come along and really divide by zero and weather some serious shit-storms of shock and ridicule in order to promulgate some really important ideas. Once they triumph, though, and their ideas become legitimate and accepted, the crank-turners and wannabes come running to the machine, and out pour the gray pellets and now the whole thing’s become a hollow form, just another institution of fashion.

Take a look at some of the critical-theory Ph.D. dissertations being written now. They’re like de Man and Foucault in the mouth of a dull child. Academia and commercial culture have somehow become these gigantic mechanisms of commodification that drain the weight and color out of even the most radical new advances. It’s a surreal inversion of the death-by-neglect that used to kill off prescient art. Now prescient art suffers death-by acceptance.

We love things to death, now. Then we retire to the Hamptons.

- David Foster Wallace

(via thegongshow)

       
Monday, September 15, 2014
Wal-Mart earned $27 billion in profit last year. They could afford to pay their bottom million workers $10,000 more a year, raise all of those people out of poverty, cost — save taxpayers billions of dollars, and still earn $17 billion in profit, right? It’s simply nuts that we have allowed this to happen. […] You know, this ridiculous idea that a worker on Wall Street who earns tens of millions of dollars a year securitizing imaginary assets or doing high-frequency trading is worth 1,000 times as much as workers who earn tens of thousands of dollars a year educating our children, growing or serving us our food, throwing themselves into harm’s away to protect our life or property, that this difference reflects the true value or intrinsic worth of these jobs is nonsense. Nick Hanauer, Venture Capitalist, on the necessity of a living wage (via cognitiveinequality)
       
Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

       
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I wonder if, for day-to-day life, one needs much more than ample sunlight and view of trees outside the window: beyond that, no postcard life can be a tradoff for absence of trusted and warm neighbors, plenty of relaxed friends, stimulating conversation, ability to walk places, and a consuming activity. I have a question about true vs constructed… - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
       
Monday, September 1, 2014
Henri Matisse, The Snail (1953)
My favourite piece in the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibit at the Tate was this, a huge set of abstract shapes that spiral in imitation of a snail’s shell — and the tiny, hilarious joke in the top left corner. 

Henri Matisse, The Snail (1953)

My favourite piece in the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibit at the Tate was this, a huge set of abstract shapes that spiral in imitation of a snail’s shell — and the tiny, hilarious joke in the top left corner. 

       
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
       
Monday, August 4, 2014
A director is a kind of idea and taste machine; a movie is a series of creative and technical decisions, and it’s the director’s job to make the right decisions as frequently as possible.

Stanley Kubrick (via nictate)

[continuing the series of Ways in Which Film Direction and Product Management Are Fundamentally the Same (which you can expect to be a recurring theme here).]

       
Friday, July 25, 2014

thegongshow:

This! This is why I self-identify as product-obsessed when it comes to making an investment decision. Because there is only your product. The product of your labor speaks volumes more than anything you can ever say or explain.

"That’s the thing. It’s a whole thing, and it’s there and that is it."

(Source: noblette)

       
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I begin with a little girl’s hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization.

Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home; because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution.

That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict’s; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.

What’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton, 1910 

(via)

       
Monday, July 7, 2014
The assumption in Mayer’s post — and, it seems, the assumption behind similar business models like ParkingMonkey or Sweetch — is that if something can be monetized, then it should be. It’s as though capitalism, or tech-startup life, was a game in which founders try to spot loopholes in the laws or social contracts that govern our behavior, and then figure out ways to get someone to pay to exploit them. This isn’t necessarily a recipe for disaster, but it avoids any question about whether such loopholes *should* be monetized. As Mayer puts it: “If someone does pay for it willingly, is it really unethical?” Well yes, maybe it is. It’s getting harder to tell what’s a real Silicon Valley startup and what’s a parody