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Mind dump March 10 2015

Thought of the day: On aeroplanes we are all Icarus.

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We need to be alert in the workshop setting to the problems inherent in the very structure of the workshop.” Rick Moody.

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Apple is far from the first company to tackle the smart watch, but it is tackling it like only Apple can, with metallurgists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians, tanneries, testing facilities and all the other resources at the disposal of the world’s most valuable company – resources that are then passed through the filter of a design culture shaped by Ive.” - John Gruber on Daring Fireball.

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“One difference between the current era and Moynihan’s, or Du Bois’s, is that contemporary sociologists have a new potential culprit to blame for the disorder they see: hip-hop. The anthology includes a careful history of the genre by Wayne Marshall, an ethnomusicologist, who emphasizes its mutability. But Patterson, brave as ever, can’t resist wading into this culture war. 

In one exuberant passage, he compares MC Hammer to Nietzsche, uses an obscure remix verse to contend that hip-hop routinely celebrates “forced abortions,” and pronounces Lil Wayne “irredeemably vulgar” and “all too typical” of the genre’s devolution. And yet he is a conscientious enough social scientist to concede that there doesn’t seem to be decisive evidence for a “causal link” between violent lyrics and violent behavior. Writing in 1999, Anderson mentioned hip-hop only in passing, suggesting that it supported, and was supported by, “an ideology of alienation.” (He was nearly as critical of “popular love songs” and “television soap operas,” which he judged to nourish girls’ dreams of storybook romance. “When a girl is approached by a boy,” he wrote, “her faith in the dream clouds her view of the situation.”) Now hip-hop has achieved cultural hegemony, but Patterson doesn’t seem to have noticed that the genre has become markedly less pugnacious in recent years, thanks to non-thuggish stars like Drake, Nicki Minaj, Macklemore, Kendrick Lamar, and Iggy Azalea. The next wave of culturalist analyses will surely be able to explain how this music, too, is part of the problem.” - Kalefa Sanneh in the New Yorker.

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Another thought:

The industry known as Content Strategy is bewildering to me. Words once taken at face value are now fractured sentences, stammered, striated, no longer gestalt; marked down, gerrymandered, blue plate specials. Day-old pastries. 

Is there ever truth in the tease? I doubt it; I sense an impenetrable carapace of lies.

Update: Computer or Human? I got both right.  You can play this game here.

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Re: above.

On advertising:

“Well, it seemed to be a fad at Harvard. Two or three years ago I taught a course in prose and discovered my students were watching the soap operas every morning and afternoon. I don’t know when they studied. So I watched two or three just to see what was going on. They were boring. And the advertising! One student wrote a story about an old man who was getting ready to have an old lady to dinner (except she was really a ghost), and he polished a plate till he could see his face in it. It was quite well done, so I read some of it aloud, and said, “But look, this is impossible. You can never see your face in a plate.” The whole class, in unison, said, “Joy!” I said, “What? What are you talking about?” Well, it seems there’s an ad for Joy soap liquid in which a woman holds up a plate and sees—you know the one? Even so, you can’t! I found this very disturbing. TV was real and no one had observed that it wasn’t. Like when Aristotle was right and no one pointed out, for centuries, that women don’t have fewer teeth than men.” -  Elizabeth Bishop.

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Re, re:

In the introduction to the 1995 reissue of his 1973 masterpiece Crash, J.G. Ballard discusses ‘the balance between fiction and reality’. ‘We live,’ he writes, ‘in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there."Link.

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The words are secondary and the secrets are primary. That’s what interests me most.” Mike Nichols.

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It’s not the lack of data. Its appreciating the quality and significance of the data that’s important.

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"There’s a phrase in The Invention of Solitude I’ve always liked: “The anecdote as a form of knowledge.” This is a very important idea, I think. That knowledge doesn’t have to come in the form of declarations, statements, or explanations. It can come in the form of stories. That strikes me as the guiding spirit behind the pieces in The Red Notebook.

The “entertainment-industrial complex,” as the art critic Robert Hughes once put it. The media presents us with little else but celebrities, gossip, and scandal, and the way we depict ourselves on television and in the movies has become so distorted, so debased, that real life has been forgotten. What we’re given are violent shocks and dim-witted escapist fantasies, and the driving force behind it all is money. People are treated like morons. They’re not human beings anymore, they’re consumers, suckers to be manipulated into wanting things they don’t need. Call it capitalism triumphant. Call it the free market Economy. Whatever it is, there’s very little room in it for representations of actual American life." - Paul Auster in an interview in The Paris Review.

Paul Krugman on the Disappearance of Values

Geoff Dyer on Creative Nonfiction