December 10, 2014 Sensitive
I’ll make my report as if I told a story… the soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.
Ursula K. LeGuin
March 12, 2014 Replace ‘things’ with ‘objects’
From Jean Baudrillard’s America (found for $1 at a used book store in Houston):
…[In America] things almost seem endowed with a certain indulgence towards their own banality. But they are indulgent towards their own craziness too. Looked at more generally, they do not lay claim to being extraordinary; they simply are extraordinary. They have that extravagance which makes up odd, everyday America. This oddness is not surrealistic (surrealism is extravagance that is still aesthetic in nature and as such very European in inspiration); here, the extravagance has passed into things. Madness, which with us is subjective, has here become objective, and irony which is subjective with us has also turned unto something objective. The fantasmagoria and excess which we locate in the mind and the mental faculties have passed into things themselves.
December 9, 2013 On thinking and feeling
One of my oldest crusades is against the distinction between thought and feeling, which is really the basis of all anti-intellectual views: the heart and the head, thinking and feeling, fantasy and judgment… and I don’t believe it’s true… . I have the impression that thinking is a form of feeling and that feeling is a form of thinking.
November 12, 2013 On Beauty
The slow arrow of beauty. The most noble kind of beauty is that which does not carry us away suddenly, whose attacks are not violent or intoxicating (this kind easily awakens disgust), but rather the kind of beauty which infiltrates slowly, which we carry along with us almost unnoticed, and meet up with again in dreams; finally, after it has for a long time lain modestly in our heart, it takes complete possession of us, filling our eyes with tears, our hearts with longing.
What do we long for when we see beauty? To be beautiful. We think much happiness must be connected with it. But that is an error.
Friedrich Nietzsche in Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits
October 22, 2013 On fame, self-objectification
Success is the ethical quagmire par excellence of commodity culture because it jeopardizes our relation to dissent, to resistance, to saying no, as fame is precisely about what one is willing to do, how far one is willing to go, and how much (low in the form of high. Going low in order to get high) one is willing to say yes to. The road to fame is made up of assent. This is what gets you to the literal and figurative top. And this is why fame is almost always a parable about losing (not finding one’s way). About being led astray. “Making it” is not the struggle to become, as it’s always been said, but the willingness to be made.
Masha Tupitsyn via David Berman
Also: listening to a lot of Silver Jews lately, the first two LPs found me in a Tokyo record shop.
July 10, 2013 2 Quotes
What I mean is something like a closed circuit. Everybody on the same frequency. And after awhile you forget about the rest of the spectrum and start believing that this is the only frequency that counts or is real. While outside, all up and down the land, there are these wonderful colors and x-rays and ultraviolets going on.
Thomas Pynchon (1982)
Art will not disappear into nothing; it will disappear into everything.
Julio García Espinosa (1969)
May 15, 2013 On preparing to work
Our set-up was perfect: two rooms, or rather, two whitewashed, vaulted passages giving on to a courtyard where a pomegranate tree and a clump of French marigolds were struggling against the first frosts. There were hollowed-out niches for icons, the samovar and gas lamps. In the tiny woodshed separating our rooms lived moon-coloured rats. We each had a table, a chair and a little iron stove corrugated like a waffle. The rent was paid for six months; we were all set. Thierry spread out his canvases; I had bought a ream of white paper from the bazaar and unpacked my typewriter. Work is never so seductive as when one is just about to begin it; so it was left at that stage while we explored the town.
Nicholas Bouvier in The Way of the World
March 17, 2013 On Information
Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine – too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away.
October 31, 2012 On Kindness
Real kindness, real fellow feeling, entails hating and being hated—that is, really feeling available frustrations—and through this, coming to a more realistic relationship. This, one might say, is a more robust version of kindness, a kindness made possible through frustrations and hatred rather than a kindness organized to repudiate (or to disown) such feelings. Kindness of this variety allows for ambivalence and conflict while false, or magical, kindness distorts our perceptions of other people, often by sentimentalizing them, to avoid conflict. Sentimentality is cruelty by other means.
Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor