Pointing at some stuff I like

I really like:

The concept popularized by John Rawls that when organizing a soceity, a useful thought experiment goes like this:

“No one knows his place in society, his class position or social status; nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength, and the like.” 

But pretend that you don’t know what starting point you will get. So make a society that you would be willing to enter from any starting position.

The line from Talking Union that goes “Take it easy, but take it”


A quote, a lyric, and some sounds

How is this for a quote?:

“The best-adjusted person in our society is the person who is not dead and not alive, just numb, a zombie.

When you are dead you’re not able to do the work of the society.

When you are fully alive you are constantly saying, “No” to many of the processes of society, the racism, the polluted environment, the nuclear threat, the arms race, drinking unsafe water and eating carcinogenic foods.

Thus it is in the interest of our society to promote those things that take the edge off, keep us busy with our fixes, and keep us slightly numbed out and zombie-like. In this way our modern consumer society itself functions as an addict.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

How are these for some song lyrics?:

‘Cause you can’t free nobody else
If you can’t be true to yourself
If you’re looking for a miracle now
Buddy, you better be one
All alone, on your own

How is this for some sounds?:


Aldous Huxley Quotes

It helps me keep things in perceptive to recall that other people have already thought, and clearly expressed, whatever it is I think I have to say.

All that’s left to produce is debris from my mind.

I stumbled across these quotes from Aldous Huxley that do that fairly well http://www.alienated.me/aldous-huxley-quotes/

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
~ in Music at Night

Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.
Continue reading

If art is… debris from my mind?

If art is some mingling of personal expression and things created to delight and entertain, then this site is now officially tilting towards: debris from my mind.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

“Pebbles and marbles like things on my mind
Seem to get lost and harder to find
When I am alone I am inclined
If I find a pebble in sand
To think that it fell from my hand”
- source

I couldn’t decide if sharing unentertaining content* is an act of utter hubris, or the serene acceptance of reality.

Which impulse is correct? After awhile I decided that both were true, and that obsessing about it was the most narcissistic thing of all.

* I have been unable to articulate this without invoking a phrase that seems to ask the reader to protest on behalf of my genius. I find this frustrating.

Cohen’s Poetry

I want to think there are better uses for my time than writing confessionals.

One of the things poetry can do is capture a reality so completely that you can begin to understand its multifaceted truth. It can take that reality and redeem it. It can show you something about grace.

Leonard Cohen was a poet before he was a songwriter.

The ninth song on Leonard Cohen’s 1979 live album is “Memories”.   Sung to a do-wop track, the music and vocal swells until Cohen croons

I said “won’t you let me see”
I said “won’t you let me see”
Your naked body?”

It is a moment of sublime beauty, helped along by its place in his popular biography.

A man known in later years for his impossibly deep voice, in this moment, he croons.
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Some songs I listened to in 2013

I started to make a playlist of my favorite songs of 2013. Upon reflection, I realized it was just a pretext to mention Kris Kristofferson’s album Feeling Mortal.  I still toy with the idea of writing a track by track breakdown of it. I think I feel obligated to mention it because the songs I would share from it aren’t available on Youtube etc…  Here is this instead:

Here is the unfinished 2013 list as well.

Quotes from an interview between bell hook and John Perry Barlow

I read this interview today, and I thought it deserved a wider audience.

When making these types of posts I find myself torn between

I. Thinking that there is something ego-less about curating and pointing towards existing content (as opposed to trying to restate these thoughts in my own crude way)
II. Thinking that there is something terrible about a culture that does nothing but relentlessly remix the peak moments of existing art

Part of the resolution to this may be the need for context. It matters why I am pointing rather than creating.

John Perry Barlow: Without a truly grounded context, words themselves don’t mean anything; metaphors don’t mean anything. A metaphor has to participate equally in the utterly physical and the truly spiritual. A metaphor is kind of a path between those two realms, and it’s a bad bridge that doesn’t have two ends.

But then I use that quote, and I worry it’s meaning is obscured by being placed in this context.

Ah well. By the way, I also took away this phrase from the interview: “the confusion of information for experience”. Read it for yourself if you’d like.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or Moby Dick re-imagined as a comedy of enlightenment

Films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, in which he played a fractured Jacques Cousteau, are closer to comedies than they might appear, Murray says, as intellectually tuned to the dynamics of comedy as he is instinctive. “Every single scene of that movie was funny, but when Wes assembled it, he streamlined and excised the detonation point of the laughter. The idea is you keep it bouncing and never skim the energy off of it. You keep it building in the name of a big emotional payoff—which comes when they’re all in the submarine together and they see the jaguar shark.” source.

“Steve is a man who likes to be in control of everything even though he can’t control much. His mission to kill the Jaguar Shark is the ultimate act of hubris: he wants nothing less than to track and kill Death and re-assert autonomy over his life…

Near the end of the story, Zissou, his crewmates, his ex-wife, his patron, and his chief rival pile into a yellow submersible, descend to the ocean floor (bottoming out) and observe the monster through portholes. It’s a meeting rather than a battle, and it seems to restore everyone’s equilibrium, especially Steve’s. They can’t kill death or let it live; all they can do is watch it swim up to the sub, snag a fish and swim away. Steve’s catharsis comes not through dynamite, but tears. “I wonder if it remembers me?” he asks. The sequence is the ghastly climax of Moby Dick re-imagined as a comedy of enlightenment: Ahab finally confronts the beast that maimed him and realizes it was nothing personal.” Worth Reading.

I will add that I have a mistrust I cannot quite place in our culture’s idolization of Bill Murray.

Still, there is this from the same interview:

“The one time I got a bunch of prizes, I just assumed I’d win them all,” he says, rubbing his legs thoughtfully. “Because I’d been winning them all. I wasn’t disappointed or anything, but I was surprised.”

About six months later, however, he had a vivid realization: “I really saw something in myself and I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I really did want that thing!’ Some part of me was disappointed that I got tricked into thinking it was important. I told myself, if that happens again, I don’t want to do that.” He stares down at the table. “I’ve since realized that it was good I didn’t win, because I wasn’t ready. Guys go for five years without working because they’re thinking, ‘Oh, this isn’t Oscar-worthy.’ They become paralyzed. So. It would have fed that thing that I found in myself, without my even knowing. It would have been really malformed. Because I had it wrong.”