From the monthly archives:

September 2009

“…so that might suit, say, a young couple just starting out in the catering business in the North Wales area?”  — Fry & Laurie

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Amanda Palmer said:

artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.

artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.

artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.

i am shameless, and fearless, when it comes to money and art.

i can’t help it: i come from a street performance background.
i stood almost motionless on a box in harvard square, painted white, relinquishing my fate and income to the goodwill and honor of the passers-by.

i spent years gradually building up a tolerance to the inbuilt shame that society puts on laying your hat/tipjar on the ground and asking the public to support your art.

i was harassed, jeered at, mocked, ignored, insulted, spit at, hated.
i was also applauded, appreciated, protected, loved….all by strangers passing me in the street.
people threw shit at me.
people also came up to me and told me that i’d changed their lives, brightened their day, made them cry.

some people used to yell “GET A FUCKING JOB” from their cars when they drove by me.
i, of course, could not yell back. i was a fucking statue, statues do not yell.

if you think i’m going to pass up a chance to put my hat back down in front of the collected audience on my virtual sidewalk and ask them to give their hard-earned money directly to me instead of to roadrunner records, warner music group, ticketmaster, and everyone else out there who’s been shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years, you’re crazy

via Walt Pascoe et al

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Watching Machines

September 15, 2009

in Sound,Storytelling,Video

I found the following videos of Arthur Ganson’s sculptures via a tweet from the Long Now Foundation.

I really like the way these short films unfold the structure of each sculpture through time. It gives viewers a completely different experience of them than we might have if we walked into a room with one of them. Well done.

And:

And:

As one commenter pointed out, the sound of that last one is amazing.

There are more films of Arthur Ganson’s sculptures available on the dreamingmachines YouTube channel.

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Clay Shirky on Weekend Edition Saturday, with some emphasis added:

The conversation around the digital divide, this gap between who can participate and who can’t, has shifted. In the ’90s, it was mainly about access to hardware and network connections. Right? Not everybody has a computer. But as computers have gotten cheaper and spread, as they started showing up in specific places like libraries, and as phones increasingly have, even just through SMS, these kind of functions, the conversation’s really shifted from the question of access to a hardware to the sense of permission and to the sense of interest. And that’s a much squishier, more social question.

So part of the digital divide question, the new digital divide question is, how do we go to people who don’t sense they have permission to speak in public and offer them that permission? And then the other, as you say, is the interest. If there are people who are just uninterested in this stuff, how can you make an experience that’s still satisfying for them as, you know, traditional consumers of media, without making them feel bad for not being the people posting the Flickr pictures of potholes or, you know, adding a comment to an NPR story?

There can be a tendency amongst the tech-savvy to assume that if it’s important, if it matters, it is already bouncing around Twitter and Facebook and MySpace.

“If people aren’t comfortable and inclined to jump in, who cares?”

We risk missing far too much of the world’s experience with an attitude like that.

Later in the segment, Shirky touched on the dimensions of our online conversational patterns:

The closest most of us get to this is our wedding day, when you gather, you know, as many of the people you most love and would want to talk to in the world that you can get in one room. And then you suddenly realize I got three hours. And so, there is a constant width versus depth tradeoff, where you can either talk to a few people for a long time, or you could talk to a lot of people for a short time. But you can’t actually do what you want to do.

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But what’s wrong with being didactic every now and then? (Or always, if that’s your thing…)

“…Elephants

are mostly

made of four

Elements…

via Boing Boing

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Attend Attentive

September 8, 2009

in Process,Thinking,Words

“…I know how difficult it is to refrain from searching. It takes long hours of waiting, indecision, boredom, exasperation, presence and hope. Hours in which one is mainly occupied in being attentive, letting things come, fighting against bad ideas, or against ideas, full stop. Rejecting inadequate words, and learning to recognize and welcome the right word. So writing, more than anything, is a matter of not writing, and of attend attentive: attentive waiting.”

– Anne Weber, in this episode of the Guardian Books Podcast

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Quite an Exercise

September 7, 2009

in Music,Process,Video

György Ligeti’s etudes are a bit more compelling than most piano exercises…and what an ending!

Bonus: Here’s Ligeti’s Etude No. 2:

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The Being We Become

September 3, 2009

in Process,Words

My brain finds connections I can’t completely explain between the Shu Ting poem I posted last week and this passage by bell hooks:

“I did not wait for desegregation, for college, for creative-writing classes, for grown-ups to show me the way. I found my vocation. It called to me and I was determined to answer the call. I began to write in my girlhood. And I am writing still, moving swiftly into midlife with a body of words I have made into books beside me. No passion in my life has been as constant, as true as this love. No passion has been as demanding. When words call, to answer, to satisfy the urge, I must come again and again to a solitary place — a place where I am utterly alone. In that moment of grace when the words come, when I surrender to their ecstatic power, there is no witness. Only I see, feel, and know how my mind and spirit are carried away. Only I know how the writing process alchemically alters me, leaving me transformed. Other writers tell of how it works within them. Written words change us all and make us more than we could ever be without them. Still the being we become in the midst of the very act of writing is only ever intimately present to the one who writes.”

– from the preface to “remembered rapture”

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I never expected to post any cat pictures on this particular blog, but there are moments for everything. And when a form reaches a pinnacle like this, lines must be crossed, and implied rules tossed.

(Why not throw in a facile and silly rhyme, too?)

It is a slightly misshapen watermelon...

It is a slightly misshapen watermelon...

I don’t know who took this picture, or how or why. (I found it via reddit.com)

But I identify with this cat, its absurd situation, and the look of determination on its face despite its surreal and quasi-Sisyphean task. (I’m projecting, of course.)

Cribbing from some anonymous Wikipedian:

Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, sees Sisyphus as personifying the absurdity of human life, but concludes “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” as “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”

Or, perhaps, a cat’s heart.

Keep pushing, little watermelon cat. I imagine you happy.

Or at least out of the water, with your nose buried deep in that watermelon.

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