From the monthly archives:

January 2010

William Zinsser:

The epidemic I’m most worried about isn’t swine flu. It’s the death of logical thinking. The cause, I assume, is that most people now get their information from random images on a screen—pop-ups, windows, and sidebars—or from scraps of talk on a digital phone. But writing is linear and sequential; Sentence B must follow Sentence A, and Sentence C must follow Sentence B, and eventually you get to Sentence Z. The hard part of writing isn’t the writing; it’s the thinking. You can solve most of your writing problems if you stop after every sentence and ask: What does the reader need to know next?”

Hmm, I guess I’ve got some thinking to do.

via @WaltPascoe and @zoewesthof

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Motorized Glass

January 6, 2010

in Music,Place,Sound

I went to see Transference last weekend, and it’s not the kind of work I’ll try to summarize in words.

The tone of the bowls is enchanting, but so is the clicking and tapping of the motors which turn them.

The piece is installed right next to the entrance, so the ebb and flow of people adds another layer to the work. Though I must say: talking loudly about your latest knitting project in the middle of a sound installation is sort of like flicking the lights off and on in the middle of a movie theater.

I feel like I’m channeling Rodney Dangerfield: “Sound gets no respect!!!”

From the second floor of the museum, it’s a quite different experience: almost all tones, and none of the tiny sounds. I prefer the first floor.

Does a sound installation count as craft? Megan Driscoll explores that question and has some great photographs of the piece.

Transference can be heard and seen at the Museum of Contemporary Craft through January 9th. (On the east side of the North Park Blocks.)

Hurry, Portlanders! (But please take your time once you get there…)

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Signifiers of Home

January 5, 2010

in Place,Process,Words

There are “Books You Can Live Without“? Really?

The NYT’s Room for Debate blog makes this claim, and asked six book enthusiasts how they go about the task of choosing what stays on the bookshelves, and what should go.

My own attitude is closest to that of Joshua Ferris:

“Books are notes from the field, bound and domesticated, life brought into narrow focus. Get rid of a book? No way. Every one is a brick keeping the building standing. Books are my life. I leave and come back, and the books I find there tell me I’m home.”

I can only hope he’s joking about piling books on top of his wife — well, unless she’s into that kind of thing.

And Fred Bass, co-owner of The Strand Book Store, summarizes the economic conundrum that lurks within every book-purging project:

“When you’re all finished, think of selling your books to the Strand! Though we’ll definitely buy the quality books you plan on discarding, we really want the books you’re keeping.”

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