From the category archives:

History

This ad is almost universally referred to as “The Crazy Ones” – but I prefer to focus on the actions of creative people rather than the pejoratives applied to them.

I almost titled it: No Respect for the Status Quo.

Thank you, Steve.

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By Margaret Atwood

 

via The Future of Books

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From a New York Times article about the International Music Score Library:

“In many cases these publishers are basically getting the revenue off of composers who are dead for a very long time,” Mr. Guo said. “The Internet has become the dominant form of communication. Copyright law needs to change with it. We want people to have access to this material to foster creativity. Personally I don’t feel pity for these publishers.”

This comment by Mr. Guo has personal resonance:

“Composing is very good until you have to pay your bills,” he said.

As does this one, however much at odds it is with the last one:

“As a musician I have a duty to promote music. That’s the basic philosophy behind it.”

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Egypt Remembers

The faces of murdered Egyptian protesters

via

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Heritage

January 29, 2011

in History,Image,Place,Storytelling

Egyptians form a human wall to protect the history museum in Cairo

Unconfirmed, but hopefully true

Citizens form a human wall around the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to protect historical artifacts within.

via

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Battle of the Centaurs by Michelangelo Buonarroti

(Photo credit: Sailko)

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Roget Ebert:

As I fell into the rhythm of the words, as I savored the way Dickens was planting his signposts for the development of the plot, as I watched him create unforgettable characters in a page or two, I felt a kind of peace. This wasn’t hectic. I wasn’t skittering around here and there. I wasn’t scanning headlines and skimming pages and tweeting links. I was reading.

What I am going to do, is take some time every day to read. I believe I’ll make it a practice to read in the room without the computer and the Wi-Fi.

I interpret “…the room without” as the rest of the world. My first daily read for the summer: Moby Dick. (It’s my first time.)

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But the present is not a potential past; it is the moment of choice and action; we can not avoid living it through a project; and there is no project which is purely contemplative since one always projects himself toward something, toward the future; to put oneself “outside” is still a way of living the inescapable fact that one is inside; those French intellectuals who, in the name of history, poetry, or art, sought to rise above the drama of the age, were willy-nilly its actors; more or less explicitly, they were playing the occupier’s game. Likewise, the Italian aesthete, occupied in caressing the marbles and bronzes of Florence, is playing a political role in the life of his country by his very inertia. One can not justify all that is by asserting that everything may equally be the object of contemplation, since man never contemplates: he does.

– Simone de Beauvoir, from The Ethics of Ambiguity

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El Perro

El Perro (1819-23)

Robert Hughes:

“Goya was one of those uncommon artists who had the daring, or the folly, to take on the whole scale of human fate. It was a huge scale, and nobody works on it today, because our sense of the possibility of art — what it can do, what it can say, and why it can matter — is so depleted. But it never occurred to Goya that art might not be able to say anything and everything about our nature, our desires and our fears. He just assumed that it could, and he went ahead. And by assuming it, he left us with the difficult task of living up to his peculiar intensity. And if we can’t, as is likely, at least he shows us that. Nearly two hundred years after he died, to meet Goya, is still to meet ourselves. “

Goya and his doctor

Goya and his doctor

At the bottom of the painting:

“Goya agradecido á su amigo Arrieta: por el acierto y esmero con q.e le salvo la vida en su aguda y peligrosa enfermedad, padecida á fines del año 1819, a los setenta y tres años de su edad. Lo pintó en 1820.”

Google’s attempted translation:

“Goya grateful to his friend Arrieta: for the wisdom and care with [...] saved his life in his acute and dangerous illness suffered at the end of 1819, at seventy – three years of age. It was painted in 1820.”

And a reminder:

"I am still learning"

From sometime in the last four years of his life

The translation of Aún aprendo: “I am still learning.”

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Words once in common use sound archaic. And the names of the famous dead as well: Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, Dentatus…Scipio and Cato…Augustus…Hadrian and Antoninus, and…

Everything faces so quickly, turns into legend, and soon oblivion covers it.

And those are the ones who shone. The rest–”unknown, unasked-for” a minute after death. What is “eternal” fame? Emptiness.

Then what should we work for?

Only this: proper understanding; unselfish action; truthful speech. A resolve to accept whatever happens as necessary and familiar, flowing like water from that same source and spring.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4, #33 (Translated by Gregory Hays)

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45 Months

February 7, 2010

in History,Invention,Process,Video

You don’t have to be a software engineer to appreciate this visualization of the growth of Twitter as a system.

Each photo represents a programmer, each particle represents changes made to the code, and the colors represent different computer languages:

Twitter Code Swarm from Ben Sandofsky on Vimeo.

What do your collaborative projects look like?

via Peter Wooley and Tech Crunch

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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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“The God Abandons Antony” by C.P. Cavafy:

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

Some backstory from Roger Housden:

“In Plutarch’s version, the night before the city falls, Mark Antony hears an invisible troupe of musicians and singers leaving the city. At that moment he passes out, in the realization that the god Bacchus, his protector, and god of music, wine, and festivity, is deserting him, and that he, Antony, is destined to lose the city. Historically, Antony and Cleopatra, on realizing that all is lost, are said to have committed suicide rather than suffer defeat.”

Leonard Cohen also reinterpreted this poem in his song “Alexandra Leaving”.

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A Happy Collision

November 25, 2009

in History,Image

CERN flipped the switch again on the Large Hadron Collider, two proton beams sped towards each other — a crash, then sub-atomic shrapnel.

And a roomful of people experience a moment of joy that’s been 14 years in the making:

LHC Scientists: Professional Ecstasy

LHC Scientists: Professional Ecstasy

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I went to a lecture by Kenneth Goldsmith last night about UbuWeb, and it was a great reminder of the riches available there. I scribbled a few fragmentary notes.

(All quotes are 99% accurate, though I have re-ordered them a little bit.)

  • UbuWeb can be construed as the “Robin Hood” of the Avant Garde. Only a handful of artists have given explicit consent to be featured.
  • “If we had to ask permission, UbuWeb wouldn’t exist.”
  • “We don’t really fuck with economies — because there’s no economy for this stuff.” (This stuff meaning, the music of Marcel Duchamp or Jean Dubuffet, for example.)
  • “We respect legitimate economies.”
  • UbuWeb features five terabytes of work from 5,000+ artists.
  • When he was working on his collection of Warhol interviews, Goldsmith went to the offices of the Warhol foundation to get permission, and they “laughed him out of the office.” In their view, Warhol’s words are valueless.
  • “Download everything you possibly can from UbuWeb — it won’t last forever.”
  • “The outsider stuff is becoming the inside.”
  • “There’s so much stuff on UbuWeb that I don’t know what’s there.” (Editors help him by managing different sections.)
  • UbuWeb is not a democracy: The collection is “highly curated, highly selective.” Most submissions don’t make it on the site.
  • UbuWeb has a Facebook page, created by his students, but Kenneth Goldsmith was unequivocal: “I hate Facebook.”
  • “I have problems with the idea of quality in Web 2.0.” And donation buttons make him sick.
  • From time to time, he gets offers — up to US$50,000 — for the domain ubu.com, from companies who want to sell products that “help you be you!” etc. And he takes great pleasure in replying: “Fuck you: This is reserved for poetry.” (I instantly pictured an orange traffic cone with this response, embossed on a metal plate, sticking out of the top. And the entrepreneurial part of my brain thinks it would make a great embroidered fishing hat…or maybe stickers that could be placed wherever logos lurk?)
  • UbuWeb may look institutional, but “it’s made of toothpicks and tissue paper.”
  • “I’m not an art historian…there are holes…it’s a horribly-flawed fanzine…the taxonomy is atrocious…it’s an art historian’s nightmare!”
  • “We’re in the Summer of Love for the web right now, and it’s not going to last…We’re in the midst of a revolution that’s so large we don’t even recognize it.”
  • “Old hippies are the worst in the world” in terms of copyright, control, permissions and sharing. “It’s generational.”

A few gleanings from a look around the site this morning:

  • A film about Poême électronique, the collaboration between Edgard Varêse and Le Corbusier at the 1958 World’s Fair
  • John Cale — Loop (1966) (links directly to mp3)
  • Canntaireachd — “Dating back to the sixteenth century or earlier, canntaireachd developed as the art of “chanting” pibroch (piobaireachd), the classical form of Gaelic bagpipe music.”
  • They have a podcast, in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation.

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