vietnamese brain bradawl

January 30, 2008

~|Maybe the best review Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke, one of my top three books of last year, I’ve yet read. (Remainder and Diary of a Bad Year being the other two).

~|Best book cover ever?

~|Find out how people had their heads drilled before Top 40 Radio: An illustrated history of trepanation.

~|Lego turns 50… happy birthday.

~|Fun time-wasting… search the US Patent or Copyright offices.

~|New Mountain Goats video is essential viewing.

~|Half of Japan’s bestsellers last year were written by… cellphone?

~|Books that make you dumb. Hmmm… how about these?

~|Poor little kitten has Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues.

~|Music moves people to… commit arson?

~|Last.fm frees up the music… now you can not only spy on what I’m listening to, you can listen to it. Except for all the really good obscure shit… nor Christmas in the Stars… sorry. My name’s ‘honzo’.

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stop trying?

January 26, 2008

The search for truth — be it the subjective truth of belief, the objective truth of reality, or the social truth of money or power — always confers, on the searcher who merits a prize, the ultimate knowledge of its non-existence. The grand prize of life goes only to those who bought tickets by chance.

The value of art is that it takes us away from here.

Fernando Pessoa, “The Book of Disquiet”, 361

 

precious bodily fluids

January 23, 2008

~|As far as I’m concerned, every environmental problem in the world is small beans compared to the continued hording of nuclear weapons, and the very fact of the technology’s existence in the first place. Theres some very silly people out there, and some very scary weapons… Good to see a resurgence in the anti-nuke movement.

~|Nabokov wanted his last manuscript, The Original of Laura, burned. It’s currently locked away in a Swiss bank vault… What should happen?

~|Half of Japan’s best selling novels are written by — cellphone?

~|The Atlantic has a good, brief article up on the rise of typography. A nice little intro to the field…

~|Another article from the Atlantic, this one incredibly long but really interesting: B.R. Myers’ A Readers Manifesto — “the attack on the growing pretentiousness of American prose.”

~|Read the truth about Kobe beef.

~|Warm up to the sounds of El Guincho — Animal Collective, tropical flavor. Or as the indie hype train has dubbed him, the Mexican Panda Bear.

~|Nabokov would be proud: Stunning butterfly-wing typography.

In Praise of Melancholy, a brilliant new article up at The Chronicle, adapted from Eric G. Wilson’s new book Against Happiness

My sense is that most of us have been duped by the American craze for happiness. We might think that we’re leading a truly honest existence, when we’re really just behaving as predictably and artificially as robots, falling easily into well-worn “happy” behaviors, into the conventions of contentment. Deceived, we miss out on the great interplay of the living cosmos, its luminous gloom, its terrible beauty.

These are not metaphysical claims, not some New Age claptrap. On the contrary, these statements are attuned to the sloppy world as it simply appears to us in our everyday experience. When we, with apparent happiness, grab hard onto one ideology or another, this world suddenly seems to take on a static coherence, a rigid division between right and wrong. The world in this way becomes uninteresting, dead. But when we allow our melancholy mood to bloom in our hearts, this universe, formerly inanimate, comes suddenly to life. Finite rules dissolve before infinite possibilities. Happiness to us is no longer viable. We want something more: joy. Melancholia galvanizes us, shocks us to life.

To foster a society of total happiness is to concoct a culture of fear. Do we really want to give away our courage for mere mirth? Are we ready to relinquish our most essential hearts for a good night’s sleep, a season of contentment? We must resist the seductions of mindless happiness and somehow hold to our sadness. We must find a way, difficult though it is, to be who we are, sullenness and all.

While I don’t quite agree with his supposition that unhappiness is going to dissapear, I love the distinction between melancholy and depression… this article says a lot of really great things.

startch

January 16, 2008

~|Stock up on bacon bits… it’s the Year of the Potato… I’m sure someone was rollin’ their eyes at the UN.

~|And what about Free Rice? I thought doubling up on carbs was a no-no these days…

~|Interview with writer and artist Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival.

~|As if we need it, more proof of the world’s, and more specifically Tom Cruise’s, insanity.

~|I need to start selling these in Yaletown

~|Designer Nicholas Feltron presents his life in 2007 as a stylized corporate report… just check it out.

~|Long but potentially good read over the NYTimes by Steven Pinker: The Moral Instinct.

~|Shoplifting from American Apparel, a story by Tao Lin.

peopled awe

January 14, 2008

It’s a rule in life that we could, and should, learn from everyone. There solemn and serious things we can learn from quacks and crooks, there are philosophies taught us by fools, there are lessons and faithfulness and justice brought to us by chance and by those we chance to meet. Everything is in everything.

In certain particular lucid moments of contemplation like those of early afternoon when I observantly wander through the streets, each person brings me a novelty, each building teaches me something new, each placard has a message for me.

My silent stroll is a continual conversation, and all of us – men, buildings, stones, placards and sky — are a huge friendly crowd, offering each other the words in the great procession of Destiny.

-Fernando Pessoa: The Book of Disquiet, #357

“The world — a dunghill of instinctive forces that nevertheless shines in the sun with pale shades of light and dark gold.”

-Fernando Pessoa

~|The rise of bibliotherapy – literature as medicine.

One particularly successful initiative has been reading poetry to and with dementia patients, some of whom have lost all sense of who and where they are but can recite the words of a poem learned at school 70 years ago… “One lady was shouting and swearing at anyone who approached, and when I mentioned poetry told me in no uncertain terms to go away. But as I sat and read poem after poem, she visibly relaxed, her mood changed completely and she happily chatted about the poems to other residents.”

Lobotomized by literature? I’m already there… But really, books do a body good.

|~Potentially more enabling than books as medicine… how about pyschidelics for healing?

|~Great, lengthy interview with perhaps the only TV personality I really enjoy: Anthony Bourdain.

|~The only American election related item I’ve found of any interest: Can I get my 5 year old daughter photographed with every presidential candidate?

|~The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

|~kottke’s best links of 2007

keep apart

December 11, 2007

“Keep apart, keep apart and preserve one’s soul alive–that is the teaching for the day. It is ill to have been born in these times, but one can make a world within a world.”

Some wisdom to take with you today, courtesy of English novelist George Gissing.

finerthanfiction…

December 3, 2007

This is too good to be true. Apparantley… NASA had a 1996 space mission devoted to testing sex in space.

A project codenamed STS-XX was to explore sexual positions possible in a weightless atmosphere.

Twenty positions were tested by computer simulation to obtain the best 10, he says. “Two guinea pigs then tested them in real zero-gravity conditions. The results were videotaped but are considered so sensitive that even Nasa was only given a censored version.”

Only four positions were found possible without “mechanical assistance”

“Honey, it was for work!” I guess we might need to figure it out eventually if the earth finally gives out on us… oh and:

One of the principal findings was that the classic so-called missionary position, which is so easy on earth when gravity pushes one downwards, is simply not possible.

So if and when the earth does give out, a lot of Christian fundamentalists better learn to love it doggy-style… or something. See, the truth is funnier than me.

Damn braces: Bless relaxes

November 29, 2007

~|Happy 250th birthday Mr. William Blake. In honor of the man, go take a look at his proverbs of hell, some of my favorite work by one of English’s greatest.