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Books, which we mistake for consolation, only add depth to our sorrow

Orhan Pamuk


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Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Playing the Building

David Byrne's installation at 10 South Street is a really pleasant space to move through. I sat at the organ for a little while and pecked at the keys -- which I was expecting to be the really interesting part of the installation -- but what ended up engaging me much more, was walking around the different areas of the room while other people played the building.

It was not -- did not feel like -- an experience of listening to music. Really seemed much more like the art I was appreciating was architecture, like the purpose of the organ was to amplify the innate qualities of the building itself rather than to superimpose music on top of them. When I stood next to a column and felt and heard the percussive vibrations in its structure, it felt like I was assimilating into the structure of the building.

posted morning of July 6th, 2008: Respond
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Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Excursion

Fun! This afternoon we are going in to the city, and meet up with Michael. We're going to see and hear David Byrne's new project, Playing the Building. A-and maybe we'll walk up to the Brooklyn Bridge to see Olafur Eliasson's new installation of waterfalls. Or, perhaps we'll ride the Staten Island Ferry.

posted morning of July 5th, 2008: Respond
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Friday, July 4th, 2008

Restitution

Towards the end of Chapter 8, Jim is reminiscing to Huck about how he's had trouble holding on to money.

"Yes. You know that one-laigged nigger dat b'longs to old Misto Bradish? Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar would git fo' dollars mo' at de en' er de year. Well, all de niggers went in, but dey didn't have much. I wuz de on'y one dat had much. So I stuck out for mo' dan fo' dollars, en I said 'f I didn' git it I'd start a bank mysef. Well, o' course dat nigger want' to keep me out er de business, bekase he says dey warn't business 'nough for two banks, so he say I could put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en' er de year.

"So I done it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' de thirty-five dollars right off en keep things a-movin'. Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat had ketched a wood-flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought it off'n him en told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de en' er de year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de one-laigged nigger say de bank's busted. So dey didn' none uv us git no money."

Sylvia observes, "They could go on Judge Judy..."

posted evening of July 4th, 2008: Respond
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Orhan growing up

To the extent that he had been exposed to [Sufi mystic] literature in school, he had found it boring, antiquated, and irrelevant to his own interests and concerns. Furthermore, he had always associated those texts with fanatical Islamic obscurantists and right-wing Turkish politicians. Now, as he immersed himself in three of the greatest masterpieces of the genre -- Farid ud-Din Attar's Conference of the Birds, Jelal ud-Din Rumi's Mathnawi, and Sheikh Galip's Beauty and Love -- he was shocked to discover in them all the qualities he most admired in the best Western literature (and which were so sorely lacking in modern Turkish literature): dizzying intellectual complexity, sophisticated self-consciousness, playfulness, and the most refined stylistic elegance.

Chapter 2 of Autobiographies of Orhan Pamuk concerns the actual story of Pamuk's childhood and young adulthood -- the story which has been transformed in various ways in many of his novels. Much of it seems very familiar to me -- mainly from The Black Book and from the essays in Other Colors. It is useful, I think, to see the ways the stories are rooted in reality; and I must say I'm liking McGaha's prose a lot -- it is elegant and easy to digest.

posted afternoon of July 4th, 2008: Respond
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Rainy Fourth

Alas, it is not a very nice day to have off. (Not that I'm opposed to having the day off you understand.) We rode in the bike parade under threatening skies... But we are not daunted! I'm taking Sylvia and Kaydi to the matinée of WALL-E, then we're meeting up with their mothers to have dinner at Sesame. I'm totally looking forward to seeing the movie again, and the theater in Montclair is a better place than the one in West Orange, so no projectionist issues to fear.

South Orange cancelled their fireworks display this year. Sigh...

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

posted afternoon of July 4th, 2008: Respond
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Gonzo

The new movie about Hunter Thompson sounds great. Hopefully Ellen and I will be able to line up babysitting and see it sometime soon.

Ellen was suggesting that my misunderstanding of the Nixon presidency might come from reading Thompson -- reading Thompson "too literally" or "too much as factual narrative" or something like that... And it's true that his books are one of my primary sources for information about those years. That and Doonesbury.

Happy Independence Day, everybody! I can hear firecrackers going off already though it seems a bit early for that. Oh, maybe that's thunder I guess. Looks like the weather forecast was correct.

posted morning of July 4th, 2008: Respond
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Thursday, July third, 2008

Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello

Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello. Bill passes along links to two covers of "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Take it away, Paul Anka!

Nice, right? But just listen to (and watch!) the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They absolutely demolish this tune (in the good sense of "demolish", I mean):

In Bill's words, they "set a new standard for feeling stupid and contagious."

By the way: All of the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain tracks that are up on YouTube set new standards for whatever they are doing, all that I've watched to date at any rate. There are way worse ways to spend some time, than by walking down that list.

(Mark contributes a version from Tori Amos: "I'll have what she's having...")

posted morning of July third, 2008: Respond
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Wednesday, July second, 2008

Misunderstanding

Maybe the most key thing I'm taking away from Nixonland (as of the ¾ mark), is that I've misunderstood the Nixon presidency, which I am too young to have any first-hand memory of, in a pretty fundamental way. My narrative has always been, Nixon was an evil man and wore his evil nature on his sleeve; Reagan was an evil man but was carefully costumed by his media handlers so as to conceal that nature.

Now it's sort of obvious when you think about it, that there's something wrong with my narrative. I didn't analyze it that carefully, it was more just a general sense of things. But Perlstein lays out very clearly how Nixon shaped his public image and how he was helped in this by a new generation of media professionals such as Harry Treleaven and Roger Ailes.

I also have had an unexamined image of Spiro Agnew as a dummy, a loudmouthed buffoon who lived only to vent his hatred of minority groups and student protesters. But Perlstein is giving me a much more nuanced picture of him as a smart (for a while) politician, whose spewed hatred was politically calculated rather than unthinking. (Also: I had no idea what Agnew looked like until I Googled for his photo this morning -- would not have recognized a picture of him. This strikes me as odd when Nixon's image is so familiar to me.)

posted evening of July second, 2008: Respond
➳ More posts about Nixonland

Can't get one past her

Tonight we were reading Chapter 6, about Huck's pap keeping him locked in the cabin upriver from town -- toward the end of the chapter Pap is blind drunk:

I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an awful scream and I was up. There was pap looking wild, and skipping around every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the cheek -- but I couldn't see no snakes. He started and run round and round the cabin, hollering "Take him off! take him off! he's biting me on the neck!" I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he rolled over and over wonderful fast, kicking things every which way, and striking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming and saying there was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by, and laid still a while, moaning. Then he laid stiller, and didn't make a sound. I could hear the owls and the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed terrible still. He was laying over by the corner. By and by he raised up part way and listened, with his head to one side. He says, very low:

"Tramp -- tramp -- tramp; that's the dead; tramp -- tramp -- tramp; they're coming after me; but I won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me -- don't! hands off -- they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil alone!"

Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let him alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I could hear him through the blanket.

Well I wasn't sure Sylvia was ready for the notion of delirium tremens, so I said he must be having a nightmare; she replied, "Yeah, or maybe too much whisky." So, picking up on more than I was giving her credit for. Earlier in the chapter when Pap was going on about what a good man he was, Sylvia pointed out that he really wasn't, and that Judge Thatcher understood that, but "the new judge is kind of weird."

posted evening of July second, 2008: Respond
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Luminous Groove

The new box set is now available for pre-order! Robyn Hitchcock, the Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians years. (That is to say, the non-A & M Egyptians years -- the tracks on A & M, which include two of my favorite Hichcock records, are not available for the production of box sets on YepRoc.) Gotta Let This Hen Out!, Fegmania!, Element of Light (which I think more fegmaniax list as their favorite record than any other), and loads of bonus tracks too. The three records are also available for separate purchase, I don't think the double-record of unreleased tracks is though.

posted afternoon of July second, 2008: Respond
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