Friday, May 30, 2008

A World of Our Own









ὁ Ἡράκλειτός φησι τοῖς ἐγρηγορόσιν ἕνα καὶ κοινὸν κόσμον εἶναι τῶν δὲ κοιμωμένων ἕκαστον εἰς ἴδιον ἀποστρέφεσθαι

"The waking have one common world, but the sleeping turn aside each into a world of his own."

-Heraclitus (fr. 89)

A fascinating insight, but in the end, not quite right. The dualistic relationship between the "inner " and the "outer" worlds (which develops around the time of the Pre-Socratics, culminates in Descartes and his followers and enemies in the following centuries and structures much of our own thought and metaphors to this day) is a creation of a metaphor-generating consciousness that has located itself in a mirror. In truth, even giving
credence to the split between the "inner-world" and the "outer-world," the outer-world still works its cumulative magic on us even when we sleep. The dreamworld can be shaped by outside stimuli. I remember one dream I had years ago that was strangely (even for the dream) interrupted by the Backstreet Boys steeping unto the stage of the my personal Cartesian theater. They sang one of their hits, popular at the time, and before I had a chance to ask for bad-boy A.J. McLean's autograph, I awoke to find the alarm-clock radio blasting, you guessed it, the Backstreet Boys.

Heraclitus' dreams might have been guided and shaped by the night-time murmuring of River Cayster, flowing outside his bedroom window in Ephesus. Mine are effected by this douchebag:

















Wake up, honey. I made you breakfast.

(P.S. Kevin Richardson, the Backstreet Boy shown here, seems to prefer a style of facial hair popular in Spain, France and Italy during the 17th century. Perhaps he is trying to resemble French pirate François l'Olonnais?)

Monday, May 26, 2008

PARTAY



Schoenberg knew how to party. This is some footage from various get-togethers of Los Angeles exiled intelligentsia and other friends . Guests in this clip include: Ira Gershwin, a pipe-smoking Bertrand Russell, the ridiculously lanky Aldous Huxley, and, best of all, Thomas Mann who drinks to your health at 3:08. He dresses like Sam Spade with sunglasses. Is that a Bloody Mary?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bill O'Reilly Goes to the Opera












Self-explanatory.

In related Fox News (the only cable news channel I watch religiously), you got to love the Fox and Friends crew using this graphic when discussing the Lincoln-Douglas debates:













I love the idea of Frederick Douglass (who delivered an eloquent and impromptu oratory at Lincoln's funeral) defending the institution of slavery against Lincoln in a debate. Yes, that graphic is real. And yet I could swear Doocy was a scholar of American History.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Un Message d'un Maître

















If you can't read it well due to the dual awful computer camera/quirky but effortless calligraphic script:

To Patrick Swanson
with my best wishes

for his own works
and every thing [else]

Sincerely,

Henri Dutilleux

Paris (October 2007) *


If you aren't hip to the skip: required listening. Dutilleux is, to my mind, one of the last direct inheritors of the Debussy/Ravel genome in the French musical tradition. I am, of course, a dude who sometimes goes on the internet.

*(October 2007? I received it quite late, really. Did Kafka design the French mail system? What's the deal with airplane peanuts? )

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Update








"The clocks are not in unison, the inner one runs crazily on at a devilish or demoniac or in any case inhuman pace, the outer one limps along at its usual speed. What else can happen but that the two worlds split apart, and they do split apart, or at least clash in a fearful manner."

-Franz Kafka (Diary, 1/16/22)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mutual Promotion

See my version of Fred Astaire dancing with the vacuum cleaner here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Perfect Things (I)














Does perfection exist? Yes. A few perfect things that come to mind:

-The Band - The Band

-
Piero della Francesca's Flagellation

-The 'Prelude' from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin

-Sophia Loren's breasts in "Man of La Mancha" (see above)

-Henry James' "The Aspern Papers"

-And, of course:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Just Checking In









Today on the way to French class I saw three Mormon students (with the customary matching white dress shirts, pocket-protectors, etc.) petting a camel.

Carry on.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Baby and Candle











One of my favorite books is William James' massive Principles of Psychology. It is facking crazy to think that the book was published in 1890 - even with all the advances of the last century in neurobiology, genetics etc., the book remains an essential text for students of the brain. The book contains some fascinating relics from 19th century science, complete with a chapter in phrenology* (James dismisses it), and yet remains remarkably "contemporary" throughout in regards to its concern for the infinitely subtle spun web of consciousness, its full acceptance of the evolutionary history of the brain, etc.
The chapters can be read apart from each other, and some of them are masterpieces in themselves. See, for example, the famous "Streams of Thought" (where high school English teachers get "streams of consciousness"), "The Consciousness of Self," "The Perception of Time" and "Memory."
If you are like me, a lover of G-2 low-calorie cherry Gatorade and turkey sandwiches, you often read books of philosophy, science, psychology etc. as literature; James, a master stylist, can be read here as a profound thinker on science and philosophy, or a proto-modernist whose rock ripples in the ponds of Proust and Woolf's To the Lighthouse.

There are also some awesomely late-19th-century illustrations. Here is my favorite (it would make a awesome band t-shirt):














*
 Friday: Are you sure this is the woman you saw in the post office?
Burns: Absolutely! Who could forget such a monstrous visage? She
has the sloping brow and cranial bumpage of the career
criminal.
Smithers: Uh, Sir? Phrenology was dismissed as quackery 160 years ago.
Burns: Of course you'd say that...you have the brainpan of a
stagecoach tilter!