Sunday, May 31, 2009

Could this be Toing Toing?

"I had a photograph once of a Mangbetu woman, the Mangbetu deform their heads so they get very cortical crowns, and in the picture she had this big, big hairstyle around it, and lips that were pouted, and her breasts were like...toing! toing!...just beautiful, what a great photo." - Brian Eno

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Relax, reach out, remember...

Happy Memorial Day!

("Leonid Brezhnev on the phone at his Crimean Datsja" by unknown)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Supernormal Stumuli...

I'm very interested in triggers. Things that make us react. Apparently everyone's favorite Darwin lookalike, Dan Dennett, has done some research into this area. He gave a lightning fast and slightly awkward talk at TED on the subject recently...

"The term "supernormal stumli" is owed to Niko Tinbergen, who did famous experiments with seagulls, where he found that orange spot on the mother gull’s beak drove baby gulls nuts. He found that if he made a bigger, oranger spot the gull chicks would peck at it even harder. It was a hyperstimulus for the gulls. Chocolate cake is a supernormal stimulus that tweaks our design wiring. There's lots of supernormal stimuli for sexiness for example."

I am particularly interested in animal-related triggers, and by that I mean actual and imaginary animals that stimulate our own animal consciousness, the primal part of us that, by nature, highlights and transcends the veil of civilization all around us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No matter what they say...'s what's on the inside that counts!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Real Dots...

Look carefully around the room. Bernard Voita is a master illusionist who deeply understands the play between the eye and the mind, the two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality of photography, and the importance of the viewer's perspective. It's as if he's saying through his work, "hey art viewer, your point of view matters, you exist, and without you art doesn't" Nice.

(Untitled, by Bernard Voita)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Who's pushing it?

An interesting gathering last night where a group of us tried to come up with a list of people who are really pushing the envelope, in any field, in any visionary and (r)evolutionary way. Who's showing us the next level? Who's going beyond? Who refuses to pull back on the reigns when the galloping starts to feel dangerous? Who's at the edge of the galaxy? Who's tearing down veils of illusion like drapes in a motel room?

I won't give you the list of names we came up with so as not to bias your own. However, I will tell you that a flash of genuine horror arose upon considering this simple concept: We might actually be living in the most boring time in human history.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Choose Nothing...

If you leave an answer blank on a fill-in-the-blank test, I say it should be right, since nothingness is always an available option that obliterates all thingness - it is always correct. We choose not to summon nothing since getting back from it can be a bit of a chore. But deep down you know it's there.

If you're looking for a wonderful short read on the role of non-existence in our lives, try The Mustache by Emmanuel Carrere. They made a movie in France about it a couple years back, and it's ok, but the short story will chew you to your existential bone-zos, bone-zos, bone-zos. I said, the movie's ok, it's a little bourgeois, but the book will chill you to your core.

(End of this post sung to the tune of The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night, just because...)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I grok Spock...

But I didn't grok with this new Star Trek movie at all. Where were the timeless universal ideas explored in ways that resonated after the credits rolled? Where was the lovable bogusness of the tv show that served to remind us that Star Trek isn't about space, it's about being a human, as in - Where shall we boldly go? The new movie is a fun ride, sure, but I thought it could have operated on a few layers rather than its steady stream of noisy action, like a black hole sucking everything along its path at light speed. Where are the quiet moments? Personally, I would have awarded the franchise to Wes Anderson and I would have made damn sure that he didn't get too cute. At least Anderson would have understood what was appealing about the tv show and let the story emerge from the characters.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The comfort of danger...

Have you noticed how we replicate the conditions we are most familiar with, even if those conditions are unfavorable? It comes with the species bub. Take it or leave it. When you were a little person you composed your own theme tune, plucking the melody, the rhythm, and the bass lines from your physical and psychic environs. For some, no matter how they were arranged, the available notes added up to a distinctly minor key. A minor key is tough to play your way out of.

You must know people who live in a danger zone of one form or another, and maybe you ask yourself, why? You can not understand why someone would live in such a way. Could it be that the examples of comfort zones send some of us running in the opposite direction? Or are the danger zones and edge lands simply a better match for certain theme tunes? Difficult to tell which impulses are reactionary and which are instinctual.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why are you here?

Why are you here? What do you owe, if anything, to the gift of life you are now spending? What value did the universe place upon your birth and how close will you ever get to fulfilling that estimate?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Solar rhythm, we listen...

People call them sunspots but your cellphone calls them ugly. The sunspot cycle is picking up and you will notice it in the form of dropped calls and general electrical discombobulation. AP says, "If a sunstorm as severe as one in 1859 occurred today, it could cause $1 trillion to $2 trillion in damage the first year and take four to 10 years to recover. The 1859 storm shorted out telegraph wires, causing fires in North America and Europe, sent readings of Earth's magnetic field soaring, and produced northern lights so bright that people read newspapers by their light."

(Paul Sano, ‘Lady and inset of solar eclipse’ c. 1910)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Who owns the rhythm?

This bit from Malcolm Gladwell's piece, How David Beats Goliath, in this week's New Yorker resonates with an idea I've been incubating for a while... And in case the title isn't clear enough, the article is about underdogs and why they win when they win.

"'And it happened as the Philistine arose and was drawing near David that David hastened out from the lines toward the Philistine,' the Bible says. 'And he reached his hand into the pouch and took from there a stone and slung it in his forehead.' The second sentence - the slingshot part - is what made David famous. But the first sentence matters just as much. David broke the rhythm of the encounter. He speeded it up."

I'm always aware when someone asserts a new rhythm, often in conversation, and usually to redirect the energies at hand. But sometimes a new rhythm is as simple as an unexpected posture or positioning that totally screws with Goliath's head.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Contemplating Seriousness...

It has been a while since I've taken this blog "seriously". Mostly just a scratch pad for passing follies. Which is probably exactly what a blog is good for. If I were to take it seriously, what would happen I wonder? For starters, I suspect I would miss the rawness, the jagged thoughts, the sloppiness, the humor that this peculiar vessel holds without judgment.

Is there such a thing as a blog so well-rendered and so relevant that it becomes timeless? Could one wring the contents of one's heart, one's mind, one's soul into these tidy digital boxes to create something of a masterpiece? I say boldly: Maybe! Then again, I'm a person who doesn't own a television who thinks that tv could be the answer to all of our problems. I've alwasy had a deep yen to re-purpose middling media into saviors of humanity.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Emergency Luxury Kit...

When the shit goes down, and I'm not talking swine flu, I'm talking Doom with a capital D, there will likely be people running through the flaming streets looting and marauding and otherwise generally freaking out on a scale we cannot fathom. There will be people who need first aid kits to treat the cuts and scrapes that will arise under such conditions. And there will also be people who will need an immediate injection of high civilization to maintain some desperate illusion of their own privilege. For these people I recommend putting together an emergency luxury kit. You know, an attractive mobile container that stores Hermes scarves, caviar, lobster pate, paintings by abstract expressionists, fine wines and perfumes. The like.

Have I mentioned that I'm into urgency - i.e. the psychology, aesthetics, and technology of emergencies and disaster scenarios? I'm also very into absurd urgency as an important sidebar. Imagining what might constitute an art emergency for example, can keep me in stitches for a good long while.

("Flamers - The Mall" - by Wayne Coe)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Naming flavors...

It's not uncommon to meet lifeforms with unique biological wiring issues. Some of us are color blind, some can't whistle, others have an extra pinkie. It happens. One of my physi(ologi)cal foibles is that I can't really put names to tastes. Which is to say that if you blindfold me and serve me an unnamed food item, I will have an extraordinarily difficult time identifying flavors. The taste is fascinating and familiar and really I should do this more often because it's such a primal experience, but the name of the flavor or the food won't come to me. Now I must clarify that texture is another element altogether. If I put a piece of steak in my mouth, I can recognize the physical architecture of meat, so I'm cued as to which psychic drawer to riffle through for a label. But if you give me a bowl of ice cream in that dark and don't tell me the flavor, then the anomaly really kicks in. This all was made very real when Sarah plunked a bowl of ice cream beside me in a dark room. Who knew there was even such a thing as key lime pie ice cream?

I'd like to live in a world for a day or two where our consciousnesses could experience things without all the noisy words and labels interfering.

("Hermes" by Monica Stevenson)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

When etchings aren't enough...

As you spend time with people you might notice that some have special verbal and non-verbal routines. They might have sentences or word phrases or concepts or gestures that recur for any number of reasons, one of which might be to impress others. Watch someone you know well, who fits this description, meet someone new. You might catch them prancing their "lines and looks" out from the barn, one shiny new pony at a time. Sure it can be annoying, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that annoyance is just a low level reaction. Once you get past it, you see that these behaviors are nice actually. Something that comes with the species: The act of self creation. But, dear reader, when a Frenchman selling chocolates uses one of your own classic "lines" on you, out of the blue, what do you do?