January 3rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The journal gives us the workshop of the writer’s soul. And why are we interested in the soul of the writer? Not because we are so interested in writers as such. But because of the insatiable modern preoccupation with psychology, the latest and most powerful legacy of the Christian tradition of introspection, opened up by Paul and Augustine, which equates the discovery of the self with the discovery of the suffering self. For the modern consciousness, the artist (replacing the saint) is the exemplary sufferer. And among artists, the writer, the man of words, is the person to whom we look to be able best to express his suffering.

The writer is the exemplary sufferer because he has found both the deepest level of suffering and also a professional means to sublimate (in the literal, not the Freudian, sense of sublimate) his suffering. As a man, he suffers; as a writer, he transforms his suffering into art. The writer is the man who discovers the use of suffering in the economy of art—as the saints discovered the utility andnecessity of suffering in the economy of salvation.

Susan Sontag, _The artist as exemplary sufferer_

The Desperate Reader

January 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Roberto Bolaño on books that appeal to the “desperate reader”. Which, I suspect, are probably the only kinds of books I like:

Let’s take, for example, an average reader, a cool-headed, mature, educated man leading a more or less healthy life. A man who buys books and literary magazines. So there you have him. This man can read things that are written for when you’re calm, but he can also read any other kind of book with a critical eye, dispassionately, without absurd or regrettable complicity. That’s how I see it. I hope I’m not offending anyone. Now let’s take the desperate reader, who is presumably the audience for the literature of desperation. What do we see? First: the reader is an adolescent or an immature adult, insecure, all nerves. He’s the kind of fucking idiot (pardon my language) who committed suicide after reading Werther. Second: he’s a limited reader. Why limited? That’s easy: because he can only read the literature of desperation, or books for the desperate, which amounts to the same thing, the kind of person or freak who’s unable to read all the way through In Search of Lost Time, for example, or The Magic Mountain ( a paradigm of calm, serene, complete literature, in my humble opinion), or for that matter, Les Miserables or War and Peace.

….

Furthermore: desperate readers are like the California gold mines. Sooner or late they’re exhausted! Why? It’s obvious! One can’t live one’s whole life in desperation. In the end body rebels, the pain becomes unbearable, lucidity gushes out in great cold spurts. The desperate reader (and especially the desperate poetry reader, who is insufferable, believe me) ends up turning away from books. Inevitably he ends up becoming just plain desperate.

[via]

January 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Here I pause for one moment to exhort the reader never to pay any attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any other faculty of his mind

Thomas de Quincey, On murder considered as one of the fine arts

January 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

He was known for his indifference and for wearing a monocle.

Wikipedia tries to sum up somebody’s life

Classifying Accidents

December 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

American doctors need to be very careful to classify each treatment they give, to ensure they can claim payment from insurance companies. Looking at the list of possible treatments, though, makes you wonder if they are being slightly more specific than needed. For example: X35XXXD Volcanic eruption, subsequent encounter W5629XA Other contact with orca, initial encounter W2202XA Walked into…

View On WordPress

December 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

there are many people who view Sci-Hub as some kind of a tool to change the system. Like changing the system was a goal, and Sci-Hub was a tool to achieve it.
My view is completely different. For me, Sci-Hub has a value by itself, as a website where users can access knowledge.
….
The system has to be changed so that websites like Sci-Hub can work without running into problems. Sci-Hub is a goal, changing the system is one of the methods to achieve it.

December 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

We are getting rid of ownership, substituting use.
Beginning with ideas. Which ones can we take? Which ones can we give?

John Cage

Hacker News does comparative religion

December 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

some of the older Mesoamerican religions are imperative, in that they involve a lot of telling people what to do. Contrariwise, hermetic magic is purely functional, in that the practitioner expresses a series of state transformations with no side effects.

 – source

December 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

We have a sacred bond with our clients,” he said. “Money can’t take precedence.

Matt Levine teases out the implications of prostitute-client confidentiality for insider-trading regulation

December 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Multiocular O (ꙮ) is a rare glyph variant of the Cyrillic letter O. This glyph variant can be found in certain manuscripts in the phrase «серафими многоꙮчитїи» (“many-eyed seraphim”).

Real-life Lovecraftian typography, thanks to wikipedia

Graffiti of the ’70s

December 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Graffiti of the ’70s

Unusually, here’s a Guardian article with comments worth reading. It’s about Graffiti, so the Guardianistas are out reminiscing about slogans of decades paste: During Ronald Reagan’s early 80’s anti-Soviet Union sabre rattling era around corner from uni in two foot high lettering with brush in black on bright yellow building site hoarding: MUTATE NOW! AVOID POST BOMB RUSH Northwick Park…

View On WordPress

December 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The thing that resonated most with me–also the thing that my friend thought I had in common with the main character–was the idea that you could make a particular decision, and set yourself down a particular course of action, in order to make yourself become a particular kind of person.

December 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Acedia [sloth] can’t be resisted simply by strengthening our will—we also need to train our will to draw us toward the right things. The opposite of acedia isn’t dutiful work, it’s extravagant joy. Snell writes that “only the lover—the non-slothful—who wills/loves/approves the goodness of the world in comprehensive and ultimate affirmation can celebrate the festival

New paint colors invented by neural network

December 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

lewisandquark:

So if you’ve ever picked out paint, you know that every infinitesimally different shade of blue, beige, and gray has its own descriptive, attractive name. Tuscan sunrise, blushing pear, Tradewind, etc… There are in fact people who invent these names for a living. But given that the human eye can see millions of distinct colors, sooner or later we’re going to run out of good names. Can AI help?

For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?

One way I have of checking on the neural network’s progress during training is to ask it to produce some output using the lowest-creativity setting. Then the neural network plays it safe, and we can get an idea of what it has learned for sure.

By the first checkpoint, the neural network has learned to produce valid RGB values – these are colors, all right, and you could technically paint your walls with them. It’s a little farther behind the curve on the names, although it does seem to be attempting a combination of the colors brown, blue, and gray.

By the second checkpoint, the neural network can properly spell green and gray. It doesn’t seem to actually know what color they are, however.

Let’s check in with what the more-creative setting is producing.

…oh, okay.

Later in the training process, the neural network is about as well-trained as it’s going to be (perhaps with different parameters, it could have done a bit better – a lot of neural network training involves choosing the right training parameters). By this point, it’s able to figure out some of the basic colors, like white, red, and grey:

Although not reliably.

In fact, looking at the neural network’s output as a whole, it is evident that:

  1. The neural network really likes brown, beige, and grey.
  2. The neural network has really really bad ideas for paint names.

CATBABEL

December 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

We moved between two worlds. When we pushed back
our chairs and scattered to our departments, we transformed. I would
watch girls who’d just been near tears in the dorm-room mirrors
suddenly become rapt with life, fingers flying over a harp, a violin,
bodies elastic with motion, voices strolling through Shakespeare’s
forest of words.

In the writing department, I would sit sucking on sugar-free mints,
the fingers of my left hand gripping the edge of a desk, face inches
away from the paper, right hand curled around my pen as tight as
a baby’s fist. At the end of a workshop, my entire body would feel
stiff, my hand arthritic, my head whirring maniacally. I have never
been able to explain what happened to me that year, in those work-
shops, in literature classes. They made us read, and read, and read more, and then write until I thought I would never be able to write again. Entire pages were blackened with furious erasures, notations, triumphant discoveries of the exact word, precisely that word, notebook after notebook, ragged with torn half-pages, stapled photocopies of whatnots, paper-clipped random passing thoughts.

Marya Hornbacher, Wasted

December 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Someone once said of the poet Ezra Pound that he wrote as if Shakespeare had never existed. Hindemith writes as if Beethoven and the entire Romantic era had never happened.

December 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Eduardo Galeano being waspish about pondorously-written academic and political texts:

El lenguaje hermético no siempre es el precio inevitable de la profundidad. Puede esconder simplemente, en algunos casos, una incapacidad de comunicación elevada a la categoría de virtud intelectual. Sospecho que el aburrimiento sirve así, a menudo, para bendecir el orden establecido: confirma que el conocimiento es un privilegio de las élites.

Algo parecido suele ocurrir, dicho sea de paso, con cierta literatura militante dirigida a un público de convencidos. Me parece conformista, a pesar de toda su posible retórica revolucionaria, un lenguaje que mecánicamente repite, para los mismos oídos, las mismas frases hechas, los mismos adjetivos, las mismas fórmulas declamatorias. Quizás esa literatura de parroquia esté tan lejos de la revolución como la pornografía está lejos del erotismo.

Hermetic language isn’t the invariable and inevitable price of profundity. In some cases it can simply conceal incapacity for communication raised to the category of intellectual virtue. I suspect that boredom can thus often serve to sanctify the established order, confirming that knowledge is a privilege of the elite.

Something similar occurs, one might add, with a certain militant literature aimed at a public of the converted. For all its revolutionary rhetoric, a language that mechanically repeats the same clichés, adjectives, and declamatory formulas for the same ears seems conformist to me. It could be that this parochial literature is as remote from revolution as pornography is remote from eroticism.

[from Open Veins of Latin America]

December 22nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

mercurien:

anyway remember how act 1 of hamlet is set “in that season wherein our saviour’s birth is celebrated”? we have textual proof that the first act takes place around christmas time and still no modern-day production will give me the meeting of the danish court reimagined as an awkward family christmas dinner. imagine claudius making his speech while carving a turkey and wearing an embarrassing paper crown. imagine hamlet glaring at everyone from across a plate of sprouts. imagine hamlet doing o that this too too solid flesh would melt (yeah hamlet i know that post-christmas lunch feel) in a black snowman jumper. in scene 4 when hamlet’s saying the king keeps wassail and the swaggering upspring reels claudius is dad-dancing to shakin’ stevens in the background. 

ON RADICAL SOFTNESS

December 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

lora-mathis:

This post is one that I have been meaning to make for awhile, and will likely be one of many. I’ve been chewing on this idea of radical softness as a weapon. What I intended when coining the term. What my motives are.

I’ve read a lot of critiques about radical softness and they’ve helped me develop my own thoughts further. When I first shared work online about this idea it was such a baby thought, yet people treated it as a developed movement that had clear, concise intentions.

Radical Softness as it exists to me

My main goal was to accept my own vulnerability and to say that there is nothing wrong with softness. It is about me sorting through my feelings on mental illness and finding power in my frequent emotional breakdowns. This Audre Lorde quote comes to mind: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

The work has dealt with femininity because to me, my femininity and mental illness overlap. Abuse in my life has had a strong link to my gender. This is not to say that softness is a concept reserved for cis women. (I myself do not identify as a cis woman.) This is not to say that this is only for femmes either. It is only to say that I am making work relevant to my own experiences. Softness is a concept that goes beyond gender.  Above all, my intention was to declare the strength in healing and in accepting a range of emotions. 

Radical Softness as talked about in a larger sphere 

When discussed, radical softness has been shrouded in pink and often associated with young girlhood & cis white feminism. I have read articles which compare it to The Virgin Suicides and which bring in other young, white feminine artists who are creating work which does not deal with the same themes. 

I am very annoyed and bored when I read about radical softness being associated with young girlhood. It seems too easy of a connection to make. Hey look here’s another young white feminine person posting their work online!! It’s pink!! Let’s not critique this work at all or actually engage in it! It fits in just fine with the rest of the Tumblr aesthetic!

It waters down the idea behind this and instead, focuses solely on aesthetics to make it something that is easy to swallow. 

Privilege in radical softness 

I say this as a white, non-gender conforming, non-straight femme from a fairly upperclass background: I am privileged as hell. Therefore, the work I make, no matter how much I try, is going to reflect those privileges. The ability to be soft and tender is a privilege I have. This is going to be easier for me, as a white cis-passing femme, then others. 

I made a conscious effort to make the radical softness zine (a collab zine with work focusing on healing and tenderness) diverse and to not only alleviate the voices of white cis artists. But there is a lot of work to be done involving radical softness & race. However, that is not my place to do the work. Others have reached out to me to tell me they are building off the idea and I think that is very important. The work does not stop with me. My privileged, specific way of thinking does not speak for everyone. 

So…now what?

Like I said, I am sucking on critiques I have read. About how emotions cannot be gendered (based off of a photo of mine: “solely praising masculine traits is damaging), how using the word “radical” is negative, how aggressiveness is not rewarded because when even if a female is aggressive, they will be critiqued because any female reaction is critiqued. I am thinking about all of them and figuring out better ways to articulate myself. Language is important. Being clear & getting feedback is important. I’m working on things. 

Softness as passivity 

I have gotten criticism in my personal life about “preaching softness” and yet being rude to someone. Being soft is not about being docile. It is not about not having an opinion. I am more tender with myself than ever, but I also am learning to deal with my aggression and anger. I will not tell others to not be violent. I will not tell others to not be violent. I understand that these are valid reactions to oppression. 

I am intimate and soft with myself and those close to me, but I will not be nice to those who are abusive. I will not take someone’s shit because they believe to be soft is to be kind, always. I will not be walked over. I will not be non-violent or quiet. 

This is not softness to me. Softness is powerful. It is about healing. It is about inner-strength. And strength means standing up for yourself. It is not about forced passivity. 

Radical Softness is Radical Honesty’s sensitive femme sibling.

They have a lot in common. Softness is somehow like honesty turned inwards – making yourself  open to the truth of the world, breaking through the carapace of comforting self-delusion that protects you

The pre-history of exit scams

December 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

“Exit scams are as old as the warehousing profession. In the 1640s, the outbreak of the English Civil War drew merchants’ apprentices to join the army, leaving merchants with no one to safeguard their surplus cash. The merchants turned to private goldsmiths, who were accustomed to safekeeping precious metals. Initially, there were reports of the goldsmiths packing up and skipping town, but the enterprising goldsmiths eventually discovered that profits could be maximized not by going on the lam, but by sticking around and issuing warehouse receipts in excess of the gold on hand. And thus fractional reserve banking was born.”

– Elaine Ou at Bloomberg

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