Waiting

2011.09.16

OF ALL HUMAN EXPERIENCES, WAITING may be the least explicable.

We usually experience Time both as a series of events (“progression”) and an eternal Now (“duration”). Progression is as a pot slowly boiling or day growing late or stomach more hungry. “Duration” is the center of whatever moment (and all moments) we experience. These levels are so seamless as to first appear invisible. (Work with me here.)

Waiting suspends your attention — you’ve given your order, taken your place in line, tried to start the engine — now what? Read more »

The Root Of All Our Problems

2011.09.15

SLOPPY THINKING.

Faint Praise

2011.09.14

“I DON’T MIND WATCHING HIM chew the scenery — he leaves such interesting bitemarks.”

The W-Word, As In “We Are Not Amused”

2011.09.13

A CREEPING TREND OF LITERARY infantilization is loose upon the printed land: we refer specifically to the practice of substituting for a contretemps-laden word a reference to its initial letter: “the T-word,” “the F-word,” etc.

We recognize and laud the noble impulse to avoid giving needless offense. Yet this usage has reached a point where it is difficult to understand what’s being communicated. Read more »

A Complex Whiteness

2011.09.12

YOU MIGHT THINK WHITE FLAGS mean “Surrender,” but if you’re talking about Aaron Fein‘s “White Flags” art piece — all the world’s flags rendered full-size in white cloth and embroidery — you’d better not say so in a public forum, or I’ll reply:

(T)o me the whiteness connotes a sameness — on one level it doesn’t matter that they’re white so much as monocolor. White is also the simplest color — it reflects the entire spectrum, is purely non-differential, and leaves nothing out. All dyed cloth begins and ends in whiteness. (White is also a popular color for bedsheets, which addresses the artist’s point about the welcoming tent of Abraham: rest and comfort at the end of a journey. A journey that begins in difference but whose end is only reached by One.)

Anyway, just a few thoughts. I am completely gobsmacked by the beauty and simplicity (and perhaps sense of humor) about this project. Thank you Tablet for bringing it to us.

The project — which really must be seen to be appreciated; I doubt photos actually convey the sense and scope — is the topic of a nice write-up at http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/77571/white-flags/. The artist’s website is http://www.aaronfein.com/.

“GOD” IS THE EXPERIENCE OF “experiencing God.”

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Monumental Question

2011.09.11

“Do you honor the hole, or refill it with something?” (This may also apply to more than just the WTC memorial. Me, I vote for honoring the hole.)

Then

2011.09.11

EVEN AFTER TEN YEARS, THE memories and pain are still fresh when I think of them. I don’t think of them often.

My habit in those days was to check the Ha’aretz news ticker with my morning coffee. “Hmm… soccer teams doing well, banks not so much, road accidents, airplane flies into World Trade Center. Wait. What?” Read more »

Where Do The Ideas Come From?

2011.09.09

LET’S MAKE THIS AN EXPLORATION of the landscapes of creativity — how does the creative experience feel to you?

Mentally, I’m all about visualization: perhaps it’s synesthesia, but even smells and sounds have a visual component for me. So I’ve always seen “the creative process” as starting with a curtain across half the universe. Every now and then, the curtain parts just enough to reveal an Idea.

It could be a series of images, even images of words. Now and then it’s a sound. But even the most abstract Idea carries a visual impression of girders and joists, ropes and scrim. Sometimes an Idea will be revealed a piece at a time, with a whole clicking into place almost audibly and palpably. If it’s long, like a story, it feels like a rope uncoiling from the other side of the curtain — a line which must not be allowed to grow slack.

Sometimes an Idea links up with something inside the rest of the universe. Other times it just sits there, gleaming, faintly pulsing, daring me to capture it in words on a screen or a sketch in a notebook. (If I don’t, it can fade within minutes.)

So let’s make this an exploration of the sense-scapes of creativity. How does the creative experience feel to you?

I Am In Love With Edna St. Vincent Millay

2011.09.08

EVIDENTLY, SHE WROTE A POEM in 1928 called “Dirge With Music.” I have not yet read any of her other works, but I hope they’re like this one. The last stanza says it all:

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

(Thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for the quotation.)

First Graf: Zen and the Art of the Internet

2011.09.08

THE FIRST BOOK I EVER read about the Internet, in 1994, still gives me a wave of nostalgic novelty when I turn its pages now. The ‘Net was new in the public mind and not well understood back then, which is why books like 1992′s ZATAOTI were popular: it’s a beginner’s guide to all things then-Internet, from email to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

These days, you just Google to find anything. But before Google (and before the World Wide Web) were Usenet and FTP, telnet and Gopher. You sort of had to know your way around in order to find anything. ZATAOTI’s 95 pages helped make the learning curve less steep for millions of people by helping them to think clearly and concisely about this strange new technology.

The composition of this booklet was originally started because the Computer Science department at Widener University was in desperate need of documentation describing the capabilities of this “great new Internet link” we obtained.

It’s since grown into an effort to acquaint the reader with much of what’s currently available over the Internet. Aimed at the novice user, it attempts to remain operating system “neutral”—-little information herein is specific to Unix, VMS, or any other environment. This booklet will, hopefully, be usable by nearly anyone.

Wistful Vista

2011.09.07

DESPITE ITS HELIOSHEATH-BREAKING ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or perhaps because of them, I can’t help but regret, just a little, that there’s no “NCC-1701” decal on Voyager 1.

But at least there’s Beethoven. That almost makes up for it.

Almost.

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