Archive for November, 2008


30/11/2008

TOM WAITS, MATERIALIST

Tom Waits is always very sensitive to the material conditions of storytelling, and often grounds his songs in everyday situations. For example, “Gun Street Girl” is presented as a tale told by a man in a drunk tank, and opens by noting this framing device. Similarly, “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” references its own form (the Christmas card) in its title. This technique, rare in pop music, enables the singer to channel a far greater number of voices than the majority of his contemporaries. Dylan is always Dylan, but Tom Waits can be truckers, hookers, psychos, drunks…


29/11/2008

g is for google

a is for amazon
b is for best buy
c is for craigslist
d is for dictionary
e is for ebay
f is for facebook
g is for google
h is for hotmail
i is for imdb
j is for jennifer hudson
k is for kohls
l is for lowes
m is for myspace
n is for nfl
o is for obama
p is for photobucket
q is for quotes
r is for runescape
s is for sears
t is for target
u is for utube
v is for verizon wireless
w is for wikipedia
x is for xbox 360
y is for youtube
z is for zappos


28/11/2008

ADVENTURES OF THE CUBE

Durer - Melancholia

Giacometti - Le Cube (1934)


27/11/2008

BEWARE OF SANTA

“A Santa Claus was removed from his grotto after a woman complained that he asked if she wanted to sit on his lap, despite warnings about his behaviour by his helper elf.”

The Guardian


27/11/2008

MY GIRLS

How many times
have I lain alongside them
willing them to sleep
after the same old stories;
face to face, hand in hand,
till they smooth into dream and I can
slip these fingers free
and drift downstairs:
my face a blank,
hands full of deceit.

By Robin Robertson


27/11/2008

SAVOIR/CONNAISSANCE

“Is our children learning?” asked George Bush. He might have asked: “What are they learning?” The ideal of education is often taken for transparent and self-evident. In truth, there is as much opacity here as anywhere. What is transmitted in a classroom – what is transmitted generally – is never just abstract knowledge; but also a certain operating intelligence of structures and strategies – rhetorical, psychological, professional, social.

Marxist theorists like Althusser came to see this in the seventies, but, leaning too heavily on the notion of ideology, and the specter of the ruling class, their formulations finally leave something to be desired. What eluded them in particular was the game theory element – the way in which students are not simply looking to neutrally learn things, but also desire to learn how to control and manipulate them, so as to martial them towards their own ends. This much is evident in many academics and writers – and those claiming to serve higher ideals especially.


24/11/2008

ARSENAL

Arsenal aren’t doing very well this season. The reasons for this aren’t hard to decode. Actually, the main problem here is the number of reasons. Myles Palmer has already delivered an ebullient screed on the matter, which I don’t think could be topped. “Song is an idiot! This squad is crap! This team is crap! He’s creating Monaco II before our very eyes.”

But enough of the story – what of the meta-story? Intriguingly, Arsenal’s careening inconsistency on the pitch is matched by the media’s lurching coverage of this inconsistency. Following the Man United and Wigan wins, Arsenal were sublime and imperious, heading for a bright future. Following the Stoke and Man City defeats, the club were in terminal decline, soon to be exiled permanently from the top four. Is there no way to integrate these two different sides of the club’s form into a single, coherent narrative? Or is there some inner necessity to this strange knee-jerk see-saw?


23/11/2008

A SICKNESS

John Donne: “I have contracted a sickness I cannot name nor describe.”


22/11/2008

PRIMER

Primer is an unusual film. Written, directed and produced by one-man-band Shane Carruth on a budget of $7,000, the movie is geared around the narrative-splintering effects of an accidental scientific discovery, made by two tech entrepreneurs in their garage.

The cleverest part of the picture lies in the way it effectively narrates – through theoretical metaphor – the process of its own construction. At base, the film is an intensive meditation on the issue of structure, which – as we all know – is the central issue of all storytelling.

The film is available on Google Video


22/11/2008

WHAT IS POLITICS?

I was having a coffee with a colleague yesterday, and at one point she said to me: “We have a different understanding of the word ‘politics.'” I’d been talking about the political implications of the internet and had been making the case that the internet was creating new patterns of social organization, and therefore political organization. “When you use the word politics, you seem to mean social and cultural,” she said, “I have a different understanding.”

At the time, I understood this remark in the context of a simple difference of opinion. In retrospect, though, I wonder whether I wasn’t just simply wrong. So I’ve been asking myself this question: “What is politics – as distinguished from the social and cultural?”