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“The way to develop good taste in literature is to read poetry… For, being the supreme form of human…”

The way to develop good taste in literature is to read poetry… For, being the supreme form of human locution, poetry is not only the most concise, the most condensed way of conveying the human experience; it also offers the highest possible standards for any linguistic operation — especially one on paper.

The more one reads poetry, the less tolerant one becomes of any sort of verbosity, be that in political or philosophical discourse, be that in history, social studies or the art of fiction.



- Joseph Brodsky on how to develop your taste in reading — a brilliant 1988 essay, all the timelier in the age of linkbait. (via explore-blog)
Feb 26

“Learn how to use e-mail. Decide why you are on the planet. Have fewer meetings with fewer people for…”

“Learn how to use e-mail. Decide why you are on the planet. Have fewer meetings with fewer people for less time. Slow down. Do less. Be here now. Achieve more. Insist on clear, explicit brain-friendly actions. Take breaks. Have a life beyond work.”

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Seven Ways To Be Effective - Nicholas Bate

If you’re not checking in on Nicholas Bate, regularly– rectify, stat. It’s for your own good.

Feb 25

derica: thefutureweird: “I’m still asked, what good is science…



derica:

thefutureweird:

I’m still asked, what good is science fiction to Black people? What good is any form of literature to Black people? What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking - whoever “everyone” happens to be this year. And what good is all this to Black people?” 

- Octavia Butler, POSITIVE OBSESSION [1996]

Feb 24

“But experts believe the success at keeping the death toll relatively low– 40 cyclists have died at…”

But experts believe the success at keeping the death toll relatively low– 40 cyclists have died at the hospital in 10 years- is masking a lack of focus on preventing collisions.

They called on the Mayor and Transport for London to help build a comprehensive database of cyclist injuries. This would record factors such as whether the crash involved a HGV, car or pedestrian, the personal details of the cyclist, what happened before the collision, and if helmet and high-visibility clothing were worn.



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Ross Lydall, Evening Standard, Thurs 6th Feb

Makes sense, and in a data-driven society, only a matter of time. It may sound morbid, but as a cyclist, whenever I hear news of yet another fatal traffic accident, I find myself wondering what actually happened, and whether there was anything the cyclist could have done to protect themselves.

I’d imagine a database like this could have an impact on cyclist safety, provided people actually took the time to examine the findings and stats. Cue call for sexy data-visualisation. And iPhone app.

Feb 23

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

- Highlighted by Emily Phillips in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (via readmill)
Feb 22

“The tablet couldn’t possibly shoulder all the expectations people had for it. Not a replacement for…”

“The tablet couldn’t possibly shoulder all the expectations people had for it. Not a replacement for your laptop or phone — but kinda. Something you kick back with in the living room, fire up at work and also carry with you everywhere — sort of. Yes, tablets have sold in large numbers, but rather than being a constant companion, like we envisioned, most tablets today sit idle on coffee tables and nightstands. Simply put, our love for them is dying.”

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Our Love Affair With the Tablet is Over | Andreessen Horowitz

Some fair arguments made, but I respectfully disagree. True, I’m can’t put money on the future of tablets in mainstream markets (although it could be argued that as an owner of each major revision of the iPad that’s been released, I already have). Are tablets laptop replacements? No, although so many people I know with tablets set them up with keyboard cases, with the effect of replicating that laptop form factor. However, I’m also not convinced that tablets simply represent a hardware bubble destined to burst as large screen smartphones gain traction.

I’d like to believe that there’s room for the tablet as third device pitched somewhere between the smartphone and desktop/laptop computer, in much the same way as prosumer cameras exist as a niche between affordable point-and-shoots and high end professional equipment. The fact that tablets severely dented sales of netbooks surely indicates that there’s a market for reasonably powerful computing devices that are bigger than phones and yet small and light enough for easy transport. And can we really discount the pervasive nature of a large touchscreen? When you think about the number of children being raised with tablets as pacifiers, there’s definitely room to imagine how tablet computing might have a firm grip on the future…

Feb 21

“Nhất Hạnh teaches that you can wash your bowl with the objective of having a clean bowl, or you can…”

“Nhất Hạnh teaches that you can wash your bowl with the objective of having a clean bowl, or you can wash your bowl with the objective of washing the bowl. If you are only concerned with the end project — a clean bowl — then what becomes of the time you spent washing it? The time seems to disappear, as if a snippet of your life was not even really lived. On the other hand, if your mind, body, and sense of presence are honed in on the washing itself, every part of you comes alive to the vibrancy and sensation of the moment. Therefore, instructs Nhất Hạnh, the most important thing to think about while washing the bowl is washing the bowl.”

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Washing the Bowl: The Beauty of Doing Only One Thing | James Shelley

Beautiful reminder of presence, of appreciating the moment for what it is. Lots of thoughts about time and how my time is used, recently. And the thought that mindfulness, like this, surely serves (creative?) writing well.

Feb 20

“Today brings some sad news: Editorially is closing its doors. The application will remain available…”

“Today brings some sad news: Editorially is closing its doors. The application will remain available until May 30, at which point the site will go offline. We encourage all users to export their data.”

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STET | Goodbye

Speaking of collaborative writing apps, sad news that Editorially has fallen.

I drafted a post elsewhere about the alarmingly short-lifespan of some of these tools. I say alarmingly as no slight to any of the developers or forward-thinkers involved— it must be a tough thing to have to write an apologetic letter to your existing loyal userbase on the basis that it simply isn’t big enough to keep the lights on. But I’m certainly more wary about the tools I recommend these days, having spent a month convincing an entire community of young poets to abandon our Facebook group in favour of an alternative solution that promptly posted a death notice a few weeks later. I’ve since gone on to roll my own solution, using Wordpress— it’s open source (read: free), albeit carrying a higher price tag in terms of an investment of my development time, but at least my new solution sits on a platform I own, and I can tweak it to my heart’s content, rather than firing off feature requests to an already beleaguered developer.

Hate to be one of those guys, but if the shiny new tool you’re looking at doesn’t seem to have some solid way of generating revenue for its owners/developers, experience suggests thinking twice before betting the farm on it.

Feb 19

Note to self: queue more in-depth post about web-based writing…



Note to self: queue more in-depth post about web-based writing aids, collaborative writing/editing tools &c.

Or: point to growing collection of bookmarks used to track such tools.

Feb 18

“The brilliant stories that make use of the possibilities of digital technology will fall victim to…”

“The brilliant stories that make use of the possibilities of digital technology will fall victim to the obsolescence of that technology. And that’s okay; lots of what I experience here – online – is ephemeral, just as all the comics I’ve given away and traded in or sold have been lost to me. But I keep the issues of comics I think will matter to me, that I love. I need to get better at doing the same for the things I love online.”

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Pages lost | Matthew Sheret

Popular thinking suggests that whatever exists online stays online forever. That depends on what the value of forever is, really. Forever could be just long enough for that inappropriate Facebook photo to tank your chance at a new job or relationship. But with the rate at which networks, platforms, standards and even the very devices we use to access the web change, forever may not be as long as it used to be. Something to think about when producing work for the web.

Also, see issues around curating digital art.

Feb 17

notmattsiegel: Prompts



notmattsiegel:

Prompts

Feb 16

The Moment (by songhyunju) “When people face an absurd…



The Moment (by songhyunju)

"When people face an absurd situation in Korea, they say "It makes no word.". This project is about the absurd moment and creates no word out of words. In the project the Latin alphabet is conceived of as the abstract geometry. The letters are disassembled and transformed by spinning as a new visual artistic medium."

concept & visual programming by : Song, Hyun Ju sound & sequence programming by : Bae, Mi Lyoung

Feb 15

“The post-postcolonial character is open to exploring influences outside expected norms, and he…”

“The post-postcolonial character is open to exploring influences outside expected norms, and he demands the freedom to stitch those influences together as he sees fit. He embraces the multiple: “Do you see my colours, my dazzling terror?” the poet challenges. Yet, at the same time, he realizes that his brash experimentations—particularly those requiring a move away from the Caribbean landscape—inspire a problematic kind of performativity. “Watch my style, my chalkface charade, rude / work harvesting hymns. Break way. Look good,” he boasts (48). These lines suggest that, if the tristesse of the postcolonial character lies in his unintended mimicry, the tristesse of the post-postcolonial character lies in his self-conscious masquerade. What prevents his masquerade from becoming wholly disingenuous, however, is his understanding that he is permitted to wear multiple masks, just as he is permitted to speak in multiple tongues. Identity need not involve identification with one nation.”

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Post-Postcolonial? - Stephen Narrain on Christian Campbell’s ‘Running the Dusk’.

Also: “In the post-postcolonial framework, a relationship to a single place is often rendered impractical due to social, cultural, or family dynamics. Campbell’s post-postcolonial characters are comfortable, therefore, with citizenship in a suspended space, an experimental state of heterogeneity, ambiguity, and uncertainty—a self-conscious process of constant becoming.”

Feb 14

“I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. It’s a kind of fuel; it burns and it…”

“I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. It’s a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you. My memory is like a chest: There are so many drawers in that chest, and when I want to be a fifteen-year-old boy, I open up a certain drawer and I find the scenery I saw when I was a boy in Kobe. I can smell the air, and I can touch the ground, and I can see the green of the trees. That’s why I want to write a book.”

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Haruki Murakami (via apoetreflects)

Consider alongside yesterday’s thought on time and investment in creative process. Life breeds experience; experience is (or can be) fuel for creative work.

Feb 13

Some musing on creative work… Time is our basic raw…



Some musing on creative work…

Time is our basic raw material. Time is functionally infinite (from our perspective) but OUR time is limited, hence the boundary around it. Focus determines how we make use of our time. Only some of our time is functionally available (see Cal Newport and his theory of time boxing etc). Some of our time will be given over to maintaining “state” (sleep, health, socialising, spiritual/religious observance). Whatever’s left is the time we have available to “work”, hence the boundary around focus within time. Focus helps us to make best use of a given amount of time.

As creative freelancers, we work for different reasons from many other workers. Yes, we have bills to pay, and having money affords us more time to do our real work in relation to the time that’s spent meeting the costs of living. Our real work is to create products or experiences. In this way, we convert time into meaning. The ideal nature of the meaning we create is profound, i.e. valuable to people more than just ourselves. This is our true currency.

Feb 12

I’ve played with a number of online…



I’ve played with a number of online “platforms” for creative writing that happened to cater for poets, among others. I haven’t yet explored PoetryZoo deeply (insert allusion to petting the animals here), but on the surface at least, it’s a handsome project dedicated to poetry, which already puts it heads above other contenders.

Primate (the web agency) have done a very good job, partly bankrolled by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, and it’s a joy to see something so well-designed in this space. Poets can store a body of work onsite, managing successive drafts before “publishing” — either as individual poems or as collections. Poems can also be published to on-site anthologies. Work can be tagged for easy categorisation, and linked to off-site video or audio. Poets can cluster together in groups and comment on each others work.

After a surface skim of what the platform have to offer, I’m left with a few questions that may well be answered by deeper investigation, but otherwise point to how PoetryZoo could develop as it goes on. I’ve yet to explore the social functionality that the site offers— as far as I can see, users can comment on “published” poems, but I haven’t yet seen a way to invite feedback on unpublished drafts. Also, the platform suffers from a similar design issue as early e-reading, whereby all text is rendered through a uniform typography. That kind of typographic consistency is necessary for the sanity of any site, but has the effect of rendering a body of content in a single visual voice, which can have a deadening effect. I’d be really excited if the site allowed image uploads as headers or thumbnails for poems, so authors could submit not only abstract images that suit a poem’s theme or tone, but pictures of drafts in the author’s own handwriting, which may well humanise the wall of poems and collections you’re presented with when exploring the site.

Minimalism is currently popular for text editors, and PoetryZoo certainly stays on-trend— the canvas for writing poems really is very simple, no word processing controls, and while spacing is retained, there’s no support for tabs. You won’t be mothballing your copy of Scrivener any time soon. And how do you export your own poems? An option to “download poem as .txt or .docx” or “export collection as .docx or .pdf” would be a welcome feature.

Speaking of collections, can PoetryZoo collections be easily published as e-books? Or even (Shock! Horror!) are there any plans for conduits to “dead tree” publishing, the same way Flickr facilitates the publishing of photo-books, or the way various third parties offer Instagram prints? An association with Blurb, perhaps, which could also complement PoetryZoo’s business model in a meaningful way? The internet is haunted by the ghosts of semi-popular “good ideas” that fell by the wayside because a) their business models weren’t sustainable, or b) once audience for the site spent enough time engaging with whatever the site’s main offer was, they realised there wasn’t much more going on, and growth stalled. I’d hate to see any of that happen here.

For now, PoetryZoo seems to be a well designed social network for poets, with some real potential for becoming a powerful platform for authoring poetry, building communities around poetry and making that poetry available to wider audiences work, if development and innovation continues. I look forward to its future.

Feb 11

SENSORY FICTION (by Felix) “researchers at MIT – felix heibeck,…



SENSORY FICTION (by Felix)

"researchers at MIT – felix heibeck, alexis hope, julie legault– have developed a wearable device that, when attached to the body, changes the bearer’s physical characteristics — the application of which is used for reading, so that the wearer can feel the excitement, desires and sympathies of the protagonist as they read a tech-connected book. ‘traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images.’ the researchers explain, ‘by using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the sensory fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination’."

Via (DesignBoom)[http://www.designboom.com/technology/mit-academics-design-book-that-lets-readers-feel-the-protagonists-pain-01-31-2014/]

Feb 10

“The vast accumulations of knowledge—or at least of information—deposited by the nineteenth century…”

“The vast accumulations of knowledge—or at least of information—deposited by the nineteenth century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”

- T. S. Eliot, “The Perfect Critic" (via grandhotelabyss)
Feb 9

“At some point, in other words, there’s no way getting around the necessity to clear your calendar,…”

“At some point, in other words, there’s no way getting around the necessity to clear your calendar, shut down your phone, and spend several hard days trying to make sense of the damn proof.”

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The Empty Sky Paradox: Why Are Stars (in Your Professional Field) So Rare? - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

Alternatively known as “how I currently feel.” Just trying to get something valuable done.

Feb 8

“This juxtaposition of space and text—each poem in the cycle adheres to the same format—creates…”

“This juxtaposition of space and text—each poem in the cycle adheres to the same format—creates multiple effects. First of all, and by far the simplest of all possible explanations in my mind, would be that open space creates a field for the reader to imagine the absent, roughly two-dimensional, visual surface that triggers the writing. But a far more interesting explanation, made possible by Bleakney’s aesthetic choices, is that the field created by the space allows the speaker to create a three-dimensional absence which she may fill with her own internal weather, a process in which the speaker becomes the painting’s ego, and eventually even a superimposed alter-ego for the painter herself, who remains mostly absent, in terms of fact. Throughout the cycle—other than a reference to her birthplace, we get very little information about the painter herself—but she remains ever-present through the speaker’s entreaties. The speaker evokes Owens directly, or more particularly, the Owens she is in the business of creating”

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“20 PAINTINGS BY LAURA OWENS” BY ELAINE BLEAKNEY | Stitched, Stapled, Bound

Lamenting the fact that this chapbook appears to have sold out. That said, Bleakney’s next collection is out in April. Looking forward to picking up a copy.

Feb 7