Untitled (Oh no! It's you!), 2013 by David Shrigley.

Become what you are

by Alan Watts
November 23rd, 2023

From Alan Watts' essay What is reality?: "So we return to the original question, What, then, is Life; what is Reality, that it may inspire us with devotion? If we regard it as a particular way of living or as a particular kind of existence and accord our devotion to that, what are we doing? We are revering its expression in great personality, in the behavior of those whom we consider real persons. But here is the snag. When we revere real personality in others, we are liable to become mere imitators; when we revere it as an ideal for ourselves, here is the old trouble of wanting to make yourself great. It is all a question of pride, for if you revere Life and Reality only in particular types of personal living, you deny Life and Reality to such humble things as, for instance, saltshakers, specks of dust, worms, flowers, and the great unregenerate masses of the human race. [...]
For Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others. They do not belong to particular persons any more than the sun, moon, and stars."

From Alan Watts' essay the Language of Metaphysical Experience: "In sum, then, the function of metaphysical statements in Hinduism and Buddhism is neither to convey positive information about an Absolute, nor to indicate an experience in which this Absolute becomes an object of knowledge. In the words of the Kena Upanishad: 'Brahman is unknown to those who know It, and is known to those who do not know It at all.' This knowing of Reality by unknowing is the psychological state of the man whose ego is no longer split or dissociated from its experiences, who no longer feels himself as an isolated embodiment of logic and consciousness, separate from the 'gyring' and 'gimbling' of the unknown. He is thus delivered from samsara, the Wheel, the squirel cage psychology of all those human beings who everlastingly frustrate themselves whith impossible tasks of knowing the knower, controlling the controller, and organizing the organizer, like ouroboros, the mixed-up snake, who dines of his own tail."

In this context you might also want to consider playing Everything by David OReilly. Here is a Let's Play (Full Game Playthrough).

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Grace Jones at Carriageworks (Vivid) on 1st June 2015 by Bruce Baker.

I'll never write my memoirs

Fifteen lessons learned from Grace Jones's autobiography
September 22nd, 2023

From VICE: “'The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajs and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent,' she explains. Grace winds up the rant with a roll call of all her copycats. 'Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley, Kanye West, FKA twigs and… Doris.' By process of elimination you can assume that 'Doris' is Beyoncé.

And while you might be reading this thinking, 'Chill out, grandma,' Grace Jones is correct. She was first. She worked with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, she partied at high fashion gay clubs with Karl Lagerfeld, she appeared as an androgynous demi-god on the cover of Vogue. And she is still very much first now. She's certainly the only performer I've ever seen who has finished their set singing and simultaneously hula-hooping. In stilettos. For 20 minutes. She's the only artist who's had milliner Sir Philip Tracy waiting in the wings to fix a different hat to her head for each individual song on the setlist. At one point during the headline show I witnessed at Lovebox Festival in London a few years ago, she even ordered her band to stop, calling out 'Philip, dear!' so he could change her headgear mid-song. [...]

Whatever the legend, good, bad or devilishly bad, the narrator's voice is consistently hers: matter-of-fact, uninhibited, and madly profound. It's tough to do the book justice in words other than her own because Grace Jones is one of a kind. The following are some lessons we've learned from her life thus far. Good luck applying them to your own day-to-day without getting arrested. [...]

'You can love a boyfriend too much, but you can't love yourself too much.' [...]

'We almost climbed inside each other's mouth… Obviously I was in the mood to be attracted to the baddest ass.'

'I wore roller skates as a directory assistant. My employers didn't say anything as long as I did my job. I loved roller-skating. I loved the feeling of speed.'

'I totally fell for him, [Tom, her first mentor], and, inevitably, he turned out to be gay.' [...]

'I lived as a nudist for one month in Philly—1967 or '68 or '69, whenever it was—and it was a good summer to sit naked.'

'When I am plugged in I can be scary psychic. Knowing when something is going to happen, when not to get in the elevator…'

'Shaving my head led directly to my first orgasm… I'd never had sex like that before. It was sex from another era, another solar system. It still started with the mouth but it ended up beyond the body.'

'At the exact moment that Arnold and Maria are on their knees finishing off their special, intimate ceremony, we arrive. They didn’t say anything, but you could see from the looks on their faces that they were not at all impressed.'"

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Grid systems in graphic designs

A visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers and three dimensional designers
by Josef Müller-Brockmann

A true legend of a book. And now online for free.

Via Eye Magazine: "I have always felt obliged to make a constructive contribution to the future of society. I have never lost the feeling that I have a task to perform. What pleases me is that I have always sought what is better, that I have remained self-critical, and that I am still interested in things outside my own field. My library is the expression of my curiosity. I would advise young people to look at everything they encounter in a critical light and try to find a better solution. Then I would urge them at all times to be self-critical."

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All About Love: New Visions

by bell hooks, PhD

Via Bell Hooks Books: "Author Bell Hooks gives us a non-academic, though personally profound look into this universal and ageless question in her book, ‘All About Love: New Visions.’ One can assimilate Hooks’ analysis to love to Scott M. Peck’s view of life from ‘A Road Less Traveled’: “Life is difficult” as Peck says… once one accepts that life is, in fact difficult, it’s easier to accept the natural course of life.

Venture with Hooks into her perspective on love in her value-filled chapters about what love is. This non-academic, though the intellectually written book, will allow you to consider your own thoughts and views on what love is while giving you cultural awareness on what society allows us to accept and what we are taught to believe love is."

Via Harper Collins Publishers: "As Bell Hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question “What is love?” her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society’s failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the “100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life.” All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can."

Related: bell hooks: "This ain't no pussy shit" I The New School

Thanks to Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein!

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Ruggero Maramotti somehow got fired from National Geographic.

Thoughts without a thinker

by Mark Epstein, M.D.

Via Mark Epstein: "A landmark contribution to the field of psychoanalysis, Thoughts Without a Thinker describes how Buddhist teachings in particular have reshaped understandings of our minds and behavior. Drawing upon his own experiences as a psychotherapist and meditator, New York-based psychiatrist Mark Epstein lays out the path to meditation inspired healing. Now with a new preface by the author, Thoughts Without a Thinker offers a revolutionary understanding of what constitutes a healthy emotional life."

Via The New York Times: "The problem with the ego, according to Mr. Epstein, is that it wants so badly to know. 'The ego comes into being when we’re two or three or four years old,' he said, 'just feeling our own separateness and how difficult it is to navigate the external pressures from parents and teachers, and the internal pressures of one’s biology, one’s drives and so on. The ego wants security and stability and coherence. It’s rooted in the intellect, so it tells stories. It fastens on to the first stories that start to make sense, both positive and negative.'
We then incessantly repeat these stories to ourselves 'under our breath,' as Mr. Epstein writes in the new book. The classic stubborn story dealt with in therapy, he said, can be summarized in four words: 'The problem is me.' And the low self-esteem reinforced by such stories 'is as much ego as the puffed-up, I’m the best, competitive, American way we ordinarily think of the ego.' "

Via Wikipedia: "Epstein has been a practicing Buddhist since his early twenties, when he traveled to Ajahn Chah's forest Buddhist monastery near Bangkok, Thailand together with his American Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Richard Alpert.
He is a contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and his books include Thoughts Without a Thinker, and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart. Both books deal with the difficult and counter-intuitive Eastern teachings of non-self."

Thanks to Nina Juric!

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In the Flow

by Boris Groys

Via Verso: "In the early twentieth century, art and its institutions came under critique from a new democratic and egalitarian spirit. The notion of works of art as sacred objects was decried and subsequently they would be understood merely as things. This meant an attack on realism, as well as on the traditional preservative mission of the museum. Acclaimed art theorist Boris Groys argues this led to the development of “direct realism”: an art that would not produce objects, but practices (from performance art to relational aesthetics) that would not survive. But for more than a century now, every advance in this direction has been quickly followed by new means of preserving art’s distinction.
In this major new work, Groys charts the paradoxes produced by this tension, and explores art in the age of the thingless medium, the Internet. Groys claims that if the techniques of mechanical reproduction gave us objects without aura, digital production generates aura without objects, transforming all its materials into vanishing markers of the transitory present."

Via e-flux: "And that means precisely that contemporary art has become the medium for investigating the eventfulness of events: the different modes of the immediate experience of events, their relationship to documentation and archiving, the intellectual and emotional modes of our relationship to documentation, and so forth. Now, if the thematization of the eventfulness of the event has become, indeed, the main preoccupation of contemporary art in general and the museum of contemporary art in particular, it makes no sense to condemn the museum for staging art events. On the contrary, today the museum has become the main analytical tool for staging and analyzing the event as radically contingent and irreversible—amidst our digitally controlled civilization that is based on tracking back and securing the traces of our individual existence in the hope of making everything controllable and reversible. The museum is a place where the asymmetrical war between the ordinary human gaze and the technologically armed gaze not only takes place, but also becomes revealed—so that it can be thematized and critically theorized."

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

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Photo by Marisol Rodriguez.

Uncreative Writing

by Kenneth Goldsmith

Best book in years, and translated by my dear friend Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein. You can not afford to miss out on this one.

Via Brain Pickings: "Goldsmith echoes legendary designer Charles Eames, who famously advised to 'innovate only as a last resort,' and writes:

Having worked in advertising for many years as a ‘creative director,’ I can tell you that, despite what cultural pundits might say, creativity — as [it has] been defined by our culture with its endless parade of formulaic novels, memoirs, and films — is the thing to flee from, not only as a member of the ‘creative class’ but also as a member of the ‘artistic class.’ Living when technology is changing the rules of the game in every aspect of our lives, it’s time to question and tear down such clichés and lay them on the floor in front of us, then reconstruct these smoldering embers into something new, something contemporary, something — finally — relevant.

In addressing the most common contestations to his ideas about accepting all language as poetry by mere reframing — about what happens to the notion of authorship, about how careers and canons are to be established, about whether the heart of literature is reducible to mere algorithms — Goldsmith seconds a sentiment French polymath Henri Poincaré shared more then a century ago when he noted that to create is merely to choose wisely from the existing pool of ideas:

What becomes important is what you — the author — [decide] to choose. Success lies in knowing what to include and — more important — what to leave out. If all language can be transformed into poetry by mere reframing — an exciting possibility — then she who reframes words in the most charged and convincing way will be judged the best. I agree that the moment we throw judgment and quality out the window we’re in trouble. Democracy is fine for YouTube, but it’s generally a recipe for disaster when it comes to art. While all the words may be created equal — and thus treated — the way in which they’re assembled isn’t; it’s impossible to suspend judgment and folly to dismiss quality. Mimesis and replication [don’t] eradicate authorship, rather they simply place new demands on authors who must take these new conditions into account as part and parcel of the landscape when conceiving of a work of art: if you don’t want it copied, don’t put it online.

Ultimately, he argues that all of this is about the evolution — rather than the destruction — of authorship:

In 1959 the poet and artist Brion Gysin claimed that writing was fifty years behind painting. And he might still be right: in the art world, since impressionism, the avant-garde has been the mainstream. Innovation and risk taking have been consistently rewarded. But, in spite of the successes of modernism, literature has remained on two parallel tracks, the mainstream and the avant-garde, with the two rarely intersecting. Yet the conditions of digital culture have unexpectedly forced a collision, scrambling the once-sure footing of both camps. Suddenly, we all find ourselves in the same boat grappling with new questions concerning authorship, originality, and the way meaning is forged.

The rest of Uncreative Writing goes on to explore the history of appropriation in art, the emerging interchangeability between words and images in digital culture, the challenges of defining one’s identity in the vastness of the online environment, and many other pressing facets of what it means to be a writer — or, even more broadly, a creator — in the age of the internet."

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Invinite Jest

by David Foster Wallace

Via Infinite Summer: "There’s no wrong way to read Infinite Jest: front-to-back, upside-down, cut in half, or skipping around. But here are a few tips for the Infinite Jester.

Read the endnotes: Please. They are not boring bibliographic details, but rather an integral part of the text. And the bouncing back-and-forth is a feature, not a bug.
Use bookmarks: Yes bookmarks, plural: one for the main text and one for the endnotes. Doing so will save you hours of searching, and the aggravation of losing your place several times an hour.
Persevere to page 200: There are several popular way stations on the road to abandoning Infinite Jest. The most heavily trafficked by far is The Wardine Section. Where the opening pages of IJ are among the best written in the book, page 37 (and many pages thereafter) are in a tortured, faux-Ebonics type dialect. 'Wardine say her momma ain’t treat her right.' 'Wardine be cry.' Potentially offensive (if one wants to be offended), and generally hard to get through. Hang in there, ignore the regional parlance, and focus on what the characters are doing. Like most things in the book, you’ll need to know this later. Likewise for the other rough patches to be found in the first fifth of the novel.
Trust the author: Around page 50, you’re going to feel a sinking sense of dread, as it dawns on you how much stuff you’ll be asked to keep track of: lots of characters coming and going, subplots upon subplots, page long sentences, and more. You have to believe that what seems at first like a bunch of disconnected vignettes (like The Wardine Section) will in fact come together; that the connections among what seem like radically disparate plot lines really do make themselves apparent in time. But at first, it requires something of a focus on the local plot lines, and a leap of faith in the fact that the global picture will eventually resolve.
Flag, copy, or bookmark page 223: Page 223 of the novel contains some information that you will either need to internalize or refer to frequently to make sense of the narrative. Once you reach it, flag the page with a stickie, dogear the corner, photocopy the material, stick a (third) bookmark there –whatever will ensure that you can find this information when you need it.
Don’t do the thing you’re dying to do right now: Namely, flip to page 223 to see what we’re talking about. David Foster Wallace ordered the book the way he did for a reason, and part of step 4 above is respecting that. In fact, we encourage you to take the fingers-in-the-ears 'LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU' approach to spoilers in general.
Abuse your copy: When you are finished, 223 should be just one of many mutilated pages in your novel. Liberal use of tape flags, post-it notes, highlighting, or your anal-retentive page marking device of choice, as a means of keeping track of key passages you think you might like to come back to (or share with others), is encouraged. (Note: the preceding advice is not recommended for those reading on the Kindle.) If you can’t bring yourself to work over your only copy of Infinite Jest, consider investing in a second.
Keep notes: As if lugging around a book the size of a 2 br. 1¼ bath apartment isn’t enough, you may want to carry a notebook as well. You won’t always have the requisite Oxford English Dictionary within arm’s reach, you know.
Brush up on your Hamlet: It’s no coincidence that the first two words of Hamlet are 'Who’s there?' and the first two words of Infinite Jest are 'I am'. Even the novel’s title was lifted from the play.
As you read, it behooves you keep in mind the relationships between the characters in Shakespeare’s drama (the ghost, poor Yorick, etc.) and the central themes of the play. You can find a brief primer here.
Employ a reader’s guide: There are two companion guides that you may find helpful. One is Stephen Burn’s David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest: A Reader’s Guide. Burn’s guide is rather short (96 pages), but it includes a helpful chronology, as well as sections on the novel’s critical reception and key plot points.
Another guide is Greg Carlisle’s Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. [Full disclosure: Bucher is the editor & publisher of the Carlisle book.] Elegant Complexity is different than the Burn guide in that it offers a summary and exegesis on every section of the novel –and that it’s 512 pages long. Also included are chronologies, family trees, thematic discussions, and a map of the tennis academy.
Use online references: There are copious webpages out there that the first-time Jesters will find useful."

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From the exhibition “L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte”. Photo by Andrea Ceregnini, GAM - Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino.

The Man Who Tasted Shapes

by Richard Cytowic, M.D.

Via MIT Press: "In 1980, Richard Cytowic was having dinner at a friend's house, when his host exclaimed, 'Oh, dear, there aren't enough points on the chicken.' With that casual comment began Cytowic's journey into the condition known as synesthesia.

The ten people in one million who are synesthetes are born into a world where one sensation (such as sound) conjures up one or more others (such as taste or color). Although scientists have known about synesthesia for two hundred years, until now the condition has remained a mystery. Extensive experiments with more than forty synesthetes led Richard Cytowic to an explanation of synesthesia - and to a new conception of the organization of the mind, one that emphasized the primacy of emotion over reason.

Because there were not enough points on chicken served at a dinner almost two decades ago, Cytowic came to explore a deeper reality that he believes exists in all individuals, but usually below the surface of awareness. In this medical detective adventure, he reveals the brain to be an active explorer, not just a passive receiver, and offers a new view of what it means to be human - a view that turns upside down conventional ideas about reason, emotion, and who we are.

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Seeing through Death & Making Love

by Barry Long

"In the game of living, the rule is: everyone dies. You win by finding death before it finds you. The prize is life." Barry Long Seeing Through Death

"It is man’s world and he built it on the strength of sexual aggression. Male domination began in sex and in sex it continues unabated. Woman cannot alter this position by marching with banners or withdrawing from sex. She has tried all the means at her disposal down through the centuries; none has worked and none will. The solution is for her to be in command of love. That does not mean to be in command of the man. It means to know inside herself what is right and true and stick to that, even if it means the man leaves her. Woman is love. All she has to do is realise that, by giving up her self doubt and fear." Barry Long Making Love

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