It’s been seriously long time since I shared something on this blog. Not because there was nothing to share, rather because there was too much.
So with New Spring, I will attempt a new take on this blog. I will try to share more, without many comments or personal statement, preludes, more focused on getting out their and sharing with the world what “makes me click”, in this wonderful quest for beauty, wander and inspiration.
Here is a wqxr video found on kottke.org of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Apparently wqxr compiled 46 different performances of this beautiful piece in one video. And it works beautifully.
QI, which stands for ‘Quite Interesting’, is a BBC panel knowledge game show like no other. I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoy finishing off the day with any past episode of the 10 seasons that this abnormal quiz has completed so far. Last week the new season started, so get ready for some more fun while learning opportunities from this ‘oh so British’ idea of a game.
QI is presented by the wonderful Stephen Fry and 4 panelists play each time, with Alan Davies being a permanent one. It is a general knowledge (and ignorance) quiz game with an amazing twist: The panellists gain points by providing, yes, the right answer but also by coming up with an Interesting one, whilst they lose points if they give an obvious or boring reply and they do not lose (or gain) any points at all if they give flat out wrong answers.
As QI says on their website:
“We live, they say, in The Information Age, yet almost none of the information we think we possess is true. Eskimos do not rub noses. The rickshaw was invented by an American. Joan of Arc was not French. Lenin was not Russian. The world is not solid, it is made of empty space and energy, and neither haggis, whisky, porridge, clan tartans or kilts are Scottish. So we stand, silent, on a peak in Darien a vast, rolling, teeming, untrodden territory before us. QI country. Whatever is interesting we are interested in. Whatever is not interesting, we are even more interested in. Everything is interesting if looked at in the right way. At one extreme, QI is serious, intensely scientific, deeply mystical; at the other it is hilarious, silly and frothy enough to please the most indolent couch-potato.”
Curiosity is the driving force of QI, which has now grown to be more than just a comedy panel quiz show. Now it is a podcast channel, a series of books, etc. Check all these out on their website, where you can also find their Manifesto. But don’t miss the actual QI show! Here is an episode from series C (all series are available on youtube):
Jun Pierre Shiozawa is a beautiful artist, man and friend. There is no hierarchical order in that sentence. Jun is also a studio arts teacher at the Aegean Center and I am sure his students would add that he is a beautiful teacher as well. Combining all these qualities, Jun recently listed on his blog some key reasons why we should always carry a sketchbook with us. He offers his work and personal travels to help explain the benefits of insight, randomness and observation to help make sense of ourselves and to move on. At first this post might seem relevant only to visual artists, then to the creative people. But in truth it is helpful to all thinking beings. To all playful souls. Click here or on the image above to access the blogpost.
Sometimes the obvious is hidden in a ‘syntax’, in the dormant state of the ordinary. That’s why traveling, or in other words exploring while reviewing, can be very revealing. Or why reorganizing available information has proved time and again a way to generate new knowledge. For example, info-graphics have apparently helped make a lot of sense out of our world and trends; Ken Robinson‘s latest book “Finding your Element” is full of sketchbook-like exercises on jotting down personal tastes and information in order to reveal what makes one click; or again, just this morning, I was watching a doc about the meaning of Time that argued that Einstein’s idea of time relativity came to him during his Patent office days where he was reviewing time keeping inventions. All these diverse examples suggest that a new point of view could result in a novel viewpoint. And to bring this back to the scale of one person and to the importance of the personal meaning-making process, I paraphrase here Steve Jobs who said that one can only connect the dots retrospectively. Also meaning that it is helpful to somehow keep recording those dots in order to connect them down the road.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Jun of course also deals with the benefits of travel in his post. Being outside your comfort zone highlights a lot about your take in life. Travel is always a zone I enjoy finding myself in and for exactly this reason. But travel can happen everywhere. I am in my home place for a month now and it is proving to be a revealing time travel experience. Many dots are being connected. Many dots fly around to be pinned down. After I read Jun’s post I make sure that my sketch/notebook is always with me. Thank you Jun for helping me bring my dots home.
I bumped today into the www.brainpickings.org website which seems very interesting. Having said that, let me just clarify that I haven’t really explored it yet, I have just glanced over some articles, but they were all interesting. Good start for a new fav website!
Anyway, it had two articles about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Sartre and Beauvoir had an open life long relationship that was intimate yet at times had space for other lovers to home in….
I started this day by watching a 1965 film about Leonard Cohen (via OpenCulture). A young Leonard Cohen. In the film, Cohen is portrayed mainly as a poet, as a literary man. So that got me going and I started looking on the web about his poems and his quotes and I bumped into plenty of interesting material.
“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick everyday.”
At some point in the film, at 20mins into it to be exact, Cohen explains how he got to move to Greece, to Hydra. He says he lived in London at the time. It was winter, it was gloomy, rainy, and he had a cold, when he bumped into the Bank of Greece, the title of which was etched in marble on the building facade. He walked in and the man behind the counter was wearing sunglasses. Leonard felt, and I am quoting him, that this was “the most eloquent protest against the entire landscape.” That was the beginning of his affair with Greece.
Here is a page from the Leonard Cohen Files website, an incredible database, with Leonard’s photos & poems from the island of Hydra (click on image to access the link):
Leonard Cohen Poems & Photos from Hydra
“Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore.”
This post is a reblog from the Aegean Center blog about the amazing Vermeer project that the amazing Jane Morris Pack is leading at the Aegean Center right now…
… When Curiosity is the exploratory force behind all understanding and advancement, be it in art, the sciences, in life….
“Sitting in the dark, seeing the painterly vision of light causes nearly all to exclaim at its beauty.”
Actual Projected Image in Camera Obscura (approx. 40×48 cm / 16×19 in)
by Jane Morris Pack
Have you ever painted upside down in the dark?
While visiting Rome this winter I had the opportunity to study several Vermeer paintings in the exhibit at the Quirinale. They were part of a larger show called “Vermeer and The Golden Age of Dutch Art” and although there were some other fine pieces in the exhibit, the Vermeers outshone the others. They seem to glow from within and the accuracy of the perceived space is extraordinary. Johannes Vermeer has captured modern interest not only for his dreamy women engaged in mundane tasks but also perhaps due to the mystery surrounding his life. We know little about his training, his personal life or his methods. I was intrigued by his use of the camera obscura, which seems to be an accepted fact among art historians…
William Noel (curator, rare book scholar) makes this fascinating talk on TED about the recent discoveries lying under a byzantine manuscript. As we quickly understand from his speech, in the past it was quite common to re-use paper in order to make new manuscripts. In a byzantine manuscript which was re-discovered in 1906, its then owner found that on some pages, underneath the Christian prayers and illustrations, there was earlier text from… Archimedes! This manuscript was bought at the end of the 20th century by an, obviously wealthy, man whose ambition was to discover, preserve and share this barely surviving treasure.
So the travels of these binded pages in the millenia could be quickly described as various sheets of paper that carry ancient Greek texts by Archimedes and Hypereides, as well as Roman commentary on Aristotle, that manage to survive through the centuries to be reused (written over) and binded into a prayer manuscript during the Byzantine times. In the 21st century this damaged by now book comes into the hands of scientists and scholars who photograph, x-ray, analyze, read through the layers and share the underlying ancient precious texts with the world through the website: Archimedes Palimpsest
The Scream by Edvard Munch became two days ago the most expensive painting to be bought. It was sold at a Sotheby’s auction to a private, unknown to the public, collector for $119.5 million. This painting, which makes a part of our collective art heritage and pop culture is officially out of sight for all of us (as an original) for now and out of reach for any public institution to obtain for its collection, if not for ever, definitely for a very very long time…
There is a market side to art, there has always been one. Auction Houses these days seem to be doing pretty well even in these shaky times. I guess this means that art is still considered a safe investment. It is said that the world of Auctions is a business that may ‘make’ artists but it kills the artwork, because they generate superstars, while they deprive artworks from their ‘reflective dimension’.
Following this, here are two interesting articles that have a different standing point when it comes to the Auction House’s performance:
Alice Gregory was a ‘Sotheby’s girl’ and as an insider she sheds some light into the psychology and strategy behind the operations of this world famed Auction House. It is especially interesting as to how the House locates and introduces its auction items to possible collectors and vice versa. The article was published on n+1 magazine
Quotes from the article:
‘Property often comes to auction under conditions that the specialists list with alliterative delight: death, divorce, debt. But in the end, the process by which any work of art changes hands is singular—there are as many reasons for selling a piece as there are for buying one…. Collectors are people, with insecurities and egos of varying size. It’s the specialist’s job to psychologize his clients and devise ad hoc strategies that ultimately earn him a commission.’
‘Meanwhile, the specialists have been looking for clients, listing potential bidders in an “interest list” prepared for each individual lot of the sale…. The length and seriousness of the interest list is the private metric specialists use to guess how well a lot will perform, rather than the more empirically determined estimate.’
Snapshot from the Scream sale. photo by Mario Tama (via vulture)
Jerry Saltz is the senior art critic for the New York magazine. In this article he comments on the selling of the Scream at the recent auction and gives us an insight on the staging of a sale. Article found at www.vulture.com
Quote from the article:
‘Auction houses inherently equate capital with value. The price of a work of art has nothing to do with what the work of art is, can do, or is worth on an existential, alchemical level.’
I am startled by the power, creativity and freedom that imagination gives us access to. Startled not so much because through imagination we can escape reality, but mainly because it functions differently on all individuals but it gives us all the possibility to experience events and emotions, or to explore territories that are normally impossible (or just hard) to reach in our ‘real’ life.
In this sense I really liked Woody Allen’s latest film “Midnight in Paris“. It had the same old Allen structure but it didn’t have a ‘punch’, therefore I wouldn’t say that it was a great Woody Allen film. But I loved how Allen used the possibilities that the film medium provides to follow his dream and ‘transport’ himself back in time so that he could enjoy ‘in vivo’ the company of his cultural heroes, people like Elliot, Hemingway, Picasso, Lautrec, etc. How liberating is that?
It is in this very same way I am amazed by all kinds of imaginative people, be they artists, scientists or whichever tag one may carry. I find it absolutely inspiring how they let themselves loose in their personal strands of thought to explore and hopefully communicate their interests and fascinations.
Sometimes, via their travels in their wonder-worlds, we get to understand some things or some people better. This is how I felt about a book I read a few years back, “The Paper House” by Carlos María Domínguez. This book was given to me by my dad, a true ‘bookophile’.
I’m not sure I remember the story correctly but what has stayed with me is that it is a short story Domínguez came up with about a book collector, named Carlos Brauer, who accidentally destroys the taxonomy index of his collection. Losing this key ‘navigation tool’ for his collection has a mirroring parallel effect on Brauer himself and his ability to keep an order in his life and to maintain a sense of self. By losing his taxonomy ‘manual’ Brauer therefore progressively loses his ability to keep his interests distinct from his actual self. The endless options of categorizing his interests now live only inside his head and inevitably he and his collection become one, they have a common and inseparable life.
To illustrate the inevitable collapse of any useful distinction between the person and his interests, the author makes his main character, Brauer, build a shelter out of his very own books to live in, as a last resort. In his delusion Brauer sees this solution as his only way to “protect” his collection and his sanity, which are ultimately one and the same thing. His books become the bricks and insulation material that make up his home. Weather and time give a physical appearance to the psychological conditions that now dictate their common fate.
The book I think suggests that a collection without a taxonomy system is to a collector what life is to all of us without access to our thoughts and love(s). For anyone who has been close to a book lover can feel very touched by the struggles of this man to care, protect and keep control of his world. For anyone who has felt at any point that they are losing their references in life, this character’s misery is suffocatingly real. By no means do I think this book to be a masterpiece, but it is a short and sweet story.
Paper House, detail, by Matej Kren (via flavorpill)
My immediate response when I read it, if I remember correctly, was feeling for the condition of the books more than that of the man. It surprised me that the book ‘stayed with me’ till my emotions went out to the man. Which means, that my first reaction was to hold the man responsible of his own fate and see his books as victims. Only later, when I had finished with being a reader of the book and I had become a ‘carrier’ of the story, did I see the collection as a material manifestation of a person’s endless journeys in his inner precious wonderland.
Having been given this book by my ‘bookophile’ dad I have always wondered if this is how he feels. I could not remember the name of the author or the title of the book till now that I googled it, but I could remember this: an intimate, silent and secret relationship between a book lover and his books. Of a father and his children. A story that makes a collector’s feelings your own and hopes to make you see more of the man amidst his collection. Cunning….