Archive for the 'culture' Category

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The Trumpian Wager

This presidential election will test the maxim that there's no such thing as bad publicity. The Republican candidate is operating on the theory that policy and issues don't matter. If the candidate can dominate the news cycle, meaning that he is the topic of more televised conversations than his opponent, he will win the election. He believes he's doing very well, and by his measure, he is. He dominates the national news every day and every night. He's all anyone can talk about. He's confident he can continue to dominate every news cycle between now and the election. Every voter in the country will have heard his name more than any other. No one has ever run a presidential campaign on that theory.

The reason the Republican candidate doesn't need to know any policy is because he only uses a single measure for his relative success or failure each day. If he's the lead story on a majority of national and cable newscasts, then he's won the day. He's quite right in saying that people will be writing books about his campaign. Critics of his methods miss the point. The more outrage they express, night after night, the more he believes he's winning.

The wager he's making is that the winner of the election will be the candidate who has the best ratings.

 

A Way of Offering Things to the World

pattern-man-books

Over the past months I’ve been watching, reading and listening to the poet Rick Holland prepare to release his new work: Pattern Man. It’s almost impossible to pick up an individual thread that would mark the beginning. All the nervous pacing back and forth, the throat clearing, the chance meeting, the phrase that leapt from a notebook, entered the eyes, exited the mouth, as the microphone cocked its ear dispassionately.

At some point you look up and realize that even you are in the middle of it. For me, it was listening pre-release versions of the audio tracks on my daily commute to work. On the tenth listen, it was as though I’d always known this music, this voice, these words floating through my consciousness as I sped down the freeway. The physical objects that herald the release of the work are now moving through the global postal system, making their way to an audience.

chrononautz

The Quietus has a nice interview with Rick Holland where he discusses both the poetry and the music in Pattern Man. I particularly like the section where he discusses his collaboration with Chrononautz, the live hardware techno improvisation outfit.

I really like space. Just responding to the sound, there was a groove there – an undeniable groove that I was drawn to – it wasn’t just straight four-to-the-floor.

To the uneducated – and I count myself in that group – looking at the table of gizmos that they’ve got, it’s quite hard to judge who’s doing what and how much control there is over the whole process. The joyful reality of it is: there isn’t that much control over it. It’s very hard to recreate the same conditions more than once and I am strongly interested in that as a way of offering things to the world.

There’s much more to say about Rick Holland and Pattern Man, but reading about this slightly out-of-control process embraced as a strongly interesting and joyful reality, makes me smile. This is strong poetry inscribed on the surface of improvised music. Music, as Yo Yo Ma and others, have said, is the space between the notes.

For some time now, poetry has enjoyed the stable surface of the blank sheet of paper. Rick Holland’s poetry challenges this convention. For Rick, the inscribed surface is always music.

You’ll want Pattern Man. Highly recommended. Get yours here.

Pattern into Pattern

PierreBonnard-Twilight

At the exhibition of paintings by Pierre Bonnard, called “Painting Arcadia,” there were about five rooms filled with work by the artist. Early in Bonnard’s career he belonged to a gang known as “Les Nabis.”

In the first room, there’s a painting called “Twilight, or The Game of Croquet.” This was one of my favorites. I only want to draw your attention to one thing. Look at the pattern on the clothing against the organic patterns of the garden. There’s no solid, dark line separating one pattern from the other. The patterns are distinct, but flow into each other. That’s a beautiful way to look at objects. And you may think this is a step too far, but it’s an ecological way of looking.

Super Intelligence

Some people, some very smart people, believe that through the magic of genetic engineering, we'll soon have a new generation of “super intelligent” people. There may even be a legal requirement to optimize the designated genetic make-up of new humans. Sounds like a science fiction novel, but the technology is close to making this kind of scenario practical.

Of course, it would take a “super intelligent” person to create a new generation of “super intelligent” people. And certainly, replication of “super intelligence” would appear to be the intelligent goal. How will we ever solve the great problems that confront us without a greater and greater supply of super intelligent people?

Apparently, no one is working on a genetic model for creating super compassionate people. Mostly because super compassionate people aren't a dominant force in the science of gene editing. And, after all, compassion isn't going to solve global warming, seas filled with plastic or the sixth mass extinction.

I wonder what would happen if you took two planets and filled one with super intelligent people and the other with super compassionate people of varying intelligence? After a few hundred years had passed, which planet do you think you'd prefer to live on?

 

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