Art, Technology

Soundtrack of My Life: Songs From the Wood

Mon, 25 Feb 2019

Weekly If, for some reason, you should find yourself in the country late at night -- maybe a weekend vacation rental perhaps -- and also in possession of a good powerful set of speakers, then aim them outside, into the forest, and fill these speakers with Led Zeppelin(first three albums recommended) and/or Black Sabbath (same). Let the guitar of Jimmy Page thunder through the land or the wicked bellow of Ozzy shiver the trees. Let their maul pour into the valley below, echoing a sound fuller, deeper and darker than any you will experience on headphones. Click to Read More...


Ladies of the Pinball Machine, 1965 - 1998

Sun, 24 Feb 2019

A Like any artifact of pop culture, pinball machines reflected the mores of the era. So is it a victory of feminist thought that the sexy ladies depicted on the backdrops of these machines -- to titillate coins from their owners pockets -- have evolved over the decades, from dude eye candy to rock stars championing their own journeys? Notes from our visit to the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Click to Read More...


Soundtrack of My Life: Amy Rigby, Obscure Hippie Electronic Music

Sun, 10 Feb 2019

Weekly The Mercury Lounge in New York City celebrated its 25th birthday with a series of shows by a number of bands who got their starts there, back in the day. One of those acts (Tuesday, February 4) was singer/songwriter Amy Rigby and her crew. But I did not know any of this. I just saw Amy Rigby was playing at Mercury, an early show between 8 - 9, so I walked over and paid my $12, just like it was 1994 all over again. Click to Read More...


Denial, the River in Egypt: Cat Marnell, George Jones

Fri, 01 Feb 2019

A The inherent nature of addiction memoirs is that the part where the addiction is acquired is always more fun to recount (and read) than the part where the memoirist makes the slow, painful slog to recovery. Shenanigans are always more exhilarating than the reckonings that follow. But sometimes, lives do not go down this rutted pathway so easily, as two otherwise widely-divergent life accountings I just read have attested to: A memoir from Cat Marnell and a biography of George Jones. Click to Read More...


Music Finds: Ace of Cups, Neko Case, Pink Floyd Tribute Bands

Tue, 29 Jan 2019

Music I guess by now, most Pink Floyd tribute bands are probably better than Pink Floyd itself. Except for the light show, which can be recreated on a phone. Sort of. Also: Ace of Cups, the greatest late-1960s psychedelic all-female proto-punk band you have never heard of... Click to Read More...


PhoebeNewYork: Vision Boards for the Street

Wed, 16 Jan 2019

Opening City street art offers free entertainment for those who wander about a lot by foot. Having spent a fair amount of time walking around New York City, I could not help but start to notice all the work of the street and graffiti artists -- who they are, what their styles are, and even how they evolve over time. Street art enlivens dull spaces, uniting communities in the process.Perambulation is how I have gotten to know PhoebeNewYork, who is the mixed-media alter-ego of street artist Libby Schoettle. Click to Read More...


What Art is Trying to Tell You: George Santayana

Wed, 09 Jan 2019

Notes What is art good for? And what art is good art? These are the questions philosopher George Santayana sought out to address more than a century ago. Art is born from the need to humanize and rationalize objects, an attempt to better the conditions of existence. But at the same time, art is hopelessly fickle, inward-focused, and has no concern whatsoever in improving the outside world. And yet what those scornful miss about art is that it can possess a spiritual dignity, not found elsewhere, something that becomes representative and expresses an ideal. Click to Read More...


Democratic Technology and the Human Machine

Sun, 16 Dec 2018

Democratic Long before humans created machines they learned how to make machines from themselves.

The neolithic era was one of small democratic communities, where technology was born of practical innovation. Certain projects had to be done that could not be done by the villages themselves, however, and they required a larger organizing entity. This was born the need for a King. The King used a combination of secret scientific know-how, an enforcing bureaucracy, and perhaps an endorsement from the local deity, to get these large projects completed. The pyramids were built this way, with a precision rivaling that of today, so argued Lewis Mumford in his 1966 book Technics and Human Development.

The organization of the throne, however, came not without a fair amount of human suffering and alienation, as you might guess. And over time, resentment grew within the people. Click to Read More...


The Banality, and Terror, of Evil

Tue, 04 Dec 2018

The Here is what I learned about how evil encroaches on society, from the Topography of Terror, a Berlin documentation center located on the grounds that, during the Third Reich, headquartered the Secret State Police, and the SS (Schutzstaffel). In photograph after photograph, and story after story, I saw how a country turned to the dark side, not all of a sudden, but gradually, with the help of indifference and forced allegiance. Click to Read More...


Liquor in the Front, Poker in the Rear: Business Models for Newspapers

Tue, 20 Nov 2018

The Some dirty truths about running a newspaper.

I am sorry to hear of the passing of the Village Voice, and for, my own kindred, the Baltimore City Paper, both of which folded last year. But I am pretty cynical about attempts to revive them. Quarter-page ads from the local coffee shops were not what drove those newspapers. My advice for anyone foolhardy to try to start an actual print newspaper or magazine these days? Find a source of dirty money to keep the books healthy.

Click to

The Practical Tao

Wed, 31 Oct 2018

A The Tao has two halves, it would seem. The chapters in Tao Te Ching, of the Book of the Way, alternate between those describing the internal workings of the Tao itself - the unseeable, unknowable - and those describing how the external world works. The Tao Te Ching, which appeared in the 6th Century B.C., could have been authored by Laozi or it could be the work of many hands. Either way, the principles it offers about the world feel lucid and universally applicable. Click to Read More...


Canonical Kilogram Dethroned by Invisible Forces

Sun, 30 Sep 2018

NIST Today, there is the kilogram, which is THE kilogram, against which all other kilograms measure themselves in terms of their accuracy. Across political divides, languages, cultures, beliefs, we all agree on how much a kilogram weighs. But progress marches on and, as our tools sharpen, and as questions fester in scientist heads, we find ourselves, occasionally, doubting the veracity of our Canonical Kilogram. King Kilogram, the Kilogram Man, the Kilogram Mass Unit, ma'am. Click to Read More...


Time: The Bell and the Monastery

Sat, 29 Sep 2018

How The clock, not the steam-engine, was the the prime mover of the modern industrial age, technology history philosopher Lewis Mumford wrote in 1933. The keeping of hours and minutes would establish regularity for mass production, synchronizing the actions of men. Everything would be divisible by time, and this time, in ever-smaller increments, would drive forward progress. Click to Read More...


Endless Slumber

Wed, 19 Sep 2018

Summary I see the appeal of taking a year off to sleep, just to sleep. Nothing but slumber. As many hours of the day as possible. When I was a kid, I asked my Dad what his favorite thing to do was. "Sleep," he replied. Perhaps he was just tired that day, who knows? But 40 years later, I feel this. Tremendously.

If the deep slumber of a single night (and perhaps much of the following day) offers both peace and renewal, then certainly a year's worth of solid (chemically-assisted) sleep would constitute a complete rebirth of sorts, right? So goes the line of reasoning that propels the protagonist in Ottessa Moshfegh's "My Year of Rest and Relaxation." She quits her job, barricades herself in her NYC apartment, finds herself a prescription-happy shrink, all with the full intent of sleeping through an entire year and emerging as an entirely new person. Click to Read More...


The Role of Dissociation in Technology Innovation

Mon, 03 Sep 2018

The Innovation arrives from seeing something for what it could do, rather than, as most people do, seeing it for what it is supposed to do. Technology philosopher Lewis Mumford calls such divination acts of dissociation.

The huge burst in innovation around the 16th century arose from a decoupling of the animate and the mechanical, he wrote in his 1934 book Technics and Civilization.

To dissociate, in psychological terms, means to separate oneself from feelings, memories and other bits of your identity. But Mumford means it culturally, to see something outside the context culture ascribes to it. This separation leaves the viewer free to see the capabilities of whatever object is at hand... Click to Read More...


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