Saturday, February 21, 2009

waking up.

i dreamed that i blogged, and now i feel the need to really do it so that my feeling that i did can attach itself to something in the world-- can have an actual object. here is a prompt from my schoolmate anthony diclaudio and my given response:

anthony: ...the only logically consistent ending to Lost is ______.

laura: i have a theory (by which i mean a cruel hope) that it's an extended mindfuck experiment in how long people will spend trying to make sense of a bunch of random and ever increasing information. it'd be like a cross between the experiment where you show toddlers three pictures of shapes in different places on the page, and they (the toddlers) attribute intentions to them (the shapes) and tell a story about what the shapes "doing" to each other, and that other experiment where you see how many pennies you can drop in a cup full of water before the surface tension breaks and the cup runs over.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

on my current subject of choice:

'we’re in trouble — deeper trouble, i think, than most people realize even now.' p.krugman, in yesterday's new york times.

the following is from holland cotter's excellent ' the boom is over. long live the art!', featured in last week's new york times. it begins with a totally worthwhile analysis of american art in the american economy of the past fifty years.

"....Students who entered art school a few years ago will probably have to emerge with drastically altered expectations. They will have to consider themselves lucky to get career breaks now taken for granted: the out-of-the-gate solo show, the early sales, the possibility of being able to live on the their art.

"It’s day-job time again in America, and that’s O.K. Artists have always had them — van Gogh the preacher, Pollock the busboy, Henry Darger the janitor — and will again. The trick is to try to make them an energy source, not a chore.

"At the same time, if the example of past crises holds true, artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again...

"Will contemporary art continue to be, as it is now, a fancyish Fortunoff’s, a party supply shop for the Love Boat crew? Or will artists — and teachers, and critics — jump ship, swim for land that is still hard to locate on existing maps and make it their home and workplace?

"I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise. Crazy! says anyone with an ounce of business sense.

"Right. Exactly. Crazy"

sometimes i wish that philosophers were more like artists-- sometimes and partially supporting themselves and educating others through work in the academy, but with the larger and more vibrant world of philosophy happening out in the cities and in the minds of anonymous farm kids on their way to cities, as compelled as any young painters to keep "imagining the unknown and unknowable".

[and also, this.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

there are more than a million. there are more even than an infinity.

it sounds simple, i know. but it’s not. listen, there are a million worlds you could make for yourself. everyone you know has a completely different one - the woman in 5G, that cab driver over there, you. sure, there are overlaps, but only in the details. some people make their worlds around what they think reality is like. they convince themselves that they had nothing to do with their worlds’ creations and continuations. some make their worlds without knowing it. their universes are just sesame seeds and three-day weekends and dial tones and skinned knees and physics and driftwood and emerald earrings and books dropped in bathtubs and holes in guitars and plastic and empathy and hardwood and heavy water and high black stockings and the history of the vikings and brass and obsolescence and burnt hair and collapsed souffl├ęs and the impossibility of not falling in love in an art museum with the person standing next to you looking at the same painting and all the other things that just happen and are. but you want to make for yourself a world that is deliberately and meticulously personalized. a theater for your life, if I could put it like that. don’t live an accident. don’t call a knife a knife. live a life that has never been lived before, in which everything you experience is yours and only yours. make accidents on purpose. call a knife a name by which only you will recognize it. now i’m not a very smart man, but i’m not a dumb one, either. so listen: if you can manage what i’ve told you, as i was never able to, you will give your life meaning.

jonathan safran foer
a convergence of birds

(i'm reading about possible worlds again, and i'm always reading about agency of course, so i like to read this. but then it made me uncomfortable, too: i'm more and more skeptical all the time of what people call personal truths. i suspect that anything not common and available to us all might be something really good, but it isn't the truth.)