The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.


'We Like Lists Because We Don't Want To Die' - Der Spiegel 

"The frame is also geometric or physical in another way - in relation to the parts of the system that it both separates and brings together. In the first case, the frame is inseparable from rigid geometric distinctions. A very fine image in Griffith’s Intolerance cuts the screen along a vertical which corresponds to a wall of the ramparts of Babylon; whilst on the right one sees the king advancing on a higher horizontal, a high walk on the ramparts; on the left the chariots enter and leave, on a lower horizontal, through the gates of the city."

p. 17 The Movement-Image Gilles Deleuze 

"The dedicated e-reader thus sits in a strange space. In effect, it simply does to books what the iPod did to music: it simplifies the delivery of the art we experience, but it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the art itself. And like those old classic iPods that carry vastly more music than a smartphone, the Kindle and Kobo and other e-ink devices may well become niche products for but a few people who value the convenience of digital, but enjoy the specificity of a dedicated device. It’s a fact that makers of e-readers have themselves seem to have recognized: Amazon and Kobo now push their own tablet-like devices as much as they do their e-readers."

Shelf Life: What’s the Future of the Book - NAVNEET ALANG


If Zero Dark Thirty is the most emotionally withholding film of the year, it is also the most intellectually demanding, and the best. It is a triumph, but it’s not about a victory. Recall that Bigelow wanted to make a movie about the failure to capture bin Laden, before the whole world knew, as she puts it, that he’s dead. Consider that she has still made a movie about a failure, a moral failure, our failure, embedded in a procedural success. Consider that final shot: Antipodal to the black-screen screams of 9/11 victims that open the film, we get at last Maya’s tears, shed too late and alone.

Do you know why she is crying isn’t the question.

The question is why you are not. What can you do.

In the film’s first, merciless scene, her first interrogation, our first test, Maya won’t cry but looks like she might. Her colleague, the dude with the dog collar and a PhD, sees her face. He offers her an out.

“There’s no shame in watching from the screen,” he says.

Oh, but there is.


The True Meaning of Torture in Zero Dark ThirtySARAH NICOLE PRICKETT

"Shunga was banned in 1722, then again some 70 years later and once more in the 1840s – but government enforcement was lax, and book production continued until the early 20th century. By that point, Japan, previously isolated from the rest of the world, had opened its borders to foreign travellers, most of whom were surprised by the public prevalence of such explicit imagery. Perhaps embarrassed, authorities made moves to suppress any manifestation of Japanese culture that failed to tally with late 19th-century western notions of propriety, prompting shunga’s sudden decline. It remained taboo in public and in academia until 1990 – only a couple of years before Araki offended those Austrian guards."

Is Nobuyoshi Araki’s photography art or porn? — Guardian


In early 1987, Firestone’s landlord on Second Street called Laya to say that the situation had become “dire.” Neighbors were complaining that Firestone was screaming in the night and that she had left the taps running until the floorboards gave way. Laya flew to New York and found Shulamith emaciated and panhandling, carrying a bag holding a hammer and an unopened can of food. In the roman à clef, Firestone wrote that she had not eaten for a month—fearing that her food had been poisoned—and “looked like something out of Dostoevsky (which actually helped her beggar’s earnings).” The next day, Laya took the action for which, she said, “Shulie never forgave me,” and brought her to the Payne Whitney Clinic for evaluation. Her condition was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, and she was involuntarily transferred to a residential facility in White Plains. “I am in deepest despair with no movement possible in any direction,” Firestone wrote to Laya some weeks later. “Do not rest assured. Things are not O.K.” On the back of the page, she scrawled in red ink, “Are you even on my side? Are you on your own side?”

The first hospitalization lasted nearly five months. During the next several years, Firestone was repeatedly hospitalized, at Beth Israel Medical Center. Her care generally fell to Dr. Margaret Fraser, a young psychiatrist. Fraser was struck by Firestone’s “obvious” intelligence and her ability to speak coherently even in the midst of a psychotic break. She also recalled that Firestone suffered from a particularly insidious form of Capgras syndrome, the belief that people are hiding their identities behind masks: Firestone believed that people were hiding behind “masks of their own faces.”


Death of a Revolutionary: How Shulamith Firestone Shaped Feminism : The New Yorker

"This rather boring, seemingly “advanced” idea — that Theory would alter the novel’s very DNA, so that it would no longer be possible to write fiction the same old way — may hold good for writers working in a recognizably high-postmodern fashion. But now comes a wave of fiction that tells a more complicated, less academically consecrated story. Theory, it turns out, might be most interesting not when it changes the form of fiction, but when it becomes an uneasy part of fiction’s content. In recent novels by college graduates of the late 1970s or 1980s — Egan, Moore, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Sam Lipsyte — and younger writers, such as Teju Cole and Ben Lerner, Theory is judged from within the forms it tried to dismantle (psychological realism; the bildungsroman), by criteria Theory could only recognize as regressive or naïve: What kind of a person does Theory make? What did it once mean to have read theorists? What does it mean now? How does Theory help you hold a job? Deal with lovers, children, bosses, and parents? Decide between the restricted alternatives of adulthood? If novelistic realism aspires to be a history of the present, that present now includes — in the educations of writers themselves — the Theory that relegates novelistic realism to the past."

[n+1: The Theory Generation](http://nplusonemag.com/the-theory-generation)

"We seem to have created an environment in which wonderful music, newly discovered, is difficult to treasure. For treasures, as the fugitive salesman in the flea market was implying, are hard to come by—you have to work to find them. And the function of fugitive salesmen is to slow the endless deluge, drawing our attention to one album at a time, creating demand not for what we need to survive but for what we yearn for. Because how else can you form a relationship with a record when you’re cursed with the knowledge that, just an easy click away, there might be something better, something crucial and cataclysmic? The tyranny of selection is the opposite of freedom. And the more you click, the more you enhance the disposability of your endeavor"

[Spotify and the Problem of Endless Musical Choice : The New Yorker](http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/11/spotify-and-its-discontents.html)

"For a collector’s attitude toward his possessions stems from an owner’s feeling of responsibility toward his property. Thus it is, in the highest sense, the attitude of an heir, and the most distinguished trait of a collection will always be its transmissibility. You should know that in saying this I fully realize that my discussion of the mental climate of collecting will confirm many of you in your conviction that this passion is behind the times, in your distrust of the collector type. Nothing is further from my mind than to shake either your conviction or your distrust. But one thing should be noted: the phenomenon of collecting loses its meaning as it loses its personal owner. Even though public collections may be less objectionable socially and more useful academically than private collections, the objects get their due only in the latter. I do know that time is running out for the type that I am discussing here and have been representing before you a bit ex officio. But as Hegel put it, only when it is dark does the owl of Minerva begin its flight. Only in extinction is the collector comprehended."

Walter Benjamin, ‘Unpacking My Library’

"Love is Real is much more than this however, and when it comes to the potential for irony Maus’s music is intriguingly ambiguous. Ariel Pink put it this way: John Maus is a maniac on a bloody crusade - a tortured evangelist on a mercenary quest to rid our world of villainous defilers of The Gospel of True Love. By turns shockingly infectious and disarmingly unpredictable, his music conflates a perplexing marriage of Moroder’s ‘Never Ending Story’ and classical 12-tone renegades of 20th century past, harking the new path which resurrects romance from its post-modern shackles, and reignites the promise of a better world. Maus’s own words suggest a more complex relationship with what an observer might call irony, or as Pink mentions, postmodernity. In his video interview with XLR8R, Maus emphasises that he’s ‘not trying to say that there’s such a thing as sincerity or authenticity’, though he still believes in arriving at a genuine communality and that the task of music is to ‘connect’ with audiences: ‘it’s about being with each other’."

Rouge’s Foam: ‘Heaven is Real’: John Maus and the Truth of Pop