“So why don’t you just do it already?”
— Me, to myself.

America in 2013… : another weakened empire telling itself stories of its exceptionalism while it drifts towards apocalypse of some sort, fiscal or epidemiological, climatic-environmental or thermonuclear. Our far left may hate religion and think we coddle Israel, our far right may hate illegal immigrants and think we coddle black people, and nobody may know how the economy is supposed to work now that markets have gone global, but the actual substance of our daily lives is total distraction. We can’t face the real problems; we spent a trillion dollars not really solving a problem in Iraq that wasn’t really a problem; we can’t even agree on how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the GNP. What we can all agree to do instead is to deliver ourselves to the cool new media and technologies, to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, and to let them profit at our expense.

Technovisionaries of the 1990s promised that the internet would usher in a new world of peace, love, and understanding, and Twitter executives are still banging the utopianist drum, claiming foundational credit for the Arab spring. To listen to them, you’d think it was inconceivable that eastern Europe could liberate itself from the Soviets without the benefit of cellphones, or that a bunch of Americans revolted against the British and produced the US constitution without 4G capability.

We find ourselves living in a world with hydrogen bombs because uranium bombs just weren’t going to get the job done; we find ourselves spending most of our waking hours texting and emailing and Tweeting and posting on colour-screen gadgets because Moore’s law said we could. We’re told that, to remain competitive economically, we need to forget about the humanities and teach our children “passion” for digital technology and prepare them to spend their entire lives incessantly re-educating themselves to keep up with it. The logic says that if we want things like Zappos.com or home DVR capability – and who wouldn’t want them? – we need to say goodbye to job stability and hello to a lifetime of anxiety. We need to become as restless as capitalism itself.

The sea of trivial or false or empty data is millions of times larger now. Kraus was merely prognosticating when he envisioned a day when people had forgotten how to add and subtract; now it’s hard to get through a meal with friends without somebody reaching for an iPhone to retrieve the kind of fact it used to be the brain’s responsibility to remember. The techno-boosters, of course, see nothing wrong here. They point out that human beings have always outsourced memory – to poets, historians, spouses, books. But I’m enough of a child of the 60s to see a difference between letting your spouse remember your nieces’ birthdays and handing over basic memory function to a global corporate system of control.

Jonathan Franzen, What’s wrong with the modern world

'We need to become as restless as capitalism itself', could stand as the motto of the globalist, late postmodern, neoliberal economy. But we are not becoming that, despite their plans and plots. Instead, we are drifting past their new normal, and into the postnormal, beyond their control.

Franzen — and many others — fail to see that it may require us getting immediately adjacent to total collapse to break their chokehold on the world. Otherwise, why would they let go, when they have everything, including the means to hold onto it?

To get there we will have to break the spell, sidestep ten thousand dilemmas, and decouple the incestuous bonds of economic complexity that deny the world is our commons and instead treat it like a vending machine.

(via stoweboyd)

Both views are very interesting here.

(via stoweboyd)

“Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of.”
— From David Foster Wallace’s This is Water commencement speech (via Brain Pickings)
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
Joan DidionSlouching Towards Bethlehem (via thevividword)

(via davidgriffith)

“Art comes out of failure. You have to try things out. You can’t sit around, terrified of being incorrect.”
— John Baldessari (via scout)

(via maxistentialist)

“Finally, is it remotely possible to be creative without caffeine? 
— Well, no. It is not possible to be creative without caffeine. It’s also not possible to be creative without cigarettes or whiskey or rock and roll or a freaky portrait of ourselves in a closet that gets older and older while we ourselves do not age and then there’s that one ring to rule them all. Without these things and ten thousand others, we cannot create. Luckily, others have left imaginary versions of such everywhere, and if you have the time and space to conjure them back into being, they will work very well.”


André Aciman for NYT:

Words radiate something that is more luminous, more credible and more durable than real facts, because under their stewardship, it is not truth we’re after; what we want instead is something that was always there but that we weren’t seeing and are only now, with the genius of retrospection, finally seeing as it should have occurred and might as well have occurred and, better yet, is still likely to occur. In writing, the difference between the no more and the not yet is totally negligible.

A fascinating way to think about writing.

“I’ve seen time and time again the way that the process of trying to say something dignifies and improves a person.”

George Saunders (via NYT)

Such a great quote.

“Not to be facile, but if I don’t write, I don’t get to do the things I later write about. An editor once asked me whether I was one of those writers who liked writing or who hated writing. The implication—that there are journalists who struggle with writing and that that’s completely normal—was a huge relief. I actually don’t hate writing, but it is my least favorite part of the process, far behind thinking, planning, experiencing, interacting, pondering, wandering. Now that I think about it, I should have known not all writers loved writing best. Imagine a food writer who liked writing more than eating. That would be pathetic.”
Seth Kugel (via mlarson)

(via austinkleon)

Sometimes I wish I was still in school…

(that sometimes, is a lot of times)


The desire to learn is really the only thing that you should have picked up in college.

Jessica Hische, Letterer, Illustrator and Designer
speaking at CreativeMornings/Vancouver (*watch the talk)

(via creativemornings)


Curiosity and creativity and discovery and wonder; they aren’t traits of youth, they’re traits of learning. If you want to feel younger and you want to replicate the conditions of youth, do that.

Benjamin Salka, CEO of Story Pirates
speaking at CreativeMornings/NewYork (*watch the talk)

“I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor.”
— David Ogilvy (via Letters of Note)