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robertogreco : proust   21

Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories? | Books | The Guardian
"Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?"



"A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperilled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at … [more]
willself  communication  digital  writing  howwewrite  entertainment  books  socialmedia  neuroscience  2016  marshallmcluhan  gutenbergminds  print  change  singularity  videogames  gaming  games  poetry  novels  susangreenfield  rote  rotelearning  twitter  knowledge  education  brain  wayfinding  memory  location  narration  navigation  vladimirnabokov  proust  janeausten  film  video  attention  editing  reading  howweread  visualizationhypothesis  visualization  text  imagery  images  cognition  literacy  multiliteracies  memories  nietzsche  booklearning  technology  mobile  phones  mentalillness  ptsd  humans  humanity  digitalmedia  richardbrautigan  narrative  storytelling 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Against Interpretation
[before quoting the entirety, quoting one line:

"What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more."]

"“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning, in an interview

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde, in a letter

1

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

2

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

3

Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

4

Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn … [more]
art  interpretation  philosophy  theory  essays  susansontag  plato  artistotle  film  representation  innocence  nietzsche  proust  kafka  tennesseewilliams  jean-lucgodard  rolandbarthes  erwinpanofsky  northropfrye  walterbenjamin  yasujirōozu  robertbresson  culture  thought  senses  oscarwilde  willemdekooning  content  appearances  aesthetics  invisibile  myth  antiquity  karlmarx  freud  jamesjoyce  rainermariarilke  andrégide  dhlawrence  jeancocteau  alainresnais  alainrobbe-grillet  ingmarbergman  ezrapund  tseliot  dgriffith  françoistruffaut  michelangeloantonioni  ermannoolmi  criticism  pierrefrancastel  mannyfarber  dorothyvanghent  rndalljarrell  waltwhitman  williamfaulkner 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Whitney Houston and the music of loneliness / Snarkmarket
[via a small collection on loneliness by Tim Carmody: https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/609837487414988800 ]

"After the death of Whitney Houston, our reflections on Twitter included these thoughts on pop music, loneliness and connection."



"So many of Whitney Houston's hits, even the happy ones, are about loneliness."

"Yes. I've been nursing a theory that some of the best pop songs - dance songs particularly - have loneliness at their core."

"I mean, it's also ultimately about desire being the cause of loneliness and the engine that overcomes it. But the appeal to loneliness is how the song gets into your head. It's how you suture yourself into its world."

"We bind ourselves most strongly to characters that seem to express our particular vulnerabilities."

"Yeah, that's kind of what I mean by "suture" -- it's how we stitch ourselves into, imagine/identify ourselves in that world."

"Whitney is really about loneliness, shyness, insecurity, uncertainty -- and hope."

"It's like Proust; the other person doesn't really matter as much as the emotion, the memory, the first-person resolution."
loneliness  timcarmody  2013  mattthompson  whitneyhouston  music  desire  beachboys  royorbison  vulnerability  insecurity  shyness  uncertainty  emotions  love  connection  humans  beinghuman  hope  proust 
june 2015 by robertogreco
THE WONDER YEARS, Involuntary Memory, and Mourning | judgmental observer
"This scene was just one of many that has resonated with me in new ways since I began rewatching The Wonder Years, some 24 years after it first aired. This experience has resulted in a doubled viewing position. On the one hand, I am watching as a 35-year-old and so the historical and cultural touchstones that I missed when I was 12 (the changing meaning of the suburbs in America in the 1960s; the anti-war movement; the students protests of 1968; The Feminine Mystique) are suddenly visible and significant. But at the same time, as I watch, I am still watching as a 12 year old."
thewonderyears  memory  nostalgia  childhood  parents  2015  via:jslr  amandaannklein  television  tv  proust  memories  mourning  age  aging  relationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
It's About Time | The Evergreen State College
Quick—what time is it? Your answer probably comes from a smartphone that connects you instantly to information across the globe. New technologies drive new experiences of time and writers and artists respond to those new experiences with startling innovations in form and vision.

Through the critical study of art and literature, we will explore the experience of time in the modernist period—roughly defined as the first half of the 20th century. In those decades, airplanes, automobiles, telephones and radio sped up time and the modernists responded in kind. How did they experience time? How is this different from our own experience of it?

To answer those questions, we will not only study modernist art and literature, but also live like modernists. We will begin the fall quarter with a voyage, sailing the waters of Puget Sound on a 100-year-old schooner. We will slow down by using the technologies of the past. Students will write with ballpoint pens and typewriters, draw from observation and move into abstraction, use film photography, memorize poetry and go to museums, all in the hopes of living more slowly. During both fall and winter quarters we will study movements such as Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Cubism, Dada, Abstraction and Surrealism in visual art and literature. Students will engage with authors like James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf and artists like Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp.

Students in this program can expect to examine art, literature and culture in the modernist period; learn how to draw, paint and write in various ways from naturalism to abstraction; understand the basic principles behind artistic and literary representation in the modernist period; and go on field trips using "slow" technologies (train, boat, walking).
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  arthistory  art  history  visualarts  writing  literature  trevorspeller  shawnosha  gregmullins  time  modernism  proust  culture  marcelproust 
september 2014 by robertogreco
In Search of Lost Time | The Evergreen State College
"How does memory shape our identities and our sense of the world? How do our personal experiences, our ties with others, and larger social forces affect what we remember, and why? This inquiry will take the work of Marcel Proust as focus and inspiration for exploring these questions. Students will also create their own original research and writing on memory-in-action—crafting a memoir, an oral history, or an investigation of an historical or cultural memory-topic that grows out of our studies.

We will do a sustained, in-depth reading of the first two volumes of Proust's 4000-page masterpiece of early 20th century literature, In Search of Lost Time (also known as The Remembrance of Things Past ). Heralded as one of the first examples of the modern novel, Proust's work crystallized and refracted key psychological, cultural and sociological concerns of the emerging "modern age." To place our understanding of this literature in context, we will study fin-de-siècle European and intellectual history and thinkers like Bergson, Halbwachs, Freud, Benjamin, and even Einstein’s theories of space and time. We will also examine innovative recent scholarship about ways in which memory can be "collective" in specific communities and whole societies today. We will play with the intertwining of time, memory, identity, and meaning in a wide range of French, American and other contexts, including some films that make powerful use of these themes.

This is a literature-history-and-folklore focused, reading and writing-intensive program. Students will read 300+ pages of complex texts each week, participate in two weekly seminars on Proust plus a third seminar on dynamics of memory in everyday life, and write about these texts. Over the course of the quarter you will develop, revise and share your memory project with ongoing guidance from faculty and dialogue with peers. Your work will culminate in a polished essay and a presentation in our symposium.
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  americanstudies  anthropology  ethnography  writing  literature  culturalstudies  culture  history  folklore  media  education  staceydavis  samuelschrager  proust  marcelproust  memory 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Reading Proust in prison - Austin Kleon
"Daniel Genis spent ten years in prison and read over one thousand books:
He read “In Search of Lost Time” alongside two academic guidebooks, full of notations in French, and a dictionary. He said that no other novel gave him as much appreciation for his time in prison. “Of course, we are memory artists as well…,” he wrote of prisoners in his journal, in the entry on “Time Regained.” “Everyone inside tries to make their time go by as quickly as possible and live entirely in the past,” he said. “But to kill your days is essentially to shorten your own life.” In prison, time was both an enemy and a resource, and Genis said that Proust convinced him that the only way to exist outside of it, however briefly, was to become a writer himself… Later, when he came across a character in a Murakami novel who says that one really has to be in jail to read Proust, Genis said that he laughed louder than he had in ten years.

Murakami might be on to something. The people I know of who’ve read a stupendous amount of books in a certain period of time have lived in a kind of sparse, prison-like existence. When the depression hit, Joseph Campbell moved to a shack outside of Woodstock, New York, and read nine hours a day for five years. When I was 20, I spent 6 months in Cambridge, England living in a room the size of a broom closet, and that’s when I read Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Joyce, etc. (At one point, Genis’s father tells him to read Ulysses in prison, because “he wouldn’t have the willpower to get through it once he became a free man.”) My friend was in the Peace Corps for two years in Africa, and he said all there was to do at night was smoke weed and read. He read a couple hundred books.

Maybe that’s what college should be: two years where your rent is paid and you do nothing but read…"
danielgenis  reading  concentration  attention  prison  imprisonment  isolation  harukimurakami  proust  josephcampbell  marcelproust 
july 2014 by robertogreco
On Telepathy and Philippines: A Conversation with Alexandra Grant and Hélène Cixous | Los Angeles | Artbound | KCET
"Several years ago, the French writer, playwright, and philosopher Hélène Cixous gave me one of her books, "Philippines," as a source for collaboration between her text and my artistic practice. "Philippines" is based around the story of "Peter Ibbetson," a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends are separated by class and country, reuniting as adults in a shared dream that takes place in a primal forest. Hélène describes the book as filled with "silhouettes of characters that seemed to have always been with me."

"We all have our treasure books, tales or fables, and they are quite unexpected. For Proust his secret book was [Théophile Gautier's] 'Le Capitaine Fracasse,'" Hélène says, and for Sigmund Freud it was Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." Her secret book is "Peter Ibbetson." In a conversation that took place in late December 2012 in Paris, Hélène and I are discussing "Peter Ibbetson" as the inspiration for "Philippines," and "Philippines" as the genesis of the exhibition "Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest." The setting is quite intimate, as we are seated at her dining room table with her books and photographs lining the shelves behind us. We talk openly about receiving telepathic messages as points of inspiration ("Is this message for me? And in what language?").

Through exchanges with Hélène like the one documented here, I've made "Philippines" my own secret book and a path into the Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest, an art exhibition that is a place of dialogue, day-dreaming and encounters with the Other, "both good and bad." Hélène calls this exhibition "a place where passersby will suddenly discover that it's them who have been expected." She turns to me and says, "That's how it happened when we met."

And to you, the reader, "We've been waiting for you to join us on the telepaths into the 'Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest.'""
alexandragrant  losangeles  art  books  hélènecixous  2013  interviews  proust  rudyardkipling  théophilegautier  telepathy  empathy  dreams  shareddreams  freud  peteribbetson  daydreaming  messages  communication  language  marcelproust 
may 2013 by robertogreco
How to be Free: Proustian Memory and The Palest Ink « Caterina.net
"I often wonder if we should build some kind of forgetting into our systems and archives, so ways of being expand rather than contract. Drop.io… allowed you to choose the length of time before your data would be deleted. This seems not only sensible, but desirable. As Heidegger said, in Being and Time, “Forgetting is not nothing, nor is it just a failure to remember; it is rather a ‘positive’ ecstatic mode of one’s having been, a mode with a character of its own.” Proustian memory, not the palest ink, should be the ideal we are building into our technology; not what memory recalls, but what it evokes. The palest ink tells us what we’ve done or where we’ve been, but not who we are.

If we are not given the chance to forget, we are also not given the chance to recover our memories, to alter them with time, perspective, and wisdom. Forgetting, we can be ourselves beyond what the past has told us we are, we can evolve. That is the possibility we want from the future."
proustianmemory  time  reallife  irl  superficiality  jerrycosinski  wikileaks  becomingtarden  jillmagid  disappearingink  disappearing  evanratliff  tylerclementi  meganmeier  martinhendrick  yahooanswers  joelholmberg  googlestreetview  streetview  google  9eyes  jonrafman  lisaoppenheim  documentation  myspace  youtube  facebook  twitter  privacy  socialmedia  ephemerality  ephemeral  paleink  newmuseum  surveillance  offline  online  eecummings  heidegger  proust  drop.io  data  forgetting  memory  2012  caterinafake  perspective  wisdom  marcelproust 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Unclassifiable Clarice Lispector | TLS
[now here: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/unclassifiable-clarice-lispector/ ]

“Not much happens in a Lispector novel. In Near to the Wild Heart, Joana recalls her childhood, is orphaned and adopted by an aunt, attends boarding school, marries, chats with her husband’s mistress, takes a lover, and loses both husband and lover. But this “plot” is incidental to the life of her mind, where all the real action takes place.”

“Lispector can be a bafflingly elusive writer. But her images dazzle even when her meaning is most obscure, and when she is writing of what she despises she is lucidity itself.”

“Critics have found Lispector difficult to pin down. “Unclassifiable”, says Edmund White. “As though no one had ever written before”, says Colm Tóibín. Comparisons are invoked with Proust, Kafka, Joyce and, for the introspection, with Virginia Woolf. For Hélène Cixous, she is the very epitome of “écriture féminine” with her assault on binary logic and patriarchal logocentrism.”
plotless  plot  lifeofthemind  lucidity  binarylogic  patricarchallogocentrism  unclassifiable  novels  books  2012  colmtóibín  proust  jamesjoyce  kafka  hélènecixous  literature  brasil  claricelispector  brazil  marcelproust 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Pin pages to the wall and examine them with binoculars - rodcorp
"Truman Capote wrote lying down, as did Marcel Proust, Mark Twain and Woody Allen.

Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Fernando Pessoa and George Sand all wrote standing up.

Roth also "walks half a mile for every page".

Roald Dahl wrote in a shed.

Philip Pullman used to write in a shed, but eventually gave it to an illustrator friend.

Umberto Eco has a converted church as his scriptorium. One floor has a computer, one has a typewriter, one in which he writes long-hand.

Haruki Murakami commutes into a city apartment in Tokyo where he writes.

After the publication of Joe Gould’s Secret, Joseph Mitchell came to the office at the The New Yorker magazine almost every day for the next thirty-two years without filing another word.

Dashiell Hammett published nothing after he was 39 - he felt he was repeating himself but never managed to find a new style he felt was good enough.

Ray Bradbury wrote an early version on Fahrenheit 451 in nine days on a rented typewriter in the UCLA library basement.

Will Self uses a wall of Post-It notes to plan and structure his writing.

Elmore Leonard writes on yellow legal pads.

Michel Faber corrected the first manuscript of The Crimson Petal and the White with house paint because he couldn't afford Tipp-Ex.

Gustav Hasford was a serial hoarder of very overdue library books, and had 10,000 of them in storage lockers.

Don DeLillo types each paragraph onto its own sheet of paper, so that he might concentrate better.

Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars.

Jonathan Safran Foer has a collection of blank sheets of paper.

Cormac McCarthy said that his perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper.

Ethan Canin copied John Cheever paragraphs out to learn what made the man's writing tick.

Anthony Trollope required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour.

J.G. Ballard, a fan of discipline in writing, prepared very long outlines and aimed for 1,000 words a day.

Walter Benjamin advocated delaying writing an idea as long as possible, so that it would be more maturely developed.

Richard Ford and his wife shot a book by Alice Hoffman, after she had given his book Independence Day an unfavourable review.

.

How I work is I recap the material from the original How we work posts [http://rodcorp.typepad.com/rodcorp/2004/12/how_we_work.html ] and the more recent links [http://pinboard.in/u:rodcorp/t:howwework/ ]."
rodmcclaren  howwewrite  howwework  richardford  walterbenjamin  jgballard  anthonytrollope  ethancanin  johncheever  cormacmccarthy  jonathansafran  dondelillo  gustavhasford  michelfaber  elmoreleonard  willself  raybradbury  dashiellhammett  josephmitchell  harukimurakami  umbertoeco  philippullman  roaldahl  philiproth  lewiscarroll  thomasjefferson  fernandopessoa  georgesand  ernesthemingway  charlesdickens  winstonchurchill  virginiawoolf  marktwain  marcelproust  woodyallen  trumancapote  writing  proust 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Socrates' nightmare - The New York Times [Not buying all of this, but liking some material within]
"At the core of Socrates' arguments lay his concerns for the young. He believed that the seeming permanence of the printed word would delude them into thinking they had accessed the heart of knowledge, rather than simply decoded it. To Socrates, only the arduous process of probing, analyzing and ultimately internalizing knowledge would enable the young to develop a lifelong approach to thinking that would lead them ultimately to wisdom, virtue and "friendship with [their] god."

To Socrates, only the examined word and the "examined life" were worth pursuing, and literacy short-circuited both…

"Perhaps no one was more eloquent about the true purpose of reading than French novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote: "that which is the end of their [the author's] wisdom is but the beginning of ours." The act of going beyond the text to think new thoughts is a developmental, learnable approach toward knowledge."

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/16192942818 ]
edwardtenner  brain  neuroscience  text  print  knowledge  sensemaking  meaningmaking  undertsanding  digital  2007  maryannewolf  literacy  reading  criticalthinking  thinking  examinedlife  learning  socrates  proust  marcelproust 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com
"But even if the problems are different, human nature remains the same. And most humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy.

To harness the energy that fuels both these drives, we need to move beyond the New Groupthink and embrace a more nuanced approach to creativity and learning. Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone. Our schools should teach children to work with others, but also to work on their own for sustained periods of time. And we must recognize that introverts like Steve Wozniak need extra quiet and privacy to do their best work."
committees  susancain  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  online  web  internet  communication  proust  efficiency  howwelearn  learning  interruption  freedom  privacy  schooldesign  lcproject  officedesign  tranquility  distraction  meetings  thinking  quiet  brainstorming  teamwork  introverts  stevewozniak  innovation  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  flow  cv  collaboration  howwework  groupthink  solitude  productivity  creativity  marcelproust 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say : NPR
"All of the justices talk about "legalese" in disparaging terms…many refer to great fiction writers as masters of language.

"The only good way to learn about writing is to read good writing," says Chief Justice John Roberts.

That sentiment is echoed by Breyer, who points to Proust, Stendhal & Montesquieu as his inspirations. Justice Anthony Kennedy loves Hemingway, Shakespeare, Solzhenitsyn, Dickens & Trollope.

Justice Thomas says a good legal brief reminds him of the TV show 24. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says one of the great influences on her writing was her European literature professor at Cornell, Vladimir Nabokov…

Many of the justices admit to linguistic pet peeves. Kennedy hates adverbs & disdains nouns that are converted to verbs — "incentivize," for example. Scalia readily admits to being a snoot.

"Snoots are those who are nitpickers for the mot juste, for using a word precisely the way it should be used, not dulling it by misuse. I'm a snoot."…"
writing  law  legalese  supremecourt  2011  literature  classideas  editing  rewriting  shakespeare  hemingway  montesquieu  proust  stendhal  charlesdickens  trollope  vladmirnavakov  antoninscalia  ruthbaderginsburg  johnroberts  clarencethomas  language  geechee  vladimirnabokov  marcelproust 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - Proust, Busyness, Speed
"Concise accounts are not without their pleasures, but there is a special joy to mulling over a thought, occurrence, or idea for a long while, no matter how small. According to Alain de Botton in his How Proust Can Change Your Life:

"The lesson? To hang on to the performance. To read the newspaper as though it were only the tip of a tragic or comic novel, and to use thirty pages to describe falling to sleep when need be.

And if there is no time, at least to resist the approach [of many], …which Proust defined as “the self satisfaction felt by busy men, however idiotic their business, at not having time to do what you are doing.”"

Which makes me think. Busyness is not speed, but they are certainly brothers, because the faster we go, the busier we get. And according to Proust, these are not the defaults of the world or a quality indicative of it. The truth is that we opt into speed. And it’s worth spending time on that idea.

Maybe even for 40 pages."
speed  frankchimero  proust  alaindebotton  slow  slowness  time  being  hereandnow  busyness  marcelproust 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Angela Ritchie's Ace Camps - Why We Travel - Pico Iyer
"We travel…to lose ourselves…to find ourselves…to open our hearts & eyes & learn more…to bring what little we can, in our ignorance & knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed…to become young fools again—to slow time down & get taken in, & fall in love once more…

…travel…is just a quick way to keeping our minds mobile & awake. As Santayana…wrote, “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, & it fosters humor.” Romantic poets inaugurated an era of travel because they were the great apostles of open eyes. Buddhist monks are often vagabonds, in part because they believe in wakefulness. And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20110526050656/http://www.ritchieacecamps.com/why-we-travel-pico-iyer ]
picoiyer  travel  learning  identity  glvo  self  knowledge  tcsnmy  ignorance  slow  time  love  santayana  thoreau  ralphwaldoemerson  wakefulness  awareness  noticing  observation  familiarity  transformationcompassion  empathy  work  life  freedom  proust  language  camus  fear  disruption  odyssey  grahamgreene  dhlawrence  vsnaipaul  brucechatwin  samuelbutler  paultheroux  oliversacks  petermatthiessen  marcelproust  albertcamus 
august 2010 by robertogreco
plsj field notes | In reality, every reader is, while he is reading,...
"In reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself."
proust  writing  reading  books  marcelproust 
december 2009 by robertogreco
25 Famous Librarians Who Changed History | Best Online Colleges
"Have you ever wondered the past life or secret dreams of your local librarian as they helped you find research paper resources and swiped the bar code on your books? As it turns out, a lot of world leaders, famous authors and legendary philosophers and scholars had careers as librarians. Read below to find out who."
librarians  libraries  borges  bejaminfranklin  maozedong  marcelduchamp  lewiscarroll  marcelproust  education  learning  via:rodcorp  proust 
february 2009 by robertogreco
UNREMITTING FAILURE: The Horrors of Childhood
"Proust spent 7 volumes trying to recapture his lost childhood. All we had to do to regain ours was walk into a cold concrete block building sitting just off the Accomac Road outside Hellam, Pennsylvania. The building is home to Toomey's Auction House..."
childhood  memory  consumerism  consumption  society  death  proust  stuff  possessions  simplicity  food  snackbars  smells  marcelproust 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Architecture as Identification of Place
"Place is to architecture, it may be said, as meaning is to language."
architecture  place  heidegger  proust  marcelproust 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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