“Recently, a friend of mine married the sister of a Buddhist monk. The monk had given up money and possessions and was living in a monastery, so he wasn’t able to attend the wedding. Instead, he sent a message by way of a relative, who read it aloud over a shoddy public-address system during the postceremony meal: “Lower your expectations.” This sounded like sage advice for the new couple, albeit an unusual recommendation to make during their wedding celebration. Expect less of each other, and you are less likely to be disappointed by all the ways you will inevitably disappoint each other. But a few days after the fizz settled, I heard it differently: “Lower your expectations” means, “Experience is what you don’t expect.” And that means, “Pay attention.””
“Toward the end of the evening, Penn only adds to the confusion by saying, “The question we want you to ask yourself is not how we do these tricks but why we do them.””
“This is the YOLO-ization of cultural experience, whereby the pursuit of fleeting novelty is granted greater value than a patient dedication to an enduring attention—an attention which might ultimately enlarge the self, and not just pad one’s experiential résumé. The notion of the bucket list legitimizes this diminished conception of the value of repeated exposure to art and culture. Rather, it privileges a restless consumption, a hungry appetite for the new. I’ve seen Stonehenge. Next?”

Rebecca Mead, Kicking the Bucket List

Mead’s argument that bucket lists turn life into a series of events meant to be checked off somehow diminishes experiences resonates with me. She ends, capturing a subject dear to my heart: life is about wonder:

These places, experiences, or cultural objects might be those we can only revisit in remembrance—we may never get back to the Louvre—but that doesn’t mean we’re done with them. The greatest artistic and cultural works, like an unaccountable sun rising between ancient stones, are indelible, with the power to induce enduring wonder if we stand still long enough to see.

(via Brian Sholis)

In one of the first essays for Cuepoint—a new publication on Medium about music, Tom Moon writes about meeting Miles Davis and learning about his fine art:


  I asked if he sensed any kinship between his line drawing and the lines he created in music; he said something flip, like “they both come from me.” Later, much later, this registered as deceptively profound. After all, many who are evocative in one discipline often attempt other disciplines — with erratic results. Davis had a thing, a core identity that prevailed across different mediums and modes of expression. In both pursuits, his lines could be wild and shaky and vulnerable, defined by the courage to share something less than perfect. That willingness to be human—to let the note crack, or the line trail off into errant nothingness—operated in the manner of a magnetizing force, overriding the small-minded considerations of “technique” and zoom straight to the level of soul. He didn’t play notes on the trumpet; he put the sound of pure conviction into the horn.


I, admittedly, had no idea Miles Davis also painted. The few pieces included in this essay are wonderful.

In one of the first essays for Cuepoint—a new publication on Medium about music, Tom Moon writes about meeting Miles Davis and learning about his fine art:

I asked if he sensed any kinship between his line drawing and the lines he created in music; he said something flip, like “they both come from me.” Later, much later, this registered as deceptively profound. After all, many who are evocative in one discipline often attempt other disciplines — with erratic results. Davis had a thing, a core identity that prevailed across different mediums and modes of expression. In both pursuits, his lines could be wild and shaky and vulnerable, defined by the courage to share something less than perfect. That willingness to be human—to let the note crack, or the line trail off into errant nothingness—operated in the manner of a magnetizing force, overriding the small-minded considerations of “technique” and zoom straight to the level of soul. He didn’t play notes on the trumpet; he put the sound of pure conviction into the horn.

I, admittedly, had no idea Miles Davis also painted. The few pieces included in this essay are wonderful.

The latest episode of 99% Invisible is on one of my favorite subjects: the Acheulean hand axe, arguably the first “designed” object.


  Before there was mathematics, engineering, science, art, music, poetry, philosophy, literature, religion, or even language, there was design. There was the Acheulean hand axe.


I wrote a bit about the hand axe back in 2010 and still get excited when I stumble across something about the tool.

The latest episode of 99% Invisible is on one of my favorite subjects: the Acheulean hand axe, arguably the first “designed” object.

Before there was mathematics, engineering, science, art, music, poetry, philosophy, literature, religion, or even language, there was design. There was the Acheulean hand axe.

I wrote a bit about the hand axe back in 2010 and still get excited when I stumble across something about the tool.

There’s a great post over at BLDGBLOG on the new J.M.W. Turner exhibition at the Tate. In addition to showing Turner’s later works, the exhibition also includes a new series by Olafur Eliasson called the Turner Color Experiments:

[T]he paintings were made after Eliasson “analyzed seven paintings by Turner to create Turner colour experiments, which isolate and record Turner’s use of light and color.” These are Turner’s paintings, reduced and purified to form, in effect, circular indexes of every color Turner himself once used. They are landscapes, abstracted and distilled.

The results are, unsurprisingly, beautiful and still seem to capture the energy and color of Turner’s work. Turner’s The Slave Ship is one of my all-time favorite paintings. I don’t see where Eliasson names what paintings the colors are pulled from but I think it might be The Slave Ship.

“Many readers, and perhaps some publishers, seem to view endnotes, indexes, and the like as gratuitous dressing—the literary equivalent of purple kale leaves at the edges of the crudités platter. You put them there to round out and dignify the main text, but they’re too raw to digest, and often stiff. That’s partly true. (Reviewing the fifteenth edition of “The Chicago Manual of Style” for the magazine, in 2003, Louis Menand noted that “the decorums of citation are the arbitrary residue of ancient pedantries whose raisons d’être are long past reconstructing.”) Still, the back matter is not simply a garnish. Indexes open a text up. Notes are often integral to meaning, and, occasionally, they’re beautiful, too.”

Nathan Heller looks at the the importance of footnotes.

This is especially interesting to me as I’m deep into Infinite Jest and continually amazed at David Foster Wallace’s various uses of footnotes.

“In today’s parlance, we would say that Mickey reimagined DQ from a publication into a platform, one that supported other emerging designers, critics, curators, historians, and theorists by becoming both the subject and object of progressive design. Although it’s been more than 20 years since DQ ceased publication, the void that it left has never been filled. This is because the publication was almost always focused on research by designers about topics that personally inspired them and very rarely reportage on design itself—investigation and speculation rather than coverage about the field. With its singular focus, generous reproductions, and smart design, it was decidedly not one of those dry and often poorly designed, peer-reviewed, academic journals—the kind that have the awful ability to drain the life out of content, turning the thrill of publication into an agony of citation.”
Andrew Blauvelt remembers Mildred (Mickey) Friedman, the Walker Art Center’s former design curator

This is so nice: ROYGBIV is a one minute supercut exploring and celebrating Pixar’s use of color from Rishi Kaneria.

The NYPL Labs (yes! the New York Public Library has a R&D lab!) has a great article on how they created scripts to make unique generated book covers for books in the public domain that don’t have real covers for an app they are working on:


  My cover generator calls drawShape repeatedly for each character in a book’s title. The size of the shape is controlled by the length of the title: the longer the title, the smaller the shape.
  
  Each letter in the title is replaced by a graphic and repeated as many times as it can fit in the space allotted. The resulting grid is a sort of visualization of the title; an alternate alphabet. In the example below, the M in “Macbeth” is replaced by a diagonal downwards stroke (the same character used to great effect in 10 PRINT). The A is replaced by a triangle (rather than the club found on the PETSCII keyboard). The C becomes a horizontal line offset from the top, the B a vertical line offset from the left, and so on. Since the title is short, the grid is large, and the full title is not visible.


Now when can we get generative covers for new books?

The NYPL Labs (yes! the New York Public Library has a R&D lab!) has a great article on how they created scripts to make unique generated book covers for books in the public domain that don’t have real covers for an app they are working on:

My cover generator calls drawShape repeatedly for each character in a book’s title. The size of the shape is controlled by the length of the title: the longer the title, the smaller the shape.

Each letter in the title is replaced by a graphic and repeated as many times as it can fit in the space allotted. The resulting grid is a sort of visualization of the title; an alternate alphabet. In the example below, the M in “Macbeth” is replaced by a diagonal downwards stroke (the same character used to great effect in 10 PRINT). The A is replaced by a triangle (rather than the club found on the PETSCII keyboard). The C becomes a horizontal line offset from the top, the B a vertical line offset from the left, and so on. Since the title is short, the grid is large, and the full title is not visible.

Now when can we get generative covers for new books?

“It’s very rare that I’ll dislike a book, in its entirety, purely on aesthetic grounds. I always find something to like in any given book. I read all kinds of books in every possible genre, and derive all kinds of pleasures from the disparate flavors of these various reading experiences.”
“Photographing oneself has become a singular pastime, an instantly rewarding yet indisputably time-sucking activity poised somewhere between narcotic and sport. Welcome to the new narcissism: look at me, like me, comment and retweet and hashtag me. Warhol’s “fifteen seconds of fame” has effectively devolved into a serially renewable data plan. This is selfie culture, writ large.”
To Thine Own Selfie Be True by Jessica Helfand

A Day at the Museum