Is it just me or was 2011, a great year for music?
- The Family Tree: The Roots - Radical Face
- Bon Iver - Bon Iver
- Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars
- Young Love - Mat Kearney
- On Fire - Peter Furler
- Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
- Vice Verses - Switchfoot
- El Camino - The Black Keys
- Strange Mercy - St. Vincent
- Civilian - Wye Oak
Honorable Mentions: Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay, King of Limbs by Radiohead, Little Hell by City and Colour, Oh Fortune by Dan Mangan, Kaputt by Destroyer, Odd Soul by MuteMath
And then there is, of course, always, and inevitably, this spume of poetry that’s just blowing out of the sulphurous flue-holes of the earth. Just masses of poetry. It’s unstoppable, it’s uncorkable. There’s no way to make it end.
If we could just—just stop. For one year. If everybody could stop publishing their poems. No more. Stop it. Just— everyone. Every poet. Just stop.
—Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
The consumption beast is hard to feed. It’s always hungry and there is never a shortage of food it can devour.
Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. The lists of books I want to read grows faster than the list of books I have read. The list of movies I want to see seems to never get shorter. Or all those television shows I said I wanted to start. Without even including my Instapaper articles or my daily blogs, I sometimes feel like I keep climbing and climbing but I’ll never make it to the top of this mountain. I’m weary.
It’s for the inspiration, right? That’s how I convince myself it is okay to watch one more episode or read one more chapter. We approach great works of art—whether that be books, movies, poetry, or even television—because we hope to find a little of ourselves in those stories, and in that, we can become better versions of ourselves. We sound more interesting at parties, we produce smarter work.
And maybe that’s the paradox of in it all: all this consuming, this quest for knowledge, to be smarter, better, more cultured actually takes us away from producing our own work. Isn’t that why we do it? Why read that book that will make me sound interesting at a party, if I’m not going to the party anyway?
But wouldn’t it be great? To have a moment to regroup and understand? Everybody would ask, Okie doke, what new poems am I going to read today? Sorry: none. There are no new poems. And so you’re thrown back onto what’s already there, and you look at what’s on your own shelves, that you bought maybe eight years ago, and you think, Have I really looked at this book? This book might have something to it. And it’s there, it’s been waiting and waiting. Without any demonstration or clamor. No squeaky wheel. It’s just been waiting.
If everybody was silent for a year—if we could just stop this endless forward stumbling progress—wouldn’t we all be better people? I think probably so. I think that the lack of poetry, the absence of poetry, the yearning to have something new, would be the best thing that could happen to our art. No poems for a solid year. Maybe two.If everybody was silent for a year—if we could just stop this endless forward stumbling progress—wouldn’t we all be better people? I think probably so. I think that the lack of poetry, the absence of poetry, the yearning to have something new, would be the best thing that could happen to our art. No poems for a solid year. Maybe two.
I’m still trying to figure out that balance. I tell myself I have a lifetime to acquire that knowledge I desire, to read those books and see those movies. What’s the rush, Jarrett? Why not spend some time creating something of your own, or returning to those stories that helped make you who you are?
Good art requires repeated visits. So even though there is a stack of books next to me waiting to be read and a long Netflix queue, tonight I just want to settle in with an old favorite.
Related to the last post, Milton Glaser talks about New York, his iconic I Heart NY logo, and what it means to be a New Yorker.
I love this bit he adds at the end:
The thing about New York is, it’s based on the idea of change. It is the most mutable of places; its strength comes out of that. It doesn’t cling to its own history and has been free to invent new ones. Some changes are horrible, others lead us somewhere. They’re discomfiting because no one likes change, but eventually, you end up somewhere else, and you discover you like that place.
As I look back on my life here, the city seems to have changed and grown and improved and challenged, this pattern of adaptation leading to a new moment, a new population. Look at the nature of the population, enormously affirmative and enhancing of life. You may hate Starbucks, but it’s done something, and eventually it, too, will disappear.
Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over.
The forgoing of his traditional white-Windsor-set opening credits on a black screen, Woody Allen’s Manhattan opens with a voiceover read by Allen’s character Isaac Davis, while black and white images of city slowly cycle through sets the film up as not just a love story, but as Allen’s love letter to New York.