Stuff I'm reading, looking at, listening to, quotes and other scraps.

24 November 2016

As I see it, it probably really is good for the soul to be a tourist, even if it’s only once in a while. Not good for the soul in a refreshing or enlivening way, though, but rather in a grim, steely-eyed, let’s-look-honestly-at-the-facts-and-find-some-way-to-deal-with-them way.

My personal experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that radical changes in place and context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest wayhostile to my fantasy of being a real individual, of living somehow outside and above it all. To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful:

As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.

David Foster Wallace


21 November 2016
Lots of writing leans on film editing techniques in the wrong way. They support a laziness that would not be tolerated in cinema. They cut between things in an implausible way. That’s OK in cinema because you’re showing not telling. Many writers won’t allow themselves the courage of convictions to just show. They keep having to lead the reader by her hand. They won’t just put it on the page and trust the reader to decipher what’s going on.

—Will Self - Final TX podcast


18 November 2016
The best way to predict the future is to invent it

In conclusion, the first quotation on the list at the top of this article was crafted by Dennis Gabor and published by 1963. A stylistically improved version was assigned to Gabor in the 1960s. Multiple variants and attributions entered circulation during the ensuing decades. There is good evidence that Alan Kay crafted the popular statement: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. The attribution to Abraham Lincoln is unsupported.

Quote Investigator


01 November 2016
We think of media as something people use to help them in their lives

—Jonah Peretti


01 November 2016
  • Something serious
  • Something shocking
  • Something hysterically funny
  • Something beautiful

Bruce Chatwin’s biography p.272 about his time at The Sunday Times in the 1970s


29 October 2016
The self-pity of being a writer or an artist has been a sovereign excuse for all kinds of baloney. You know, All the sufferings I endure and the terrible things I do to my wife and children are because I’m an artist in this philistine America… I find that all the best things in my life have come about precisely through the things that hold me in place: family, work, routine, everything that contradicts my old idea of the good life…. it seems as time goes on that the deepest good for me as man and writer is to be found in ordinary life. It’s the gravity of daily obligations and habit, the connections you have to your friends and your work, your family, your place— even the compromises that are required of you to get through this life. The compromises don’t diminish us, they humanize us—it’s the people who won’t, or who think they don’t, who end up monsters in this world.

—Tobias Wolff in The Paris Review


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