Previous Posts: Uncategorized / General: February 2014

Ketchup, February 2014 Vintage Dept

What's kept me busy.


Wow. Very work; so busy; much exhaust.

Meme jokes aside, the sheer number of things that get thrown at you when you relocate is not something a checklist can do justice to. The more you plod forward, the more you realize you've left behind or forgotten about, but plod I must.

OK, so some stuff:

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Tags: creativity excuse our dust real life


The Rest Is Silence Dept.

Goodbye, classical music.


The Last Symphony | Jacobin

For many, classical music, its refusal to engage in high-volume harangues, its reliance on aural logic rather than visual spectacle, its commitment to achieving often barely perceptible standards of formal perfection, all serves as a repudiation of late capitalism — a refuge from hideous strip malls, the 24-hour assault of advertising copy, and marketing hype. Ultimately, it is a protest against the cruder, meaner and self-destructive society we have become.

One of the usual comebacks levied at classical music's decline goes something like this: what we now call "classical" music was the "rock" of its day (actually, no, it wasn't), so this is just a matter of a market for one set of tastes driving out another. The problem with this pure-capitalism approach is that it forces us to ignore the whole wealth of understanding about music as a discipline — an art form, a science, a whole host of other things — that studying classical music, even if only as a casual listener, requires of someone.

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Tags: classical music economics music


Not Too Original Now Dept.

You'll scare everyone off.


On markets not rewarding merit (it's an older piece but scarcely behwiskered):

Stumbling and Mumbling: The wrong time

I suspect that, in many walks of life - the arts, business and finance - financial success requires a one standard deviation intelligence. Writers must be sufficiently smarter than their readers that readers feel their intelligence to be flattered, but not so much smarter that they appear weird.

This sounds like an echo of the observation I come back to far too often for my own comfort: It's the idea of the original that people respect more than the original thing itself.

I suspect this becomes proven most bluntly when it comes time to put the original thing in front of a paying audience. The more one tries to be "original", the harder it becomes to find people who are willing to meet you half-way.

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Tags: creativity creators marketing originality


Greatly Exaggerated Rumors Dept.

Of my death, that is.


No, I'm not dead — I finally survived that cross-country move, from New York to Florida, and someday you'll all learn how it amounted to the most unpleasant and soul-deadening experience of my life thus far. Four weeks of living in a house with no furniture was just the cherry on top of the sundae of my nearly year-long stress rollercoaster.

Right now, I'm just grateful to be done with it, to be settled in with good people I'm close to, and to be getting back to something resembling a normal life. Protip: don't use a move-it-yourself service if you live in an area infamous for its snow, or if you have a driveway on an incline. (I had both.)

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Tags: excuse our dust real life


You Suffer But Why? Dept.

Because, that's why.


Back when I first started studying Zen Buddhism, I found the best way to navigate some of the thornier concepts in the path was to pretend you were explaining them to someone else. I found some of this really came in handy when I did end up having to explain them to someone else, typically someone whose understanding of Zen had been shaped by self-help gurus and bad movies. The difference between Zen as it has been caricatured and Zen as it actually is practiced is only slightly smaller than the difference between John Shelby Spong and the Westboro Baptist Church.

The first thing most everyone got hung up about was the first precept, which typically gets translated something like "Life is suffering". People reject that one out of hand, because a) it sounds intractably pessimistic, and b) it's visibly wrong. If reading Richard Gombrich taught me anything, it was that a good deal of why Buddhism generally is misconstrued is because of bad translation. I don't want to make that sound like a cop-out, but it really does hold water the more I think about it: you can't talk about some of this stuff properly if you swap in language that doesn't really correspond to what's being said.

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Tags: Buddhism Napalm Death religion Zen



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This page is an archive of entries in the Uncategorized / General category from February 2014.

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