- The New Yorker's book club is now reading Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase. My own writeup from last fall is here. I look forward to how they'll handle such an oddball novel, especially when the midget in the sheep suit shows up. Would that they follow up with a communal read of Dance Dance Dance.
- I knew nothing of broadcaster/food critic/television essayist/architecture writer Jonathan Meades until imomus penned a post about him, but now I feel the need to dig deeper. All (!) his unconventionally-composed television documentary sorta things — on buildings, travel, cities, food, surrealism, etc. — reside, free for the watchin', on YouTube's MeadesShrine.
- (Former Marketplace of Ideas guest) Daniel Menaker on the pleasures and sorrows (and randomness) of editing:
Genuine literary discernment is often a liability in editors. And it should be — at least when it is unaccompanied by a broader, more popular sensibility it should be. When you are trying to acquire books that hundreds of thousands of people will buy, read, and like, you have to have some of the eclectic and demotic taste of the reading public. I have this completely unfounded theory that there are a million very good — engaged, smart, enthusiastic — generalist readers in America. There are five hundred thousand extremely good such readers. There are two hundred and fifty thousand excellent readers. There are a hundred and twenty-five thousand alert, active, demanding, well-educated (sometimes self-well-educated), and thoughtful — that is, literarily superb — readers in America. More than half of those people will happen not to have the time or taste for the book you are publishing. So, if these numbers are anything remotely like plausible, refined taste, no matter how interesting it may be, will limit your success as an acquiring editor. It's not enough for you to be willing to publish "The Long Sad Summer of Our Hot Forsaken Love," by Lachryma Duct, or "Nuke Anbar Province, and I Mean Now!," by Genralissimo Macho Picchu — you have to actually like them, or somehow make yourself like them, or at least make yourself believe that you like them, in order to be able to see them through the publishing process.
- Dept. of nihil est sanctum: the trayless college cafeterias. (See also Cushing Academy's bookless library.)
- Brian Eno's newest installation hits CSU Long Beach:
Needless to say, I'll be seeing it this weekend, just as I'll be seeing Eno's talk at the Carpenter Center, just as I'll be attending LACMA's Sang-soo Hong quadruple feature. As always, if I succumb to awesomeness intoxication, avenge me.
Eno's restless endeavors often produce oases of calm reflection for his listeners and viewers. Exhibit A is one of his most recent projects, "77 Million Paintings," a multimedia installation that will be unveiled today at the University Art Museum of Cal State Long Beach.
It consists of a wall of 12 computer-operated monitors of varying dimensions, displaying a procession of constantly mutating images that group and regroup into a virtually limitless series of configurations. The protean "paintings" are accompanied by Eno's ambient original score.
Eno also designed the installation's computer software and hand-drew the interchangeable images on slides, using etching tools and paintbrushes. Most of the configurations are abstract, but Eno occasionally added variety by tossing in found art culled from magazines and elsewhere.
The idea of making art that links one sensory or cognitive process to another — for example, hearing with seeing — has roots in the concept of synesthesia, which has been employed by such artists as the Russian painter-theorist Wassily Kandinksy and elaborated on by the likes of Matthew Barney, in his "Cremaster Cycle." Eno's overall intent with "77 Million Paintings" was to create what he calls "generative art," a random flow of visuals patterned after the "generative music" he has created using synthesizers and other computerized instruments.
He hopes that those experiencing the installation will be inspired to consider different notions of time, a goal that he's been pursuing as one of the founders of The Long Now Foundation, a San Francisco-based institution that aims (in its website's words) to "provide counterpoint to today's 'faster/cheaper' mind set and promote 'slower/better' thinking."
"The dominant theory coming out of Hollywood is that peoples' attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and they need more stimulation," Eno says. "I point to this work as a counter-problem. I think it's a myth that American public or any other public is so stupid that they need to be constantly pricked."