- Strictly Film School, with its smart capsule summaries of a well-curated selection of movies, has become my cinematic reference site of choice. Check out their directors list if you don't believe me. (And yes, I've seen that Kitano isn't on there — I'm totally mystified.)
Just as I was pondering re-reading — and, er, reading — the
transcendentalists, Ben Casnocha distilled two of 'em on his blog. He
first assembled his favorite lines from Emerson, such as:
Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for oracles speak. Doth not Wisdom cry and Understanding put forth her voice?And then came Thoreau:
I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me.I've come to find myself asking only two qualities of a writer: honesty and clarity. The rest is window dressing.
- I recently found out that a certain Livejournalist known to frequent these parts has a "real" blog, and it's pretty damn cool. My favorite post is an improved 'n revised iteration of his earlier-posted thoughts on the extreme relevance of gambling and financial metaphors to life in general:
When you come to appreciate the fact that life inherently involves randomness and gambling, you can start taking risks that make sense. The casino is a great metaphor for life; potentially filled with fun and games, but random and with a mean expectation of zero. Once you understand that your life is governed by the laws of probability rather than Cartesian determinism, it becomes easier to accept the vicissitudes of fate. Once you realize that most decisions in life involve significant risk and uncertainty, you can start making intelligent decisions about your life. Once you understand the applications of [the capital asset pricing model] to your life, you can realize your own efficient frontier. People may think I’m some sort of mad scientist for advocating treating your life as a gambling game, but you can see this at work in many individual lives.
[ ... ]
If life worked according to Cartesian determinism, you’d expect chess players to do very well in life, and gamblers to do poorly. What we observe in life is the exact opposite. Great chess players who are capable of calculating complex moves many steps ahead have horrible chaotic lives. They think they can plan things and understand the world using determinism, and this world view fails them. Poor Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess wizards who ever lived, had a miserable life. His belief in determinism turned him into a raving madman, hardly capable of the simplest of human interactions. Gary Kasparov, a man capable of beating supercomputers at chess, tried his hand at Russian politics and failed miserably.
- Ubuweb hosts four videos at a rare intersection of my interests: the great Peter Greenaway's series of documentaries on four American experimental composers. You've got your John Cage, your Philip Glass, your Meredith Monk and your Robert Ashley. Though sadly devoid of most of the formal boldness we've come to expect and love from the director, they nevertheless work with impeccably fascinating subject matter.