You may recall this sinister-looking device from a post last November. Well, I’ve finally had a chance to test it out now we’re in the midst of stone-fruits season. I am only a little bit sorry to report that this design, like many, is more beautiful than it is useful. It shall remain a knick knack in the library rather than being put to service in the kitchen.
Above is the headline and subhead of an article on Salon.com, one that’s both unsettling and disheartening. First (though least important) I disagree, on the whole, that teaching classics may be a waste of time in high school. Certainly not all of the reading need be ‘classic’— there are many more contemporary writers that could fit in well and probably be more engaging to high school students; more likely to be relatable and hold interest, but the problem is that it sounds as though kids are expected to learn how to write properly in high school!
By the time a kid is in high school, he should already know how to write properly, if not well. The process of learning the basics of grammar and structure must be taught gradually, all throughout primary school (grade school, elementary school— once called GRAMMAR school, for a reason). As anyone who has studied a foreign language knows, trying to jam all of the parts of speech, the understanding of infinitives, gerunds, etc, is a daunting task even if you already understand them in your native language.
I’ve just re-read the famous commencement speech given by DF Wallace in 2005. It’s a very powerful piece of writing.
If you’ve not read it, it’s here. In the course of re-reading, the segments below are what stand out the most, hold the punch, the meat of what he’s on about. To paraphrase, Your perception —which directly affects the way you feel about your experience of being alive, about living on both the minute and grand scales— is a CHOICE. Your angle of perception and the way you choose to react to what’s around you will determine whether you’re happy, miserable, selfish, angry, etc in the broad strokes of your life. Your life is the sum total of all the decisions you’ve ever made— choosing requires awareness. I’d add that choosing wisely requires a strong sense of self; of knowing who you are via your core values.
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
…Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”.
Saw Le Week-End the other night. It’s bloody gorgeous. For the obvious reason, of course, that being it’s shot in Paris. But no, not just visually, it’s such a finely told interval in these characters’ lives, with brilliantly subtle dialogue and interaction. Utterly believable connection / tension between them.
I still rather like this one;
Probably could use more editing, but that’s generally the case.
more frequented by stars
Night is a vast
An arcing mass, abyss
from which the wisps
of dreams are rent
or born — to which
their unreckoned ellipses return
at first light
or break of day—
Gifts to the morning star, forgotten.
But here in dense-packed places,
glowing gases trapped
Diffuse the spark of Heaven’s light
And night’s song
is not the breath of trees
nor sinuous tale
of crickets’ Morse
But an iron drone-
the hum of shapes
And nighttime, in dense places
closes in—a binding
In dust-filled quarters, corners
of space, repressed
From which blurred dreams
at length release—
to memories of light,
subconsciousness— and colors
And have no names
in waking, nor in words.
I bought a new sketchbook last week. It’s not filled with paper; the description on the back explains it “is made up of 80% calcium carbonate and 20% non-toxic resins.” The pages have a feeling similar to vellum, but extremely smooth. I tested in the shop with some markers, and they were very painterly on it, so I picked one up.
An old drawing, recently rediscovered.
And here we are, still banished to the land of wind and ghosts.
I feel I’ve fairly jinxed something by quoting that passage from Hemingway a ways back; while we’ve not had too much in the way of rain, we’ve yet to meet that “night of warm wind” that brings in the Springtime. Just persistent cold nightly, even on days of warm sunshine. It feels like punishment, or penance.
The only consolation is that we are hurtling headlong toward May, so we tell ourselves that surely this can’t last. A cold comfort though (both literally and figuratively), as April is wasted by too much time spent indoors, too inactive.
This one’s a design thing more than an art thing, but it’s kinda’ fun. This was inspired by a vintage postcard that Ray had, particularly the 3D typography. Vector-based illustration and design, to be printed on 17″x11″ paper to advertise the party that needs no advertising at Commonwealth. Honest-to-Goodness Mint Juleps!
Some older posters after the jump. Damn, I’ve been doing these for a long time! (The 2003 one is still my favorite.)
Some cool new pieces have been added to my Etsy shop; these are some of the pieces Zac and I have been working on over the past month or so. Landscapes in oil on reclaimed cedar shingles (as posted recently) and the first of a handful of vintage cartographic cigar boxes. Check ‘em out on Etsy. More will be added over the next week or so.