Recent blog posts in the category Uncategorized / General:

Face Down In The Cesspool

A year and change ago, I mostly quit social media. I don't think that's likely to change.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/23 19:00

A year and change ago, I mostly quit commercial social media. I don't think that's likely to change.

Barring an attempt earlier this year to re-engage on my own terms -- a mostly failed experiment -- I've given up on Facebook and Twitter as things to use directly or interact with directly.

My reasons for all this remain simple:

1) Commercial social media -- primarily Facebook and Twitter -- gamify and monetize human interaction in ways that are profoundly toxic to people's psychic well-being.

2) None of this is going to get better on its own, because the people in charge of it have no incentive to improve it. We're better off just walking away from all of it.

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Tags: Facebook  Twitter  social media  sociology  technology 


It's Always Better When It Doesn't Exist

Why you can't perfect something that was never created to begin with.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/20 13:00

I've met a depressing number of people -- enthusiastic creators of one kind or another, some young, some not -- who share a common attribute. They are "working on" something.

They have not finished something. They have not released it and moved on to work on the next thing. They are just … working on this one thing, always and forever -- prodding at it, toying with it, trying it out one way or another, but never completing it. Sometimes they never even actually start on it; they just talk about working on it.

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Tags: John Cage  creativity  creators 


Your Motorcycle Ran Over My Dogma

Why 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance' made me hold my nose.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/20 08:00

Not long ago I found out that Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance was available as an e-book from my library's Overdrive portal. I'd originally encountered it around the time I first entered college, and I'd broken out in such hives over it that years would have to go by before I could even be in the same room with anything that had the word "Zen" in the title. Eventually I learned how to tell the difference between actual Zen and the b.s. "Zen" that had become a pop-culture reference point, but a lot of people grok not this distinction, and I wonder how much this book is to blame for that.

In light of all that, a new line of reasoning asserted itself. If the book in fact had little or nothing to do with Zen proper, maybe I ought to re-read it and see what it did have to offer.

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Tags: Buddhism  Robert Pirsig  Zen 


Be Ye Not As Doormats

On Buddhism and fascism and pacifism.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/18 08:00

Brad Warner released a video recently: "Is It OK To Punch Nazis?" His take is, to my mind, not even all that controversial. He doesn't think it's OK unless the Nazi in question punches first. Otherwise you end up recapitulating all the worst aspects of your opponent, because then it gets easy to contrive more and more situations where it's OK to punch someone.

I mostly agree. I also think there are plenty of other things one can do before throwing punches that are at least as effective as weapons against fascism. (It's apparently more effective to use humor and psychological jiu-jitsu anyway.) Part of the problem is that we tend to wait and wait until there's nothing left to do but throw punches at such people. But if you have literally no other choice, that's another story.

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Tags: Buddhism  Zen  fascism  violence 


Find Your Voice To Lose Your Voice

"You’re going to find your voice.... The problem is getting rid of it."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/17 19:00

From a few years back:

Philip Glass and Beck Discuss Collaborating on ‘Rework’ - The New York Times

When I talk to young composers, I tell them, I know that you’re all worried about finding your voice. Actually you’re going to find your voice. By the time you’re 30, you’ll find it. But that’s not the problem. The problem is getting rid of it. You have to find an engine for change. And that’s what collaborative work does. Whatever we do together will make us different.

...  I was doing a theater piece for the Mabou Mines, it was some Beckett piece, and I wrote [Arthur Russell] a cello piece, and he liked the work and was playing it. And I came back about three months later, and I heard it and I said, “Arthur, that’s beautiful, but what happened to the piece?” And he said, “No, no, that is what you wrote,” and I said, “Arthur, it’s no longer what I wrote, it’s your piece now.” And he thought I was being upset, he apologized and I said, “No, no, no, I think we should put you down as the composer.” He had reached the point of transformation. The incremental changes had turned it into this other thing. I love the fact that he did that. And I love the fact that he didn’t know that he did it.

I read that and at first I wondered, what did Glass mean by "getting rid" of one's voice?  I could tell it was the sort of statement that lent itself to any manner of willful misinterpretation.

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Tags: Philip Glass  composition  creativity  music 


Me And One Other Fool

Who's really worth pleasing when you're writing? (And why?)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/16 08:00

Been away from the keys for a few days, not much time for blogging; also fighting off the last of a cold I picked up.

Not long ago, a friend of mine picked up Flight Of The Vajra, and I made the mistake of apologizing pre-emptively for the book. Not in the sense that I thought it was evil, but that it was flawed, and that the flaws in it had become all the more prominent to my own eyes since I'd finished it. But he loved the book anyway, and I realized once again I had made the mistake of trying to second-guess, and ameliorate, someone else's reactions to my own work.

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Tags: audiences  writers  writing 


From Monstrosity To Tragedy

Art isn't profound just because it hurts.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/09 19:00

T.J. Clark · Picasso and Tragedy · LRB 17 August 2017

I doubt that an artist of Picasso’s sort ever raises his or her account of humanity to a higher power simply by purging, or repressing, what had been dangerous or horrible in an earlier vision. There must be a way from monstrosity to tragedy. The one must be capable of being folded into the other, lending it aspects of the previous vision’s power.

Emphasis mine.

Constant readers will be familiar by now with my notion of the Endurance Test Philosophy Of Art: If it doesn't scar you or make you want to puke, it isn't "real" art, because "real" art has IMPACT!!! Or something along those lines. It's twaddle, but it's the sort of twaddle that is easy to make a case for, easy to subscribe to, and easy to find plenty of allegedly valid examples of.

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Tags: Pablo Picasso  art  artists  tragedy 


See more entries in this category from August 2017.

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