Archive for September, 2009

Things I read today (“a safer reflection of what we cannot bear”)

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Orpheus and Eurydice .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Persus and Medusa

The problem is, we only get one chance at this, with no do-overs. Life is, in effect, a non-repeatable experiment with no control. In his novel about marriage, “Light Years,” James Salter writes: “For whatever we do, even whatever we do not do prevents us from doing its opposite. Acts demolish their alternatives, that is the paradox.” Watching our peers’ lives is the closest we can come to a glimpse of the parallel universes in which we didn’t ruin that relationship years ago, or got that job we applied for, or got on that plane after all. It’s tempting to read other people’s lives as cautionary fables or repudiations of our own.

A colleague of mine once hosted a visiting cartoonist from Scandinavia who was on a promotional tour. My colleague, who has a university job, a wife and children, was clearly a little wistful about the tour, imagining Brussels, Paris, and London, meeting new fans and colleagues and being taken out for beers every night. The cartoonist, meanwhile, looked forlornly around at his host’s pleasant row house and sighed, almost to himself: “I would like to have such a house.”

One of the hardest things to look at in this life is the lives we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back — Lot’s wife, Orpheus and Eurydice — are lost. Looking to the side instead, to gauge how our companions are faring, is a way of glancing at a safer reflection of what we cannot directly bear, like Perseus seeing the Gorgon safely mirrored in his shield.

The Referendum by Tim Kreider

Things I saw/heard today (“I got words for this and the way it fits: It’s all about the light and the sound around it.”)

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I tripped across Emily Wells (via somerequired)

The music is beautiful and unique and her husky voice contains just the right ache and elan for perfect accompaniment.

The lyrics are great too:

Fair thee well and the requiem mix
I got a loan shark and a quick fix,
For those I left behind,
In a suitcase of fire flies,
Find ya, I wanna treat you right,
Never leave you beggin and cryin.
Coming down the mountain in a wet carriage,
Full speed like a spent marriage.
I got more than enough to keep me whole.
For once I’m not slightly out of control.
Got crazy dreams when it breaks morning,
Everyday, a requiem.
These morning dreams are just like memories:
Late night, starring through the trees.
I got words for this and the way it fits:
It’s all about the light and the sound around it.
Fair thee well and the requiem mix I
Got a feather bed and a couple of tricks,
For those I left behind.

Things I read today (“In a clumsy effort to seduce her”)

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

“In a clumsy effort to seduce her, I attempted to explain the evolutionary advantages of sexual reproduction to a female friend the other day.”

– Laurence Hurst, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, University of Bath “Three’s a crowd

I confess this approach would probably have really appealed to me (both the clumsy and uber-geeky, intellectual aspects) – though my own failing is, of course, that my first reaction would have been to explore the line of reasoning rather than tilting my head and batting my eyelashes or whatever it is that women who know how to get seduced actually do.

Things I saw today (music by birds)

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Another lovely little ‘mental health break’ video via Andrew Sullivan:

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

I realize birds on wires is something of a recurring theme for me on my tumblr feed as well (I love tumblr but wish there was a way to tag things)

Things I saw today (number stations and the shipping forecast)

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

I remember reading about Number Stations in Simon Singh’s The Code Book (which I highly recommend).

Numbers stations (or number stations) are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a spelling alphabet), tunes or Morse code. They are in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used…

Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are used to send messages to spies.

(link to an mp3)

Removed from almost any understandable context, listening to the numbers is strangely soothing. It reminds me of another curiously beautiful radio broadcast – the Shipping Forecast:

Being an American, I have no cultural context for the Shipping Forecast but I find it lovely and calming. I’d gladly download an hour or so of these to listen to on my iPod while falling asleep.