Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holy Season Blinded by Irony

It makes very little sense to characterize irony, strictly speaking. …It’s the sound of a tree falling in a deserted forest, unfortunately. People want to believe things are alright, authorities have the answers, and it is safer to conform, anyway. Who can blame them?

High culture was concerned with truth. Now it propagates nonsense. Fake ideas have replaced real ones; fake intellectuals have supplanted genuine scholars.. The great swindle ; Culture once meant intellectual heights and aesthetic ideals. Now it means petty entertainment. Mario Vargas Llosa and. Gabbie explains at Yullies and the Satellite

Happy Holidays! At ChristMas Media Dragon is Important for Everyone Paradigm Shift Blinded by Irony

Rituals bind us, in modern societies and prehistoric tribes alike. But can our loyalties stretch to all of humankind? There are certain words that pry open our imaginations and make us think about things otherwise ignored.

When Thomas Kuhn used it in 1966 to describe accepted scientific theories, and gave us the phrase “paradigm shift,” he launched a thousand articles, several hundred books and quite a few careers, some just distantly related to science. That kind of word raises curiosity and pries open the imagination, encouraging us to think about what we might otherwise ignore. My favourite is “palimpsest.” When I first noticed it in print, four decades ago, it struck me as odd, beautiful and full of promise. It’s a term that engages many writers and continues to attract new meanings but to some readers it still seems slightly far-fetched, maybe outrageous.

Far-fetched ; Justin Smith loves kids, he really does. But please stop telling him that a philosopher cannot realize his potential unless he becomes a parent... Must Philosophers Be Parents? [Pleasure is the beach, a new sweater, a pineapple Popsicle. Joy is dropping Ecstasy, falling in love, having children. Zadie Smith parses the distinction.. ; Charles Rosen’s world comprised a piano stacked with music, a desk and table laden with papers and books, and long, discursive conversations..Expressions of suffering and terror ]

• · Do you sneer at things predigital, use words like “disruptive,” tap the wisdom of the crowd? Get a grip: cyberguru... You’ve become a Media Dragon; Hunter-gatherers, esoteric cults, revolutionary brigades: We’ve always had a capacity for in-group imitation. And we are as ritualistic today as we've ever been Human rites

• · · Elegies for ink and paper abound, but are physical books going away? Not necessarily. Handwriting, on the other hand, is toast. As the world of print recedes, what is lost and what is gained? How we read; Mismatched Silver says you’re not alone.

• · · · A writer should carry a notebook – always. “ Live only for today, and you ruin tomorrow. ”; Bring Up the Bodies; “It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass.” An unforgettable portrait of Grass Behind the Cold War River

• · · · · Jozef Imrich has had way too much life for just one memoirs and so has Patti Smith who is Planning 'Just Kids' Memoir Sequel - Hell Bent; Scott Sturgis on Seth Casteel’s Underwater Dogs: “…will let any family get up close and personal with swimming dogs. Maybe even better than real life.” Underwater Dogs'; The debut collection of poetry might just deserve its own taxon in the categorizing of literary contributions An Uneven Debut From a Poet That Went on to Astonish

• · · · · · “When the guns talk,” goes a proverb, “the muses fall silent.” Nonsense. War stimulates creativity. The Great War was the great exception. ; Meredith Blake on Benjamin Lorr’s Hell Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga: “…part undercover investigation, part initiation, as Lorr, almost against his better judgment, becomes more and more committed to the practice. ; Cost Of Cold River in 2012 AD

Monday, December 24, 2012

Historical novels are treated like a tramp in the parlor of letters

As we’re in the midst of the season for family, friends, food and that ever-elusive concept of relaxation, Media Dragons are going to be merry with Gabbie, Phil, Kristen George, Vicki, James, Steve and all those soulful creatures who pepper our lives ...

[D]on’t you believe it. Nobody has solved the problem of how history should be written, and for the same reason that nobody has solved the problem of how poetry should be written, or how chess should be played or how houses should be built—because there is no such problem. We have been told, so often as to be nearly persuaded, that history must be scientific, or it must be imaginative, or it must be impartial, or it must be impersonal. But why all this “must”? Why should there be only one kind of history? And we are particularly puzzled because, as far as we know, there are a great many different kinds of history, and we find it very difficult to say one kind is really so much better than any other that it is the only kind we can allow the name to. When I Lived in Modern Times

“Remember, the mind thinks in pictures and symbols, not words. So as we worry, we are seeing ourselves failing. We can sometimes bequite vivid imagining this failure. We see ourselves embarrassed, flopping, standing with egg on our faces. The rerunning of these tapes in our heads becomes a habit, and it then affects all our behavior.” --- Alan Loy Macginnis in, “Confidence” Every achievement was a dream before it became a reality

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Turtle Doves: Now we are all MENdels

Mankind are always happier for having been happy; so that if you make them happy now, you make them happy twenty years hence by the memory of it. A childhood past with a due mixture of rational indulgence, under fond and wise parents, diffuses over the whole of life, a feeling of calm pleasure; and, in extreme old age, is the very last remembrance which time can erase from the mind of man
-Sydney Smith, Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy

Center in Prague uses rodents to understand human genetics A century and a half ago at St. Thomas' Abbey in Brno, the monk Gregor Mendel carried out pioneering experiments on pea plants that are now studied in biology lessons in schools the world over Largely unappreciated during his lifetime, Mendel produced a body of work that helped demonstrate how characteristics are inherited, giving rise to the science of genetics. It took another 100 years for researchers to work out the structure of DNA, the inherited genetic material, but since then the tools of molecular biology have allowed progress at a breathless pace. of Mice & Men

Heart of Havels: Tvrdohlavi like Media Dragon

"You can't order remembrance out of a man's mind."
-William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians

Commitments without empowerment are words without meaning ... Artist Jiří David's 15x17-meter neon heart was lit above the entrance of the Altiero Spinelli building of the European Parliament in Brussels Dec. 17, the eve of the first anniversary of Václav Havel's death. The heart first adorned the façade of the Prague Castle toward the end of Havel's time as head of state and during the Prague NATO summit at the end of 2002. In honor of Václav Havel, who died one year ago Dec. 18
Wrap Text around Image David’s art career starts in 1980s as member of underground movement of artists calls Tvrdohlavi ... "Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things." Cicero, De oratore

Speech by Commissioner of Taxation Michael D'Ascenzo at his farewell dinner, 29 November 2012 'It has been great and I have been fortunate'

A teacher with only months to live has embarked on a journey across the US to find out whether he really made a difference in his former students' lives. People like Havel made a difference

Monday, December 17, 2012

Failure, then, failure!

"As a (bohemian) bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place."
Proverbs 27:8

Part One: William James on failure, from Varieties of Religious Experience

Failure, then, failure! so the world stamps us at every turn. We strew it with our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, with all the memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation. And with what a damning emphasis does it then blot us out! No easy fine, no mere apology or formal expiation, will satisfy the world's demands, but every pound of flesh exacted is soaked with all its blood. The subtlest forms of suffering known to man are connected with the poisonous humiliations incidental to these results.

And they are pivotal human experiences. A process so ubiquitous and everlasting is evidently an integral part of life. "There is indeed one element in human destiny," Robert Louis Stevenson writes, "that not blindness itself can controvert. Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted." And our nature being thus rooted in failure, is it any wonder that theologians should have held it to be essential, and thought that only through the personal experience of humiliation which it engenders the deeper sense of life's significance is reached?

But this is only the first stage of the world-sickness. Make the human being's sensitiveness a little greater, carry him a little farther over the misery-threshold, and the good quality of the successful moments themselves when they occur is spoiled and vitiated. All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish. Can things whose end is always dust and disappointment be the real goods which our souls require? Back of everything is the great spectre of universal death, the all-encompassing blackness... Lectures VI and VII: THE SICK SOUL

It’s always embarrassing to admit that I just don’t get a book. But honesty requires me to say that I can't believe I am only now getting around to linking to Emma Garman's history of the royal sex scandal - A BOOK which will mystify even fellows from the bear pit Baby Daddies and Dandy Scandals: Who’s my baby’s daddy?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Art of Empowerment: Lessons Learned by National Treasures

While Media Dragons crisscrossed the Mittleuropean landscapes, Kellie Tranter posted without fear and without favour interviews with John Hatton. We hope to have as much energy as John at his vintage: swimming in the morning, reading Sydney Morning Herald between the lines, painting sacred sites, practicing flute, gardening and all that before the jervis bay greets the noon it must be the wheat germ ...
Anti-corruption fighter John Hatton AO is a former politician, and a National Trust nominated Australian Living Treasure. He was an Independent member of the Legislative Assembly of the New South Wales Parliament from 1973 to 1995 and was instrumental in instigating the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption in New South Wales. When I stood as an Independent candidate at the 2011 NSW election I proudly accepted John’s unsolicited endorsement of my candidature. John Hatton is an insightful critic of modern society and politics and still a committed social activist. Modern democracy, according to John, “consists of a series of political parties to which the citizenry are not invited”. I caught up with him recently on the NSW South Coast. I didn’t need to ask searching and probing questions: I merely pressed “record”. Here’s what he had to say. Antipodean living Treasures

He has pledged the rest of his life to empowering communities and individuals to fight for true democracy; Google on empowerment

Well known local Woollamia artist, sculpture and ardent environmentalist Randall Sinnamon will be exhibiting at the Lady Denman Maritime Museum and Gallery later this year to mark the 20th anniversary of his first exhibition at the gallery in 1992. That first exhibition was entitled Thoughts and Pictures from the Aviary (his first studio) and was inspired by Jervis Bay and surrounds.
Now twenty years later Randall determines to amuse and challenge his audience with opportunities to reflect upon themselves and the social world in which they live, using sculpture, painting and printmaking as a means to express a continuous and passionate investigation of nature and humanity. Randall prefers not to state the aim of his work but to leave it completely open for the spectator's personal interpretation.Vera Hatton

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For the Love of God

For the past 700 years, banking and art have shaped our understanding of value, speculation, and profiteering... For the Love of God

It is a positive joy to put out the fires of hell Gold, Golden, Gilded, Glittering

Of course poetry teaches us how to live, lifts the veil from our eyes.

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar. Imagine what it's like to be what you perceive. To accomplish that connection requires "a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own." I take that to mean that the more distinctly we imagine the plight of another, the more empathy we feel, and the more beauty we appreciate. As Shelley put it, "The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting upon the cause."

• But there’s something else: Poetry makes you weird [2012 was the year of 50 SHADES OF GREY. So, what does that mean? 'Fifty Shades' dominates publishing in 2012 ; Michael Schaub recaps his reading of the year over at I’m barely living proof ]
• · The staff at The Atlantic talks about what they read in 2012. Writing books is a great thing for a musician to do. It’s a way to make money without having to play and sing all the time. If, like Mr. Young, the musician has broken a toe, given up marijuana, had trouble writing songs or otherwise begun needing a change of pace, the rock book answers prayers. Mostly publishers’ prayers. Since sales of Keith Richards’s “Life” went through the roof two years ago, these bios and memoirs have begun turning up everywhere. The Best Book I Read This Year ; NetGalley posts its favorites from 2012 An unforgettable debut that stole the hearts
• · · Janet Maslin reminds us of some notables’ notable books from 2012. The Stars’ Year to Rock ’n’ Write ; On this day in 1976 Saul Bellow delivered his speech in acceptance of the Nobel Prize. At this point, Bellow had written only fifteen of his twenty-nine books, but among these are his major prize-winners — The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), and Humboldt’s Gift (1975). These were proof enough, said the Academy, of Bellow’s’ exuberant ideas, flashing irony, hilarious comedy and burning compassion.’ …Bellow's Human Comedy
• · · · The Guardian explores darkness in literature During the long days of summer, it's easy to forget the dark. Darkness in literature: Kathleen Jamie's Darkness and Light ; Here’s a sneak peek at Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, MY BELOVED WORLD, She includes an especially painful encounter with illegal drugs in her description of her beloved first cousin Nelson smoking three-and-a-half packs of cigarettes a day
• · · · · Joseph Conrad would be 155 years old now. The Atlantic ruminates on that. Art Is Long, Life Is Short ; David Evans on Padgett Powell’s Edisto: “Offbeat, playful and very, very funny…” Striving for The Great American Novel, to comic effect
• · · · · · Scott Martelle on Scott Berg’s 38 Nooses: “Berg does a remarkable job with the story and its aftermath, drawing on memoirs, contemporary reports and presidential papers to re-create — and offer an easy road map through — a complicated narrative.” The story of the Dakota tribe rebellion and the largest government-sanctioned execution in American history is told in remarkable detail ; Thornton McCamish on Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams: “This unforgettable novel simply asks us to witness a fully imagined life as real as our own, and one as sad and mysterious to the man who lived it as it is to us Minimalist but magical tale of a life stripped bare; Howard Goldblatt, premier English translator of Chinese fiction, was a late bloomer. “I was amazingly stupid for the first 30 years of my life” Interpreter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unpredictable World of Bluest Mountains

"I have become convinced that movie people and politicians spring from the same DNA. They are both unpredictable, sometimes glamorous, usually in crisis (imagined or otherwise), addicted to power, anxious to please, always on stage, hooked on applause, enticed by publicity, always reading from scripts written by someone else, constantly taking the public pulse, never really certain, except publicly."
~ Jack Valenti (quoted in Burton Paretti, The Leading Man: Hollywood and the Presidential Image)

NSW businessmen and politicians sure can pack a room. Former Labor MP Eddie Obeid and his family left a smell like a "dead cat" on a failed coal mining deal, a businessman has told a NSW corruption inquiry. John Kinghorn, the founder of RAMS Homeloans, also told the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Wednesday he was so "furious" a director of a mining company was querying the $500 million venture he wanted to "chop his head off"; New South Wales Labor minister Luke Foley has vented anger towards former colleagues for their demonstration of "shameless contempt" for environmental protection and coal exploration licence approvals Foley said the "cowboys were in control" and the NSW Labor government declared itself "open for business" after the departure of former Premier Bob Carr Google on Corruption ; Tripodi unaware of any corrupt activity; Transcripts of ICAC

[I]f there was an age when "fiction was king,” surely it was the Victorian era, when writers like Dickens and George Eliot and (in a very different American context) Harriet Beecher Stowe were treated as profound social critics and moral sages. Almost all major novelists since then have at least occasionally suffered from the feeling that they came on the scene too late.

Capturing Sunday Conversations at Boronia House of Bluest Mountains ...

Friday, December 07, 2012

Who is more to be pitied ...

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”

― Kurt Vonnegut

The Director's Role: You are the obstetrician. You are not the parent of this child we call the play. You are present at its birth for clinical reasons, like a doctor or midwife. Your job most of the time is simply to do no harm. "When something does go wrong, however, your awareness that something is awry--and your clinical intervention to correct it--can determine whether the child will thrive or suffer, live or die.
-Frank Hauser, Notes on Directing

L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin went to see "Gatz" last weekend -- that's a live stage version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Ulin's review is forthcoming in the L.A. Times, but he gives us a preview of his thoughts -- and then we talked about what makes an adaptation successful

To think of shadows is a serious thing Rebus reborn

The cranky detective is back with a spring in his step

Christopher Fowler on Ian Rankin’s Standing In Another Man’s Grave: “Rankin gives us bare and melancholy locations, ruminations on mortality and an inner darkness born of his hero spending time in too many autopsy rooms, but Rebus remains crime fiction’s most consistent character, even though his television incarnation conjures a slightly different figure.”
an ancient monastic practice, whereby Irish monks would set themselves adrift in a boat with no sail or rudder, that God might choose where they would end up. You might, not wholly without cause, ask yourself what class of an eejit would travel any distance without some reliable means of setting a heading.

Melancholy ; Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it. At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own. [Dream like a river that never runs dry; If some frail tubercular lady circus rider were to be driven in circles around and around the arena for months and months “Up in the Gallery” — Franz Kafka
• · A MILLION-dollar property owned by a Chifley man jailed for drug and firearm offences failed to sell when it went under the hammerThe lap of luxury in Chifley
• · · Who Am I?;Cheyrl Strayed’s highly acclaimed, WILD, heads to the big screen with Nick Hornby attached for the script.
• · · · His Master’s Voice: Czesław Miłosz and his dialogue with British, Irish and American poetry. ; The Book Haven goes to Lagrasse, home of “Banquet des Livres”
• · · · · Visiting old friends in London – very old friends ; I was 16. I was hunched over in a sloshy waterbed, a green blanket tangled around my legs. This is how I began reading Записки из подполья, or Notes from Underground. I’m not sure what I had read before that…
• · · · · · In the backwoods towns of Round Mountain, time circles like a winding mountain road. Friends disappear and show up again, older if not wiser. Small incidents—a night of drinking, a robbery, a strange visitor—loom larger as the decades pass Due to unforeseen circumstances”/”leaves on the line ; Dick Cheney does have a heart. The first one nearly killed him a few times—he’s had five heart attacks. Dick Cheney's heart to get its own memoir

Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.”
― James Baldwin

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Whatever the Weather

"She knew with suddenness and ease that this moment would be with her always, within hand's reach of memory.
"She doubted if they all sensed it--they had seen the world--but even (Jozef) was silent for a minute as they looked, and the scene, the smell, even the sound of the band playing a faintly recognizable movie theme, was locked forever in her, and she was at peace. Her soul knew a moment's calm, as if it had been uncrumpled and smoothed under an iron."
~ Stephen King, Carrie

After the eastern beaches coastline resembled the Red Sea of Bondi and Clovelly the "night lantern" visited Malabar beach last night at the outlaws place ;-) Ghostly blue Malabar

Media Dragon aka Taleb is back. Antifragile goes much further in developing his Black Swan idea. Little wonder that men such as King are paying attention: after pouring a vast amount of taxpayers’ money into the financial system, British regulators, like those elsewhere in the western world, urgently need to know whether or not the economy is any less prone to violent shocks.
Taleb has plenty of advice to offer us on how to become more antifragile. We should embrace unpredictable change, rather than chase after an illusion of stability; refuse to believe anyone who offers advice without taking personal risk; keep institutions and systems small and self-contained to ensure that they can fail without bringing the entire system down; build slack into our lives and systems to accommodate surprises; and, above all, recognise the impossibility of predicting anything with too much precision. Instead of building systems that are excessively “safe”, Taleb argues, we should roll with the punches, learn to love the random chances of life and, above all, embrace small pieces of adversity as opportunities for improvement. “Wind extinguishes a candle and energises a fire,” he writes. “Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos, you want to use them, not hide from them.” As life advice goes, it all sounds very wise, if not cheering; although Taleb at times almost slips into the tone of the popular self-help guides that he professes to loathe (he opines on everything from French banking to the merits of orange juice). Indeed, the core philosophy is so darn sensible, in a home-spun way, that some readers may wonder why Taleb felt the need to present his work in such a long form (it is divided grandly into seven books-within-a-book, with titles such as “Book IV: Optionality, Technology, and the Intelligence of Antifragility”) or to write with a tone that at times veers towards the didactic.Agile Taleb

The story of the Book of Kells, of the mystery surrounding its provenance and the anonymity of the master scribes and artists who executed it, is a splendid romance. Few emblems of medieval European civilisation have caught the imagination of the international public to the same degree. Every year tens of thousands of visitors to Dublin file through the Long Room of Trinity College to view its intricately decorated pages. The artistry, colour, exuberance and wit that went into the making of this illuminated version of the four Gospels, described in the 11th-century Annals of Ulster as “primh-mind iarthair domain”, “the most precious object of the western world”, are an enduring source of awe and admiration. Here is a spark of brilliant light shining for us out of the Dark Ages. Let there be Light

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Archivist of Affronts

In Claudio Magris's splendid Danube, the story of Ferdinand Thrän, a 19th century cathedral restorer and author of a diary of all the injustices of his life, titled File of Rudenesses Received:

If genuine writing is born from the desire to account for the copious inconvenience of living, then Thrän is a real writer. Literature here is accountancy, the ledger of profit and loss, the balance sheet of an inevitable deficit ...Thrän impartially records the knavish pettiness of men and things, the intrigues of building-inspector Rupp-Reutlingen and the malevolence of the storm that ruined the central nave for him, filling the cathedral with flakes of plaster, the decision which assigned him a salary with no pension attached and the nervous fevers with which he is afflicted, his eleven falls from horseback – imputed to the poor quality of his old nag, which was, however, the only sort of horse he could afford on his income – and the deaths of four of his children, the frequent accidents which cause him to fall of the scaffolding or end up in the Danube, the inconvenience and risk of being impaled while being fished out with a boat-hook. Tragedies and mere vexations are all put on the same level, because the real tragedy of life is that it is, solely and entirely, a nuisance.The Archivist of Affronts

And yet… There is something about coming to a new city, even an old new city, that makes me feel like saying: if only I lived here, I would not grow old; I would not be prone to fatal illness; the memories I hold dear, the memories that constitute me and give me my orientation in the world, would not constantly slip further into the irrelevant past. This is where I need to be, not that other place I just happened to end up.