- Joyce's Ulysses,
- Proust's In Search of Lost Time (or Remembrance Of Things Past),
- Tolstoy's War and Peace, or
- Eliot's Middlemarch
It took a total of 12 hours and 11 mins. Much less total time than I initially thought, but many more total days (There were other digressions, like reading other books). More on the book later. I am currently overwhelmed with the sheer mastery of Mr. Joyce. He is a real Colossus.
If Marilyn can do it, so can you!
The card had a nice washed look after the thawing and was promptly put to use!
“And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?”In No Small Matter, a book on the 'science on the nanoscale', famous chemist George Whitesides and photographer Felice Frankel achieve to convey the poetry and beauty of science with elegance and erudition. Their unique manner of presentation - saying much, by saying less - is more effective than most other books on science written for the lay audience. There is no surfeit of words, no clamour of explanations, and no riot of reasons.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Curiosity is an itch, that understanding scratches
We're burdened by a curious conditioning that blinds us to one of the greatest - perhaps the greatest - of art forms. We live for poetry; we live in terror of equations.
We see a poem, and we try it on for size: we read a line or two; we roll it around in our mind; we see how it fits and tastes and sounds. We may not like it, and let it drop, but we enjoy the encounter and look forward to the next. We see an equation, and it is as if we’d glimpsed a tarantula in the baby's crib. We panic.
An equation can be thing of such beauty and subtlety that only a poem can equal it....
It's an idea worth trying on for size. Poetry describes humanity with a human voice; equations describe a reality beyond the reach of words.
λ = h / mv
Jonathan Haidt’s recent book, Why Politics and Religion Divide Good People, talks about ways to end the partisan politics of the Right vs. the Left, but this can be also applied elsewhere. In a twist of the Western adage - 'shoot first, questions later', his work as a moral psychologist has shown that ‘we are emotional first, and rational later' and when reason is brought into play it’s in support of the initial emotion. We make up reasoning post-hoc to bolster what ever was our initial emotional response. Reasoning and reflection can cause us to change our opinions but it is rare (We are less in this mode than we would like to believe). The approach to begin to gain any traction in an opponent’s mind is to use methods that ‘talk to their intuitions, and not to their reason’. Keep the reasons for later.
The post has risen Phoenix-like, a week past due.
On the lit blog:
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
Posted by hirak on Tuesday, November 20, 2012
So, November has been decided as "Credit-Card Free Month" to empirically find answers to the following:
- Is it possible to actually live in today's world without a credit card?
- Does it make it easier to save? by way of making us more conscious of spending ?
- ... or just by spending less to begin with.
- Amazon purchases
- Groupon or Living Social purchases
- Online purchases of any sort - REI, Adorama, etc.
Having to not use a credit card means that we will be forced to shop locally and we will have to use the long-lost art of writing checks at the grocery store.
Today's poem on Poets.org is a a wonderful meditation on words lost, found and discovered
I used to love words,
but not looking them up.
Now I love both,
and the looking up,
the absurdity ....
Discovery is always tinged
with sorrow, the knowledge
that you have been living
so we try to make learning
the province of the young,
who have less time to regret
having lived in ignorance.
Link to full poem
A great observation that we often make learning chiefly the "province of the young". Why? Perhaps we hate admitting ignorance.
I disagree (as he says "This may surprise you") with his conclusion of notliking the author who ended his book on a obscure word. Picking up dictionaries is good.
So, either you can laugh about it, or start solving this mother of all puzzles!!
A hundred prisoners are each locked in a room with three pirates, one of whom will walk the plank in the morning. Each prisoner has 10 bottles of wine, one of which has been poisoned; and each pirate has 12 coins, one of which is counterfeit and weighs either more or less than a genuine coin. In the room is a single switch, which the prisoner may either leave as it is, or flip. Before being led into the rooms, the prisoners are all made to wear either a red hat or a blue hat; they can see all the other prisoners' hats, but not their own. Meanwhile, a six-digit prime number of monkeys multiply until their digits reverse, then all have to get across a river using a canoe that can hold at most two monkeys at a time. But half the monkeys always lie and the other half always tell the truth. Given that the Nth prisoner knows that one of the monkeys doesn't know that a pirate doesn't know the product of two numbers between 1 and 100 without knowing that the N+1th prisoner has flipped the switch in his room or not after having determined which bottle of wine was poisoned and what colour his hat is, what is the solution to this puzzle?
On second thought this should be called "The deranged offspring of all puzzles" instead of the title above.
The New York Times ran a photo spread on the impossibility of capturing street images of people without anyone head down checking their devices (Misha Erwitt's: Cellphone pre-occupation). The series of pictures shows people in states of preoccupation talking, texting, checking email. (My favorite is the the woman talking next to the Giacommeti statue). In comparison, as Gurbo notes in the preface, "... Kertesz's timeless images of people transported to another world by the intimate process of opening a book or newspaper ... "
Is there an essential difference? Is there a difference between a person texting on a bench versus a person reading a book? Is it more of a disconnection from reality and your surroundings to be staring into a computer screen into the vastness of the internet versus fingers curled around a folded newspaper?
I went back and forth between the collections and I tried to reach a conclusion - is one better than the other? or is is just a symptom of conditioning?
Sounds like a beaten down trope - "digital bad, analog good"
To me, there is an appropriate choice of words for Erwitt's series versus Kertesz's.
Preoccupied vs. absorbed
Distracted vs. transported
Disconnected vs. immersed
It's hard for me to believe that anyone can actually read anything on the internet with it's easy-to-navigate HTML links. Add to that the numerous distractions of messages, tweets, and emails. You don't really travel anywhere on the internet, you simply bounce around.
This is one my favorite images from Andre Kertesz's collection of photographs - On Reading. A boy eating an ice-cream reading the comics section from a scattered bunch of newspapers. Andre Kertesz captures the essence of reading: the solitary, self-absorbed pleasure that transports you to a different place. The only thing that would mar that image would the silhouette of a person talking on the cellphone. Of course, the boy would not notice.
The Zen master replied, "Well, I was looking for the perfect woman".
The student eagerly asked, " Did you not find the perfect woman?"
"Oh, I did", replied the Zen master with a smile.
"Then...what happened.. why did you not marry her?"
The Zen master paused and with a twinkle in his eye said, "Well, she was looking for the perfect man."
(paraphrased from John Gottman)
Ralph Williams who lectured on Shakespeare is one of the best-loved professors at Michigan. He has now retired but thankfully is still around in an emeritus capacity. Link to this short series of meditations on Shakespeare, passages and language.
LSA video: Part I
Posted by hirak on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."