coromandal


no one wanted to read
February 22, 2015, 11:14 am
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge | Tags: , , , , ,

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The NY LA art book fairs are for makers of zines, comics, posters, prints and art books. There is a genre of art book that is full of pictures and very big text. One of its leading proponents and practitioners is Bruce Mau who did Zine and SMLXL etc. One way of describing this genre of book is that content now has to fight with design for relevance. So, the old orange penguins were a couple years of hard writing work (content) set in type and given an eyecatching cover. The content had clear superiority over the graphics and design of the book. Not with art books, the font and design is much more important with them and oftentimes all but extinguishes the content. At the art book fairs people gather to buy and sell these novelty products. Architects like art books, I guess their education doesn’t emphasize the kind with content: history, fiction, poetry. A young architect once told me he liked books as objects. That’s what an art book is, an object.

I have a degree in literature and an internet addiction. On my recent vacation, I took a book and no computer. It was only five days, so not much of a sacrifice, but the book burned into my brain and heart in a way I haven’t experienced in months and months. I began to write again. Anyway I’m back now wasting time on the internet, flipping around, reading essays and watching movies, and rarely confronting humanity in the way that my travel book helped me to. I guess most of the internet is like an art book – more flash, less content.

Something from Postman:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman

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profit or freedom
November 23, 2014, 1:57 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , ,

Some ideas from Ursula Le Guin’s acceptance speech at the National Book Awards.

‘Realist’ books have consistently taken awards away from fantasy and science fiction.

Now we need massive imagination – of the kind that the fantasy writers can give us, perhaps? – to counter a threat to the arts.

The threat is fear,  obsession with technology, and money.

Art is not a commodity. If sales people control the publishing industry books are reduced to commodities.

But they are more; they define new ways of living. They help to ensure our freedom.

A useful image: the kings had divine rights which were challenged. The capitalists have seemingly unassailable powers that need to be countered by the power of imagination.

From Ursula K. Le Guin’s speech:

Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

Thank you.

Ursula Le Guin, National Book Awards, NPR

transcription by parker higgens dot net



staring at the space within
September 7, 2014, 10:58 am
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge | Tags: , , , ,

What people read on flights, from Amis’ The Information:

In Coach: pluralistic, liberal, humane, war, fiction, Russian lit, classical lit, philosophy.

In Business World: outright junk, thrillers, chillers, tinglers, escape.

In First Class: nothing, perfume catalogue.

Does the body rot from the head down? What if it were reversed and first class read all that good stuff? If we took away the perfume catalogues, passed forward the lit. Would there be benevolence and flourishing?

I’d rather be in coach, not for the leg room –. Here is Amis:

The stewardess escorted him down the length of Economy, and then another stewardess escorted him through Business World; he ducked under a curtain, and then another stewardess led him into First. As hemade this journey, this journey within a journey, getting nearer to America, Richard looked to see what everyone was reading, and found that his progress through the plane described a diagonal of shocking decline. In Coach the laptop literature was pluralistic, liberal, and humane: Daniel Deronda, trigonometry, Lebanon, World War I, Homer, Diderot, Anna Karenina. As for Business World, it wasn’t that the businessmen and businesswomen were immersing themselves in incorrigibly minor or incautiously canonized figures like Thornton Wilder or Dostoevsky, or with lightweight literary middlemen like A. L. Rowse or Lord David Cecil, or yet with teacup-storm philosophers, exploded revisionist historians, stubbornly Steady State cosmologists or pallid poets over whom the finger of sentimentality continued to waver. They were reading trex: outright junk. Fat financial thrillers, chunky chillers and tublike tinglers: escape from the pressures facing the contemporary entrepreneur. And then he pitched up in the intellectual slum of First Class, among all its drugged tycoons, and the few books lying unregarded on softly swelling stomachs were jacketed with hunting scenes or ripe young couples in mid swirl or swoon. They all lay there flattened out in the digestive torpor of midafternoon, and nobody was reading anything-except for a lone seeker who gazed, with a frown of mature skepticism, at a perfume catalogue. Jesus, what happened on the Concorde? Scouring the troposphere at the limit of life, and given a glimpse of the other side-a glimpse of what the rest of the universe almost exclusively consisted of (unpunctuated vacuum)-the Mach 2 morons would be sitting there, and staring into space. The space within. Not the space without. In the very nib of the airplane sat Gwyn Barry, who was reading his schedule.

Martin Amis, The Information



words may fly
June 13, 2014, 11:26 am
Filed under: chronotopes, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: ,

Spotted in the Albion Beatnik bookstore in Oxford, UKAlbion Beatnik bookstore in Oxford, UK