French artist Edouard Martinet has created beautiful insect sculptures entirely from repurpose materials. Ranging from parts of a car, bicycle, typewriter, or other found objects, each piece is unique.
“I have built my life in such a way that my many side jobs still allow me time to write fiction. No great hand reached down from the sky and made me a writer. I made myself one, by writing. So if this book doesn’t sell, or if it sells and nobody reads it, I’ll write another. And another. And another. Until I write a book that feels truly necessary, that people read not because I want them to, but because it gives them some news about the human heart they can’t get any other way. And then what will I do? That’s easy. I’ll start writing another one.”
I’ve never studied math at a high level, or even, probably, an intermediate level, but the distinctions between integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, and imaginary numbers are pretty clear.
I once wrote a paper on the discovery of imaginary numbers, and the research was enlightening in the way it might be enlightening to read poetry in a language you were just starting to learn.
By contrast, I’ve always thought the distinction between natural numbers and whole numbers was ludicrous. I remember being tested on it in school. The “whole” and “natural” sets were nothing but vocabulary terms to be learned by rote. They were never used in calculations. We were never required to understand the concepts underlying them. It was simply impressed on us that the “natural” numbers didn’t include zero while the “whole” numbers did include zero.
Turns out there’s a fair amount of complex (looks that way to me, anyway) reasoning behind the definition of natural numbers, while there’s little consensus on what whole numbers even are.
Natural numbers might be interesting to think about (I mean, if you had the time and were more numerically inclined than I am). Why waste a single breath forcing students to draw a line between natural and whole? What’s the point?
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”
Nobel laureate novelist Doris Lessing, who died today (11/17/13) at the age of 94 (via amaditalks)
“The major finding of our experiments is still shocking. When whites were presented with an argument against the death penalty or three strikes that emphasized the racial bias of the policy, they became more (not less) supportive of capital punishment and three strikes laws.”
Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley, political scientists and authors of Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites, in a recent interview with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.
To paraphrase the quote: Whites were more okay with capital punishment and three-strikes laws when they were told that capital punishment and three-strikes laws were statistically more likely to be applied to blacks.
“When white people (whether it’s Rush Limbaugh, Joseph Biden, or George W. Bush) give Black people the ‘compliment’ of being ‘articulate,’ they often juxtapose it with other adjectives like ‘good,’ ‘clean,’ ‘bright,’ ‘nice-looking,’ ‘handsome,’ ‘calm,’ and ‘crisp.’ This aspect of the use of articulate is what makes it feel like a backhanded compliment. When Reverend Al Sharpton responded, ‘I take a bath everyday,’ he was pointing out the insidiousness (no matter how inadvertent) of these kinds of juxtapositions.
Black folks’ assumption is this: If one needs to consistently point out that an individual Black person is ‘good,’ ‘clean,’ ‘bright,’ ‘nice-looking,’ ‘handsome,’ ‘calm,’ and ‘crisp’ it suggests that white private opinion about Blacks, in general, hold that they are usually the opposite - ‘bad,’ ‘dirty,’ ‘dumb,’ ‘mean-looking,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘angry,’ and ‘rough,’
So it’s not merely the use of articulate that’s problematic, not the expression of surprise or bewilderment that makes it suspect, it is also the fact that its adjectival neighbors describe qualities that help create these exceptionalizing discourses. These common linguistic patterns open articulate up to challenges of subtextual racism, one that speakers may not even realize that they hold and perpetuate.”
"…abstract art has lived much of its life in productive anxiety about the uses the culture might make of it. In particular it has claimed (not only in 1920) that the orders art would discover by doing away with resemblance would be the opposite of easy or enticing: they would not simply be “decorative.” The claim was serious, and had real effects. But insofar as the claim is testable by looking at what society actually did with abstract works of art, then we could say that indeed they have been thought to be decorative, and put through their paces in that spirit. They have seemed the appropriate backdrop to ball gown and bolero, to the black-tie “do” at the local museum, and the serious business of making money.
"Of course, someone might reasonably reply at this point that any culture will use art as it sees fit, and that the very idea of art resisting such incorporation is pie in the sky. At a certain level of low or high cynicism, there is no answer to that. At other levels, a few unsatisfactory answers occur. Yes, this idea about art’s relation to its host culture is pie in the sky; but so are most, perhaps all, other ideas about art’s purposes and responsibilities — art as the vehicle of Truth or transcendence, for one; art as distilling the hard possibilities of Geist; art as opening onto a territory of free play and pleasure; art putting an end to reference and being able to live off its own resources; art as Universal and Particular (seeing the world in a grain of sand); or art as the real form — the pure expression — of Individuality. The pie in these cases is so far in the sky as to be considerably less visible, to my way of thinking, than the pie we are looking at — the pie of resistance and refusal. And the test in all cases is not, it seems to me, the cogency or adequacy of the discursive claims, but whether the claims have led to production — whether the claims, for all their muddle and double-think, have been associated with real complexity in the work of representation.”
—T. J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea (originally posted by whatmakespistachionuts)
I’m reading David Harvey’s The Enigma of Capital, and what I’ve learned from it, more than anything else so far, is that the serial comma is extremely important. He’s prone to rattling off lists with compound items - sometimes multiple lists in a single sentence - and in many cases, it’s far from obvious where one item/list ends and the next begins. His leaving out the serial comma significantly increases the difficulty of following his line of thought: over and over, I find that his meaning isn’t clear, and I need to take a moment to mentally unravel the sentence and place the comma where it should be.
At work, I make sure we use the serial comma in all our documentation, and this is exactly why.
THINGS I [Elizabeth McCracken] HAVE SAID OR WRITTEN OR THOUGHT WHILE TEACHING CREATIVE WRITING THIS WEEK
There seems to be a nitrous oxide leak in this story. Less smiling and laughing, please.
No more characters storming off. It means nothing, unless your character is 3-years-old or an actual storm.
You have put a bomb in your story. As a writer who cares about the world you created, you instinctively you want to defuse it. But that’s not your job. Your job is to let the bomb go off.
If you start another story with unattributed dialogue I will wring your neck.
If, when revealing a secret at the end of a story, you think, Wow, this is going to blow the reader’s mind! think again. At best, you will befuddle them.
Any time you suggest a character “couldn’t help but remember” you might as well drop a coconut on their head to start a dream sequence.
Your characters seem to have a neurological disorder that prevents them from recognizing ordinary household objects in order to make the story more “suspenseful.”
Two unconnected symbolic animal deaths in a story is one too many.
Ask any slapstick comedian: comedy requires gravity.
“A woman from the audience asks: ‘Why were there so few women among the Beat writers?’ and [Gregory] Corso, suddenly utterly serious, leans forward and says: “There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the ’50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up.”