Why do people drive with their high-beams on lit city streets? I’m starting to think it’s just to cinge my corneas. That’s what it feels like.
The other night, very late at night, I drove for about 7 miles with a car that kept flashing their lights at me. It was on the 110, a really windy freeway, the oldest around here, with only 3 lanes, so I couldn’t change lanes safely, and had to really concentrate not to keep looking in the rear-view mirror. Those were the longest 7 miles of my life, and I felt accident-prone at any minute. It’s SO unsettling. They finally exited, and I still saw their lights flashing, so I’m guessing it was a malfunction, but my palms were sweaty by that time.
(for you!!!!!!) Ira Glass’s TV shows (from “What I learned from Television”) (he’s one of my very few celebrity crushes:
-The Daily Show with John Stewart (agreed)
-The Colbert Report (agreed)
-Friday Night Lights
-The OC (on my Netflix queue now)
-Entourage (STRONGLY agreed)
-Anything with Ricky Gervais
Overheard in the Gilmore Girls, from Kirk, the oddball Jack of all Trades and my new favorite filmmaker: “I’m so lonely, Animal Planet isn’t even cutting it anymore”
I spent Saturday morning with mom running errands all through Pasadena, it was fun. We went to the Public Library to photocopy a Newsweek article on how exercising helps fight Alzheimers, and while we were there, we took read a microfiche of the LA Times for August 16-31, 1938. It was really pretty incredible, and tons of fun to read, (AND FREE: to all the Mike Meyers fans out there, this was the ultimate “No Money Fun” outing). Here are three things that struck me in that microfiche:
- 8/16/1938: 30 Magnolia trees were planted on Chiquita Avenue between Beck and Troost. If you click on that link, and choose “Hybrid” you can actually SEE the Magnolia trees! this isn’t too far from my work, so I’m thinking of driving down there one day.
- 8/20/1938 Front-page article on how the “The perfect specimen” boy was discovered in England, the son of two vegetarians, and a vegetarian himself (the kid is about 9 years old, and the doctor who discovered him would not reveal his identity but I copied down his diet: “The perfect specimen doesn’t eat meat, fish, eggs or bread, walks ten miles daily before breakfast, then sits down to one slice of pineapple. For lunch, he has baked spinach and an onion pie with a thin crust made of whole meal flour, cheese and milk, ten ounces in all. For tea, he doesn’t have tea, but two apples, one orange, and two small tomatoes.”
- 8/20/1938 CHILLING article very very short, front page snippet “GERMAN JEWS ORDERED TO ADD SARAH OR ISRAEL TO THEIR NAMES” The article was a few paragraphs long, ordering all Jews in Germany to legally add Sarah or Israel to their names and mention these new middle names in any application they filled out. Any newborns had to automatically have them added to their names, and could not be given Christian names. Chilling omen.
Here’s something a little more positive: For my photo class, I had to take portraits, and I snapped a portrait of a young man walking around the park on Raymond and Walnut in Pasadena. I asked him for his address so I could send him a copy, and mailed him one after developing the roll. Two weeks later, I get a two page letter in my mailbox, thanking me profusely for the photograph, asking for an extra copy to send to his mom in Mississippi, and wishing me well in my photo career. It was such a moving letter, filled with touching details, and truly one of the most precious things I’ve ever received.
A joke from the defunct Democratic Republic of Germany, that I thought was profound and funny from the mediocre documentary “ZIZEK!” about the Slovenian Lacanian philosopher (I found his persona more interesting than his ideology, which I think is, in short, what the documentary was trying to disprove, unsuccessfully in my opinion):
A German factory worker gets a job in Siberia. Aware how all mail will be read by the censors, he tells his friends “If a letter from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it’s true. If it’s written in red ink, it’s false.”
After a month, his friends get the first letter:
“Everything is wonderful here: the shops are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, cinemas show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair. The only thing you can’t find is red ink.”
The point of the joke in the documentary was to convey that we are only free because we lack the tools and the language to articulate our “un-freedom”. But I liked the joke at face value.
And the other thing I really liked from “Zizek!” was this:
On today’s market, we find a series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. The list goes on: virtual sex as sex without sex, the Colin Powell doctrine of war with no casualties (on our side, of course) as war without war, the redefinition of politics as expert administration as politics without politics. Today’s tolerant liberal multiculturalism wishes to experience the Other deprived of its Otherness (the idealized Other who dances fascinating dances and has an ecologically holistic approach to reality, while features like wife beating remain out of sight). Along the same lines, what this tolerance gives us is a decaffeinated belief, a belief that does not hurt anyone and never requires us to commit ourselves.
Today’s hedonism combines pleasure with constraint. It is no longer “Drink coffee, but in moderation!” but rather “Drink all the coffee you want because it is already decaffeinated.” The ultimate example is chocolate laxative, with its paradoxical injunction “Do you have constipation? Eat more of this chocolate!”-the very thing that causes constipation.
The structure of the “chocolate laxative,” of a product containing the agent of its own containment, can be discerned throughout today’s ideological landscape.
And finally this: Slavoj Zizek’s recipe for writing: “I put down notes, I edit them: writing disappears.” It is the most concise writing advice I’ve ever heard, and so simple, it might actually work brilliantly.
I know I’m probably boring everyone to tears, but here some of my favorite gleanings from the Einstein biography I’m working on (from the first hundred pages):
“God created the donkey, and gave him a thick skin.”
Of the traditional marriage where woman is the caretaker of man’s needs: “I have a low opinion of that view of a relationship
between a man and a wife because it makes the wife and prostitute indistinguishable only insofar as the former is able to secure a lifelong contract.”
” Blind respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
of Besso, his lifelong friend: “an awful weakling…who cannot rouse himself to any action in life or scientific creation, but who has an extraordinarily fine mind, whose working, though disorderly, I watch with great delight.”
“I suspect music is auditory cheesecake” –Steven Pinker
Enough doo-da’s for one night!!