“But they hushed, all at once and quite abruptly, when he stood still at center stage, his arms straight out from his shoulders, and went rigid, and began to tremble with a massive inner dynamism. Nobody present had ever seen anyone stand so still and yet so strangely mobile. He laid his head back until his scalp contacted his spine, that far back, and opened his throat, and a sound rose in the auditorium like a wind coming from all four directions, low and terrifying, rumbling up from the ground beneath the floor, and it gathered into a roar that sucked at the hearing itself, and coalesced into a voice that penetrated into the sinuses and finally into the very minds of those hearing it, taking itself higher and higher, more and more awful and beautiful, the originating ideal of all such sounds ever made, of the foghorn and the ship’s horn, the locomotive’s lonesome whistle, of opera singing and the music of flutes and the continuous moan-music of bagpipes. And suddenly it all went black. And that time was gone forever.”—Denis Johnson, Train Dreams
“[Saudade] describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover…”—Saudade, from Wikipedia
1. (astronomy, astrology) A kind of unity, namely an alignment of three celestial bodies (for example, the Sun, Earth, and Moon) such that one body is directly between the other two, such as occurs at an eclipse
2. (psychology) An archetypal pairing of contrasexual opposites, symbolizing the communication of the conscious and unconscious minds
They are like those crazy women
who tore Orpheus
when he refused to sing,
these men grinding
in the strobe & black lights
of Pegasus. All shadow & sound.
"I'm just here for the music,"
I tell the man who asks me
to the floor. But I have held
a boy on my back before.
Curtis & I used to leap
barefoot into the creek; dance
among maggots & piss,
beer bottles & tadpoles
slippery as sperm;
we used to pull off our shirts,
& slap music into our skin.
He wouldn't know me now
at the edge of these lovers' gyre,
glitter & steam, fire,
bodies blurred sexless
by the music's spinning light.
A young man slips his thumb
into the mouth of an old one,
& I am not that far away.
The whole scene raw & delicate
as Curtis's foot gashed
on a sunken bottle shard.
They press hip to hip,
each breathless as a boy
carrying a friend on his back.
The foot swelling green
as the sewage in that creek.
We never went back.
But I remember his weight
better than I remember
my first kiss.
These men know something
I used to know.
How could I not find them
beautiful, the way they dive & spill
into each other,
the way the dance floor
wet & holy in its mouth.
“kerf - The groove or slit created by cutting a workpiece; an incision. The width of the groove made while cutting. From Old English cyrf (“a cutting off, a cutting instrument”).”—http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/kerf
Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
Because you think swans are overrated.
Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me
to Minneapolis. You drove me to Providence.
Because you underline everything you read, and circle
the things you think are important, and put stars next
to the things you think I should think are important,
and write notes in the margins about all the people
you’re mad at and my name almost never appears there.
Because you make that pork recipe you found
in the Frida Khalo Cookbook. Because when you read
that essay about Rilke, you underlined the whole thing
except the part where Rilke says love means to deny the self
and to be consumed in flames. Because when the lights
are off, the curtains drawn, and an additional sheet is nailed
over the windows, you still believe someone outside
can see you. And one day five summers ago,
when you couldn’t put gas in your car, when your fridge
was so empty—not even leftovers or condiments—
there was a single twenty-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew,
which you paid for with your last damn dime
because you once overheard me say that I liked it.
this is a long blog, but i have something important i’d love for you to read first. save it for later if you have to, but READ IT. (a lot of you, especially the music-biz types, probably already have.)
it’s a now-famous piece of writing from the early 90’s by producer steve…
This is a link to a torrent on the Pirate Bay. I’m not encouraging you to participate in illegal downloading, but rather to read the uploader’s remarks beneath the link, which are:
This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.
Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Also included is the basic factual metadata allowing you to locate works by title, author, or publication date, and a checksum file to allow you to check for corruption.
I’ve had these files for a long time, but I’ve been afraid that if I published them I would be subject to unjust legal harassment by those who profit from controlling access to these works.
I now feel that I’ve been making the wrong decision.
On July 19th 2011, Aaron Swartz was criminally charged by the US Attorney General’s office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papers from JSTOR.
Academic publishing is an odd systemΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥the authors are not paid for their writing, nor are the peer reviewers (they’re just more unpaid academics), and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes the authors must even pay the publishers.
And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageously expensive pieces of literature you can buy. In the past, the high access fees supported the costly mechanical reproduction of niche paper journals, but online distribution has mostly made this function obsolete.
As far as I can tell, the money paid for access today serves little significant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models. The “publish or perish” pressure in academia gives the authors an impossibly weak negotiating position, and the existing system has enormous inertia.
Those with the most power to change the system—the long-tenured luminary scholars whose works give legitimacy and prestige to the journals, rather than the other way around—are the least impacted by its failures. They are supported by institutions who invisibly provide access to all of the resources they need. And as the journals depend on them, they may ask for alterations to the standard contract without risking their career on the loss of a publication offer. Many don’t even realize the extent to which academic work is inaccessible to the general public, nor do they realize what sort of work is being done outside universities that would benefit by it.
Large publishers are now able to purchase the political clout needed to abuse the narrow commercial scope of copyright protection, extending it to completely inapplicable areas: slavish reproductions of historic documents and art, for example, and exploiting the labors of unpaid scientists. They’re even able to make the taxpayers pay for their attacks on free society by pursuing criminal prosecution (copyright has classically been a civil matter) and by burdening public institutions with outrageous subscription fees.
Copyright is a legal fiction representing a narrow compromise: we give up some of our natural right to exchange information in exchange for creating an economic incentive to author, so that we may all enjoy more works. When publishers abuse the system to prop up their existence, when they misrepresent the extent of copyright coverage, when they use threats of frivolous litigation to suppress the dissemination of publicly owned works, they are stealing from everyone else.
Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.
These particular documents are the historic back archives of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal SocietyΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥a prestigious scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.
The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some 18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.
The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind, and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each—for one month’s viewing, by one person, on one computer. It’s a steal. From you.
When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to Wikipedia’s sister site for reference works, WikisourceΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥ where they could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of other papers he authored?)
But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing: publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation from the publishers.
As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavish reproductionΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥scanning the documentsΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥ created a new copyright interest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivial watermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. They might even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtained the files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.
In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to cover the potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the only unlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR and the Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which is legally and morally everyone’s property.
In the meantime, and to great fanfare as part of their 350th anniversary, the RSOL opened up “free” access to their historic archivesΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥but “free” only meant “with many odious terms”, and access was limited to about 100 articles.
All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not disseminators of knowledgeΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥as their lofty mission statements suggestΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing they do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation are valuable functions, but their value is negative when there is only one steward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final word on what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have value they can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence competition.
The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientific inquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictive copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not paying them. And unlike ‘mere’ works of entertainment, liberal access to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continued survival may even depend on it.
If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justifiedΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥it will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.
I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointed out that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz would probably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculous charges. This didn’t sit well with my conscience, and I generally believe that anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.
I’m interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even useful applications which come of this archive.
First, go grab some headphones. The best ones you’ve got. If the best ones you’ve got are these suckers (or something similar), you should really go buy new ones, but use the best you’ve got for right now.
Take a break from whatever you’re doing for 2 minutes and listen, but just listen to the whole thing, even if you have to multi-task.
Falamos dos Nacho y los Caracoles esta semana. O disco que acabaram de publicar é uma beleza. Agora, que estamos no pé de um feriado prolongado, começamos a tarde de sexta-feira com uma sequência delícia do trio cantando e tocando nesse formato que alguns paulistanos descolados decidiram chamar de “intimista”.
I love how gchat is so democratic in who it selects from your email contacts to display. Anyone you’ve emailed with a gmail address shows up.
Some awkward connections of people who’ve appeared in my gchat listing over the years:
a professor I didn’t get along with
a guy I bought things from over the internet
someone I applied for a job from (but didn’t get it)
friends-of-friends from reply-all exchanges
a professor I worked for and then stopped working for without really giving a reason
I find it interesting that this seems awkward to me. It would be awkward to run into some of these people in social situations—is gchat akin to that? I guess so, at least in my head.
Lying in my bed last night, I remembered this word, or rather the idea of this word.
I left myself a note to find in the morning: “defining something by what it is not?”
This morning, a bit of searching found it for me. Wikipedia explains: “Apophasis was originally and more broadly a method of logical reasoning or argument by denial—a way of describing what something is by explaining what it is not, or a process-of-elimination way of talking about something by talking about what it is not.”
They go on to talk about apophatic theology, which is caught up in defining God by describing what God is not. It’s a pretty cool concept.
Further down in the article is the thing I was doing yesterday, which made me think of the word itself—this is apparently called paralipsis. It’s a rhetorical device where the speaker, which is to say me!, describes something by talking about how it won’t be described. “I won’t write to you about politics, because I don’t want to bore you, and I won’t tell you about how scared I am about the political landscape, and I won’t talk at all about…”
I don’t know that I actually care that much about the word itself. It’s more the concept that I like.