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Posts tagged reading.


You are never alone with a good book. This charming campaign is from Grey Tel Aviv. Via Taxi 

(via fuckyeahbookarts)

(via pinkdubu)

…I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires…

"The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald


Her First Library Card!

This week’s First Library Card holder is Jinjoo, proudly showing off her new card (and her sassy hat)! Welcome to the Chicago Public Library Jinjoo!


“How To Be a Man: A Guide To Style and Behavior For The Modern Gentleman,” by Glenn O’Brien
Borrow I Read

Anonymous asked: Any good articles you've read recently?

A ton.

The economics on Maria Popova’s highly successful Brainpickings site: http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/02/13/blogonomics-maria-popova-edition/

Aziz Ansari on love: http://www.avclub.com/articles/aziz-ansari-candid-about-love-elusive-sadly-ephem,92476/

Why book recommendation engines fall short: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112382/bookish-launches-book-recommendation-engines-have-no-imagination#

Why Tarantino is better at portraying slavery than Spielberg is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-tarantino-is-better-than-spielberg-at-portraying-slavery/2013/02/14/ec6e71e8-6efc-11e2-aa58-243de81040ba_story.html

Black characters are still too good, too bad, or too invisible: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/movies/awardsseason/black-characters-are-still-too-good-too-bad-or-invisible.html?hpw

Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.

Cornelia Funke, Inkspell (via seabois)

(via fuckyeahbookarts)

…it’s clear that Luke Skywalker was the original Gen Xer. For one thing, he was incessantly whiny. For another, he was exhaustively educated—via Yoda—about things that had little practical value (i.e., how to stand on one’s head while lifting a rock telekinectically). Essentially, Luke went to the University of Dagobah with a major in Buddhist philosophy and a minor in phsyical education. There’s not a lot of career opportunities for that kind of schooling; that’s probably why he dropped out in the middle of the semester.

Chuck Klosterman, “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs”

Some of New York’s best-informed men are elevator operators, who rarely talk but always listen—like doormen. Sardi’s doorman listens to the comments made by Broadway’s first-nighters walking by after the last act. He listens closely. He listens carefully. Within ten minutes of the curtain’s fall he can tell you which shows will flop and which will be hits.

Gay Talese, “New York is a City of Things Unnoticed”

…I honestly don’t care where The X-Files belongs in the American zeitgeist. Dozens of smart people told me how great this show was, and I’m sure they were right. But I’m satisfied with assuming that program was about two people who mostly looked for aliens, so—as a consequence—the show meant nothing to me. I “don’t get it.”

That’s not the case with Saved by the Bell. Saved by the Bell wasn’t artful at all. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s bad (nor does it mean it’s good). What it means is that you don’t need to place Saved by the Bell into any context to experience it. I don’t care about Saved by the Bell anymore than I cared about The X-Files, but the difference is that I could watch Saved by the Bell without caring and still have it become a minor part of my life, which is the most transcendent thing any kind of art can accomplish (regardless of its technical merits).

— Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

I’m still slowly making my way through this book. I find Klosterman to mostly be a whiny, self-important, slightly sexist, slightly racist white dude who gets to say what he wants to say and be able to find an audience for it because of an entire lifetime of white privilege being afforded to him.

But I digress. Every once in a while I come across little gems of poignant understanding of media culture and the way we’ve come to consume media.

I relate to this passage not because I care about Saved by the Bell or The X-Files since I didn’t grow up on either, but more because Klosterman hits it on the nail with media consumption.

I think that’s the beauty of the most basic of pop culture. Maybe it’s because I primarily exist in a circle made up of media-minded people and so my interests are geared towards finding even more of them to be friends with, but I see a lot of people make friends and sustain friendships based on shared interests in the same kinds of pop culture (even truer for the medium you’re reading this off of: Tumblr). Klosterman’s point about Saved by the Bell being almost the lowest common denominator amongst the masses can be used to describe the absolute potency of mainstream pop culture.

It’s also for this reason why I really, really don’t like it when people brush off mainstream pop. Whether you like it or not, there’s a lot of cultural meaning to Justin Bieber’s popularity, Twilight's fan fervor, and of course, 50 Shades' explosive following.

And to bring this back to K-pop, it’s also why I get extremely frustrated reading Western media coverage of K-pop. Conversations tend to be dismissive of why exactly K-pop is a “thing” now. There’s a lot of talk about being manufactured, robotic. There are machines, there are cogs. There are a lot of similarly dressed and dancing members of a lot of groups. Critics are dismissive partly because they can’t rid themselves of Asian stereotypes, but also dismissive because they fail to understand — or don’t even try — that there’s still a lot of meaning to the art of K-pop.

Because K-pop trends are years behind America’s, it’s viewed as a lesser art, and thus even more confounding to critics when they realize there’s a pretty rampant following sprinkled across the globe. Thus, to try to make sense of it and to boil it down to something that American audiences can understand, critics extract the craziest examples of the K-pop fan and then use them as the reasons why K-pop is popular. Because somehow, the badness of K-pop as an art form inspires irregular fans and irregular fans keep K-pop afloat. This is a wrong assumption and a bad one at that.

But now, the newness of K-pop is wearing off, and we’re now transitioning into the arch of the phenomenon where hipster critics find it completely awesome and like it…in an ironic way. Y’know, where the critics wink and smile and talk about how great K-pop is, all the while firmly believing that K-pop is really only a fringe thing because it’s completely crazy. And then they go on to write a factually inaccurate articles* and make glib, backhanded compliments about K-pop’s success because in those critics’ eyes, it’s a lesser art.

* The New Yorker — the fucking New Yorker! — wrote that Exo comprised of 6 Korean speakers and 6 Chinese speakers. They still haven’t rectified this error on their article.

The Crayola-fication of the World

How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains.

In Japan, people often refer to traffic lights as being blue in color. And this is a bit odd, because the traffic signal indicating ‘go’ in Japan is just as green as it is anywhere else in the world. So why is the color getting lost in translation? This visual conundrum has its roots in the history of language.

Blue and green are similar in hue. They sit next to each other in a rainbow, which means that, to our eyes, light can blend smoothly from blue to green or vice-versa, without going past any other color in between. Before the modern period, Japanese had just one word, Ao, for both blue and green. The wall that divides these colors hadn’t been erected as yet. As the language evolved, in the Heian period around the year 1000, something interesting happened. A new word popped into being –midori – and it described a sort of greenish end of blue. Midori was a shade of ao, it wasn’t really a new color in its own right.

One of the first fences in this color continuum came from an unlikely place – crayons. In 1917, the first crayons were imported into Japan, and they brought with them a way of dividing a seamless visual spread into neat, discrete chunks. There were different crayons for green (midori) and blue (ao), and children started to adopt these names. But the real change came during the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II, when new educational material started to circulate. In 1951, teaching guidelines for first grade teachers distinguished blue from green, and the word midori was shoehorned to fit this new purpose.

In modern Japanese, midori is the word for green, as distinct from blue. This divorce of blue and green was not without its scars. There are clues that remain in the language, that bear witness to this awkward separation. For example, in many languages the word for vegetable is synonymous with green (sabzi in Urdu literally means green-ness, and in English we say ‘eat your greens’). But in Japanese, vegetables are ao-mono, literally blue things. Green apples? They’re blue too. As are the first leaves of spring, if you go by their Japanese name. In English, the term green is sometimes used to describe a novice, someone inexperienced. In Japanese, they’re ao-kusai, literally they ‘smell of blue’. It’s as if the borders that separate colors follow a slightly different route in Japan.

And it’s not just Japanese. There are plenty of other languages that blur the lines between what we call blue and green. Many languages don’t distinguish between the two colors at all. In Vietnamese the Thai language, khiaw means green except if it refers to the sky or the sea, in which case it’s blue.  The Korean word purueda could refer to either blue or green, and the same goes for the Chinese word qīng. It’s not just East Asian languages either, this is something you see across language families. In fact, Radiolab had a fascinating recent episode on color where they talked about how there was no blue in the original Hebrew Bible, nor in all of Homer’s Illiad or Odyssey!

I find this fascinating, because it highlights a powerful idea about how we might see the world. After all, what really is a color? Just like the crayons, we’re taking something that has no natural boundaries – the frequencies of visible light – and dividing into convenient packages that we give a name.

(via grisclair)

I tend to consider myself an amateur Real World scholar. I say “amateur” because I’ve done no actual university study on this subject, but I still say “scholar” because I’ve stopped watching the show as entertainment. At this point, I only watch it in hopes of unlocking the questions that have haunted man since the dawn of civilization. I’ve seen every episode of every season, and I’ve seen them all a minimum of three times. This, of course, is the key to appreciating The Real World (and the rest of MTV’s programming): repetition. To really get it, you have to watch MTV so much that you know things you never tried to remember. You can’t try to deduce the day-to-day habits of Jon Brennan (he was the cowboy dude) from RW 2: Los Angeles. That would be ridiculous. You can’t consciously try to figure out what he likes and what he hates and how he lives; these are things you have to know without trying. You just have to “know” he constantly drinks cherry Kool-Aid. But you can’t try to learn that, because that would make you a weirdo. This kind of knowledge is like a vivid dream you suddenly pull out of the cosmic ether, eight hours after waking up. If someone asks you when Montana from RW 6: Boston exposed her breasts, you just sort of vaguely recall it was on a boat; if someone asks you who the effeminate black guy from Seattle slapped in the face, you inexplicably know it was the chick with Lyme disease. Yet these are not bits of information you actively acquired; these are things picked up the same way you sussed out how to get around on the subway. or the way you figured out how to properly mix Bloody Marys. One day, you just suddenly realize it’s something you know. And—somehow—there’s a cold logic to it. It’s an extension of your own life, even though you never tried to make it that way.

— Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

This is me, with fandom.

In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.

Jhumpa Lahiri, My Life’s Sentences (via vaginawoolf)

(via monkeyknifefight)

We must learn to suffer whatever we cannot avoid. Our life is composed, like the harmony of the world, of discords as well as of different tones, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, soft and loud. If a musician liked only some of them, what could he sing? He has got to know how to use all of them and blend them together. So too must we with good and will, which are of one substance with our life.

Montaigne, via Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
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