The only thing that I’ve ever watched in a movie that I wished I’d never seen is real-life animal death or real-life insect death in a movie. That’s absolutely, positively where I draw the line. And a lot of European and Asian movies do that, and we even did that in America for a little bit of time. … I don’t like seeing animals murdered on screen. Movies are about make-believe. … I don’t think there’s any place in a movie for real death.
The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.
The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists. In fact, there is a dizzying array: lists of saints, armies and medicinal plants, or of treasures and book titles. Think of the nature collections of the 16th century. My novels, by the way, are full of lists.
“Although there’s always been a crime drama subgenre of loveable, capering crooks as central characters, pitted against brutal/bungling cops, the hierarchy of the mainstream crime drama, in terms of who knows what, has historically been quite strict. At the top of the knowledge tree there’s the writer, who knows everything. Next come the criminals, who are one step ahead of the police. Next comes the hero-detective, lonely at the front of the pursuit. Trailing in last place are the rest of the police and us, the viewers: everyone else always knows more about what’s going on than we do. The Wire upended that hierarchy. By giving equal time and a great deal of sympathy to the drug dealers, alongside the police, we knew not only what the two groups were doing, but what they knew and didn’t know about what the other side was doing. One season started with our being shown a drug gang stashing bodies behind stapled hardboard in derelict houses; no detective found out about it till 12 episodes later. We, the viewers, are promoted up the hierarchy of knowledge to a place just below the writer – a position identical to that of the audience in classical tragedy and comedy. We’re not watching to find out whodunnit or why. We’re watching to find out how they’re going to deal with it when they discover what we already know.”
James Meek - London Review of Books (HT ayjay)
Recently I looked at my Flickr account, and of my 768 contacts, 240 have uploaded in the past week, 360 this month. This was before the new iOS app and Instagram TOS meltdown. These are impressive statistics, considering I’ve been a member since 2005. After hearing it declared “dead” and “irrelevant,” this is a community of people that care about what they are putting up. So much so that many of them pay for it. Flickr is already the paid alternative so many people are clamoring for. Your photos will not be used to create “meaningful brand engagement.” Years after Flickr ceased to be an exciting business story, it remains one of the most important places for photography culture online.
Here are some people active in the last month that I suggest following after you sign up or reset your old password. I am leaving many out, and will update this post.
Around the world
It’s Still Happening in NYC
Report From Japan
I open the first door.
It is a large sunlit room.
A heavy car passes outside
and makes the china quiver.
I open door number two.
Friends! You drank some darkness
and became visible.
Door number three. A narrow hotel room.
View on an alley.
One lamppost shines on the asphalt.
Experience, its beautiful slag.
I actually wouldn’t wish I had a gun. I’ve shot a rifle at camp once, but that’s about it. If I had a gun, there is a good chance I would shoot myself, thus doing the active shooter’s work for him (it’s usually “him.”) But the deeper question is, “If I were confronted with an active shooter, would I wish to have a gun and be trained in its use?” It’s funny, but I still don’t know that I would. I’m pretty clear that I am going to die one day. That moment will not be of my choosing, and it almost certainly will not be too my liking. But death happens. Life — and living — on the other hand are more under my control. And the fact is that I would actually rather die by shooting than live armed.
This is not mere cant. It is not enough to have a gun, anymore than it’s enough to have a baby. It’s a responsibility. I would have to orient myself to that fact. I’d have to be trained and I would have to, with some regularity, keep up my shooting skills. I would have to think about the weight I carried on my hip and think about how people might respond to me should they happen to notice. I would have to think about the cops and how I would interact with them, should we come into contact. I’d have to think about my own anger issues and remember that I can never be an position where I have a rage black-out. What I am saying is, if I were gun-owner, I would feel it to be really important that I be a responsible gun-owner, just like, when our kids were born, we both felt the need to be responsible parents. The difference is I like “living” as a parent. I accept the responsibility and rewards of parenting. I don’t really want the responsibilities and rewards of gun-ownership. I guess I’d rather work on my swimming.
Flannery O’Connor to “A”
20 July 1955
I am mighty tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man brutal and sarcastic. The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism. I believe that there are many rough beasts now slouching toward Bethlehem to be born and that I have reported the progress of a few of them, and when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because they reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror.