I had no idea that former Paris Review editor and sports journalist, George Plimpton, was the spokesperson for Intellivision back in the early 80s. I can’t help but read some irony into his endorsement of Intellivision’s “most exciting visual effect”…
Anyway, Random House published an oral biography of Plimpton last month that was recently featured in the NY Times Book Review. It seems the editors of the book gathered 200 of Plimpton’s friends, acquaintances and associates to recount stories and impressions of George.
There have been several welcomed additions to Berlin’s retail offerings in the past couple of weeks. One is the Image Mouvement video art space and DVD shop on Oranienbergerstrasse; another is the international magazine boutique Do You Read Me? Their website features highlights from current issues of some of the magazines they stock (and employs a familiar blog template).
Always a fall highlight for me, the New York Art Book Fair opens tonight and runs through the weekend. Looks like both the fair and the conference will feature a solid roster of participants. Sad to miss this.
A new addition to the Historical Fiction Press catalogue. Eriko Miyagawa’s casting photos from the Kite Runner, a film she worked on over a year ago. The photos feature faces of ethnic minorities from the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang. When we saw the photos, we were amazed by the diversity of ethnicities, ages and expressions.
Saddened to read that David Foster Wallace was found dead on Friday, an apparent suicide. I first encountered his writing during my freshman year at Kenyon and immediately became a dedicated fan. I recall reading his collection of short stories, The Girl With Curious Hair, a minimum of three times that year. It was my first in encounter with a writer who spoke in terms both erudite and accessible, humorous and heartbreaking. Ten years later, Wallace came to Kenyon to deliver a commencement address to the graduating class. A quote from that speech:
Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education—least in my own case—is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me. … I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.
One can only assume that it was this tendency to over-intellectualize that led Wallace to end his life. Readers of his work will know that the struggle of daily life, the real, post-ironic business of how to feel worthy and maybe even proud of oneself, has always been present in Wallace’s fiction. In the last section of Girl With Curious Hair, he writes: “To be a subject is to be Alone. Trapped. Kept from yourself. … You can kiss anyone’s spine but your own.” That story ends with three words that Wallace must desperately have wanted to hear: you are loved.
Princeton Architectural Press has just released a monograph of work by British designer Daniel Eatock. Looking forward to this one – I’ve long been a fan of Eatock’s quirky-conceptual approach to design. In addition, each copy of the first edition of Imprint has been inked by Eatock with his own thumbprint.
Justin Guariglia’s new book, Planet Shanghai, follows the topological archive format that has become quite popular with attempts to address visual culture in Asia. He offers dozens of images of bike visors, nylon socks, outdoor pajamas, street vendors, food stalls, owners with their dogs, rubble and high rises. His eye for composition and uniform presentation pull it all together nicely. Lots of images at his site.
I’m happy to hear that Christoph Keller‘s KIOSK project, a traveling exhibition of nearly 6,000 publications by about 400 independent publishers, will soon have a permanent home in Berlin! Christoph has been developing and exhibiting the archive internationally for 8 years, but the increasing cost and logistic difficulty of moving around 2.5 tons of books led to the decision to find them a proper home. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin one of Germany’s leading art book archives has agreed to take on the KIOSK project as a special collection. They will continue to develop the collection until 2010. Following 2010, the archive will stand as a record of global independent publishing from the first decade of the 21st century. I’m happy that Historical Fiction Press and our Dead Animals book will be part of it!