Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it - just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.
Stop for a good night’s rest: good advice for anyone doing a long-distance drive this Thanksgiving weekend.
Close cover before striking: good advice for us all.
Wikipedia: Williams, Arizona was “the last town to have its section of Route 66 bypassed.”
My son Ben found this matchbook on the street. Who could’ve dropped it? Someone who just stepped from a time-travel machine?
Other posts on ephemera
Invitation to a dance
Advice for travelers
Bookslut’s Colleen Mondor brought Goodbye Madame Butterfly and Chin Music Press to my attention. Like the hardcover of Dave Eggers’ What is the What, there’s no dustjacket – the illustration is imprinted directly on the cover. Check out the beautiful endpapers. And how cool is this: “The full-color illustrations on the cover, the endpapers and the table of contents were found in the musty stacks of Japanese used bookstores in the Jimbocho district” (from the Chin Music site). Wonderful.
Goodbye Madame Butterfly
CIA paparazzo Trevor Paglen is a thorn in Uncle Sam’s side. Known for snapping telephoto candids of CIA planes and Area 51, the artist also gathers “patch intel,” which he’s collected in this provocative book (main title: “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me”). The fruit of several Freedom of Information Act requests, Paglen’s book proves that classified black opps concoct esoteric team insignias just like other military divisions. The photo-driven work…
Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World
Audiobooks are my e-books. ... Audiobooks take the content from a novel and turn it into something else - something I can use when I can't read a novel. That’s what these e-book readers seem to miss. I want to search text, transform it, cut and paste it, and listen to it. If I want to sit and read it, I’ll go with the actual book. They’re about fifty times cheaper, more durable (do you think you can read a Kindle if you bury it in the mud for 1000 years?), and far more lovable than some plastic box with a bunch of buttons on it.
Mary and Gate of Light, Amharic - 20th century.
for the night hours, incomplete - 16th and 18th centuries (composite)
An editorial in a college newspaper recently suggested that college faculty join Facebook as a way to show their desire “to connect with” students. The editors gamely suggest academic benefits: chances to create assignments that focus on what students are “already interested in” and to find “examples” (of what?) that students will recognize.
I’m always interested in showing the relevance of the works I teach, but it’s a professor’s responsibility to enlarge a student’s understanding of…
Talk to the face
“Before you can draw a human figure with clothing, muscles, shading, etc., it is necessary to understand the basic proportions of the human figure. Proportions on a figure are simply how long the major anatomical parts of the body are, in relation to each other.
Let’s examine the proportions of a healthy male human figure. Proportions change based on body type, age, sex and activity level. Our example healthy male figure will be seven heads tall. As a foundation, let’s start with these lengths…
How To Use Proportions When Drawing People
One of the disadvantages I felt coming back to school is that I’m ignorant of a whole body of knowledge (library science, library processes, library history) that I think many of the younger grads around me have already ingested. The more I hear about catalogers, indexers, and archivers, the more I feel I’m missing out on a deeper conversation. Because I’m not a specialist, I have to survive as a generalist.
But. An advantage to being a forty-odder is that I can bring a wider range of associations to bear on certain topics, or at least a perspective that wouldn’t occur to many of my peers, and that can give me an advantage. Many of my oddball interests of the last 20 years are for whatever reason surfacing now and then in my studies, and I’m able to use them in class discussions or papers.
Rebecca says the best scholars are specialists in one area but generalists in others. Certainly, if we’re going to make our careers matter in the few decades left to us, it’s up to us to see the associations our work can have in other areas of life: the community, the family, social institutions, and so on. That may mean specializing in what we study and research, but finding ways we can apply it generally to the world.
I see myself as a jack-of-some-trades and have always withheld part of myself from becoming too specialist, but I think now is a good time for me to explore how deeply I can go into a topic and really own it intellectually.
This reminds me two oddball thoughts, just to show where these ramblings can lead:
- The writer Arnold Bennett once observed, on the issue of free will, that life worked out best for him if he assumed that he alone possessed free will, while everyone around him was predetermined to act as if they couldn’t help themselves. He said it took a lot of stress out of life. So: how would I act differently if I saw everyone around me as specialists but myself as a generalist?
- The psychologist/philosopher William James, in discussing memory, used the analogy of a bowl full of fishing hooks. You could not pick up only one hook, he said, because they were attached to each other such that lifting up one lifted up a cluster. In the same way, memory is associative: the more things you know, the more connections you can make to new knowledge, and so the more you can remember. In a way, that’s how I see generalists and specialists; generalists can call up a cluster of associations, some useful, some not, and it’s this trait that I’m able to call on as a student. We’re highly distractable, us generalists, but it keeps life interesting.
(originally posted in 2007-11-10, updated for micro.blog)
If a mythical Tyler asked you that question “What have you been reading lately that you learned from?” what would be your answer?
The distinction is between “reading edifying works, rather than works that challenged me and taught,” the key is the latter, so answer the question!
“Happiness is doing it rotten your own way.” …
Asimov On Happiness
Designer name to come
Sent in by our friend Philippe (whom we met back in August), who wrote “You need to see this cover…” I’ll go a step farther: if you teach, you need to show this to your students when you discuss the basics of graphic design. Repetition, balance, contrast, etc…they’re all here. The type is somewhat shoe-horned in – I’ll grant you that – but this is a great number of classes rolled into one book jacket.
UPDATE: A reader points out the similarity to this…
The Secret Pulse of Time
But in the movie, as always in the movies, writing flows easily and life is hard, when in reality life is hard and writing is harder.