Nov 202010

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of taking walks daily, —not [to] exercise the legs or body merely, nor barely to recruit the spirits, but positively to exercise both body and spirit, and to succeed to the highest and worthiest ends by the abandonment of all specific ends,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering. And this word “saunter,” by the way, is happily derived “from idle people who roved about the country [in the Middle Ages] and asked charity under pretence of going a la Sainte-Terrer,” a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds.

Thoreau’s Journal: 10-Jan-1851

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Nov 202010

A choice without an alternative; the thing offered or nothing. The origin of the term Hobson’s choice is said to be in the name of one Thomas Hobson (ca. 1544-1631), at Cambridge, England, who kept a livery stable and required every customer to take either the horse nearest the stable door or none at all. In 1914 Henry Ford offered customers of the Model T a famous Hobson’s choice, making it available in “any color so long as it is black.”

Fagan’s defense revolves around his insistence that he faced a Hobson’s choice and had to act.
–Laura Parker, “Discovery of daughters never followed by reunion,” USA Today, May 11, 1999

They’re faced with a Hobson’s choice: Make the plunge . . . or face a terrifying alternative — gradual extinction.
–Heather Green, “The Great Yuletide Shakeout,” Business Week, November 1, 1999

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Nov 202010

Adam Kirsch. “The radical strangeness of Being.” TLS review 2004.03.05

“Simic finds in Heidegger the inspiration for a distinctively late-twentieth century poetic, one that understands art in terms of preservation and caretaking, not creation and transformation. Such a stand is a reaction against the heedless assertiveness of artistic and political modernism. The artist who wants to transform perception, in this view, is akin to the dictator who wants to transform reality; both are examples of unleashed will-to-power. To avoid such hubris, the Heideggerian postmodernist dedicates himself to Being, to the intricate contingency of what is: the individual life, the powerfully present object, the fleeting instant.”

“The problem with secular mysticism is that it constantly threatens to become merely praise of the ordinary – or still worse, a bourgeois appreciation of life’s little pleasures.”

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Nov 202010

By amusing myself with all these games, with all these absurdities, with all these puzzles, rebuses, and arabesques, I became famous, and that very quickly. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortunes, riches. And today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, and Goya were great painters; I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and has exhausted as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere. Libro Vero, 1952.

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Dogma95 Manifesto

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Nov 192010

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg co-wrote this as a response to the technological innovations that were democraticizing the production of film. It was also a statement to protect the avante-garde and affirm its importance at a time when anyone could make film. The principle tenets imposed a kind of chastity on the film-maker and was contra-Hollywood normative sensibilities: shooting was to be done on location, the sound must be recorded with the images, the camera must be hand-held, the film must be in colour, there must be no murders or weapons, temporal and geographical alienation must be avoided, genre movies are not acceptable, and the director must not be credited.

Vinterberg did “Festen” (1998) in this style and von Trier contributed, among others, his “Goldheart” trilogy: “Breaking the Waves” (1996), “The Idiots” (1998), and “Dancer in the Dark” (2000).

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