Erik Satie - Vexations (Excerpt I)
“Out of contempt for tradition, out of loyalty to the absurd, Erik Satie filled his scores with unperformable commands. ‘Arm yourself with clairvoyance,’ he would write; ‘open your head’; ‘be visible for a moment.’
He outdid himself in the short piano piece entitled Vexations, writing at the top of the page: ‘In order to play this motif 840 times, one would have to prepare oneself in advance, and in the utmost silence, through serious immobilities.’
It was left to John Cage to take Satie at his word and organize a 19-hour performance of Vexations in which the piece was actually heard 840 times in a row.
Complete performances of Vexations have now become something of a tradition. One pianist has even attempted the feat solo; he stopped after 15 hours, experiencing intense hallucinations.
…I arrived at 11 A.M. and stayed through till 4 the next morning, with periodic breaks and one extended crisis of confidence around midnight. Toward the end, my brain seemed to go completely blank. Epiphany came only during an escape outside onto West Broadway: suddenly, after the insanity of unstoppable pianism within, the night sounds of the city were pure music.”
Read the article on Satie’s Vexations in its entirety here.
11:21 am • 2 March 2014 • 395 notes
Do you see film as a medium which allows you more freedom to play and explore your subjects? As a photographer you’re capturing one beautiful moment but in films you’re able to get the whole contour of a personality.
I think it was harder for me because I was a photographer—not for myself, but when I first showed my films at film festivals, people were really against them because I was a photographer. People said, “Well you’re a photographer, you can’t make films.” And I said, “Well I don’t know if I make films or take pictures, but we have a film camera, we’re shooting films and you can say what you want about it.” There’s all these rules and descriptions of things—
When there shouldn’t be.
Exactly. It would be like me saying to you: “Well are you a writer of fiction or nonficiton? Are you a writer of poetry or are you a journalist?” Of course you’re not, you’re all those things.
LET’S GET LOST WITH BRUCE WEBER
(Source: brandedtofilm, via notational)
10:36 am • 2 March 2014 • 295 notes
“I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.”
Tom Nichols (via azspot)
'Expertise' as used here almost always requires the acceptance and approval of the Powers That Be - automatically excluding anyone who has knowledge that comes from experience (look, ‘expert’ and ‘experience’ have the same root for a reason), who can’t afford/has no access to traditional institutions through which ‘expertise’ is conferred, whose expertise conflicts with the agenda of those Powers, etc., etc.
The glory of Google and Wikipedia and everything like them is their ability to democratize knowledge. Furthermore, that is precisely what teachers want: to help people learn stuff, whether they normally would or not, whether it’s taught in schools or has been thrown aside for three months of test prep, whether it’s the area someone specializes in or is simply curious about… There’s no reason whatsoever that knowledge has to come from a ‘professional’ rather than some other source; that doesn’t make the knowledge any less potent, or any less true.
There is no division between “students and teachers, knowers and wonderers”. I am a teacher; I am also a student, always, because no matter your knowledge, you can always learn more. ‘Knowers’ v. ‘wonderers’? Really? How do you think people come to know things in the first place? I’m definitely an ‘expert’ on a number of things—an institutionally certified expert, even!—but I still wonder about all those things. Besides, who determines what is ‘knowing’? Plenty of those things I have expertise in are *not* institutionally certified, and that makes my expertise not one whit less.
For instance: I know a shitload more about recovering from traumatic brain events than my neurologist. He knows all about how these things happen in the first place, all the ins and outs and mechanisms; however, when it comes to practical advice for what’s necessary to not continue to fuck yourself up in the weeks afterward, he learns a hell of a lot from me. He’s an MD/PhD, he’s about as ‘expert’ as you can get; but that’s nothing in the face of actual experience. In fact, the main reason I knew he was an infinitely better doctor than the other neurologists I’d seen is because he acknowledged how little he knew about the experience of, say, having your life force drained from you by anti-seizure medication. Despite his honest-to-Dog genius, he does not pretend to all-encompassing expertise, or treat his fount of knowledge as the only valid source - which makes him smarter and more ‘expert’ than anyone who thinks they know it all.
And everyone knows that the only difference between professionals and laymen is that one gets paid for their achievements and the other doesn’t. It’s such a pathetic example, really: ‘laymen’ is a word created to distinguish the people who were not endorsed by the institutional Powers That Be in religious life; the Jesus Christ of the Bible was a layman, and as such was anathema to the institution. Now, we’ve all seen how much we should blindly trust and accept what the Church/etc. tells us, right?
Finally, that bit about “achievement in an area” is utterly nonsensical. Is ‘achievement’ supposed to stand in for ‘experience’—which, as already noted, is never accepted as institutionally valid in conferring ‘expertise’? Does ‘achievement’ mean an official document a la a diploma? How many of the world’s political leaders have degrees in management, policy, diplomacy, etc.? Have they ‘achieved’ less than those who have studied those topics in a fucking ivory tower? To reverse the question, there’s that old saw about how those who can’t do, teach. Now, I think that’s bullshit, because teaching is a fucking skill, and plenty of people who have incredible achievement in an area can’t go into a classroom and convey any of that in a useful way. By the same token, when those people *are* good teachers, do we keep them out of the classroom because their ‘expertise’ comes from experience rather than academic success? Never.
This whole thing is bullshit. All those signal words—expertise, professional, layman, student, teacher, knower, wonderer, achievement—are deliberately misused, ignorant of their actual definitions and meanings, to make a faux-profound statement that has no purpose other than to bitch about how the Powers That Be are no longer as all-important in conferring expertise as they used to be.
You can be an expert without paying for it. That really pisses this person off.
"I worry that in an information-driven age of technological marvels, nobody will treat me like I’m a wizard-priest anymore."
10:23 am • 2 March 2014 • 943 notes
“What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”
Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” (via queertheoryissexy)
One of my favorite passages in all of literature and theory. Utterly useful. Wonderful reminder to stumble upon tonight. (J.L.)
10:09 am • 2 March 2014 • 251 notes