Wednesday, December 31, 2014

tweets #16-27+3

Monday, December 29, 2014

fall I: thematize me

"Your spirit is time-reversed to your body / stereographic mix up field on field / it started growing up the day your body dies / only apparently real to irreal" —Sonic Youth, "Stereo Sanctity"

Now it was winter.

For weeks this last fall I had been listening to Converge’s “Predatory Glow” several times a day; it’s the finale to their recent All We Love We Leave Behind, and its lyrics begin, "I've found myself / running out of time / relating to those that / just stopped trying / clinging to those little things / and the light they bring / I bow down to you / extinguished youth" (for more, this transcription seems mostly correct). It’s disappointing to me when the closing song on an album doesn’t sound like a ship on fire in the middle of the ocean. Converge know how to end an album:

Parenthetically, do we not seek out “new” music to listen to because it is unburdened by memory associations, for listening to “old,” “familiar” music always seems to draw us back against the current? New music isn't yet tied to a life time or place or stratum. Surely now, thanks to my overplaying, “Predatory Glow” will be October of 2012 whenever I hear it.

(Cobweb or chain of memory. At once I recall struggling to explain to M.S. between sets at a “Neue Musik” piano performance why a blog should take “belated” as its title. But then, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that my first website, from ye olde late 90s, in the end became a way for me to share the lyrics from songs that were affecting me most urgently at a given moment; I need only think of a pretext for their use or display. Epigraphs are always handy. I also recollect struggling with Elliot Carter’s “Insomnia.” The occasion for the struggle was a paper for a course called “Music since 1968,” which was taught by an accomplished student of Carter’s! The paper was about the relation between Carter’s music and the poem of Elizabeth Bishop’s that it set. Soundtrack, “a mirror on which to dwell.”)

Personally, I am not averse to bombast.

Why do I find some pop songs so compelling? As though the lyrics were written by someone sneaking into my room at night, ghost writing my high school diary. As though “the shadows are really the body.” A circle between high school journal and pop song lyric whose most crystalline expression is the kid writing during class, from memory, the full lyrics of an Iron Maiden song on his trapper keeper.

What is the relation between the lyrics and the music they “accompany?”

Footnotes? at first ridiculing, then destroying the main argument of the piece. Or the lyrics could figure what the music seems to be doing abstractly. Then pop singers always say: the lyrics have a personal meaning for me; individual fans will make of them what they will. Everyone shall have their own interpretation that I am not responsible for! Or the lyrics are a kind of de-figuralization that allows anyone to inject some semantic something into them? And how does that complicate our notion of the physical force of music? the way it moves the body despite its abstractness, and of the words, which seem to rip away from the flesh and float over like ashes. High school diary, high school poetry.

Song lyrics are supposed to be abstract enough to enable individual interpretations, and at the same time, they do not sound meaningful and invite such interpretation without seeming to figure the music they “accompany.” That's a question.

And we haven't yet accounted for the voice. Perhaps the voice is precisely this site or relation between lyrics and music?

And if song lyrics are so important to me, then why am I so terrible at hearing what they are in the first place – I always need the booklet, the text – let alone deciphering them?

I had a dream
and it split the scene
but I gotta hunch
it’s coming back to me.

It took me twenty years to realize that “split” could mean divide and leave.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

2 + 1 dreams

Journal. June 26, 2013, 5:33pm. Daydreaming on the sofa, I recollect two dreams from the previous night.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Denkplatz D-503

This post was drafted practically at the dawn of time. April 27, 2013. Even then already it was belated. Not sure why I'm moved to hit Publish today. Perhaps a response to the new job. You know, the one I've had since September 2013. Which is to say, not a new job. So. Belated, ladies and gentlemen, belated through and through.


Theo A. Nusyg, untitled (1997), ink on bar napkin. Used by permission.

A year ago I was reading a post by Jeffrey Schnapp, (Icy) cold spots, with great interest:
Or might it [the library cold spot] instead be imagined as a portable ice-cube shaped, battery equipped, signal jamming device that an authorized patron or librarian could introduce into a given space to reprogram it, as it were, on the fly? Or might it assume the form of an enclosure structure or booth, a kind of phone booth in reverse?
I decided to tweet a question in response: "as libr's jamming cube would also interrupt surveillance, would it become a criminal space? or is contemplation already criminal?"

"Not sure why it would interrupt surveillance, since surveillance systems are usually running on a hard wire," came Professor Schnapp's reply, which suggested that, unsurprisingly, Twitter had not served me well in speaking clearly. (OTOH, the poor workman blames his tools, the poor abstractician blames his concrete.)

And then I forgot all about the exchange until the DPLA launch last week got me to thinking about libraries. Thus, a belated note, not so much of clarification as of dilation.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The following originally appeared on Google+, Oct 12, 2012.

It's worth carefully thinking through the question of natural monopoly in relation to the so-called social graph (is there really only one, i.e. the social graph?). What makes the question interesting, I think, is that the users of Facebook are not its customers in the sense that monopolizing the social graph is not monopolizing social networking -- but rather a certain kind of advertising. Unless I am mistaken, people don't open a Facebook account in order to be advertised to...

Monday, October 27, 2014

tweet #15

Friday, October 24, 2014

bit of contagion

Jeff Hancock was our guest at today's "Databite." His spiel concerned the Facebook emotional contagion study, about which, justly, many people continue to write. A tidbit fell out of Jeff's talk and caught my attention.

The Facebook study grew from prior work that challenged the contention that emotional contagion, observable in face to face interactions, doesn't happen in text-only situations. You know: no one can tell you're being sarcastic in email! The prior work was undertaken in a lab setting. Subjects would communicate through a text-based chat program. One subject would be manipulated so as to be in a negative emotional state, and then the researchers would measure whether that negative feeling spread to the interlocutor. But! In order to overcome the therapeutic effect wherein simply communicating with someone else helps you feel better, researchers had to devise a means of maintaining half the dyad in a persistent negative state.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Happy birthday. Did I tell you I finally saw Come play live? on some kind of reunion tour, narrowly missing the flooding in Central Europe, staying just ahead of the flooding in the Czech Republic, they arrived in Berlin in June of last year and played Festsaal Kreuzberg. OF was with me, and his partner J, and some new German friends, VS and FR. Come threw themselves into all the songs from eleven:eleven and then some. I'd waited twenty years to hear Thalia Zedek singing "I'm in orbit, baby, and I can't come down." And you and me were driving midnight on the P.C.H. again. It was glorious. I smoked some cigarettes with the bass player after the show. A pack is twenty new friends, remember? During the show Thalia Zedek said that it was great to be back in Berlin: "so many old friends...brought together by is how I made friends at least." A few weeks later, Festsaal Kreuzberg caught on fire. I miss you.