Small Demon
Aug 012009
 

The NY Times reports that many Americans nap. I’m one of them. I always felt a little guilty about admitting to the habit until I went to Vietnam, where nearly everybody naps after lunch. Some of my Vietnamese friends even have little fold-up lawn-furniture-type beds beside their desks. (Americans, with the exception of college students, seem to have an aversion to sleeping in public, perhaps because we have sufficient physical space to be alone.) Americans don’t have the excuse of working in a hot country with limited air conditioning, but in any case napping seems a natural human impulse.

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Note: Apparently, our primate brethern take naps and do so with their pals.

Jun 262009
 

There’s a show at MOMA I’d like to see, of James Ensor’s proto-modernist paintings. I find my own aesthetic roots in the period of western art and literature that runs from the end of the 19th century through the First World War — the period of what is sometimes called High Modernism. The NY Times reviewer, Holland Cotter, calls Ensor “an aggrieved traditionalist with a pop culture itch,” words that I might apply to myself. Ensor also labored all his life away from the centers of culture where artistic reputations were made. Ensor strikes me as paradigmatic of modernism in his combining of high and low culture and his subversion of technique by technique. [A barely adequate Wikipedia entry here; Google image results here.] One loves the old modes and methods even when they are no longer viable and one is reduced to parody and pastiche.

Aug 172008
 

Strangely compelling online game in which you use the mouse to rotate the picture space until the seemingly random elements coalesce into the icon at the upper right. There may be a deep metaphor here . . . or not. [Via Work / Space, where there is also a link to a discussion of plagiarism in online environments (by Chris Nelson) that should be of interest not only to journalists, but to writing teachers as well.]