The critical matter is to find the appropriate approach for any specific question: I'm pretty convinced that the dramatic impact that music can have on the mobility of people suffering from Parkinson's disease will be understood in terms of neuroscience and rhythm, and that the explanation will involve the activity of specific brain areas and their sensitivity to the regularity and predictability... of external sources of information (like metrical rhythms). I don't see that the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's influential theory of cultural capital, for example, has any obvious contribution to make there. But I'm equally convinced – contrary to some proponents of the so-called Mozart effect – that a satisfactory understanding of the impact and persisting fascination with Mozart's music will not come from looking at patterns of notes in his music or areas of the human brain, and that it's a phenomenon that demands a far more socially and historically informed approach – to which the idea of cultural capital might well have something to offer.
Kevin Smokler Smokler
Called "A publishing visionary" by The Huffington Post and Mashable, Kevin Smokler is the author of "Bookmark Now" (SF Chronicle Notable Book, 2005) and the forthcoming essay collection "Practical Classics" (Prometheus Books, 2013). He has written for the LA Times, Fast Company, Paid Content, The San Francisco Chronicle and National Public Radio. Kevin Smokler sits on the advisory board of SXSW Interactive and speaks on the future of media and culture at companies, conferences and universities throughout North America. He is represented by Amy Rennert of Amy Rennert Literary Agency and lives in San Francisco.
In the end, Sassy replicated all the cruel pressures of high school hierarchies, all the excessive posturing that popular girls seemed to demand—it just put a slightly different girl at the top.
Although the term “indie rock” didn’t gain widespread use until the early ’90s, the music began to emerge from the wreckage of punk rock in the mid-‘80s, and was variously referred to as “college rock,” “post-punk,” and “DIY” (for Do It Yourself). “Indie” referred specifically to the independent record labels that cropped up around the country in that decade: Dischord in Washington DC; SubPop in... Seattle; Matador in New York; Merge in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Touch and Go in Chicago. The music these labels released was diverse, to be sure, but at the core was a dominant strain of direct, hard-edged, bitterly sarcastic music by bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, The Butthole Surfers, and The Pixies. What held these bands together—however loosely—was a belief in the cynicism and greed of the major labels, which would not have signed them anyway. It is worth noticing that “indie rock” is one of the few musical genre names that doesn’t refer to a musical aesthetic: the genre was founded on an ethic of production. This ethic got complicated in 1991, when Nirvana, a three-man band out of Aberdeen, Washington, became one of the most popular musical acts in the world. Nirvana started out on SubPop, but in 1990 the group signed with the major label DGC Records. By 1992, Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, had landed at number one on the Billboard chart, beating out new albums by Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson. In 1994, Kurt Cobain killed himself with a shotgun.
As a consequence of her reticence, it has been easy for her many and diverse admirers to invent their own private Emily: Emily the fierce feminist; Emily the pliant lover; Emily the “voice of war”; Emily the prophet of modernism; Emily the guardian of old New England; and so on. But it is the reticence itself that tells us most about Emily Dickinson.
Marshall McLuhan was a skeptic, a joker, and an erudite maniac. He read too deeply from Finnegans Wake, had too great a fondness for puns, and never allowed his fun to be ruined by the adoption of a coherent point of view. He was dismayed by any attempt to pin him down to a consistent analysis and dismissive of criticism that his plans were impractical or absurd. His characteristic comment during... one academic debate has taken on a mythic life of its own. In response to a renowned American sociologist, McLuhan countered: "You don't like those ideas? I got others."
I see no possibility of a worldwide Luddite rebellion that will smash all machinery to bits, so we might as well sit back and see what is happening and what will happen to us in a cybernetic world. Resenting a new technology will not halt its progress.
After all it is only a book and no worlds are made or destroyed by it. But it becomes important out of all proportion to its importance. And I suppose that is essential. The dunghill beetle must be convinced of the essential quality in rolling his ball of dung, and a golfer will not be any good at it unless striking a little ball is the most important thing in the world. So I must be convinced... that this book is a pretty rare event and I must have little humor about it. Can't afford not to have. The story has to move on and on and on and on. It is like a machine now—set to do certain things. And it is about to clank to its end.
But if we don’t win yet again, we are at fault. America needs an Obama des letters, a writer for the 21st century, not the 20th — or even the 19th. One who is not stuck in the Cold War or the gun-slinging West or the bygone Jewish precincts of Newark — or mired in the claustrophobia of familial dramas. What relevance does our solipsism have to a reader in Bombay? For that matter, what relevance does it have in Brooklyn, N.Y.?
That man was always so moved with everything…. He agonized about everything—he never knew how to handle all that. He always reminded me of an adolescent…. And he could blush—one of the few people I had ever met who could blush. His sensitivity must have been driving him crazy. That’s what I mean, too, by saying that there was something of a country boy about him…there was a blessed naïveté here…. He was not inured by life, I thought.
They think they’re getting somewhere, they think they’re looking for someone, and then they realize they’re already where they want to be, the only place it makes any sense to be, which is on the road.
He makes a quick stop in a health-food store, buys some health foods. He leaves the store, but just outside, as if something had just occurred to him, he turns around slowly and walks to the window. Then, he peers in, frankly observing the person who may be observing him. It's raining harder now. He hurries home. For the past half-dozen years, Thomas Pynchon, the most famous literary recluse of our time, has been living openly in a city of 8 million people and going unnoticed, like the rest of us.
I tell Pynchon newbies: It's the most fun you can have without risking arrest in many states. Leave your preconceptions at the door and enjoy your new and exotic surroundings. If something baffles you, read on for the next moment of searingly bright light and don't worry about it. With time and re-readings everything (well, many things) will be made clear. Difficult, schmifficult!
The melancholic’s intensity and exhaustiveness of attention set natural limits to the length at which Benjamin could explicate his ideas. His major essays seem to end just in time, before they self-destruct. His sentences do not seem to be generated in the usual way; they do not entail. Each sentence is written as if it were the first, or the last. (“A writer must stop and restart with every... new sentence,” he says in the Prologue to The Origin of German Trauerspiel.) His style of thinking and writing, incorrectly called aphoristic, might better be called freeze-frame baroque. This style was torture to execute. It was as if each sentence had to say everything, before the inward gaze of total concentration dissolved the subject before his eyes. Benjamin was probably not exaggerating when he told Adorno that each idea in his book on Baudelaire and nineteenth-century Paris “had to be wrested away from a realm in which madness lies.”15
She drew her shoulders up and sucked in her breath with the pure pleasure of being alive
I speak of course, of Albert Camus, the ideal husband of contemporary letters. Being a contemporary, he had to traffic in the madmen’s themes: suicide, affectlessness, guilt, absolute terror. But he does so with such an air of reasonableness, mesure, effortlessness, gracious impersonality, as to place him apart from the others. Starting from the premises of a popular nihilism, he moves the... reader—solely by the power of his own tranquil voice and tone—to humanist and humanitarian conclusions in no way entailed by his premises. This illogical leaping of the abyss to nihilism is the gift for which readers are grateful to Camus. This is why he evoked feelings or real affection on the part of his readers. Kafka arouses pity and terror, Joyce admiration, Proust and Gide respect, but no modern writer that I can think of, except Camus, has aroused love. His death in 1960 was felt as a personal loss by the whole literate world.
"Tell us about ships turned away from shorelines at Easter, placenta in a field. Tell us about a wagonload of slaves, how they sang so softly their breath was indistinguishable from the falling snow. How they knew from the hunch of the nearest shoulder that the next stop would be their last. How, with hands prayered in their sex, they thought of heat, then sun. Lifting their faces as though it was... there for the taking. Turning as though there for the taking. They stop at an inn. The driver and his mate go in with the lamp leaving them humming in the dark. The horse's void steams into the snow beneath its hooves and its hiss and melt are the envy of the freezing slaves. "The inn door opens: a girl and a boy step away from its light. They climb into the wagon bed. The boy will have a gun in three years, but now he carries a lamp and a jug of warm cider. They pass it from mouth to mouth. The girl offers bread, pieces of meat and something more: a glance into the eyes of the one she serves. One helping for each man, two for each woman. And a look. They look back. The next stop will be their last. But not this one. This one is warmed." It's quiet again when the children finish speaking, until the woman breaks into the silence. "Finally", she says, "I trust you now. I trust you with the bird that is not in your hands because you have truly caught it. Look. How lovely it is, this thing we have done - together."
It has been a discredited relationship. When I was writing Sula, I was under the impression that for a large part of the female population a woman friend was considered a secondary relationship. A man and a woman’s relationship was primary. Women, your own friends, were always secondary relationships when the man was not there. Because of this, there’s that whole cadre of women who don’t like... women and prefer men. We had to be taught to like one another. Ms. magazine was founded on the premise that we really have to stop complaining about one another, hating, fighting one another and joining men in their condemnation of ourselves—a typical example of what dominated people do. That is a big education. When much of the literature was like that—when you read about women together (not lesbians or those who have formed long relationships that are covertly lesbian, like in Virginia Woolf’s work), it is an overtly male view of females together. They are usually male-dominated—like some of Henry James’s characters—or the women are talking about men, like Jane Austen’s girlfriends . . . talking about who got married, and how to get married, and are you going to lose him, and I think she wants him and so on. To have heterosexual women who are friends, who are talking only about themselves to each other, seemed to me a very radical thing when Sula was published in 1971 . . . but it is hardly radical now.