You’d think that Hualien, perched against the Pacific Ocean and separated by mountains from the concrete jungles of Taiwan’s West Coast, would be as far as one can get from where I grew up: New York City. And, indeed, it sometimes feels that way: like when I want a bagel, or an off-broadway play, or to hear John Zorn make some noise on his saxophone. But sometimes Hualien can remind me of home… in the most unexpected ways.
Whenever Darwin encountered a “published fact” or “new observation” that contradicted one of his beliefs, he forced himself to “make a memorandum of it without fail and at once.” Why did Darwin do this? Because he had “found by experience that such facts and thoughts” – those inconvenient ideas – “were far more apt to escape from the memory than favorable ones.
Whatever you think of Jonah Lehrer’s apology, this is a wonderful little tidbit. I wonder, though, if Darwin really did this “without fail”?
Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the links I post to Facebook or Twitter? Well, since the start of the year I’ve been contributing my favorite links to Aaron Bady’s weekly “Sunday Reading” section on his New Inquiry blog.
While most of us probably feel that we have too much to read, we still find ourselves foolishly looking for something new. Well, look no further than “Sunday Reading”! Each week Aaron culls links from a dozen regular contributors and you are bound to find more than a few great articles or websites there each week.
I also archive links on my Pinboard account in case you are looking for something you know I posted but can’t remember when or where.
Consider the word ‘balti’ for instance; derived from the Portuguese ‘balde’, it probably referred originally to ship’s buckets: today, no Indian household is complete without a set of tin or plastic baltis, just as no English town is without its supply of ‘balti chicken‘, which was probably also a Laskari invention.
via Amitav Ghosh.
To scan the lines of his face, or feel the bumps on the head of this Leviathan; this is a thing which no Physiognomist or Phrenologist has as yet undertaken…
Physiognomically regarded, the Sperm Whale is an anomalous creature. He has no proper nose. And since the nose is the central and most conspicuous of the features; and since it perhaps most modifies and finally controls their combined expression; hence it would seem that its entire absence, as an external appendage, must very largely affect the countenance of the whale…A nose to the whale would have been impertinent…
It is, however, a standard tactic of the people at the top in China to attribute the ordeals of the populace to misbehavior by lower officials and to put out the message that “here at the top we hear you, and sympathize; don’t worry that there is anything wrong with our system as a whole.”
Towards the end of Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! there is an interview with two boys who had written a play about the Budhan Theatre library: Harry and Siddharth. They admit how scared they were that someone might forget their lines. We always get a laugh when they reveal that they wrote the mother role in their play just for the girl Nandini because they knew she would be good in the fight scene. Well, shortly after we finished primary shooting, Harry’s father passed away. You might remember Harry’s father from the film. He was the one who was beaten by the police after he tried to “go straight” by opening a store. Once a promising student and playwright, his father’s death forced Harry to leave Budhan Theatre to work at his father’s shop on the main road. Now history is repeating itself as Harry is frequently in trouble with the police. Siddharth, on the other hand, was able to continue with the theater. He is still in school, now in 11th grade and studying arts.
This strangest of islands, I thought, as I looked out to the sea, this island that turned in on itself, and from which water had been banished. The shore was a carapace, permeable only at certain selected points. Where in this riverine city could one fully sense a riverbank?
The water was a kind of embarrassing secret, the unloved daughter, neglected, while the parks were doted on, fussed over, overused.
I knelt, and trailed my hand in the Hudson. It was frigid. Here we all were, ignoring that water, paying as little attention as possible to the pair of black eternities between which our little light intervened.
— Three quotes about New Yorkers’ relationship with the water, from Teju Cole’s Open City.
I love Treme, Season 3 seems to have found a kind of groove that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before on TV. Narrative as improvisational jazz. David Simon deserves his “genius grant.” But something’s been bothering me about his representation of urban political and social life. Sure, he shows the drugs, the crime, the corruption, etc. but narratively there is no place in his vision for what I’ll call (for lack of a better word) “the crackpots.”
You know what I’m talking about. These aren’t crazy people exactly, but people who show up at a zoning board meeting to talk about some personal bugaboo which they’ve been harping about for twenty years and still haven’t gotten anyone to listen. In online forums and comment boards these people invariably show up and try to take over the conversation and they do the same in real life as well.
Of course you can’t show these people in a TV drama. Just doing so would be to let the trolls take over the story, diverting it away from the central narrative – exactly what these people want to do. But here’s the thing, if you want to show democracy in action, if you want to show diversity and civil society as it is really lived, you can’t pretend these people don’t exist. I don’t know what the solution is, but for me their absence detracts from the gritty realism Treme is trying to project.
The story of “La Michael” describes a group of young Amis people who try to convince their elders to name them “La Michael” so as to commemorate Michael Jacksons death. However, since the elders do not consider Michael Jackson a very important person, these young people need to prove his importance by winning a national dance competition with their team name, “La Michael”.