I grew up without religion or too much cultural heritage, so I have been wondering how I’m going to bring up my daughter Zoe. I don’t have words of wisdom or moral parables to tell her. My idea is that I’ll have to resort to StarTrek. This morning we watched the TOS episode where Kirk was split into a good Kirk and an evil Kirk. Zoe (4yo) was more interested in the unicorn dog.
For career development, I had to rank a list of my preferred jobs. Sure I can do that… let’s see… my #1 dream job is… of course, detective!
Finished reading William Gibson’s story collection Burning Chrome. It’s a classic. I bought the book a long time ago but somehow I never actually read it. I really like it. I think it’s better than Gibson’s novels. My favourite story probably is The Winter Market.
In this tutorial, I documented how I built my personal website with Hugo and some IndieWeb tools.
I randomly watched an old Hong kung Kung Fu movie called “The Dance of the Drunk Mantis”. Of course, the “Drunken Fist” is a style of deadly martial art inspired by the movements of drunkards. It becomes invincible when combined with the “mantis fist”, another school of martial art inspired by the movements of mantis (I am not making it up. It really is in the movie). How do you defeat a drunk mantis? The main character met a guy who looked seriously ill. He turned out to be a master of “ill fist”, an even deadlier martial art inspired by the movements of…. an ill person. Every 15mins in the movie there was a WTF moment.
One music album that I used to play a lot of was called “Night of Short Lives”. It was published under the name Frame Cut Frame in the 90’s. The music was unclassifiable. It was labeled “unclassical music” because it’s more like classical music than anything, but it was not classical.
The CD was just one of those random things that I had. I don’t remember why I had it. I had no idea who made it or why it was made. It was published by an independent Belgian label called SubRosa so I had assumed that it’s European. But I just discovered it’s Australian! The music is by Brett Dean (with sampled sounds by Simon Hunt). Wikipedia has an entry on Brett Dean. He has a remarkable career as a composer.
I have been reading Italo Calvino’s If on a winters night a traveller. One chapter is particularly interesting because it draws heavily on the imagery of optics (one of Calvino’s obsessions). It makes a reference to the 19th century British scientist David Brewster for his invention of the kaleidoscope. I hadn’t read about Brewster before so I had to look him up. He was so much more than the inventor of kaleidoscope. He was a major figure in 19th century optics, and made important discoveries about the polarisation of light.
This part of If on a winter’s night a traveller reminded me of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, which also uses optics as a central metaphor. Interestingly, Against the Day makes references to Augustin Fresnel and Étienne-Louis Malus, but apparently not to Brewster.
We watched an episode of an old Japanese detective TV show, about a murder that happened during a Shogi match. It’s a clever setup because we get to see a little bit the world of Shogi players, and the solution requires some knowledge about Shogi. Why did one of the grandmasters play a fatally flawed move at the critical moment of the match? The detective reasoned that it’s because he didn’t want to turn his piece over, which would revealed a trace of blood on the backside. I had toook this up. In Shogi, after a piece is promoted, you turn it over. The characters written on the other side indicate the new role of the piece.
Posting this link to test webmention.
Why music ownership matters is a very interesting article by Ted Gioia. I’m conflicted. On one hand, he is obviously right. The CDs that my wife and I have collected through the years are not just music. They are a source of joy and pride. But on the other hand, there is an equally strong emotional drive to be living in a house with as few things as possible. Since I can stream almost any song I want, I think the physical space that the CDs occupy is not justified. So I am torn between the desire to have many things and very few things. But Ted is right that I can’t assume that I can always stream what I want to hear. I used to have a large collection of John Zorn’s music. I threw them away because they were all streamable. Not anymore.
I finished Thomas Pynchon’s V about a month ago. I was thinking about writing a review, but what’s the point? Given its classic status, it has been analysed to death. So just a couple of thoughts. This was Pynchon’s first novel, so we have to ask if it compares well to his later masterpieces. I think a novel worthy of Pynchon’s name must do two things: 1. It must induce a mindfuck. At some point, you must feel that this novel is 10 x denser than what your brain can process. 2. There must be a couple of magic moments of sublime beauty. You must pause and say “Oh wow. That’s just beautiful. I have no words for it.” V does both. Pynchon wrote a Pynchonian novel the first time. However, it does feel different. V reads like it’s made up of several short stories. They are connected stories but you can detect the boundaries. No other Pynchon novel gave me that impression. The other thing is that V is very cinematic. Many chapters end with a dramatic scene that I can visualise as the final scene of an epic movie. Later Pynchon novels are more organic, subtle, and abstract. This makes V more accessible, but not lighter. I found reading V a thoroughly satisfying experience. Many parts of it will stay with me for a very long time.📚