Archive for May, 2009

29
May
09

Watching, Reading, Voting

Best use of appropriation in popular art:

————-

Also, 5 trope is not dead!. Some background, 5 trope is probably one of my all-time top 5 favorite literary journals and I thought they’d stopped publishing because they had not posted new material in over a year.

It seems they just changed web addresses and did not link the old address to the new. So this means they are probably not super tech-savvy. Thankfully, they are amazingly language savvy. For example, look at the story ‘Small Finger of Potent Magnetism’ by Caren Beilen. Sick. These are texts in the fullest and most laudatory sense of the word.

http://5trope.com/ GOGOREAD!

——–

Finally, I want to note that voting is open for the StorySouth Million Writers Award. I would like to encourage you to go and vote for the story ‘Fuckbuddy’ written by Roderic Crooks and published by the always rad Eyeshot. There are other good stories nominated too. One from AGNI is included, and since Sean used to do some editing for them, I have a guess as to who he’s backing.

Anyways, check out the nomineesHERE and then vote.

27
May
09

Re: Grizzly Bear

From Brian Costello’s review of Shiftless Decay: New Sounds of Detroit in the Chicago Reader:

“…I love Shiftless Decay, a compilation released on the label run by Frustrations drummer Scott Dunkerley, for the same reason I love Detroit: it’s unsafe, chaotic, and sickeningly alive. So many indie rockers seem to be in retreat from reality, taking their beards to their Bon Iver forest cabins to make whimpering yuppie sex music while the world continues its inexorable decline.”

Zing!

I know this is controversial but that’s why I’m posting it I guess. I can’t honestly say I abide by it very closely but he definitely has a very very sharp point about some very very boring music full of lies.

27
May
09

the dirac delta function in excel [and how much the professors drank]

Plaid2

 

The Dirac delta function is an entity of particular interest for two reasons: It is of a class of tools in physics that presents possible conflicts with the simplistic mathematical dreams of earlier physics, and it exists in possible correspondence with a broad class of natural phenomenon.

It is a mathematical anomaly in that it doesn’t have the quality of continuity that physics often takes as a given.  Supposedly, it’s precisely 0 everywhere except at the origin, where it is infinity, and the “area” under this infinite point is 1, even though the definition of area is that is that it’s a collection of lines and has to have more than just one line¹. This isn’t very mathy – it seems like most functions in physics are completely continuous and we can do all sorts of integration and derivation on them. But it doesn’t have to be mathy at all – it just has to be of use in some cases and have enough of a framework to produce something of interest, namely how to treat point charges and impulse functions.

If you have a case where there is some section of something  which is absolutely zero (or some other constant) for anything but a point  or a number (or infinitely many) of disconnected points then it must be zero (or equal to the same constant) everywhere  or else there is a discontinuity. This is, I think, how people tend to imagine real objects – at a given point or region in space, an object either exists or extends into or it doesn’t. If you were to plot a graph of the presence of some object as it rests on a line, you would have something like a binary function of ‘no’ (or 0) where an object isn’t and ‘yes’ (say, 1) where it is. But such a discrete binary function is clearly discontinuous – it goes immediately from 0 to 1, and at no point is it something in between. The so-called “heavy side step function” is a version of this, and the Dirac delta function represents its derivative, a quality physicists are oft concerned with.

I graph it because one of the ways to gain an understanding of it is to treat it as a limit in a sequence of functions which are continuous (or at least piece-wise integrable) but as you increase some variable towards infinity become ever more spiky and point-like, and eventually, as the variable reaches infinity, you are almost left with something exactly like the Dirac delta function. The Dirac delta function represents the instantaneous change, or alteration or creation or destruction of some amount of something. It ties in with the discrete and represents a balance between the laws of physics as we see them.

The animated graph above shows two functions which approximate the Dirac delta function in the limit as a particular constant goes to infinity. One is a simple box function, such that the area of the box is always 1, and the other is basically a squared-sine function with some other stuff thrown in to keep the area 1 as well. They are displayed with a changing scale so that their height appears to be the same – I could have shown you their actual height, but unless the spike is very tight the average value of the function is very low, and that fact makes it difficult to graph (as the spike gets incredibly high very quickly.)

1. Another way to make this point is to say that except at the infinite limit the area under any point on the graph is zero – if you take the integral of a function where the bounds of integration are the same point you usually expect as much.

Over the course of roughly 48 hours, the two visiting professors drank:

The remaining third of my liter bottle of Jack Daniel’s

A 375ml bottle of Jack Daniel’s (that they bought to replace the whiskey of mine they had drunk)

Another liter bottle of Jack Daniel’s, as well as two Victory Storm King Stouts

Three Victory Hop Devils

27
May
09

Whoa, Grad School!

Just got this acceptance to Columbia! Check it out:

Dear Mr. Segal,

I was awake last night, late, thinking of my father, vacuums, my father’s speech suspended in a vacuum and on hooks. I was reading a small online journal to feel like I was ‘supporting independent literature’. When I am feeling like my work is meaningless, I like looking at small online journals to see all of the people who take on my voice in the hopes of becoming ‘important writers’. Lately, I’ve taken to throwing ‘scare-quotes’ around phrases that make me uncomfortable, as if by bracketing them as such, I can re-animate and heighten their meaning. As if I can distance myself from the draining-power of dessicated cliches.

One thing that did not make me feel the need to employ ‘scare-quotes’ was your writing. I have been google searching you since 2:00 AM this morning. I found pictures of your face that I’ve printed out with an ink-jet printer and drawn hearts on. No, that is a lie. But what is not a lie is that I think you are doing a kind of new weird that is newer and more pure, that is secretly activating otherwise vestigial brain-parts, that is apt to set real physical fires all on its own, independent of readers. What I’m saying is that if this were seized by the state as samizdat, the text would leach into the steel containers in which it was locked and re-figure the metal in its own image.

So here is what I am thinking: I am thinking you ought to be at my side, co-instigating the destruction/revival of American Letters. We will write books that get up in the night and crawl down Jonathan Franzen’s throat, and Jonathan Safran-Foer’s, and every other middle-brow Jonathan within a 200-mile radius of New York.

All this to say: Congratulations on your acceptance to the Columbia University MFA program in Creative Writing. Although you did not apply, I have taken the liberty of accepting you and waving all fees and application requirements. You will also be given a full tuition waver and stipend. Please respond to this offer as quickly as possible. Language Helmet fittings begin next week.

Yours,
Ben Marcus

23
May
09

Littlebits/Granular Synthesis, Make yr own technology! Or: innovate, don’t fixate.

From a post at “we make money not art”, I found this project called littleBits. The idea is a fairly simple one:

littleBits is a growing library of preassembled circuit boards, made easy by tiny magnets. All logic and circuitry is pre-engineered, so you can play with electronics without knowing electronics. Tiny magnets act as connectors and enforce polarity, so you can’t put things in the wrong way. And all the schematics will be shared under an opensource license so you can download, upload, suggest new bits and hopefully see them come to life.

Basically, the project means to democratize the creation of physical technology in much the same way that Cycling ’74 and IRCAM democratized the means of granular synthesis, or the synthesis of sound from the bottom up, the freeing of the most microscopic materials of sound sampling, allowing one to create their own electronic instruments. They did this first with MAX/MSP, and, in fact, even more so with PureData. (Thanks, Miller Puckette).

Tim Hecker discussed the need for granular synthesis in an electronic music issue of the now-defunct Parachute Magazine, and I think the argument he makes holds for physical, “black-boxed” technology as well as it does for electronic music. The essential idea is that the fetishization of technology or neo-naturalism are both backward ways of dealing with technological development. That is to say, we need to examine the technology insofar as it allows us to move beyond it, rather than allow ourselves to be seduced by a meditation on the state of a single technology, to fixate rather than innovate:

Perhaps a form of electronic music will come which will leave the technology it uses as only a trace — so that the aesthetic field opens up again to allow for spaces which are free from the suffocation of medium-based discourses; an electronic music which leaves its technology as just a murmur.

We do this precisely through, he suggests, granular synthesis rather than pre-programmed sound production software. The beauty computer-made music is, with relatively minimal expertise, how one gains an astounding control over the whole range of possible sounds. LittleBits seems to be making the same possible for those without a complex understanding of circuitry and mathematics (one of the problems holding the spread of granular synthesis is the grasp of mathematics it requires, though, anyone who passed trigonometry should find it well within the realm of possibility to learn).

LittleBits, if you read the interview, seems to require only that you match colors and conceive of simple circuits. It is certainly a first stage, but I think it is the first stage of something wonderful: freeing the basic materials of electronic technologies so that people can make them for themselves. Perhaps some day we will have LittleBits stores next to craft stores: it seems to be a potentially complex but basically simple  kit with a nearly infinite number of interesting and cool possibilities. The number of possible basic units is both staggering and encouraging. The idea presents people with the building blocks of their own electronic experimentation, no complex machinery, start-up capital or fancy engineering education required. Maybe some will get a taste for it and move on to more advanced experimentation.

Obviously, this system by itself will not replace consumer technologies with a DIY culture, but projects like this are an exciting step in the correct direction.

Which is all to say: make yr own technology!

22
May
09

Hogzilla and Crappy Internet Magazines

This is a small and minor post.

I recently came across a new literary journal that billed itself as ‘the world’s first green literary journal’. This is because it is paper-free and publishes on Amazon Kindle!!!

Excuse me? Does this even begin to make sense? There have been online lit. journals since the 1990s. There are literally hundreds of all-online journals. There are even online journals that have nature oriented-themes, which I suppose makes them double-green. Either the editors are totally unaware of the last decade of publishing, or they are cynically (and stupidly) trying to hype themselves using totally false claims. Either way it’s just gross/pathetic.

-

Ok. Rant over. Picture time:

By which i mean motion picture time. This looks awesome.

Based on this:

18
May
09

“LOL, Palz 4-3va: Besties.” By Maurice Blanchot

Blanchot

Blanchot

GOTAN THES WAY OF THINKNG OR THOUGHT H3 HAD GOTEN IT FROM THES POINT WH3R3 IT SEMAD HE CUD FICTITIOSLEY SITUAET IT H3LPED 2 HOLD HIM BAK FROM SAYNG IT!!1!1!!1 OMG FOR H3 HAD 2 B TH3RE IN THES PLAEC WHERE IT WAS GIEVN HIM 2 STAY LIEK AN ASIGNED R3SIEDNCE IN ORDER FOR DA OTHAR 2 B OV3R THAR3 IMOBIEL IMOVABLE YET ALWAYS HARD 2 RECOGNIEZ AS IF DA RIGHT 2 IEDNTITY HAD B3N R3FUESD HIM AT DA SME TIEM IT WAS GRANT3D 2 HIM
H3!!!1!1 WTF LOL DASIERD 2 SAY IT 2 HIM BUT HOW DESIER 2 SP3AK WITHOUT DA DESIER AND ALWAYS IN ADVANCA DESTROYNG SPECH AVAN DA MOST CALM DESIER FOR DA MOST CALM SPECH????!?!!? OMG WTF AND STIL HA DASIERD 2 SAY IT HE WUD SAY IT!!!!!!!!!

17
May
09

hello fellow residents, I have washed ashore

So…this is my first post, and I think I’m going to take the easy way out by posting links to stuff. in keeping with the youtube radio precedent, we have these:

I couldn’t tell at first if this was like a homemade one set to the music or an actual one but it appears to be an actual one.

More in the same vein there although it isn’t a music video.

So, I guess with the sheer amount of music blogs mentioning them all the time (Wavves doesn’t sound like the Clean or the Wipers by the way, and anyone who says they do is lying), the Clean and the whole kiwi-pop thing in general is sort of blown out right now. This leads me to wonder though, is there really enough stuff out there, in the history of music, to keep our voracious generation happy? I mean, music bloggers (and musicians, of course) stormed into the last twenty years of New Zealand’s musical history like a bunch of vikings and, once every various recombinant Flying Nun band has found the light of day and has been name dropped, or once every defunct studio has had it’s entire collection of rotting acetates pieced together and packaged for easy consumption, what will be left? Is there a sub-sub layer? Or is it all just superficial enough that all that music will still be there and everyone who pretends to be over it after listening to it a few times will have sailed on (but to where?). Either way, it’s pretty fun to be a part of, even if it’s ultimately short sighted. And even sometimes I wonder about it, I’m pretty sure this is such a depth and breadth of music out there that we’ll all be happily stumbling through new stuff all the time. I guess what worries me is more just this instant summarization, free of context, of what these bands were about.

16
May
09

Structure and Baroque Art


Pay To Account Number:  ************0873
Due Date:  06/10/2009
Minimum Amount Due:  $ 47.00
Amount Due:  $ 47.00
Account Balance:  $ 1,877.18

View and Pay This e-Bill 

15
May
09

YouTube is Radio, etc.

I put together a concert for Ghost Island! Actually, no I went on YouTube and picked videos with singing girls. I like singing girls a lot, so I made this.

Other Islanders should also maybe make radio-ly things. If they want.

Enjoy, maybe:

(If the embedded playlist isn’t working properly, click HERE to watch/listen at the source.)

—-

Also, a little bragtime. No not Scott Joplin on his high horse, but me bragging:

I have a new story up at Eyeshot called ‘The Pork Shunter’s Fingers’. You can read it here.

Eyeshot is rad and Zadie Smith wrote this for them some years ago: American Writers and Their Hair

Then, later last night, I learned that the story collection of which PSF is a part was accepted for publication as a chapbook by Publishing Genius Press. The collection is called Science Fiction Pornography.

Publishing Genius is super and I am very very excited about this, although it will probably lead to my being blacklisted from teaching children.

Here are some other things PGP has done that I am really proud to be in the same company as:

Light Boxes (Shane Jones)

Pocket Finger (Ryan Call and Christy Call)

There are other things too, many of them. Start here, go forward. Take over the internet. Listen to girls




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