Who Speaks for No One?

In the final chapter of his ground-breaking (for popular Science) book Cosmos, Carl Sagan asks Who Speaks for Earth, where he (if I recall correctly) wonders who indeed will speak for earth if a dispassionate extraterrestrial observer were to question our inane wars, and destruction. The title of the post is inspired from that, however it has no such noble aims. Quite the opposite.

Yesterday I posted about blogging in the absence of (quantitatively significant) reader base. Today, I read this (bold emphasis mine …)

Well, maybe [it] wasn’t for everyone. But didn’t everyone get everything? Hadn’t they had enough yet? Everything on earth is tailored for this everyone. Everyone gets all the TV programs, as near as dammit all of the cinema, and about eighty percent of all music. After that come the secondary mediums of painting and those other visual arts that do not move. These are generally just for someone, and although you always hear people moaning that there isn’t enough of them, in truth someone does all right. Galleries, museums, basements in Berlin, studio flats, journals, bare walls in urban centers—someone gets what they want and deserve, most of the time. But where are the things that no one wants? Every now and then Alex would see or hear something that appeared to be for no one but soon enough turned out to be for someone and, after a certain amount of advertising revenue had been spent, would explode into the world for everyone. Who was left to make stuff for no one? Just Alex. Only he.

That’s from the brilliant Zadie Smith’s last unread (by me, but not for long) novel Autograph Man. That’s the anti-Christ . And he is coming!

PS: old you it won’t be pretty!

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Quote of the day – July 3, 09

Came across this, while reading this piece about writers giving back to reviewers.

The danger of the internet […] is not so much that anyone can express their opinion – if that is true, everyone is also free to ignore that opinion – but the way it sets a casual statement in stone, and propagates it freely. An author’s response to a bad review may be immediate, but the heartfelt expression of your emotional pain is there for as long as anyone chooses to preserve it.

Succinct put! Including the aside about “free to ignore”.

PS: Learned another thing from the comments. Depreciate, in its transitive form, means belittle. Something, even the columnist didn’t know/overlooked.

Steppenwolfed!

Yesterday morning I picked up Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. I had exactly ten minutes, and I could have picked nothing, as well. But then I have been patiently reading it, in whatever slots I’m getting. Such a injustice to one of my all time favorite authors, I know. Well, as it turns out, I did the right thing, after all. And this was the reward:

Ah, but it is hard to find this track of the divine in the midst of this
life we lead, in this besotted humdrum age of spiritual blindness, with
its architecture, its business, its politics, its men!  How could I fail
to be a lone wolf, and an uncouth hermit, as I did not share one of its
aims nor understand one of its pleasures? I cannot remain for long in
either theater or picture-house. I can scarcely read a paper, seldom a
modern book. I cannot understand what pleasures and joys they are that
drive people to the overcrowded railways and hotels, into the packed
cafés with the suffocating and oppressive music, to the Bars and variety
entertainments, to World Exhibitions, to the Corsos. I cannot understand
nor share these joys, though they are within my reach, for which
thousands of others strive. On the other hand, what happens to me in my
rare hours of joy, what for me is bliss and life and ecstasy and
exaltation, the world in general seeks at most in imagination; in life
it finds it absurd.
And in fact, if the world is right, if this music of
the cafés, these mass enjoyments and these Americanised men who are
pleased with so little are right, then I am wrong, I am crazy. I am in
truth the Steppenwolf that I often call myself; that beast astray who
finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange
and incomprehensible to him.

Hesse, is pure bliss.

More on the subject: Touch of Divinity.

Phew! (or quote of the year?)

Was listening to Cryptonomicon audiobook while commuting today, when I heard a quote that knocked me out:

“You should be a billionaire, Randy. Thank god you’re not.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Oh, because then you’d be a highly intelligent man who never has to make difficult choices—who never has to exert his mind. It is a state much worse than being a moron.”

And to think we all aspire to be in that state, precisely!

Quote of The Day

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

 

– George Orwell

Happy new year (new?) to everyone. Words are tired of me. I guess I owe them that choice! So I’ll come back when they will.

QOD: Mar 17

I can never get people to understand that poetry is the expression of excited passion, and that there is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. Besides, who would ever shave themselves in such a state?

-Lord Byron, in a letter to Thomas Moore, 5 July 1821