“The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something that can last in man’s memory. That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy. A writer or any artist has the joyful duty to transform all that into symbols. These symbols could be colors, forms or sounds. For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry. The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. You are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed. This revelation can appear anytime. A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams.”
An interesting remark in the preface to avant-garde composer John Cage’s 1969 book, Notations:
A precedent for the absence of information which characterizes this book is the contemporary aquarium (no longer a dark hallway with each species in its own illuminated tank separated from the others and named in Latin): a large glass house with all the fish in it swimming as in an ocean.
Both represent examples of literary montage — collections where the author’s primary contribution is the compilation of materials for the works.
In the case of Notations, Cage assembled a complete compendium of graphical music scores submitted by composers. For the unfinished effort known as The Arcades Project, Benjamin researched and cited works to create, in a way, his own arcade: an arrangement of windows into 19th century France for the reader to stroll through and explore.
What are similar examples of this that you’ve seen?
View the full Notations book on Archive.org:
Path of discovery
I first learned about Notations (and John Cage, though I had to formally discover him independently more than a year later) by reading Theresa Sauer’s Notations 21. I came upon that and purchased it after being captivated by a post on Brain Pickings. (Although only very expensive re-sell or used copies are on Amazon, it appears to still be available directly from Sauer for $34.)
As for The Arcades Project, Max Fenton featured it during his week of the Snarkmarket Seminar in March 2013. He also kindly gave me a copy of the book (thanks again!) during the in-person gathering last November, which I reciprocated by giving him a copy of Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius.
And, to close the loop: I knew Max was interested in Kenneth Goldsmith, whom I learned about when fellow seminarian Tim Carmody recommended Uncreative Writing. Goldsmith, who references Unoriginal Genius early on in Uncreative Writing, helped bring Cage to my attention and rediscover the Notations connection.
The experimental composer’s piece 4’33″ is generally referred to as his “silent” piece. But, like Seinfeld, it is — despite its label — not silent at all.
For Cage, it’s about the shifting the focus from the performer to the audience and sounds of the environment in which the piece is performed.
With the general Seinfeld-Cage connection in mind, I thought:
Someone should analyze Seinfeld as a "show about nothing" through the lens of John Cage's "Silence." Title: "There can never be nothing."
— Greg Linch (@greglinch) March 12, 2014
As a longtime Seinfeld fan and someone who visited that Cage earlier this year, I never made the connection until sparks by that video.
Searching further, I found the connection to be even stronger when I stumbled across Cage’s 1949 “Lectures on Nothing:”
I have nothing to say and I am saying it
Let me know if you’ve seen anything about this connection before. I’d be very interested to read more or hear your thoughts.
P.S. Speaking of Cage, who used indeterminacy (a.k.a. chance operations) in his music, I’m also very interested to know if anyone has written about chance in Mallarmé’s poem Un coup de des as it relates to Forrest Gump:
Someone should write a piece on “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates…” and “A throw of a the dice will never abolish chance.”
— Greg Linch (@greglinch) March 11, 2014
Materials from the structure your beat session that Stephanie Yiu, Connor Jennings and I presented.
http://www.politifact.com/ (using Django for structure)
- people (politicians and now pudits)
- legislative bills
- true/false spectrum of fact checks
http://technical.ly/philly/directory/ (uses WordPress)
http://homicidewatch.org/ (uses Django for structure, WordPress for posts)
Kaiser Family Foundation
has 30+ Custom Post Types that allow for faceting when you search their site:
They combined 10 years of content across 10 CMSes into WordPress:
The structured data allows them to generate these maps of State and Global Health Indicators.
How can WordPress help?
Custom post types
Custom meta boxes
Greetings! I’m here in Atlanta for the Online News Association’s #ONA13 conference – my sixth consecutive ONA. Check out the stuff below, if it strikes your fancy.
Follow me on Twitter as @greglinch and be sure to say hello there and in-person! I’m always happy to talk about ONA, the board, the ONA student committee and a smattering of other things:
- data and coding
- abstraction in art, poetry and music
- milkshakes and French toast
Also, say hello to all the wonderful Washington Post folks!
Lightning talk pitch
I’m helping to teach a few workshops alongside some awesome folks like Stephanie Yiu, Connor Jennings and Jeremy Bowers. Come join the fun!
Using WordPress to Structure your Beat
Thursday, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
Digging through notebooks or scanning old articles isn’t the best way to find archival information. Structure your beat using the key subject matter as your foundation to track people, places, organizations, incidents, schools and more.
Editorial Workflows in WordPress
Friday, 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Learn how to use WordPress to control your copy flow, with plugins like Zone Manager, Google Docs and edit flow to wrangle emails.
Friday, 4:15 – 5 p.m.
From git to commit, root to branch, learn the best way to go from ack to zsh.
Join us Friday night at 9:30 at the Metro Diner Cafe for the third annual officially unofficial ONA karaoke bash. It’s just a block down that street from the conference hotel. See you there!