bad taste can cost lives, eadweard muybridge self portrait, sontag’s journals

If one tries to live by values defined by others and fails they at least can claim those values were not worth living up to. While no one’s values are defined in a vacuum, it is another matter altogether when one defines their own values and lives a life detached from them. As though they were an intrusive appendage, an elephant trunk where an arm should be. Thomas Kinkade, the George W. Bush of art

Kundera defined kitsch as “the absolute denial of shit,” meaning it offers an airbrushed, sterilized, sentimentalized view of the world. From that, it doesn’t necessarily follow that art wallows in shit, but art doesn’t exist for the primary purpose of denying it, either. Kitsch is, first and foremost, a lie; its very existence is founded on bad faith.

Kinkade, like Bush, peddled a falsely simplified image of the world — one without mildew or flooded basements, for one thing — which, no surprise, turned out to be plastered over a whole lot of stinky stuff. The true believers, the ones who bought into these men the most during the 2000s, ended up paying some of the highest prices, from the Kinkade acolytes who invested in his gallery Ponzi scheme to the working-class red-staters who sent off their kids to die in a pointless war. Bad taste, harmless as it may seem, can end up costing you a lot.

A not too shabby argument for standards in art.

crossing the bridge in senegal. hanging off the back of the bus, a ten-year old’s dream come true. surpassed only by hanging on while riding your skate broad. though that would be tricky on a wooden bride with those spaces between planks.

Today Google has a tribute to photographer Eadweard Muybridge  incorporated into its icon. This is from a self-portrait made in or around 1880. He is not nude. he’s wearing a pair of flesh-colored shorts.

Eadweard Muybridge self portrait, ca. 1880. The U.S. Deaprtment of Defence created a video tribute to Muybridge here – This documentary from the U.S. Department of Defense tells the story of scientific photography, tracing it back to the work of Eadweard Muybridge in the 1870s. For those unfamiliar with Eadweard, he was the first photographer to use photographs to carefully study motion.He also invented the first motion-picture-like projector the Zoopraxiscope.

The Passion of Susan Sontag

These similarities between the public and the private figures aside, what we discover in her notebooks is, if not the person behind the persona, at least a very different persona. The most striking difference is one of tone: the timbre of authority that rings through her criticism—that makes Sontag Sontag—is largely absent from the journals. Here we see her insecure, unhappy in love, fretting over her sexual abilities, admonishing herself to smile less, obsess more, read less, write more. The journals span many love affairs, which vary widely in their prevalence on the page. The women in her life occupied her more than the men. She writes about Jasper Johns frequently as an artist, sometimes as a friend, and in a single, glancing remark as her lover: “Jasper is good for me. (But only for a while.)” The women she loved, though, undid her. In a typical reminder to preserve herself in her affairs, she writes, “What I have to get over: the idea that the value of love rises as the self dwindles.” Her descriptions of these affairs paint her as practically retiring—and no doubt she behaved very differently with her lovers and loved ones than in public, as most of us do. Of the Duchess Carlotta del Pezzo, the lover who occasions the most distress (or at least the most-documented distress) in Consciousness, she writes, “Remember what she said the other day about finding me so different from the way I appeared at first (autonomous, ‘cool’)?” Sontag then urges herself to maintain the façade of cool autonomy that inevitably crumbled in her relationships.

Despite her pleas to give ourselves up to “sensual capacity” in judging art, Sontag was a very harsh critic. To the point of being cold, with inscrutable standards. So its interesting to see the person, as neurotic as most people, revealed in her journals. That is not meant as gotcha. I think humanizing Sontag – warts and all, may help save her reputation her as one of the first waves of what we now call public intellectuals.

Dave Brubeck – Take Five – 1966

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anthropomorphism and robots, we’re not all in this together, black and white gravity

Assigning human-like qualities to things nonhuman dates back at least as far as the ancient Greeks – Does the Devil Really Wear Prada? The Psychology of Anthropomorphism and Dehumanization

The term anthropomorphism was coined by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes when describing the similarity between religious believers and their gods — that is, Greek gods were depicted having light skin and blue eyes while African gods had dark skin and brown eyes. Neuroscience research has shown that similar brain regions are involved when we think about the behavior of both humans and of nonhuman entities, suggesting that anthropomorphism may be using similar processes as those used for thinking about other people.

Anthropomorphism carries many important implications. For example, thinking of a nonhuman entity in human ways renders it worthy of moral care and consideration. In addition, anthropomorphized entities become responsible for their own actions — that is, they become deserving of punishment and reward.

Like being able to assign values anthropomorphism can go either way, making a nonhuman entity like a dog or a whale worthy of moral consideration. It also means that we can shroud something nebulous with omnipotence and be willing to kill or die for its sanctity, real or not. Its been a while and I cannot find the link, but a few years ago there was a brief YouTube craze involving the destruction of toy robots or toys that could speak and move. Things came to a head when children saw them and became upset. Thus a related issue arose of hurting robots – non-felling things, because while the robot did not fell pain, those destroying the robots were inflicting pain on children who had assigned human-like qualities to the robots and toys. While the feelings of those children may have been a nuance to some odd strain of geekdom that was just having what it thought was fun, the phenomenon of children bonding with robots may have some benefits for parents of the future – Children perceive humanoid robot as emotional, moral being

Robot nannies could diminish child care worries for parents of young children. Equipped with alarms and monitoring capabilities to guard children from harm, a robot nanny would let parents leave youngsters at home without a babysitter.

Sign us up, parents might say.

Human-like robot babysitters are in the works, but it’s unclear at this early stage what children’s relationships with these humanoids will be like and what dangers lurk in this convenient-sounding technology.

Will the robots do more than keep children safe and entertained? Will they be capable of fostering social interactions, emotional attachment, intellectual growth and other cognitive aspects of human existence? Will children treat these caregivers as personified entities, or like servants or tools that can be bought and sold, misused or ignored?

orchard, spring

black and white gravity

Today on April 9,1865 the treasonous Confederate Army surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, VA, ending the Civil War.

We Are Not All In It Together. Perhaps a super slow economic recovery, but we do seem to be recovering. Though some people are clearly recovering while others struggle.

Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich. In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.

The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income.

If you worked – repaired roofs, drove a delivery truck, waited tables, worked as a clerk selling athletic shoes, mopped the floors in an office building, supervised warehouse deliveries answered customer service call you are barely treading economic water. Fox News and Paul Ryan(R-WI) say that you are a part of the smoocher class. Those people who put on a few thousand dollars in elegant haberdashery, drove a Mercedes to the office and labored in their orthopedic-ally correct chairs for eight to ten hours, they are doing the economy such a favor that conservatives want to reward them with more tax breaks.

mostly black and white with aqua beach towel

Caracol / Certitudes. Some of the photographer neighbors here at WordPress might enjoy the very photographic quality of today’s video.

Chanson / Track : CERTITUDES
Artiste / Artist : CARACOL [caracolmusique.com]
Étiquette + Producteur / Label + Producer : INDICA RECORDS [indica.mu]
Maison de Production / Production House : PARCE QUE FILMS [parcequefilms.com]