To a month of links and thinking differently;
And a little bit of noise—
I hope it’s been some fun…
I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained…
Just a Little Background Noise 2.0
a linguistic representation of an autism
Is it any way to capture food?
Of course not, but despite the indelible blow they struck for hapless babysitters in Halloween, their appeal was on the wane— until fairly recently. The information age have made them sexy again. Forget about knitting being the new ‘going out’; because that Roman-Candle just never sticks. Last week, ‘staying in’ was having a revival; before that it was black and it won’t be long before the new black is once again an absence of colour.
It is for some though, the new sex and while there are octogenarians who’d argue that this was always the case— and not just because it strengthened hand muscles and their ability to grip things— but because it catches the imagination in ways I’m only just beginning to understand.
Even I cast a few loops from time to time and rip away for a while error free. I leave plenty ‘signatures’, quite substantial some of them— but any past-time where the word ‘mistake’ is semantically questionable gets the thumbs up from me. They’ve been doing it with every single subject in English schools for a long time.
And is it really surprising it’s thought of as sexy, with stitches called the stockinette or the garter? If they’re for the flirty knitter, perhaps the ribbed stitch is arguably exclusive for her.
That said, I say not. As impressive as these double-knitted, slip-stitches look, they’re just a little bit unmanly. Instead of ‘stitch one, purl one’, why not alternate to the ever diminishing decimal places of pi: ‘stitch one, purl four, stitch one, purl five, stitch nine’ and on and on, ad infinitum?
Combine that with the geometric elements of Cavandoli macramé and you’ve got yourself some yarn-candy for the geeks. For the super geeks though, you’d need something much better…
You see, some materials create more static electricity than others because of their tendency to either give up electrons and become positive in charge or attract electrons and become negative in charge.
Wool for example, just throws its electrons away willy-nilly— so it stands to reason that if you made needles that wolfed them down, you’d have the potential for potential energy. That and electric shocks for whomever was brave enough to use them.
I’d probably try a spiny, teflon-coated-copper-core, with a Styrofoam moulding to bring it flush with exposed spines, and finish it off with a non-conducting gripper, so as not to earth any of the latent charge before it had time to get frenzied; or just ask someone who knows the difference between beans to make some for me.
Add to them a miniaturised version of the pedometer to record the number of stitches stitched in a sitting and you’ve got yourself the makings of a game: equation based of course.
There would be two sums involved:
The duration of the session divided by the number of stitches recorded; and
dropped stitches divided by shocks received
And by dividing the the product of those two sums, you get your index.
Of course, the real fun would be to give a couple of these new fangled sticks to season hardened biddies who have a stitch count you can measure in the balls [of yarn] per minute, or BPMs…
And respect of course. Who’d wanna mess with a juiced up granny?
Sometimes the answers lie in what we choose not to say:
The calendar is stricken and reversed; as such, much better counting down to something I fancy. It is a solution most ordinary, but alternative enough had I not known of the palindrome. But no ordinary one: the alternative palindrome.
I’d start at one and on to 12, halt and return forth-with; or perhaps a pattern based upon the alternative kaleidoscope, which unlike the original model, wasn’t random at all, but split into 4 alternating groups descending by a day at a time— in multiples of 6. The alternative ‘primes’ method was considered for a few minutes but disregarded for being too stupid— but it was the only one that was.
I quite liked it at first: the idea of making something, except when it fell on a day that was ‘prime’ in which case, I just ignored it; and why not? I happen to be prime too also: divisible by myself and one. It’s not something I’d care to try— I saw Braveheart, all stretched out and screaming. So no.
It was even suggested I take a look at the ISO 8601 Original date system, a system designed to prevent confusion and the misplace of time in the future. After all, we wouldn’t want to confuse my date of birth as the year 26111976 would we. Although it wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve met few who’d have to think about it for a while. Anyway, ISO was over-ruled, not just because it was bollocks, but also mean to imbeciles. It was a conscience call.
In any event, we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve needed to write something to someone about something and have struggled. Perhaps the page in mind was too ‘industrial’ or ‘salty’ to have resolved or conveyed what ever the message should have read. It does put a dampener on things, especially if you end up sending a load of ‘unfs’ and ‘ucks’ anyway. Help should be at hand— perhaps in the form of:
The Mood-Syntax Button
Or Mootax for short. It would be an ideal addition to future generations of Word. Not that I can imagine having much faith in it were it so.
Already this morning, it’s tried to persuade me that, ‘I am divisible by myself and one is I not?’ And that ISO 8601, is ‘a system designed to prevent confusion and misplace the time of the future.’ Perhaps it was just being alternative; wasn’t it Agent Mulder who coined the phrase, I believe Microsoft Works?
That said, I do like the notion of the misplacement of time because of a computer error– not all that removed from yesterday is it?
In order for Mootax to work optimally, it would have to be used in conjunction with voice recognition software. A good barney on paper is nothing compared to one: au natural. The minute the fingers get involved there are too many rules; deflation ensues and that constant voice of reason’s forever telling you, ‘you can’t write that.’
So do not…
Switch on, log-in, ‘f’ and blind, cry, whinge, la, laugh, grit, snort or rabbit, ’til a voice you have no more. Convert it to text, highlight it and then select the appropriate mood. I think you’d have to have the option of selecting multiple moods for any passage, including an ‘and’ or ‘but’ variable. For example:
Soft but ‘pissy’ and ‘indifferent but sincere’ wouldn’t have the same ring to them were they both, and not at the expense of either. But that’s where the custom settings would come into play.
A simple questionnaire would suffice in order to capture a Mootax setting which could be pre-programmed and used whenever you felt like it.
As I enter the third day under the roof of ignominious, quasi-disharmony, I decided I ought best choose my words carefully in case my laptop is bugged. And though diligence is not something that comes naturally with a pen in hand, I feel it’s quite possible the being spied upon trope is not an over-reaction, and my house-guest has not gone shopping at all.
I actually considered writing this in the third person to induce ignoratio elenchi and befuddle my would-be observers, but not only would that’ve been far too weird, it would’ve contravened one of my personal laws. To describe my loathing of self-referential utterances in the third-person as rules, would be an affront to my very soul: rules are merely principals to be observed. Laws on the other hand: something to be obeyed. It is called illesim and it’s creepy. Salvador Dali did it once in a televised interview, but if you remember my piece on minimalism, he also once had to be rescued from a deep-sea divers suit with a pair of pliers…
Anyway, as I’ve accepted a luncheon invitation and’d found a suitable pause in my morning’s work, I thought I’d jot down some of my recent acquisitions, one of my old ones, skip the overture and play the second of three specially recorded: symphony of words:
I’ve discovered that it’s part of cats’ original sin to lure their owners into a down-pour wearing dressing-gowns only to be snubbed at the last moment; and playing with a hand-held-fan too close to close to someone’s hair can leave the blades entangled in it. The latter occurred last evening and I have been looking over my shoulder ever since, hence my spy-awareness.
Personally, I can’t really see what all the fuss is about, even my sister laughed, so it must’ve been a little bit funny, even though by then the turbine had actually begun to groan. There was no permanent damage and the marvellous fro-effect was upsettingly temporary.
And lastly, otherwise I’m really going to be late, is the who gives a @#$% pocket. I’d like to call it an invention, but I believe it to be a naturally occurring phenomena, something we all have; and just like addictions or imaginary friends: we just have to acknowledge it’s there. They are simple to use and needn’t be particularly large since they aren’t designed for non-specific items, as it will soon become clear.
Have you ever been in a situation where you have been questioned unnecessarily, or had to endure the dribbling of an inferior; been put on the spot with the express intention to cause yourself embarrassment? Had to suffer the nonsensical ravings of a co-worker, family friend or house-guest?
If the answer is yes, then the who gives a @#$% pocket is like a vacuum for all these things and more. You see, for Baloney Detection Networks and Hemmingway’s bullshit detector to become something more performative, they need a Ghostbusters-like containment unit.
So the next time someone you know has been savaging your ears relentlessly for a month or more about the same old rubbish and you’ve reached the limits of all fissionable care, here’s what you say:
Wait a second, let me look in my who gives a @#$% pocket
You look, then you say: nope, the @#$%er’s empty…
You see the charm and size of your imaginary compartment is both infinitely variable and irreverent because not only is it yours and yours alone, but the @#$%er’s always empty. I discovered it quite by chance one day and have been smiling about it ever since.
Herbert George Wells, War of the Worlds
In the Telegraph today, Douglas Carswell writes:
“For years, the debate about immigration has been dominated by “experts”.
“Complex and inaccessible data was used by remote academics. They crunched the numbers and were left to draw the conclusions. The rest of us had to take it on trust that the facts sustained what they told us.”
The Guardian’s Mary Dejevsky agrees somewhat and tells us [the] immigration debate is not just about numbers … We have to consider people’s daily experience too:
“[The] Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London, found arrivals from the European economic area (EEA) since 1995 to have been even more of an asset to the UK economy than previously thought. They had, it calculated, contributed £8.8bn over the 15 years between 1995 and 2011, and if you considered only the past 10 years, the balance was even more positive.”
However Steve Doughty from The Daily Mail, read the same report and interpreted it slightly differently, claiming that :
“Immigrants from outside Europe have taken £100billion more in benefits and services than they paid back in taxes, a major study revealed yesterday.
“Over a 16-year period, the bill to the taxpayer of providing them with welfare, health and education was 14 per cent higher than the money they put in the national purse.”
This is a problem— when our source material is provided by unimpeachable sources but the conclusions drawn from it are wildly disparate, I’m afraid either the nature of the data or the conclusions must be rendered as lacking validity. At least in a usable, practicable way. Studies ought to inform, not divide in such a binary manner.
This is not a new problem. In an article in Scientific American, Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise, Michael Shermer writes about the mechanisms that allow us to see such differences; it also alows us to see bunny rabbits in fluffy clouds— the same mechanism which results in ‘complex and inaccessible data’ being summarised and presented as fact, while ignoring that:
“Unfortunately, we did not evolve a Baloney Detection Network in the brain to distinguish between true and false patterns.”
It is describing a form of apophenia: the ability we have to see what we want to see; or more simply, the ability to make sense when there is none. In fact, the irony is, I too could be doing just that, but I’ll be describing how I perceive the opinion process in another post, I just wanted to get the Baloney Detection Network out there because I love it, just as much as Hemmingway’s bullshit detector. It’s more or less the same thing.
Anyway, no amount of numbers can alter the fact that immigration is simply someone moving from one place to another. So I ask you, simply…
It’s just a thought…
There a lots of reasons why I started actually writing things down again. One of the isn’ts, was a fear I’d run out of thoughts should I ever to feel the need to just write; granted, I’ve kicked myself from time to time for being so complacent, but when not-actually writing things down is the healthy alternative, you must be philosophical about it; what comes with ease, likewise goes–– and with any luck will do again. I think anyone who’ve ever wanted to go through the motions of transcribing their brains, will agree that it helps to have something in it: a maraca therefore, is preferable to a balloon.
Minds however, regardless of their content will go completely blank from time to time, sometimes in mid-sentence. It can almost feel as though the meadow through which you were just strolling was replaced suddenly by a large carpetless floor with no sky. Sometimes, just sometimes, like all good things and boomerangs, women or elephants; it’ll come back…
It’s realisations like Dorothy Parker’s in The Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals, that makes me smile. I grin only, because it helps me find my place; so at least, when the push comes to shove me to one side and ask me who I think I am, at least I can declare with some certainty, that I am neither woman nor elephant…
I mention this only because it’s more interesting then what inspired the imbecility that followed–– it must be, because for the life of me I can’t imagine whatever possessed me beyond my compulsion to read signs, packaging or anything with writing on for that matter, regardless of what I’m doing–– add to that, a day two bitching %#@&$ing cold.
It was in-part at least, inspired by something I’d read concerning air-fresheners some time back and part, an absurd idea to check out what I reckoned to be an unnecessarily outrageous claim on the back of the packet: one squirt apparently, could keep a bathroom smelling ‘pretty’–– whatever that means–– for thirty minutes.
So upon the utterance of a dismissive twaddle under my breath and in mid-stream, I decided to depress the dispenser not once but thrice–– and it wasn’t long before I was doing my best to recoil from the spot and think of something other than asphyxiation, toxic acidosis or any of a hundred unpronounceably aggressive lung diseases in their most virulent form from overcoming me… and making a mess; right there and then: in mid-stream.
I think it’s moments like these that compel the weak to overcome insurmountable obstacles, like lift buses single-handedly, charge a fortified enemy with nothing but a battle-cry, or survive an asphyxiating atmosphere for thirty seconds longer than need be. I could even be in contravention of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases. It’s not everyday you can say you answered the call of nature and ended up committing a crime against it! Is it?
Besides, If I die young I want it t be something heroic involving thin-ice or a runaway train and not because I became over-come by a raspberry smelling wonder-mist in a toilet. It was a very near thing for sure and must have had something to do with the brain-leak, it’s just gotta…
Easier said than done Mr Wizard…
David Foster Wallace
So with that in mind: I’d like to begin with an idea I had about using stray cats as temporary ‘cats-eyes’. They might not be as hardy as the real thing, but at least you could run over them nine times before replacing them— that said, I am in no way condoning the use of animals as traffic signals or road signs: I love cats, and with any luck the rest’ll be a little less cruel.
Minimalism is very much like dance— ballet to be exact— I am utterly baffled by it. It seems to demand a rather off-putting level of technical knowledge, knowledge I’m afraid would require me to slip into a pair of tights to fully gather. For instance, unless the performer actually falls over, it’s hard to know whether they were dancing moderately or spectacularly.
The same is true of classical music and art— where only an expert can really detect a wrong note or incompetent brush stroke— but with those forms we have the compensations of emotion, colour and story— except, admittedly, in the case of atonal music and art of the blank or practically-blank variety. And it seems that dance, whether classical or contemporary, shares with minimalist symphonies and abstract painting, a problem of narrative.
While great art can contain no story and bad art can consist of nothing but plots, our natural instinct when faced with entertainment is to try to extract a tale or meaning. When watching ballet, I was never sure whether to think he’s pissed with her or she’s trying to stab him or he’s asking the gods for, I don’t know— something?
The problem is that we’re most comfortable with art that achieves its effects verbally. It’s no coincidence that the mass art-forms are literature, cinema, pop, television and theatre. Even with a Beethoven or Mozart symphony, it’s comforting to have a programme or sleeve note revealing what the piece is about.
With dance I always felt as if the audience had to provide mental subtitles for what is essentially a silent film. Some choreographers compensate for this with the use of mime, but this just repels me further— mime being the only art form lower on my list than ballet.
I can only speak for myself, but I’ve found that learning about anything, not only improves your understanding of it, but also your ability make fun of it; should you need to lighten the mood in the the company of over-bearing pretentiousness of course. As such, I think it’s a point that should be hammered home in schools: if the class clowns think they’re funny now, imagine how funny they could be if they could read. The country that does will top the world’s league tables for achievement.
Minimalism is one of those things that needs to be snickered at I think, if not openly mocked— not just because it’s crap and because of the people it attracts— but for a combination of the two. There’s nothing better than observing the complete abandonment of reason that stalk those who follow it.
It just doesn’t have the stories. No matter how you attempt to roll it off the tongue, minimalism is dull:
A 20th century art movement stressing the reduction of work into a minimum number of colours, shapes, lines and texture with no attempt to represent or symbolise anything. It is sometimes called ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, and rejective art.
Now that just about sums it up for me: no attempt to represent or symbolise anything… For example:
Frank Stella, whose pin-striped paintings feature nothing but straight lines running parallel to the edges of the canvas for instance, delivered the ultimate sound-bite of minimalist philosophy, when he declared there was nothing besides the paint on the canvas and what you see is what you see. Wow!
Salvador Dali once gave a lecture in a deep-sea diving suit but had to be extracted from his metal helmet with pliers after becoming asphyxiated. Hilarious, but to a minimalist? I can imagine them either turning up their noses or suggesting he should have done it behind a screen, silently, with no audience— in darkness. What you cannot see therefore, is something you simply cannot see. A kind of Minimalism without the effort.
And what greater expression of minimalism could there be than not turning up to give a lecture no one would be present for anyway? I can imagine them patting themselves on the backs and marvelling at their brilliance and how triumphantly clever they are and wondering why no one had thought of it before.
That said, they must make wonderful house-guests, providing your plates are the right shade of white and the food is all the same colour. Quite…
The Minimalist sedulously eschew obfuscatory hyper verbosity and prolixity, in the smallest possible way of course— and therein is its charm.
As for me, I think I’m far too simple to really get it, beyond the facile syllogism it is what it is, but perhaps that’s the point. I like simple things, like carrier bags, no doubt for similar reasons: every time I go to the cinema there always seems to be hordes of children running about with them over their shoes. I don’t know why and I don’t particularly want to know. I won’t think less of them for their fashion choices and it’s not as if I will take a camera crew to their house and get the neighbours to re-decorate it.
But some people would; and decorators are as culpable as any for the proliferation of minimalistic lexis:
Share space between different uses
Remove formal spaces
Add double-height space
Reduce circulation paths
Build furniture into rooms
Use bedrooms for sleeping
Add a focal point
Bring in the outdoors
Invite natural light
Tie spaces together
Reveal the structure
Be playful and imaginative
Plan for flexibility
And all these things appear quite normal until you actually start to combine a couple of them— and then you get to the bottom of what they really mean. These are not scholars of the English language, otherwise they’d not’ve bothered. This is ‘verbosity’ merely posing as minimalism: bob-a-jobbers posing as intellectuals or stylists or whatever the professional nomenclature is these days…
The tying of spaces together to separate spaces make for endless hours of shuffling, especially once any formality of space has been withdrawn. But then again, what you see is what you see, so let us reveal the structure by bringing the inside out, whilst bringing the outside, inside-in; inviting ‘in’ the natural light to accompany the focal point. Hell, why not an indoor water feature?
Perhaps then we could entice raccoons to dinner; the sun past the zenith; sing a one word hymn to the dribble of damp bamboo; and find a way to squeeze through the space that was once formal.
I am curious though, as to how one actually reduces circulation paths unless you‘re actually tying spaces together: wouldn’t that cause asphyxiation and require evacuation with pliers? And how does one share space between different uses unless the different uses are in fact the separation and binding of space— is it prior to them being de-formed? Surely this taints the principal behind it somewhat.
If it is what it is— it must surely and can only mean, that it is and wants to be a de-form of some kind. Or perhaps it has no choice? Anti-art for no-one’s sake whatsoever.
And this is before we’ve been playful and imaginative by building our furniture into rooms. I know I can do it— especially after adding a double height ceiling; but how this would squeeze into the minimalist ethos, I’m not entirely sure.
As for extreme minimalism, I suppose less truly does mean more and to hell with ceilings altogether.
Thinking about it now though leaves me strangely depressed. Perhaps I should have stuck to thinking about:
aubergine juggling and
novelty uses for children as expressions of style;
all the other all important questions I haven’t addressed, including:
Is there room for growth in minimalism?
What do they really call themselves?
And if so, where does it go next?
Michel de Montaigne
Were it not for the house-sitting I’ve been doing for my sister, I would no doubt have finished the few things I’ve been working on; I’d been looking forward to it too— but after spending most of today getting over yesterday; which was spent in much the same way as today; and then moving back: I’m in a full-blown phase-state. I’m sure you’ll all know a variance of it well: a lack of decent sleep leaving you feeling half-awake, physically drained and not too clever; have work in your head but getting to it requires the services of the part of your brain’s that’s already in bed.
This is what shifting houses can do to me, it can throw me out of whack, out of sleep and leave me rather worse for wear; and this is before factoring in Asbo the anti-social beast my sister calls a pet. I should ideally have come home during the day, sat at my table with my view, next to the kitchen and been irritated by my own cat: she’s allowed to do that, she’s a monster I can take all the credit for, but Asbo— though he’s a magnificent looking creature, he has an inherency to maim and strike fear into you. Physically, it’d be all too easy to describe him as low-maintenance because he’s either indoors sleeping or outside prowling— but that doesn’t take into account the time spent dressing the assorted wounds he inflicts as a matter of course. In deed, thirty seconds after arriving on Tuesday, I was bleeding from where my right calf used to be.
My sister thinks this is all wonderfully amusing, it’s just her way— she actually called me up to see how things were going and if she was surprised I was still able to answer the phone she hid it well. She said there was some chicken that Asbo and I could share if we wanted. I told her he hadn’t asked for any and of course, she felt the need to point out, he’s a cat, of course he hasn’t asked you… I told her I’d just eaten and’d left some for later— she said, Oh, you’d better check that…
“The little shit, he’s…”
“What’s he done?” *snorting*
“He’s finished my sodding dinner!”
“What was it?” *still snorting*
“Chicken… Don’t you dare!”
“So he did want some chicken…”
Neither my dinner, nor the cat was anywhere to be seen…
Anyway, the other side of physical side is the stressy side— the anxiety of letting him loose, which isn’t much worse than knowing I’m in the house alone with him. It’s just I like to know that if he wants back in, I’ll be ready; maybe in some deluded way hoping that he’ll return the favour by not mauling me every time he sees me.
So naturally the knock on effect isn’t much fun; I feel slow and far, far duller than is usually the case. I need a quiet evening with the doorbell unplugged and a decent night’s sleep, then hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some work.
And kind of how I actually sound in real-life…
Except that the friendly ghost actually was the prime-shaker responsible for my non-participation this evening. The soiree I was invited to didn’t really appeal to me that much, it never does. The parent’s godchildren were going to be there and because someone with no brain whatsoever decided to take my advice, they now have kids with 90% of their bodies without so much as an ounce of bejesus in them. However, after actually watching Scream they did comment— much to my amusement— how much they were enjoying it until Casper started killing everyone— thereby laying their own stepping-stones for years of future therapy. I decided it was in my best interests to leave them to their baked potatoes and Transylvanian Stew.
I can then vaguely recall having an important revelation whilst tearing off my fingernails so I had something to give to the trick or treaters— about something or other but alas, as with most things today, my mind has just turned the other way in embarrassment— shunning me like a giant turd…
I am aware of course that turds do not shun or be shunned; are merely flushed away without a second thought. It’s just I found the idea of a giant shunning turd, particularly on Hallowe’en, an amusing concept. If for no other reason, because it would be the last thing I’d ever expect to come get me; just like Casper with disco-hips and a twelve inch tempered-steel blade. I mean, come on! It’s not a kids film, stop taking anything I say seriously!
One thing I do remember though, was a little ditty I had whilst flicking through hundreds of thousands of television channels, attempting to find some gore for this evening and failing miserably. Anywise, between the profanity I was hurling at every unsuccessful attempt, was born a new cure for food poisoning. If Head and Shoulders could wipe out the microbes that cause unsightly bonce-flakes after a few applications, imagine the speedy recovery from the pain of a dodgy barbecue you could make from downing just a few shots of the ammoniun laureth sulfate rich formula. Naturally, some form of long-glass milk based cocktail could probably be developed to take the edge off the really bad cases, but I reckon that, even if I’m wrong, I could still be on to a winner.
The rubbish that occupies my mind sometimes is just, well! Dangerous, if you’re stupid enough to take it overtly literally. Whatever, I want a snack.
So now this post has been taken care of, I need some rest and a cup of tea— and owing to an unexpectedly busy day and no sleep last night, I haven’t had time to bring together in a glorious arc, the relevance of my recent brain-foraging. There’s a plan to it all I’m sure and something about today’s about to harbour a severe rattling fit if I ignore the popcorn for a second longer, so-no more ado: