A collection, with occasional commentary.

Cover of The Organized Mind

I listened to The Organized Mind by Daniel J Levitin at 1.5x speed while walking Cap, the new dog. This may be not be what the author intended.

The idea of externalizing as much of our memory as possible so that we can free our brain up for thinking is not a new idea to me. This certainly gave it more structure. Especially if that structure will allow you to function better in the white, male world in which we live.

There was so much of this book that seemed bent on an idea of organization that was built by a dominate culture and not necessarily, well, right. Even while some — pull out the album next to the one you remove so you can refile more easily — makes perfect sense. And some — the order in which languages invent the words for colors — is fascinating.

It all seems to depend on the idea that an organized thinker is a hierarchical thinking, striving for speedy solutions, and ability to move forward. And not the messy abstractness that so often seems to be life.

Certainly, this is another book that helped me understand myself, in good and bad ways. I can see why computer geeks love this book — it almost gives rules for interactions with humans. It also is a guide for the rules of a white dominated mental system and culture that may or not be helpful.

#reading #nonfiction #DanielLevitin

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

I listened to Silos, Politics and Turf Wars by Patrick M. Lencioni for work. Well, more directly for work than the many other things I read for work.

Lencioni's books are business books told in a story format, prioritizing the people, their relationships, and decisions and placing them in a real world. It is still though a business book and while enjoyable enough, you wouldn't really read them for the plot.

I read this book at the recommendation of a colleague to think about how we might use similar techniques, particularly the idea of a thematic goal to help drive organizational cohesion and change, which maybe is hard to do all at once.

The part that strikes me is that this is not so much about having a thematic goal. Rather it is the process of getting leadership to define and buy in to the thematic goal that has the real value. But maybe that is always the case.

#reading #nonfiction #PatrickLencioni

... (Nicole) Eisenman’s father was running a campaign against her sexuality. “I would get a fat envelope of legal-size paper, his writing front and back, just making a case for why it was dangerous and bad and ruining my life,” she said. “It was such a fucked-up thing to do. And then you can see his tears on the page, the ink running.” Eisenman laughed. “It was really hard. I always felt like I had to read the letters. I should have just thrown them out.” She was ill-equipped to fight back. “I knew he was wrong, but it got in my head,” she said. “I didn’t know enough. I was too young. Pre-Internet, I didn’t know where to look to find the writing I needed.”

Eisenman said of her father, “It was just this one thing, which was a big thing. It really fucked our shit up.” She added, “My mom saw it, and she didn’t intervene.” (When Eisenman and I were in Scarsdale, later that week, her mother said, “When Nicky came out as gay, I totally blamed myself. And I felt absolutely crushed. It really was very hard.”)

“But, you know, all of that fed my work in the early nineties,” Eisenman said. “It was really about visibility, and a big ‘Fuck you’ to the patriarchy—namely, him.” She checked herself. “It was not just him. It was all of culture, it was my education. I was going to risd and reading Janson”—H. W. Janson’s “History of Art”—“and it was this thick, and there wasn’t one woman in the entire book. I didn’t read anything about feminism at risd. I had to catch up on that stuff, you know, over the years, on my own.”

From Every Nicole Eisenman Picture Tells A Story

Years ago, I saw Ann Bannon speak. She was a professor at California State University, Sacramento. Even though colleagues sometimes recognized her voice, she still wasn't open about her own name, preferring to keep Ann Bannon and the lesbian novels she wrote separate. She said women came up to her after talks and told her about finding her books on racks at bus stations and in drug stores. Reading them to learn they were not alone. Ann Bannon, the real person, was married to a man then. She went to New York City to do what she called research for her novels. Before the Internet, she gave clues to a generation of lesbians on how to be.

I read Beebo Brinker as an adult. It was already kitsch. And still, it helped me understand myself in a different way. I had gotten my pre-Internet clues from Buddy, Kristi McNichol's character on the TV show Family. Jo in Little Women. Anything Jodie Foster did. I got my clues from the people who were teased at school. The jokes about the sailors in the Navy-heavy town in which I grew up.

I am Nicole Eisenman's age. I devoured this part of her profile. Coming out and her parents and the way she understood herself in the world. Understands herself in a world with changing gender norms and conventions. It isn't the biggest part of this New Yorker profile, of course.

The biggest part is her art. The big and wonderful Another Green World which I have seen in person. I think at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, a museum I love and that I had a chance to visit recently in the pandemic definition of recent where an entire year became the longest March ever. My wife, daughter, and I saw her sculpture Procession at the Whitney Biennial.

I am looking forward to seeing Another Green World again, with this profile in mind. With our ways of understanding ourselves. The indeterminateness of this painting. The figures' genders, their attention, the perspective, the art history from which it borrows. This way of understanding ourselves that is everything and not quite any of it, all at once. This way of understanding that resists definition.

#queer #identity #art #NicoleEisenman #AnnBannon

This is how the sausage is made. Dancing to no music, hearing the squeak of sneakers on the dance floor, smelling everybody’s B.O. This is the process whereby I, a person who has never so much as entered an actual club, now gets to act like it was my natural habitat. Or so I thought as I sat on the floor of the black box once our break ended, evaluating my bruised knees. Grinding for 12 hours to make an extra $250–this was not Hollywood glamour. This was becoming part of the sausage. I was the meat that was parsed and separated so that the different parts of the animal become meaningless, all part of the same, satisfying, salty tube.

Hollywood has already created a version of transness that the broader world finds somewhat acceptable. But these trans people don’t look like me, and they don’t feel like me. They’re growing up in a world where they can be out in high school and transition early enough to not lose years of their life and fuck who they want and be what they want, and I’m a little too late for that. I’m a little too old, too messy, for the glittery version of my own life Hollywood is trying to sell back to me. 

From Death of a Disco Dancer – Popula

#essay #LosAngeles #queer

Trump’s lawyers proceeded in the impeachment trial with the same rhetorical technique Trump and his supporters use: they flat-out lied. Clearly, they were not trying to get at the truth but were instead trying to create sound bites for right-wing media, the same way Trump and the rest of his cabal convinced supporters of the big lie that he had won, rather than lost, the 2020 election. In that case, they lied consistently in front of the media, but could not make anything stick in a courtroom, where there are penalties for not telling the truth.

From February 13, 2021 – Letters from an American

Misinformation is about structuring the lie, the fiction to be taken as true. When the people who are holding the mic are building a false narrative the goal can be to get pieces of a lie read into public record. So that it can be stitched together with other pieces and spread.

#democracy #misinformation #Jan6

chart comparing executive orders

This chart is from The Economist shows the pace of Biden's ex cutive orders in the first two days of his administration. It's plotted against previous presidents to show the comparison. The swing at the end and beginning of these charts is interesting. It idicates, I think, that we may be heading towards bigger regime changes as we get more and more polarized.

It's not just the president welding his own. It's also the stalemating of Congress. The idea that becomes a venue to stop action or race through action (see Sepreme Court Justices).

I don't understand this well. It's a nugget I'm following.

#democracy #AmericasStudies

I don’t remember when I first learned about semicolons, nor do I have a mental list of remarkable semicolons in literature. I don’t want to have to treasure them, though the typical advice for writers of all levels is to use them sparingly, as if there’s a limited supply. This only breeds fear, which in turn breeds stigma: Semicolons are ugly, pretentious and unnecessary; they immaturely try to have it both ways. There are so many things to fear in life, but punctuation is not one of them. That semicolons, unlike most other punctuation marks, are fully optional and relatively unusual lends them power; when you use one, you are doing something purposefully, by choice, at a time when motivations are vague and intentions often denied. And there are very few opportunities in life to have it both ways; semicolons are the rare instance in which you can; there is absolutely no downside.

From The Case for Semicolons – The New York Times (via)


The way to change people’s minds is to become friends with them, to integrate them into your tribe, to bring them into your circle. Now, they can change their beliefs without the risk of being abandoned socially.

From an article that is not about disinformtion Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds


From Free: Here for It, #214 – Here for It w/ R. Eric Thomas

We put so much on Whitney’s anthem, but the performance can hold it. It’s too much to ask of a person, an artist, maybe even a nation. But the performance, the performance is something from another world, another way of existing. When I listen to it now, when I read about it, when I write about it, this performance doesn’t have the same nostalgic tinge that so many other cultural touchtones have. It is still immediate. It is still up there, out there, all around us wrestling with the ideas it espouses, the context of which it was born, the concept of freedom.

#WhitneyHouston #NationalAnthem

From The Decades-Old Classic That Became the Ultimate Pandemic Poem – Brain Pickings

It is the only villanelle Bishop ever wrote. She surprised even herself. A spare and careful poet who published very few and very meticulous poems, she composed it with astonishing rapidity, feeling that it was “like writing a letter,” redrafting and retitling it over and over.

“How to Lose Things.”

“The Gift of Losing Things.”

“The Art of Losing Things.”

And finally, fifteen drafts later, “One Art.”

“One Art” is one of my favorite poems. One of the few poems I know by heart.

And it is the poem I am most likely to mention at work. I mention it all the time. I even have a set of slides ready, for easy insertion into a deck.

In part because you can visit her drafts of the poem. In part, because it is a villanelle.

I talk about productions at work. And I mean “productions” as the things we publish. I mean these as a form of art. And I believe these productions happen at the place where creativity is bound by constraints then polished by craft and put into a form that allows someone who did not participate in the making to engage.

“One Art” read aloud in a work context – the drafts and changed lines on the slides – is such a lovely example of what we can aspire to with productions.

P.S. I tried to work in another Bishop poem I love. I couldn't quite and so add it here: “Arrival at Santos”

#creativity #craft #ElizabethBishop #OneArt #poetry