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Posts Tagged ‘business’

The Limits of a Language, and Other News

August 21, 2014 | by


From Fred Benenson’s Emoji Dick.

  • Could writers learn from carpenters? … Writers need to know more about the business of their art … During the days of postal submissions, writers often had to read ‘an issue or two of the publications to which they submitted, mainly due to the fact that that was largely how anyone knew about what journals were out there.’ Now writers unfamiliar with the submission process can sometimes produce ‘absurd results.’ ”
  • Stop. Look around you. Think. Are you in a Balzac novel? Some telltale signs: “There’s a woman you’d like to sleep with, so you decide to tell her an off-putting story about murder, castration, or bestiality … You play a lot of whist … You once tried to have sex with a panther.”
  • As a kind of language, emoji “are the social lubricant smoothing the rough edges of our digital lives: they underscore tone, introduce humor, and give us a quick way to bring personality into otherwise monochrome spaces.” But are they too conservative? “What habits of daily life do emoji promote, from the painted nails to the martini glasses? What behavior do they normalize? … In a broad sense, what emoji are trying to sell us, if not happiness, is a kind of quiescence … Emoji can represent cocktails, paparazzo attacks, and other trappings of Western consumer and celebrity culture with ease. More complicated matters? There’s no emoji for that.”
  • Oops. Now was not a good moment to release a feature film called Let’s Be Cops: “this is our only movie starring law enforcement run amok, at a moment when much of the nation is outraged that actual law enforcement is doing the same.”
  • When a programmer inserted the classic “Lorem Ipsum” placeholder text into Google Translate, he got some strange results. Cue the conspiracy theorists.


Warhol via Floppy Disk, and Other News

April 25, 2014 | by

warhol floppy

Andy Warhol, Andy2, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

  • Shakespeare: playwright, poet, armchair astronomer. “Peter Usher has a very elaborate theory about Hamlet, in which the play is seen as an allegory about competing cosmological worldviews … Claudius happens to have the same name as Claudius Ptolemy, the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer who we now associate most closely with the geo-centric Ptolemaic worldview.”
  • From the mideighties: Andy Warhol’s rediscovered computer art.
  • New research by the University of California-San Diego’s Rayner Eyetracking Lab—nobody tracks eyes like the Rayner—suggests that speed-reading apps might rob you of your comprehension skills.
  • I have been surreptitiously scrutinizing faces wherever I go. Several things have struck me while undertaking this field research on our species. The first is quite how difficult it is to describe faces … We might say that a mouth is generous, or eyes deep-set, or cheeks acne-scarred, but when set beside the living, breathing, infinitely subtle interplay of inner thought, outward reaction and the nexus of superimposed cultural conventions, it tells us next to nothing about what a person really looks like.”
  • In Germany, business is booming. The secret: pessimism. “German executives are almost always less confident in the future than they are in the present.”
  • Discovered in an archive of the LAPD: more than a million old crime-scene photographs, some of them more than a century old.



Business as Poetry

February 18, 2014 | by

The poet A. R. Ammons was born on this day in 1926.


Photo: East Carolina University


I know that you worked in your father-in-law’s biological glass factory as a vice president in charge of sales. Were you interested in the work or was it dull?


It wasn’t dull. I have a poem somewhere explaining how running a business is like writing a poem. In business, for example, you bring in the raw materials and then subject them to a certain kind of human change. You introduce the raw materials into a system of order, like the making of a poem, and once the matter is shaped it’s ready to be shipped. I mean, the incoming and outgoing energies have achieved a kind of balance. Believe it or not, I felt completely confident in the work I was doing. And did it, I think, well.

—A. R. Ammons, the Art of Poetry No. 73



Cooking About Architecture; CEOs and Poets

March 25, 2011 | by

“Writing about music is like cooking about architecture” is a quote that has been variously ascribed to Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, and Brian Eno, but can you suggest any books that suggest contrariwise? Or should I set to work on that cassoulet about Le Corbusier? —Arnold S.

My favorite newish book of criticism, August Kleinzahler’s Music: I-LXXIV moved me to tears and laughter, generally at once. Kleinzahler is equally opinionated on the subjects of German Romantics, hard bop, and Liberace. The fact that I knew nothing about any of them did not lessen my enjoyment of Kleinzahler’s prose. When Kleinzahler’s writing, I could happily read an essay about riding the bus in San Diego or seeing a stupid movie on Christmas Eve. (In fact I recommend that book, too.) If you are a midcentury jazz guy, I suggest Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful, biographical vignettes that manage (at least for this reader) also to be about the music. If you want to read about pop music, check out Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives, with standout essays by Benjamin Kunkel, Sheila Heti, Peter Terzian, and our own John Jeremiah Sullivan. And if you want to read a deceptively deep little treatise on the whole idea of music criticism—at least when it comes to pop—read Carl Wilson’s contribution to the 33 1/3 series: Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste.

True story: I know a guy who wrote to CEOs as a kid, proclaiming how strongly he wanted to be a top business executive when he grew older. Years of persistent snail mail, and finally, in his late teens, he caught the attention of a wealthy business tycoon who offered him an internship at his company. Now, in his mid-twenties, this man is the head of university relations at an educational start-up company, working under the same businessman that hired him as a teenager. And now for my question: what is the likelihood of such dreams coming true in the literary sphere? —Fred

Happens all the time. Just replace CEOs with quarterliesbusiness executive with poetwealthy business tycoon with editorhead of university relations at an educational start-up company with poet, and subtract several hundred thousand dollars a year.

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