The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘meetings’

I Call This Oulipo Meeting to Order, and Other News

May 4, 2016 | by

  • In July 2009, the French mathematician Michèle Audin began to attend the monthly meetings of Oulipo, everyone’s favorite experimental collective. And they involved just as much wine, whining, and rare meat as you’d hope: “Once everyone has entered and settled in, the President draws up the agenda, noting the names of those present and those excused (but only among the living Oulipians, the others are definitively excused ‘for reason of death’), including E and F who don’t come very often. We help ourselves to pre-dinner drinks … The President signs Oulipians up for the ‘Creation’ section: the rule says that, if no one signs up for this section, the meeting is cancelled. In March 2016, we’re up to the 665th meeting, and this has never happened … H and I, who are always late, arrive. J doesn’t drink alcohol, K prefers root beer, everyone has a glass in hand. The meeting begins. L is the one presenting a creation. Tradition requires that we continually interrupt the presentation to complain about the presenter’s never-ending sentences … N found new ‘anticipatory plagiarists’ (Oulipians before the creation of the Oulipo).”
  • A reminder—courtesy of Jessa Crispin, who is, after fourteen years, shutting down her blog, Bookslut—that literature in the U.S. is an over-professionalized, glad-handing extension of academia and corporate mass media, and the Internet hasn’t helped: “It’s just taking the print template and moving it online. I see the Millions used on book blurbs now. They’re so professional, and I mean that as an insult. I didn’t want to become a professional … I just don’t find American literature interesting. I find M.F.A. culture terrible. Everyone is super cheerful because they’re trying to sell you something, and I find it really repulsive. There seems to be less and less underground. And what it’s replaced by is this very professional, shiny, happy plastic version of literature … I don’t feel like publishing is going to be terrible forever. Now I think fiction is more interesting internationally, but there are so many great nonfiction writers here.”
  • Today in words versus numbers: words are fun, sure, and there’s no doubting their power, but the fact is that certain enormous prime numbers are so powerful they’re actually illegal, and I don’t know if words can compete with that. “In the digital age, huge prime numbers are really, really important for encryption … So important, in fact, that having or sharing some of them could get you prosecuted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits people from subverting copyright-prevention measures …  Software to copy DVDs started circulating soon after the DMCA passed, and movie studios sued those distributing the software not long after that—and won … The silliest part? Phil Carmody discovered a 1,401-digit prime number—no, we’re not going to post it—that (with the right know-how) was executable as the very same illegal software—hence, an illegal prime number.”
  • Jacqueline Woodson remembers the day James Baldwin died, and what Giovanni’s Room meant to her: “Having become intrigued by everything he wrote, I moved on to finding pictures and films about him. I knew well the gapped-toothed smile sometimes veiled over by cigarette smoke. I knew the eternal cigarette dangling almost absently between his fore and middle finger. I knew the head thrown back in laughter, the deeply furrowed brow, the rage behind the poetically nuanced answers he gave to deeply uninformed questions about race, economic class, sexuality. I believed I would one day meet him, that we would sit at a café in France (a place I had not yet traveled to) and discuss the politics of queerness, art, our shared Blackness.”
  • Good news: that erotic Brazilian theme park you designed in RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 may soon be a reality. Bad news: you can’t actually have sex there, because think about it—really think about it. “The investors behind ErotikaLand say the park will promote a healthy approach to sex. Parkgoers will be able to tour a museum exploring the history of sexuality, and employees will promote condom use. The park will have a ‘sex playground,’ but it will feature a labyrinth, Ferris wheel and water slide. What the customers cannot have, the investors say, is any actual intercourse—at least, not in the park.”

Simon Says

January 12, 2015 | by

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Photo: Toy Whirl, via Flickr

Not very long ago, family friends got in touch with me. Their son, Luke, was moving to New York for med school; it would be great if I’d see him and told him where to go in the city; he would be in touch. He was. 

“This is three hours of my life I’ll never get back,” I said bitterly to my boyfriend.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Oh, nothing. He’s fine, from what I remember. He’s a perfectly nice guy. But, well, frankly … his parents carry on like he’s some kind of celebrated wit.”

“How do they do that?” Read More »

Minutes from the Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of Microscopists

May 23, 2014 | by

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Minutes from the Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of Microscopists,” published in 1879.

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Eric Earnshaw, After Lunch, 1942

The American Society of Microscopists met in Second Annual Convention, pursuant to the final adjournment of the First Annual Session, in the Central School building, Buffalo, New York, at ten o’clock a.m., August 19th, 1879; the President, Dr. R. H. Ward, in the chair.

The Rev. Dr. Van Bokkelen, of Trinity Church, offered prayer.

Then, on behalf of the local Microscopical Club, Dr. H. R. Hopkins welcomed the visitors with the following address:

Mr. President and Gentlemen: let us exchange congratulations upon this the occasion of the second meeting of the American Society of Microscopists.

I most heartily congratulate each and all of you who have the pleasure of remembering that you assisted in the work of founding this society, and I also congratulate all of you who have the opportunity of attending the second meeting and of enrolling your names among the lists of its members. I also ask you to congratulate the citizens of Buffalo upon the fact that the second meeting of this society is held in our city.

I congratulate you upon the hearty cordiality with which you are made welcome by every member of your local committee, and the various societies and associations which that committee represents, and I ask you to congratulate us upon the cheering prospects that our expectations of the pleasure of listening to your deliberations are so near fruition.

Again I congratulate you upon the fact that there is an American Society of Microscopists, and I believe that the work of recording what Americans have done and are doing for the advancement of this department of science can safely be trusted to the future of the Society. With this thought in my mind, I must congratulate you upon the prospect of having with you one who has had the rare good fortune to teach the world how to make objectives, whose angles extend far outside the limits which authorities had fixed as the boundaries of the possible. Let us give all honor to the modest yet noble American, Mr. Charles A. Spencer, at once the father and the genius of Modern Microscopy. Read More »

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