Archive for the ‘Martin Heidegger’ Category

augSOUNDTRACK: LA MISA NEGRA-“Sancocho” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2016).

misanegraLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners-up that they especially liked.  I want to draw attention to a couple of them.

La Misa Negra is a cumbia-loving band from Oakland, Calif.  There are eight members in the band.  There’s a drummer with a small kit but lots of frenetic drumming, and a bongo player who is also frenetic.  The percussion is pretty major in this band.

There’s also a sax, trumpet, clarinet, guitar and upright bass.  The guitar player does super fast ska chords, while the horns plays some insanely fast riffs.  The singer is full of yips and trills.  It’s a non-stop fun rollicking ride.

I have no idea what they’re singing about (it’s all in Spanish) and I just don’t care, (“Sancocho” is named after a hearty stew popular in several Latin American countries).

Their tiny desk is a school seat with the writing top attached to the side.  By the end it can’t contain the singer who has to get up and dance around too.

What a fun song.

[READ: February 10, 2016] “In Praise of Boredom”

The August 2015 Harper’s had a “forum” called How to Be a Parent.  Sometimes these forums are dialogues between unlikely participants and sometimes, like in this case, each author contributes an essay on the topic.  There are ten contributors to this Forum: A. Balkan, Emma Donoghue, Pamela Druckerman, Rivka Galchen, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Ben Lerner, Sarah Manguso, Claire Messud, Ellen Rosenbush and Michelle Tea.  Since I have read pieces from most of these authors I’ll write about each person’s contribution.

I don’t know Claire Messud, but I totally related to this essay,

She is about my age and explains that the world she grew up in no longer exists.  She says her parents, while wanting for nothing, were always frugal–they saved Ziploc bags and repaired things rather than threw them away.

They didn’t aspire to material wealth or popular culture, but rather they traveled a lot and had the children read.  But Claire says that as a child she would rather have her own record player and clothes from the Gap.

So when her mom went to work she grew absorbed in pop culture TV and she felt like she became less serious than her parents.

I agreed with this:

The comparative ease of our upbringing first inspired guilt, then defiance. If, as our parents said, we should be eternally grateful for our comfort, then couldn’t we be grateful without feeling bad about it? Why should we accept that the hard path was always superior? Why shouldn’t we enjoy life’s pleasures? Why believe that reading Beckett or, God forbid, Heidegger, was an innately more worthy activity than watching music videos? Says who?

She knows that reading Beckett is a stimulating hour, but she can spend that hour just as happily watching Scandal. (more…)

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witmis4SOUNDTRACK: PANIC-Requiem for Martin Heidegger (1978).

13+LP+Hoes++VoorkantPanic was a Dutch punk band.  Their album 13 came out in 1978 and “Requiem for Martin Heidegger” was the final track.  I love the album cover (and no I had never heard of this band either).

The lyrics are wonderfully simple (and no you won’t learn a thing about the man) with the completely singable chorus of “Hi-Degger, Hi-Degger, Hi-Degger, Hi-Degger, Hi!”

There are some other lyrics (including ein, zwei, drei, vier) and “Is he in heaven, is he in hell, where has he gone?  no one can tell.”

There’s some introductory chatter which I think is in German, but may be in Dutch.  But that’s all irrelevant, because this is three minutes of classic 70s punk.  And the video is a hoot too.

[READ: October 30, 2013] Wittgenstein’s Mistress p. 120-180

Although I read the first half of this book rather quickly, I took some time off before reading this section.  The good news is that this book does not require constant attention.  The bad news is that because there are so many details in the book (whether “relevant” or not) it’s easy to forget if she has talked about the different pieces before.  And that is kind of the point from her a well, since she constantly questions whether she has talked about something or not.

I’m breaking from my normal summary for a minute because I wanted to bring up something that struck me as I was reading this.  Several times throughout the book I found myself searching the web for ideas and facts that she mentions.  And it struck me that, while yes, in her world, the internet wouldn’t be working anyhow—there’s no electricity even—but she would not even have the concept of being able answer her questions with a few clicks.  This book wasn’t written that long ago, but when it was, the internet as we know it didn’t exist.  So our narrator does not know that she could have answered all of her questions in just seconds.  If this book was written now, it might even be seen as a “point” that the world no longer has such easy access to information.  But that is not an issue in this book.  Rather, our narrator simply knows that unless she is willing to dig through boxes or really wrack her brain to be able to remember where she found the information (and we know that’s not going to be successful), she simply won’t “know” what she knows.  And it’s interesting to imagine what it was like to read this book back in the 1980s without being able to quickly confirm  that indeed Wittgenstein said this or Heidegger said that or even that any of the artists she mentions really did what she says.   And I find that really fascinating.

Vaguely connected to this idea is her wondering about some details of the Savona soccer jerseys and then saying “One is scarcely about to return to Savona to check on this, however.” (122). (more…)

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witmis3SOUNDTRACK: TOULOUSE LAUTREC-“Yesman” (2013).

heroesToulouse Lautrec are an alternative rock band from Romania.  Once again, I would not have ever heard of them had I not looked fora song about Lautrec (since he is mentioned in this section of the reading).

Toulouse Lautrec have two albums out, Heroes and their new one Extraordinar. They sing in both Romanian and English and this song (which is the first thing that came up on my search) is entirely in English.

It starts out with some very cool guitar riffs (very math rock–I actually considered it might be an instrumental).  Even the bass is doing something interesting behind the guitars.  Then about 50 seconds in the vocals begin.  And the singer has an almost American twang to him.

The chorus is a simple one, with ooh hoo hoo hoos.  But the real fun is at the end of each verse–the I say no I Say no and I say yes I say yes.

I listened to this song a few times and really liked it a lot.  It’s simple but solid alt-rock.  Then I found their website and watched a few more of their videos.  I really like the sound that they get–kind of buzzy guitars but otherwise very clean.

Check out the video for Yesman

and their site (which is in Romanian, but Google Translate will help you navigate)

[READ: October 20, 2013] Wittgenstein’s Mistress p. 61-120

This book is proving to be far less daunting and far more loose and fun than I anticipated.  As you can see by my “read” date, I finished this almost two weeks ahead of time.  In part it’s easy because unless I am gravely mistaken, there’s nothing really to “remember” about the story.  There are details and I think they are ponderable, but there’s nothing that seems to really impact the story. It’s more a series of ideas.

It’s really quite an audacious piece of writing.

Wittgenstein gets his first mention on page 61

“Once Bertrand Russell took his pupil Ludwig Wittgenstein to watch Alfred North Whitehead row, at Cambridge.  Wittgenstein became very angry with Bertrand Russell for having wasted his day” [61].

There are some meaty existential issues brought up like

“Surely one cannot type a sentence saying that one is not thinking about something without thinking about he very thing that one says one in not thinking about” [63]. (more…)

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[LISTENED: April 15, 2013] Shop Class as Soulcraft

shopcraftMy sister-in-law Karen got me this audio book for Christmas.  Now that I have a daily commute I had a chance to listen to it.  And it has really stayed with me.  I think about things from it nearly every day.

Think of the book as “Western Philosophy and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  Crawford studied philosophy in college.  He later went to work for a think tank.  But underneath all of that learning was a kid who worked as an electrician and a man who was always a gearhead.  So after working in a knowledge job, he quit the life and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Virginia (Shockoe Moto).  This is very likely the only book that quotes Heidegger and Hannah Arendt and also liberally uses the words shit and motherfucker (until I write my novel, of course).

My initial reaction to this book was not great.  I didn’t especially like the reader, Max Bloomquist (although I see he is a frequent audiobook voice).  His voice reminded me a lot of old filmstrips from grade school–a little stilted (which made the cursing even more surprising).  But I got used to it after an hour or so.  I also didn’t like the introduction/first chapter.  There was something about the tone of the Introduction that was either snooty or pedantic which I found off-putting.  The first chapter was a lengthy summary/example of what the book was supposed to be about–so much so that it felt like he wouldn’t need the rest of the book.  By the end of the chapter I didn’t understand why there was so much left.  So I’m actually pleased with myself for sticking with it, as I really didn’t enjoy the first two hours or so.  It was an uncomfortable mix of fifty cent words and a comparable dismissal of people who use them, or at least that’s how it felt.

But then he seemed to loosen up and that’s when it got really interesting.  His story is a fascinating one.  I think he grew up on a commune (although I feel like he only started talking about that about midway through the book).  His scholarship, his abandonment of it, his love of motorcycles and his work as an electrician and an apprentice mechanic all led to where he is now–a well-rounded individual. (more…)

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