Back in the late '70s, Dylan complained in an interview about the bizarre range of topics about which interviewers would ask him.
“Well,” said the interviewer, “what do you think they should ask you about?”
“I don’t know," he answered. "Maybe music?".
That was always my intention going in, and a sensible one, to talk about songwriting with the man who has profoundly transformed it over the years. And Dylan - like so many other songwriters' we've spoken to -was happy to talk about this ancient art to which he's devoted his life, and which has been so profoundly shaped by the impact of his own work.
It was a promise I'd always emphasize in my interview requests, that my goal was to have a serious conversation about songwriting, music, songs and the creative process – nothing else. Nothing about the personal life, or anything unrelated to music. Dylan had read some of the past interviews and liked the approach, especially my two-part interview with Paul Simon.
Being a lifelong and devotional songwriter myself, I came informed and inspired to these interviews, which was usually fun and refreshing for those being interviewed, as it's rare for songwriters to be asked about the mystery and mechanics of music itself, although it is there that their genius lives. And as musicians know - we talk to fellow musicians differently than to civilians. Because music itself is a different language - one which reaches beyond words - and seeing the world through the eyes and heart of a songwriter is a distinct experience, as in being an artist in the music industry.
Unusually I'd let on that I was a songwriter and musician by discussing a song's key - or chords - which always registers. Because though they rarely discuss it, that is where songwriters live: not only in lyrics and rhymes, but in the many colors of musical keys, major and minor, and those chords used forever to discover and propel melodies. Dylan is a remarkable craftsman - his care for intricate rhyme schemes, perfect meter, singability has been prominent since the start - and he happily answered questions about keys, chords, rhymes and the rest.
Widespread closures have roiled the retail industry, but many more stores are likely to shut down in coming years to keep up with a shift to online shopping, according to a report by investment firm UBS.
An estimated 75,000 stores that sell clothing, electronics and furniture will close by 2026, when online shopping is expected to make up 25 percent of retail sales, according to UBS. Roughly 16 percent of overall sales are made online.
Analysts said the closures would affect a broad variety of retailers, affecting an estimated 21,000 apparel stores, 10,000 consumer electronics stores and 8,000 home furnishing stores.
According to Lasch, the progressive cliche of the obsolete family is right, but it is right for the wrong reasons. The notion of the cloistered, nuclear family, the titular “haven in a heartless world,” was itself a response to the atomizing horrors of industrialization. Before industrialization, families were larger, multi-generational, and very much integrated into social, community, and economic life. For quite literally countless generations, children watched their parents work and usually the workplace was also home. Industrialization, among other factors, explodes this ancient version of the homestead, scattering large and highly self-sufficient groups into what we know as the atomic family. These sub-units were then, in the post-industrial West, no longer localized or very self-sufficient. Authority itself, as experienced by children especially, is transferred from the immediate environment to far-off abstract entities: “the state, the corporation, the medical and educational bureaucracies,” as Scialabba lists them.
This strange drift of authority away from the concrete and immediate surroundings makes it that much more difficult for the child to properly individuate and achieve something like emotional and psychological independence. The affection of the nuclear parents is not enough if they do not embody a real authority. In Lasch’s words, “Love without authority does not make a conscience.” What it does create is a narcissist, a personality type which Lasch defines as:
wary of intimate, permanent relationships, which entail dependence and thus may trigger infantile rage; beset by feelings of inner emptiness and unease . . . ; preoccupied with personal “growth” and the consumption of novel sensations; prone to alternating self-images of grandiosity and abjection; liable to feel toward everyone in authority the same combination of rage and terror that the infant feels for whoever it depends on; unable to identify emotionally with past and future generations and therefore unable to accept the prospect of aging, decay, and death.
This could also be the description of the emotional makeup of the ideal consumer.
"The multiverse aspect of the show is interesting, but ultimately sad. It seems to be a pretty popular theme these days. Fringe was doing it a while back; Counterpart, Stranger Things, and even Rick and Morty have explored the idea. But how far does the infinite refraction of the multiverse actually take us? Rather than expressing something exciting and meaningful, it almost seems like a nihilistic trap representing the imaginative limit of secular notions of reality. In a world denuded of transcendence, there can only be an almost autistic accumulation of more of the same. Instead of transformation, there’s just a perpetual endless stream of equivalence and correspondence. In a way, it’s related to Black Mirror’s uploaded consciousness. The stakes are the same. Transcendence, in any meaningful sense, is unthinkable. Reality is fundamentally a prison of self, as far as the mind can roam."
LIKE DIET BOOKS, published and read in a steady stream despite—or thanks to—their near-total ineffectuality, manuals like Digital Minimalism (2019) and How to Break Up with Your Phone (2018) seem destined to appear year after year. Readers seek reprieve. They find individualized solutions ill-suited to breaking the habits that big technology companies have built into systems. It’s a recipe for recidivism.
But what’s the alternative? Artist and writer Jenny Odell suggests: nothing. Her new book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, looks at first glance like another contribution to the literature of digital detox. But Odell deliberately positions herself against this tradition. “All too often, things like digital detox retreats are marketed as a kind of ‘life hack’ for increasing productivity,” she writes. The result is a loop, in which a step away from your devices doubles as a step toward using them more efficiently, often for the ultimate benefit of bosses and shareholders. For Odell, “doing nothing” means breaking this cycle by resisting both the social media-driven “attention economy” and the “unforgiving landscape of productivity.”
Not long out of the army, living in an apartment in Brooklyn, giving the Dead another try and...a few minutes into the China/Rider and I "get" it. And I've been trying to make the best of my obsession ever since.
Here’s a headline worth pondering: “Chinese parents want students to wear dystopian brainwave-detecting headbands.” The story, on the website SupChina, details the latest innovation at the Jiangnan Experimental School in Hangzhou.
Interestingly enough, the electronic headband, dubbed Focus EDU, is made by a Harvard-incubated American startup, BrainCo, based in Somerville, Massachusetts—right next to Cambridge.
As the company’s chatty video explains, in a traditional classroom, “It can be challenging to teachers to easily understand their students’ comprehension of the material.” Yet with Focus EDU, “teachers can easily observe all of their students’ attention levels from one place.”
"As a result, there’s a good argument to be made that the dominance of the first-person poem has killed off the rich possibilities available to poets. Formal poetry, narrative verse, satirical verse or light verse, dramatic verse—all these options have, with a few exceptions, largely vanished from mainstream poetry. Poems now are almost exclusively concerned with the feelings of a speaker who appears to be, at most, a slightly distanced version of the poet. This predicament becomes more evident when it is multiplied across an entire industry, with thousands of personal lyrics published year after year. That doesn’t make all personal lyric bad; in fact, most (published) contemporary poetry is not characterized by badness at all but rather by a professionalized mediocrity that flattens the language until everyone sounds the same."
The “joy of descent,” as Baudelaire puts it, is often a kind of embrace-your-fate. If there is progress in any given struggle for Baudelaire (“progress” being another fraught word for him), it is not the inexorable move toward Spirit in Hegel, nor that toward communitarian ideal in Marx or Proudhon. For Baudelaire, “progress” more often than not lies in the inevitability of descent; it is, he writes in his work on Poe, “that great heresy of decrepitude.” Baudelaire’s “little men” in “Le gâteau” fight no less ferociously than did the master and slave in Hegel; but there is no advancement to be gained from the vicious struggle, no higher ground to which a new dialectic can be lifted up, and the conflicting forces remain of equal strength and thus afford no happy resolution, no matter how distant. It is man’s inherent and inherited evil that causes the struggle, and it is evil that will win by simple virtue of the struggle itself.
Original sin, in other words, is for Baudelaire the engine motivating the conflict between (even) children, causing the contradiction between the thought of the good and its constant defeat in the face of man’s heredity of evil. It is the same contradiction that motivates the passage we considered from the Confessions: even as a baby, man is sinful in the eyes of God: “no man is free from sin, not even a child who has lived only one day on earth.” Baudelaire’s frequent recourse to children who demonstrate their potential for evil is a reminder to himself not to be taken in by the seductive promise of goodness: for him, it will always be a promise broken. Another of Augustine’s phrases from The Confessions can only have been endorsed by our poet: “If babies are innocent, it is not for lack of will to do harm, but for lack of strength.” The passage that follows in Augustine is as if an earlier version of “Le Gâteau”: “I have seen,” writes Augustine, “jealousy in a baby and know what it means.” A toddler is jealous when his baby brother nurses at the breast, though there is abundant milk. Can this be innocence, asks Augustine, “to object to a rival desperately in need and depending for his life on this one form of nourishment?” Such faults are not a “mere peccadilloes,” since they are “intolerable” in adults. Equilibrium will always yield to, or be rooted in, evil.
It follows quite logically, then, that it is virtue that is artificial, and evil that which is effortless and natural. Consider the following passage in “The Painter of Modern Life”: “Crime,” he writes is, “the taste for which the human animal acquired in his mother’s belly, is originally natural. Virtue, on the contrary, is artificial.”