Friday, June 17, 2011

Vancouver Riots 2011: Fans rage as Canucks lose Stanley Cup

"The crowd particularly likes destroying houses and objects: breakable
objects like window panes, mirrors, picture and crockery; and people
tend to think that it is the fragility of these objects which stimulates
the destructiveness of the crowd.  It is true that the noise of
destruction adds to its satisfaction; the banging of windows and the
crashing of glass are the robust sounds of fresh life, the cries of
something new-born.  It is easy to evoke them and that increases their
popularity.  Everything shouts together; the din is the applause of
objects. There seems to be a special need for this kind of noise at the
beginning of events, when the crowd is still small and little or nothing
has happened.  The noise is a promise of the reinforcements the crowd
hopes for, and a happy omen for deeds to come...In the crowd the
individual feels that he is transcending the limits of his own person.
He has a sense of relief, for the distances are removed which used to
throw him back on himself and shut him in.  With the lifting of these
burdens of distance he feels free; his freedom is the crossing of these
boundaries.  He wants what is happening to him to happen to others too;
and he expects it to happen to them.  An earthen pot irritates him, for
it is all boundaries. The closed doors of a house irritate him. Rites
and ceremonies, anything which preserves distances, threaten him and
seem unbearable.  He fears that, sooner or later, an attempt will be
made to force the disintegrating crowd back into these pre-existing
vessels. To the crowd in its nakedness everything seems a Bastille..."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Of all means of destruction the most impressive is fire. It can be seen from far off and it attracts ever more people. It destroys irrevocably: nothing after a fire is the same as it was before. A crowd setting fire to something feel irresistible; so long as the fire spreads, everyone will join it and everything hostile will be destroyed. After the destruction, crowd and fire die away..."

Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power

Vancouver hockey riot is a symptom of a larger problem

But we can’t just blame a few “bad apples.” This riot didn't happen on
its own. Society as a whole ensured that it was the only outcome,
starting with the assumption that our over-amped if not war-like passion
for something as inconsequential as a hockey game is appropriate to
begin with, let alone officially sanctioned. But hey, it’s a fucking
goldmine for advertisers and a hell of a vacuum to suck in a growing
population of bored, distracted, disassociated, and quietly despairing
Lower Mainlanders marinated in the hegemony of cheap sensation, and
governed by institutions hostile to art, truth, and beauty. It’s a
problem that, as always, starts at the very top

Spectacular Vancouver conquers itself

But grounding social solidarity in competitive spectacle is a risky
wager, as the solidarity can be wiped away by a 0-4 tally. Spectacle is
by its nature passive, the spectator powerless (without opportunity to
attack the opposing “fighting collectivity”). The latent purely
political violence cannot be directed at the enemy, and so Vancouver’s
“fighting collectivity” turned on itself, individuals beating each other
up on the streets (in place of the Bruin fans), attacking police (in
place of Boston police), and looting Vancouver stores (in place of
Boston stores). And so Vancouver had its war: it conquered itself...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Project Thirty-Three

The seemingly infinite number of vintage record jackets that convey their
message with only simple shapes and typography never cease to amaze me.
Project Thirty-Three is my personal collection and shrine to circles and dots, squares and rectangles, and triangles, and the brilliant designers that made them come to life on album covers...

The Unsung Heroes of Biscuit Embossing

...when the Oreo was first introduced by Nabisco in 1912, it used a much
more organic wreath for its emboss, later augmented with two pairs of
turtledoves in a 1924 redesign...

Ancient Assyrian Dictionary Completed by University of Chicago Scholars -

Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of
ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken
for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions
deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by
scholars at the University of Chicago.

A full set sells for $1,995, and individual volumes range from $45 to $150. But they are also available, free of charge, online.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This Machine Destroys EVERYTHING

THE OMNIPOTENT MAGICIAN by Jane Brown, reviewed by John Barrell
Capability Brown famously compared the rhythm of views he created with the rhythms of writing: “there I make a comma, and there, where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject”. This passage was enough to persuade Christopher Hussey that Brown was not “particularly sensitive to visual impressions”. “These are not the symbols a visual artist would use; rather those of a literary mind”, he declared, with all the confidence of a period of art criticism in which art and illustration, the “painterly” and the “literary”, were treated as polar opposites. To many eighteenth-century eyes, however, his parks were the realization, in three dimensions, of the landscapes of Claude Lorrain, more avidly collected in Britain than anywhere else, and supposedly the embodiment of nature itself. For the critic of landscape arts Sir Uvedale Price, “Claude” and “nature” were synonyms; and for many people in the last decades of his life (though not, as it happens, Price himself), “Brown” meant “nature” too...