Thursday, September 30, 2004

Uncommon Newspaper

I read this on a page describing the great early Chinese inventions.

The Chinese invention of moveable type, credited to Bi Sheng in the year 1045 AD, did not significantly impact Chinese society. Three hundred years later in Europe, Gutenberg's development of moveable type revolutionized the Western world. Why? The Chinese language uses 3000 to 5000 characters in an average newspaper. The English language, in comparison, uses 26 characters in an average newspaper.

Indeed, average English newspapers use only 26 characters, unlike exemplary papers like the New York Times and Washington Post, which use 28 characters, and pulps like USA Today, which use 24 characters, omitting the "p" and "g" on weekdays.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


I have just finished typing in the last of the hundreds of pages of the various hand-written journals that I kept in my life, and after the 130,000-odd words, my fingers are tired. It has been almost three years since I decided to type in my old pages, and after fits and runs of this drudging---but also touchingly nostalgic---work, I am done. As much as is possible, in the future I plan to keep my writing in electronic form, so that it becomes immune from the depredations of years and sun and the chance loss of a single book; so that I can search through the volumes looking for a topic that I discussed, but the date of which entry eludes my recollection; and so that I can quote from my work much easier, and extract passages for use in my more formal writing.

As I wrote on October 22, 1996 , "Very well, I have said most of what I wanted to say, so now I shall go to sleep at this late hour."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Driving on the Mind

If we who live modern lives are good at something, it should be driving, for we do so much of it. In the nearly ten years that I've been driving now, I cannot think of any other single activity that has occupied so much of my time. Should it surprise me that I can watch the side-view mirrors without explicit thought, to develop an almost tactile feel for the space around my car? Only the most devoted athlete or musician spends as much time at her avocation as many of us do behind the wheel.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Blank-Mind and Transport

Recently I began practicing a type of mind-emptying meditation, wherein I try to push out of my consciousness the spurious little thoughts that, if left unchecked, flit through one's brain ephemerally in a layered spiral, the connection from each to the next soon lost in their light dance. In my neophyte state, keeping them at bay takes an effort that lets me continue for only short spans at a time, but I have observed an interesting result of my endeavor: the odd sense of being in a certain place or time, brought on periodically by a scent or the air of a season or an oblique glimpse of a shape, that comes across one unbidden and powerfully, and operates at a level deeper than that which can consciously be recalled from memory---this occurance, almost like déjà vu, happens so much more often now than before. The emptiness of my mind makes it more receptive to these infusing states of remembrance, that normally to have to bubble up through conscious thought like stones. Old places and years come to me unbidden now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Musical Inspiration

These were some requests sent to a web site named "Songs to Wear Pants To", which creates made-to-order songs. (And in turn I took these from a selection in a Harper's article.).
I think you should write a song about a man ordering a burrito and being extremely intimidated by the size of it. The music should be Celtic techno, or any other blend of two genres that would not be caught eating a burrito together.

you should make a song about how awesome Superdeer is.

you should write a little love song with male and female vocals, both of which you should sing. the premise of this song being that girl loves boy because he knows how much milk and sugar she likes in her coffee. and boy loves girl because she likes zombies.

I'm from Germany and I would love to hear a song in German. If you don't speak any German just sing some gibberish that sounds like German. But you should use the words "Vorsprung durch Technik", maybe to some smooth piano sounds.

I was wondering if you could make a song about a samurai flying on the back of a giant eagle? And if you could say "Ra-pa-pa-pa" really fast somewhere within it too.

make a song about a polar bear fighting a unicorn, preferably early 80s rap.

I think that we have some Billboard chart-toppers here.