Sunday, August 28, 2011

up that parabola

The Napa burger from Fat Cow. I'd offer a shot of the Dearman's burger for comparison, but I ate it before I thought to take a photo.

Friday night:
Foster the People, Torches
Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin' Up the Pieces
Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein

Tarwater, Rabbit Moon Revisited (twice)

XTC, Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons

  • I'm only 24 out of 636 electropages into Moonwalking with Einstein and I'm already annoyed with it. I'd throw it across the room if it wasn't in my iPad. No fault of Foer's; he's funny enough and is engaged in the standard non-fiction trope of lemme see if I can do this, that this being competitive memorizing, with the unexpected result that he becomes world champ at it. My rage is projection: my memory is a sieve and it irks me. I would be a better writer if I had a wide-swipe, annotated understanding of history or politics or anything. Even the micro subjects of which I am supposed to have some expertise, I'm shockingly ignorant about. I read somewhere that you write not to pass on what you know but to transmit what you can find out, which is either a great credo or a great cop-out, or both. I'd rather write lines through the dots I have and see what picture emerges. I am of the sort when asked Is Google Making Us Stupid?, responds: do libraries make us stupid? Do grocery lists make us stupid? and then in converse: Is it bad that clothes make us warmer? That cars make us faster and extend our physical circles? That medicine keeps us from dying the ignominious deaths of our forebearers?

    I don't believe the important part is the medium; it's the message. We need to understand the medium, to be proficient at it so that it becomes transparent. It is our job as talking monkeys to bend the technology of understanding to our will, to use it as a means to facilitate the goofy purpose of our humanity; to understand things. So if Google can put a lifetime of remembering at my fingertips, great! Thanks! I understand they have an ulterior motive in doing so. Everything has an ulterior motive. I have one. Everyone does. So, to those in Foer's book, memorizing the order of shuffled decks of cards, have fun with that. And when, through your memorizing skills, fulfill world domination plans hatched out of bitterness stemming form countless afternoons spent at shuffled deck memorization contests, have fun with that too.

  • Irony: I Googled the word prolix after seeing it in someone's FaceBook post. Dig deep enough at the X on your map and you will strike a cache of mirrors, cracked by your shovel.

  • I Googled ulterior (I always think it is "alterior", master of mediums that I am) for fun and though it is usually used in conjunction with "motive" to mean "duplicitous" or "sneaky" but really it is "further; future" (which seems like the kind of motives we should have) twisted in context to the negative - how dare there be a motive that I don't immediately understand?

  • Enough with the rabbit-hole of understanding, plus, I am unnecessarily throwing Joshua Foer under the bus. I read every post of the Atlas Obscrua site he founded, in fact squealed "I've been there!" at the recent entry on the Blythe Intaglios, thrilled that I was finally worldly enough to register on his particular map of reality.

    Joshua Foer: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Study Yourself Failing

    This 99% talk explains what he was getting at. You push past the wall to achieve greatness or you land on the OK plateau and engage autopilot. I am a wuss like everyone; I want to emerge on the scene great and since that never happens, reach my "upper bounds of innate ability" and stay there and that is loser-talk. Experts circumvent these boundaries, climb through the balcony hanging over a locked door. They parkour the road to the palace of wisdom while the rest of us marvel at the paving stones, going "Lookit all that purty excess!" Something like that.

  • So, I don't know if this ties into it all, but I hit up Fat Cow Burgers to try a tricked out burger with arugula, pears, goat cheese with a side of duck fat fries. The place is cool; it looks like a Food Network set. You feel smart and hip for having come here, at least until the hour-wait for your hamburger takes its psychic toll and then you get it and the toppings are weird, smart, a little ingenious, but the burger itself is only OK. Then, today, I went to tried and true Dearman's, a decades old drugstore lunch counter that has outlived its drugstore, and have the same genius burger I always get there. Foer says experts collect data about what they are doing which is maybe what I do here on this blog. I don't know if I'm an expert on my data, on the media and food I take in, on what my kid is doing, but that honing is what communication is about. Its graph is an arc reaching to heaven, the limit as y approaches understanding, over an x-axis of experience, and your expertise at communication manifests as how far you can pull someone up that parabola with you.



  2. What a good, multi-faceted, media undressing you have written. I think I got both medium and message. More importantly, it's funny.

  3. Although, I still want to try a Fat Cow Burger. I had one at the Natchez Food and Wine Expo last year and it was tasty!