Corita Kent, Why “Long/ Live/ the…” and More

eleven east cafe glassboro NJ

My first year as an undergrad was spent at a college in Glassboro, a medium-sized suburban New Jersey town. A city boy at heart, my new friends and I spent most of our time in the town’s sole independent coffee shop and book store: eleven east café and evergreen books, respectively.

It was in that bookstore that I found this:

to-believe-in-things

A book of poetry, sort of—written by playwright Joseph Pintauro and illustrated by sister Corita Kent. It was full of that trademark 1970s whimsy and innocence. One of the poetic devices used in the book is the repetition of “Long live the…”

Long Live the Thing by Joseph Pintauro and Sister Corita Kent

Long Live the Thing by Joseph Pintauro and Sister Corita Kent

The book is a celebration of life. It documents simple joys and observations:

Long live chickens
who run free
who lay their eggs
in dark
places around
the world where no man
sees.

This book seemed (and still seems) like a magic secret gift that random chance and serendipity gave to me. It spoke to me in a deep way when I first found them over ten years ago; it found me at the right moment in my life. It also speaks to why independent book stores remain so important, even though evergreen books shut down long ago. There are some experiences for which you cannot search.

I think this quotation from a 2012 PBS interview with art historian Kathryn Wat neatly summarizes the allure of Corita’s work, and it applies to her collaboration with Mr. Pintauro, too:

We feel that we’re living in dark times. And we look at this work and we see someone who was creating super-cool art, that’s very hip, but that is filled with a sincere spirit. And I think that’s appealing to all of us.

And now there’s a traveling exhibition featuring the work of Corita Kent {npr}. It opens at the Warhol museum at the end of this month.

Friday Link List: Which Carr Is It? Edition

Two of my all-time favorite media writer types share a last name—”Carr”.

I often conflate the two.

This time, at least, my conflation is purposeful: I’d like to share two recent articles, one by Nicholas Carr and one about David Carr.

With me now?

First, the piece about David Carr. It’s called All the Views He’s Fit to Print {the globe and mail}. Really feel like I got to know the guy through this. Lots of gems like this:

At Casa Nonna, he is unfailingly polite. Not just to me – when the appetizers arrive, he serves us both, and when we tuck into our pasta course, he shovels a couple of his gnocchi onto my plate, unprompted – but also to the waiting staff. He repeatedly stops mid-sentence to say, “That’s lovely, thanks so much,” or “everything is lovely, thank you.” And it’s more than common courtesy.

“I waited tables for seven years, so I really care about stuff like that. It’s [expletive] hard. I had a waiter dream last night. It was like: ‘Table Four’s been here a half an hour and they don’t have any [expletive] water, what is going on?’ Still. From the old days. That’s stress, man,” he says, “that’s real stress.”

Now for the piece by Nicholas Carr, picks up on the thread of his recent book that I’m currently reading, The Glass Cage. It’s about Facebook and the potential ramifications of a social landscape mediated by algorithms:

If and when Facebook perfects its behavior modification algorithms, it would be a fairly trivial exercise to expand their application beyond the realm of shitfaced snapshots. That photo you’re about to post of the protest rally you just marched in? That angry comment about the president? That wild thought that just popped into your mind? You know, maybe those wouldn’t go down so well with the boss.

Read Facebook’s Automated Conscience {rough type, Nicholas Carr’s blog}.

Copyright, Art & Books

Read this article by Cory Doctorow on Salon for a fresh take on where today’s creators are and where they’re going in the new digital economy. I hadn’t heard of this:

Do you remember when the Authors Guild sued Google over Google Book Search, which is basically the right to make an index of stuff in books? They said to Google, “If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it on our terms, and you’re going to have to give us a whole $70 million. And we want to establish that we’re not saying that it’s legal to do this for anybody. You have to come negotiate with us first, and next time the price might be higher!”

Google said, “$70 million? Let’s shake the sofa and find some change for you.” Meanwhile, you are guaranteeing that nobody else in the future history of the world will be able to afford to index books, which is one of the ways people find and buy books. Now Google owns that forever, for a mere $70 million! Nice work, Authors Guild. You’ve just made us all sharecroppers in Google’s fields for the rest of eternity.

Friday Link List

1. Two Pittsburghians send mail to everyone on Earth

Or at least that’s the goal:

Michael Crowe and I are in the middle of writing a unique hand-written (or hand-typed) letter to every household in the world. […]

Each letter is different, and where possible personally addressed. We sign them “love Michael & Lenka”, and write in a chatty, friendly tone about topics of possible mutual interest; the weather, gentleness, Roseanne, etc.

In an attempt to discover these shared interests we often travel to the town, suburb, or small village that we plan to write to and live amongst the future recipients of our letters while we write them. We walk the same streets, eat the same bread brought from the same shops, observe the views from their hills, count the daffodils in their gardens, and so on.

Via {very short list}.

2. What Should We Be Worried About? {mother jones}

A new collection of essays entitled just that asks some of today’s biggest thinkers to divulge their fears and worries.

One of my favorites, Nicholas Carr, rants about the patience deficit (of course):

Given what we know about the variability of our time sense, it seems clear that information and communication technologies would have a particularly strong effect on personal time perception. After all, they often determine the pace of the events we experience, the speed with which we’re presented with new information and stimuli, and even the rhythm of our social interactions.

That’s long been true, but the influence must be particularly strong now that we carry powerful and extraordinarily fast computers around with us. Our gadgets train us to expect near instantaneous responses to our actions, and we quickly get frustrated and annoyed at even brief delays. I know that my own perception of time has been changed by technology. If I go from using a fast computer or Web connection to using even a slightly slower one, processes that take just a second or two longer—waking the machine from sleep, launching an application, opening a Web page—seem almost intolerably slow. Never before have I been so aware of, and annoyed by, the passage of mere seconds.

3. Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed {new york times}

Vincent Zandri hails from the future. He is a novelist from the day after tomorrow, when Amazon has remade the worlds of writing, printing, selling and reading books so thoroughly that there is hardly anything left besides Amazon. […]

A few years ago he was reduced to returning bottles and cans for grocery money. Now his Amazon earnings pay for lengthy stays in Italy and Paris, as well as expeditions to the real Amazon. “I go wherever I want, do whatever I want and live however I want,” he said recently at a bar in Mill Valley, Calif., a San Francisco suburb where he was relaxing after a jaunt to Nepal.