Quote

Tengo knew that time could become deformed as it moved forward. Time itself was uniform in composition, but once consumed, it took on a deformed shape.
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Feel Good Thursday

— FUCK YEAH, IT’S THURSDAY \ 09 May 2013 —

Zooportraits

These stunners has better dress sense than most guys I see on the train everyday.

http://www.zooportraits.com/

Chip Kidd on Designing Murakami’s 1Q84 Book Jacket


via io9.com | Chip Kidd talks about designing the cover for Haruki Murakami’s new novel, 1Q84

Love this book cover design. And I love this version by Cory Schmitz too.


via haruki-murakami.com

Hitler’s Children

Awesome BBC documentary of family members of high rank senior Nazi officers from Hitler’s inner circle struggle with the burden of carrying a terror-inducing surname.

Feel Good Thursday

— FUCK YEAH, IT’S NATIONAL DAY THURSDAY \ 21 February 2013 —

The 60 Most Beautiful Cinemagraph GIFs

Cinema at its basis.

oh yeeaaaah baacoooon

buzzfeed

Poolga – Art for iPhone and iPad

Free stuffs should not be this beautiful.

More more more eye-candies at poolga.com

Bookshelf Porn

For people who gets turned on by that “combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness

bookshelfporn.com

Internet Finds

Horror’s Muse

Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus. Viking, 2012.

19th century cartoon of a rabid dog in a London street | Wikimedia Commons
There’s certainly something vile about a disease that does not admit even the crudest distinctions: humans can get rabies, dogs can get rabies, bats can get rabies. The vaccination syringe is especially haunting—four feet long and plunged straight into the gut.

On May 26th, surveillance cameras installed on the Miami Herald building captured footage of a man walking along a causeway, stopping suddenly, and dragging a vagrant out of the shade. He crouched down, stripped the vagrant naked, and proceeded to chew him up.

Multiple fourth grade weekends were ruined by infected foxes wandering into the yard. My sister and I would be displaced indoors, where from the windows we’d watch them salivate and stumble around the garden like drunks. They’d twitch and jerk in reaction to nonexistent stimuli, while completely ignoring our legitimate threats—screams, hurled rocks. I remember these sick foxes with distinct disgust: there is almost nothing more hideous than an animal without instincts.

Rabid is more than just a cabinet of curiosities though. It is, in fact, a book reviewer’s worst nightmare. Plotted like a chess match, it stays multiple steps ahead of even the most free-associating of readers. It leaves almost no room for transcendent analysis.

“For centuries,” they write, “rabies was the only illness in which the animalistic transfer, or more like transformation, was clear.” Besides hypersexuality (thirty ejaculations in a single day!), one of the disease’s most gruesome symptoms is hydrophobia, “an eerie and fully physical manner,” in which the desperately thirsty patient cannot bring himself to drink. The diaphragm involuntarily contracts and the throat spasms, producing “cries of agony” that give “the impression of an almost animal bark.” After sustaining a rabid bite from a pet fox in 1819, the Duke of Richmond was so repelled by water that he “could not even accept his customary shave.” He died, “like an animal, in a barn laid with straw.”

There’s certainly something vile about a disease that does not admit even the crudest distinctions: humans can get rabies, dogs can get rabies, bats can get rabies. The vaccination syringe is especially haunting—four feet long and plunged straight into the gut. And the literalness of the disease’s course is revolting: its “time of onset depends on the distance of the wound from the head.” The very etiology of rabies is mythic: once the bite heals and the virus has traveled to the brain, “the wound will usually return, as if by magic, with some odd sensation occurring at the site.” Then there’s the fact that no definitive diagnosis can be made without taking a biopsy of the sick animal’s brain, leaving only one gory solution: decapitation.

n+1 | Horror’s Muse

You’ve got to sell your heart

Late-1938, eager to gain some feedback on her work, aspiring young author and Radcliffe sophomore Frances Turnbull sent a copy of her latest story to celebrated novelist and friend of the family, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before long the feedback arrived, in the form of the somewhat harsh but admirably honest reply seen below.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming—the amateur thinks he or she can do the same.

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming—the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the “works.” You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

Letter of Note | You’ve got to sell your heart

Once Upon a Time

The lure of the fairy tale.

She was astonished to see how her grandmother looked | Wikimedia Commons

In Grimms’ Fairy Tales there is a story called “The Stubborn Child” that is only one paragraph long. Here it is, in a translation by the fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes

Once upon a time there was a stubborn child who never did what his mother told him to do. The dear Lord, therefore, did not look kindly upon him, and let him become sick. No doctor could cure him and in a short time he lay on his deathbed. After he was lowered into his grave and covered over with earth, one of his little arms suddenly emerged and reached up into the air. They pushed it back down and covered the earth with fresh earth, but that did not help. The little arm kept popping out. So the child’s mother had to go to the grave herself and smack the little arm with a switch. After she had done that, the arm withdrew, and then, for the first time, the child had peace beneath the earth.

This story, with its unvarnished prose, should be clear, but it isn’t. Was the child buried alive? The unconsenting arm looks more like a symbol. And what about the mother? Didn’t it trouble her to whip that arm? Then we are told that the youngster, after this beating, rested in peace. Really? When, before, he had seemed to beg for life? But the worst thing in the story is that, beyond disobedience, it gives us not a single piece of information about the child. No name, no age, no pretty or ugly. We don’t even know if it is a boy or a girl. (The Grimms used ein Kind, the neuter word for “child.” Zipes decided that the child was a boy.) And so the tale, without details to attach it to anything in particular, becomes universal. Whatever happened there, we all deserve it. A. S. Byatt has written that this is the real terror of the story: “It doesn’t feel like a warning to naughty infants. It feels like a glimpse of the dreadful side of the nature of things.” That is true of very many of the Grimms’ tales, even those with happy endings.

The New Yorker | Once Upon a Time: The lure of the fairy tale.

The Commandant

The Commandant

A Monologue
Rudolf Höss

The Commandant

This guy is an efficient worker, would be good if he worked for the postal service. Unfortunately, he’s a German and he’s the first commandant of Auschwitz concentrate camp. That kind of efficiency is very bad for humanity when he’s in charge of the largest Nazi German extermination camp.

From this shortened version of his autobiography, edited by Jürg Amann, one can’t be sure if he’s pure evil or that he hated the Jews. But you can be sure that he thrive in efficiency the way he goes on about the technicality of mass extermination.

The killing itself took the least time. You could dispose of 2,000 head in half an hour, but it was the burning that took all the time.

Höss explained how 10,000 people were exterminated in one 24-hour period:
Technically [it] wasn’t so hard—it would not have been hard to exterminate even greater numbers…. The killing itself took the least time. You could dispose of 2,000 head in half an hour, but it was the burning that took all the time. The killing was easy; you didn’t even need guards to drive them into the chambers; they just went in expecting to take showers and, instead of water, we turned on poison gas. The whole thing went very quickly.
wikipedia

It was not until serveral hours later that the doors were opened and the room aired out. THere for the first time I saw the gassed bodies in mass. But I must admit openly that the gassing had a calming effect on me, since in the near future the mass annihilation of the Jews was to begin. Up to this point it was not clear to me, nor to Eichmann, how the killing of the expected masses was to be done. Pershap by gas? But how, and what kind of gas? Now we had discovered the gas and the procedure.

He spoke of the mass killing in such a cold matter-of-fact way that makes Hannibal Lector seems like a lovable manic street preacher. And it’s funny how he cares more about the soldiers doing the killing than the million he killed.

I was always horrified by the death by firing squads, especially when I thought of the huge numbers of women and children who would have to be killed. I had had enough of hostage executions, and the mass killings by firing squad ordered by Himmler and Heydrich. Now I was at east. We were all saved from these bloodbaths, and the victims woould be spared until the last moment. That is what I worried about the most when I thought of Eichmann’s accounts of the mowing down of the Jews with machine guns and pistols by the Einsatzgruppe. Horrible scenes were supposed to have occured: people running away even after being shot, the killing of those who were wounded, especially the women and children. Another thing on my mind was the many suicides among the ranks of the SS Special Action Squads who could no longer mentally endure wading in the bloodbath. Some of them went mad.

He also talked about how different people deals with immiment death and the behaviour of the Sonderkommandos.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sachsenhausen. A larger number of them refused to sever in the military and were, therefore, sentenced to death by Himmler as draft dodgers. They were shot to death in the camp in front of the entire assembly of prisoners.

How different each person’s approach to death was. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were in a way strangely satisfied. Once could say they had almost transfigured mood and had a rock-hard awareness that they were to be allowed to go into Jehovah’s kingdom. The draft dodgers and the saboteurs calmly composed and reconciled themselves to the inevitability and the truly asocial appeared to be quite different, either cynical, insolent, or apparently vigorous. Trembling inside with the fear of the great unknown, they raged and fought all the way or whined for a priest to help them.

As strange as that was, so was the general behaviour of the Sonderkommando. All of them knew with certainty that when it was over, they themselves would suffer the same fate as thousands of their race had before them, in whose destruction they were very helpful. In spite of this they still did their job with an eagerness and in a caring, helpful way during the undressing, yet they would also use force with those who resisted undressing. This always amazed me. They never spoke to the victims about what was ahead of them. They also led away the troublemakers and then held on to them firmly while they were being shot. They led these victims in such a way that they they could not see the NCO who stood ready with his gun. This enabled him to aim at the back of their necks without being noticed. It was the same when they dealt with the sickly and feeble who could not be brought into the gas chamber. All this was done in a matter-of-fact manner, as if they themselves were the exterminators. They dragged the bodies from the gas chambers, removed the gold teeth, cut off the hait, then dragged the bodies to the pits or to the ovens. On top of that, they had to maintain the fires in the pits, pour off the accumulated fat, and poke holes into the burning mountains of bodies, so that more oxygen could enter. All these jobs they performance with an indifferent coolness, just as if this was an everyday affair. Where did the Jews of the Sonderkommando get the strength to perform this horrible job day and night?

Reading this and having been to Auschwitz, and still seeing atrocities being act out everyday, it’s a strange feeling. If the efficient Germans and Japanese had tried this extermination thing and failed, it’s quite obvious genocide is pointless because life will always find a way to hold on. Yet until now, dictators and rouge nations are still trying to make this mass extermination works. Can’t we just end this nonsense and use our money and energy to build a better world, maybe in our joint effort, we could really explore space. But no, that will never happen, because it’s human nature to stir trouble. Peace makes people restless. Like some retired elderly who decide to run marathon because they are bored and has too much time at hand.

Meanwhile I am just happy that I can live everyday, safe in the knowledge that no one is targeting me out because of my race, gender. Or height.

The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
David Shields

The Thing About Life Is That One Day You

The narrator of Donald Barthelme’s story “The School,” and elementary-school teacher, says:

“One day, we had a discussion in class. They asked me, where did they go? The trees, the salamander, the tropical fish, Edgar, the poppas and mommas, Matthew and Tony, where did they go? And I said, I don’t know, I don’t know. And they said, is death that which gives meaning to life? And I said no, life is that which gives meaning to life. Then they said, but isn’t death that which gives meaning to life? And I said, no, life is that which gives meaning to life. Then they said, but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of—
I said, yes, maybe.
They said, we don’t like it.

Death fascinates, terrifies and grips me. I remembered when I was a very young, I would be frantic with fear thinking about growing up.
I want to grow up and experience new things and find out what life has in store for me. But growing means getting old and then eventually death. To think that I would, one day, have to leave this world, drives me out of my mind. I used to wonder if I’m the only 7 years old who thought about such overwhelming stuffs.
Did my classmates had the same fear and thoughts?, I thought to myself as I looked at my friends playing hopscotch and five stones during recess. And what happens to our physical body has been studied and understood. But no one has yet proven concretely what comes after it metaphysically. Does soul really weighs 21 grams? People uses religion to find peace and comfort. But somehow my rational mind doesn’t let me believe in explanations that rely heavily on faith. I want methodologically researched proofs. And ‘though I don’t embrace religious teaching, I don’t reject them either.
Because I want to believe that I have a soul and that my soul does weigh 21 grams.