And this is why Goldsmith is wrong to say that his books do not require readers. It is necessary that we can approach the text as text, in the context of a book rather than merely as an idea, because we cannot hold an idea and we especially cannot see the way that the context of the idea, the seemingly inessential details of its execution, influences its import. Were the content of Traffic only the idea of traffic reports as poetry (the ideation of traffic reports, ideal traffic reports as if they were poetry) it would add nothing to collect these traffic reports and publish them in book form, but it does in fact add something. By putting traffic reports in poetry space, we can see their transition from traffic reports to the idea of traffic reports to traffic reports in the context of poetry, but, more important, we can see the context of poetry, the sort of book that would contain poetry, be it lyrical ballads or otherwise.
We are practiced at filtering, but when the noise is the signal, we need more noise to recognize it as signal. 4’33”, for instance, doesn’t really get going until the forty-five second mark, when we stop listening to the silence of the piano and start listening to the noises of the crowd, and Traffic doesn’t become Traffic until we stop reading the words of the found poetry and start reading the material of the book, what the elements we are accustomed to ignoring, the font, the quality of the paper, the layouts of the words on the pages and on the cover, margins and spacing, signify. Traffic is as much a book about the physicality of the book of poetry, a study of the material manifestation of poetry as it is about the role of the author in contemporary creative writing.
Surrealism claims for our waking life a freedom similar to that which we have in our dreams.
Too often by a twist of thought, we tend to reduce what is strange to what is familiar. I intend to restore the familiar to the strange.’’
The 1950s and 1960s were, arguably, the most important decades of Cage’s creative life. During that period, he moved in his work from determinacy to indeterminacy, from conventional notation to graphic and texted notation, from standard instrumental resources to technology and “the entire field of sound” (Cage c. 1938–40, p. 4), from music to theatre, and – in terms of performance space – from the concert hall to the world at large. He also started to engage in a serious way with words and images, and – domestically – moved from the noise and bustle of New York City to the peace and tranquility of Stony Point, in New York State.
A metric is about communicating a complex concept in interpretable and actionable terms. But when it’s widely adopted—when an industry seeks to optimize its activities for a given metric—it ceases to be a mere reflection of reality. Instead, the measure comes to actively shape the industry, oftentimes leading to unforeseen manipulations and externalities.
If we can convince you that anyone can learn math, it should be a short step to convincing you that you can learn just about anything, if you work hard enough.
Creativity means fearlessly embracing things that seem odd, even random, knowing that if you keep your brain open you’ll eventually find the connections.
…with this Brian Eno…
In a blinding flash of inspiration, the other day I realized that “interactive” anything is the wrong word. Interactive makes you imagine people sitting with their hands on controls, some kind of gamelike thing. The right word is “unfinished.” Think of cultural products, or art works, or the people who use them even, as being unfinished. Permanently unfinished. We come from a cultural heritage that says things have a “nature,” and that this nature is fixed and describable. We find more and more that this idea is insupportable - the “nature” of something is not by any means singular, and depends on where and when you find it, and what you want it for. The functional identity of things is a product of our interaction with them. And our own identities are products of our interaction with everything else.