There’s little in life more encouraging than seeing one of your favorite blogs (Kottke.org) link to (and riff on) a post on another one of your favorite blogs (BLDGBLOG). In this case, these posts discuss the origin of humanity, exploring its reality versus the stories we tell about our origins. Fascinatingly, it seems we’ve readily abandoned our long history as nomads of land and sea, choosing instead to portray ourselves as the perpetually fixed residents of gardens and cities and god-mandated overland empires.
History, really, is fiction – not because it is made up of invented facts, for the facts are real, but because in the organization of those facts there is much fiction.
– José Saramago, The Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction No. 155”
Cultural cross-pollination is always fascinating, particularly between significantly disparate cultures, and even more so when it captures a critical moment in cultural development. The Japanese embrace of art deco featured here mirrors Europe’s own embrace of Japanese aesthetics, and marks a moment when Japan was beginning to form a strong, nationalist, identity.
– via Hyperallergic
This opinion column by Nigerian poet Ben Okri raises an interesting point: through a social expectation that writers of color should write about oppression, slavery, or injustice, are they being pigeonholed away from a space to be creative? This is obvious and easiest to understand when talking about writers of color, but the problem applied to artists of any group. The greatest art comes from complete freedom of expression, and while that expression may, at times, be influenced by the history of the artist, expecting their art to directly address that history at every moment limits the artist’s voice, and their potential.
– via The Guardian
But what if everything that is to happen has already happened, and only the consequences are playing themselves out?
– Teju Cole in “Every Day is for the Thief”
This article explains how Soviet computer scientists were among the first to envision the proto-internet and understand its potential, but the structure of Soviet leadership smothered the project. The internet was, of course, later realized (albeit in a different for for a different purpose) by the United States. This is not only interesting history, but an informative examination of the consequences of internal leadership politics.
They’re reissuing the Voyager probe’s golden record. You know, since the first release was limited to one copy, and its not even in the Solar System anymore.
– via Kottke