The Whitney Biennial – The End In Sight?

Spending Friday at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial was like spending an afternoon watching YouTube, except the Whitney’s installations were of a lower production quality and were vastly less meaningful — even when shouting their relevance at full volume. Room after room showed video after video in the show billed as the art world’s statement of what’s happening now, a statement, the Whitney will tell you, it has been making for over 75 years.

But this version of the Beinnial is about yesterday not about today, or tomorrow. Missing is any sense of the new movement that’s rapidly coloring our aesthetic, the post-postmodernism movement (we are going to need a better term eventually). It’s been forming in literature, and is influencing the visual art world, probably leading it, after building for nine years or so now, but you would never know it from visiting the Whitney. The 2010 Biennial is not about what’s coming, it is about more of the same, but louder and more self-absorbed.

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SimpleText, TaskPaper, WriteRoom, Notational Velocity – Going minimalist with my notes

Going minimalist with my note taking tools has been a fantastic boon to my work flow. Using applications and tools that let me access my data set of files, without taking them over and making my work flow conform to the needs of those applications, has removed a whole set of steps, perhaps most importantly the one between capturing ideas and processing them to finished work.

Here’s what I’m doing now:

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Chameleon In Chief

How could I have said such bad things about President Obama? How could I have said he was the leader of the grow-the-government-at-all-costs liberal wing of the Democratic Party? How could I, like Charlie Krauthammer, use the term Social Democrat, even when others were using the more pejorative, Socialist? How could I have ever suspected that by taking over the auto industry, trying to take over the banking industry, writing legislation to take over the medical industry, that Obama was really the candidate of fiscal responsibility and small government? Federalization? Heck no! We’re all Republicans here, now.

The Left must be in horror watching Obama-Reagan, just as the rest of us were when we watched Obama-Marx. Jon Stewart is just fit to be tied, brutalizing the once deified savior of activist government. The New York Times is on suicide watch. Lord knows what Jessie is thinking.

But the chameleon in chief knows what the country is saying. Having just lost Teddy Kennedy’s seat to a gulp Republican (“The dream will never die!”), by voters who said in follow-on-polls they were voting specifically against Obama and ObamaCare, the ex-liberal savior may as well have just put on a cowboy hat. He’s gone full Texan.

But as I said back in November, Obama was elected by being an empty vessel — purposefully revealing nothing, specifically stating no policies — having led an eventless professional life so there would be no record to consider during the big game of a national election. He became the place the country poured all its hopes and dreams regardless of how found-less or specious those hopes and dreams might be.

During his first year, when he came out as a radical liberal, federalizing all he could see, feeling all powerful from majorities in both houses of Congress, the American people stood back and said, “We didn’t vote for this.” So now Obama is showing his true colors, which is no color except the background of the moment. A meaner person would call this principle-less.

Many saw it coming. With his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and its definition of the Obama Doctrine heads started spinning from Obama Dissonance. In a doctrine only an imperialist could love, Obama declared that the U.S. had the right to preemptively and unilaterally invade any country that we determined to be “evil.” Wow! There was silence in Stockholm, and that was such a short time after the bowing and scraping tour of global apology.

The same feeling is raging through the camps of the American Left today. After the State of the Union speech last night the grand federalizer is now the leader of the small government movement. Wow, wow!

The question you have to ask yourself is, do you believe him? Can you believe him? We all want(ed) to believe him in November. But really, how far can one bend their core beliefs before the rest of us say: I’m not so sure you should be in charge of the power of the federal government anymore, you know, the guys with the guns, because I have no idea what you are going to do with it. A lot of the people on the Right, the core of the tea-party movement, had enough of him over the summer. It feels like the rest of us are well on the way to getting there to.

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My policy on email

I get a lot of email, I mean a lot — not as much as I did when I was in commerce, but still what could justifiably be called a deluge. Some of it is of my own making, most of it is not. Almost all of it demands a thoughtful reply, and each reply takes, for me at least, emotional energy if the response is going to be more than the web 2.0 version of a grunt.

In addition to the volume of mail I get, emailers have increasingly imposed their own ever shortening version of response times to that torrent. Besides whatever they wrote, they implicitly say: I wrote you. I want, demand, will extort, a reply NOW.

Most of this is influenced by people’s business lives in which instant response is the primary reason we equip the armies of commerce with electronic communications in the first place. The ubiquity of chat session, twitter, facebook, instagram and the like, and what the IBM Research Labs used to call Presence, is the other reason modern society demands instantaneous authentication of our electronic bleatings.

I tried to resist, casually returning thoughtful replies to thoughtful emails at what I felt was an appropriate pace. But then I would get back notes that verged on the vitriolic, as if the delay in my reply obviated what I actually had to say. Some of this was from people who were once intimates and who should understand, so, with that, I now say, enough.

Rather than demanding that the world react on my emotional metronome — the metronome of the dark ages of, say, seven years ago — I’m just going to declare as many others have that I am a bad correspondent. That’s that. Send me what you will. I will probably reply, but I’ll do it between my writing, when I can, as correspondents have done for the past few thousand years. Since I am not in control of a nuclear missile silo, an intensive care unit, or anything else requiring second-by-second Jack-Bower-style readiness, I feel that this is an acceptable separate peace made with the outside world, one well short of outright email bankruptcy.

Over and out.

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Justus Rosenberg on rescuing victims of the Nazis

Justus Rosenberg was the youngest member of the team led by Varian Fry that rescued some of Europe’s most famous artists, writers, and intellectuals who had taken refuge in France prior to the Nazi occupation.

I studied linguistics under Dr. Rosenberg at The New School in the Fall of 2008. I took his class not knowing his background beyond academia, which was significant; his contributions to linguistics are far reaching. Only later did I find out about his heroics in occupied France after stumbling over reports of awards he had received.

We grew fond of each other, two old folks with history behind them, as he said it. We were walking down the hall after class one day Read More »

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Notational Velocity – Show in Finder

Bean, one of the most thoughtfully designed text editing applications targeting us writing folk, has a menu command I use all the time called: “Show In Finder.”

When the foundation of your infobase is constructed at the file level, you spend a good bit of time in Finder, so getting to the underlying files needs to be easy.

Missing in Notational Velocity is an apparent command to “Show in Finder” but its easy to use Spotlight to do the same thing. Here’s how I do it…

I have the keystrokes Shift-CMD-F bound to the service “Search in Spotlight.”

To activate it on your machine, go to System Preferences->Keyboard->Keyboard Shortcuts->Searching check the box, and double click in the column to the right to set a shortcut, which for me is Shift-CMD-F. Now every time a chunk of text is highlighted in any application you can activate the service and Spotlight will show you all files containing that same text. [This function has solved my needs for an internal wiki like link between text/rtf/doc/pdf files in the infobase.]

If I edit the name of an entry in NV, and hit Shift-CMD-F, a search folder pops up showing me the file.
I’ve also found that Shift-CMD-F anywhere in NV will at first elicit a beep, then will put the focus on the entry/file name, so a second Shift-CMD-F will execute the search and reveal the file in finder. So, for me, the simple “Show in Finder” hidden command in Notational Velocity is Shift-CMD-F x 2.

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