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Showing posts from March, 2012

Information obesity? Don't swallow it!

Great - now they call it 'information obesity'! If you can name it, you know it. My favourite source of intellectual shallowness, bighthink.com, again wraps a whiff of nothing into a lengthy video-message. As if seeing a person read a text that barely covers up it's own emptyness makes it more valuable. More expensive to produce, sure. But valuable? It is ok, that Clay Johnson does everything to sell his book. But (why) is it necessary to waste so many words, spoken or written, to debate a perceived information overflow? Is it fighting fire with fire? It is cute to pack the problem of distractions into the metaphore of 'obesity', 'diet' and so on. But the solution is the same. At the core of every diet you have 'burn more than you eat'. If you cross a street, you don't read every licence-plate, you don't talk to everybody you encounter, you don't count the number of windows of the houses across, you don't interpret the sounds an

Popularize science? - Dare to write what you know!

"Play what you know!" An actress who has to play a raging serial killer need not be a serial killer herself (it might even be contraproductive in some way... maybe a bit messy on the set). Method acting tells her to get the emotional framework as close as possible to the feelings of a serial-killer - by re-enacting emotions she relates to (remembering the guy, her first boyfriend left her for would be an example). "Write what you know!" is one piece of advice for authors that is all too often misunderstood as Jason Gots, associate editor of BigThink, points out. Authors must not restrict their prose to retelling their own (very possibly boring) life - they should map their real-life emotional experiences to the world of their fictional characters. Never been to Mars before? Well, you probably visited some decaying neighbourhood in Detroit or Bilbao. I am sure you found some Martians there. You know how your fictional character feels as he leaves mothership. The

The scent of money - the scent of sulfur - the value of art

I just returned from a brief chat with a friend. Clemens is an artist of whom you will hear by the end of this year - a lot. I was sipping a beer in his crammed east-berlin soviet-era mini-flat, 'inhaling' as much of his wonderful paintings as possible; the intensity of his life beaming of every square-inch of color- and text-plastered canvas. He shares his last bottle of beer with me - because he wants to celebrate the occasion: his art just attracted the serious attention of a very, very important public figure, who already decorates his office with one painting by him (smack between a work by Immendorf and one by L├╝pertz). That guy has a plan for a major coup d'etat involving Clemens' art - and it will benefit both.  Up to now Clemens lives from collected bottles, some paintings he sells at insanely low prices and petty crime. Now he is about to jump into major league. His paintings have the expressive power that makes collectors nervous and renders some pie