AVC: The movies you scored have a very distinctive sound. How did you end up focusing on the synthesizer as your primary instrument?JC: From early on, when synthesizers were first introduced into music, I liked the idea that you could get a big sound with them, electronic, but like an orchestra. And I could play it all myself. That was exciting. I was kind of a half-assed musician.
De Botton promised his series would be “a ground-breaking experiment”, offering rigorous self-help books that hark back to the days when – in the hands of Epicurus and Seneca – such tomes were highly valued, rather than the much-ridiculed genre of today. “We need self-help books more than ever before,” he said. “In the age of moral and practical confusions, the self-help book is crying out to be redesigned and rehabilitated.”
Is there a sniffy faction within the world of philosophy that takes a dim view of attempts to make the subject more widely accessible?“Oh, I’m absolutely sure of it. But I also think that attitude has moderated considerably over time. Ten to 15 years ago, when I started to try to do this, I’m pretty sure there was a lot of sniffing going on.” He does a bit of his own sniffing, though, a moment later, when I mention the popularity of bestselling writers whom he has described as quasi-philosophers.“Hmm, yes, the [Alain] de Bottons and so on,” Grayling murmurs rather sorrowfully. “He’s a perfectly nice fellow, but it’s not philosophy. It’s cream-puff stuff. What worries me is that someone will go to it thinking, ‘Ooh, this is an opportunity to think and find out something’, and then they find that it’s actually very shallow and doesn’t have deep roots. And I do think that people who do this kind of thing should really have done some work and got engaged in something serious, and then they won’t make too many mistakes when it comes to trying to introduce others to it.”
A case can be made that U.S. society is very much obsessed with “self-help,” which involves thinking a whole lot (too much, even) about yourself and your own problems, seeing everything only as it relates to the self, rather than seeing oneself as a valuable part of a larger valuable whole; this is one of the themes of The Pale King.
Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) say they display the Confederate flag in places such as their home or office, on their car or on their clothing; 91% say they do not. The number that displays the Confederate flag is just a small fraction of the 75% who say they display the American flag in their homes or offices, on their cars or their clothing.Whites who consider themselves Southerners have a more positive reaction to the Confederate flag than do other whites: 22% say they react positively when they see the Confederate flag displayed, compared with 8% of all whites and just 4% of whites who do not consider themselves Southerners.
In July, Amazon.com revealed that sales of e-books were now outstripping the sales of hardcover books, with the possibility that their sales will double that of hardcovers by the end of the year. With the appearance of Apple’s iPad in April—and its stunning sales of four million units in its first four months—Barnes & Noble dropped the price of its Nook e-reader and Amazon announced the release of a cheaper version of its Kindle in July. Each of these companies is expected to unveil souped-up and cheaper e-readers in time for Christmas. All of which has media gurus heralding this as the year that publishing will finally go paperless—and trumpeting that change as the latest step in the greening up of American consumerism.But the New York Times recently calculated that the environmental impact of a single e-reader—factoring in the use of minerals, water, and fossil fuels along the manufacturing process—is roughly the same as fifty books. At first that sounds encouraging; after all, even the smallest personal library contains fifty volumes. But the real problems come in lifespan. At present, the average e-reader is used less than two years before it is replaced. That means that the nearly ten million e-readers expected to be in use by next year would have to supplant the sales of 250 million new books—not used or rare editions, 250 million new books—each year just to come out footprint-neutral. Considering the fact that the Association of American Publishers estimates that the combined sales of all books in America (adult books, children’s books, textbooks, and religious works) amounted to fewer than 25 million copies last year, we have already increased the environmental impact of reading by tenfold. Moreover, it takes almost exactly fifty times as much fossil fuel production to power an iPad for the hours it takes to read a book as it would take to read the same book on paper by electric light.By some estimates, small electronics already account for more global carbon emissions than the airline industry, and the wave of new handheld and portable devices—from smartphones to laptops to e-readers—stand poised to wreak untold havoc, much of it in developing nations.…Taken together, these essays reveal the hidden price of the paperless revolution. Every MacBook and iPad, every Kindle and Droid contains the labor of hundreds of invisible workers, uncounted lives foreshortened by poisoned water and air, and a landscape permanently scarred by our voracious scavenging. No matter how sleek and earth-friendly these devices may appear, they rise from the dirt and are mined with sweat and with blood. This is not to say that our information age is inherently bad. The protests after last year’s elections in Iran were largely organized over Twitter and documented via YouTube. Across Africa, farmers are using smartphones to access daily market prices via the Internet, assuring fairer compensation for their crops. This summer our government used Facebook to enlist and organize volunteers for the cleanup of the Gulf oil spill. But in our rush to embrace the new—the smaller, the faster, the more powerful—we must not confuse revolutionary products with revolutions in production. We must not forget that even in this age of enlightenment, much of the world remains stooped in black tunnels, tracing veins deeper into darkness.
I’d never heard of Fred Cornog before now, but if his music resonates with me half as much as his words, I’ll be quite impressed.
Do you continue to work your day job at Home Depot because it gives you access to the kind of people who populate your records?I am one of those people. I’m basically a working class pawn, a cog in the wheel, who happens to write songs. Maybe I’m more artistically inclined than your average Home Depot employee but, beyond that, I don’t see much of a difference.Could you ever imagine making a living off of your music?Of course. But the thing that bothers me is that making a living solely from music nearly always involves a list of compromises that I’m unwilling to make. And, ultimately, the commerce side of things kills the artistic side. When you get semi-successful, you will be asked to tour and promote your music in various ways. Eventually, you’ll end up spending more and more time promoting your music and doing this peripheral bullshit stuff, and less and less time creating music. And, ironically, making music is what made you semi-successful in the first place. An artist must always be aware of this. Don’t fall into the traps. Otherwise, slowly, slowly, the power gets pulled away from you.You’ve hardly ever played live, and certainly not for well over a decade. Why is this?When I was a kid, my father used to yell at me constantly to stop playing the piano. He’d scream, “Stop playin’ that damn piano! God damn it, you had all day to play that damn thing! Can’t you see I’m watchin’ the television! I want some peace and quiet, God damn it!” When you’re a kid and you hear this over and over and over, it changes you, and it changes your brain chemistry. Another kid might have started a rock band down at a friend’s house. But me, my father’s wrath drove me inside my mind. It made me want to curl up and hide. So I quietly wrote songs in my room and became a Tascam mini-studio musician. But the catch is, in working alone like this for years and years, and never collaborating with other musicians, my methodology has somewhat crippled me. I’m not complaining and it’s not sad or anything. That’s just the way it is.Another reason is that I’ve never liked being the centre of attention. I have the absolute worst kind of personality for the rock world. When I go out, I like to quietly sit at the back of the bar. The last thing I want to do is stand at the centre of the stage in a fuckin’ spotlight with people staring at me waiting to be entertained.Do you consider your refusal to ‘play the game’ to be in any way rock ‘n’ roll?I don’t think that the rebellious spirit of rock ‘n’ roll exists in roll ‘n’ roll anymore. [It] is inhabiting other artforms. The spirit is moving to where there are fewer rules. The spirit is moving to where there isn’t an expectation of money being made. It’s moving away from the marketplace. It always does.
Schiller wrote about the fundamental contrast in cultural history between what he called the naïve and the sentimental — the original, less sophisticated but more powerful kind of art (Homer, e.g.) and the belated, more sophisticated but less visceral and emotionally powerful (modern) art. Something like a transition from naïve to sentimental has happened in rock music, and probably would have happened even if Reaganism and cynical consumerist manipulation had not taken place. Artistic movements that begin spontaneously tend to become more self-conscious and backward-looking as they develop: revolution cools into evolution, and, as with modern jazz, a creeping classicism sets in where once all was anarchy and freshness. That rock and roll is becoming classical music is just one more melancholy truth coming home to aging baby boomers like me.
But there is good reason to worry. Torres has become a trudging player, flat-footed and slow to react, no longer the panther of his early Liverpool years. He has not scored in 12 games for club or country. A bright start faded into a muddle of miss-placed passes and doomed runs. A visible drop in confidence accompanied each error, which chimes with a theory popular in Spain. Torres spent so long wanting to get away from Liverpool that when the chance came a worm of self-doubt had burrowed into his brain.
Teenagers are more likely to be depressed if they spend a lot of time listening to music, while teens who read a lot are less depressed, according to new research.…By contrast, teenagers who read were far less likely to be diagnosed with depression. They were also far less common. Just 0.2 percent of the teenagers said, they were reading a book, magazine or newspaper. The teenagers who read the most were one-tenth as likely to be depressed as the ones who read the least.Primack figures that may be because reading is far less passive than watching TV or listening to music. “You really have to engage a lot of your brain” when you read, he notes. “It may be that people who are depressed just can’t gather enough energy to do that type or thing.”
It may be the foundation of modern biology, but fewer than 40 percent of Americans say they believe in the theory of evolution. While frustrated scientists sometimes blame religion for this knowledge gap, newly published research suggests the key factor isn’t faith per se but rather a benefit it provides that Darwin does not: A sense that our all-too-short lives have meaning.
The common shoot-from-the-hip explanation—people fear death, and religion makes them believe that it is not the end—is certainly insufficient because the human mind does not produce adequate comforting delusions against all situations of stress or fear. Indeed, any organism that was prone to such delusions would not survive long. Also, inasmuch as some religious thoughts do allay anxiety, our problem is to explain how they become plausible enough that they can play this role. To entertain a comforting fantasy seems simple enough, but to act on it requires that it be taken as more than a fantasy. The experience of comfort alone could not create the necessary level of plausibility.
Reassuring religion, insofar as it exists, is not found in places where life is significantly dangerous or unpleasant; quite the opposite. One of the few religious systems obviously designed to provide a comforting worldview is New Age mysticism. It says that people, all people, have enormous “power”, that all sorts of intellectual and physical feats are within their reach. It claims that we are all connected to mysterious but basically benevolent forces in the universe. Good health can be secured by inner spiritual strength. Human nature is fundamentally good. Most of us lived very interesting lives before this one. Note that these reassuring, ego-boosting notions appeared and spread in one of the most secure and affluent societies in history. People who hold these beliefs are not faced with war, famine, infant mortality, incurable endemic diseases and arbitrary oppression to the same extent as Middle Age Europeans or present-day Third World peasants.
Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff hopes Spain’s players will be too tired after a grueling club season to defend their European Championship title next year, when he expects his squad to reach its peak.“I can see the difference in our players from 2006 to 2010, the young players coming now are better technically educated, more used to the media, physically much better,” Bierhoff said. “In 2006 we still had problems with a lack of speed and technical issues. With these young players you can see they have had a good education in the clubs’ technical centers.”