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July 15, 2019

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July 15, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marie Ponsot died July 5th at 98

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Below, a September 27, 2010 boj post about her.

Poet Marie Ponsot: After a stroke, in search of language lost

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Jim Dwyer's June 25, 2010 New York Times story defines poignant; it follows.

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Unable to sleep, the poet Marie Ponsot [above, left, with Catherine Woodard, a student of hers] lay in a hospital bed one night last month trying to figure out what it was that she no longer knew. A few days earlier, she'd had a stroke. Her brain had been ransacked. Poems that she had been reciting from memory for the better part of a century had disappeared. She cross-examined herself: What, she asked, have I lost?

Of course she could not answer. "You can't say what you don't know," Ms. Ponsot, 89, said last week. "So I thought, let me go back to the earliest thing I ever knew by heart."

It was not a poem, but the Lord's Prayer, which she had learned as a child in Queens. "I thought, Oh yeah, I'll do it, Our Father," she said. She did not get past the first phrase.

"'Our Father' — and that was it, period," Ms. Ponsot said. "Then I thought, I was living in France in 1947, I learned the French 'Our Father.' Sure. I launched into that very confidently. 'Notre père qui.' Couldn’t get any further."

She remembered that the Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila had written a meditation on the prayer. An image came to her of a page from the Roman missal; she could, she said, see the page's border, but not the words. Then it arrived whole, in Latin: Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. She tried to translate the Latin to English, to reverse-engineer her memory, like a computer hacking itself. "It was getting sticky, until all of a sudden it popped into my head," she said. "In English."

Last week, back in her apartment on the Upper East Side, Ms. Ponsot had help in her hunt for syntax, a tool more fundamental to human existence than the wheel: a rotating group of poets who come to read and talk with her. "I really think if you're in this kind of mental trouble," she said, "all the medications are going to keep the body alive, but to have it work" — she put her hands on her head — "you're going to have to do it yourself."

She knows a bit about that. Ms. Ponsot raised seven children mostly on her own. She has translated dozens of books, published six volumes of poetry, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, taught at Queens College, and earlier this year was elected to the American Academy of Poets.

Not long after her late-night search for the Our Father, a doctor swept into her room, trailed by medical students. "She asked what day of the week it was," Ms. Ponsot said. "I haven't known the day of the week my entire life."

The doctor stepped away, moving on to the next bed. "I called to her," Ms. Ponsot said. "I said, loudly, 'I need your help.' She came back, she looked me right in the eye, and asked, 'How do you want me to help you?'

"I told her, I can't write down what I'm trying to say," she said. “The doctor said, 'Talk out loud and get people to talk to you, and then you talk to them and see if they can understand you.'"

That was not hard to do. Among poets in New York, Ms. Ponsot is deeply and widely admired. One of them, Catherine Woodard, organized the poets' posse that is making regular visits.

Whatever the cure, Ms. Ponsot's conversation last week seemed to keep pace with her fleet mind. Some big memories, she thinks, are gone — "stones at the bottom of the river," she called them — and certain categories of words throw her. She consistently swaps pronouns for men and women — which, she noted with delight, some people mistake as ironic commentary on gender identity.

"You're talking about a guy and 'she' comes out,” Ms. Ponsot said. "People think, 'That's a fancy thought' — and no, no I'm not thinking at all, I'm just talking."

She also slips on units of time. "I'll say, I haven't eaten in three weeks," Ms. Ponsot said. "I really mean three years."

She paused. "I'm messing that up," she said.

Even so, she was able to accurately repeat a piece of advice that she had passed on for decades: anyone who wants to write should find 10 minutes a day.

"I used to have babies all over the place, and the people I was teaching, and I could find 10 minutes every day,” Ms. Ponsot said. “You’ve always got 10 minutes.”

The loss of syntax has been a matter of "explosive astonishment — realizing that language is everything in the egg," she said, tapping her head. "You take it for granted."

Was remembering the Pater Noster that night in the hospital a moment of awakening? Ms. Ponsot grinned, perhaps at another unduly fancy thought.

"It allowed me," she said, "to go to sleep."

July 15, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"NOISE" — Ed Ruscha

30-1

Oil on canvas, 72" x 67", 1963.

July 15, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Being a YouTube celebrity is hard work

In 2013 when I got Google Glass as part of the initial public release, I thought my life from that moment on would become qualitatively different.

I was certain I'd be able to make Glass videos that, once up on YouTube, would dazzle.

Little did I know how much time and effort are required to produce watchable video.

Hours of editing and manipulation go into every minute of artfully produced video, work that's boring and repetitive and tiring.

I reverted to simply posting uncut, unedited Glass "footage" that in most cases got ±100 views.

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Now comes Emma Chamberlain, whom the Atlantic just called "The most important YouTuber today."

You could look it up.

She turned 18 in May; she's the new new thing in YouTube celebrity; dropped out of high school in the beginning of her junior year; has been making videos for her channel since 2017; and makes millions of dollars a year.

But, as the New York Times reported last week in a fascinating piece, there's this:

Chamberlain edits each video she makes for between 20 and 30 hours, often at stretches of 10 or 15 hours at a time. Her goal is to be funny, to keep people watching. It's as if the comic value of each video is inversely proportional to how little humor she experiences while making it. During her marathon editing sessions, she said, she laughs for "maybe, maybe 10 seconds max."

"It's almost like when you’re doing your homework, you're halfway through a math worksheet, you're really in it right there. You can't hear anything, you can't see anything," she said. "Or if you're watching a movie and you're so zoned in you don't even remember what real life is. You just think you're in the movie. That's exactly how it is, but times five. I'm so zoned in. I have this weird mind-set where it's me quickly analyzing every five seconds, 'Is this boring, is this stupid, can I cut this? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.'"

Like other professional social media users, the work has taken a physical toll on her. (She releases roughly one video a week.) She used to edit at a desktop, but she developed back pain. Now she works from her bed. She keeps blue mood lighting on, but her vision has deteriorated. She wears reading glasses "like I'm 85 years old, because my eyes do actually get really strained."

She told W, "I've cried multiple times after posting a video. So much work goes into each video that I don't know how I'm still alive."

July 15, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Naoto Fukusawa x Realme Phones Come in 2 Versions: Onion and Garlic

From the Verge:

I don't know about you, but I've been getting pretty bored by phone colors of late.

Everyone is offering the same silver and gold finishes, of course, while China's initially laudable effort to develop every single blue gradient pattern imaginable seems to be running out of steam.

Former Oppo sub-brand Realme thinks it has the answer, and that answer is — what else? — "hire the most famous Japanese industrial designer alive to make phones inspired by vegetables."

Yes, vegetables.

Naoto Fukasawa, who you may know from his iconic work with Muji and the Infobar range of phones, has turned to the kitchen for inspiration with the new "Master Editions" of the Realme X flagship phone.

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Two versions are available: Onion (above) and Garlic (below).

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And, well, heck if these phones aren't evocative of onion and garlic.

The rear panels have a slightly rough texture, and there's a degree of translucency and light scattering that makes them appear not altogether solid.

Fukasawa says that when working with Realme, the team went through 72 gradient tests and over 300 sample adjustments "in order to take this texture to perfection."

Stylistically, these phones don't have a lot in common with most of Fukasawa's portfolio, which has often focused on a kind of warm minimalism with simple colors and friendly shapes.

But the designer only worked on the CMF (color, materials, and finish) of the Realme X Master Edition rather than the actual phone itself, which perhaps freed him up to experiment.

"Design is to improve the relationship between human, object, and environment," he says. "I enjoy observation, see the beauty from our nature. Garlic and onion are so common, but if you look closely, there is something you don't normally realize: the fine texture. I want to make people surprised. I started to think 'can we reproduce this texture on a smartphone?'"

The answer is basically yes.

The Garlic edition is very subtle and could pass for a regular white phone if you catch it head-on, but looks great from an off-angle — albeit still near-impossible to photograph.

The Onion model, meanwhile, is immediately an unusual color for a phone and has a more obvious texture that reacts more dramatically to the light.

The patterns are a little more regular than you might expect, but the straight lines make sense given the size and shape of the phone.

July 15, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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