Terroir

“Soil is crammed with bacteria. Its earthy scent is the smell of the chemicals they produce. Petrichor, the smell released by dry ground when it is first touched by rain, is caused in large part by an order of bacteria called the Actinomycetes. The reason that no two soils smell the same is that no two soils have the same bacterial community. Each, so to speak, has its own terroir.”

From “Regenesis” by George Monbiot

Brussels Sprouts

In an appearance on the new Alo Yoga podcast Alo Mind Full, Kanye West said that he hasn’t read “any book” and compared reading to eating brussel sprouts.

No wonder that I don’t understand the man. I love books AND Brussels sprouts. I should take a dish of Brussels sprouts to eat at the local library to celebrate both.

Sentence

Who in the world wouldn’t want to stroll along Vico Amandorla? It’s a name that smells like a promise, as soft as marzipan, as mature as liquor in forgotten casks, in the cellar of a faraway monastery where the last monk died twenty years ago one afternoon with an innocent child’s prayer on his lips in the cloister gardens, in the shadow of an almond tree, as happy as a man after a rich dinner with dear friends. Say the name quietly if you are afraid and you won’t be afraid anymore: Vico Amandorla.

— from “La Superba” by Ilya Leonard Pfeijffer

That middle sentence! Mr. Pfeijffer has won best sentence in the Dutch language twice.

Arch

Ai Weiwei unveils cage-like Arch installation in Stockholm:

Appearing to break through the steel bars that surround them, these characters represent the “free passage of all populations, and appealing for a world without borders,” said creative foundation Brilliant Minds, which organized the installation.


This is a beautiful sculpture by Ai Weiwei. The foundation Brilliant Minds was created by the man who became unfathomably rich by founding first Pirate Bay and later Spotify. Someone should put a sticker on the Arch that says paid for by musicians everywhere.

I am reading Ai’s book “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows”. For me the book became really interesting after he arrived in New York, in February of 1981.

There were tens of thousands of artists in New York, but only a few dozen who were making money. For a certain subset, art had become a
target of speculation and just part of the race to find the next new thing.
Art had long been a consumption commodity, a decoration catering to the
tastes of the rich, and under commercial pressures it was bound
degenerate. As artworks rise in monetary value, their spiritual dimension
declines, and art is reduced to little more than an investment asset, a
financial product.

and

Around this same time, a couple of pictures of mine were part of a group exhibition in the East Village. When the show closed, rather than take the pictures home with me, I just chucked them into a dumpster. Dumpsters are everywhere in the streets of New York City, and you could probably find a number of masterpieces in them. I must have moved about ten times during my years in New York, and artworks were the first things I threw away. I had pride in these works, of course, but once I’d finished them, my friendship with them had ended. I didn’t owe them and they didn’t owe me, and I would have been more embarrassed to see them again than I would have been to run into an old lover. If they were not going to behanging on someone else’s wall, they didn’t count as anything at all.

I highly recommend the book.

Monday in Seattle

While the others went home yesterday I decided to get to Seattle a few days little early. It rained when I arrived, it rained in the evening, but this morning the sun came out and I took a long walk.


Last week, while driving from Phoenix to Tucson, Jon and I talked about 80’s music. Another friend had mentioned to me that his children all love music from the 80’s. Indeed, there is something very creative about the music of that decade. Maybe it was because there were more dilettantes in pop music than at any other time. Drum machines became available in the early 80’s and step sequencers enabled not-musicians to make music. If you had something to say you could figure out a way to perform music. For Jon and me, the 70’s are the preferred music decade, but we both admire the freshness of the music from the 80’s.


I heard that Ai Weiwei lives in Lisbon now.


Finished reading “The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa and started “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows” by Ai Weiwei


A hundred years ago many people thought that smoking wasn’t only NOT unhealthy but it was in fact good for us… we may find that the volume of data we consume today is just as dangerous as cigarettes, and not just for our health and wellbeing but also in the sense that it keeps us occupied and detracts from really pressing issues like the climate and democracy. I have more thoughts about data/information and how it relates to sugar, salt, and fat…

Speed

Speed thrills and speed kills. Feeling connected to the world, and finding out about every new event that happens anywhere right away, is certainly thrilling. It also feels overwhelming, it’s too much, too much at once as well as too rapid. It’s the speed AND the volume. I imagine a street. It’s a two lane road lined with trees and houses. If one person drives very fast, and no other car is on the road, perhaps they can negotiate all of the turns, remain in control of the vehicle, and arrive safely. But when the road is chockfull of cars, each going as fast as it possibly can, crashes WILL happen with absolute certainty.

To me it feels like that is what’s happening with our lives. Speed by definition remains shallow, because depth requires time. Driving through a landscape at 75 miles an hour is a very different experience from walking through the same landscape. We are essentially rushing through our lives.

In one of his books Neal Stephenson describes agencies that filter information for their clients. A client profile is created and, with the use of AI and human selection, the information that is delivered to the client is filtered down from an avalanche to a manageable trickle.

Scientist have looked at how quickly topics change, I read in “Stolen Focus”, by Johann Hari. At first they looked at trends on Twitter and discovered that while topics stayed in the top fifty most discussed subjects for 17.5 hours in 2013, they only lasted for 11.9 hours in 2016. Well, that’s Twitter, perhaps it was an outlier. After studying Google Books, which has scanned millions of books, and analyzing the content, they discovered that the same curve that was found on Twitter, has in fact existed for more than 130 years. For all of that time, between the 1880s and today, topics have come and gone faster.

That’s the speed part, but what about the volume? Johann Hari uses the example of reading a 85-page newspaper. In 1986 all of the information coming from TV, radio, and reading, amounted to 40 newspapers a day. By 2007 that number had increased to 174 newspapers per day. I shudder to think what that number is in 2022.

Somewhere, perhaps also in Johann Hari’s book, I learned that our speech has been accelerating, too. We apparently talk much faster than our grandparents. That makes sense to me: if the data input flows heavier and faster, so will the output.

No wonder we feel like we are being hurled through life. Speed is addictive, too, like a sugar rush, so part of our brain wants to keep going. Let’s face it, our brain doesn’t often KNOW what’s good for us. For that answer we will have to turn to our heart and gut brain – let’s call those the body-brain as opposed to the head-brain.

That reminds me, time to meditate. There will be more on this subject, I am sure. Take it easy, take it slow… :-)