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27 JANUARY, 2012

Schematics: A Love Story in Geometric Diagrams

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The mathematical poetics of time, or what matrices reveal about the matters of the heart.

Somewhere between the psychology of love and the intricacies of romance lies a vast and unmapped territory of abstract and subjective existential paradoxes. That’s precisely what New-York-based British photographer Julian Hibbard sets out to map in Schematics: A Love Story — a truly unique, in the most uncontrived sense of the word, project exploring love, memory, and time through 43 schematic diagrams drawn from old books and paired with poetic text that gleans new meaning from the geometric forms. From them emerges a layered and paradoxical narrative that is at once very personal and very universal, a kind of forlorn optimism about what it means to be human and to follow the heart’s sometimes purposeful, sometimes erratic, usually unpredictable will in pursuing the deepest of human connections.

I learnt to tie my shoes

I learnt to ride my bike

I learnt to smoke

I learnt the vulnerability of fully exposing an idea

I learnt to tie my shoes

I learnt to adapt my behavior in the light of others' actions.

I learnt the difficulty of sustaining the hopes of youth.

I remember a French girl with an English name.

'Leave me now, return tonight,' she told me every morning, and I did.

I remember an English girl with an French name.

We were the circle that no one could break, or so I thought.

The book, whose own unusual, geometric, highly tactile physicality reflects its substance, begins with a beautiful T. S. Eliot quote:

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Yesterday I was there.

Today I am here.

The two are light years apart.

I dance with a friend,

holding her hand realize,

how disconnected I have become,

from the simple beauty of touch.

I return and sense,

that things are not the same as before,

but feel had I stayed,

everything would likely seem the same.

David LaRocca writes in the afterword-by-placement-introduction-by-purpose:

Schematics operates simultaneously on two distinctive registers: the deeply personal (a love story between the narrator and the objects of his affection, desire, and confusion) and the profoundly anonymous (a love story within matter — subject to gravity, magnetism, genetics, mechanics, electricity, and the space-time continuum.”

Your words touch me.

Your thoughts excite me.

I want to try all that.

Explore everything with you.

Alone.

All one.

If and but and maybe and whatever.

I hate those words.

Everything doesn't have to be perfect.

To idealize is also a form of suffering.

LaRocca concludes:

Schematics is a love story because love involves (tragically, incorrigibly, but also beautifully) a desire for something that continuously transforms. Love is painful because we want the object of love to change and to stay the same; love is a desire and a fiction that animates our greatest pleasures and our most profound sufferings. Love holds us to this life, keeps us faithful to it. Yet nothing can save us from our ultimate reentry into oblivion — the point at which no amount of consciousness or desire can preserve identity or the energies that we once called our own. Hibbard’s poetic concept-curating presents schematics that invite us to consider — alone and as ‘all one’ — the existential graphs that underwrite life, and take us out of it.”

Page images courtesy of Mark Batty Publisher

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27 JANUARY, 2012

An Animated History of Human Communication: 1965 Educational Film about the Telephone

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Barely a decade into the age of the social web, it’s already difficult to remember — or imagine — how the world operated before it. As difficult, perhaps, as it was for kids in the 1960s to imagine a world before the telephone.

We Learn About The Telephone is a 1965 educational film that traces the history of human communication, from the messenger runners of the Ancient world to Native Americans’ smoke signals to the invention of the telegraph and telephone, and explores the science and technology of how the phone actually works, from the anatomy of speech production to the physics of sound waves. Animated by the legendary John Hubley, the film is as much a treat of vintage animation as it is a priceless piece of cultural memorabilia from the golden age of media innovation.

Bonus: At around 10:56, you get a detailed tutorial on how to dial a rotary phone — for your collection of obsolete life skills — followed by some phone etiquette lessons. (“You should let the phone ring 8 to 10 times.”)

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27 JANUARY, 2012

From Mark Twain to Ray Bradbury, Iconic Writers on Truth vs. Fiction

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Why art exists, or what a stage magician can teach us about the fine points of literary make-believe.

Famous writers have previously shared insights on symbolism, reading, and writing itself. Underlying many of these meditations is a broader curiosity about the intricate interplay of fact and fantasy. To untangle that knotty relationship, here are a handful of iconic authors’ thoughts on truth, art, and fiction — culled from their finest nonfiction.

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~ Stephen King in On Writing

Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.” ~ Ralph Ellison in Advice to Writers

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” ~ Mark Twain in Following the Equator

Playing around with symbols, even as a critic, can be a kind of kiddish parlor game. A little of it goes a long way. There are other things of greater value in any novel or story… humanity, character analysis, truth on other levels, etc., etc. Good symbolism should be as natural as breathing… and as unobtrusive.” ~ Ray Bradbury

The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” ~ Tom Wolfe in Advice to Writers

Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” ~ Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie

The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt in The Autobiography Of Eleanor Roosevelt

You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid.” ~ John Waters in Role Models

Fiction that adds up, that suggests a ‘logical consistency,’ or an explanation of some kind, is surely second-rate fiction; for the truth of life is its mystery.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates in The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982

The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly.” ~ Wallace Stevens in Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose

Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction; in particular, the novel.” ~ Eudora Welty in On Writing

We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.” ~ Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You

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