This was 16 years, 3 months, 7 days ago

random thoughts:

ASCII: using a possible range of values 0 - 127 for language characters was arbitrary and American/Englo-centric. Where are all the diacritics? The non-Latin-based alphabets?

One thing I hate:

I wondered if architects ever complain about Janney’s whimsical interventions spoiling their pristine curtain walls and monochrome spaces with colored filters and birdcalls. “If they do, I never hear about it,” he says with a hoot.

That's from an article about Christopher Janney, who created the sound sculpture/toy on the 34th st. NQRW subway platform. I was looking him up because someone had made a post about Paul Matisse, Henri Matisse's grandson, and his Kendall Square (Boston) sound installation. I thought of Max Neuhaus's sound at Times Square, and the 34th-st subway platform, which is why I looked the guy up.

I'm not sure who Peter Hall is, but his article/interview has the kind of provincial, deliberate we-vs-them anti-intellectualism that I really hate. There's this almost irrational dislike for this author that I can feel blooming up; I was thinking about it the other day when I was walking on the street. I think my problem with the article and its ilk/cohorts isn't actually its dismissal of certain art on some basis of entertainment; you guys can have your stuffiness, and we'll have the fun. It's the uneasy dismissal of art that lies on the same plane as a usage of words like 'pretentiousness' to dismiss an attitude.

My tirade against the word 'pretentious' is that it's a hodgepodge of disparate meanings that's essentially used as an ad hominem attack. Somewhere in the word are the meanings of 1) pomposity/arrogance, and 2) show-offery and boastfulness, but the rest of the word is basically an uncomfortable dismissal of intellectualism. This is a message I sent to a friend a while back about 'pretentious':

"The thing is, those definitions all depend on the receiver of pretension, the person who determines that some phrase or message is excessive, affected, or ambitious. Spoken between the right people, the same words are genuine and true, right?

I still think that when it applies (aka, it's not snobbery or show-offery), the word 'pretentiousness' is used to demean a sophistication of thought and intelligence and its corresponding enthusiasm. It's ad hominem, in a way, maybe -- attacking the complexity of the argument, not the argument itself.

I mean -- I can't think of an example in which A and B are talking; B is enthusiastic, genuine, is not showing off, talks about something esoteric, A understands -- and yet A thinks B is pretentious. I also can't think of an example in which the phrase "that's pretentious" wouldn't be used as an attack of some sort to deliberately demean. I guess I feel like the 'pretentiousness=bad' feeling is part of a mindset in which there's a general un-cool to be had with being educated, or there's a stylized acceptance of scientific ignorance by humanities people, and vice versa... And it bothers me that these things would continue into college/university level education."

That's exactly it - a stylized ignorance. It happens both ways; I was at Dorkbot NYC the other month, where someone had made an energy generating/dispersing shoe as a playful interpretation of the Situationist Dérive and the Drunkard's Walk together. Someone in the audience asked a question about whether they took energy efficiency into account, and the creators honestly replied, "we're not engineers, so we don't know how to do that" -- to which a few people clapped, presumably celebrating this 'not engineers' thing. I mean, what the fuck? This was at 'Dorkbot' in New York, with a motto of "people doing strange things with electricity" - the last place I'd expect this anti-intellectuality. (Dorkbot in of itself is a wonderful idea and I should go more often; it was the few people in the crowd, not the event itself.)

And then there's the vocabulary of that portion of the article: complained, spolied, their pristine walls, hoot. Oh, those complaining architects! I guess my gripe with this review by Peter Hall is that it's a stylized ignorance of architecture behind it, and so a general rejection of intellectualism over fun/entertainment in a way.

I guess I really just didn't like the article.