Holiday

This is incredible. Myself and the wife and the boy have managed to juggle schedules in such a way that we now have a week off. I'm not entirely sure how we did this. Sorcery may have been involved, souls bartered, something dark and unnatural that will one day tear us asunder. But hey, a week off is a week off. And it's not just a regular week off, watching Columbo and painting our toenails – we're going on holiday. I've heard whispers from other freelancers that such a thing is possible, but always assumed it was an urban legend or perhaps a meme I didn't understand. Yet here I am with my lovely family, on a train bound for Keswick and peaceful lakeside frolics. Not travelling with us today: the computer, the inbox, the admin, the reading, the writing, the tweets, the pins, the job. For the next seven days, I am not a designer. 

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Virgina Woolf on the cultivation of taste

I have to admit that so far, my life has been absent of Virginia Woolf (unless you include that film with Nicole Kidman's nose), but this passage from the London Library's On Reading, Writing and Living with Books really grabbed my attention:  

It would be foolish … to pretend that the second part of reading, to judge, to compare, is as simple as the first — to open the mind wide to the fast flocking of innumerable impressions. To continue reading without the book before you, to hold one shadow-shape against another, to have read widely enough and with enough understanding to make such comparisons alive and illuminating — that is difficult; it is still more difficult to press further and to say, ‘Not only is the book of this sort, but it is of this value; here it fails; here it succeeds; this is bad; that is good.’ To carry out this part of a reader’s duty needs such imagination, insight, and learning that it is hard to conceive any one mind sufficiently endowed; impossible for the most self-confident to find more than the seeds of such powers in himself. Would it not be wiser, then, to remit this part of reading and to allow the critics, the gowned and furred authorities of the library, to decide the question of the book’s absolute value for us? Yet how impossible! We may stress the value of sympathy; we may try to sink our won identity as we read. But we know that we cannot sympathize wholly or immerse ourselves wholly; there is always a demon in us who whispers, ‘I hate, I love,’ and we cannot silence him. Indeed, it is precisely because we hate and we love that our relation with the poets and novelists is so intimate that we find the presence of another person intolerable. And even if the results are abhorrent and our judgments are wrong, still our taste, the nerve of sensation that sends shocks through us, is our chief illuminant; we learn through feeling; we cannot suppress our own idiosyncrasy without impoverishing it. But as time goes on perhaps we can train our taste; perhaps we can make it submit to some control. When it has fed greedily and lavishly upon books of all sorts — poetry, fiction, history, biography — and has stopped reading and looked for long spaces upon the variety, the incongruity of the living world, we shall find that it is changing a little; it is not so greedy, it is more reflective.

It may have been written 90-odd years ago, but this still seems remarkably pertinent. Everyone is a published critic these days, everyone is screaming their taste at everyone else. Culture is just one great big scream. 

Kubrick on Disney

Nick Wrigley recently compiled a master list of Stanley Kubrick's favourite films, stitching together remnants of interviews and articles from his career. Some are rather tenuous, plucked from passing mentions or second-hand anecdotal evidence, but there's enough in there from the man himself to get an idea of how his tastes changed throughout his career.  

One thing that stands out is this extract from a 1968 interview with Charlie Kohler of the East Village Eye, in which Kubrick discusses Disney, violence and censorship:

I saw Mary Poppins three times, because of my children, and I like Julie Andrews so much that I enjoyed seeing it three times. I thought it was a charming film. I wouldn’t want to make it, but … Children’s films are an area that should not just be left to the Disney Studios, who I don’t think really make very good children’s films. I’m talking about his cartoon features, which always seemed to me to have shocking and brutal elements in them that really upset children. I could never understand why they were thought to be so suitable. When Bambi’s mother dies this has got to be one of the most traumatic experiences a five-year-old could encounter. I think that there should be censorship for children on films of violence. I mean, if I didn’t know what Psycho was, and my children went to see it when they were six or seven, thinking they were going to see a mystery story, I would have been very angry, and I think they’d have been terribly upset. I don’t see how this would interfere with freedom of artistic expression. If films are overly violent or shocking, children under twelve should not be allowed to see them. I think that would be a very useful form of censorship.

I wonder what he would've made of modern Disney fare. For example, Tangled and Frozen are both big favourites in our house, but there's no avoiding the fact that they deal with parent mortality and the threat of capital punishment. And there's Finding Nemo, which opens with the slaughter of hundreds of babies – we turned that off pretty quickly. I understand these stories require a sense of peril to push them along, but must there be quite so much death?

If you need to fill your head with more Kubrickly goodness, look no further than Coudal's ever-expanding link-dump.  

Stuff about Bowie

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Just a great big list of stuff about David Bowie.

International posters for The Man Who Fell To Earth.
— 21.04.16

Free Bowie-inspired resources for geography teachers.
— 12.03.16

Just say no.Ten things David Bowie turned down (and the fantastically curt responses he gave).
— 20.02.16

Bowie impersonatesBruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Tom Waits during the Absolute Beginners recording sessions. Together, it all kind of sounds like an Ezra Furman album. 
— 27.01.16

David Bowie's forgotten non-fiction books, compiled by Tom Gauld.
— 27.01.16

From his collection of 2,500 vinyl LPs, Bowie selects his greatest discoveries, and unearths some record-buying memories as well. 
— 26.01.16

The making of The Man Who Fell to Earth. 
— 26.01.16

POP.Bowie chats with Roy Lichtenstein for Interview magazine in 1998. 
— 26.01.16

Now the workers have struck for fame– David Bowie as political figure. 
— 26.01.16

The history of the Low/Heroes/Lodger Berlin trilogy. If you're going to mine any era for a potential bowie-biopic, this would be it. Now could somebody call Domhnall Gleeson's agent please?
— 24.01.16

The beat godfather and the glitter mainman– when Bowie met Burroughs. 
— 22.01.16

Cracked Actor– the infamous 1974 documentary, in which Alan Yentob joins a rather delicate Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour. 
— 20.01.16

We, with our time borne ceaselessly away, can heroes be, if just for one brief day– Heroes, the pop sonnet version.
— 18.01.16

"When I asked you if you wanted me to say anything here tonight, you said: only three words, one of them testicular." – Tilda Swinton's speech from the opening of the David Bowie Is exhibition.
— 18.01.16

David Bowie Is (amazon.co.uk/amazon.com) – a most splendid retrospective published in 2013. Filled with all sorts of bits and pieces from the Bowie archive, plus essays by Christopher Frayling, Camille Paglia and Jon Savage.
— 18.01.16 

David Bowie: invisible New Yorker.
— 18.01.16

What did David Bowie do at your age?Don't do it, you'll only remind yourself of all the amazing things you haven't done with your life. Seriously, don't do it. No, okay, you go ahead then. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
— 18.01.16

Mumbling into the void, everyone says hi– Ian Salmon reflects on a lifetime of Bowie LPs.
— 18.01.16

Adam Buxton's 2013 documentary on Bowie, featuring rare interviews and classic Bowie-at-the-Beeb moments.
— 18.01.16

The best David Bowie samples in hip-hop.
— 18.01.16

The making of Under Pressure: demos, studio sessions, isolated vocal tracks, wine, cocaine, everything.
— 18.01.16

Berliners call for street to be renamed after Bowie.
— 18.01.16 

Jemaine Clement on creating ‘Bowie’s in Space’, the Flight of the Conchords’ paean-parody to their musical hero.
— 18.01.16

Bowie predicting the impact of the internet in 1999– how it would change society and lead to new ways of expression, art and communication – while Jeremy Paxman looks sceptical about the real application of the new “tool”.
— 18.01.16

The occult universe of David Bowieand the meaning of Blackstar,
— 18.01.16

Lynda Relph-Knight examines Bowie's influence on graphic design– his relationship with designers and the impact his music, artwork and even stage personas made on visual design.
— 18.01.16

Bowie in Berlin, purging demons and always crashing in the same car – Rory MacLean.  
— 14.01.16

Dancing in the street … without music. 
— 14.01.16 

A tribute from Chris Hadfield– the only person to actually perform Bowie's music in space. So far. 
— 14.01.16

Playful, profound and pretentious – Bowie answers the Proust Questionnairefor Vanity Fair in 1998.
— 14.01.16

Design Week looks at a life in album covers, highlighting a few mysteries. Credits for several iconic pieces don't seem to exist anywhere – who designed the sleeves for Station to Station, Heroes, Low?
— 14.01.16

Rehearsing the Labyrinth ballroom scene(choreographed by Star Trek's Gates McFadden it turns out). Five minutes of heaven. 
— 14.01.16

Long-time Bowie collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook talks to Creative Reviewabout designing the artwork and visual language for The Next Day and Blackstar. 
— 14.01.16

In 2001, Bowie and Tracey Emintalked drugs, art and fame.
— 14.01.16

David Bowie in the movies— Anthony Lane. 
— 14.01.16

Flick through John Peel's collection of Bowie singles.
— 14.01.16

In 1979, David Bowie took over BBC Radio One for a 2-hour DJ set. Have a listen. 
— 14.01.16

Interview with May Routh, costume designer of The Man Who Fell To Earth. 
— 14.01.16

David Bowie, internet service provider – interview with Ron Roy, the guy who ran BowieNet ISP.
— 14.01.16

That time Bowie criticised MTVfor not playing music by black artists. Things are more equal now: they don't play music by anyone. 
— 14.01.16

David Bowie vs Alexander McQueen— Dazed and Confused, 1996. 
— 14.01.16

Memories of growing up to Bowie— Ruth and Martin's Album Club.
— 14.01.16

If the Beatles captured a 60s of optimism and love, Bowie was the signature artist of the 70s– distilling paranoia and confusion into pop both euphoric and terrifying — Dorian Lynskey.
— 14.01.16

David Bowie's 100 favourite books
— 14.01.16

Eno, Visconti, Pop et al pay tribute. 
— 14.01.16

Donate to Cancer Research.
— 14.01.16