— Field Notes




Painting by  Jan Mandyn – The Temptation of Saint Anthony -  1530

“Possibly, Flaubert was responding to an experience of the fantastic which was singularly modern and relatively unknown before his time, to the discovery of a new imaginative space in the 19th century. This domain of phantasms is no longer the night, the sleep of reason, or the uncertain void that stands before desire, but, on the contrary, wakefulness, untiring attention, zealous erudition, and constant vigilance. Henceforth, the visionary experience arises from the black and white surface of printed signs, from the closed and dusty volume that opens with a flight of forgotten words; fantasies are carefully deployed in the hushed library, with its columns of books, with its titles aligned on shelves to form a tight enclosure, but within confines that also liberate impossible worlds. The imaginary now resides between the book and the lamp.”

Michel Foucault, Fantasia of the Library (on Flaubert’s Temptation of Saint Anthony)


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I have been doing a lot of thinking  about Where We Live Now. The places between city and country, inner cities, suburban landscapes there are many versions of “here”, the classic city of our imagination is really that an imaginary place. No one can close their eyes and visualize their city or town with out seeing the “downtown”, the classic city center around which most cities radiate, but these city centers are just a very small part of the city we live in.

There are numerous ideologies and interest groups vying for  control of the future of where we live now, the developers, the speculators, businesses such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, ecologists, neighborhood activist, governments. Each of these see where we live now differently, if where we live now is to succeed and to be a viable community we need to synthesize the disparate visions and work together. Community implies cooperation and harmony, finding ways to bring the different visions together is a great challenge, our politicians don’t seem up to the task.  We need new modes, new eyes, and a new appreciation of where we live now. The beauty and aesthetics of the in between places, the awareness of what is close, our neighbors, businesses, families, wild life, all these need consideration.

Planning is necessary,  local government is good at designing building codes, street safety and some transportation planning but where we live now transcends boundaries, the in-between places are seldom planned well and no group or government is taking responsibility for the WHOLE.


 Where We Live Now: an annotated reader edited by Matthew Stadler


(image via: animatedGIF)

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Deepak Chopra offers his thoughts on the global economic crisis. This is  video on Seesmic.com . A video based social media site. Chopra discusses the different types of wealth and there sources. He has optimistic point of view that sees opportunity in the current situation. We will see great opportunity and the possibility of great creativity.


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Objects for a sustainable world, Bruce Sterling explains his idea of the Spime. See book for complete explanation, Shaping Things.


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Published 3/13/2003 two months before President Bush's invasion.

"We should therefore be very attentive not to fight false battles: the debates on how bad Saddam is, even on how much the war will cost, etc., are false debates. The focus should be on what effectively goes on in our societies, on what kind of society is emerging HERE as the result of the "war on terror." Instead of talking about hidden conspirative agendas, one should shift the focus onto what is going on, onto what kind of changes are taking place here and now. The ultimate result of the war will be a change in OUR political order." © Copyright

Re-reading this cautionary opinion piece by S. Zizek, written shortly before the invasion of Iraq is sobering. Slavoj Zizek is an intellectual trickster  who can quickly change colors and direction. This piece twists and turns you are not sure exactly what ideas he is promoting till the end;  highly recommended reading.

“The ultimate result of the war will be a change in OUR political order.” What changes we have seen! There is no opposition to the changes either, only a scramble by the powerful to see who can reap the most benefit, either financial or political. The new Security State is running at full steam, it will absorb Clinton or McCain, either will do.

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Studio 360 (an excellent  radio program) replayed an interview with Susan Sontag, recorded on the eve of the Second US – Iraq War. Sontag talks about the power of images and if they desensitize us.

She has unique perspective  having written an influential essay On Photography,  in which she argued in 1977 that we were being desensitize by images in mass media. In this interview she critiques  her original argument, using the art of Goya and her experience in Sarajevo during the Balkans war.

This is a controversial subject and Sontag makes strong points,  I recommend listening, it has a 16 minute running time.

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