Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:
Carl: If you’re ever briefly seduced by techno-utopianism and “post-human” fantasies, here’s a good dose of antidote against “Singularity” hoo-ha by Annalee Newitz, who imagines there’s no heaven and says “the future is a mutated bacteria that you never saw coming.”
Meanwhile, looking back at a kind of cultural singularity, for nearly 50 years we’ve lived in the sonic world remade by John Cage’s “4’33″” – a world in which every sound you hear is potentially a part of an ongoing piece of music, in which composition can be just context. Alex Ross recently wrote a fine piece on Cage and his impact in The New Yorker – here’s his related blog post, with a bunch of YouTube clips and a link to a November, 1964, Calvin Tomkins profile of Cage for the magazine, which is a great read entertainingly and incongruously surrounded with Mad Men-ish Christmas ads. And as a gift to ourselves for Christmas, 2010, a group has started organizing to make “4’33″” the BBC’s official yuletide hit this year – “make it a silent night” – an online effort similar to the one that made Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” the surprise official carol of 2009: The campaign’s name? Of course, Cage Against the Machine.
Later: It’s not officially Friday any more, and a little sacrilegious to revise a Tea With Chris without Chris, but I forgot that what originally got me Cagey was Christian Bök’s tweet about this wonderful list of all the “silent pieces,” some silly and some sublime, people have made over the years, by poetry scholar Craig Dworkin. Also via Christian, this downloadable “audio tour” of how various world museums sound in four minutes and 33 seconds, including Toronto’s own AGO.
Chris: There’s a lot of things to like about this interview with Owen Hatherley, whose new book savages the architectural vapidity and false “regeneration” of Blairite Britain, but this part might be my favourite: “I was originally going to name each chapter after a song from a band in the city I was writing about. Leeds would have been At Home He’s A Tourist, Glasgow Theme for Great Cities, Sheffield: Sex City, a Tindersticks reference for Nottingham, and so forth. The reason why I didn’t do that is because I couldn’t think of anything for Milton Keynes – all the good records about new towns are from snobby Londoners, like ‘New Town’ by the Slits…and also because the Southampton one would be limited to something by Craig David and/or the Artful Dodger, and much as I love ‘Rewind’ that would have had a certain bathos.” I’m hoping to write about A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain on B2TW myself, but lefty polemics are one of several genres I’m not sure where to look for now that Toronto’s best bookstore is closed.
Have you ever wondered how early fossil collectors managed to screw up the reconstruction of their finds so badly? Here’s a little timeline of that “mutant history.”
Margaux: If you haven’t already read this New York Times article about whales, it is really pretty amazing. It was even just useful to remember that whales live for a very long time. The same whale can keep returning to a specific coastal location over a century while the reception from the humans on land slowly, but radically, changes. The article wonders what they think about that.
Man who wrote passionate and persuasive arguments for an end to romantic capitalism and an embrace of 2-D romantic culture was booed at a conference when he admitted to watching 3-D porn (an old story).
The movie I made, Teenager Hamlet, is playing at the Royal Cinema on College St. in Toronto tonight at 7 pm. Home-made movie posters in the movie poster slots!
Today, I saw a tiny squirrel pick up, with its teeth, a giant red apple from under a giant red apple tree and then run down the street with it. This link goes back outside.