Practical and fanciful four-year-olds
Mycophiles (all ages)
Opinionated three-year-olds who love bright colors and the moon, among other things
Random gifts for specific people
Imaginary outfit: jólabókaflóð (and bookmarked books to give or get)
Dark gifts for witty women
Noisy, messy, and marvelous young children
Giftable books for specific readers
Commuters (all sorts)
Writers and readers
Collectors of curiosities
The dreamer of ice and snow
The reader of fairy tales
*C.P. Cavafy, “Clothes,” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn.
Anonymous Works: "In what could be called one of the strangest industrial designs ever, the Chicago-based Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company in 1936 created a version of their Thor electric washing machines with sculpted hands embossed on the agitator. At the time, some Thor dealers painted the fingernails of the hands on demonstration machines."
*Mid-20th century Italian composite marble and limestone grave marker.
Margaret Cross blue sapphire "Devotion" ring.
I suppose it is submerged memories that give to our dreams their curious air of hyper-reality. But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like, through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. A pond becomes a lake, a breeze becomes a storm, a handful of dust is a desert, a grain of sulfur in the blood is a volcanic inferno.
The most interesting and valuable witness of the stupendous eruption of Bandai-san in 1888—which blew the huge volcano to pieces and devastated an area of twenty-seven square miles, leveling forests, turning rivers from their courses, and burying numbers of villages with all their inhabitants—was an old peasant who had watched the whole cataclysm from a neighboring peak as unconcernedly as if he had been looking at a drama. He saw a black column of ash and steam rise to the height of twenty thousand feet and spread out at its summit in the shape of an umbrella, blotting out the sun. Then he felt a strange rain pouring upon him, hotter than the water of a bath. Then all became black, and he felt the mountain beneath him shaking to its roots and heard a crash of thunders that seemed like the sound of the breaking of a world. But he remained quite still until everything was over. He had made up his mind not to be afraid—deeming that all he saw and heard was delusion wrought by the witchcraft of a fox.
Lafcadio Hearn, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.
Americans’ belief in ghosts has been on the rise since 2015, according to a poll by YouGov, a research and analytics firm, and paranormal beliefs are becoming common, with 59 percent of women and 52 percent of men expressing a belief in haunted places, according to a 2019 survey by Chapman University. Even the U.S. government has refused to rule out the existence of aliens after making footage of unidentified flying objects public.
Taylor Lorenz, "The 'This American Life' of Ghost Stories is Captivating Gen Z." The Washington Post, 10/22/2022.
The pictures may ostensibly document the realm of the immaterial, the post-human, the ether, but they are moving precisely because of the grubby human and material stories they inadvertently disclose, of boundless grief and stubborn self-deception and feeble guile and pathetic compromise. They speak of propriety and barbarism, doubt and obsession, love and chicanery, exaltation and despair. They embody every sort of contradiction and every affective extreme. They can be terrifying, not because of their sideshow ghosts or tinpot effects, but because of the emotional undertow that lies just beneath their surfaces. It is not hard to imagine being unbalanced by loss and then thrown into a darkened room where the last tenuous grasp of reality finally gives way, or to imagine larkishly producing a hoax and then finding that a great number of people have become psychologically dependent on its indefinite perpetuation. There is a great unwritten book, or more than one, lurking behind these pictures, but it could only be a work of the imagination.
Would have, would have. The dead dwell in the conditional, the tense of the unreal. But there is also the extraordinary feeling that you have become omniscient, that nothing we do or think or feel can be kept from you. The extraordinary sense that you are reading these words, that you know what they’ll say even before I write them.
someone behind me!
Coming back in a cab, I saw a man dragging a big square piece of plywood across the street to plunk it down next to a big earthy hole he was digging in the street. The plywood looked as if it might cover the hole. I felt a vague excitement—a stirring of memories about how exciting a hole with earth heaped beside it had been to me a few years ago—I remembered digging for red clay—digging into a hill, digging for Australia, digging ’til water came in, the danger of digging a deep hole and getting inside, etc.
Donna Dennis, "Has Henry James put me in this mood?" The Paris Review, 9/22/2022.
Awe-tinged wonder’s positive ethical potential is related to its power to unsettle the wonderer. It erodes the ego’s defences, throwing the wonderer slightly off her guard, so that she might come to view the world, and her place in it, differently. Research on wonder and awe seeks to understand this phenomenon of accommodation and its potentially significant – and salutary – effects. Investigators have pinpointed a distinction between short-term, experimentally induced awe (using immersive videos or images of landscapes) and ‘dispositional’ awe experienced by people in whom wonder has become a habitual mode of engagement with the world.
Lisa Sideris, "To Benefit From Wonder, Make Sure You've Got the Genuine Kind." Pysche, 10/4/2022.
The best thing that can happen to me while reading a poem is to fall off a cliff at a line break. In the plummet, meaning splits apart, and when I land on the next line (or in empty space!) I can’t retrace my steps. This gap in the sensible that poetry provides is pure potential: aesthetic and political. Such eruptions in time and meaning—like the femme voices of Greek myth—threaten order and containment.
Elvia Wilk, "Siren (some poetics)," 4Columns.
Gohar calls the Argentine psychologist Susana Balán her “therapist,” though she concedes that the term isn’t quite right: they speak regularly, but Gohar does not pay for sessions. “It’s more like I’m a subject she’s studying,” Gohar explained. The two met after Gohar read Balán’s self-published children’s book, “Link and the Shooting Stars,” and identified with its hero. The story follows a young misfit horse, Link, who sets out to find a life that can accommodate his many talents and interests. The book is intended to illustrate a concept that Balán has developed called the “Link personality,” which she feels Gohar exemplifies. Such people have “many ‘I’s,” Balán told me.
Molly Fischer, "Laila Gohar's Exquisite Taste." The New Yorker, 9/19/2022.
The Rorschach is now broadly considered a pseudoscience ... In a way, it was discredited from the start: Hermann Rorschach never had any success promoting his method, and the psychoanalytic establishment paid it little attention. Rorschach died only a year after completing his system, still in his thirties, and he might have been forgotten entirely if his cards weren’t taken up by the US military. The Army needed a way to weed out psychotics from their recruits, and the inkblot test was an ideal method for a modern military. It’s replicable and it’s cheap, you can mass-produce the inkblot cards like bullets, and it can be administered without much training. ... Maybe the best name for the test would not be pseudoscience, but magic. A kind of mid-century witch-doctoring, perfectly compatible with IBM systems and the big faceless bureaucracies of military and corporate life. At its core, it’s an exercise in mythopoesis: the way we take random patterns and fill them with meaning; the symbols by which the world reveals itself.
Sam Kriss, "The Roaring of Things." Justin E.H. Smith's Hinternet, 9/25/2022.
The part of my brain that wasn’t battling itself over a musical necessary belief in the divine was given over to the image, presented at the end of the audiobook’s exclusive final 12-minutes, of Nick Cave panic-buying a hundred cans of baked beans in a fury of pandemic paranoia, sending them to his sons, and responding to their confusion with the vague threat: “Something’s coming down the line.”
... [H]ere is a proposition for you to consider: you and I have exactly as much attention as we need. In fact, I’d invite you to do more than consider it. Take it out for a spin in the world. See if proceeding on this assumption doesn’t change how you experience life, maybe not radically, but perhaps for the better. And the implicit corollary should also be borne in mind. If I have exactly as much attention as I need, then in those moments when I feel as if I don’t, the problem is not that I don’t have enough attention. It lies elsewhere.
L.M. Sacasas, "Your Attention is not a Resource." The Convivial Society, 4/1/2021.
... [F]orty-five minutes was, I think, his atom of time, the span of shortest possible duration. It took forty-five minutes to brush and floss his teeth. Forty-five minutes to shave. And forty-five minutes, minimum, to bathe. Forty-five minutes between saying, “I’m almost ready to go,” and going. ... These forty-five-minute intervals were because, I think, he did everything while thinking about something else. He lived inside a series of dreams, and each dream could admit only one pedestrian task into its landscape. He often spoke of the life of the mind. He wished for my brother and me that we could enjoy a life of the mind. But, as with many phrases, I think my dad used “the life of the mind” in his own way. He never, for example, urged us to read Foucault, or Socrates, or, really, any books. Those forty-five-minute blocks of daydreams were, I think, closer to what he meant by the life of the mind. They were about idly turning over this or that, or maybe also about imagining yourself as Marco Polo. They were about enjoying being alone, and in your thoughts.
I have a vague memory of a nun approaching me at some conference — not a nuns conference — and saying, “You got it right.” Which I really hope so. I really hope there are communities of women all over the world who are just thoroughly themselves. I wish it was everywhere, just not in convents.
Siobhán McSweeney in Vulture on playing Sister Michael, a "natural anarchist," in Derry Girls.
Monogrammed rose-scented lip balm by Officine Universelle Buly.
A book out of print: Sam Stephenson's Love and Work: Lyric Research on Jason Molina.
A Marcie McGoldrick ring that doubles as a family portrait.
A pleasingly wobbly hairbrush by Y.S. Park.Ithell Colquhoun's Color as Taro.