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10 February 2010

Nanoculture aka “Douglas Coupland has no Facebook or MySpace page.” (But he does have a Twitter.)

Excerpt from one of Deborah Solomon’s infamously condensed interviews in The New York Times Magazine. (I like them.) With Douglas Coupland, famous Canadian, infamous coiner of the term Gen X. The quote in the subject line of this post is drawn directly from his website. Funny, that.

    New York Times: Americans think of the Canadian center as socialism.
    Douglas Coupland: Pretty much. To have a healthy culture you have to have stable health care financing and stable arts financing and stable sports financing, and if you don’t have that, your culture becomes a parking lot.
    NYT: How would you define the current cultural moment?
    DC: I’m starting to wonder if pop culture is in its dying days, because everyone is able to customize their own lives with the images they want to see and the words they want to read and the music they listen to. You don’t have the broader trends like you used to.
    NYT: Sure you do. What about Harry Potter and Taylor Swift and “Avatar,” to name a few random phenomena?
    DC: They’re not great cultural megatrends like disco, which involved absolutely everyone in the culture. Now, everyone basically is their own microculture, their own nanoculture, their own generation.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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21 September 2009

Joseph Cornell & the idea of boxes within boxes

Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) (1945-46)

As Labor Day came and went, and summer came to a close, I peeled quickly through Deborah Solomon‘s Utopia Parkway: The Life & Work of Joseph Cornell, a biography of the 20th century American collage artist who lived & worked nearly his entire life in a dour little house in Queens.

Therein she shares a quote from John Updike about obsessional artists:

    “The willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurous on behalf of us all.”

Updike’s quote was not written specifically about Cornell. Rather the quote was found in the artist’s notebooks upon his death. In addition to being an obessional artist, Cornell was a champion collector of scraps and elliptical diarist.

And oh, how this quote works. It’s so appropriate that this third party quotation is the pithiest encapsulation of the conclusions Solomon’s biography draws about her subject: It’s neither something Cornell said, nor an analysis dreamed up by his biographer. Rather it’s a something a third party wrote in a magazine, which Cornell then copied into his notes, and which his biographer, in turn, copied into her own notes. A copy of a copy. Boxes within boxes, indeed.

Below, more boxes…

Setting for a Fairy Tale (1942)

Untitled (Medici Prince) (1952)

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