Monday, June 28, 2010

Seen in Cambodia, part 1

I'm currently off in seclusion in Kampot, grading papers and wrapping up my affairs in lovely Cambodia, but I thought I'd share this when I had a spare second. I noticed this chair when I went to the tailor for fitting (affordable tailored clothing is but one of the many wonderful things about this country). 

Check it out. What do you notice, besides that great dark wood that typifies Khmer furniture?

Yep--instead of the standard wicker or straw, this chair's seating is made out of old tennis racket strings. Totally cool and surprisingly comfortable.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

"No Impact Man" as seen from Cambodia

For the observant, browsing through the bootleg DVD shops here can be quite rewarding. Firstly, the covers were definitely designed by non-native speakers of English, because their hype quotes on the front of the box are sometimes ambivalent or downright negative about the film. My favorite was for "Step Up 2: The Streets," which proudly displayed the faint praise, "It's no Stomp the Yard, but it's alright!"

There are also curiosities of selection. While you're guaranteed to have the current blockbusters and popular tv show box sets, there are always certain unusual offerings, like 8-in-1 selections of Oscar winners from the 20s and 30s or 9/11 conspiracy documentaries. But more to the point, there are a ton of quality documentaries available, I reckon as the joint result of backpacker/NGO-worker demand and ease of supply (I'm guessing the maker of a movie about philosophers talking is maybe not as zealous about copyright infringement as the big studios. After all, for small players in the creative arts, obscurity is a far greater threat than piracy.) As a result of this, I got to watch the wonderfully entertaining documentary, No Impact Man.

I really liked it, and it spurred a couple of thoughts:

Monday, June 14, 2010


"Nietzsche's style can be taken to represent a brutally frank admission that today hardly anyone can offer more than scattered profound insights or single beautiful sentences--and his writings abound in both."
--Walter Kaufmann, (from chapter 2 of Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist.)

Over the past two years or so I have been an apologist for Twitter, especially since the TwittIran news bath of summer 2009 and resulting backlash among sophisticated intellectual-types.

It is a easy thing to bash Twitter, Google Buzz and all other forms of status updates, probably too easy. I think the main problem is that most of the people who try to explain the usefulness of Twitter tend to focus on the wrong parts. Certainly, the point is to explain what you're doing and how your life is going, but there's an element of curatorial selection, of separating the worthy and interesting from the quotidian. This is the essence of what historians do with primary sources.

 A good tweet will certainly give basic details of what's going on in your life, but writing interesting tweets requires finding the sublime within the minute, similar to the best work produced by the Mass Observation movement of the late 1930s. Twitter is also a good place to put together an aphorism, which is a hobby of mine anyway. (Adam Flynn: Part-time Aphorist). This is a form that rewards terse, tight phrasing, which is in short supply these days.

Sunday, June 6, 2010



for it will soon be occupied



courtesy of the SPLENDID VAGABOND.