In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.

(Source: vimeo.com)

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hughandcrye:


  One of my favourite outtakes from the engagement! Also, a certain mister @ramkumarshankar looking pretty spiffy in his #hughandcrye #carnegie shirt! by vaidehi http://bit.ly/15Za9Su


Vaidehi wanted to do this since the moment we knew what we’d be wearing at the engagement. She thought the contrast between her traditional silk sari and my shirt and trousers would be amusing. She also wanted a funky pose to go with. That isn’t something I’m good at unfortunately, so she made her exasperation known. The fact I did manage a smile did not count for much.

The H&C shirts are great by the way (hat tip to Venki). I am now extremely frustrating to shirt salespersons everywhere.

hughandcrye:

One of my favourite outtakes from the engagement! Also, a certain mister @ramkumarshankar looking pretty spiffy in his #hughandcrye #carnegie shirt! by vaidehi http://bit.ly/15Za9Su

Vaidehi wanted to do this since the moment we knew what we’d be wearing at the engagement. She thought the contrast between her traditional silk sari and my shirt and trousers would be amusing. She also wanted a funky pose to go with. That isn’t something I’m good at unfortunately, so she made her exasperation known. The fact I did manage a smile did not count for much.

The H&C shirts are great by the way (hat tip to Venki). I am now extremely frustrating to shirt salespersons everywhere.

I was talking to my cousin the other day, a girl of 10. At one point, she asked me if I cook at home here in Bangkok. I do but she didn’t believe me.

"I’ve never seen a boy cook. I’ve never seen a boy in the kitchen," she said. There are many other chores she has never seen a man do at home - cleaning up after a meal, doing laundry or helping her with homework.

This makes me sad.

Why does the world exist?
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A man finds himself, to his great astonishment, suddenly existing, after thousands of years of non-existence; he lives for a little while; and then, again, comes an equally long period when he must exist no more. The heart rebels against this, and feels that it cannot be true.
Arthur Schopenhauer, “The Vanity of Existence” (from Why Does The World Exist?)

Doom metal is not something I listen to on a regular basis. But few genres have as much power to move. This is how Wikipedia describes doom metal:

Doom metal is an extreme form of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much “thicker” or “heavier” sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom.

Paradise Lost is well-known for their stellar brand of doom, and later in their career, gothic metal. I first heard the band in the album “Symbol of Life”. This album, with its catchy electronic sound, is arguably the most removed stylistically from the rest of their work. Although the lyrics seldom stray from the dark pessimistic themes common to the genre, the experimental electronic music obfuscates the emotional weight the lyrics carry. But it was an accessible album, and a great entry point to the genre. And as I’d find out later, it was also not even close to what doom metal was capable of.

That happened when I listened to Katatonia’s “Dance of December Souls”. The sound was nothing I had heard before. It was incredible. I did not know such emotion was possible in music. There were sides to the human psyche that I did not know of, and feelings complex that their existence came as a bit of a surprise to me. Even today, nearly 20 years on, there are blasphemous songs, and there is Katatonia’s “Without God”.

Doom metal digs deep. It is exhausting music to be sure - ‘Velvet Thorns (of Drynwhyl)’ is not a song you simply sit down and listen to one fine sunny day. Doom metal is crushing. It’s the musical equivalent of having your spirit slowly drained from your veins. But there is incredible beauty as well. When it comes to conveying an emotion in its purest and most essential form, doom metal is unmatched.

The genre employs a slow, dense and calculated approach that is both measured and purposeful. According to a dictionary definition, depression is ‘a disorder marked by sadness…feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidical tendencies’. But there are many shades to depression. It can result in anger. Before giving up, you can try or not try at all. Doom metal understands that depression is complicated and it respects that. It explores these emotions, the road leading up to them and the spaces in between.

In some ways, doom metal is an exercise to express emotions that defy understanding. Wonderful things happen when this exercise succeeds. It is an attempt to answer questions that simply do not have answers. What can a parent who just lost their only child do to cope? How does one get to the point where they feel the only option left is suicide? The songs are lengthy, thick and dense. They are anything but accessible, but these feelings are never simple either. The music demands a willing and attentive listener to peel the layers back to get to a nebulous core. Condense these topics to a typical 4 minute song and it might be very moving. But more often than not, the emotion remains at the surface. There is certainly a point to be made for the heavy, drawn-out approach, for doing things the hard way.

Doom metal slowly but surely twists the knife. The melodies linger and take their time. The vocals can fall anywhere in the spectrum from morose dejection to maddening disdain and despair. As far as music goes, the genre can be very cathartic because it gives shape and form to emotions had as yet remained unexpressed. The lyrics can be exceedingly dark (My Dying Bride’s “The raven and the rose" comes to mind) and while they may not always be personally relevant, the stories reflect on the many forms of depression and continue to broaden my emotional vocabulary.

Now that I’m older, I realize that the point of those chats was to give my mother an opportunity to tell a story so that my father could understand why she was a different person that night compared to when she left for work in the morning. She was describing the change in her over time, bridging the void between her and my father that developed throughout the day. There was distance between them, and her story closed the gap.
Frank Chimero, on the conversations his parents used ot have at the dinner table. From his book The Shape of Design.
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The official Transformers: Fall of Cybertron cinematic trailer.

Gorgeous. At least we have this, while Michael Bay takes the franchise down the drain with the movies.

(Source: youtube.com)

‘There are some wonderful bird owners, but in the typical human-bird relationship you have to ask what is really going on,’ Toft told me. The veteran bird trainer casts an astringent gaze on the human-avian connection. ‘You have this magnanimous animal that puts you on a pedestal, that loves you, that lives for you, that is as intelligent as a child, and you stick it in a cage and deprive it of every natural behaviour. What you get — if you look closely at it — is a really screwed-up relationship.’
Ilan Greenberg writes about birds, parrots in particular, as pets, and the relationship between these animals and humans.
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The moment you have a main character whose job it is to run around stopping things from happening, you have a reactive protagonist, which means a weaker narrative. When you have a weaker narrative, you end up throwing all kinds of nonsense at the screen, hoping that no one will notice that you have a reactive protagonist. This is, incidentally, why Batman rarely shows up in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — Nolan understood that the protagonist of his Batman movies had to be Bruce Wayne, not Batman, and that, for his narratives to succeed, the bad guys had to be reacting to the actions of Bruce Wayne, not Batman reacting to the actions of the bad guys.

Todd Alcott with a terrific analysis of the Avengers movie screenplay.

He has also been writing a multi-part take on The Dark Knight Rises screenplay over at his blog.