Books

A meta episode in the vein of Seinfeld, not much happens - Things w/ Amir Motlagh Ep 13

This is all meta and in the vein of Seinfeld; nothing happens, and all bundled with 99% less laughs. Anyways, as I had feared before I revamped this, that bottlenecks would thwart my consistency. And, yes, they have. So, while I have been perpetually aiming at making these better, or rather, more value oriented & better researched, that has not happened. Will it, who knows? To be honest, it is what it will be.

Though, I do like to talk freely like this, so, maybe I’ll just keep at it. The volume has been increased as my friend Jonathan implored me to bump the gain knob. I noticed that I was mixing it at a volume that film dialogue would be at, and that is probably to low for the web.

What happens in these 7 minutes? A quick chat about the last couple weeks, the weather is spectacular and why you should read ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert Pirsig.

As always, come say hello and subscribe if you’re feeling generous, if not for these, but for all the other more important stuff.

With love,
am

How to read multiple books at the same time....

For several years, after college, I was on a regime of "one book" at a time. In those days, it was mostly classical literature or a book on film/writing craft. 

I was in the habit of reading before bed, or occasionally, in the afternoon when I had some free time, over coffee.

I'd often wonder how we collectively (students) went through several books at the same time in college, and the answer now, so obvious, was because of necessity. 

Jump to about two years ago, when I had a sudden revelation that my reading frequency had dipped to an all time low, and was consumed with a year of MOBY DICK (the year before, WAR AND PEACE). One book, a whole year.

At this time, I came to a reading breakpoint (yes, this is not so dramatic). Rather I can wallow in the dead poetics society, or, get the fuck out of this habit, and open the mind to new ideas. 

I picked up a non-fiction business book. Something I had never done in my life. Why? I was pulled in that direction but that's another story.

But since then, I upped my reading to an average of around 40-50 books per year in the last few. I understand that this is below some overachievers, but the mean of the average American Adult's book count, according to this 2013 PEW study is 12. With a median at a paltry 5 (still more than my MOBY DICK year).

So, what's my method? It's all in a system based on formats, and multiple books at the same time.

For short non-fiction, I use ebooks. For things on the more motivational front, audiobooks is my preferred format. For tougher, more esoteric material, a good ol fashion analog book. For longer non-fiction, or any books on craft or technique or where you need to write information down, analog. For fiction, again, analog mostly, unless it's the size of a novella or shorter, and then it would be read in the ebook format.

So, I read a hardcover in the AM, listen to an audiobook in the car and on a jog. On an afternoon break, or at night, I'm on the Ipad with an ebook. I average about 3 books simultaneously, and can push to a max of 4.

Personally for me, at this moment, I could not read 3 books at the same time in the same format. This switch in format is both contextual, and tacit, and lets my brain welcome new content throughout the day.

One last thing: I love owning books. While I've come to love ebooks and find them superior on many levels especially for it's ease in annotation, I find myself having to buy the analog version as well if I really enjoyed the work, just to make this situation feel real. This is a problem financially. 

 

 

Recent reads with accompanying ramblings, (or HE BOUGHT A BOOK, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT)

These are the last few non-fiction books I've read:

Now, I'm not going to review them nor rate them. They all have some very useful information, and by doing a quick search, you can see if you want to add any of them to your library. All three come highly rated over at Derek Sivers site, which was actually how I found 2/3. 

His estimation is higher than mine on average when it comes to these three, but they are all worthwhile reads. The most practical one being THE TIME PARADOX. This has to do with the fact that Phil Zimbardo is a very well respected psychologist in the field. I first learned about him during my time at UCLA. 

A couple observations in the last month. I prefer to read non-fiction on my IPAD AIR as opposed to fiction in analog. The highlighting and notes function in the ibooks app are incredibly practical and useful tools. I send these notes to my evernote and have access to them at all times. Second, most non-fiction "motivational" (in quotes since this is not technically the genre of these books, but really, it is) books are very closely tied to their specific zeitgeist of cultural thinking;  meaning, they share ideas freely from each other. These books start to bleed the same names, the same studies and the same stories. It's like one continuous TED TALK, with the same people feeding of one another. 

This is not a bad thing, just the nature of the game. It's what's in, and ultimately, it's whats working. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's whats in their blogs in the first place. 

The same situation arises in true motivation style books written by lets say, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn or Zig Ziglar. And for the most part, you are better of reading them, then before. The greatest value might just be in releasing a cynic from his/her own self imposed prison. To give hope to the idea that we can all change, at the moment we decide to. And it's greatest fault might be the dependency they create, much in the same way therapist keep clients for years. It becomes a feel good drug. Hardly a negative but you have to move away from just the good feeling these books give off..

So, get the information, and move forward. Take the knowledge, and then, take action. Don't just buy another book.

 

 

  

 

A new book to read - How Music Works

Finally getting around to reading David Byrne's book, "How Music Works".  It was recommended by a dear friend, and it's been sitting in my book queue for months.  

And quite frankly, it feels real nice to have a book queue. You should start one today.  Books are practically the only things I collect, aside from vintage musical gear and a couple old film cameras. But, space is getting more and more limited and AU's + VST's are getting so good, that soon, I won't be needing that Roland AP-7's  (the one that works 40% of the time) or the TB-3's, or the Juno's or even the Nordleads anymore. Well, the Nord is not quite that old.

Irregardless, start reading again.  Throw away the futurist opinion that my "too smart for his own good" computer scientist friend "C" has; that books are obsolete tech. We will all benefit collectively from your curiosity.  

And as far as the book, David's insights thus far have been mind opening.  It's really the first theoretical music book I've picked up, even though he might be reluctant to classify it as such. And even though I've recorded and released records over the last few years, I never thought about the form as conceptually as say, filmmaking.  It always seemed more instinctual.  But, I welcome this new openness.  And what better way to start then Byrne, while I track down Eno's, "Year with Swollen Appendices".

Book List - Spring 2014

It's been quite a bit of time between updates.  I might be a product of the Gutenberg mind, so please spare my old world behaviors; mainly, the lack of timely, coherent, word driven sentences, outlining, step by step, my recent actions, feelings and general well being.  And, my still intact affinity for old tech book media.

Since we are on the topic of books, here is my recent list.  Two out of three is a rehash, but, as I've only recently discovered, it's much easier to read something the second time around.

I don't have anything else to share. Actually I do, but I'm not in the mood of writing about writing about movies and such.  

Amir's Reading Rainbow as started in Spring and expiring in a few days:

HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES - Joseph Campbell - Second read through
MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS - C.G Jung
THE WAY OF ZEN - Alan Watts - Second read through

Yes, they are thematically themed.

Best,
am

lessons hardly learned.

the old man would pull me over and talk to me every time I saw him at the coffee shop.  his subjects were often the same, little nuggets of wisdom we're all familiar with.

most of the time it was a nuisance.  i would make smiley faces, half understanding anything said, as I kept wanting to get on with life, which is code word for work.  

and most grating of all, this ritual kept me away from coffee.  i mean, that's the main reason I came, and my cravings would erupt in quiet desperation.  i would start resenting everything.  why the hell do i do this to myself every damn time?  why do i come here knowing this is going to happen with 100% certainty. 

but recently, he hasn't been coming in.  and life has gotten more uncomfortable without his greetings. and life is never 100%.

 

the coat of color reddish.

Michelle’s favorite coat was a tint of red.  I can get specific about the type of red it was.  But, I don't want to. I mean, I'm sure there is an exact name for that red.  Like all those goddamn house paints with those silly names you find at Home Depot, or some place as dreadful.

I just know, let's say, I can tell you, non subjectively that it was a hue of red.  Or tint of red.  What's the difference?  I can see that you're already signaling me to “Google” it.  But no thanks, I like my world with a bit of mystery.  Plus, Google has clocked me watching porn one too many times.  iI’s embarrassing and I don’t trust them. 

I mean, I get it, all this business about the specific color of a coat, it’s a small detail.  But that's what I remember.  Maybe that's all I really remember of Michelle.  Michelle was a coat to me.  A bit harsh, and selfish, and chauvinistic, but, if you're looking for the truth, yeah, that's what sticks out.  If you don’t like my feelings for Michelle and her red toned coat, big whoop, sue me Larry H.  

We slept around for a bit.  Totally causal.  She never asked me more then four questions or so.  She was a cocktail waitress on the lower east side.  Oh, i remember now, it's coming to me.  she was pretty cute too.  Not a real knockout, but, plenty cute.  So, Michelle, cute, reddish coat, minimal talking.  

Whatagirl man. Whatagirl.

morning fuckery.

it's 5:37am.  why did my snooze button land on an odd number?  am i being tricked?

it's a bit dark outside, as I pull the curtain to see if other life forms exist at 5:38am.  a man get's into his old, red BMW across the street.  

man, he must have gotten a lot of pussy a decade or so ago, i quip.   

but then, maybe he's married and has three kids?  what the fuck do I know anyway(s).  

it's 5:39am.

immortal doggies of the world.

the man's dog had passed over the early morning hours.  it laid stiff as a surfboard in the small suburban backyard.  a line of eager ants marched forward and around the lifeless fur ball.  these ants, ever present in the final days.  

how the man hated these ants.  and hated the world for teasing him with life and death.  the man stared at the dead body with a sunken, desperate anxiety.  he looked up into the sky.  he ran his hand through his hair, with a heavy, bothered motion. the hand weighed at least a ton. 

defeated, the man went inside and sat on the dark green couch, the dog's favorite nap space. not a single thought passed through the man's head for another three hours. as he sat motionless, the sun slowly spread its energy across the living room, lighting the darkest room in the world, uninvited.

the book versus the other plastics.

The book is old analog.  It's technology is without a doubt, one of the most important items in the human catalog.  

Books are the enablers.  The perfect informational passing device.

Almost always a perfect gift.

Books are not CD's.  Books are not DVD's.  Although, people love to include them in there analogies of the death of physical media.  

However, those forms were never necessary to the origins of their own particular media. Cinema needs other devices for transmission.  Music the same.  These forms always change. In many ways, and even with hard earned consumer consistency, they are not standalone.  How many music delivery systems have come and gone?  

The physicality of a book includes all of it.  The written word was always meant to be passed along, in it's final form.  it duplication is always scaleable.  Not from the beginning of course, but still, it could have been duplicated somehow, with errors, money and hard work.

And even though, the scalability of music and cinema can lend itself to other product forms, they will never be perfect.  Because its delivery origins are not seamless.  Music has always been a live format.  Cinema, was birthed in exhibition.  One ticket, one play.  No pause, reverse, repeat.

The book, in it's final physicality is the delivery.  It's a perfect system.  Yes, it can have an uglier digital counterpart, but it's essence is it's form.  And, only for environmental reasons would it ever go away.  

But, that CD you're holding, or that Criterion DVD you just bought, or that new XBOX game you stole, well, that's not going to be around.  So, build your collections now you geeks and nerds.  Show them off to your kids, who will marvel at that lo-fucking fidelity that you and I loved so much.

reading.

I'm always surprised to learn a great majority of people I come across only devote scattered time to reading short form articles or magazines.  I'm even more surprised (stupefied) to learn that individuals who are capable, do not read period.      

Even professionals; from nice suit and tie wearing lawyers, to some physicians, to a couple of sales execs, and from my side of it, people who do art as a "hobby", only commit to reading short form (web, magazine articles, etc).  You know, things that are easily skimmed, that do not require any of that analytical processing shit.

I say, art as "hobby", because I've yet to find a “full time” artist who doesn't commit to reading as a habit.  Mostly fiction I might add.  Same goes for the entrepreneurs I've come across.  They however, are strictly tied to non-fiction.  That’s just how they role.

People who I know, and whom amaze me most often, are also the ones who are avid readers.  And, they’re diverse readers.  They swallow up books, and they take notes, and they apply concepts into their own existence (if the particular type of book demands it).    

Look around yourself.  Find any correlation?  If not, go outside your circle a little.  Maybe being the average of your 5 closest friends is blinding you from others?  

The Book Queue as a Metaphor for Whatevers?

Sitting in front of me on a small coffee table lays Murakami's THE ELEPHANT VANISHES.  It's been sitting in front of my eyes for about 3 months. 

But, on that same coffee table lay several (12 in all) other books besides Murakami's.  They range the gamut from bestsellers to obscure works.  Most are NON fiction. (something that I've only recently gotten deeply into)  

Sometimes, a strange habit overtakes my rational mind.  It goes something like this. 

a) Buy a book to read.

b) Find other books to read by serendipitous occurrences.

 A photo of books in a non-compliant aspect ratio.

A photo of books in a non-compliant aspect ratio.

c) Find those "other books" immediately. Start at the nearest bookstore, order the rest and start on those post-haste.

d) Repeat this step with some of the new books, but not all.  

e) Regain some composure.

f) Get back to the original book, many, many months later.

g) Pat myself on the back for sticking too it eventually and reading the one I was "supposed" to start with.

Now, I learned a very important lesson in life not so long ago.  "Don't think of life in linear's", said a friend, while holding a very expensive glass of whiskey. 

It took me awhile to figure that one out.  I sat on it, played with it, tried to fit it in.  It's simple, and sounds profound and it could be interpreted in many ways.  But, after awhile, it made perfect sense.  Say it to yourself.  

I AM A NON-LINEAR TIMELINE, homegirl.

PS: If your persistent, you will get back to that original book, and, if you got some grit, you'll even finish it.

A little flexibility, some stamina, and commitment can get you conquering your book queue.  Now, multiply that by X.  Something much, much bigger then what to read next.  

Pick Yourself

There is a line, oft repeated in Seth Godin's newest book, "The Icarus Deception" in which he simply states, "pick yourself".  This is a profound thought, and in the simplest language possible.  

Here, he is referring to people who are waiting for a chance in the sun (but instead, can choose themselves).  People who wait for some authority to point them out, to lift them up and place them square into the X at the end of the rainbow.  Problem is, this is the worst type of game, with the worst type of odds.

Now, Seth comes from a marketing background.  He understands the world of business, entrepreneurship, marketing, etc.  But he tries to bridge the gap to the arts.  In many ways, he succeeds.  But, in his fury of words, the actualities and nuances get swept under the rug.  

For example, while you can DIY anything, the cost of traditional narrative movie making is very high.  Even the tiniest budgets rival the seed money for a new start-up.  And while you might not be promised a return, the business world is pretty straightforward.

With that said, his phrase, "pick yourself" still works.  Because, if you don't, your not living in todays world. You're looking at industries and systems of the past, and for the arts, this is especially the case.  

Even with the high cost of movie making,  when you "pick yourself", you have a sense of control, and a vision for tomorrow.  This of course means that some compromises might have to be made.  

But, the numbers tell the truth (at least for now).  Movie making that you remember from your childhood, will not be the same business in a couple years, then it was for the last 50 years.  It is hardly any different from the record business.    

Shit has flipped, and hard.  So, pick up the camera, or remix what's already available.  Or simply, write your dreams down.  That way, you are on the start of the journey of picking yourself.  A place exists for everybody who tries.

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