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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.



Posts tagged "style"

Jul 18, 2014
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Nietzsche’s Mustache

Found while reading this excellent series on philosophers over at the Philosopher’s Mail.

So far they’ve covered Plato, The Stoics, Epicurus, Nietzsche, Adam Smith, Hegel, Sartre, and Adorno.

Nietzsche’s Mustache

Found while reading this excellent series on philosophers over at the Philosopher’s Mail.

So far they’ve covered PlatoThe StoicsEpicurusNietzscheAdam SmithHegel, Sartre, and Adorno.

Feb 20, 2014
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The case for wearing a uniform

Mason Currey (author of Daily Rituals) on famous dudes who wore the same thing every day:

I’m thinking, of course, of wearing the exact same thing every day. This is hardly an original idea—plenty of noteworthy men have adopted a signature uniform, particularly those working in artistic fields. Stanley Kubrick owned a dozen sets of the same slouchy outfit (chinos, blue shirt, cotton jacket, sneakers), and Hitchcock’s closet was stocked with identical dark-blue suits. In 1898, the French avant-garde composer Erik Satie used a small inheritance to purchase a dozen identical chestnut-colored velvet suits (with the same number of matching bowler hats). In the late 1970s, Andy Warhol’s uniform was Levi’s 501s, a button-down shirt, a striped tie, and a navy blazer, often accessorized with a Polaroid camera around his neck. Tom Wolfe was never without a white suit; Steve Jobs had a lifetime supply of black mock turtlenecks. And that’s not even mentioning the many fashion designers who wear more or less the same thing every day.

“Wear a uniform” was #3 on my 10 things I learned on book tour list:

More via @mattthomas here and here:

"I like the idea of a personal uniform," says Richard Haines, the fashion illustrator who sketches stylish guys on the streets of New York for his blog What I Saw Today. "Years ago, on my first trip to Europe, I noticed people would wear the same thing everyday and just changed up little pieces. It’s this mentality of having less, but owning quality." And perhaps that’s a good a theory to have right now.

And Rick Owens via @jedsundwall:

It takes me minutes to dress—I’ve worn the same black outfit for years, like a priest. Or a prisoner.

Oh, and the president does it, too.

Sep 03, 2013
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Ralph Steadman drawing and playing ukulele in his studio in Kent

Amazing video of one of my very favorite artists.

People have said, “Oh, I thought you’d be a nasty piece of work because you’re so dark and trenchant,” and I say, “No I’m not! I’ve got rid of it — it’s all on paper!”

On mistakes:

There’s no such thing as a mistake. A mistake is only an opportunity to do something else.

On style:

I never went out of my way to invent a style. I haven’t got a style — I just draw and it’s that way.

Basically who I want to be when I grow up…

(via @abstractsunday)

Nov 19, 2012
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Sidney Lumet, Making Movies

This is a book about the work involved in making movies… I’ll try to tell you best I can how movies are made. It’s a complex technical and emotional process. It’s art. It’s commerce. It’s heartbreaking and it’s fun. It’s a great way to live.

The first sentence in Lumet’s bio actually made me gasp: “Sidney Lumet’s films have received more than fifty Academy Award nominations.” Fifty. And he made fifty years worth of movies: 12 Angry Men came out in 1957, and Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead came out in 2007. What was his secret?

I don’t think art changes anything… I do it because I like it and it’s a wonderful way to spend your life.

Lumet was opposed to the concept of “the auteur”—he was very much more what Terry Gilliam calls “a filteur.” He chose material and movies to make that he could make personally interesting to him, but he always emphasized filmmaking as a collaboration. “If all this sounds like hard work,” he said, “Let me assure you that it is.”

There are so many good bits in this book:

  • “All good work requires self-revelation”
  • “I don’t want life reproduced up there on the screen. I want life created.”
  • “What we’re doing matters. It needs concentration.”
  • “We’re not out for consensus here. We’re out for communication.”

My favorites, which translate well to other art forms:

“What the movie is about [should] determine how it is to be made.

“Discussions of style as something totally detached from the content of the movie drive me mad.” I’m a big fan of the “don’t worry about style” school, believing that style emerges out of the things you’re obsessed by. Lumet put it perfectly:

The question “What is this movie about?” will be asked over and over again throughout the book. For now, suffice it to say that the theme (the what of the movie) is going to determine the style (the how of the movie.) […] I work from the inside out. What the movie is about will determine how it will be cast, how it will look, how it will be edited, how it will be musically scored, how it will be mixed, how the titles will look, and, with a good studio, how it will be released.

But what of what Lumet calls, “The ‘auteur’ nonsense?”

So-and-so’s “style” is present in all his pictures. Of course it is. He directed them. One of the reasons Hitchcock was so deservedly adored was that his personal style was strongly felt in every picture. But it’s important to realize why: He always essentially made the same picture. The stories weren’t the same, but the genre was…

“Creative work is very hard, and some sort of self-deception is necessary simply in order to start.”

The truth is that nobody knows that that magic combination is that produces a first-rate piece of work… all we can do is prepare the groundwork that allows for the “lucky accidents” that make a first-rate movie happen.

But the self-deception has to be a balanced kind:

I think most of us feel like fakes. At some point “they” will get onto us and expose us for what we are: know-nothings, hustlers, and charlatans. It’s not a totally destructive feeling. It tends to keep us honest. The other side of that coin, though, the feeling that we own the work, that is exists only because of us, that we are the vessel through which some divine message is being passed, is lunacy.

Don’t let today’s work hurt the way you evaluate yesterday’s work.

[You] have to watch your inner state very carefully as you come into rushes. Perhaps today’s shooting hasn’t gone very well. You’re tired and frustrated. So you take it out on yesterday’s work, which you’re watching now. Or perhaps you’ve overcome a major problem today, so in an exultant mood, you’re giving yesterday’s work too much credit.

If you have even a sliver of interest in how movies are (or were) made, this is a must-read.

Oct 06, 2012
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Don’t worry about style.

  1. “Don’t worry about style. It will be expressed no matter what you do. Style is part of the way your brain is wired.” —Luke Sullivan

  2. “The problem with art today: the artist believes he must find a style (or a schtick really) and defend it with his life. And if all the schticks are already taken, he must pull one out of his ass. He must find one, invent one, fabricate one, for he can be nothing if he cannot be original.” —Eddie Campbell

  3. “Style is a capitalist invention. It’s a trademark. It’s very useful in the world of commerce to have a good trademark, but it wasn’t my first concern. I got restless…” —Art Spiegelman

  4. “The way to professional accomplishment: you have to demonstrate that you know something unique, that you can repeat, over, and over and over until ultimately you lose interest in it… The model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success….Whenever Picasso learned how to do something he abandoned it.” —Milton Glaser

  5. “In our current cult of originality, the pressure is to have a personal style as soon as possible, and the classroom environments often have this mentality as well. Everyone is freaking out: “What’s my style? What’s my thing?” It’s too much too fast. This race for originality has, over the years, spread from that future-goal timeline to just after college to (now) inside college itself. A safety zone no longer exists.” —Dash Shaw

  6. “When I talk to young composers, I tell them, I know that you’re all worried about finding your voice. Actually you’re going to find your voice. By the time you’re 30, you’ll find it. But that’s not the problem. The problem is getting rid of it.” —Philip Glass

  7. “Don’t worry about a style. It will creep up on you and eventually you will have to undo it in order to go further.” —Gary Panter

Aug 19, 2012
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maudnewton:

killingcharlemagne:

Vonnegut’s “How to write with style”.
Series ran by International Paper and included in Spin, January 1986. Pages 20,21.

Oooh, I’ve read transcriptions of this but never before seen the original.

Filed under: Vonnegut

Aug 10, 2012
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Conversations With Wilder by Cameron Crowe

In between Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe spent a year interviewing his hero, the director Billy Wilder, about Wilder’s body of work. Crowe was just peaking and Wilder was retired and starting his nineties. The book chronicles their conversations and is full of hundreds beautiful black and white photos from his films and his life.

Some of my favorite Wilderisms:

“If you have a problem in the third act, the real problem is in the first act.”
"The one thing that keeps me alive is curiosity.”
"The real humorist is always sad."
"It’s easy to talk, it’s difficult to write."
"There’s no “Wilderesque.” It’s just stuff.”
“You bring your sensibility and hope that people will show up.”
If you like Wilder’s movies, it’s a good read. (If you don’t like his movies, what’s wrong with you?)

Thanks to my friend James for the recommendation.

Filed under: my reading year 2012

Conversations With Wilder by Cameron Crowe

In between Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe spent a year interviewing his hero, the director Billy Wilder, about Wilder’s body of work. Crowe was just peaking and Wilder was retired and starting his nineties. The book chronicles their conversations and is full of hundreds beautiful black and white photos from his films and his life.

Some of my favorite Wilderisms:

  • “If you have a problem in the third act, the real problem is in the first act.”
  • "The one thing that keeps me alive is curiosity.”
  • "The real humorist is always sad."
  • "It’s easy to talk, it’s difficult to write."
  • "There’s no “Wilderesque.” It’s just stuff.”
  • “You bring your sensibility and hope that people will show up.”

If you like Wilder’s movies, it’s a good read. (If you don’t like his movies, what’s wrong with you?)

Thanks to my friend James for the recommendation.

Filed under: my reading year 2012

Feb 29, 2012
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Young people will take everything, mix it all up, and come with something new.

Feb 05, 2012
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In order to arrive at a personal style, you have to have a technique to begin with. In other words, when I say that style is a special case of technique, you have to have the technique — you have to have a place to make the choices from. If you don’t have a basis on which to make the choice, then you don’t have a style at all. You have a series of accidents.

Jan 09, 2012
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[After copying others for a while] your own style begins to emerge. You don’t decide what your style is, you discover it. Style is hard-wired into your brain and it’s a matter of discovering what your style is and then sharpening it, exploring its dimensions.
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