B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

The Music Kept Playing was uploaded to Flickr

rooftop, West Loop somewhere (maybe the CTA HQ?)

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I took The Music Kept Playing on August 16, 2012 at 10:36AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 26, 2016 at 04:53PM

Written by eggplant

April 26th, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Morgan Station at night was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop

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I took Morgan Station at night on June 03, 2012 at 04:15PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 23, 2016 at 12:13AM

Written by eggplant

April 22nd, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Imagine No Smoking No Trespassing was uploaded to Flickr

Fulton Market, West Loop

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I took Imagine No Smoking No Trespassing on August 10, 2014 at 05:15AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 16, 2016 at 01:10PM

Written by eggplant

April 16th, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Lyrics – Temporary Like Achilles – Bob Dylan was uploaded to Flickr

At the LBJ Presidential Library for some reason (maybe a traveling exhibition, I don’t recall).

The lyrics are slightly different on Blonde on Blonde, but close

http://bobdylan.com/songs/temporary-achilles/

Temporary Like Achilles
WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
Standing on your window, honey
Yes, I’ve been here before
Feeling so harmless
I’m looking at your second door
How come you don’t send me no regards?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, why are you so hard?

Kneeling ’neath your ceiling
Yes, I guess I’ll be here for a while
I’m tryin’ to read your portrait, but
I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child
How come you send someone out to have me barred?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, why are you so hard?

Like a poor fool in his prime
Yes, I know you can hear me walk
But is your heart made out of stone, or is it lime
Or is it just solid rock?

Well, I rush into your hallway
Lean against your velvet door
I watch upon your scorpion
Who crawls across your circus floor
Just what do you think you have to guard?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, but you’re so hard

Achilles is in your alleyway
He don’t want me here, he does brag
He’s pointing to the sky
And he’s hungry, like a man in drag
How come you get someone like him to be your guard?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, but you’re so hard
Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

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I took Lyrics – Temporary Like Achilles – Bob Dylan on July 20, 2014 at 09:27AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 12, 2016 at 11:50PM

Written by eggplant

April 12th, 2016 at 11:04 pm

El Ray – Giant Olmec Head was uploaded to Flickr

Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas, Austin

In November 2008, LLILAS celebrated the arrival of a special work of art on campus. The Universidad Veracruzana, one of Mexico’s most prominent universities, presented the institute with a colossal Olmec head, a replica of the iconic sculpture known as San Lorenzo Monument 1, or El Rey.

The original, now housed in the Museo de Antropología in Xalapa, Veracruz, is considered a signature piece of pre-Columbian Olmec culture and a world-class art object that represents New World civilization as emblematically as the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán or the ruins of Machu Picchu. One of seventeen colossal heads still in existence, San Lorenzo Monument 1 was found by noted archaeologist Matthew Stirling in the 1940s. His discoveries, and those of other archaeologists in Mexico during this time, unearthed for the world the culture of the Olmec, an ancient civilization that flourished in southern Mexico 1500-400 BCE and significantly influenced later cultures such as the Maya and Aztec.

The replica that now sits at the entry to LLILAS and the Benson Latin American Collection is made of solid stone and weighs 36,000 pounds. It was sculpted by Ignacio Pérez Solano, a Xalapa-based artist, who has spent his career exploring the history of the Gulf Coast and Mesoamerica. Pérez Solano meticulously reproduced San Lorenzo Monument 1 inch by inch, recreating the powerful lines and imposing features of the original work.

Pérez Solano began creating replicas of Olmec heads under the initiative of Miguel Alemán Velasco, who as governor of Veracruz from 1998 to 2004 endeavored to make Olmec culture better known beyond the borders of Mexico. Reproductions of other colossal heads can be found at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Field Museum in Chicago, among other locations. Miguel Alemán Velasco was present for the dedication ceremony at LLILAS on November 19, 2008, which also featured remarks by UT President William Powers and his counterpart, Raul Arias Lovillo of the Universidad Veracruzana. Fidel Herrera Beltrán, current Governor of Veracruz, also spoke, as did Olmec scholars from the U.S. and Mexico.
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I took El Ray – Giant Olmec Head on July 20, 2014 at 08:41AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 10, 2016 at 10:25PM

Written by eggplant

April 10th, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Invasion of the Home Snatchers

Life's short enough to remain optimistic
Life’s short enough to remain optimistic.

I rented The Big Short recently (via Netflix), so I’ve been researching some of what was written about the mortgage fraud, including this great article by Matt Taibi about how the banks churned out so many mortgages they didn’t have time to actually hold the deeds before re-selling:

If you’re foreclosing on somebody’s house, you are required by law to have a collection of paperwork showing the journey of that mortgage note from the moment of issuance to the present. You should see the originating lender (a firm like Countrywide) selling the loan to the next entity in the chain (perhaps Goldman Sachs) to the next (maybe JP Morgan), with the actual note being transferred each time. But in fact, almost no bank currently foreclosing on homeowners has a reliable record of who owns the loan; in some cases, they have even intentionally shredded the actual mortgage notes. That’s where the robo-signers come in. To create the appearance of paperwork where none exists, the banks drag in these pimply entry-level types — an infamous example is GMAC’s notorious robo-signer Jeffrey Stephan, who appears online looking like an age-advanced photo of Beavis or Butt-Head — and get them to sign thousands of documents a month attesting to the banks’ proper ownership of the mortgages.

This isn’t some rare goof-up by a low-level cubicle slave: Virtually every case of foreclosure in this country involves some form of screwed-up paperwork. “I would say it’s pretty close to 100 percent,” says Kowalski. An attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid tells me that out of the hundreds of cases she has handled, fewer than five involved no phony paperwork. “The fraud is the norm,” she says.

Kowalski’s current case before Judge Soud is a perfect example. The Jacksonville couple he represents are being sued for delinquent payments, but the case against them has already been dismissed once before. The first time around, the plaintiff, Bank of New York Mellon, wrote in Paragraph 8 that “plaintiff owns and holds the note” on the house belonging to the couple. But in Paragraph 3 of the same complaint, the bank reported that the note was “lost or destroyed,” while in Paragraph 4 it attests that “plaintiff cannot reasonably obtain possession of the promissory note because its whereabouts cannot be determined.”

The bank, in other words, tried to claim on paper, in court, that it both lost the note and had it, at the same time. Moreover, it claimed that it had included a copy of the note in the file, which it did — the only problem being that the note (a) was not properly endorsed, and (b) was payable not to Bank of New York but to someone else, a company called Novastar.

(click here to continue reading Invasion of the Home Snatchers | Rolling Stone.)

Protecting Bank of America
Protecting Bank of America

Still amazed that we as a nation did not storm Wall Street with pitchforks and throw a bunch of bankers on a boat headed right for Somalia or somewhere similar. And in fact, now that a few years have passed, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are back, and the cycle of fraud continues.

The 2008 financial crisis gave a few credit products a bad reputation. Like collateralized debt obligations, known as CDOs. Or credit-default swaps. But now, a marriage of the two terms (using leverage, of course) is making a comeback — it’s just being called something else. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is joining other banks in peddling something they’re referring to as a “bespoke tranche opportunity.”

That’s essentially a CDO backed by single-name credit-default swaps, customized based on investors’ wishes. The pools of derivatives are cut into varying slices of risk that are sold to investors such as hedge funds. The derivatives are similar to a product that became popular during the last credit boom and exacerbated losses when markets seized up. Demand for this sort of exotica is returning now and there’s no real surprise why. Everyone is searching for yield after more than six years of near-zero interest rates from the Federal Reserve, not to mention stimulus efforts by central banks in Japan and Europe. The transactions offer the potential for higher returns than buying a typical corporate bond, especially if an investor focuses on first-loss slices or uses borrowed money, or both. Obviously, the downside may be much greater, too. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs in New York, declined to comment.

(click here to continue reading Goldman Sachs Hawks CDOs Tainted by Credit Crisis Under New Name – Bloomberg.)

U Pick Parts
U Pick Parts

Sub-prime auto loans are the next big thing, but some bankers whine that The Big Short might be interfering with their con…

Auto loans made to risky borrowers and then bundled into bonds sold to investors have been making headlines for years, with some voicing concerns over an apparent resemblance between the so-called subprime auto market and the subprime housing market that sparked the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession.

Indeed, the parallels may not have been lost on investors either. In a note published on Wednesday, Morgan Stanley analysts led by Jeen Ng wonder whether last year’s debut of The Big Short—the film version of the Michael Lewis book published in 2010—has played a role in sparking fresh worries over the asset class.

(click here to continue reading Morgan Stanley: People Might Be Worried About Subprime Auto Bonds Because of the ‘Big Short’ Movie – Bloomberg.)

as Gawker writer Hannah Gold puts it:

The memo reads:

However, concerns about growing recessionary risks – and perhaps even the popularity of the recent movie The Big Short – have motivated investors to investigate any potential source of weakness. Consumer sectors that involve large initial outlays, such as housing and autos, provide a natural place to start. Combine that with recent headlines from Fitch suggesting that delinquencies in some sectors of the auto ABS market have reached 20- year highs, and you get a target sector for investors’ concerns.

Those concerns are not without merit, at least as far as delinquencies are concerned. It is interesting to highlight that as the housing market continues to heal from its post-crisis depths, mortgage delinquencies have been on a steady decline while auto delinquencies have been going in the opposite direction.

Or maybe potential investors are suspicious of auto loans because…they’re actual villains. Critics of the auto ABS have been pointing out parallels between the subprime auto market and the subprime housing market for years. Hopefully this story has a slightly less disastrous ending.

(click here to continue reading Morgan Stanley Analyst Fears the Movie The Big Short Has Discouraged Investors From Buying Risky Auto Loans.)

Great. Just in time for a wave of deregulation if Hillary Clinton wins in 2016, or worse, Donald Trump, or even worse, Ted Cruz…

Written by Seth Anderson

April 10th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

In A Cold Sweat was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop somewhere, I think

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I took In A Cold Sweat on May 03, 2014 at 07:41AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 09, 2016 at 08:03PM

Written by eggplant

April 9th, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Time Fades Away was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop

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I took Time Fades Away on May 03, 2014 at 07:42AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 09, 2016 at 12:00PM

Written by eggplant

April 9th, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Others Will Go On was uploaded to Flickr

Halsted and Chicago Ave. Faux-infrared effect via Photoshop

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I took Others Will Go On on April 25, 2014 at 12:48PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 09, 2016 at 10:40AM

Written by eggplant

April 9th, 2016 at 9:48 am

Will You Leave For A Thousand Years? was uploaded to Flickr

Civic Opera building, West Loop, Chicago

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I took Will You Leave For A Thousand Years? on April 23, 2014 at 09:45AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 09, 2016 at 10:05AM

Written by eggplant

April 9th, 2016 at 9:48 am

As Though Nothing Was Wrong was uploaded to Flickr

balcony, Lincoln Park somewhere near (or in) Terra Cotta Row.


Founded in Chicago in 1878 by a group of investors including John R. True, this company became a major producer of terra cotta trimmings used by the construction industry. By the early 1890s, when Northwestern Terra Cotta employed approximately 500 men, annual sales approached $600,000. By 1910, its large plant at Clybourn and Wrightwood Avenues had about 1,000 workers. The popularity of placing terra cotta moldings on building facades peaked in the 1920s, and Northwestern Terra Cotta led the way, in Chicago and around the country. Around this time, the company opened plants in St. Louis and Denver. Beginning with Louis Sullivan earlier in the century, prominent Chicago architects like Frank Lloyd Wright had extensive contracts with the company. Included among the many landmark Chicago buildings for which Northwestern supplied extensive decorative moldings were the Civic Opera House, the Chicago Theater, the Wrigley Building, and the Randolph Tower. Northwestern’s operations in Chicago declined alongside the construction industry during Great Depression and never returned to their 1920s levels. In 1965, Northwestern Terra Cotta Co.’s only remaining plant, in Denver, closed.

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I took As Though Nothing Was Wrong on April 19, 2014 at 07:38AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 03, 2016 at 11:04PM

Written by eggplant

April 3rd, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Zen and the Art of Police Barricades was uploaded to Flickr

Buddha laughs

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I took Zen and the Art of Police Barricades on October 20, 2015 at 05:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 02, 2016 at 10:37AM

Written by eggplant

April 2nd, 2016 at 8:22 pm

How Vermont Got Big Food Companies To Label GMOs

Non GMO Project
Non GMO Project

If you hadn’t heard, Vermont recently passed a GMO labeling law, and Congress, since it is so dysfunctional, could not muster a response. Thus Vermont’s law will become the de facto law of the nation, at least for a while…

You’ll soon know whether many of the packaged foods you buy contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants, such as soybeans and corn.

Over the past week or so, big companies including General Mills, Mars and Kellogg have announced plans to label such products – even though they still don’t think it’s a good idea.

The reason, in a word, is Vermont. The tiny state has boxed big food companies into a corner. Two years ago, the state passed legislation requiring mandatory labeling.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has fought back against the law, both in court and in Congress, but so far it’s been unsuccessful.

Last week, as we reported, Congress failed to pass an industry-supported measure that would have created a voluntary national standard for labeling — and also would have preempted Vermont’s law. Which means for now, food industry giants still face a July 1 deadline to comply with the state’s labeling mandate.

And since food companies can’t create different packaging just for Vermont, it appears that the tiniest of states has created a labeling standard that will go into effect nationwide.

This statement, from General Mills’ Jeff Harmening, sums it up:

“Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines,” Harmening wrote on the General Mills blogs.

“We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” explains Harmening.

So, as a result: “Consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products,” he concludes.

Chocolate giant Mars struck a similar tone in its announcement: “To comply with [the Vermont] law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide,” the company statement says.

(click here to continue reading How Little Vermont Got Big Food Companies To Label GMOs : The Salt : NPR.)

All Your Bonnie Plants Come from Non-GMO Seeds, and All Your Base are Belong to Us
All Your Bonnie Plants Come from Non-GMO Seeds, and All Your Base are Belong to Us

For the record, I’m ok with the Vermont labeling law. I don’t know if genetically modified food is good or bad, but truthfully, nobody really does. The American government’s regulatory agencies are permanently tilted towards the interests of corporations, always, and nearly without exception; the FDA cannot be trusted to protect the health of consumers. Do we really know if gene splicing pesticide resistance into apples or wheat is going to alter our bodies? The corporations pinky-swear GMOs won’t have long-term effects on cancer rates and other health-related concerns, and maybe they are right.

But maybe they are not.

Last spring, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization declared glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide on GMO crops, to be a probable carcinogen. And just last month, the FDA announced it would begin testing food products sold in the U.S. for glyphosate residue.

State legislators across the nation introduced 101 bills last year pertaining to GMOs. Of the 15 that passed, four had to do with labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A bill introduced by Illinois state Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, requiring disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients stalled in committee.

More than 90 percent of corn and soybeans grown in Illinois is genetically modified, said Adam Nielsen, director of national legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The GMO crop movement took off in 1996, when Monsanto Co. introduced Roundup Ready soybean seeds, genetically modified to resist Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide. Similarly marketed cotton, canola, corn and sugar beet seeds soon followed.

For farmers, glyphosate represented a safer, cheaper, more effective way of controlling weeds, thwarting pests and growing crops, Moose said. It’s since become the standard in large-scale agriculture.

The general public and the scientific community don’t tend to agree when it comes to GMO safety, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey conducted before the World Health Organization finding. Most consumers surveyed, 57 percent, said they considered GMOs to be generally unsafe to eat, whereas 88 percent of scientists surveyed, all of them connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said GMOs were generally safe.

Genetically modified crops don’t present a health risk, but the herbicides used on them are “a big problem,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and an expert on environmental health concerns and children.

As GMO crops have become more common over the years, weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, which has led to heavier use of the herbicide, he said.

Landrigan is among scientists and health experts calling on the EPA to “urgently review the safety risk of glyphosate” and says it’s time for GMO labeling. “Not because I think genetic rearrangement is bad, but because I think consumers have a right to know what they’re eating,” he said.

(click here to continue reading GMO labeling debate puts food industry on defensive – Chicago Tribune.)

The agribusinesses are not being banned from using GMO products, only being required to be transparent if they are. Does this mean General Mills has to change their packaging? Yep. So what? They can’t be complaining about the extra ink required, only that they are being forced to alter their packaging by dictate of the people. Boo hoo. Packaging changes all the time anyway, I don’t see the harm in adding a few words to a package.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 27th, 2016 at 8:29 am

Apple GovtOS and the FBI continued

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent a lot of effort keeping this case in the public, even giving an interview with Time Magazine’s Lev Grossman, which includes statements like:

Apple Coffee Thermos

Inside Apple this idea is nicknamed, not affectionately, GovtOS. “We had long discussions about that internally, when they asked us,” Cook says. “Lots of people were involved. It wasn’t just me sitting in a room somewhere deciding that way, it was a labored decision. We thought about all the things you would think we would think about.” The decision, when it came, was no.

Cook actually thought that might be the end of it. It wasn’t: on Feb. 16 the FBI both escalated and went public, obtaining a court order from a federal judge that required Apple to create GovtOS under something called the All Writs Act. Cook took deep, Alabaman umbrage at the manner in which he learned about the court order, which was in the press: “If I’m working with you for several months on things, if I have a relationship with you, and I decide one day I’m going to sue you, I’m a country boy at the end of the day: I’m going to pick up the phone and tell you I’m going to sue you.”

It also wasn’t lost on Cook that the FBI chose not to file the order under seal: if Apple wasn’t going to help with a case of domestic terrorism, the FBI wanted Apple to do it under the full glare of public opinion.

The spectacle of Apple, the most admired company in the world, refusing to aid the FBI in a domestic-terrorism investigation has inflamed public passions in a way that, it’s safe to say, nothing involving encryption algorithms and the All Writs Act ever has before. Donald Trump asked, “Who do they think they are?” and called for a boycott of Apple. A Florida sheriff said he would “lock the rascal up,” the rascal meaning Cook. Even President Obama, whose relations with the technorati of Silicon Valley have historically been warm, spoke out about the issue at South by Southwest: “It’s fetishizing our phones above every other value. And that can’t be the right answer.”

As against that, Apple has been smothered in amicus briefs from technology firms supporting its position, including AT&T, Airbnb, eBay, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Square, Twitter, Cisco, Snapchat, WhatsApp and every one of its biggest, bitterest rivals: Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke out in Apple’s defense. So did retired general Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and the CIA. The notoriously hawkish Senator Lindsey Graham, who started out lambasting Apple, switched sides after a briefing on the matter. Steve Dowling, Apple’s vice president of communications, showed me a check for $100 that somebody sent to support the world’s most valuable technology company in its legal fight. (Apple didn’t cash it.)

(click here to continue reading Inside Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Fight With the FBI | TIME.)

The case seems weak, for a number of reasons (encryption is not bound by political boundaries; Apple shouldn’t be compelled to work for the government especially when they have done nothing wrong; the laws referred to as CALEA would seem to forbid the FBI’s approach; we don’t live in a police state; and so on), but you can’t assume that the judge in the case can be swayed by logic. I’d rather Tim Cook and Apple engineers were spending time improving iTunes, and fixing bugs in Mac OS X El Capitan instead of fighting government overreach, but you can’t control the universe, only react to its whims.

Only the Thought is Dark
Only the Thought is Dark

I want to note another point, as discussed extensively by Jonathan Zdziarski: the idea of a warrant-proof zone. Doctor-patient privilege, diplomatic pouches, married couples, journalistic sources, these and other areas are also “dark” in the FBI parlance. Even in court, even in cases that inflame the public’s interest, even then, a lawyer cannot be compelled to reveal what their client told them. 

There are other examples that could be mentioned, but the point is that our country recognizes many laws and international treaties that support the concept of warrant proof as a valid concept. It is not only well within Apple’s rights to produce a product that happens to be warrant-proof, but it’s actually Apple’s responsibility to create a product that’s capable of enforcing the highest level of security permitted by our country’s laws… not the lowest. Apple is well within not only their rights, but in practices that support and place appropriate locks consistent with the levels of privacy our country recognizes. These products protect everyone – diplomats, doctors, journalists, as well as all of us. Of course they should be this secure. If our own country recognizes warrant proof as a thing, of course our technology should too.

We, as everyday Americans, should also encourage the idea of warrant proof places. The DOJ believes, quite erroneously, that the Fourth Amendment gives them the right to any evidence or information they desire with a warrant. The Bill of Rights did not grant rights to the government; it protected the rights of Americans from the overreach that was expected to come from government. Our most intimate thoughts, our private conversations, our ideas, our -intent- are all things our phone tracks. These are concepts that must remain private (if we choose to protect them) for any functioning free society. In today’s technological landscape, we are no longer giving up just our current or future activity under warrant, but for the first time in history, making potentially years of our life retroactively searchable by law enforcement. Things are recorded in ways today that no one would have imagined, even when CALEA was passed. The capability that DOJ is asserting is that our very lives and identities – going back across years – are subject to search. The Constitution never permitted this.

The bottom line is this: Our country actually recognizes warrant proof data, and Apple has every right and ethical obligation to recognize it in the design of their products. As Americans, we should be demanding our thoughts, conversations, and identities be protected with the highest level of security. This isn’t just about credit cards.

(click here to continue reading Apple Should Own The Term “Warrant Proof” | Zdziarski’s Blog of Things.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 18th, 2016 at 8:54 am

Breath Is A Poem

Beginning Of A New Age
Beginning Of A New Age. 

There is no art without time.

Most art is appreciated in discrete chunks of time; a sunset, a cat’s meow, a lover’s smile, a perfect chord progression;

An oil painting hanging in a museum, a play, a famous film, a piece of music, a poem recited in sonorous tones, a perfect meal, incandescent sex; part of the beauty is that art ends, eventually.

Is there any art that avoids time? Transcends moments? Of course you can stare at the moon slowly sinking over the ocean for hours, but that isn’t the same.

Every breath is a moment, every breath is a poem. And then they end.

Every breath is a poem. Every breath is a moment. And then they stop.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with