“We tell ourselves stories in order to live. The princess is caged in the consulate. The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea. The naked woman on the ledge outside the window on the sixteenth floor is a victim of accident, or the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be ‘interesting’ to know which. We tell ourselves that it makes some difference whether the naked woman is about to commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest or is about to be, the Aristophanic view, snatched back to the human condition by the fireman in priest’s clothing just visible in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens. We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely… by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria — which is our actual experience.”
— Joan Didion, The White Album
1:12 pm • 19 July 2014 • 3 notes
I leave the number and a short
message on every green Volvo
Is anything wrong?
I miss you.
The phone rings constantly.
One says, Are you bald?
Another, How tall are you in
your stocking feet?
Most just reply, Nothing’s wrong.
I miss you, too.
— The Ubiquity Of The Need For Love, Ronald Koertge (via writingthatilike)
(Source: sarahroberts-blog, via writingthatilike)
8:45 am • 13 July 2014 • 12,831 notes
“This is what I think when the lover asks why I am
so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.”
— from a poem by Regina DiPerna (via bostonreview)
7:55 pm • 9 July 2014 • 10 notes
Anonymous said: what freshman seminar programs would you recommend, if you've taken any? :)
I had a reasonably good experience with my freshman seminar, though I wouldn’t go into your freshman seminar expecting a life changing experience. It is definitely the “fourth course” of enrollees and demands the least work, so in general, a freshman seminar is not as rewarding as those grueling but educational classes.
I still (tentatively) recommend taking one, since freshman fall was hard and exhausting and I can’t imagine how hosed I would have been had I taken four real courses.
If you’re going to take one, just pick a topic you’re interested in (not necessarily something you want to concentrate in, just anything that you wish you knew more about), confirm that the Q scores are high enough, and apply! There are hundreds of seminars, so I have no clue which ones are objectively fantastic, but I feel like everyone’s experience is pretty consistent regardless of the specific topic.
5:06 pm • 1 July 2014
Anonymous said: Do you have any advice to someone just graduated who isn't doing anything this summer? Everyone I know is interning at some tech start up or other and I feel a little bit useless right now..
Hi! It depends completely on what you’re interested in doing and what you feel will be a valuable (or instructive) experience to you. There are so many ways for this to be the case - so please don’t worry about tech startup internships.
In order of importance, it would probably be great to 1) relax, enjoy your summer, spend time with friends and family before you leave for college 2) work on a favorite hobby of your choice, be it comic book illustration or tap dance or whatever 3) read a lot: fiction, essays, memoirs, or really almost anything but those explain-the-world, behavioral economics books 4) tinker around in whatever area you’re thinking of studying in college. This is easiest if you’re a coder at heart, because that would just entail coding, but in general, summer is a good opportunity to leaf through textbooks or academic journals to get a head start on cool topics in your field.
Anyway, that’s what I wish I did more of the summer after my senior year!
4:59 pm • 1 July 2014
Everybody else basic, Liberty live her life on an everyday basis
Liberty Leading the People (1830), Eugène Delacroix / Poetic Justice, Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake
6:47 pm • 30 June 2014 • 1,941 notes
Anonymous said: what are you doing this summer?
I’m interning at a think tank/software dev shop/research group amalgam run out of HLS/the CS department. Really enjoying it thus far.
5:43 pm • 21 June 2014
Jill Lepore: What the Theory of “Disruptive Innovation” Gets Wrong
If you saw the episode of the HBO sitcom “Silicon Valley” in which the characters attend a conference called TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 (which is a real thing), and a guy from the stage, a Paul Rudd look-alike, shouts, “Let me hear it, disss-ruppttt!,” you have heard the voice of Clay Christensen, echoing across the valley.
Jill Lepore, “The Disruption Machine”
1:46 pm • 17 June 2014 • 1 note
Translator’s Confession, 3 a.m.
Dear C, I dropped
your sentence in hot water.
I talked to the boil. I said Here
is my thumb for you to burn.
Here is the soft heart
of my hand and my arm and
the nape of my wreck.
I said vapor, just take me.
I’m done burning
with these pages. Being invisible
doesn’t mean a person
won’t blister, doesn’t mean
the blisters won’t fill
with pockets of water
or when lanced the rawest flesh
won’t emerge. First the word
then the murky leak
begins—what another mind
may scrape against
but never skin.
— Idra Novey (via commovente)
11:31 pm • 8 June 2014 • 424 notes
Sorry I took so long to get around to replying to this - I’ve been mulling over a good response to this (with “good” loosely defined as “not a complete waste of the time spent reading it”). I was home for a couple of weeks after the end of the summer, thinking of things that seemed characteristic to this little slice of California, but the thoughts never cohered. Even now that I’m back in Boston, everything inchoate continues to ghost around the periphery of some “point” I don’t know how to approach. So instead, here’s a disjointed list of things that remind me of home, with the caveat that this is very much a personal picture, and I’m not trying to make any general characterizations of the Bay here:
- "We tell ourselves stories in order to live" - The White Album.
- The neighborhood I used to grow up on was lined with pistache trees. In October, they’d all turn a bright orange-red and fall in piles onto the sidewalks. One fall when I was still in elementary school, my parents, my sister, and I wandered in loops around neighborhood blocks, stepping around the tiny piles of leaves and neatly-manicured lawns. I still make that trip in my mind’s eye whenever I can’t fall asleep - I try to remember the houses on my own block, which one was at the corner I turned just before arriving home, the plants in front of each house, how everything felt at the time. Still, retracing the route feels a little bit like watching myself stumble through the lens of a home-video-camera, the motions a little shaky, colors brighter than they should be, and fundamentally unconvincing.
- KQED (our local NPR station) plays on 88.5.
- A lot of kids want to go to the same set of colleges, and it was on everybody’s mind since middle school.
- People talk a lot about entrepreneurship now, diluting the buzzwords and catchphrases to complete banality, but a few years back - before it was populated by fresh grads and free lunches - it seemed sincere. The tech industry seemed less driven by power and ego and more like, I don’t know, just smart people trying to come up with smart ways of doing things. I know many of my peers will argue that this is still the ethos of the startup scene today, but I’m so tired of hearing about “industry disrupters” and similarly pompous, overblown descriptions of a few hundred lines of Objective C.
- I spent a lot of time not wanting to go to Stanford simply because everyone wanted to go to Stanford.
- When we moved, we wondered if we wanted a pool. Summertime in Silicon Valley is never oppressively hot, and this little cement pond is a hassle to maintain. Still, my parents loved to swim: they took me to the neighborhood pool when I was younger, and I’d watch them swim laps after laps of freestyle whenever the pool was reserved for “adult swim.” So when we moved, after some back and forth, they decided that yes, they wanted a pool.
I’ve always admired my parents for exercising at least mild restraint with regards to spending and spoiling. They had - and continue to have - this need to justify excess. I’m not going to pretend that my parents live ascetic lifestyles (that would be completely disingenuous), but there was this urge to at least try to practice restraint not out of need but on principle.
- My family, as a collective, ordered a lot of pearl milk tea.
- "I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all - Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life." - The Great Gatsby
- I spent a lot of time wondering what normal high schools were like. Now I spend a lot of time asking my college classmates what their high schools were like.
- A couple of years back, I read an article in the New York Times about the Silicon Valley’s emergent aesthetic of excess-that-didn’t-look-excessive. Designer bikes that looked like any other. Homes with gigantic basements and unassuming exteriors. $175 plain black turtlenecks. It seemed like a sad inversion of my parents’ principle of excess. Excess absent shame or justification.
- The summer after my senior year, I fell in love with California highways at night.
- The summer after my senior year, I learned to fall in love with a lot of intangible things.
- To identify a single trait - a pinprick of something quintessentially hometown - my high school served delicious lunches and my classmates always complained about the food.
It’s never enough, there’s never enough, there’s always a hungering for more and better and upgraded, and there’s never a desire to justify this want. It just is.
- How much energy have I spent overcorrecting?
- How little?
- A lot of my friends lived up in the hills, but I still never learned how to navigate curves properly.
- People ask me if I ever want to move back to California. My parents desperately wish for me to eventually come home.
- I mentioned to Hirsh the other day that people shouldn’t feel any love or loyalty to institutions. I can’t tell if I feel any love or loyalty to the Bay Area.
10:57 pm • 8 June 2014 • 3 notes