Saturday, December 31, 2011

Heads up: my phone screen died, and I won't have another one for a week or so. I can't read or send text messages. I can receive phone calls, but I can't see who is calling.

So if I've been ignoring your calls, now's your chance.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

tucson to cville: a roadtrip mix

In lieu–for now anyway–of my recently scrapped winter mix, I have thrown together an impromptu roadtrip mix, which you can download below.

I solicited suggestions for driving albums over at the tumblr a while ago. Everyone's suggestions were uniformly excellent. I have made it all the way to "D" and have been listening on the way to the Antlers, the Doors, the National, My Morning Jacket, Washed Out, Fleet Foxes, and Jack's summer and fall mixes for the alt-country fix. I am also very excited about this winter mix.

Download the roadtrip mix here.

tucson to cville
1. "Wonder Why" by Vetiver
2. "Under the Knife" by the Rural Alberta Advantage
3. "Santa Fe" by Beirut
4. "When Christmas Came to Me" by the Singing Mechanic
5. "Take Ya' Dancin'" by say hi
6. "Midnight City" by M83
7. "On Melancholy Hill" by Gorillaz
8. "Swimming" by Breathe Owl Breathe
9. "Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky
10. "Chicago" by Dan Miloch*
11. "Sleepyhead" by Passion Pit
12. "DLZ" by TV on the Radio
13. "This Charming Man" by the Smiths
14. "Brittany's back" by the Love Language
15. "Dig a Little Deeper" by Peter Bjorn and John
16. "Gideon" by My Morning Jacket

*This song is unfinished. Barely started, really. But it has the bones of a magnificent track. Dan was kind enough to let me publish it here anyway.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I had a winter mix. It's been basically complete for about a month. I'm scrapping it and starting over.

This would have been the opening track. Enjoy the very '90s video.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


You may notice that I've changed my name to "Porter Perkins" on the "About Me" section on the the left-hand side there. This is because I've taken a teaching position and would like to make it a little difficult for my students to find me. I don't have the time or energy to write about it just now, but feel free to give me a call or drop me an email if you're curious.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Storytelling, Place, Liberal Education

All of this was first noticed by the German critic Walter Benjamin, whose essay "The Storyteller" charts the decline of storytelling against an increased access to, and fiendish hankering for, information. In the essay, Benjamin sets the figure of the storyteller (rooted in experience, offering counsel) in opposition to the deluge of information (instant, ephemeral, verifiable). "Every morning brings us the news of the globe," Benjamin writes, "and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanations. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information."

After reading Benjamin, one awakens to find an "information age" abloom with near-parodic fulfillment of his prophecy. Information-aggregators (whether Wall Street investors or Silicon Valley start-up entrepreneurs) comprise our wealthiest class. Data point has become a trendy colloquialism, as if every story is a puffed-up soufflé that must be efficiently distilled to the nutrients of its information. In this sense, as the faith in information outpaces an interest in narrative, the title is but the latest rampart of style to be marauded by the forces of market efficiency. Calling Snakes on a Plane anything but is pretentious by a logic that views narrative as inefficient and self-indulgent: a fanciful scenic route to the speedier highway of information.
I'm reading this compelling article--written by Jacob Rubin, posted on Slate--on an airplane. Meanwhile, on screens which hang above us like dystopian bats, which project on either side of me the same silent images shrinking progressively like two mirrors facing one another, a movie plays. It's titled Life in a Day. My copy of Hemispheres describes it thusly: "Created from some 4,500 hours of footage submitted by YouTube users, this remarkable documentary chronicles July 24, 2010, as it was experienced by individuals living in nearly 200 countries. Exhilarating, moving and funny, Life in a Day is the story of our world--told by us."*

On an earlier flight, I read:
When proponents of liberal education describe it as the attempt to grasp the whole, they are partially right, but if we do not continue with the acknowledgment that the whole is grasped via particulars and that, as human creatures, we necessarily inhabit only a small and particular part of the whole, we are missing something crucial.

If a liberal education teaches a person to love abstraction, to relish the exchange of universal ideas of justice, charity, and beauty, yet to be inattentive to the neighbor down the street or the beauty of a well-tended garden, then something has gone wrong. Such an education is suited to abstract beings who naturally belong in no particular place and have none of the senses by which particular beauty or empathy can be experienced. Such an education is, in other words, not fit for human beings.
*I should note that despite my tone I find the concept potentially interesting.