On Space

Boredom, Architecture and Modernity

Category: Everyday

Robert Pirsig: Boredom and History

‘Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity’.

Robert Pirsig, quoted in Paul Kennedy, ‘The Motorcycle Is Yourself’, CBC (2015).

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Taxidermic Preservation: Covent Garden, London

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Parker Street, Covent Garden, London. 23 November 2016. Photograph by Christian Parreno

Early Occupancy: The Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong

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The Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. Zaha Hadid Architects. 28 November 2016. Photographs by Christian Parreno

Chameleonic Donald: A Spy in the House of Love (1954), by Anaïs Nin

When she saw the slender body of Donald, the same small nose, and head carried on a long-stemmed neck, the echo of the old violent emotions was strong enough to appear like a new desire.

She did not observe the differences, that Donald’s skin was even more transparent, his hair silkier, that he did not spring, but glided, dragging his feet a little, that his voice was passive, indolent, slightly whining.

As first Sabina thought he was gently clowning by his parodies of women’s feathery gestures, by a smile so deliberately seductive imitating the corolla’s involuntary attractions.

She smiled indulgently when he lay down on the couch preparing such a floral arrangement of limbs, head, hands as to suggest a carnal banquet.

She laughed when he trailed his phrases like southern vines, or practised sudden exaggerated severities as children do when they play charades of the father’s absurd arrogances, or the mother’s hot-house exudations of charms.

[…]

He passed what she believed to be from one mimicry to another: the pompous policeman, for which he filled his lungs with air, the sinuosities of the women walking in front of them, for which he tangoed his hips.

Sabina was still laughing, wondering when the charades would end and the true Donald appear.

At this moment, in front of her at the restaurant table he was ordering with the exaggerated tyranny of the business executive, or he became prim with the salesgirl like a statesman with little time for charm. He ridiculed women in their cycles of periodic irrationality with an exact reproduction of whims, contrariness and commented on the foibles of fashion with a minute expertness Sabina lacked. He made her doubt her femininity by the greater miniature precision of his miniature interests.

Anaïs Nin, A Spy in the House of Love. London: Penguin, 2006. 1954. p. 78-79

Chasing Better Narratives: Odie Lindsey’s ‘So Bored in Nashville’

Bars and booze and lacquer and glass and smoke and tv and tourists and shots, and pit-stop at Randall’s to chop up a Xanax, to snort then smoke then back to the bars. In this city, through the bars, we wind up packed in a room full of ads. Living ads, that is, sexy and skimpy young women ads. New England or Oklahoma transplants, wannabe country stars clad in fishnets and bra tops, hot pants and logos, who proffer shots of some dye-injected Extreme Liquor product. A temp job, they swear, they serve you straight out of their mouths, out of their navels, wherever, no problem. For ten bucks a pop they make ten bucks an hour, while your lips suckle shots off of their amazing young stomachs. And they’re dying to sing, will do anything to demo. (All of this action in a Vandy sports bar, not an airport strip club, let alone a music industry hang.) And tomorrow I leave, for Forts Jackson then Benning. Signed the contract when the Army offered me 11B, Option 4: Airborne Infantry. I am twenty-six and terrified. Yet I felt compelled to follow through after the recruiters told me how difficult it was to secure this assignment. How rare it is these days to earn Option 4, Airborne, war on and all.

Hoo-ah! they barked. You tha man, man!

Randall and I depart that bar, we drive on. He says zero about my deployment. We pay cover and squeeze into an East Nashville venue, find another Brooklynesque band, another huddle of white hipsters in white V-neck t-shirts whose everything is constructed by camouflaging their incomes, by folding tattooed arms across their chests, and/or nodding and/or spying at their phones. Superb denim, everywhere. We drive off. Drop twenty bucks to park on bustling and hyper-sold Second Avenue: Hard Rock Cafe, Coyote Ugly, chain, chain, etc., etc. At a pseudo-upscale music hall, stuffed with pseudo-upscale music industry fakes, reclaimed wood and iron, taxidermy mounts, Randall yanks me into a hallway and flask-feeds me bourbon. Tells me he can’t get away from unknowns who want to write songs with him—Hey, man, let’s write; Hey, Randall, let’s write—everywhere he goes, because they know that their chances of landing their first album cut are stronger with his name on as cowriter. (A couple years back, Randall wrote a chestnut called “Urban Cowgirl,” a one-off departure from his non-paying folk songs. After the tune was cut by a cosmetic cowboy, it topped the Top 40 and made Randall a universe of cash. Now nobody artsy and literate and frustrated will hang out with him. He is and forever will be the “Urban Cowgirl” sellout.)

Randall hates this process, this creative suck-off, yet he does the same thing to more established songwriters: calls them to cowrite, wedges into their conversations at industry gatherings, pumping gossip like heartbeats, desperate to book a session, to redefine himself. I do not call him out on this. We are all chasing better narratives.

Odie Lindsey, ‘So Bored in Nashville’ in Southern Culture, v. 22, 3. Fall 2016. p. 72-6

So Bored in Nashville