On The Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs," In Order

Busby and Savages need to be closer to the top. Luckiest will always be the best of the 69.

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm 0

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

@elizabennett can you provide proof for these claims about his family?

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm 0

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

My only quibble with this otherwise pretty great article would be with the suggestion that depressed people should not listen to the very self that they discredit so often. It's a suggestion that could help in many cases, I'm sure, but depression is more than constant toxic introspection, and in some cases can exist independent of it. I'm a lifelong depressive, and the sheer pain and misery certainly remains even when I have not fallen into any indulgently introspective habits for quite awhile. (Of course I have times where I do my brooding, as all do.) But if we can distinguish between thought and mood, I think depression per se is more properly associated with mood, whereas depressive self-perpetuating introspection is a kind of thinking that can accompany it. The depressive mood, in my experience, is more like a kind of mental weather, and one's thought is akin to what one does in that weather. A sleet storm may affect how you drive, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you slide off the rode and crash and die.

Actually, I'm not so sure that analogy held up. Basically I'm trying to say that I've have in the past been brutally depressed w/o being particularly wrapped up in myself. There have been days where I felt generally confident about my place in the world and my ability to contribute positively toward something (society, nature, world, whatever) greater than myself, where I felt that I loved and was loved, where I spent most the day engaged in decidedly non-introspective activities (generally trying to learn as much about the world and the people in it as I possibly could) - and yet, the ambient level of plain old sadness and pain would be so great that I was never *not* a suicide risk. I think the instinctive response to extreme pain is to find some way to end it, and when addled with the peculiar pain of the depressive one craves non-existence in the way that someone with a nasty sunburn craves a squirt of aloe vera. And it's in this way that depression can exist below/above/beside conscious depressive introspection. (And in my personal and intensely non-professional opinion, it's this sort of fucked-upedness that makes the gestures toward depression-as-heritable-disease or depression-as-result-of-screwy-neural-wiring much more persuasive. Not that I actually understand anything about the causes of depression. Just speaking anecdotally.)

Oh my god that was a lot to write about a tiny quibble. If I had the energy I would just as much about what I found so wonderful about the article.

"And Darkness was all over the Face of the Deep. And We said: 'Look at that fucker Dance.'"


Posted on April 14, 2011 at 1:00 am 1

On The Internet Is Making You Smarter!

Everything we experience repeatedly affects the structure of our brain, and so far I haven't seen anything to persuade me that the effect of the Net on the brain is either overwhelmingly positive or negative. Like most media, it probably depends upon the way the individual person uses it. I have ruts where I use the Net in the way Carr seems to think everybody uses it, and it really does whack my ability to focus. Then again when I'm feeling healthy I use the Net for a lot of research and in-depth reading, so . . . I dunno. I think it's more a matter of habit.

And I don't think there's any doubt the Net can make you smarter if you get involved with a really good forum or blog where the conversation is thoughtful and in-depth. Improves one's verbal ability!

However, I do think that, like TV, there aren't enough built-in cultural safeguards against the less healthy uses of the Net. Instead "Does the Net make us dumb/smart," the conversation should be "What are the most beneficial uses of the net? What uses might reinforce negative mental habits? How can I use the Net to become healthier, or more thoughtful, or more informed?--Or less stressed/depressed?" I find that amateur pornography and youtube videos of cute kittens are ideal when it comes to that last Q.

Posted on October 14, 2010 at 10:17 am 0