Saturday, April 14, 2007

Word of the day - BoKlok

Some reading for you:

Date With IKEA
Having seized the market for affordable home furnishings in the past decade, the Swedish retail giant is now planning to provide the homes themselves. They've already built some 3,500 BoKlok dwellings across Scandinavia - and now they're coming to the UK.

Horse sense
"If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution - then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise."

My old school
It certainly has all the credentials to make us suspicious. The institute used to be hidden away in Portland Place, where it was run for much of its postwar history by Anthony Blunt. His first appointment, to be his deputy, was Johannes Wilde, a one-time Marxist who, according to the Courtauld's history, 'had been involved in the abortive Bela Kun coup d'etat in Hungary in 1919.'

Wim Wenders takes back Europe
All right, I might be exaggerating,but the heart of the matter remains pretty much true: our own myths don't belong to us anymore. Nothing forms our contemporary imagination so intensely,so specifically and permanently as cinema. But we are no longer in control.It doesn't belong to us anymore. Our very own and precious invention has slipped away from us.

Weiss trash
The poor of today watch television for half the day. These days, television producers even refer to what they call "Underclass TV." The new proletariat eats a lot of fatty foods and he enjoys smoking and drinking -- a lot. About 8 percent of Germans consume 40 percent of all the alcohol sold in the country. While he may be a family man, his families are often broken. And on Election Day, he casts a protest vote for the extreme left or right wing party, sometimes switching quickly from one to the other.

The selfless gene
Exhortations to extreme selflessness are easy to parody, as not only unrealistic but also paradoxically self-serving insofar as the exhorter is likely to benefit at the expense of the one exhorted. Yet the more we learn about biology, the more sensible becomes the basic thrust of social ethics, precisely because nearly everyone, left to his or her devices, is likely to be selfish, probably more than is good for the rest of us.

Michael Frayn, philosopher
So the news that Frayn had done a whole book on philosophy was a cause of anticipatory glee. What’s more fun, after all, than seeing one’s colleagues skewered? But the skies darkened when a copy actually turned up in the mail. For one thing, it’s clear at a glance that this is no joke; it’s a book of philosophy, not a book on philosophy, and I can’t imagine an author who is more in earnest.

Robert Hughes, elitist
Hughes is, by his own rather defiant declaration, "completely an elitist, in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense." He is, "after all, a cultural critic, and my main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate, pretentious, sentimental, and boring stuff that saturates culture today."

Hannah and Emma
Are Dead (and Occasionally Read) White Males sentenced to such reductionism? Of course. Just not as much. And the tradition of both discovery and revival, from the resurrection of Melville by 20th-century critics to the recovery of Nietzsche by Walter Kaufmann from proto-Nazi caricature, falls into a longer, more zealous tradition of male scholars' expressing enthusiasms through historical rescue work, of spurring sufficient secondary-book tribute that some corner of a campus library ends up forever consecrated to one's "guy."


Anonymous said...

Now, why do I feel both superfluous as a reader and totally estranged as a viewer, and really out of this kind of loopy loop as a writer?

Paul said...

I don't know; you tell me.

Sam Finnemore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Finnemore said...

Anonymous: Just read the stuff and let it sink in. It's a nice feeling. You are now officially back in the loop.

Cheers for the links, Paul. Although I love a good laugh at fundy expense as much as anyone, it's good to have some links that actually make you think you've digested something worthwhile, rather than enduring the stupidity of bigots and coming away feeling a bit dirty.

Going to run a Vonnegut obit?

harvestbird said...

"[E]xpressing enthusiasms through historical rescue work [&] spurring sufficient secondary-book tribute" (link the last) could be (reductively) said to be the history of New Zealand lit crit, since Curnow first whaled on the poets of Kowhai Gold in favour of his preferred band of brothers. This was subsequently delivered back to him in spades, although with never quite the same success.

Curious that the author associates this retrievalist habit with male critics/male authors, since it was the modus operandi of plenty of feminist literary scholars in the 70s and 80s.

Tama Boyle said...

From Business Week:
Ikea is particularly concerned about the U.S. since it's key to expansion... Stores weren't big enough to offer the full Ikea experience, and many were in poor locations. Prices were too high. Beds were measured in centimeters, not king, queen, and twin. Sofas weren't deep enough, curtains were too short, and kitchens didn't fit U.S.-size appliances. "American customers were buying vases to drink from because the glasses were too small," recalls Goran Carstedt, the former head of Ikea North America.

Who knows? Maybe those new house might make a nice place for the family dog.