Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sort Sol

There is a phenomenon in Denmark known as Sort Sol (Black Sun) in which vast numbers of European Starlings gather and swarm creating black shapes against the sky just before evening twilight. These sixteen pictures were taken over the course of one hour during an evening in April 2006 (image created by Bjarne Winkler).
http://epod.typepad.com/blog/2006/06/black-sun-in-denmark.html

UPDATE: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=970_1257546785&p=1
UPDATE: http://vimeo.com/31158841
UPDATE: http://vimeo.com/58291553
UPDATE: A collection of starlings is called a murmuration.

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Pambamarca Archaeology Project

2009 Team Photo
http://www.pambamarca.net/

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Milan Kundera

And you should not be astonished or incensed, for this is the most obvious thing in the world: man is separated from the past (even from the past only a few seconds old) by two forces that go instantly to work and cooperate: the force of forgetting (which erases) and the force of memory (which transforms).
It is the most obvious thing, but it is hard to accept, for when one thinks it all the way through, what becomes of all the testimonies that historiography relies on? What becomes of our certainties about the past, and what becomes of History itself, to which we refer every day in good faith, naively, spontaneously? Beyond the slender margin of the incontestable (there is no doubt that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo), stretches an infinite realm: the realm of the approximate, the invented, the deformed, the simplistic, the exaggerated, the misconstrued, an infinite realm of nontruths that copulate, multiply like rats, and become immortal.
The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts (2005), “The Novel, Memory, Forgetting”

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Milan Kundera

Aesthetic concepts only began to interest me when I first perceived their existential roots, when I came to understand them as existential concepts: people simple or refined, intelligent or stupid, are regularly faced in life with the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comical, the tragic, the lyrical, the dramatic, with action, peripeteia, catharsis, or, to speak of less philosophical concepts, with agelasty or kitsch or vulgarity; all these concepts are tracks leading to various aspects of existence that are inaccessible by any other means.
The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts (2005), “Aesthetics and Existence”

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Miquel Barcelo

La Solitude Organisative (2008)
private collection
mixed media on canvas


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Denis Diderot

Everything changes, everything passes. Only the totality remains.
Le Rêve de d’Alembert (D’Alembert’s Dream), 1769

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Jonathan Freedland

  • Above all, it serves as a case study for the way contemporary empire operates, exploding the myth that the United States differs from its British, Spanish, and Roman predecessors by eschewing both the brute conquest of land and the dispossession of those unfortunate enough to get in the way. […]
  • In Vine’s persuasive telling, it is from the expansionist instincts of the military services, rather than the conscious decisions of civilian policymakers, that the imperialist project draws much of its energy. It is the military brass’s reflexive empire-building that builds an empire. […]
  • Vine’s evidence casts a fresh light on the ongoing debate over whether or not the US can be said to constitute an empire and, if so, how it might compare with its historical predecessors. It had previously been fashionable to regard the US empire as exceptional, a break from the past in that its influence is almost entirely indirect and economic, since it refuses to join the Romans or British in ruling over colonies directly. […]
  • Thanks to the work of scholars such as Chalmers Johnson and now Vine, we can see the weakness in that argument. The latter estimates that there are one thousand US military bases and installations “on the sovereign land of other nations.” This “base world,” as Johnson calls it, is presented benignly, as the product of voluntary, bilateral pacts between the US and those states that agree for their land to be occupied. But often this presentation is, in the idiom of that British official, a “fiction.” Behind the veneer can lie the crude expropriation of land and the callous dispossession of some of the world’s weakest people. That is how it used to be in the old days of empire, whether under Rome or Queen Victoria. And that’s how it was in the Chagos Islands not much more than a generation ago. […]

The New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 9 · May 28, 2009
‘A Black and Disgraceful Site’, by Jonathan Freedland
A review of David Vine’s ‘Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia’ (2009)

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