Category Archives: Blogs

At Wit's End

Theresa Duncan

I think it was about a year ago that I came across the blog The Wit of the Staircase, perhaps there was a link on it back to DeLillo, I don’t quite remember now, but in any case I added it to my blogroll, and would take a look every now and then. The blog was run by a woman I didn’t know, Theresa Duncan, and it had a great visual look as well as intriguing posts.

My visit yesterday found a final posting on the blog by Glenn O’Brien, a eulogy of sorts for Duncan. I then remembered the stories recently about the artist couple that had apparently committed suicide, one after the other, Theresa Duncan first and then Jeremy Blake. In scouting around the web I find that the Duncan-Blake deaths seem to have inspired a large set of conspiracy musings; see here, and here and here. All very strange.

Bottom line is that sadly The Wit is now off the blogroll.

Why blog?

The Persistence of Memory

I’m just digging into Nicolas Taleb‘s ‘The Black Swan’ (about uncertainty and the unpredictable nature of so many events), and early on he talks about Shirer’s ‘Berlin Diary: 1934-41’ as an important book for him, because it (largely) consists of a reporter’s sense of things before WWII happened.  And what was clear to Taleb is that the war/devastation was not the obvious outcome; only in retrospect does the historical record seem to create the obviousness of it all.

Blogs can function in a similar way – they show a person’s reactions and thoughts at the time.  They could help us understand that little is pre-ordained or obvious; the well-known facts at any given time may play very little role in the actually important events that intrude into our lives.

I’ve looked at this blog as essentially my memory book.  I can log my reactions to things at the time, and go back to see what seemed worth noting.

Driving to heaven!

Here’s a great line from Kunstler:

Sometimes I think: if this nation could somehow harness the energy in all the smoke it blows up its own ass, we’d all be able to drive to heaven in Cadillac Escalades.

I too get pretty fed up with commentators who take this line with regard to the future:  they say, “let’s face reality, you’ll never get Americans out of their cars.”  As if cars are all just as much fun as we see in the advertisements, as if there’s never any traffic, as if commuting for two hours a day is some kind of fun.  Cars are, like, so twentieth century!

Goodbye to Jane Jacobs

I note that Jane Jacobs passed away at age 89.  NYT obituary here.  Her books on cities and economies have many great observations that still inspire fresh thinking.  The Death and Life of Great American Cities is deservedly a must-read classic.

Bad Karma News! & a blog

Bad Karma Newstand

Near the corner of NW Irving & 21st in Portland.

And check out this great blog, with drawings of credit card bills and many great products! Obsessiveconsumption!

JW on BJs

I recommend keeping an eye on James Wolcott… I think he’s right on target with this one.