Month: November 2018

The Barn and Backseat by Larry D. Thacker

Installment 36 considers the particulars of sense memory. In recalling scenes from a distant past, Larry D. Thacker focuses on the physical sensations surrounding emotional events (rather than the emotions themselves). Sensory details are what bring his memories to life.    *** The Barn   The sawdust floor always felt spongy with oil. Though he was long gone, hints of the horse’s rich manure lingered in the stall, mixed in straw shard and pressed to sweet rot under cardboard boxes stacked beyond remembered contents. Walls lined with gravity pulled chains and tools, the Coke sled. Sweet heady canisters of gasoline....

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America’s Irish Famine Museum

A little while ago, I got to visit Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Qunnipiac University in Hamden, CT.  My wife’s Aunt Claire lived in Hamden, and as a good Irish American woman, she loved this museum and it is one of my great regrets that I did not get to the museum with her before she died last spring.  May she rest in peace. I was on a tour at the museum, despite my deep knowledge of Irish history, the Famine, and the diaspora, to say nothing of the practice of museums in general.  I kind of regretted this.  Our experiences of museums and their collections are mediated by the docent.  And in some cases, this can work really well, we get docents who are knowledgeable and personable and they make us think about the artefacts, collections, exhibits in ways we would not otherwise.  In sbort, the docent, as Franklin Vangone and Deborah Ryan note in their Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, ‘can make or break the visitor experience.’  Vangone and Ryan advocate a more personable approach to docent-led tours, one that lets the experience of the docent in the museum, come through.  This is to avoid rote-memorization.  They also advocate a non-linear interpretation (amongst other innovative measures) of the museum, one that can account for multiple interpretations and stories simultaneously. The other major problem with docent-led museum tours...

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Fake Architecture News II

Screengrab of article in A few posts back, I discussed “fake architecture news” (FAN) in blogs and social media, describing an offer I had recently received to allow this very blog you’re reading to feature unidentified “sponsored content” in exchange for financial compensation. Another example of FAN is this story, published in an Australian real-estate magazine, about a stunning house by the Iranian firm Nextoffice. “A feat of engineering” is the first line we read in the caption below the opening image; a term that strongly implies that the work in question is built. After all, there is a big difference between a building consisting of real bricks and mortar –and with real people actually living in it– and one that exists merely as imagery, no matter how perfect. Considering how radical the design is, it would indeed be quite a feat of engineering if this house actually existed. (It would also probably be a feat of money-spending and  –given all the glass– air-conditioning, but that’s another story.) Let’s start reading the article: “It appears to be made from improbable shapes, architecture too sophisticated to be true. Yet this futuristic home in Iran is a feat of engineering as much as it is impressive design.” Note the use of the words “made”, “true”, “in Iran”, and the repetition of “feat” in the opening paragraph. This stunning house must surely be for real!...

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Makaya McCraven — Universal Beings

Makaya McCraven Universal Beings International Anthem Makaya McCraven is a fascinating dude.  Born in Paris, raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, and now based in Chicago, he has immersed himself in music. He had no choice.  His dad was an avant-garde jazz drummer, his mother the member of a politically dangerous Hungarian folk band.  In Western Mass, he participated with his dad in sessions with the likes of Yusuf Lateef and Archie Shepp.  By the time he enrolled at UMass-Amherst, he was already making enough money as a musician to support himself and he dropped out.  He eventually...

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St. Mawr

I don’t read a lot of fiction. I write a lot of it according to my colleagues among historians, who think my accounts of pragmatism are “fanciful” or “imaginative,” which is to say untethered to the non-fictional texts that are supposed to serve as our common denominator. Ever so politely, they suggest that I make shit up. Maybe they’re right, I always thought I’d be a novelist. But I’m not. Nor am I a literary critic. Still, I’m here to report on a remarkable fiction that came my way by the enthusiasm of friends, who have huddled around it...

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