Friday, November 3, 2017

The Secret[s] of Sleep


The October 23, 2017 issue of The New Yorker is packed with interesting articles. For example, Jerome Groopman's review, "The Secret of Sleep", of Meir Kryger's The Mystery of Sleep is particularly intriguing. 

Kryger's question “Why do all forms of life, from plants, insects, sea creatures, amphibians and birds to mammals, need rest or sleep?” is particularly interesting when viewed through the lens of orthodox Muslims who believe that God doesn't get tired, rest or sleep.  

Groopman writes: "[...] after we have been awake for about fourteen hours, and increases in intensity until the eighteen-hour mark, after which we find it hard not to fall asleep." That explains why, no matter how badly one wants to write, it becomes very difficult to write after being awake for 18 hours - especially if one sleeps five hours per night.

In addition, Groopman writes: "Reiss looks to the historian A. Roger Ekirch, who, in 2001, documented that in early-modern Europe and North America the standard pattern for nighttime sleep was “segmented.” There were two periods, sometimes termed “dead sleep” and “morning sleep,” with intervals of an hour or more when the person was awake, sometimes called “the watching,” during which people might pray or read or have sex. In some indigenous societies in Nigeria, Central America, and Brazil, segmented sleep persisted into the twentieth century. Ekirch hypothesized that segmented sleep was our natural, evolutionary heritage, and that it had been disrupted in the West by the demands of industrialization, and by electricity, which made artificial lighting ubiquitous."

Once again, this is particularly interesting to orthodox Muslims who perform Tahajjud [Arabic: تهجد‎‎].

Lastly, Reiss reminds: "Honoré de Balzac [...] was fuelling his writing with twenty to fifty cups of coffee a day, often on an empty stomach. Balzac believed that, with caffeine, “sparks shoot all the way to the brain,” and “forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink.” Balzac typically wrote between fourteen and sixteen hours a day for two decades, producing sixteen volumes of “La Comédie Humaine” within six years." 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

#NoFaceArt Instagram Account




I have an Instragram account. I don't post any personal photos, but I curate. I was inspired by a billboard that I saw on the High Line to collect #nofaceart photos. Interestingly, Picasso said in Life with Picasso, "As long as you paint just a head, it's all right, but when you paint the whole figure, it's often the head that spoils everything." These are some of my finds:










Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Writers Are Anitfragile


According to Nassim Taleb's Antifragile, artists and writers are antifragile i.e., they benefit from disorder and controversy. For example, Nabokov's Lolita, his most controversial book, made him rich and famous. (Interestingly, most of Nabokov's books contains nympholepsy.)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

500 Blog Visitors = 1 Book Sold?




I was having dinner at Má Pêche with a New York Times bestselling author when I frustratingly shared that I sell one book per (approximately) 500 unique visitors to my blog. 

Surprisingly, the author shared quite nonchalantly that he got the same results. 

Is this an unspoken rule slash phenomenon or just a coincidence?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Duolingo's French & French in Action: A Clarification

Last fall, we finished Duolingo's French skill tree. Consequently, we received an e-certificate, and we were informed that we're 52% fluent. 



Duolingo's claim that we're 52% fluent should be clarified. We're more like 52% fluent in reading French but not in speaking or writing. For example, about 50% of the time we can read the French that's peppered throughout Nabokov's oeuvre. For example, in Transparent Things, when Armande, who had a grain de beauté, setup a rendez-vous with Hugh prior to their subsequent marriage, she told him, "Now listen, tomorrow I'm occupied, but what about Friday-if you can be ready à sept heures précises?" (43)

Erard related from Krashen in Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners that "[Language] [a]cquisition happens [...] when we understand what we read or hear-not when we speak or write it, memorize vocabulary, or study grammar." (102)

Very recently, we watched all fifty-two episodes of Yale University's French in Action. Interestingly, we didn't understand 50% of the dialogue, but we understand over 50% of the transcripts. 

Next up, we'll read Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and listen to the audio book, and we'll watch listen to twenty-five episodes of French with Victor while reading the French subtitles. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Abstract Exhibits @ The Met Breuer & the MoMA


Like Harry Lesser, we frequently visit museum exhibits. In particular, abstract exhibits and the more minimalist the better. If you're in New York, we highly recommend the Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms exhibit at the The Met Breuer and the Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction at the MoMA.


Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927–2004) Tecelar 1959
Woodcut on Japanese paper @ the Met Breuer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Counter-Intuitive Contradictions

I have observed some scenarios that appear to be what I call counter-intuitive contradictions. Some examples may serve as the best way to describe what I mean:


Most secular nymphets see no problem with wearing two-piece [cheeky thong] bikinis to the beach but most would never wear their bras and panties in public. Yet, what's the difference.


Especially among the underprivileged and outside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a man wearing a pair of high-water pants would be ridiculed but a man wearing a pair of sweatpants would be ignored. Yet, what's the difference. (Strangely, this phenomenon does not apply to women.)



In White Girl (2016), which I saw advertised on the Uptown 4, a college girl and her boyfriend do cocaine, smoke marijuana, have sex on a roof with the Manhattan skyline in the background, and have sex during daylight in a moving cab, but when her boyfriend suggested that they get married, the girl opined that they were too young. 😑