synthetic zero


January 30, 2008

Michel Gondry, famous for his work on movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has always inspired me with his music videos.

Cibo Matto's Sugar Water: exquisite, lyrical, it evokes timelessness and synchronicity in a playful and mysterious way.

Kylie Minogue's Come Into My World: stunning technical tour de force.

White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl: lego-animated, dynamic, and astonishing. And Hardest Button to Button: simple, elegant, low-tech, and percussive.

I love the breadth of technique he uses; the videos are all striking in their own way, yet they seem different enough that one might suspect they came from multiple directors.

January 29, 2008

From the "TERMS & CONCEPTS" Series in the ZenBuddhism Electronic forum, by Charles Muller:

No matter how well language is initially handled, Mahayana Buddhism teaches that if one has not yet been awakened, the problem of the tendency of the human mind to become entrapped by language has to be dealt with over and over again. If this problem is not continually addressed in a fully conscious manner, even the most profound of the Buddhist teachings will become layered over and deadened. Nagarjuna (?150-?250 C.E.) was a Buddhist thinker who realized at a profound level the difficulties of carrying out Buddhist discourse in the medium of language, and the degree of attachment that could occur with even such subtle concepts as shunyata. Therefore he endeavored to prevent people from falling into the error of attaching to emptiness as a "something" or as "non-existence." He made his project an exercise in consciousness that sought to free people from being limited in thought by the linguistic options of "this or that" and "existence or non-existence." He did this by taking Buddhist philosophical terms and putting them into his formula of "neither x nor not-x." According to this formula, existence is "neither empty nor not empty," "neither samsara nor nirvana." Nagarjuna's teachings are not something new ontologically speaking, but were developments toward a more advanced logical form that can be seen in his Madhyamaka-karikas. In these texts, he strove to stop the reification of the concept of emptiness by: (1) stressing the non-difference between emptiness and dependent origination; (2) by emphasizing the understanding of emptiness as a mental attitude which pays attention to the non-attachment to concepts and theories. That is, emptiness should not be made into a theory to be clung to (as are other philosophical and religious doctrines). According to Nagarjuna, he who does so is like "a customer to whom a merchant has said that he has nothing to sell and the customer now asks to buy this 'nothing' and carry it home."
I love that last quote. So beautiful and funny, and it expresses a profound point so incisively.

January 24, 2008

When Sprint posted its bad results a lot of news articles suggested one of the reasons might be a general slowdown in wireless sales across the board. But I was thinking two other factors were likely to be more predominant: Sprint's poor record of product development and support (buggy and unreliable phones stemming from a poor QA process and a lack of understanding of how to do product development) and the fact that AT&T has the iPhone. The iPhone I really think is a game-changing device, and if Apple can make it more attractive by finally opening the platform, it could make further inroads. AT&T's competitors have a potential competitive strategy, however: Android. All this is good news for that platform.

January 21, 2008

There are two kinds of comfort: the comfort of habit, and the comfort that comes from going along with the Tao (the flow). The second kind of comfort usually comes only by giving up the first kind. But it's a much deeper sort of comfort, and a lot less dependent on circumstance.

January 7, 2008

One of the biggest myths of life is that you have thousands of days, lined up, in which to "do" all the things that are important to you. It's better, however, to think of your whole life as contained in a single day or at most a single week, because that's much more likely to be the way it will play out. If you want to do something in your "spare time", some sort of project, it's better to think of that in terms of a certain amount of time every day or every week you actually set aside to work on that thing, rather than imagining that the time is going to appear, magically, in your calendar, somewhere in your wealth of days. We don't have a wealth of days, we just have hours and a smattering of days, and we'd better work on it today --- or this week --- or it won't happen at all. This week or never. Live your dreams now, because there isn't going to be a "later".

Meanwhile, check out Nora Herting's new art blog, Proof of Concept. I really like Nora's work, I've shown it before.