Travis Kalanick’s recent string of run-ins with reality have put me to thinking, as I occasionally do, about how weird it is that we ignore empathy when evaluating intelligence. While anyone who has been paying attention can tell you that Kalanick’s apologies are insincere, the hurt and confused demeanour isn’t. He’s genuinely at a loss, because he’s getting in trouble for the exact behavior that has caused people to throw money at him. Kalanick may be the (punchable) face of the problem at the moment, but the fact that VCs are clamoring to get in on a company that’s hemorrhaging precisely because of its cavalier attitude towards its employees, the law, and the world at large constitutes a problem on a much larger scale.
We can quibble about lionizing sociopaths having been appropriate in the past, but for people trying to make their money off the opportunities presented by the connected world, not being sympathetic to someone else’s perspective is basically wanting to have your cake and eat it too, which I think is something that everyone can agree is a sign of limited intelligence.
So I watched (or at least tried to watch) The Hateful Eight recently. It was. . . not very good. It seems to hope that its hyperactivity will keep it from giving up the ghost, but if you are accustomed to QT’s pacing (which, you know. . .), it doesn’t really work and the movie feels pretty clunky. A couple days later in a dangerous fit of pique I decided I’d try to rinse the taste out by watching Pulp Fiction. In retrospect, I really should have known better.
There is a truly great one hour movie hidden in Pulp Fiction, but the remaining running time is bad, and there sure is a lot of it. I know we sort of agreed to forget the part where Quentin talks to Harry K-Tell, the method actor for like a million years, but I’d say the whole Butch story is just as awful. Bruce Willis is actually pretty good (especially with his expressions, which are the highlights of these sections), but Butch is a truly awful person for whom you should not be rooting, and the. . . events are pretty problematically conveyed. I think that even at the tender age of 18 it occurred to me that I was supposed to be endorsing something with which I didn’t feel very comfortable.
On the plus side, I had forgotten about how genuinely funny the now-infamous foot rub conversation was.
Given the states of both the world and my psyche, I thought I’d run through Homo Sacer again. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how it starts with a really abusive misunderstanding of Foucault. It’s like he read The History of Sexuality and D&P (worst translated name ever), and pretended that he hadn’t notice The Birth of the Clinic. At any rate, it was too much, and now I’m reading Borges short stories.
So as you can see, everything more or less fell apart here. At any rate, here are a bunch of nice pictures from France without narration, because that would push the whole thing back even further.
So to start, here are some things I forgot to add from Albi. First, and most importantly, here I am flipping off Paul Gaugin’s works and, by extension, the “artist” himself.
Here’s a shot across the river there.
Here is a cool glass structure placed inexplicably atop an otherwise normal building.
On Friday we went award-winning winery Domaine Merchien. I took a picture of their wall of awards, but it came out fuzzy. Instead, here is the winery’s namesake leaning against my mother because it was 100 degrees out and, as you can see, he’s not really made for warm weather.
As part of our visit to the winery, the proprieters booked us into L’Auberge du Mas d’Aspech. We got lost and showed up 45 minutes late, but it didn’t seem to be a big deal. The food was wonderful. I’d say the highlight was this quiche which, as you know, is one of those things at which the French leave the rest of the world far behind.
Here I am feeling a bit smug after a wonderful meal.
So I’m about halfway through Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia, and have read Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Furthermore, I’ve played over 100 hours of Crusader Kings 2. From what I gather, this makes me more than qualified to be an expert on Middle East policy at a right-wing think tank. If anyone could get me in touch with my fellow experts at, e.g.: The Washington Institute for Near East policy, that would be great.
I have somehow ended up being the sort of person who is always doing all kinds of stuff. I’ve had a shocking dearth of evenings where I lay on my bed with my hand on my forehead and think about emptiness or whatever.
Here is a picture of C looking very maudlin, despite having some delicious pizza from Sizzle Pie.
Here are C and I goofing off with my camera’s lens cap.
If I look a bit like Rob Ford, it’s because I’d come back from class not so long before these were taken.
Here is C looking rawther dramatic.
Las weekend C and I decided riding the North Coast Scenic Railroad would be a fun day trip. We went to Girabaldi and discovered that our visit coincided with the town festival, Girabaldi Days. There was a little parade, but I didn’t get any pictures because we were at a little cafe eating turkey roasted on the premises. The train ride was charming. We were sad to have to come home, as we always are when we’ve been out at the coast.
So C and I went to see Only Lovers Left Alive. On the positive side, between this, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Jodorowsky’s Dune, this has been a pretty remarkable year in terms of new movies that I don’t despise. On the negative, Lovers and Budapest share a sort of tragically detached feel that makes it seem as if the impulse of the auteur these days is to basically tell people that it’s all basically ending. The only optimists left live and crazy old men like Jodo. Hopefully we can learn something from them before they shuffle off this mortal coil.
Phew, running behind here.
So after the whole key thing was resolved I did the obvious thing, and took in some modern art at the Centre Pompidou. You know a place is classy when its bathroom graffiti requires a passing familiarity with art history to enjoy.
This painting, from 1928, predicts 99% of all video game level design. Time to get a new paradigm, fellas.
If you know me, you may be aware that my dream has hitherto to been to live in a concrete cube atop a single column. This is no longer the case. I now want to live in a house based on this architectural maquette. I’m not sure about what would be under it. Maybe a deck supported by a single column.
On Saturday I went to the Marche aux Puces in Saint Ouen. Despite not really being a shopping person, I really like being up there. I think I find it funky like a French village while simultaneously being very much in Paris. Unfortunately, I had a really shocking disappointment when I went to cafe that I had really enjoyed when I’d been there with C and was served a quiche that had clearly come out of the fucking microwave. Not on, French people, not on.
In the afternoon I finally found Buttes Chaumont, which, as mentioned previously, shouldn’t have required two days of effort. Once there, I was rewarded with a pretty great over-the-top folly, and a very nice greenspace generally.
As always, however, don’t think too much about that water. Good enough for ducks, and that’s about it.
So it’s 4ish on my first day galavanting around Paris. I’ve been back since 2, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do later. I should almost certainly propel myself out into things again, but it is awfully nice just sort of lounging around here.
I woke up around 6, which is a little better than I was doing in the south and went out for delicious pastries. So fortified, I walked along the Seine to the Paris Museum of Modern Art, where I experienced the sublime.
Strong showing, right?