Chatroulette

Have you all heard of this website http://chatroulette.com?

It is a social networking site designed by a 17 year old kid in Moscow where you just go to the page and can start randomly video chatting with people. I think The Week gives the best breakdown of it.

As you would expect there is your fair share of pervs and creeps on this website. There is also your fair share of normalish looking teens. And then there are your pre-teens.

Is this a scary development for the internet world or just another sign of the times? It seems that there is a serious danger for some vulnerable kids. If Dali talked about “the hope and danger of instantaneous exchange of thought” with the invention of the phone, then now we must consider the hope and danger in instant video communication.

I went on to the website for a few minutes and faced my camera to the wall. There were many, many disturbing images in just that short span. It seems scary that 10-11 year olds who are curious will be exposed to those things. Not to discount the fact that they can see most of that stuff on the internet anyways, but there is something particularly eerie about seeing it in real time.

I liked one comment on the website:

“In an (excellent) essay on ChatRoulette, New York magazine’s Sam Anderson approaches his first foray into the video streams with “an open mind and an eager soul,” seeing the Whitmanesque potential in the “ecstatic surrender to the miraculous variety and abundance of humankind.” Sorry, Sam, but I’m no Internet naïf. I’ve plumbed the depths of the Web, and one thing I’ve learned is that when you give anyone an open platform with anonymity and no moderating, it inevitably gets overrun by the lowest common denominators: trolls, exhibitionists and an endless stream of hopeful men prodding women to take off their clothes. (It’s worth noting that, in the end, Anderson left “crushed” by what he encountered.)”

Part of the beauty of the internet is that it is virtually unregulated but as it becomes more and more sophisticated, is it time to start regulating this once lawless land?

Every Grain of Sand

I am obsessed with this song lately. I highly recommend you download it if you don’t have it. Every Grain of Sand by Bob Dylan:

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere,
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

Also, here are pictures from Spain. The captions capture the whole trip.

Creativity in the Digital Age

Lauren Conrad, who is a reality tv show person, recently put out her second book and it has hit the best seller list already. I was reading some comments about how sad it is that there are real writers out there who are struggling to get published but her publishers are pushing her crappy writing just because they know it will sell. On the one hand there seems to be nothing wrong with that. It is their job, after all, to make money. But on the other hand, the stuff that she is writing further promotes this culture that is obsessed with fame, glory, etc. Her target audience is impressionable, young girls. People say that some values are learned through literature and these books are showing an ugly part of our society…

Maybe (probably) it doesn’t matter that there are lots of crappy books out there. There always have been, but my bigger concern is, are we slowly losing the culture that would cultivate good artists? There has long been a theory that the novel is dying. While Harry Potter and Twilight may make for some easy reading, are they actually literature? Will cheap fluff like reality television inevitable take over literature as well? When I read the autobiographies of great artists, I am shocked by how many other familiar names show up in their circles. Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to drink together. Anais Nin and Henry Miller were lovers and she studied under Sigmund Freud. George Eliot, Herbert Spencer and Ralph Waldo Emerson were friends. On and on and on. Do these literary circles exist in the world right now? Will we only know about them far in the future?

What are some of your favorite contemporary writers? Do you think that the novel is dying? In a world where we can access anything and everything through a simple little notebook, what purpose do books serve? In a world where we are distracted by endless television, movies and ‘social networking’ sites, how does creativity suffer? Can anything of artistic value be born in such superficial and narcissistic times? Or were they always such times??

I know those are a lot of questions but I would really like to hear your opinions and feedback.

Spain: Discovering Dali

I used to think that I liked Salvador Dali but I was wrong. I love Dali.

Growing up I had Moment of Explosion hanging on the wall over my bed and was fascinated by Dali’s clocks series. That was really the only exposure I had to him and had no idea that he dabbled with so many mediums and that he had so many distinct periods in his career. At this point when I look at art, it is hard to be blown away. With the internet and tons of art work easily at our disposal, most of us have been exposed to a wide range of artists and may feel like we have seen it all. Going to the museum, I was completely blown away.

Dali was born in small Catolonian town, Figueres which is almost at the French border. Feraz and I took a two or three hour train from Barcleona to make the pilgrimage to his birth place and the home of one of the largest and best collections of Dali’s work in the world. Dali was known as an eccentric and egocentric man. I don’t fault him for being that way. He was brilliant. If I was that brilliant and that good at my art, I would do whatever the hell I wanted to do too and not be ashamed to admit that I was a pretty sweet human being. (Self-loathing is so bourgeois, no?) From Wikipedia: Dalí, a colorful and imposing presence in his ever-present long cape, walking stick, haughty expression, and upturned waxed mustache, was famous for having said that “Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí.” That is how we should all feel about ourselves!

Before he died, Dali decided to make the Dali Theatre and Museum. I have read some criticisms of this being an extremely egotistical act but the man knew what he was doing. He created a masterpiece made of all this masterpieces! He was able to customize his legacy, instead of leaving this huge responsibility to people who could never understand the way he saw the world. The museum is different from any other I have ever been in. It has a great sense of humor and as I went to each new section I was amazed by the extreme range of Dali’s talent.

If you are in Spain, I would definitely recommend making the trip out to Figueres. It will be your one opportunity for you to experience Dali’s art just as he intended it to be experienced.

Can we sail to Spain, just me and you?

I’m back and want to let you know that I haven’t given up my new posting regime already! I have just been in Barcelona for the past eight days! Since this started out as a travel blog, I feel terrible for not updating when I have actually been traveling. Over the next few posts I’ll talk about the trip and my recommendations for a holiday there.

I have been wanting to go to Spain for ages. So, when I found out Feraz had a week off between his papers being due and his classes starting up again I quickly suggested that we do an early Valentine’ day trip to Spain. We had initially planned to do Madrid and Barcelona but upon arriving in Barcelona we realized that there was a ton to do right there and it might be stretching it too thin to go to Madrid as well. (Not to mention the 80 euros for the train ticket.)

Feraz and I spent our time at a wonderful bed and breakfast. I swear by bed and breakfasts and try to avoid hotels at all costs. I recently read an article in which the author describes hotels as horrible, depressing places. I have to agree. The ‘hospitality’ feels artificial. The same floral patterns, tv armoires and generic art work are down right creepy and even the fancy soaps and shampoos don’t begin to make up by the sterile, coldness of hotels. But at a bed and breakfast you meet wonderful people, you get to see unique homes and wake up to a delicious breakfast.

We really lucked out on the place that we stayed at and I would highly, highly recommend it to anyone going to Barcelona. From the moment we got there we felt at home and welcome. Our hosts explained all the basics to us and recommended a marvelous place for dinner. It was the perfect introduction to what would be a great holiday…