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September 4, 2010
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

The column of lasting insignificance
 
       

also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 

September 4, 2010

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

YEAR AFTER YEAR, the most attractive magazine to be found is not a magazine at all but the super-sized Taschen book catalog, a giant folio of eye-catching pictures and irresistible text about everything from Michelangelo’s life and works to Japanese cinema, from prefab houses to wearable artifacts. Normally, if you’re on a modest budget, you might wince at the elevated prices of these volumes   ($1000 for a Christo and Jeanne-Claude retrospective, $2000 for Dennis Hopper’s 1960 photographs) but the images shown are so huge, so memorable and so abundant, that just owning the catalog (free) is like having a  mini art collection.

Taschen-Hefner
Benedikt Taschen with Hugh Hefner

“For 30 years now, this prolific company has been publishing what it darned well wants to. High art, low art, respectable or rude: it’s all good business to Taschen” raved Tony Barrell in the Sunday Times.
     Benedikt Taschen is an anachronistic freak in the modern world of books: an autocrat, a tycoon, a highly visible figurehead whose surname appears in capital letters on the billions of volumes that Taschen churns out. He’s Howard Hughes and Hugh Hefner with a dash of Citizen Kane”.
     “Gleefully adventurous” was one description of the company’s philosophy and that could describe The Big Butt Book  (“a cornucopia of delectable derrieres”) followed by The Big Book of Breasts,  The Big Book of Legs and The Penis Book.  But, at the other extreme, it could also describe a collection of typefaces, fonts, graphic styles, The Elements of Euclid which explains basic geography, Bombay Billboards or
Wearable Artifacts.

     What followed were some remarkably adventurous books about sex capped by an explicit examination of the philosophy and physique of the famous porn star Vanessa del Rio. It proved to be very popular.
     'We never start with a huge print run,' Benedikt says. 'We reprint. If you don't reprint a book, it is not a success, but neither is it a big failure, so you don't have a problem”.


--from Ellen von Unwerth’s Fraulein  whose photography “revels in sexual intrigue, femininity, romance,  fetishism, kitsch humor, decadence and sheer joie de vivre

    Everybody in the world  of art and design, of course, has been familiar with Benedikt Taschen for eons—about how as a child he liked to paint vampires and by the age of 12 was selling comic books by mail order. How the fledgling publisher got into art books in 1984. borrowing money to buy 40,000 copies of a remaindered Magritte book.
    From an early age he described his hometown, Cologne, as “a world full of artists and free-minded spirits -- a world I wanted to be part of”. It still harbors the Taschen hq but today the company has branches in London, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Beverly Hills.
    It is the Taschen fascination with the subject of architecture that has cemented (no pun intended) its serious reputation. Books such as the land art of Tadao Ando (winner of all four top architecture prizes); Shigeru Ban, “the paper architect”, and three volumes about Frank Lloyd Wright’s work
   By his 40th birthday in 2001, the Observer summarized: “Buildings and breasts have made him rich”. And there are always new fans ready to gape at the company’s incredible range of styles and subjects. He “shows an uncanny instinct for understanding what the gentrified radical wanted” the Observer wrote.
     Taschen’s 30th anniversary issue leaps through the ages from A Chronicle of the Crusades through 19th century Tokyo, 20th Century travel ads ands 21st century fashions.  There’s even a simple day to day diary designed to teach the writer about himself or herself.


End the Impossible War

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket” philosophied Eric Hoffer who maintained in The True Believer that movements are interchangeable and that fanatics will often flip from one movement to another. The motivations for mass movements he said, are interchangeable: religious, nationalist and class-based movements tend to behave in the same way and use the same tactics, even when their stated goals or values are diametrically opposed.

IN SOMEWHAT UNSPECIFIC terms, political scientist Gene Sharp, 82, purveys advice on non-violent resistance in the current Utne Reader pointing out that objectives such as social justice or complete peace are usually impractical. “You have to think in smaller bites. Work out a plan that will weaken your opponent but also strengthen your people and give them the capacity to carry on the struggle” he says. Author of writings on non-violent strategies that have been translated into 40 languages—and condemned by the current dictators of Iran—Sharp says: “Nobody talks about the weaknesses of dictatorships but they sure as hell have them. All power has its sources and if you can identify the sources you can cut them off”.

BEFORE INSULTS degenerated into four-letter words, some people used language with more verve. This collection from my friend Janet:

He has no enemies but he is intensely disliked by his friendsOscar Wilde

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork—Mae West

Thank you for sending me your book. I’ll waste no time reading it—Moses Hadas

I have just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivialIrvin S. Cobb

I didn’t attend the funeral. but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it—Mark Twain

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure—Clarence Darrow

I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here—Stephen Bishop

 

THE WILCOCK WEB: A bowl of food behind a fence, totally frustrated dogs, who pawed the ground and howled, report Australian researchers. Wolves and dingoes just ran to the break in the fence further down…. Fifteen years after banishing alcohol from its 7,500  stores, Walgreen has re-introduced beer and wine to almost half of them…For millions of people, marihuana is the (forever) next-to-last stop before suicide…. DEFT DEFINITION: Shotgun wedding:  a case of wife or death….Researchers detected high levels of E..coli bacteria in re-used plastic grocery bags. They recommend shoppers to wash them out…Amsterdam’s mayor is sending out “decoy Jews”—policemen wearing skull caps—after a rabbi was assaulted in the city’s Moroccan quarter….Indonesia’s biggest movie company, Multivision Plus, has cast Hasan Faruq Ali, a 12-year-old karate student, to play the young Barack Obama in a new movie….Researchers in Montreal and London are working on the idea of a custom-wired shirt whose bio-sensors will react to its wearer’s moods, responding with reassuring audio messages….”The only way to avoid mistakes” said Albert Einstein, “is to have no new ideas”….Books by Stephenie Meyer and Ann Coulter occupy eight of the top eleven in Goodread’s  The  Worst Books of All Time ….. Uncompliment: He had delusions of adequacy”—Walter Kerr….The Army’s favorite sniper rife, the M-24, will be fitted with a suppressor that distorts the telltale sound which allow the enemy to locate it….True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”—Socrates (469BC-399BC)

{John Wilcock is currently visiting Texas;
he will be back in time for a book party
at the Ojai House next week. }

8/28/10

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