Oh my god will I ever do anything quite this awesome? Doubtful. Everyone? The Mario Scarf. Natalia love, this one’s clearly for you.
I had two important realizations today. Firstly. If I live for another fifteen years without ever seeing another Monet, I would be quite happy. I am sick to death of Monet. His paintings don’t have any movement for me, any life—they’re just a pleasing arrangement of colors and shapes. Earlier in my course here at Cambridge, all of us went to London for the day and many of us ended up at the Tate Modern. Most people who went to the Tate came back raving about the large Water-Lilies painting that was on display. I sat in front of this particular painting for about five minutes and almost fell asleep. I don’t want to see any more art that lulls me into a stupor! I want art that’s attempting to do something or provoke something. No more Monet.
Secondly! I am sick to death of reading about the phenomenon of the muse. These lovely women (usually women, not always) who exist simply to provoke men to greater artistic, philosophical, literary heights. Usually I think these women are regarded as fairly revolutionary. Involved in the male dominated world, interacting with famous movers and shakers. That’s all very nice, but from now on, I only want to learn about women who did things. No more poetic and tragically beautiful empty vessels. I want to learn about women with opinions, who were mean maybe, or rude, and definitely deeply uninterested in allowing anyone to project anything onto them. This was the exact reason why I started to cool off on Haruki Murakami, former love of my literary life. Write a real woman, dude. A woman who has goals and journeys of her own and doesn’t conveniently disappear after providing our everyman hero with a night of poignant and rather passive sex. No more beautiful, deep, charmingly quirky, willing to change your life, dances in the rain barefoot, wellspring of inspiration type women. Guess what? If you can project whatever you want onto her, if everyone can look at that woman and see what they truly love—she’s not real.
Also! If you wanted another reason to hate Garden State, other than the fact that it’s a shallow, emotional manipulative piece of shit, Natalie Portman’s character is the classic quirky yet acceptably beautiful girl who dances funny and changes your life. You know who thinks lying all the time is charming? Crazy people! The brilliant people over at The Onion’s A.V. Club have got this shit figured right out.
Full disclosure: Last summer I was an intern at the publishing company that released this book. I worked on the book a little (proofreading and copy editing) and had totally forgotten about it until I got home from college and found my copy on my desk. (It had been kindly sent to me by my former coworkers.)
The book is a collection of design projects based on twenty maxims that the designer, Stefan Sagmeister, feels he has learned so far. And the book is really unexpected lovely. Some of the art he creates is beautiful, some of it is disturbing and ugly, but what I really loved was that each phrase, no matter how banal, has a weight here that is unexpected. For instance:
These images appeared on billboards in a field in a Parisian suburb. And the message is true. It’s stupidly simple, but so beautifully presented that these photographs have stuck with me since last summer. I didn’t remember every maxim in the book; I did remember this one. I’m someone who tends to be nearly pathologically self conscious. I can remember changing to go over to a friend’s house and debating what I was going to wear for half an hour; worried about whether I looked too fancy, or not polished enough. Whether people would think I was trying too hard or not hard enough. To limit such a worry to clothing isn’t accurate either; I worry about how I’m standing or laughing or talking. Every form of self expression feels, sometimes, like a possible opportunity for failure. But you know what? I’m trying not too care anymore. Wear what you like, because truly: your friends will look at you and forget. Talk and laugh how you like; maybe you sound funny but so does everyone else sometimes. Trying to look good limits my life.
A cool thing for those who are intrigued. A website has been set up by the publishing company and the designer for you to submit your own maxims, beautifully designed and presented, of course. Check it out here: ThingsIhavelearnedinmylife.com.