Prints, Sansei, Knausgaard, Policing, Journalism

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked

BY RAND LEEB-DU TOIT – 19 FEBRUARY 2021

Update from Rand

This week I've been increasing my focus on one of my innovation projects. I have called it Liquidwrite. I intend working on it during the On Deck Global Build Weekend coming up this week. The weekend is essentially a hackathon in which On Deck Fellows from various disciplines collaborate to build a technology product or at least progress it from concept to demo. My team includes people from San Francisco, Austin, New York and Stockholm. Besides the time zone complication, it should be an exciting event.

Liquidwrite is a natural language generation tool designed to augment a writer in creating a novel based on OpenAI's GPT-3 first and then incorporating a more advanced product that uses MITs liquid neural network, a neuroplastic natural language algorithm as this progresses in development.


How Leo Steinberg Saw the Profound Importance of Prints Before Most

Lauren Moya Ford | Hyperallergic | 15 FEBRUARY 2021

Leo Steinberg was born in Russia in 1920, moved to Berlin at aged 12, then the family fled to London in 1933 and onto NYC in 1945. He then changed his focus from creating art to studying it. He was acknowledged as one of the time's leading art lecturers, scholars and critics. A health crisis when he was 40 spurred him into pursuing his passion for print collecting. In 2002 he sold his collection of over 3,500 pieces to a little-known museum, and now 20 years later an exhibition of 200 works examines how his prints "impacted his ideas and writing, which in turn shaped much of 20th-century Western thought on art.". (946 words)


Writing Is a Ritual: A Conversation with Karen Tei Yamashita

Abbie Reese | Los Angeles Review of Books | 15 FEBRUARY 2021

Japanese American writer and Professor Karen Tei Yamashita, in a conversation with Abbie Reese, covers a range of topics including being a sansei, culture shock, secrecy and Jane Austen. Her 2020 collection, called Sansei and Sensibility, is a reflection on the experiences of third-generation Japanese Americans. Her author's note in the second section is a playful nod to her sister. Her sister is a dedicated 'Janeite' (an admirer of Jane Austen's writing), creating elaborate costumes, attending conferences, reading scholarly materials and immersed in all movies or presentations. Tei Yamashita's writing explores cultural silences, and she is interested in focusing on characters in both private spaces and public. (2,108 words)


In Knausgaard’s Essays on Art, No Thought Goes Unexamined

Bridget Quinn | Hyperallergic | 15 FEBRUARY 2021

Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard's book, In the Land of the Cyclops, is a far-ranging essay collection, translated into English by Martin Aitken. Now the most-read Norwegian author, his early work was fiction, described as both solid and safe. His writing appears to be driven by a "creative nerve" and an inclination to cover all subjects without fear or favour. Sometimes his lack of context or examination is disturbing, for instance in regard to his essay on Knut Hamsun, a Nazi sympathiser. Others are refreshingly honest and reveal deep self-examination. Whatever your feelings on his writing, as this article concludes, "You don’t want to look away.". (829 words)


Modern Policing Is an Invention of Slavery

Rinaldo Walcott | The Walrus | 16 FEBRUARY 2021

This excerpt from On Property by Rinaldo Walcott examines the history of law enforcement and how it relates to slavery. Street checks, also known as carding or stop-and-frisk, are connected to the history of travel passes blacks required to prove to white people that they had the right be where they were, or had their master's permission. It also existed in South Africa where Black and coloured people were forced into ethnic or tribal homelands, and in how Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US placed indigenous people onto reservations. Unfortunately, modern police practices remind Black people that slavery is not that long ago. (1,129 words)


The Narrative and Its Discontents

Jacob Falkovich | Quillette | 16 FEBRUARY 2021

Shared stories bring people together and build a shared reality that frames the world how we see it. But in today's connected world, stories spread online, sometimes slightly altered to fit that world view. The stories, the narrative, are often written by legacy media - and yet their world view can be shaped by their commonality. They are united in caring about what the legacy media writes, and may need to decide "which side are you on?" Rationalists meantime try to make sense of the world using awareness of their own biases and although they share beliefs, do not feel forced to be always in agreement. (1,860 words)


Afterthought:

“I want to show you the world, as it is, all around us, all the time. Only by doing so will I myself be able to glimpse it.”

―Karl Ove Knausgaard, Autumn

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

Editorial comments and conk suggestions to the Conkerer: rand@exoscalr.com

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