29.4.24

IN CRED

 

After a decade of writing this blog I am at a loss for words.

I drafted four versions of this announcement only to find them inadequate, so I kept it simple.

I have written my first novel.

It is VERY good.

I am looking for a publisher from within my worldwide readership. 

Please reach out to me at rxtt.art@gmail.com  Subject Line "IN CRED"

Thank you for loving and reading books

Sincerely Yours,

RXTT

20.2.24

Carlo Rovelli Has Once Again Taken Me Along For The Ride



White Holes - Carlo Rovelli (2023)


I have admired so many great thinkers, imagining how it must have been for contemporary readers of Goethe, Homer, Nietzsche, etc.  To share in the intimate thoughts of those at the cutting edge of abstract human exploration (Literature, Philosophy, Science, Arts) as they themselves first share them with the world at large seems to me one of the rarest glories that life may afford for a layperson such as myself, in love with science and human exploration.  Reading the work of Carlo Rovelli I find myself exactly where I imagined decades ago, with open ears and mind, receiving original ideas from someone on the leading edge of abstract thought, ideas which will alter everything moving forward.  I feel so fortunate.

(I must mention here that Mr. Rovelli is Italian, and writes in his native language.  I feel a great debt owed to the translator of this book, Simon Carnell.  He managed to convey both the facts and the subtle meanings in a wonderful way.)

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist, and one of the most original thinkers.  He is gifted not only with the ability to grasp and calculate abstract mathematics and physical theory, but he writes like a poet, explaining the science with the same fervor with which he explains his personal mode of work.  He not only loves ideas, and exploring them as far as possible, but he loves the process by which he develops his ideas.  The joy he finds in work that, to many, may seem like mathematical drudgeries and theoretical mazes, is readily apparent.  I felt his joy and wonderment as his conclusions led to new questions, and eventually to the idea that a black hole does not "die" but is instead, reborn as a "white" hole.  

Thirty years ago, black holes were barely an accepted theoretical idea.  Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them catalogued in visible space, with nearly every galaxy containing a massive black hole at its center.  Physicists sought to understand the "life cycle" of a black hole, much like they studied the life cycle of stars.  Many assumed that a black hole was a permanent null void in space, while others, such as Stephen Hawking, surmised that through natural quantum effects, the black holes would slowly "evaporate" away.  Evidence of these processes has been found.   These became the consensus on black holes.

Mr. Rovelli's genius lies not only in the real of physical science, but in the much-admired (by me) and often lacking skill that is pure abstract thought.  It is in abstract thought that the human mind achieves greatness.  This place is where intuition, knowledge, and the magic of consciousness combine to create the truly new ideas.  From the first human to note that fire made the clay underneath hard and sturdy, thereby intuiting that shaping the clay while wet and then placing it in the fire she could create a vessel or bowl, to Albert Einstein discovering the relativity of time while pondering the way train stations miles apart managed to keep track of departures and arrivals, this mind abstraction has shaped all of humanity.  It is in this realm that Carlo Rovelli realized a black hole does not need to evaporate or die, since quantum effects prevented the actual formation of a singularity, always assumed to reside inside all black holes.  Instead, Rovelli grasped that the gravity pit would bounce back, in a sense, and that the black hole would become a "white hole," an object that spews matter and energy out of itself into the universe at large, without ever becoming a singularity.  This is a BIG idea, and the hard part was yet to come.

Many non-scientists assume that the job of physicist is to come up with ideas.  That is only the very start of the process.  The work comes in using rigorous mathematics to test the ideas over and over again, looking for any and all possibility of error, assumption, and misunderstanding.  One must also look into any previous work that may have analyzed the same phenomenon.  It can take a lifetime to properly verify that a physical theory stands up.  It is now 2024 and we still run experiments testing the theories Einstein crafted one hundred years ago.  THEY HOLD UP! My favorite sections of this book are when Rovelli describes the joy he feels when the mathematics consistently work in his idea's favor.  What the Universe does not allow will not happen. The joy of discovery is a pure one, and rarely described so beautifully.

I am fortunate to find myself here, with Carlo Rovelli, at the start of his journey.  I expect he will explore white holes and every new possibility they may bring.  I will be right there with him, receiving periodic updates hopefully, as he continues his foray into the unknown, leading the charge for the rest of us.  I highly recommend this book.


7.2.24

Thurston Moore's SONIC LIFE Became My Sonic Life


 

Sonic Life: a Memoir - Thurston Moore (2023)


I am a Sonic Lifer. In my heart, I truly came into my own when I first heard the sound of Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" at age 16.  I had finally discovered an aural equivalent to the skronk in my own head.  There was no turning back.  While Sonic Youth was not the first band I rocked to, or first loved, or first thought of as "my fave," they were the band that crystallized me.  Because of this I hold them, their music, and the individual members in very high regard.  

When the inevitable happened, and Sonic Youth ceased operations as the premier skronk-machine live act around, I accepted it, and thanked them for the long musical ride.  Not many bands can continue to make new, interesting, challenging music for nearly thirty years.  In 2015, Kim Gordon published a wonderful book, "Girl in a Band." Part memoir of her formative years growing up in California and the fine art world, and part personal air-clearing about the break-up of her marriage.  After decades of fandom, I was allowed a peek into the mind of someone I had both idolized and adored.  It was as beautifully written and insightful as the Artforum essays she wrote in her early life.  

Many people thought Thurston would write his own version of the events, because that is what a public wants to see, the airing of grievances.  Instead, Thurston Moore wrote this memoir to his first and one true love, loud rock music, and the thrills of a truly transcendent performance.  

Thurston begins with his older brother playing "Louie Louie" over and over on a scratchy vinyl single.  This resonated with me deeply.  As a child who started paying attention to bands and music in 1981, I grew up in a house surrounded by music, stereos, 8-Track players, turntables, etc.  Music was of primal importance in our house.  My mother's oldies station would play some songs that I just loved, including 'Louie Louie."  I was always attracted to the wilder, more propulsive oldies.  I liked things that rocked, and began looking for such music.

Thurston Moore was such a teenager, always searching for new sounds, driving to NYC with a friend to explore the record stores, eventually spending weekends in the city seeing shows and buying used books.  He found himself drawn to the seedy lower east side and the Bowery, areas where the fringe bands could perform, and where an underage kid could sneak in if he arrived to the show early enough (a method I also employed at various Houston area venues.)  It was at such a show that he witnessed an early performance by the duo Suicide, one of the fiercest, most transgressive acts ever to come out of the NY scene.  Thurston had a front-row seat to something completely new, what became the No Wave scene.  Bands such as Suicide, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, and others forged a separate sub-underground for themselves where the musical goal was not to craft songs, but to destroy the very foundation of song structure and performance.  

Apart from No Wave, the avant-garde music coming from people such as Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca, stylistic innovators and sonic risk takers, also shaped and forged Thurston's musical sensibility.  Throw in a healthy dash of hardcore punk and a deep love for the absurd, and you have what Thurston brought to Sonic Youth.  

Those looking for a deep dive into Sonic Youth themselves and the workings of the band will need to wait for a different book, yet to be written.  This is a tale about one person's inner musical life, and the many people he meets.  Thurston is a music fan, first and foremost.  His life outside of performing music appears to be spent looking for old records, books, and poetry ephemera.  His interactions with the fellow musicians he befriends are recorded faithfully, and it is amazing how much Thurston can remember, not just about a person, but about the bands they were in, the music they released, etc.

As a Sonic Youth fan, part of my joy came from discovering new music through Thurston.  He was always careful to select opening acts that would challenge the typical Sonic Youth audience, who, although normally open minded, had aged along with the band.  In the late 1990's, as most of the band reached their 40's, many acts 20-years younger gained wider exposure through their association with Sonic Youth.  I was fortunate to attend a 1992 concert where Houston's Pain Teens opened up, followed by a very early iteration of Pavement (3 guys, including the OG drummer doing handstands between songs).  It was amazing.

Many memoirs are either hyper focused on a few short years of an otherwise boring life, or they seek to pack every detail and aspect of a human's life into one hasty, and unsatisfying tale.  Thurston Moore has written a specific, informative, moving tribute to his life in music, and the glories he found within it.  These are not the glories of an international superstar such as Gene Simmons or Taylor Swift.  They are the glories of a man whose preferred state of being is attending an intimate performance, talking to musicians and fellow artists, and experiencing the bliss of a great show.  In this respect, Thurston is a truly blessed and fortunate man.  He has lived the sonic life many dream of, and provided that very same to his fans.  Few people are so lucky.  I highly recommend this book.


(I must give a shout-out to the always-wonderful Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas, where I found this book, a signed first edition, and the last one they had in stock. My wife and I were out about town, seeking a nice day after a sequence of unfortunate occurrences, and the good people of Brazos Bookstore helped us start off right.  Brazos is a haven for anyone seeking to explore the current landscape of literature.  The staff work like curators at a museum, and the selection of books is exemplary.  Books for all ages, all subjects, and all manner of curiosity.  It is a beautiful place. - RXTT)


25.10.23

Robert Crumb illustrates the Book of Genesis, and It Rules

 


The Book of Genesis Illustrated – R. Crumb (2010)

 

            I was gifted this amazing book by my brother.  As a life-long fan of Robert Crumb and the big-butt, thick-legged femeninas he obsessively drew and lusted over, I wondered how his obsessive drawing style would lend itself to the stories contained within the Bible’s Book of Genesis.  As with any genius artist, the results are more enjoyable than the actual source material.

            The Book of Genesis is, like the rest of the Bible, a composite.  The stories told within it are drawn from so many ancient sources that the words of Genesis constantly contradict or negate each other.  For example, Genesis tells two different stories about the origin of the world.  In one, god created everything all at once, and seeing it good, created man to rule it all.  In the other version, told right after, god creates the universe bit by bit, day by day, until finally creating man on the 6th day, and resting on the 7th.  This contradiction is never explained by the devout, who parrot the Bible as a holy book directly transcribed from the mind of god, infallible in all ways.  These people are idiots, seeking to turn everyone else into the mindless drones they themselves have become. (To read a review of Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, where he discusses the many source materials for the sections of the Bible, click here: https://rxttbooks.blogspot.com/2014/09/isaac-asimov-tackles-biggest-book-there.html )

            Robert Crumb is a very interesting person to undertake this difficult task.  He was born to a Catholic household, but never sought religion or spirituality after his youth.  In fact, as a devout teenager, his father admitted that the Catholicism he raised the Crumb family under was a lie, and that he was an atheist all along, just pretending at religion.  Robert Crumb’s involvement in the underground comic books of the 1960’s helped make him a seminal figure in the alternative media world.  Nothing in his work of that period showed a predilection toward Bible subjects.

            One of Crumb’s collaborations, the many issues of American Splendor he drew for Harvey Pekar, pointed the way to how his art could serve the needs of a narrative structure.  Harvey Pekar’s work consisted of vignettes, detached scenes of his everyday life.  Crumb drew these scenes in his inimitable crosshatch, but without any of the sensational or outrageous imagery commonly associated with ZAP or WEIRDO comics.  It is this method he employs for the book of Genesis.

            What a beautiful book it is.  Each page, each panel, is carefully structured and drawn, allowing for maximum storytelling.  Crumb draws everything, even the preternaturally dull sections of Genesis listing endless “begets.”  His art does not editorialize.  It does not seek to magnify or diminish the words of Genesis, merely to portray them in a straight-forward manner.  As a life-long fan of the Illustrated Classics comic book series, I felt right at home ingesting the first chapter of the Bible in comic book format.  Those Illustrated Classics were my first exposure to Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, and many other works of literature.  I can imagine this great book serving the same purpose for anyone interested in actually reading the Bible, instead of analyzing it for divine proclamations.  I also see it as a great stepping stone for other comic book artists to explore the canon of classic literature.  Robert Crumb has always kept himself at the leading edge of sequential storytelling art.  We are better off for it.