Notes & Queries by David Herkt

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Notes & Queries: Nightingales/Bombs/Beethoven

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    David; fascinating stuff. I love the serendipity (a lovely word) of surprising connections. I was searching recently, to find more about the civil case taken against Graham Greene and the Night & Day magazine in 1938, in wake of his review of the Shirley Temple film Wee Willie Winkie (dir. John Ford). Then how he fled to Mexico, to avoid criminal proceedings, ostensibly to study human rights issues on behalf of the Catholic Church--but wrote The Power and the Glory
    instead (possibly his finest novel). Then it came across a reference to how it was Obama's favourite book, then another story how F. Scott Fitzgerald attempted to revive Shirley's film career in her late teens ....
    Some of these discoveries in libraries; some on the web.

    I have a feature about my Shirley research coming out in New Zealand Memories early next year, focusing on Shirley Temple 'double' competitions in NZ in 1935-36

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2524 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Exactly, Chris. I really want to get distracted by Shirley Temple, Wee Willy Winkie (I even once had a theatre poster for it) and Greene's summation of that hookerish child-charm, but I won't. And I'll ignore the horror of Shirley Temple double competitions. I'll keep an eye out for the New Zealand Memories story.

    But, yes, these leads and lines through the mass have really been fascinating me. I've tried to find a word for them but the best I can come up is 'infodules' - small, revealing, and linked fragments of information, but it doesn't get the lance-like aspect, or quite nail the necessary concept of connection. It might be jewelish (in pronunciation, anyway) but it doesn't quite snap the thing.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Writing about these link experiences is in its infancy. We need words to describe and shape them. We need concepts on which to base the aesthetics. We need ways to describe the discoveries

    Yes we do

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1715 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Writing about these link experiences is in its infancy. We need words to describe and shape them. We need concepts on which to base the aesthetics. We need ways to describe the discoveries. We need critics of link-series and commentators who can reveal the nuggets at the heart of the process. We need new ways to formulate the activity and to judge it.

    We do. Thank you for putting into words what I have been mulling formlessly for some while. I am still at the relatively new and internet-user stage of finding delight and other intense experiences online. The latest, being somewhat of digression, was logging on to Facebook last weekend to find a friend who had just been at Nairobi Westgate mall and left a couple of minutes before the shoot-out (having been chatting to a friend by the cafe at the entrance and decided not to have coffee because it was too busy). She was at home, in shock, her husband in another country until the next day, and hearing the gunfire from her house while wondering how her friends were. Friends from all over the world helped support her through it on-line until she had physical back-up. I still cannot get my head around it.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Hebe,

    I still cannot get my head around it.

    Ow, I know. And I finally can't resist the 9/11 comparison. That infamous night (as it was here) I was watching a Wim Wenders film (__The End of Violence__, IIRC) with a new colleague when, 5 minutes short of the end, another colleague banged on my door and informed us that Phoenix TV was reporting live from NY news of an airliner hitting one of the towers. We decided to finish the film then discovered what had just happened. About an hour later the colleague I'd been watching with went to her apartment downstairs and suddenly thought, "Better check on Bill" and knocked on his door. He was sitting there all confused as to why suddenly all his friends were sending out emails to say they were safe and checking on the others. He'd been working in the WTC just two months earlier, but the colleague who'd told us about the situation hadn't thought to wander three floors lower and inform Bill. And another colleague was from NYC and her dad was an elevator mechanic. We had two very shell-shocked-looking people wandering around campus for a while. But yeah, the ability to get updates on loved ones health and safety so quick or let your loved ones know your situation certainly seems to help.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    That was big! My earthquake experience has been different: mostly not online because my net connection was down for weeks or days. The months (years!) afterwards have proven the net to be invaluable for the family in many ways: from being able via the cloud to work and learn from home, researching, networking, sharing and connecting. Even down to being able to have fresh sources of reading material when there was no library open in this part of town or bookshops open nearby.
    And email: we still have no decent Post Office nearby.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Lovely work (again), David. Thank you!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Hebe,

    my net connection was down for weeks or days.

    Yeah, that's something that worries me, the whole impermanence and fragility of all this new-fangled technological stuff. It's great when it's up and running, but one little break and.... For years I've had trouble writing Chinese by hand because of pinyin (i.e. spelling)-based IMEs on computers and cellphones, which is no big deal except, of course, what if the power goes out and I have to leave a handwritten note? And so I use handwriting input on my cellphone as much as possible, but I don't often send messages more involved than "So what time are we meeting?". And yet all the old tech is soooooo slow.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    eah, that’s something that worries me, the whole impermanence and fragility of all this new-fangled technological stuff

    That new-fangled technology is absolutely wonderful (I still cant believe I’ve got all my John Williams/Julian Bream collection on my G4 Nano. In my pocket…)
    But I keep the CDs & vinyl & technology to play them, just as I keep paper copies of all my writing…and I still build my library.

    Books…have lasted.

    Yep, I have a flashdrive with a lot of my writing on it BUT

    one flash-drive failed utterly (I still had the mss so I didnt care much.)
    And I have a book that dates back to the 16th century that has survived a flood and semi-charring-

    me, I believe in the portability et al of the new tech – and keep copies in the older techs-

    o, and the speed of reading/absorbing/listening rates hasnt changed that much for humans - just the speed of certain kind of communications...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Islander,

    And I have a book that dates back to the 16th century that has survived a flood and semi-charring-

    Jealous. Best I've got is a Classical Chinese grammar with a foreword by Mao Zedong.

    me, I believe in the portability et al of the new tech – and keep copies in the older techs-

    Agreed absolutely.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    ealous

    It is an Old Testament which was a treasure for the Scots side of my family - it was given to me to take care of - despite the fact I am an atheist- because family knew I would take care of it, and pass it along to some future family member who also would take care of it (I lurrrve Scottish pragmatism!)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    On this general theme, may I recommend David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The movie version was an epic fail, but the novel is sensational.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    The movie version was an epic fail, but the novel is sensational.

    Almost all adaptations of complex novels are epic fails but some books work better than others (as a kid I loved Tarzan novels but found the films hugely better! I mean the bloody little monkey turned into a chimpanzee!) I didnt...resonate with "Cloud Atlas" (I will try it again - in the cloudy future)- at the moment I've found an oldish YA novel, "The Hidden Ones" by Gwyneth Jones bloody excellent (and it could make a brillant film - provided adaptors ignored the author's mistake that Gibbie was a Siamang (she is clearly a Kloss's -or dwarf- gibbon...)- and it has a complex heroine but a linear story- and that's what you need for a good film adaptation-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Islander,

    O, do I like & esteem our fellow primates?

    Yep.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    Almost all adaptations of complex novels are epic fails but some books work better than others

    A couple of exceptions spring to mind where I think I preferred the film version to the original novel: The Remains of the Day and Atonement. I'm looking forward to Mr Pip coming out in a couple of days time ..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Hmmm.
    "The Remains of the Day" I didnt see as a film, and "Atonement" I only saw partially (and didnt think I was viewing the novel, as it were.) I'll check them again, & thanks Carol-

    "Mr Pip" has had an...errrm...interesting second trip to the screen & I'll definitely be watching it.

    There has been one other intriguing adaption from novel-to-film that I saw last year, and it could only have been done with the tech we have now: "Life of Pi"-
    I gasped at the surfacing plankton-illuminated whale! (and, how else would you film the boat scenes without a c.g'd tiger?)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Despite certain portions of the novel not making it into the first film, The Godfather stands out for me as a superb adaptation.

    What a profound post David. The crispness of that recording set me off on a quest to find out what mics they were using; three Neumann CMV3 condenser microphones ‘Neumann bottles’ as it turned out, (with a gooseneck in this pic).

    Germany was leading the world.

    and in many fields still is.

    Thank you for this article, especially:

    Sometimes our experience of these links fulfils and thrills. At other times they are a mess of truncated engagements and restless ennui, with intervals of engaging cats

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    “Life of Pi"

    Life of Pi was gorgeous, wasn't it? And yet I felt the novel had a sly,elusive kind of quality that the film didn't quite nail.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    I presume you've all seen James Burke's excellent BBC series Connections - I found them all on YouTube a while ago and they stand up quite well.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/JamesBurkeConnection

    I'm constantly surprised by how much of my thinking patterns were formed by watching Burke connect Napoleonic need for canned goods with electricity blackouts in New York and on to the invention of the toothbrush (or similar).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Fantastic links, thank you

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1015 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    What a gorgeous essay, and you're right, we need some good synonyms for following your nose when your nose is more of a virtual organ. I've always quite liked "meander", both for the process of writing and of reading/link-following, because it sounds aimless but very much isn't...

    The Meander (aka Menderes) is a river in Turkey. As you might expect, it winds all over the place. But it doesn't do this out of frivolity. The path it has discovered is the most economical route to the sea.

    The river's algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting.

    I love the straightforward expression of it as an algorithm; an earlier (and more poetically written) take on the same metaphor can be found here. I like the way it veers from material to metaphorical to absolutely material again at the end:

    ...Flattened out, the thin human cortex, the gray matter of the brain, is much too large for the skull within which it must fit. The problem has been elegantly solved by intricate pleating and folding, as if the cortex were a piece of thick fabric gathered in tightly to fit. In anatomy books, we can see pictures of cross-section slices of the gathers. The shape is unmistakable, like a close-packed river shot from above, meandering within.

    So, a vote for meander.

    Also, a whimsical bid for "brachiate", to swing from limb to limb. Arboreal locomotion; the Internet as forest.

    Or perhaps, given the labyrinthine nature of the web, and the string of links we generate as we go, we could find a non-uglifying way to verbify Ariadne?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    There is a recent BBC radio podcast on the bomber/nightingale story here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r4choice

    Since Apr 2008 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Erin H,

    Lovely. Philosophy double-act Deleuze and Guattari might call this a 'line of flight'.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    This process reminds me very much of Connections the BBC series with James Burke. While he had a focus, his path from one point to another was interesting. And like the internet paths we now follow could easily have led in different directions.

    It also reminds me of the literature searching we do in science. While in science the aim is usually to find the most in depth knowledge in a narrow area, the methods are familiar. You bounce from keyword, to author, to method, to institute and back, sometimes you get sidetracked into something even more interesting sometimes it's just a frustrating delay.

    But I guess I'm loathe to try and coin a word for the way we navigate knowledge now. It doesn't seem as though words get adopted that way. I like meander, but would it grab everyone? Linkage analysis sounds too formal and organised but does fit to some degree.

    Whatever name evolves, the process is so much fun.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    And yet I felt the novel had a sly,elusive kind of quality that the film didn’t quite nail.

    Mmmm -but:
    it was hinted at and for those of my family who hadnt read the novel when we saw the film, confirmed by the last comments-

    anyway, far more than most adaptations of novels I have seen “Life of Pi” worked-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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