Archive for September, 2009

Literary Blogging and the Digital Countryside

Link for the day: Society for Literary Excellence – an excellent example of the ways that analog living adapts to a digital world.

My senior thesis as a creative writing major is centered around a similar theme. I go to school in the middle of Amish country, cornfields, and apple trees. I’m saturated with the quirks and the brilliance of rurality, and at the same time, the sadness of rurality: the superficial attempts to imitate urban culture, the sense of cultural inferiority, the rude ways that city students treat the locals.

It’s complex. I like working it into words. I’m in the middle of writing a shorter essay about this topic, so look for that post in the coming weeks.


Reflections: London Fashion Week

So, I came out of the closet in a recent post about my brief annual fling with runway fashion. For a couple of weeks a year, I browse the photos from international fashion weeks– half aesthetic pleasure, half anthropological study.

Browsing London’s fashion week, I’m very aware that I’m stepping (briefly) into a whole world that I know nothing about. Thousands of websites, blogs, and magazines exist solely in the world of fashion, and play no conscious part in my own life for most of the year. But clearly, this is something that many people take seriously. Very seriously. Every day.*

Fashion writers acknowledge the economic recession– the effect that that the “outside world” is having on the “fashion world” –but they also express a sadness that it has to be affected. I wonder if I’ve stumbled onto a grown-up version of an escapist fantasy world– a topic that I’ve written about before.

Thing to Notice #1: How strange is it that we as a society grown comfortable referring to distinct “worlds” within our own national borders, as though one part of our complex culture could exist separate from another part? The ‘art world’, the ‘world of fashion’, or of roleplaying fantasy games– it doesn’t matter what it is; the idea of ‘worlds’ existing outside of other parts of culture reflects our tendency to segregate in far more devastating and political ways. It would be difficult, for example, for us to admit that there is a “white world” in the United States, though that is far more true than having an “art world” (which is dependent on a highly fluid, and still debated, definition of “art” **)

Thing to Notice #2: London’s runway models are real human beings. I was totally impressed by the variety of body types in multiple shows. There’s also greater racial diversity among the models, which I thought was quite interesting. I wish I knew more about the social dynamics of London, and why it would end up reflecting in their fashion week. I do know that British feminists tend to include race as a primary factor in their dialogue about gender and sexism, far more than American feminists.

In any case, here’s what I’m digging from London’s fashion week (we’ll see if I can follow up for Milan’s fashion week).

* Creepy.

** The more important thing is that we still debate the definition of art in very vocal and visible ways, whereas debates over the definition of “white” are practically nonexistent, and remain confined to upper academia.


Typeface, graphic design, and graffiti: three of my favorite things brought together into ONE fantastic project!

Basically, this guy went around photographing graffiti, and certain styles of lettering kept coming up (obviously). So then these patterns were turned into a font– badass.

Click on any word, and then any letter, to see the original photograph of the pieces in which that letter style first appeared.

A Sunny Day Doodle

Becca on Lawn small

Becca on Ransom Lawn

Kenyon College

Caran D’ache Neoart Watersoluble Wax Pastels

Caran D’ache Supracolor Soft Watercolor Pencils

India Ink

Arches Aquarelle Hot Press Watercolor Block – 140lb

Review: Quo Vadis Planner – Equology Basic

Planner review The past few years I’ve been reusing old notebooks as DIY planners– which was great, actually, because I could determine the format and size  (and color scheme) of everything. But now that I’ve used those up, I’ve been in need of a more slender academic planner.

A fellow pen&paper blogger offered up a version of the Quo Vadis Equology planner for me to use, but she had reviewed the version with the 60lb paper, which tends not to stand up to fountain pens. I ordered the same thing with 90lb paper, in the “Scholar” format. I prefer the streamlined look of the “Visual” layout, but for some strange reason Visual doesn’t include Saturday and Sunday. Lame.

It’s a slim little book, inconspicuous but not boring. I would prefer a cover without the mottled texture, but that’s just personal preference. I believe it’s also available for purchase with special covers.

Recycled paper

So, the selling point for the Equology is that it’s made from recycled paper– but interestingly, the note inside the cover says “recyclable” –as in, can be recycled. Pretty much any paper can be recycled, so I’m not sure that “able to be recycled” is a real selling point…

First page text

These are the specs. I may not have mentioned this before, but I have a thing for fonts and typefaces. And basically, I’m a big fan of the typeface in the Equology planners.

Full page detail

Here’s the full page. There’s a good amount of space for each day, a small corner for highlights and notes. Again, the arrangement of titles and typefaces is really appealing.

Day closeup

A closeup of one day.

Text on page detail 2

Ah, my favorite part. The paper takes fountain pens beautifully! It’s not glossy, like Rhodia or Clairefontaine, but I wouldn’t want that anyways because then it would take too long to dry. With this paper I can use my fountain pens even for quick notes, then just close it up and stuff it in my bag. There’s no bleed-through, even with wet writers.

Side Corner View Tabs

Another handy quality is the tear-off corner tabs, to be able to flip easily to my current week. I think the ribbon-bookmark method would get annoying in such a utilitarian notebook, so this is a really effective method.

Intellectual Approaches to New York Fashion Week

abby boots

Full disclosure: I didn’t really wear clothes until I started attending school. It was, you might say, a “short but liberated childhood.” And while I did experience the painful middle-school tensions to “wear cool clothes,” that phase is more about the social significance of the clothes than the clothes themselves.

In any case, “fashion” never really did it for me. I did, however, become fascinated with the concept of self presentation– the way that we all play a grown-up version of dress-up every single day, playing different characters for different situations. Even if we dress for comfort, we’re sending a message about our character and priorities (“I value comfort over other qualities”). Lately I’ve been embracing the “studious/androgynous” character [ripped jeans, ribbed tanks, sexy-librarian glasses].

So, right now it’s New York’s Fashion Week. Last year was the first time I really browsed through the runway photos (they were on the NYTimes home page)– at first feeling somewhat disgusted at myself, and then, funnily enough, feeling strangely inspired. It made me think about form, about art, about identity. And yeah, it made me think about what a big fuckin’ waste of money the fashion industry is. But still, the aesthetic inspiration does it for me.

It’s also, for the record, a fascinating social study. The way that the fashion industry is overly-associated with gay men, while many gay female runway models live in a strange “out/not-out” tension. Or the way that “[Designer X]’s bold colors imply that this season, she is all about empowered women.” As though being empowered were a seasonal trend? I’ve also gotten into several heated debates about the unambiguously racist structures of many fashion photoshoots– the “supermodel in a 3rd world country” is an ever-popular theme.

In any case, here’s what I’m into from Spring 2010 (click to view full):

Commercialization of Childhood

Fascinating series about kid-targeted marketing.

Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

Flickr Photos

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