4′ 33″ #PlagueSongs, no. 20. AND 43 notes on silence, time, & the corona era

1 There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. – John Cage, “Experimental Music” (1957), in Silence: 50th Anniversary Edition (Wesleyan UP, 2011), p. 8 Philip Nel, guitar and vocal, Manhattan, Kansas, 26 July 2020. 2   John Cage’s 4’33” was first performed

This is the time. #PlagueSongs, no. 13.

For my first punk “plague song,” here’s “There Is No Time,” from Lou Reed, one of the godfathers of punk. I chose it because it’s an urgent call to action. The song is two decades and many musical experiments after his Velvet Underground days, where he explores some of the sonic territory later embraced by

The Archive of Childhood, Part 3: Earliest Memories

The third in my occasional “Archives of Childhood” series. The Archive of Childhood, Part 1: Crayons (27 Dec. 2014) The Archive of Childhood, Part 2: The Golliwog (13 Jan. 2015) What are your earliest memories? Recent conversations with family and friends have challenged my assumption that most people remember early childhood. I now wonder if it is

Farewell to Facebook. Mostly.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few months. Over the past year or so, I’ve been gradually drifting away from Facebook. Lately, the drift has become a decisive move. Last month, I downloaded my Facebook data – in order to better see precisely what Facebook was collecting.  Then, I removed Facebook from

Running Out of Time

Following a December blog-conversation about Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (occasioned in part by her own chemo), my friend Alison Piepmeier asked me to send her a contribution to her blog, Every Little Thing. It appeared there on Monday. I’m reposting it here now. In case you’re wondering, I got permission from the close relative (named below) to quote

Upgrade Vortex

upgrade vortex, n. The hidden temporal, cognitive, and/or financial costs of getting a new electronic device (tablet, smart phone, computer, etc.). We need a term to describe the experience of obtaining a new technological item, and then the (guaranteed but never mentioned) troubleshooting and cost that inevitably follows. I propose “upgrade vortex” – upgrade both because this is

The Meaning of Life; or, How to Avoid the Midlife Crisis

Why do successes sometimes feel like failures? As philosopher Kieran Setiya points out in a wise new essay, “Our achievements, whatever they are worth, are always numbered” (10). Each time we accomplish something, it’s done, finished, and we must move on to the next thing: “the completion of your project may constitute something of value,