Fascinating music video. Visually beautiful and the narrative is such that you want to watch it again to try and make sense of it.
Nice typographic music video. Reminded me a lot of Sign o' the Times by Prince.
Only 29 seconds long, but very well made.
Fascinating short documentary about a dance and music subculture from New Orleans
Books Which Have Influenced Me Most
Economist and top-blogger Tyler Cowen was asked by a visitor to his blog to list the top 10 books that influenced him most. At the end of his list he invited other bloggers to do the same. It would be nice if many people would do so, with the same title, so that, if you do a search on Google, you get a whole list of similar entries. Here's mine.
Some preliminary considerations:
There's already a lot of information about some of my favourite novels elsewhere on the site, but favourite and influential are not necessarily identical. You can also track the books that I have read.
There are two ways of answering this question, one that attempts to reconstruct the books that had a major influence and one that lists the books that at this moment still cast their shadow. If I were to interpret the question as asking for books that shaped how I view the world, the list would be different. (That would also be an interesting list to try).
Ten is an arbitrary number, but it also forces you to think and choose. I am tempted to cheat by splitting the list into two top 10's, one for fiction and one for non-fiction. If I stick to the original format it would probably look something like this. In no particular order:
1. Homer: Iliad and Odyssey
I read it when I was a little child. I was already an ardent reader, but these stories really got me hooked. Of course books were also the one place where I could hide. Having read the Iliad and the Odyssey was one reason why I attended a traditional Dutch gymnasium, the highest variant in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands, which had Latin and Greek as compulsory subjects. I only studied Greek in 3rd and 4th grade, but I did study Latin from 2nd grade up and until my final exams. Just for the record, the exam used to consist of 7 subjects, but I took two additional subjects (and wish I had taken more) so I didn't lose much by way of more relevant subjects.
2. Douglas Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach
I read it when I was 15, too young to understand it all, but it had great impact on me. It nurtured my interest in mathematics, but I think deep down I already knew that I lacked the talent to become the mathematician that I wanted to be. (And so I ended up as a quant :).
3. Jacques Derrida: Margins of Philosophy
I read it during the summer holiday between my first and second year in philosophy (and my second and third year in econometrics, since I took up philosophy one year later). It was a major eye opener. A totally new way of reading texts and doing philosophy. More than in any other book I found in it the encouragement to think for myself.
4. Georges Perec: Life. A User's Manual
This is the one book that still stands out as the holy grail, because it is proof that it is possible to combine formal methods and expressionism, which of course is what I do or want to do in my own work. Like some of the other novels that are among my favourite reads it is a patchwork of stories and voices, again not unlike what I try to do in my own work.
5. Murray Gell-Mann: The Quark and the Jaguar
I don't remember whether it was this book or Stuart Kauffman's At Home in the Universe that introduced me to complexity theory and self-organisation. I had read about it in magazine articles, but these books wrapped it up in a nice, coherent and visionary story. I have since applied some of these ideas in my own work. My finest hour was when I presented my research at a conference on complex systems in Boston and at a meeting of the Royal Dutch Mathematical Society.
6. David Carson: The End of Print
I was already familiar with some of the work David Carson had done for Raygun, but this book put it all together. It was another major eye-opener. It was like discovering a new world or a new universe and with that a whole new world of possibilities inside myself. I realized that all it takes to be a designer, photographer or choreographer is to design, photograph or choreograph. Just experiment with the material and keep experimenting.
7a. Greg Girard and Ian Lambot: City of Darkness
A friend of mine showed me this book. I was blown away. I bought my own copy in Hong Kong. Need I say more? It got me to spend large amounts of money and time on travelling and photographing which in turn enlarged my world and got me into contact with a lot of people.
7b. Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places
Retrospectively this book is some sort of manifesto for what I do. When I'm taking photographs I'm intuitively drawn towards many of the same places and the same angles.
8. David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest
OK, so I only just finished it, but this is "the book". David Foster Wallace really could do anything with words, and how sad to speak in the past tense. This book kind of sums up where I stand right now and what I'm trying to do. It takes all the elements, achievements if you wish, from modernism and post-modernism, but uses it to tell a story, to say something about the world we live in. It is one of the few novels that is totally contemporary in the most emphatic sense of the word, or perhaps rather in a Nietzschean sense of being untimely (unzeitgemäss). It is also a book that opens up to the world, instead of closing in on a single place, person or event.
9. M.R. Bennett and P.M.S. Hacker: Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience
I keep returning to this book, not only because of its critical analysis of cognitive neuroscience, but also because of its lucid discussion of many everyday concepts.
10. Ex aequo:
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: A Thousand Plateaux
I spent several years of my life struggling with the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Occasionally I still find inspiration in their work, especially the chapter on Affect in What is Philosophy? in spite of or because of its obscurity, inconsistencies etc.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations
I read it when I was studying philosophy. In recent years I have increasingly found myself drawn back to Wittgenstein's way of doing philosophy.
Thierry de Duve: Kant after Duchamp
Because for many years I felt I had nothing to add to it. It seemed like the definitive book on contemporary art and aesthetics.
Fernando Pessoa: Collected Poems
I am not one but many. And so am I. I love the poems and I'm intrigued by the heteronyms under which he wrote.
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