As I started reading this book I wasn't impressed. The format — photographs and some random stories behind it — seemed too loose and incoherent. Was t...moreAs I started reading this book I wasn't impressed. The format — photographs and some random stories behind it — seemed too loose and incoherent. Was this just the catalogue of the eponymous exhibition at the EMP museum in Seattle, or was there something more? However after 50 pages or so the dots started to connect and the book became a touching read.
Essentially, "From Nowhere to Nevermind" is a chronological history of how punk rock become palatable to the mainstream, thanks to Northwest bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains. The book is written from the point of view of Seattle: I do think it succeeds giving credit to the rest of the American underground that developed elsewhere during the 80s, but still this is a book about Seattle.
The format, like I said, is interesting. On each even-numbered page there's a big picture of some object (a broken/damaged instrument or a fragments of one, some clothing, a poster, an album cover or other art, a manuscript, etc) and on the odd-numbered pages there's the story of that object, with a few comments from people involved with it. This seems fairly simplistic, but there's a lot being told with these images — nice closeups in thick paper — just as much as it is with words. This might not work for everyone, but I think it adds an angle that's missing in most books. And especially for rock music, the visual element, with all the extra connotations that come with it, narrates a story that words can't quite capture.
The anecdotes are pretty insightful.
"Seattle scene found dead" poster, in 1984. "That particular summer was totally dead in Seattle." The calm before storm.
"27 reasons why WA is a cool place to live" poster by Sub Pop, 1987, containing local bands records.
Nirvana recorded and mixed their first demo (10 songs) with Jack Endino in 5 hours, in January 1988.
Cobain was smashing guitars before (!!) he could actually afford it, all the way back in 1988. This is before Nirvana's first single; he was broke at the time. This hit me: only a conflicted yet brilliant artist could do this kind of stuff. This is the difference between making music because you want to and making music because you need to. "He's so serious about the show that he wants you to remember it."
And that's it: since noone was paying attention, all these bands needed to blow people away in their live shows. And they did. They started from zero, no money, little techical competence but loads of passion, and kept at it. And that's what make that music and this book great. You see the artifacts, the history, and the connections between people (musicians, artists, engineers, promoters, and fans) that made this possible. "Nevermind" now just seems the natural consequence of a decade of hard work and incessant dedication.
Underneath the bridge The tarp has sprung a leak And the animals I've trapped Have all become my pets
I liked this book because it talks about how you can improve what you are doing (whatever you are doing) by looking at your higher purpose in life and...moreI liked this book because it talks about how you can improve what you are doing (whatever you are doing) by looking at your higher purpose in life and business, and how happiness is key to this goal. The book is pretty pragmatic but funny as well, balanced like that in a weird sort of way.
In another way though the focus on happiness reminded me of something Epicurean, and a bit simplistic at that if you will. This association is probably only partially valid but I kept thinking about it.(less)
One of the most enlightening book about logic, logical thought and the limitations of logic. The Tractatus is tough. It's really inspiring how each se...moreOne of the most enlightening book about logic, logical thought and the limitations of logic. The Tractatus is tough. It's really inspiring how each sentence is analyzed and dissected and reconnected to other facts. But for me a subtle beauty of the Tractatus is that despite the fact it claims to rule out everything that "one cannot talk about", snippets of beauty and poetic elements sneak into it, directly and indirectly. (less)
A me è piaciuto parecchio questo libro. Le idee di Perotti sono elementari da un certo punto di vista. Ma sono rivoluzionarie perché allo stesso tempo...moreA me è piaciuto parecchio questo libro. Le idee di Perotti sono elementari da un certo punto di vista. Ma sono rivoluzionarie perché allo stesso tempo suggeriscono un movimento individuale di opposizione pragmatica al capitalismo sfrenato. La palese assurdità dell'auspicio capitalistico della crescita perenne, la sua apparente necessità, il meccanismo dei bisogni finti, il lavoro centralizzato, i premi ai manager delle aziende che falliscono, lo Stato che fa riforme per mandare in pensione i suoi cittadini più tardi, o progetta missioni di guerra in loro nome... c'e' di che deprimersi. Eppure il messaggio di Perotti è molto positivo: è un inno alla sobrietà. A che serve il denaro? Per quale motivo è necessario accumularne fino a sessant'anni bruciandosi gli anni migliori della propria vita facendo un lavoro che magari non piace? E poi a sessantacinque anni riusciremo davvero a goderci quei soldi? Perotti non dà soluzioni universali: fa queste e altre domande e le argomenta.
"Avanti Tutta" è il seguito di "Adesso Basta" e ci sono spesso rimandi a quel libro. I due terzi di "Avanti Tutta" sono infatti una sorta di reportage sul feedback ricevuto dopo la pubblicazione del libro originario. In essi si discute delle varie paure, felicità, esperienze di chi è uscito (o vuole uscire) dal Sistema. L'ultima parte infine è dedicata ai problemi di azienda, sia quelli strutturali, sia quelli legati alle colpe dei dirigenti e degl'impiegati.
Interessante anche il ragionamento sulla dipendenza dal salario. Una dipendenza che è sia economica che psicologica. Il salario dà una garanzia. E' un paracadute. Ci assicura la vita in cambio di una spesa costante di tempo e energie. Inoltre ci dà un ritmo di azioni e di emozioni. Se uno stacca la spina questo viene a mancare e una delle cose più difficili è darselo, questo ritmo. Trovarlo.
La metafora più bella é quella delle barche: invece di essere tutti sulla stessa barca (lavora-consuma-crepa) agli ordini di un unico badante/comandante, immaginiamoci una flotta di gente che sa navigare da sola, libera di andare dove meglio crede. É un messaggio logico di indipendenza e di speranza.(less)
There were quite a few surprises in the Man Suit. The biggest was its form, meaning this is poetry that actually has the form of prose, and many poems...moreThere were quite a few surprises in the Man Suit. The biggest was its form, meaning this is poetry that actually has the form of prose, and many poems are often presented as short paragraphs. There are more traditional verses, but even those "flow" like prose if you were to unwind them.
However, the added rhythm of the verses brings life into them. I found the more syncopated cadence pretty effective, like in
"Death is falling gently onto all our collars and it is spreading out on the floor and then a million things"
I mean, it's a pretty spastic poem to my ears, but "it works," it's intense, has strong images, it's short and sharp like a dagger. (I suppose it ends more traditionally than other poems in the book.) Unfortunately, the Man Suit is not always like that, and especially the longer compositions left me lukewarm. Probably the many images they evoke were just too confusing for me, or did not resonate as well.
Oh, the images... very surrealist: "At a Halloween party, a lung went as a haircut, and a haircut went as a lung." There's a lot of dark humor too, which is sometimes pretty funny, and some recurring sexual references, which came out a little awkward, I gotta say. Not to say the latent misogyny I felt here and there.
Going back to the "paragraph poems," they are often like the lines that a demented news reporter would read every midnight. I found their absurdity funny but tiring after a while. Perhaps it's a book to be read slowly. I read it kind of fast, and likely that's bad because you may get overwhelmed by it, or at least I did. Re-reading non-sequentially might be appropriate.(less)
Pretty much the only biography of the band, this book covers the most interesting years of the JAMC, between 1984 and 1991, i.e. from Psychocandy to t...morePretty much the only biography of the band, this book covers the most interesting years of the JAMC, between 1984 and 1991, i.e. from Psychocandy to the Rollercoaster EP (which introduced the '92 record Honey's Dead). It includes many photos and details of the early days, as well as interviews excerpts and caustic, brilliant quotes from the Reid brothers. Although not perfect, it is essential for JAMC fans and whoever is interested in indie rock and shoegaze.
Beside being a short book, the reader gets a clear idea on how the JAMC revolutionized alternative pop music introducing brutal noise next to innocent melodies, a recipe later exploited by countless bands (often in less extreme ways).
Overall it's a great companion to the aesthetics of the band. It comes in both Italian and English languages. (less)
This book made me understand a lot more of what goes on inside a film and presented me the world of moving images in a new, deeper light.
In particular...moreThis book made me understand a lot more of what goes on inside a film and presented me the world of moving images in a new, deeper light.
In particular it succeeded in explaining how the plot is really just one of the many aspects of a movie. (And indeed there are works that completely renounce to the need of a story connecting one scene to the other, and still remain captivating.) The whole discussion about narration is extensive and very thorough.
The second part of the book is about language and the role of the spectator in identifying itself inside the movie. I think this is what sets this book apart. If you like Wittgenstein and semiotics, this will make a lot of sense.
There was some terminology that was foreign to me (e.g. diegesis), so that took some time to decipher and get used to. Moreover, I thought some parts could have been written in a clearer way. Not an easy read, but certainly a solid view at the language of cinema. (less)
How do I start the project I always wanted to start, achieve some degree of success, and avoid being overwhelmed by it? Can I even do that? Those are...moreHow do I start the project I always wanted to start, achieve some degree of success, and avoid being overwhelmed by it? Can I even do that? Those are kind of the core questions that Rework tries to answer.
Rework talks about building a product and running a business, from inception to hiring and release, with a writing style that is as terse and no-nonsense as you can get. Funny, too.
What I really liked about Rework is that it inspires you to do great things ("make a dent in the universe") but at the same time it suggests to use your gut instinct or common sense to get there. Essentially it tells the reader to introspect: projects should start from within. That's how you find the "right way". Which is after all pretty natural once you think about it. For instance, build something YOU want, and you'll automatically know if it kicks ass or not. I found this kind of "warm pragmatism" really positive and refreshing. Very non-European I might add.
Many times the authors illustrate how to ask the right questions. "If you had to launch your product in two weeks, what would you cut out?" You suddenly realize you don't need all those features: you can add them later or not at all, and still be happy. Questions reshape the landscape. And by doing less you'll most certainly do what you do better. And so on.
Overall, much of the advice in the book is obvious, yet for this very reason too often it is taken for granted. That's why I truly believe most of us need this book to "rework" our projects and objectives and remind ourselves of what we forgot along the way.(less)
Any software (hell, even hardware) engineer has hopefully heard about this book. If you don't own it, buy it right now! You won't find a single engine...moreAny software (hell, even hardware) engineer has hopefully heard about this book. If you don't own it, buy it right now! You won't find a single engineer on Earth telling you this is something less that awesome. This book achieves the perfect balance between terseness and exhaustiveness.
Computer Science book writers and publishers: can we go back to a writing style where computer books are in the 150 - 200 pages range, instead of the regular 600 - 900? Come on.(less)