Categorie: books

Ed van der Elsken, straatfotograaf

Ik heb de overzichtstentoonstelling van Ed van der Elsken in Stedelijk Museum bekeken.
Van der Elsken is chaotisch en uitgesproken extravert. Een expressionist.
Zijn films rommelig en experimenteel.
De tentoonstelling is indrukwekkend, maar vooral: veel.
Ik kwam met een vol hoofd de trap af.ed_publicatie
Het boek De Verliefde Camera is de catalogus bij deze overzichtstentoonstelling.
In het intro van de catalogus noemt Hripsimé Visser, de samensteller van de catalogus, het werk levendig en dynamisch genoemd. Dat lijkt me toch een understatement.
Het boek geeft een overzicht van het werk van Van der Elsken in chronologische stappen.
Dan een serie die zich een liefdesgeschiedenis noemt te vormen: Love on the Left Bank. De foto’s in deze serie: grote vlakken zwart, weinig licht, grimmig. Meer lust dan liefde.
Dan Afrika.
Opnieuw nogal donkere foto’s. Waar het verhaal antropologisch is, was naar mijn idee Van der Elsken veel meer geinteresseerd in de esthetiek van de zwarte mens.
Close-ups van negers en negerinnen. Foto’s die niet over het leven in Afrika als onderwerp hebben, maar veel meer de anatomie van de Afrikaanse mens.
Sweet Life.
Van der Elsken op zijn best: straatfoto’s van alles wat hem voor de camera komt en hij interessant vindt. hier meet Van der Elsken zich met William Klein en Robert Frank.
Straatfoto’s maar ook reportage-achtig en portretten. De individuele foto’s zijn het sterkst, opnieuw. De straatfoto’s van alledaagse zaken.
Eye Love You.
Voor het eerst kleur.
Alledaagse scenes.
Topper: een foto van oudere dames met zonnebrillen en in keurige jurken die twee negerkindertjes fotograferen alsof ze in de dierentuin zijn. Het plaatsvervangend schaamrood komt je op de kaken.
Opnieuw de straatfoto’s van iemand die onbelemmerd foto’s van alledaagse onderwerpen maakt.
Uiteindelijk was Ed van der Elsken vooral een hele goede straatfotograaf die rond probeerde te komen van zijn fotografie.
Zijn straatfoto’s zijn wereldklasse.

Kurzweil doing music composition and statistical analysis on the heavily criticized IBM 1620

Addendum to the post I wrote earlier on Kurzweil and Dijkstra, see Singularity Is Near, so could humour be (Kurzweil meets Dijkstra), and the review from Dijkstra of the IBM 1620.

I hit this passage in Singularity Is Near where Ray Kurzweil tells about his history with computing. He used the 1620 for his experiments, the 1620 that Dijkstra so heavily criticised.

During the 1960s, I was as absorbed in the contemporary musical, cultural, and political movements as my peers, but I became equally engaged in a much more obscure trend: namely, the remarkable sequence of machines that IBM proffered during that decade, from their big “7000” series (7070, 7074, 7090, 7094) to their small 1620, effectively the first “minicomputer.” The machines were introduced at yearly intervals, and each one was less expensive and more powerful than the last, a phenomenon familiar today. I got access to an IBM 1620 and began to write programs for statistical analysis and subsequently for music composition.

Apparently Kurzweil did find some useful application for it, and he managed to avoid the flaws in the 1620’s design.

Nice circle.

Vagabonding – een klassiek reisboek maar niet in het Nederlands?

Ik “las” Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding51fbt5jcs3l-_sy344_bo1204203200_ een tijdje geleden in de audio versie. Dat was naar aanleiding van een opmerking in een Tim Ferriss’ podcast (weet niet meer welke).
Vagabondig gaat net zoveel over rezien als over filosofie, lifestyle, waarden in het leven, ethiek. Het is een wonderbaarlijk boek.
Ik begijp niet waarom er geen Nederlandse vertaling is.
Het book is volgepekt met interessante ideeen, gedachten, practische advieen en levenswijsheden, zonder te prediken of schoolmeesterachtig te worden.

Luister ook de Tim Ferriss met Potts kan ik aanraden. A blast, zoals Ferriss zelf zou zeggen.

Unshakeable – food for the mind, the wallet and the millions

He did it again.
I do not think there is much in this book that he had not discussed (extensively) in Money Master the Game.

But, as opposed to Money, this book is more concise (which is not much of an achievement; I wrote about this earlier here; Unshakeable is a revelation of briefness compared to Money).

The books is very clear on where not to lose money: taxes, fund fees, services that add no value.
It is also very clear on where to invest in: diversified portfolio of low cost index trackers, bonds, real estate.
Do not invest in gold or so.

And a very important learning: stay calm. Stock markets dive every so many years. When this happens, stay in your seat and do not move. Because as often as they fall they rise again.
Losses are made by people that get nervous.
These are the opportunities for the calm.

If there is one conclusion from this book in one sentence: get conscious about your investments, otherwise the financial institutions will get away with your savings.
That’s the conclusion, so if you want to read more, go ahead. The proceeds of the book go to the noble cause of feeding the world (Tony feeds millions/billions,when not on the phone with presidents and multibillionaires all the time), so if not good for your wallet, the investment in this is good for your mental well-being.
But expect lots of words for not so many ideas. Good ideas, but conciseness and humility are not Tony’s forte.

Why Coupland reminded me of Booch reading the rollercoaster novel All Families Are Psychotics

All Families Are Psychotic is a journey through the chaotic events of a family get together.

I love these books from Douglas Coupland where the story brings you semi-random from one idiotic hilarious episode into the other. Btw why does Douglas Coupland remind me of Grady


Booch? Both seem a bit scruffy outliers in their worlds – is how I would describe it in an instant answer without much further thought. It the same thing that attracts me in Haruki Murakami’s novels – the semi randomness of the events that lead the protagonists(s) through the story. The story is the way.

I believe my family is psychotic, but this Drummond family excels at it. What starts off as a family event around daughter Sarah’s jump into space – she’s an astronaut, develops into a wild road movie, with


lots of collateral damage.
So take Coupland’s title with a touch of salt, but it’s a great rollercoaster read.

While you are at it also read Coupland’s Player One which has a similar cadence.

I your more have time to shred also read Murakami trilogy 1q84.

Singularity Is Near, so could humour be (Kurzweil meets Dijkstra)

I was reading Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Is Near and couldn’t keep wondering what was missing. Then I hit this passage where Kurzweil quotes Edger W. Dijkstra.

“Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.”

Why this quote, in this context?

And Dijkstra’s statement: when and where did he say this?

So I did a bit of research on the internet, especially in the Dijkstra archive. I could not find the source of this phrase.
Other places on the internet find the attribution disputed (and yes you can easily dispute this and other internet sources).

By the way Dijkstra could very well have said it. Even though he was a world famous computer scientist, he seems to only have owned a computer himself to read email and surf the web. So at least for him, this statement holds true.

Back to Singularity. I find the choice and place of this quote an example of the shortcomings of this book: the mixing of scientific facts with with personal and vaguely backed predictions. Some predictions are no more than Kurzweil’s personal believes. Also the context in which this quote is placed is odd: Kurzweil in this chapter talks about exponential growth, about Moore’s Law, curve of a paradigm and take over of new paradigm. It is unclear where this Dijkstra quote fits in this story.

This made me think about the differences between Dijkstra and Kurzweil. Dijkstra: unconventional theoretical scientist. Kurzweil: unconventional futuristic engineer. You would expect Dijkstra to be a dry personality and Kurzweil more flamboyant. But surprisingly the big difference and the major shortcoming in Kurzweil’s work is this one thing that Dijkstra sprinkles through all of his work: humour.

Dijkstra in EWD 32 on the tool, how it should be worthy our love, and show: Elegance and Beauty

In EWD 32 Dijkstra shares his “meditations” on the state of the Art (or rather Science, as he prefers to say) of Programming. Machine design was ugly, programming as a discipline was undeveloped. This was 1962.

Programmers were hired for applying tricks and Dijkstra loves the development that there is

… the slowly growing group of people who think it more valuable that the man should have a clear and systematic mind.

He goes on to discuss how programmer and machine designer should collaborate to create better machines and programming languages. Which was very necessary because Dijkstra believed at that time the computer manufacturing industry was taking over computer design from universities. But this brought a commercial angle to computer design that Dijkstra was unhappy with.

They seem to design for the customer that believes the salesman who tells him that machine so-and-so is just the machine he wants.

Dijkstra goes on to share his thoughts on how to improve The Tool – by which he means the programming language, translator and machine. Nowadays we have so many languages and machines, we hardly think about this tool. We think of tools as tools: a given rather than a thought. And of course we have massive debates about programming languages, hardware etcetera. But some of the concerns have disappeared. Nobody really seems to care anymore about machine design. It has become a commodity. It should be fast and robust. Hardware hardly provides any distinguishing features. If so, it is about size and energy, and no longer about performance and reliability.

But the last one he mentions is an eternal difference, one which we still haven’t landed on. And maybe we never will. Because it is a subjective one. A characteristic you wouldn’t expected in our Beta world of computers and programmers.

As my very last remark I should like to stress that the tool as a whole should have still another quality. It is a much more subtle one; whether we appreciate it or not depends much more on our personal taste and education and I shall not even try to define it. The tool should be charming, it should be elegant, it should be worthy of our love. This is no joke, I am terribly serious about this. In this respect the programmer does not differ from any other craftsman: unless he loves his tools it is highly improbable that he will ever create something of superior quality.

At the same time these considerations tell us the greatest virtues a program can show: Elegance and Beauty.

Cees Nooteboom – 533 – een dagenboek

Een dagenboek.
Nooteboom verteld over zijn dagen in zijn Menorcaanse woning. Microscopische beschouwingen over zijn cactussen, de insecten rond zijn woning, de yucca, de ruines op Menorca.

Zorgvuldig beschreven in een nauwkeurige stijl die doet denken aan de veel minder bekende Tim Robinson die de Aran eilanden beschreef en ik leerde kennen via Boudewijn Buch.

Nooteboom schrijft over Brecht en Frisch. Over de muziek waar hij naar luistert.
En dan ook macroscopische beschouwingen over de reis van de Voyagers.
Over de kleine en grote dingen van het leven.

Een prachtige kruimel op de rok van Nooteboom’s universum. ( naar Lucebert)