Category: quotes

The Underachievers on Thinking Outside the Box

“The separation of god and men is the biggest lie in the planet, and the downfall of humanity”
—Issa Gold, The Underachievers

I’ll admit it, I don’t know much about hip-hop. But! I only had to listen to this duo once during this interview to realize that there was something there for me. Not sure if it was their attitude, vocabulary, or ideas, or all of the above.

The most interesting thing in this world are connections and this duo puts together a most unusual and unexpected sources of influence for their rapping prose. It’s always a delight to hear somebody recommend a good book with the same passion as they talk about a cartoon series, drugs and mind enlightenment.

The Underachievers are rather understated, subtly and unexpectedly dropping intellectual bombs.

If you are like me, unable to follow the rapid fire of their lyrics, head over to Genius, where you can not only read the lyrics of their songs but read the comments of their fans as they interpret all the symbols and messages of their dense verses.

“I’m The, I’m The…
Reincarnation of a king long gone
The highest enlightened nigga, sittin’ on top a sun
An angel told me in a dream, like Neo “I’m the One”
So I’m out here freeing souls from they bondage to the love
U-N-I-T-Y, Free my people, now we fly
Fools stuck to the ground, wondering why we be high
Brainstorming like beehives, knowledge higher than the skies
On a divine mission, nigga don’t get left behind”
—The Underachievers

On Robots Taking on Creative Jobs

Despite our ingrained mechanophobia, everyday we find more examples of robots doing creative chores, including as writing books. There are over a million books that can ber purchased on Amazon written by robots. Granted most of these books are non-fiction works, but they are books non the less. Over. A. Million. Books written by robots! Crazy.

Does writing a book require an algorithm, intelligence or a “soul”?

Here’s an extract from an interview with Phil Parker, a writer of algorithms that write books. Parker explains the spirit of his algorithm and the goals of it:

I have not created any new way of writing. All I’m doing is writing computer programs that mimic the way people write. Going back to the Elizabethan sonnets, Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries created the 14-line iambic pentameter poem, where the rhyming pattern was ‘a-b, a-b, c-d, c-d, e-f, e-f g-g.’ G-g being a couplet at the end. By line 9 there has to be a turn in the poem, so there has to be a phrase like ‘yet’ or ‘but.’ The first line is typically a question, which acts as a title. All of them are 10 syllables in each line… they have to go in the rhythm of that pattern. If you do an analysis of sonnets, you’ll realize that about 10% of sonnets violate those rules. But they do it only in a very particular way. Even that formulation of violation is itself constrained… Once you have all of those rules you then write algorithms that mimic those rules. It’s a very different kind of philosophy from artificial intelligence.

[…] There’s the classic turing test about a conversation with a robot: Can you tell the difference between a robot and a real human who’s conversing with you? Is there something different about these topics? I don’t think anybody would look at our crossword puzzle books and say, ‘Oh my gosh, a computer wrote this,’ because most crossword puzzles are so formulaic that you would expect it to be formulaic… If people find it useful to be in a formulaic format, so much the better. The goal isn’t to sound better than an author. The goal is to deliver something useful to people. That’s the end of it, no more. Otherwise, why bother doing it?

Why Write Your Own Book When An Algorithm Can Do It For You?

Maruja Mallo on Solitude

Maruja Mallo on solitude and her connection with the cosmos.

My biggest asset is solitude because it gives me everything. In solitude I am in connection with the Milky Way, with astrology, with astronomy, with Science, with Art, with the Everything. It’s wealth. Man is measured by the amount of solitude he can bear.
—Maruja Mallo

Maruja Mallo y Josefina Carabias - Antro De Fosiles, Madrid 1931

And in her own words in Spanish:

Mi mayor capital es la soledad por que me lo da todo. En la soledad yo estoy en comunicación con la via láctea, con la astrología, con la astronomía, con la ciencia con el arte, con el todo. Es un capital. El hombre se mide por la soledad que aguanta.
—Maruja Mallo

David Bowie On Self-Promotion For Artists 

I once asked John Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said, “It’s great, but its just rock and roll with lipstick on.”
—David Bowie

David Bowie was a genius marketer who knew well that a guy sometimes needs to put on some lipstick to get the attention he deserves. This is a list of things he did with intention of capturing his audience interests—and imagination.

David Bowie On Self-Promotion For Artists

  • Created work relevant to the times and events that surrounded him. “Space Oddity” was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and it was released a few days ahead of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

[“Space Oddity”] was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it, several times, and it was really a revelation to me.”
—David Bowie

  • Declared himself gay during an interview with Melody Maker magazine in 1972. He later corrected this fact, although acknowledged that it was a great tool for self-promotion

It’s true—I am a bisexual. But I can’t deny that I’ve used that fact very well. I suppose it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
—David Bowie

David Bowie - Aladin Sane

  • Created a gay, androgynous persona—Ziggy Stardust—to liberate and reinvent himself

I wanted to imbue Ziggy with real flesh and blood and muscle, and it was imperative that I find Ziggy and be him. The irony of it was that I was not gay. I was physical about it, but frankly it wasn’t enjoyable.
—David Bowie

  • Played a “blowjob guitar solo” with Mick Ronson and distributed photos to newspapers, which got him a great deal of attention

Mick was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character. He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so that what you got was the old-fashioned Yin and Yang thing. As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock n roll dualism.
—David Bowie

David Bowie "blowjob guitar solo” with Mick Ronson

  • Drew inspiration from musicians who made performance an essential part of their act: Little Richard, Vince Taylor, Iggy Pop, Velvet Underground, etc.

Vince Taylor really became one of the building blocks of the Ziggy character. I just thought he was too good to be true, he was of another world, he was something else, and he was definitely part of the blue print of thus strange character that came from nowhere.
—David Bowie

  • Became a staple of pop culture by appearing in movies always playing characters that reinforced his on-stage persona.

I get offered so many bad movies. And they’re all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.
—David Bowie

Overall, Bowie knew to give people what they wanted, be it controversy, sexual liberation, performance, costumes… in one word: Entertainment. He also knew to acknowledge when he had gone too far.

[I]t seemed obvious that the way to make money was give people what they want. So I started giving people what they wanted. And the downside of that is that I think it dried me up as an artist completely. Because I wasn’t used to doing that.
—David Bowie

David Bowie portrait

This last quote really summarizes David Bowie’s views on self-promotion

When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.
—David Bowie

On Freeing Ourselves From the Definition of Art

Art is what you can get away with.
—Andy Warhol

Defining “Art” is a timeless and meaningless pursuit. We are creative minds (and minds are creative, mind you). We are creators and our creations can have multiple interpretations. To label our creations into fixed buckets (art, craft, etc) is a disservice (and a tamper) to our capacity of creation.

It is presumptuous to think that as of today, we have seen all forms of cultural expression. Who is to say that in 10,000 years there will not be another form of human creation to be heralded up there next to Art, Literature, Math? My vote goes for repetition, memes and sarcasm as likely candidates.

Art, sold

At least we can always count on Andy Warhol to helps us tear down our definitions of art:

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.
—Andy Warhol

Since today is the one day anniversary of Bowie’s death, let’s hear what he had to say

I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in.
—David Bowie