Is Everything Art? Talking Trumpets, Humor, and New Media with Matt Starr

“This is my first interview off Adderall ever.”

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Matt Starr has been taking Adderall since he was 9 years old. When I finally reached the New York City based artist on the phone, he was exiting a subway station and apologized for the noise. “Sorry,” he said, “I’m trying to buy a trumpet and I keep getting lost.” It seemed like a fitting introduction. When confined to the limits of language, he describes himself as a New Media Artist and Conceptual Comedian. Looking to his work, it’s easy to understand why words don’t quite suffice to capture everything that he creates. For Starr, it’s not the medium that matters as much as the message behind it. Whether it’s an installation, video projection, conceptual brand, or the pioneering of a fashion movement dedicated to a regression back to infancy, Starr uses whatever tools he needs to get the job done. Sometimes that tool is a bottle of Pepto Bismol; other times it’s a FaceTime conversation with super model Cara Delevingne. Starr effectively and creatively engages his audience, mastering a perfect balance of popular culture and quotidian comforts. His use of familiar objects, places, and even sentiments democratize his work for the masses, and it’s hard to view his art without smiling, cringing, agreeing, or simply wanting to know more. He is quirky and intelligent, playful yet sharp. Starr’s wit and humor shine through, and we enjoyed getting to ask him a few more questions regarding the nature of his work.

Continue…

MOMENT: On the Move

Haven’t we been here before?

in this exact same situation.

I chase you; Streets. Tunnel vision.

You resist because

it helps your ego.

I feel as though I had a soul mate

and I forgot them.

Whoever it is, I miss our

fun times;

adventures,

projects,

enthusiasms,

unexpected visits,

a sense of possibility in every moment,

as though we could cross oceans.

“Have a ride if you like

on my scooter”

With one foot

placed firm on

the scooter

the other

pushed away

the hard ground.

Saying yes was always her.

That was her thing.

And I used to laugh

because it was so

pleasing.

Because I liked it.

I didn’t need an answer

but I asked her why

once.

She said she didn’t know.

It was just something

she did.

That scooter

and I have something

in common.

We travel too fast.

Too fast to fall in love.

The head over

heels type love.

Except with her.

HUE: Fuzzy Wuzzy

Color conducts emotion. We feel blue, we see red, and we turn green with envy. We’re tickled pink and when we’re overwhelmed by joy, some call the experience “fuzzy wuzzy,” but not because it reminds us a of reddish-brown.

. .

Or does it remind us of The Isabella Tiger Moth that dwells in the arctic?

. .

It’s abundantly fuzzy progeny is appropriately called The Woolly Bear larva and it emerges from the egg in the fall.

. .

If fuzzy wuzzy had a temperature it would be about 26.666 degrees Celsius — not here, not now. During the arctic winters the Woolly Bear survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues.

. .

In my mind, cold and fuzzy wuzzy could never be in the same sentence (unless of course I’m talking about how they can’t be in the same sentence).

. .

The Woolly Bear larva feels fuzzy wuzzy because of the cryoprotectant, not because of it’s fuzz.

. .

In most temperate climates, caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth – and hence feeding – is so short that the Woolly Bear must feed for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.

. .

The thought of winter weather during the summer or summer weather during the winter. Fuzzy wuzzy is a feeling.

. .

Let’s not forget where ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ was first used.

. .

Before people felt all fuzzy wuzzy, or saw something that was fuzzy wuzzy. It was a plant.

. .

Kalanchoe tomentosa, also known by it’s common name, fuzzy wuzzy. A succulent.

. .

Succulent fuzzy wuzzy. Yes.

. .

A native of Madagascar, it is a popular houseplant on account of its small size, ease of care, and dark-red rimmed foliage. It’s a pleasure to have.

. .

Pleasure and fuzzy wuzzy. Yes.

. .

Hadendoa is the name of a nomadic subdivision of the Beja people. The area inhabited by the Hadendoa which is today parts of Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea.

. .

“Fuzzy-Wuzzy” was used by British soldiers in the 19th century as a name for Hadendoa warriors referring to their elaborate hairstyles during the Mahdist War.

. .

Osman Digna was a Mahdist general who led the Hadendoa to break a British infantry square in the Battle of Tamai, although he ultimately lost the battle itself. Wonder if he felt fuzzy wuzzy then.

. .

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels was the name given by Australian troops to a group of Papua New Guinean people who, during World War II, assisted and escorted injured Australian troops down the Kokoda trail.

. .

Wine and Bred

Nell Stone, the ingenious young anthropologist at the center of Lily King’s Euphoria, explains to her colleague, Andrew Bankson, that the Tam people of New Guinea believe love grows in the belly: “‘You are in my stomach’ was their most intimate expression of love.”  The notion of being in one’s stomach implies a love that grows like a child, and a love that is consumed like food. This seemingly contradictory conception of love and human relationships permeates the book, consistently returning to the question: is the pleasure of love in possessing or in growing?

Euphoria is loosely based on the biographical details of Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and Reo Fortune, who embarked on a joint exploration of what was called the Territory of New Guinea in the 1930s. At its most basic, the book describes a love triangle between three anthropologists—Nell Stone, her husband Schuyler Fenwick, and their acquaintance Andrew Bankson, who narrates much of the book. While a conventional love triangle deals with the desires of each of the three individuals to possess one of the other two, Euphoria presents each of the three as needing the others in order to fulfill some aspect of love, either possessive or enlightening. Nell, specifically, is acutely aware of her desire to love without possessing. In a telling conversation, she asks Bankson, “Do you think it’s natural, the desire to possess another person?” before quoting from the Amy Lowell poem “Decade” about wine and bread: “wine is sort of thrilling and sensual, and bread is familiar and essential.” As they talk, she mentions that “people are always wine to me, never bread” to which he responds, “maybe that’s why you don’t want to possess them.” Nell wants a relationship that will send her into the elation of drunkenness, not a relationship that she can consume to sustain herself at the expense of the other person. Her husband, Fen, takes a different style, which becomes clear in their approaches to their research.

The anthropologists’ interactions with the indigenous people function as stand-ins for their search for human connection. Riding in a boat down the Sepik river, Nell laments passing indigenous villages, worried that she will miss the one perfectly compatible group with whom she will be able to forge a genuine connection, “a people whose genius she would unlock, and who would unlock hers, a people who had a way of life that made sense to her.” In pursuing her research, Nell longs for this mutual elevation of ‘genius unlocked.’ Fen, on the other hand, seeks a different kind of satisfaction, which he reveals when discussing a ceremonial flute shown to him by the Mumbanyo people; “We could sell it to the museum for a right heap of cash. And then there are books to be written about it. Books that would blow past Children of the Kirakira [Nell’s extremely successful book]. It would fix us up for life, Bankson.” In studying the indigenous population, Fen wants to appropriate their culture. Financial gain is the easiest marker of possession (selling an object implies ownership of it), but more than that, Fen desires respect. He explicitly links his pursuit of the ceremonial object to being more successful than his wife. In contrast to Nell’s desire for mutual elevation, Fen conceives of a relationship as a struggle for the upper hand—he wants to make bread (pun intended) out of his anthropological studies as well as his wife.

Nell is thus mainly another possession for him, and even as she pursues her own desires, she recognizes how restricted she is by the possessive conception of love. She writes that “it is freedom I search for in my work… to find a group of people who give each other the room to be.” She is searching for a group of people who are able to establish a community without becoming oppressive. Certainly her position in relation to her culture is not one that allows her this “room to be.” In marrying Fen, Nell is forced to abandon a relationship with a female colleague, something she describes as “the conventional choice, the easy way for my work, my reputation, and of course for a child.” But in her longing for a love free of possession, Nell objects to being forced to choose.

Fen gives voice to these feelings, and accuses Nell of supporting polygamy. “It’s what her set calls free love… multiple partners. You go in for that too, Bankson?” Since Fen’s idea of love is based exclusively in possession, the idea of “free love” is incomprehensible and threatening. The question directed to Bankson expresses these feelings in equal measure—Fen seeks Bankson’s agreement, while simultaneously seeking assurance that Bankson is not a threat to Fen’s ownership of Nell.

This question posed to Bankson is in many ways crucial, for he is the one caught between the two conceptions of love. He desires to possess Nell but knows that she is married, that he cannot have a monogamous relationship with her. While he would like nothing more than for Nell to leave her husband, he discovers the mutual elevation that does not require exclusivity: “I felt in some ways we’d had some sort of sex, sex of the mind, sex of ideas, sex of words, hundreds and thousands of words.” When all three collaborate on an anthropological breakthrough, Bankson describes the connection he feels to her: “I wasn’t sure if I was having my own thoughts or hers.” This type of kinship is the opposite of ownership, as the connection to Nell is so intimate that he is no longer in complete possession of even his own thoughts.

Bankson’s kinship with Nell allows him to experience a human relationship that is a meeting of minds as opposed to a pursuit. In a sense, this connection of minds goes beyond Western logic; Fen even references it in regards to a Tam ceremony: “if you just let go of your brain you find another brain, the group brain, the collective brain, and that it is an exhilarating form of human connection that we have lost in our embrace of the individual except when we go to war.” Bankson, who has lost an older brother in World War I, knows how destructive such collectives are when based on domination of someone else. The question is whether such a unity of minds can be achieved without the object being domination.

Bankson experiences this unity briefly when he is working alongside Nell, contributing to a scientific understanding of the world that is infinitely bigger than both of them. The titular word appears only three times in the book, always to describe a breakthrough of understanding about the indigenous people. As Nell puts it: “it’s a delusion… and it’s followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything. But at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.” This is the conundrum faced by the characters of Lily King’s Euphoria, especially Nell and Bankson—the capacity to understand another person, to feel who they are as if from inside is the only way they can ever be truly, “entirely yours.” However, there is always the terrifying knowledge that this understanding might just be a projection. But this is another way to understand “you are in my stomach”—a confirmation that one has understood well, that one has gotten under the skin and permeated one’s lover. With this reciprocated recognition, mutual understanding becomes the essence of fulfilled love, something much deeper than a feeling of ownership based on a misplaced projection.

Latin American Reading

Latin America has long been a melting pot of culture and creativity. The 20th century in particular saw pioneering literature pour out of the continent and gain international recognition. This article looks at five of the most famous and enduringly influential writers to have emerged from Latin America, who embraced and re-invented the written word to create some truly unique literature.

Jorge Luis Borges

The writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges was born in 1899, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he grew up in the then poorer northern suburb of the city called Palermo. It was a raucous place for a young boy to grow up and its colorful population clearly influenced Borges later work. Subsequently his family lived in Switzerland and Spain, where he was schooled.
    He is considered to be a surrealist, and Ficciones is a favorite work of his. It comprises of seventeen short stories which span centuries of influences from philosophy, to literature and fantasy.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez is undoubtedly one of the most prominent authors of the last century; he was born in 1927 and raised by his maternal grandparents in Columbia. Although he began his working life as a journalist, he later wrote screen plays and fiction, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.
    His novels were inspired by real life events; Love in the Time of Cholera is an unconventional yet compelling love story, which Marquez based on his parent’s fraught courtship.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Basoalto in Chile during 1904, he used Neruda after Jan Neruda, the Czech poet. He received a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, but as well as being a poet and author he worked in diplomacy and was active in the political sphere.
    His 1924 collection, Twenty Love Poems: and a Song of Despair is considered to be one of his most emotionally charged and powerful works, with worldwide sales exceeding a million.

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende was born in Chile in 1942, she is a passionate advocate of women’s rights and often works as a guest lecturer in American Universities. Having been exiled from Chile in the 1980’s, she eventually married an American and is now a US citizen.
    She is best known for the 1982 novel The House of Spirits, although the manuscript was initially rejected by a number of publishing houses, it has since gone on to become a best seller and film.

Jorge Amado

Amado is a Brazilian writer who was born in 1912, his work celebrates the complexity of life in his homeland, from peasants to the bourgeoisie and includes every race. His enjoyment of colloquial language was not popular among academia for many years, but now Amado’s work is globally significant, with translations into 49 other languages.
    Amado’s most published book is his 1937 Captain of the Sands, written whilst he was traveling through Latin America. It’s a gritty and brave social critique, focussing on the brutal lives led by a gang of street children surviving on their wits in Bahia Brazil.
    Although Borges remains a cultural giant, his cohorts should still be considered as significant players in the 20th century blossoming of Latin American literature – so if you’re planning a South America holiday, then these literary giants should be on your reading list.

Part of our TRANSITION issue.

Short Story Glory

Reading a novel is an endeavor that requires commitment, effort, and, most essentially, time; lucky for us, literature is not a one-size-fits-all business. Perfect for commuters and part-time readers, short stories condense big messages into digestible portions! Here are some short stories you certainly won’t regret giving up ten minutes for:

 

“Memento Mori,” Jonathan Nolan

 

For those of you who’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller Memento, the short story “Memento Mori” should seem very familiar. That’s because the Academy Award nominated film was based on the short story, written by the younger Nolan brother and published in Esquire magazine in 2001. The narrative centers around a man who develops anterograde amnesia from a traumatic brain injury, leaving him unable to create new memories. Although he retains memory from before his injury, the protagonist’s mind is wiped clean every few minutes, perpetually resetting itself to factory mode. Jonathan Nolan does an incredible job of allowing the reader to experience the world through the protagonist’s fractured mind by transitioning from third person to epistolary narration throughout the story. The character’s condition forces him to keep track of his life in unconventional ways, using notes, photographs and even tattoos to record important information. And just what sort of important information would a mentally impaired man with no memory need to keep track of? If you’ve seen the film, you already have your answer, and if you haven’t then I suggest you start reading and find out before it slips your mind (pun intended)!

 

“The Hitchhiking Game,” Milan Kundera

 

Milan Kundera, one of the Czech Republic’s most well-known writers, has been praised for his distinct ability to examine the duality of human relationships. His short story, “The Hitchhiking Game,” was published in 1969 in a collection of Kundera’s stories, Laughable Loves. Do not let the title fool you however, as this is no typical love story. The plot begins innocently enough: two young lovers are traveling on a long-awaited vacation, driving through the Czech countryside. Wishing to spice up their drive a bit, they begin to play a game in which the woman takes on the role of a sexy hitchhiker. The game allows them to escape their ordinary selves for a bit, something both characters initially revel in; the further they travel, the more serious the game becomes, eventually leading to a sinister change in the characters’ relationship. The narrative is written in third-person point of view, giving the reader access to both characters’ thoughts and feelings and allowing us to see how the game is affecting each of them. Disturbing as it is heartbreaking, Milan Kundera’s “The Hitchhiking Game” will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading and leave you wondering how well you know those closest to you, and how well you know yourself.

Part of our TRANSITION issue.

Essential Latin American Reading

Latin America has long been a melting pot of culture and creativity. The 20th century in particular saw pioneering literature pour out of the continent and gain international recognition. This article looks at five of the most famous and enduringly influential writers to have emerged from Latin America, who embraced and re-invented the written word to create some truly unique literature.

– –

Jorge Luis Borges

The writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges was born in 1899, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he grew up in the then poorer northern suburb of the city called Palermo. It was a raucous place for a young boy to grow up and its colorful population clearly influenced Borges later work. Subsequently his family lived in Switzerland and Spain, where he was schooled.

He is considered to be a surrealist, and Ficciones is a favorite work of his. It comprises of seventeen short stories which span centuries of influences from philosophy, to literature and fantasy.

– – 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez is undoubtedly one of the most prominent authors of the last century; he was born in 1927 and raised by his maternal grandparents in Columbia. Although he began his working life as a journalist, he later wrote screen plays and fiction, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.

His novels were inspired by real life events; Love in the Time of Cholera is an unconventional yet compelling love story, which Marquez based on his parent’s fraught courtship.

– – 

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Basoalto in Chile during 1904, he used Neruda after Jan Neruda, the Czech poet. He received a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, but as well as being a poet and author he worked in diplomacy and was active in the political sphere.

His 1924 collection, Twenty Love Poems: and a Song of Despair is considered to be one of his most emotionally charged and powerful works, with worldwide sales exceeding a million.

– – 

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende was born in Chile in 1942, she is a passionate advocate of women’s rights and often works as a guest lecturer in American Universities. Having been exiled from Chile in the 1980’s, she eventually married an American and is now a US citizen.

She is best known for the 1982 novel The House of Spirits, although the manuscript was initially rejected by a number of publishing houses, it has since gone on to become a best seller and film.

– – 

Jorge Amado

Amado is a Brazilian writer who was born in 1912, his work celebrates the complexity of life in his homeland, from peasants to the bourgeoisie and includes every race. His enjoyment of colloquial language was not popular among academia for many years, but now Amado’s work is globally significant, with translations into 49 other languages.

Amado’s most published book is his 1937 Captain of the Sands, written whilst he was traveling through Latin America. It’s a gritty and brave social critique, focussing on the brutal lives led by a gang of street children surviving on their wits in Bahia Brazil.

Although Borges remains a cultural giant, his cohorts should still be considered as significant players in the 20th century blossoming of Latin American literature – so if you’re planning a South America holiday, then these literary giants should be on your reading list.

WORDS: Johnny P. Johnny is a huge fan of all things Latin America, who’s blogged frequently on these types of topics.

FEATURE: Cory Joseph

Cory Joseph is a young writer from Hudson County NJ. His content gives the audience a perspective into, not only how he feels, but how he thinks.
Despite how cold it’s been outside, I was eager to arrange a sit-down with him. I told Cory that I’d be photographing him & accordingly and very self aware he picked a spot very endearing and significant to his upbringing. The view to New York has always been inspiring and calming to him. No matter what has been going on, he’s been able to come back to this spot and just be at ease.

Cory grew up in North Jersey and still resides there with his older brother. His brother is who to blame for Cory’s love of art. With his brother being a songwriter, like any young brother would do, Cory followed in his footsteps. He joined a band and started writing songs for them. “The lead singer asked me to write songs for him, that’s when I realized my writing had potential to be liked” Cory said. “But the first time I actually realized people could have an emotional reaction was when my 8th grade teacher assigned us a one page free write on what we would do if we had one month to live. My paper made the teacher cry.” Moments like that are what makes individuals follow their passions.

Since then Cory has been honing his skills. “Writing prose has to be my favorite thing to write,” Cory says, “second has to be poetry.” Currently, Cory has a series in his blog dedicated to getting extremely personal with his readers. It starts at A & each letter has 10 parts, currently he is working on J.

Not too long ago, Cory got in a coaching accident that temporarily took his ability to read and write away. “I had what I love the most taken away from me for almost 3 months,” He had to relearn to write. He’s rebuilding his way back to health with great diligence and it his recent work shows that he’s back, if not, better than he was pre-accident.

His prose have a certain rhythm and diction and even though they don’t rhyme he expresses it in a way that make the reader feel as if they do. Cory’s craft is very personal. You get a sincere sense of the things he’s feeling and you can tell he holds nothing back. “I’ve always had to tell the girls I’m dating not to read my writing for a few days after we’ve gotten in arguments,” He just free writes and lets his pen get the best of him which proves to be a great way to express himself.

Blog: http://inkforthought.wordpress.com/

Ender’s Game


photo by gumarx

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Whenever I read a new book, I am constantly reminded of another I’ve read. When I was younger, I was really into science fiction. My favorite book was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which revolved around a plain-jane Meg Murry in her search for her missing father. I’ve yet to read another science fiction book that compares – that is, until I read Ender’s Game. My friend recommended it and I was instantly drawn in by the intense description of the protagonist’s inner conflict, navigating the lines between childhood and adulthood, innocence and everything else. Every page was exciting, new, insightful. And the action! Oh, the action. If zero-gravity fight scenes and intergalactic space battles with insectoid extra-terrestrials gets your blood pumping,then Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel Ender’s Game is for you! Set in Earth’s far future, the novel revolves around protagonist Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a child prodigy who is chosen by the International Fleet (IF) to lead the fight against an alien race, the Formics (commonly referred to as “Buggers”). Ender’s Game chronicles his journey from childhood to adolescence as he leaves his family’s home to train with other child prodigies in the IF. Aside from his advanced mental and physical faculties, Ender is set apart from his peers in another way; Ender is a “third,” and his birth was specifically requested by the IF after his siblings were deemed unfit to join the fleet. His birth order is a major source of stress is his life and his family’s lives because, in this futuristic society, all Earth families are restricted to having 2 children, and any deviance from that standard is viewed negatively. His life is even more complicated by the opposing relationships he has with his siblings, Peter and Valentine. Through Orson Scott Card’s detailed and introspective writing style, we are able to peek inside Ender’s brilliant mind while simultaneously engaging in a thrilling story of survival, war and identity. Even if you’re not into sci-fi, this novel will be sure to have you dreaming about space and all its infinite possibility.

A Long Way Down


photo by jordiesunshine

A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby

I’ve been an avid book reader since childhood. I’ve read more books than I can count, some of them memorable, some of them not. Names of books have been long buried in the depths of my mind, and while many of them have managed to speak to me in one way or another, there was one thing missing from my book reading experience: humor. Yeah, I’ve had books that made me cry, rage, shake my head and cringe but laugh? Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that anymore after reading Nick Hornby’s 2005 A Long Way Down. I read it in my junior year of college for my Recent British Fiction course and it was one of those books you couldn’t put down once you started. And it was funny. Really funny. Laugh out loud funny! I don’t think I’ve ever had such an unexpected exchange with a book, and when I say unexpected, I mean unexpected. I mean, suicide is never a laughing matter, unless, of course, you’re reading A Long Way Down. This dark comedy chronicles the adventures of four unlikely friends – Martin, Maureen, JJ and Jess – whose lives intersect through a botched suicide attempt. Given the novel’s subject matter one would expect to descend into a spiral of depression and alcoholism with each successive chapter – that is, until you start reading. Through his quirky story line and permeating wit, Hornby is able to capture his readers’ attention and hearts. The novel is written from the perspective of each protagonist and Hornby does an excellent job of giving each of his main characters a distinct voice. What I love most about this novel is how real the characters are; their personalities are relatable, likable even, in their imperfection and instability. The range of emotion I experienced while reading Hornby’s novel made me appear somewhat emotionally unstable myself – one minute I was teary-eyed, the next I was hysterically laughing, snorting and oblivious to the confused reactions of those around me. The oscillation between moments of hilarity and sadness make A Long Way Down a mustread novel, one you can be sure to be reflecting on days after you’ve read the last page.