The Pleasures of the Text

With the new year coming, one of my goal is to read more books. Each year I failed, just like the diet, just like my goal to stick with a journal to keep a diary. Well, I read that comparison in ‘The New Yorker’. The article compared keeping a diary and keeping to a diet. I read the first few paragraphs of it and had to ….’make a cup of tea’…yeah that’s my excuse. One of the advice that Bill Buford got from his mentor is to keep the reader interested. One needs to edit to keep readers reading. Readers are far and few these days and they lead busy lives. They need to make tea or go shopping, as I did when I dropped that article I meant to read. Well good news for you people out there. ‘How to talk about books you have not read’ by Pierre Bayard is here to ease the guilt and make one seem culturally aware and cultivated in conversations. I have not read it but there is a funny review of it in the NY Times by Jay MacInery. I can attempt to talk about it and it would be okay. This book is a total opposite of the other book I heard about (HB), but not read, call ‘The Pleasures of the Text’ By Roland Barthes. There is an actual category call HB – Heard about Books. It’s interesting that both of these are written by the French. The little bit of what I read from the readers/reviewers in, leads me to believe that, like skimmed milk, the reading experience isn’t as rich and rewarding but probably a bit healthier. Leave it to the French to ponder the act of reading. The Americans talk about it too. Recently I just watched Francois Truffaut’s film version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Here’s an extreme example of reading where by the people memorized the book and become the book and be introduced as a book title by it’s author. In this day and age where I have to write down a grocery list the four or five items I need to buy, I can’t fathom trying to remember a book. Sometimes I look back on the agenda of the passing days and can’t recall what happen that day unless I have a small jotted note. All of these has to do with our relationship with paper. Roland Barthes rhapsodized about the smell and the physical presence of the text and seeing the printed fonts. In this day and age, most books are digested in the forms of audio CD, or re-imagined on DVD. I listened to, but have not read, Fahrenheit 451. The audio version was probably an abridged version. Ironically, Bradbury predicted the ipod age where ear phones are chirping like crickets in every one’s ears. He didn’t know or maybe he sensed that, some day, his books will be on tape or CD, the book that he originally typed on a type writer rented by the hour at his favorite library. With the introduction of the Kindle, an Amazon ebook, paper book is disappearing or have morphed into other forms as we become more detached with the origins of the text on the page. But to be fair, the first text was probably written in stone, clay, and papyrus. It’s closest cousin is probably the paper. Language have evolved as the medium which carries them. This message was clearly mentioned and conceptualized in the novel “Snow Crash”, I book that I’ve talked about before but have yet fully read to the last page! Clearly, reviewers can talk about certain books without reading about it which makes me wonder and distrust all reviews and reviewers. So that’s my example of how to talk about books I’ve never read.


Yellow Rose book

December 21, 2007

Yellow Rose book
Originally uploaded by lilly1975.

Some gift ideas.

From LoucheLab on
I’ve been following Aya’s work for a while on flickr. Here’s a bookmarks she made before opening up shop on etsy.
We exchanged one postcard for the postcard project.

From an email:

That’s would be really awesome!
Thanks so much, the website looks beautiful.
OK, I’m going back to bed, I went to sleep at noon today after staying up all night – it was fun but now I feel really strange.


Agenda Series

December 20, 2007


———- ducly wrote :———-

I’m interested in your Agenda series.

can you tell me more about it?

Dear Ducly,

thank you for your email.

My agenda series are simply photographs of my own agendas, which I use since 2004. They are the result of my daily life, and they try to capture a part of my own memory.

It is the result of an obsession with understanding time as a concept and our relationship with it. We are in the middle of a transition in a world of new technology, where memory is captured differently (e.g. writing an email becomes stored in other ways within our memories than writing by hand, I would believe.) As a result the form of our traces are changing, as well as the archives of ourselves.

It seems important to me to capture this, as also an excuse to continue to produce.

All the Best


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Pho Van 82nd Portland Oregon

December 20, 2007

Pho Van 82nd Portland Oregon

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.

Jack Fruit, not frost, nipping at your nose!!

Loaded Hip Press

December 19, 2007


This is following the theme of “Libraian Hotness”.  Loaded Hip Press has a variety of cards too.

I have a whole series of arm braces/injuries/little girl lingerie/voyeuristic paintings. I call them my “what is erotic about injury” paintings. I started them after recovering from tendinitis in both arms! I had to wear those itchy braces and my friends had to help me get groceries because I couldn’t carry the bags.
But, drats I wish I had better photos of the frame…

Shannon of Loaded Hip Press.

Excerpt from NaNoWrimo

December 17, 2007

It’s the beginning of monsoon season. The cricket season. They crawl on the wire screen mesh. The symphony of sounds. There are several different kinds of crickets. One type is the brownish color. We call these fire crickets. The other is a black with a bright yellow marking on the back of the cricket’s neck. We carry them in match box and put them in shirt pockets. Later on, the crickets sleep in one large shoe box with other crickets. In the morning, I open up the box to see which one survived the night. They die in battle. The cruel things we did to them. We break the heads off of a dead cricket and put it on the end of the burnt incense stick. With this device, we use the whiskers of the cricket head on the stick to tease the live crickets into flaring their wings and enrage them to ruffle the transparent wings to make that lovely sound and music. It amazed me. The sound coming out of that peculiar vibration and the transparent wings. Especially the brown fire crickets which were a little wrinkle.

The Book of Salt

December 17, 2007

A Novel

The Book of Salt: A Novel

I heard about this book long ago. It is only now that I am reading it. The book re-imagines history.

We are the same age. We even live in the same town, Can Tho.

“To the list of most offensive oxymoron I added the phrase smart bombs. I wept, remembering the remedial ones that shook my family’s house in Can Tho, a city to the south of Saigon, on the banks of the Mekong.” -Monique Truong. for the Times article.

It’s eerie to see your house again on a VHS video tape. Our neighbor from Vietnam went back to Can Tho in the mid 90s. My family visited the neighbor in San Jose when they got back. We are sitting in their living room in California watching the video. When my parents left, the house was handed over to the local officials. The video shows a distant view of the crumbling facade. I can still remember collecting the mosaic tiles that drop due to the humidity and age. It is now being occupied by the communist officials, that thought was strange. It is more of a building then a home. There were six levels. The ground floor is the shop. We lived above. Our cousins, uncles, and hired help live on the floors above. There is the balcony from where I like to watch the parade of Ao Dai, women and men, couples, and families strolling towards church. I flew kites on the very top terrace and watch fire works on the Lunar Chinese New Years. The blinds hung between railings and the ceiling. When the sun went away, the blinds were rolled up. This rolls provided a perfect nesting place for swallows and mynahs.

I have not gone back to Vietnam. I had a chance to when my old-girl-friend invited me to go back in the late 90s. I had just started working at a prestigious architectural firm and didn’t have vacation time. I suppose that was one of the points in our eventual partings.

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