目前日期文章:201612 (8)

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管仁健為新頭殼網站所寫的專欄文章,集結成書。他之前因為專寫台灣舊聞,在網路頗得好評,後來在新頭殼,他查找舊聞的功力,與台灣時事結合,專寫政治亂象,在這一片輕薄短小的網文世界中,是難得的紮實文章,而管仁健也被暱稱為「管大」,可謂某種身分認證。

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我平常很少買「外國見聞錄」,諸如這類因為婚姻或工作而到國外長住的台灣人所寫的「台外之異」,大部分寫起來都不痛不癢,不是一面倒的捧外國,就是用一種很獵奇的方式在理解外國,總之都不是很好。會買這本書,主要是因為我在網路上看到此書的一段文章「為什麼一個失業、失婚還得了憂鬱症的肥宅,能在瑞典重獲新生?」,讓我頗受衝擊。文章提到她的先生一位拜把兄弟,長期失業接受政府補助,自暴自棄,完全是「魯蛇人生」,卻在她覺得已經沒救時,一步步走出谷底,慢慢找到自己人生的方向,重新回到社會軌道。我一方面驚訝瑞典政府提供的完善救助網與耐性,也感慨瑞典人對於「一時失志」的寬容。在台灣,受制於價值觀的束縛,即使我們選擇了與一般人不同的道路,仍然希望自己可以迎上社會若干「標準」,比如到了什麼歲數就應該結婚生子,就應該要有什麼社會成就,對於沒有盡力趕上這些「標準」的人感到憤懣不快,覺得他們是扶不起的阿斗。看完這文章,我才驚覺,我也落入台灣固有的價值觀當中,用單一的標準去臧否對方,而非用更有同理心的態度,去理解為什麼對方會有這樣的表現。也因此,我便希望可以看到全書,希望知道作者如何看待瑞典。

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Bouvard and Pécuchet is the narrative of two loony Parisian bachelors who, at a chance meeting, discover between themselves a profound sympathy, and also that they are both copy clerks. They share a distaste for city life and particularly for their fate of sitting behind desks all day. When Bouvard inherits a small fortune the two buy a farm in Normandy, to which they retire, expecting there to meet head-on the reality that was denied them in the half-life of their Parisian offices. They begin with the notion that they will farm their farm, at which they fail miserably. From agriculture they move to a more specialized field: arboriculture. Failing that they decide upon garden architecture. To prepare themselves for each of their new professions, they consult various manuals and treatises, in which they are extremely perplexed to find contradictions and misinformation of all kinds. The advice they find in them is either confusing or utterly inapplicable; theory and practice never coincide. But undaunted by their successive failures, they move on inexorably to the next activity, only to find that it too is incommensurate with the texts which purport to represent it. They try chemistry, physiology, anatomy, geology, archeology...the list goes on. When they finally succumb to the fact that the knowledge they've relied upon is a mass of contradictions, utterly haphazard and quite disjunct from the reality they’d sought to confront, they revert to their initial task of copying. Here is one of Flaubert’s scenarios for the end of novel:

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The beginning of modernism in painting is usually located in Manet’s work of the early 1860s, in which painting’s relationship to its art-historical precedents was made shamelessly obvious. Titian’s Venus of Urbino is meant to be as recognizable a vehicle for the picture of a modern courtesan in Manet’s Olympia as is the unmodeled pink paint that composes her body. Just one hundred years after Manet thus rendered painting's relationship to its sources self-consciously problematic, Rauschenberg made a series of pictures using images of Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus and Ruben’s Venus at Her Toilet. But Rauschenberg’s references to these old-master paintings are effected entirely differently from Manet’s; while Manet duplicates the pose, composition and certain details of the original in a painted transformation, Rauschenberg simply silkscreens a photographic reproduction of the original onto a surface that might also contain such images as trucks and helicopters. And if trucks and helicopters cannot have found their way onto the surface of Olympia, it is obviously not only because such products of the modern age had not yet been invented; it is because of the structural coherence that made an image-bearing surface legible as a picture at the threshold of modernism, as opposed to the radically different pictorial logic that obtains at the beginning of postmodernism. Just what it is that constitutes the particular logic of a Manet painting is discussed by Foucault in an essay about Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony:

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We have here yet another example of Kramer's moralizing cultural conservatism disguised as progressive modernism. But we also have a very interesting estimation of the discursive practice of the museum in the period of modernism and of its present transformation. Kramer’s analysis fails, however, to take into account the extent to which the museum ‘s claims to represent art coherently have already been opened by the practice of contemporary—postmodernist—art.

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Douglas Crimp

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