Review: Brian Eno, A Year, with Swollen Appendices (diary and ruminations)

Alan P. Scott - Rants - Reviews


Simply brilliant. Eno is much more than a musician, and his annotated diary for the year 1995 is much more fascinating than one might expect. He is an enormously complex and busy thinker, intimately connected to the most amazing people - not just musicians (though David Bowie, U2, Daniel Lanois, Luciano Pavarotti and others appear frequently throughout the year) but luminaries in other realms, people like Stewart Brand (How Buildings Learn), playwright Tom Stoppard, and Rem Koolhaas (celebrated designer of the Seattle public library).

I've pulled out several quotes, some of them quite prescient, which are just a taste of the things he's written and thought about in all sorts of different realms:

Do all men leave this life feeling they've seen nowhere near enough nude people, played with far too few private parts, made a pitifully inadequate contribution to the honeyed chorus of bottom-slapping, tit-sucking, cock-pumping, belly-bulging lust issuing from the planet, and generally not fulfilled their once extremely promising sexperimental destiny?
--20 February, p. 56
If I were a government I would probably want crimes such as Oklahoma [City - the federal building bombed there] to serve double duty by pinning them on people I wanted to target anyway while quickly and discreetly dispatching the real culprits.
--22 April, p. 97
[...]the face of fascism close up. 'We do not want to know this' - we do not want to know anything that might erode the pristine hardness and simplicity of our picture of the world.
--1 May, p. 105
There are many futures and only one status quo. That is why conservatives mostly agree and radicals always argue.
--13 June, p. 133
'Static' is at both ends of the movement continuum - things that are very fast and things that are very slow are both seen as static.
--25 August, p. 185
Rationality is what we do to organize the world, to make it possible to predict. Art is the rehearsal for the inapplicability and failure of that process.
--7 December, p. 272

And though I pulled no quotes from them, the "swollen Appendices" - which make up about half the book - also contain interesting longer pieces - stories, letters and essays about a host of subjects -including the evolution of cellular automata, speculations which sparked an editorial of my own.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

©2006 Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved.

Last updated February 21, 2006.

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