Spark launches! + high-brow literary notes

Spark Online finally launches as the super-awesome thing it is, both boobs and brains, and all four among cyan, magenta, yellow and black!

I wholeheartedly suggest you give it a look: I’ve spent the better part of the last two months sweeping the back rooms, fixing the plumbing, ripping up the carpets, and insert-your-own-strange-metaphor-for coding the php away. I am completely invested in that project now. I have crashed our database at least once, and rebuilt it underslept but victorious, tested improbable protocols on fellow bloggers, and made many more friends than I deserve. In my mind, the whole thing is vast and monumental.

On the other hand, my research work is going swimmingly, which means I’m learning GIS (Geographical Information System, and if you don’t know what it is you should, for it’s ruling your life, in a modest sense), but also that I’m not sleeping very much. MIAF has solemnly launched about tonight, and from now until the end of November, the only thing I’m really looking forward is the Chris Marker mini-festival at the Cinematheque in late October. The rest, from where I’m sitting, looks just like hard work.

On a more positive note, Sasha Waltz is showing work in Melbourne, which is all too rare a thing (I could tell you how often she’s been in Zagreb, Croatia – a place you’ll all have heard from Lally Katz’s Apocalypse Bear by now – but I won’t). If you don’t have a ticket to either Medea or Korper yet, boo hoo, they’re just about sold out. Sasha is a great, great woman, but more on this later in the month.

If I really have to make another announcement – and why not?! – I could add that I am going to Europe for Christmas. Some to see family, some to see my dentist (and just the financial benefit of not having an Australian dentist practically pays for the trip), some to see various friends in (and watch this feat of student economics) Lisbon, Berlin and London. Apart from London, which is an old hat by now, I am excited up to my ears. Lisbon is the best place in Europe I’ve been to so far, and Berlin, which I haven’t visited yet, is reported to be the actual best place in Europe. We shall see. I am, meanwhile, skimming on everyday expenses.

And finally, dear reader, the actual reason for this post: documenting a note that’s been sitting on my desktop for about a month now. A quote:

The nineteenth century invented the locomotive, and Hegel was convinced he had grasped the very spirit of universal history. But flaubert discovered stupidity. I daresay that is the greatest discovery of a century so proud of its scientific thought.

Of course, even before Flaubert, people knew stupidity existed, but they understood it somewhat differently: it was considered a simple absence of knowledge, a defect correctable by education. In Flaubert’s novels, stupidity is an inseparable dimension of human existence. But the most shocking, the most scandalous thing about Flaubert’s vision of stupidity is this: Stupidity does not give way to science, technology, modernity, progressl on the contrary, it progresses right along with progress!

With a wicked passion, Flaubert used to collect the stereotyped formulations that people around him enunciated in order to seem intelligent and up-to-date. He put them into a celebrated Dictionnaire des idees recues. We can use this title to declare: Modern stupidity means not ignorance but the nonthought of received ideas.

–Milan Kundera, from either Testaments Betrayed or The Art of the Novel.