Sunday, December 21, 2014

Periodical Inspiration: The Stacks

   I frequently haunt the aisles of our local Interior libraries, both the Noel Wien downtown + the Rasmuson on UAF campus, trolling for ideas. One of the greatest repositories for creativity has to be grabbing any number of the musty, hard-bound tomes that collect annual editions of artsy-fartsy magazines in the periodical section.
   There's simply no better way to pass a couple hours in-between classes with a sketchbook and a stack of publications that are more often than not a fantastic source of spontaneous inspiration. Call me old-fashioned, but I still find it a superior mode of browsing than on the internet: the pure incidental and random-access (yet still within a loosely defined set of search parameters) to diverse imagery and almost endless series of concepts can be the simple trigger to new connections and insight. You never know what you'll discover by just turning the page. Or opening up a book to the left or the right of the one you were looking for originally.
   Being somewhat culturally marooned in Alaska and lacking a ready round-table of other artists or even access to gallery exhibitions (aside from the usual fare from the usual folks in the usual forums) it's an unprecedented opportunity to sample a wide range of works from a bewildering spectrum of talent. Indeed there is something to be said about having it all at literal arms-length, and not having to actually live in the metropolitan areas which, while hosting such a staggering plethora of artistic endeavors means, well, living there. Our humble libraries will at times offers the best of all possible worlds - even other, imaginary ones - while staying right at home here in this neck of the woods.

All that being said, there's always the comforting cocoon of titles that ensconce the cabin interior: aside from the thousands of comics, the top shelf on this particular bookcase is a good sampling of favorites both old and new. Along with binging on both Harry Potter + Game of Thrones (books & movies), it's been a genuine pleasure re-reading the catalog of Ian M. Banks (the Culture series in particular), and here's a well-deserved congratulations on the critical revival and acknowledgement of Ursula K. Le Guin (transcript here + follow-up interview here), who's extended Earthsea works are more satisfying and enriching than 99% of the formulaic series produced by her contemporaries in the popular fiction market. What a thrill to hear her outstanding speech (and Neil Gaiman’s intro) at the National Book Awards!

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