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Minty Fresh

July 7, 2010

Yes, I realize that photographing one’s bike borders on fetishism, but after having photographed my clothes and shoes for academichic for over a year and a half now, I’m ok with that. I like to think of it as finding beauty in unlikely places or simply appreciating the everyday. Seeking aesthetic pleasure in the minutia of my home allows me to appreciate my surroundings on multiple levels – I enjoy my bike, like so many of the accoutrements with which I surround myself, on both an aesthetic and a utilitarian level. While the former is no prerequisite for the latter, the two are by no means mutually exclusive. I find myself most satisfied when I can merge the two into a happy and harmonious union – form weds function.

One of my favorite readings on aesthetics is Crispin Sartwell’s Six Names of Beauty. Sartwell traces the concept of beauty through six different cultures, exploring how the English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Greek, Japanese, and Navajo word for ‘beauty’ influences and shapes that culture’s understanding of the thing it is describing. Being an amateur linguist and a cultural hybrid myself, I found this exploration of the culturally defined meaning of beauty to be fascinating, engaging, and written in a way that was easy to follow. I would definitely recommend it for the next time you’re throwing a book and a blanket on your bike and heading out to the park for some R & R.

What are some of your reading recommendations for this summer?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2010 14:46

    I thought about this very topic on my bike ride today (photography). I knew pics I took today weren’t going to be spectacular, as I did not want to stop on the two way bike path to take my photos, and obstruct anyone else’s pathway so I didn’t frame shots well. I would love to hear more advice on your tips for photography,and how you resize them for your blog. You do a great job.
    As for books, well I have a several I’m reading, including David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. Thanks S!

    • July 7, 2010 15:39

      Maureen, I usually take my pics in out of the way places, where I’m not stopping others. I don’t have a lot of good tips, I just try to experiment with different lighting (at different times of day) and different angles. As for editing – I’ve been using an old version of Photoshop on my husband’s computer lately to make these collages. I’m still learning how to use Photoshop but for just some very basic collage work, I used this YouTube video tutorial to teach myself:

      After I make the collage in photoshop, I just save it as a jpg file and upload it into wordpress using the media library. Hope that helps!

      Good luck! Share any tips you pick up, looking forward to hearing them!

  2. July 7, 2010 15:13

    Well, you’re hardly the only person taking photos of your bike :)

    I found it interesting with regard to beauty, that in Lithuanian language when referring to people, there was no differentiation between male and female – you used the word “beautiful” with both. Whereas in English, at least in America, that is a strictly feminine term, you usually wouldn’t apply it to a man.

    I would recommend reading anything by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, especially Flight to Arras and The Little Prince (and Wisdom of the Sands, if you have a lot of time to spend reading and enjoy a more philosophical style of writing).

    • July 7, 2010 15:41

      Dave – I love The Little Prince! It was my first French book (in French) that I ever read and I’ve read it a few times since and always loved it anew. I haven’t read any of Saint-Exupery’s other works though, I should really look into them…thanks for the tip!

  3. July 7, 2010 18:37

    Reading is one of my favorite ways to spend a lazy day – I have too many books to recommend! :) A couple that I’ve enjoyed recently that you may as well with your academic interests in gender, feminism, etc., were A Round Heeled Woman and Unaccompanied Women, both by Jane Juska. I’m reading Unaccompanied Women now and am almost finished. I actually think it’s more interesting than the first, but the first does give you a bit more background. Both books are based on the author’s experiences from when she was approx. aged 67-72. In Unaccompanied Women, she talks a lot about how women, especially in certain cultures, and specifically older women, are practically invisible and almost forgotten. I think that’s very true to a large extent – US culture in particular tends to place less value on what older people have to offer than some other cultures. She also discusses the emphasis on appearance or beauty and the differences in how women and men are viewed (or view themselves) as they age.

    Happy reading and biking :)

  4. July 9, 2010 01:42

    Thanks S. for continuing to inspire me. I made and posted a collage from this evening’s ride. I made it with Picasa 3 (download from google I use often!)

    Add me to the list of names that loved “The Little Prince!”
    And the fiction I am currently reading is “The Help”, which you very well might enjoy…a lot about the roles of women in the south during the civil rights movement.
    Copied and Pasted from Publishers Weekly: What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

  5. July 9, 2010 13:06

    She’s such a beauty! Totally photo-worthy. If this is fetishism, I’ve also got a problem :)


  1. 7 July 2010 – Braid Wednesday : academichic

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