is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that
something that is interesting is interesting them" Gertrude
Pop Comp - courtesy of the invaluable mp3
- N'Dambi | Human Behavior - The Decembrists | Grab This Thing - The
Mar-Keys | James Vs. The Reds - Stratageme | At the Back of the Shell
- The Kills | Struggle Against - Matmos | Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
- The Arcade Fire | Under Heavy Manners - Robert Fripp and David Byrne
| Jolene (live) - The White Stripes | The District Sleeps Alone - The
Postal Service | Wasp Nest - The National | Blood Hound Blues - Victoria
Spivey | Single Again - The Fiery Furnaces | Dear Sons and Daughters
of Ghosts - Wolf Parade | This Ain't No Picnic - Minutemen | Fix Up,
Look Sharp - Dizzee Rascal | Fairytale of New York | The Pogues
the holiday half of December (reverse order)
Band of Outsiders
| Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1964 | 95min | Sundance
| imdb | First viewing
- I finally "get" Anna Karina now (how slow is that?).
§ Coffee and Cigarettes | Dir. Jim Jarmusch
, 2003 | 95min DVD | imdb
| First viewing - Self-indulgent but fitfully amusing; it's hard for me
to admit that Jarmusch (the only director I've ever felt generationally
affiliated with) is aesthetically spent after so few fully realized projects,
but how avoid the thought at this point?
It's A Wonderful Life
| Dir. Frank Capra, 1946 | 130min VHS | imdb
| Has a "compulsory" holiday film ever been so brutally depressing?
It seems more so to me every year. (Which reminds me that I never got
around to the magnificent Meet
John Doe this season, though I had it on hand and meant too.)
| Dir. John Huston, 1987 | 83min | imdb
| Suffers in comparison to Bergman (see below), but is otherwise unscathed
after nearly annual viewings since the year of its release. Cathleen Delaney's
performance as Aunt Julia especially struck me this time through, even
if Huston's handling of her has come to seem brusque in one or two shots
where the director stares too directly at her expiring life.
| Dir. Mark Sandrich, 1942 | 100min | imdb
Meet Me in St. Louis
| Dir. Vincente Minnelli, 1944 | imdb
| Second viewing - still not very impressed, though there are a few more
interesting scenes than I'd recalled, especially in the Halloween passages.
| Dir. Gillian Armstrong, 1994 | 115min | imdb
The Making of Fanny and Alexander
| Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1983 | 110min DVD | Criterion Collection 264 |
imdb | First viewing
- Bergman's patient blocking and choreographing of complex scenes, his
ease with the children (Pernilla Allwin, who plays Fanny, is an especially
gleeful accomplice), the proximity he insisted upon when shooting a scene
(often directing from an invisible space within the shot itself), and
a million other details fascinate me in this excellent documentary. Perhaps
the scene with Gunnar Björnstrand is held too longbut how turn
away from such a pained farewell within a farewell?
Fanny and Alexander: The Television Version
| Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1982 | 312min DVD | Criterion Collection 262 |
imdb | First viewing
of this astonishing five-hour expansion of the theatrical release I've
loved for years. Perhaps the single best addition is the scene in which
Gustav Adolph and Carl negotiate with the Bishop for Emilie's release
after Isak has spirited the children away, but there is so much new to
see that I've only begun to drink it all in. The added time spent with
her only intensifies my crush on Madame Ekdahl, as played by Gunn Wallgren
(shown below reading Strindberg's "Dream Play" at the close
of the film)but that's a topic I'll reserve for private conversation.
Doctor Zhivago | Dir. David Lean, 1965 | 197min VHS
| imdb | Not a favorite
film of mine, but it always repays rewatchingeven if the balalaika
induces mild insanity and the symbolism is so heavy handed that the whole
film can sometimes come to feel like the emotional equivalent of a "large-print
Bell, Book, and Candle | Dir. Richard Quine, 1958
| 106min | imdb | First
complete viewing An allegory for quitting queer culture and trying
one's best to prefer the heterosexual norm, even if it's aging badly.
Kim Novak's revenge on Jimmy Stewart for Vertigo?
| mid-November to mid-December
Memories Prompted by the course
I've just finished teaching, I made a point of finally seeing all four
films that take Proust and/or his Search for Lost Time as their
occasion: Percy Adlon's irresistible Céleste
(1981), a German adaptation of Céleste Albaret's memoir of her
years in the employ of Monsieur Proust; the easily mocked but not
so bad as all that Swann
in Love (1984) directed by Volker Schlöndorff with Ornella Muti
as Odette and Alain Delon as a perfectly cast but largely wasted (in terms
of the latent kinkiness in the role) Baron de Charlus; Chantal Akerman's
very free adaptation of La Prisonniére, La
Captive (2000), with Sylvie Testud as Albertine (more or less) and
plot variations borrowed from Vertigo
and Chopin's The Awakening; and Raoul Ruiz's Time
Regained (1999), a smart and often beautiful reading of the closing
volume of the Search. Strangely, only the Adlon "works"
as a stand-alone film, but each contributes something to the project of
envisioning (and en-sounding) the lifeworld evoked in Proust's novel.
Speaking of Sounds: After five years of making do
with a dumb speaker arrangement, we finally shifted to a more deliberate
and acoustically apt strategy a few weeks ago, revealing many a previously
buried sonic element in things like Four Tet's Pause (2001), Jim
O'Rourke's almost-insane-making hurdy-gurdy drone composition Happy
Days (1996), and the Emerson String Quartet's recordings of
Beethoven's late string quartets. And when news of Jackson Mac Low's death
came, it was nice to hear his voice mingling with Anne's in the "Phoneme
Dance in Memoriam John Cage" from the invaluable Open
Secrets cd. As to Print, Jimmy Schuyler's Just
the Thing: Selected Letters, 1951-1991 is just about the only bound
& paginated thing I've been able to pay attention to at the margins
of my days: I started in the mid-60s (circa the Nest of Ninnies
collaboration), then read a batch from the '80s and '90s (including the
great late reading tour), then went back to the beginning. Bruce Hainley's
have to do for now, though perhaps Ange
Mlinko's remarks in November are the quicker route to the heart of
the matter: "To be steeped in Schuylers lettersjust publishedis
to find ones own world suddenly wearing his colors; and it is a
more marvelous world for being all heart, sensibility, and well-written.
It overflows with references to books, movies, and music. It conjures
a world where people want to give one another pleasure, especially verbal
pleasure. It is, finally, a lost world, and one measure of how far we've
fallen is the recent shrinkage of what's intelligent to what's intellectual."
While in San Francisco for a few days at the end of November, I
found plenty of evidence that the world Ange considers lost is only hidingand
more often than not, as Schuyler is exactly the right poet to remind us,
hiding in plain sight. I glimpsed it in Kelly Holt's living room, where
I finally was able to meet Stephanie Young and to see so many friends
and acquaintances from whom the whole stupid country now separates me,
and I experienced it also over dinner with Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy
the night before, at a quiet lunch with Michael Palmer earlier that day,
at the 500 Club for cocktails and a Ramones-heavy jukebox with Chris Stroffolino,
Juliana Spahr, Bill Luoma, and Charles Weigl, and so on. Humor, intelligence,
warmth, and integrityalong with a healthy dash of hedonismare
the continued attractions of the poetry community to this day: to be in
the tradition of Schuyler and Mac Low is to enjoy them wherever you're
lucky enough to find them.
November Pop Comp - courtesy of the invaluable mp3
- Action at a Distance | The Arcade Fire - This Must Be The Place (live
cover) | Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye - Civilization | The Ataris
- Heave in Falling | The Honeydrippers - Impeach the President | Blackalicious
- Paragraph President | Langston Hughes - Freedom Road | Eddie Kendricks
- Girl You Need to Change Your Mind | Arto Lindsay - Q Samba | White
Stripes - Fell in Love with a Girl (live acoustic) | Aqualung - Strange
& Beautiful | Bettye Swann - Make Me Yours | Sleater-Kinney - I
Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone | Radiohead / Four Tet - Scatterbrain | Pavan
- Panik Mix | Depeche Mode - Clean (colder version) | Mark Putney -
Don't Come Around Here No More
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia | Dir.
Sam Peckinpah, 1974 | 112min | IMDb link
| La nuit la poésie: Poésie de France et des Etats Unis
| Featuring Jacques Roubaud, Rosmarie Waldrop, Keith Waldrop, Juliette
Valery, and Charles Bernstein | Emission du 01 Novembre 2004 | France
Culture | page link
| listen link
Fire | Dir. Deepa Mehta, 1996 | 108min Sundance
| IMDb link
dissent beckons / as the assent beckoned..."
Second October Pop Comp - courtesy of the invaluable mp3
- Love & Happiness | Improved Sound Ltd. - Leave This Lesbian World
| Air - Alpha Beta Gaga | Devendra Banhart - At the Hop | The Essex
Green - The Late Great Cassiopeia | Broken Social Scene - Almost Crimes
| Mouse on Mars - Substance | Galaxie 500 - Strange | Nouvelle Vague
- This Is Not a Love Song | Neil Young - Computer Age | Radiohead -
Cinnamon Girl (live cover) | Plastic Bertrand - Ca Plane Pour Moi |
Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater | Dungen - Festival | Saul Williams - Grippo
| Autechre - Lentic Catachresis
The Haunting | Dir. Robert Wise, 1963 | 112min TCM
| IMDb link
Psycho | Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960 | 108min TCM
| IMDb link
Tomson Highway | Performing excerpts and musical
numbers from his plays | Minsky Recital Hall, University of Maine | bio
To Kill a Mockingbird
| Dir. Robert Mulligan, 1962 | 129min | TCM
Red Sox win the world series
DJ John Peel has died of a heart attack while vacationing
in Peru | Guardian
Obit | Radio
Elaine Stritch At Liberty
| Constructed by John Lahr, Reconstructed by Elaine Stritch | Wilbur Theater,
The Sweet Smell of Success | Dir. Alexander
Mackendrick, 1957 | imdb
| Brattle Theater, Cambridge
new poetry link, Minor
American, and two new mp3 links: Aurgasm
and Royal Music.
Poetry Blogs - Determinate Negation Edition
Jack Kimball gets stereo-memic, crosscutting the New York Times and
the Poetry Project Newsletter: Since
the dawn of the film industry ... Since
the dawn of poetics. "How bizarre that Steve Evans would allow
this matter to enter into public parlance," said John Kinsella
a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University. "In situations
like this historically, it's not worthy of open discussion; you settle
outside very, very quietly."
makes me wonder if Buddy Cianci's Providence didn't shape more of my
imagination than I'd previously realized.
Spiegelman | In the Shadow of No Towers | New York: Pantheon,
2004 | 17 plates | $19.95
an 800-word review of Laura Moriarty's Self-Destruction
to the Notes page.
I've also added a few new links,
including Christopher Fritton's interesting Ferrum
Wheel site, the Political
Theory Daily Review, Steve Burt's live journal Accommodatingly,
and the Not Bored!
site (be sure to check out the Surveillance
Camera Players). I've also restored a link to Indymedia,
who've recently had their London-based servers confiscated by the FBI.
October Pop Comp - courtesy of the invaluable mp3
- Rivers of Sand Poto & Cabengo - Life in San Diego
Beth Orton - Carmella (Four Tet Remix) Ranier Maria - Breakfast
of Champions The Stranglers - Peaches The Fall - Clasp
Hands Gang of Four - Damaged Good (live in NYC 1979) Le
Tigre - On the Verge Tuxedo Moon - Chinese Mike The Detachment
Kit - Ricochet Franklin Bruno - Thin Weak Smile Jim O'Rourke
- Halfway to a Threeway The Fiery Furnaces - Crystal Clear
Supreme Nyborn - Rhymes of a Swiftmind RJD2 - The Takeoff
Memories - glimpses, mostly
(dir. Michael Gordon, 1963). The
Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (dir. Irving Reis, 1947).
Big Chill (dir. Lawrence Kasdan, 1983). Showgirls
(dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1995). The
Prizefighter and the Lady (dir. W.S. Van Dyke, 1933).
at Les Eurockeenes de Belfort, France, concert festival 2003.
Spahr and Jena Osman have created CHAIN
re:ACTION, a forum for the discussion and creation of political
poetry. And Barrett Watten embarks on a "one-year
plan": "Weekly posts of text and comment on poetics, media,
politics, and culture September 2004September 2005."
Point, John Latta suspends his Proustian researches long enough
to appreciate James Wagner's the
false sun recordings. And Harlequin
Knights calls attention to an Artforum article on the Bernadette
Corporation and Le parti imaginaire. Brian Kim Stefans talks
about /ubu with Mónica
de la Torre at The
Brooklyn Rail: "Thats the interesting question: can you
use processes that involve non human actors to create resonant works?
Cyberauthors are a bit focused on getting machines to do things for
them, like garage alchemists, but its not obvious that the results
will be very interesting literary works." And the slow
pirates manifesto turns another page at Sugar High! "Societyours,
now takes a form in which technology is not allowed to free one
from either labor or rent (here one recalls the fabulous futures promised
in the first half of the last century, wherein robots were going to
deliver unto us oodles of leisure time; funny how the gear kept coming,
but that particular offer was withdrawn into a titanium-plated silence).
The promise that tech is allowed to make now is that you can work anywhere
so as to live somewhere." The transplanted Lime
Tree takes root in Ashland. Dagzine
stirs from its exams induced dormancy. And I'll be taking a rest
from God Save My Blog
and Chatelaine's Poetics
for a spell. Wake me when the promo's over. It's forever ago
by now, but Mosses
from an Old Manse got me to put Colossal
Youth on the turntable for the first time in more than a year. It's
more or less one move all the way through, but it's a very nice move.
(If the permalink misleads you, scroll down to September 3).
Random Harvest | Dir. Mervyn LeRoy, 1942 |
125min | Screened on TCM
| IMDb link
shell-shocked World War I amnesiac (Ronald Colman) marries a music-hall
singer (Greer Garson), but a collision with a taxi makes him forget
her and return to his original family. James Agee compared watching
this 1942 MGM feature, derived from a James Hilton story, to eating
a bowl of shaving soap for breakfast, but it has a kind of deranged
sincerity and integrity on its own terms, and it acquired a slew of
Oscar nominations" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader capsule).
Colman's character can barely speak when Garson inexplicably
adopts him amidst chaotic armistice celebrations, but with her as muse
he attains articulation and in the still above holds his first check
in payment for an article he's written. The usual delusions follow,
but he's saved from monogamy, fatherhood, and a writing career by the
resumption of his old identity as heir to Random Hall.
Wednesday (and after)
The Thin Man (dir.
W.S. Van Dyck, 1934), all of After
the Thin Man (dir. W.S. Van Dyck, 1936), and some of Shadow
of the Thin Man (dir. W.S. Van Dyck, 1941). Part of TCM's
September focus on Myrna
Frank Rich | "How Kerry Became a Girlie-Man" | New York Times
| 5 September 2004 | link
Eduardo Mendieta | "America
and the World: A Conversation with Jürgen Habermas | Logos
Lapham | "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief
History" | Harper's | September 2004 | link
another class, the reading
Poetry Blogs, early in the era of "next blog"
cento at Konvolut M.
Silliman finds "a crispness to every sentence...that cannot
be faked" in David Perry's New
Years. While Hotel
Point gathers the ingredients for an unwritable essay on Silliman.
"What trampolines do to people" at Well-Nourished
Moon. And what insurance agents think when they hear the
word "trampoline" perfectly illustrated on Jimside.
"The fools that read precisely written letters are unnecessary,"
to Jack Spicer. As mystifyingly bad
book design is lamented at Cahiers
de Corey. It's Surrealism,
and more surrealism,
at Never Mind the Beasts.
School's in at Sharp
Sand and Humanophone.
"Well did you evah,"
asks One Good Bumblebee.
The money that wants you to mouth climate
change is normal at FSC.
recalls Bakunin: "He who desires to worship God must harbor no
childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his liberty
| Dir. Charles Chaplin, 1921 | 51min, aired on TCM
8pm| IMDb link
Poetry Blogs, AM from the links list
Press reviews Lyn Hejinian's The
Fatalist. While Hejinian's selection of The
Best American Poetry gets the once over at Awake
at Dawn on Someone's Couch & Equanimity.
Swing cuts Komunyakaa a break. Brand
New Insects comes through with a great chapbook roundup (23 August:
the permalink is returning a page in code view, alas). And dbqp
usefully establishes a Visual Poetry
Clippings blog. Elsewhere
empties a final Tokyo Notebook of uncanny phraseology. Embargopoets
celebrates Circumsference magazine's summer/fall
2004 issue. English
270 notes Ted Kooser's assumption of the laureate post. A
"minimal need to communicate" at Fait
Accompli. "Prepare yourself to feel helpless,"
That Glide of Memory Hole.
Shapely prose from the vault on the smartly redesigned Free
Space Comix. And new skins for Hotel
Point and God Save
My Blog as well. Gila
Monster liked Zach Braff's Garden
State. And Harlequin
Knights has the scoop on The
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson's next film.
Dark has a few choice words for soft-headed pacifists. Late
last week, S/FJ
M opened a debate about the quality of lyrics in recent rock that
seems sure to carry on for a while. It's April at Mexperimental
and mid-June at Laurable:
still I can't bring myself to consign them to the "dormant"
category. On the flipside: has the heat brought back the heathens?
At the very least, a divisible yeti is afoot in the monastery
from an Old Manse (22 August if the permalink steers you wrong).
notes (Mac OS9.1 using Netscape 7.02)I have to switch to IE to
read The Ingredient;
in Netscape the left column is huge and the text portion only partially
displays. Have to text zoom Black
Spring. Can't back-button out of Free
Space Comix. Permalinks have gone mising from Hotel
| Ayers Island Contemporary Arts Festival, 2004 | link
| BDN story
folks at Ayers Island want art to serve the total
surveillance state and attract visitors to a pre-cleanup
site. On Sunday, they got off to a good start.
Screen Memories ("goodbye Netflix focus, hello cable distraction"
edition): Notorious C.H.O.
(dir. by Lorene Machado, 2002). Interiors
(dir. Woody Allen, 1978). Elaine
Stritch at Liberty (dir. Rick McKay, 2002, DVD). Working
Girl (dir. Mike Nichols, 1988). Basic
Instinct (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1992). Blue
Crush (dir. John Stockwell, 2002). The
Birdcage (dir. Mike Nichols, 1996). And bits of many others:
Into Liquid (dir. by Dana Brown, 2003), September
(dir. Woody Allen, 1987), Blue
Velvet (dir. David Lynch, 1986), The
Accidental Tourist (dir. Lawrence Kasdan, 1988). Television:
Some episodes of The
L Word, a fair amount of VH1
Classic during commercials in other things. Lots of tennis
(mostly boiling down to Federer vs. Roddick), then lots of Olympics, including
Nicolas Massu's incredible five-set
victory over Mardy Fish for the gold in men's singles tennis.
the headphones: while writing, Raster-Noton
Archive 1.1 (click catalog entry for "limited"); while online,
between things, whatever Fluxblog
posts, and whatever I stumble across on the other mp3 blogs on my links
page, e.g.: "Chinese Mike" by Tuxedo Moon, Supreme Nyborn's
"Rhymes from a Swift Mind," Poto & Cabengo's "Life
in San Diego," "This is Not a Lovesong" covered by bossa
novists Nouvelle Vague, Betty Wright's Alston single "Babysitter"....
The summer issue of Nest & the ten-year
anniversary issue of Giant Robot.
Note: I've added annotations for several items that have been
listed here for a while but that I was too busy to say anything about
until now. See July 10, 17,
18, 21, as well
as the new entries at July 23 and 24.
why was I so busy, you ask? Because I was diligently writing up my "Field
Notes" for the backpages of The Poker 4, which is now out
with a lemon-lime cover certain to go perfectly with the gin and tonic
you're sipping as you read this!
by Anna Moschovakis, Cole Heinowitz, Aaron Kunin, Giuseppe Ungaretti
(trans. Robert Fitterman), Hoa Nguyen, Ange Mlinko, Nathaniel Tarn,
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Cedar Cigo, and Elizabeth Marie Young.
Interview with Ange Mlinko.
A response to Aaron Kunin by Juliana Spahr.
A letter from Kevin Killian.
Field Notes, October 2003-June 2004 by Steve Evans.
Reviews of books by Kent Johnson and Dale Smith.
single issue; $18 for three-issue subscription.
you're interested in getting a copy or subscribing, write to editor Dan
Bouchard at bouchard[at]mit[dot]edu or drop me a line at feedback[at]thirdfactory[dot]com.
Dir. David Cronenberg, 2003 |
DVD 99min | IMDb link
in earlier films by the Canadian director, the outside world mirrors
the interior climate with an intensity that gives you a claustrophobic
sense of being trapped in a closed system where every image has an ominous
coded meaning. Except for the bleached hair of a foul-mouthed prostitute,
the film's palette is all faded grays, greens and browns. The streets
are empty of people and of traffic, the halfway house nearly bare, with
sparsely strewn pieces of rickety furniture and crumbling wallpaper.
¶ When Mrs. Wilkinson draws Dennis a bath, rusty brown water spits
into the graying tub into which he crawls and curls up in a stupor.
Across the canal near the halfway house rises a sinister gas works.
Strange rumblings emanate from inside its tank, which glistens in the
moonlight like the shell of a giant night-crawling bug. The air of desolation
is deepened by Howard Shore's score, whose groans and scratches recall
the knottier chamber music of Shostakovich" (Stephen Holden, writing
upon the film's theatrical release in February 2003).
Retort | "Afflicted Powers: The State, the Spectacle
and September 11" | New Left Review
27 | May - June 2004 | 5-21 | on-line
edition | link
Boal, T.J. Clark, Joseph Matthews, and Michael Watts apply concepts
first articulated by the Situationist Internationalthe society
of the spectacle, the colonization of everyday lifeto the present
"At the level of the image...the state is vulnerable; and that
level is now fully part of, necessary to, the state's apparatus of self-reproduction.
Terror can take over the image-machinery for a momenta moment,
in the timeless echo-chamber of the spectacle, may now eternally be
all there isand use it to amplify, reiterate, accumulate the sheer
visible happening of defeat" (14).
"The logic of the pilots was part fantasy, we would argue, part
(proven) lucidity. We could reply to it by saying that the new terrorists
succumbed to the temptation of the spectacle, rather than devising a
way to outflank or contest it. They were exponents of the idea (brilliant
exponents, but this only reveals the idea's fundamental heartlessness)
that control over the image is now the key to social power. And that
image-power, like all other forms of ownership and ascendancy under
capitalism, has been subject to an ineluctable process of concentration,
so that it is now manifest in certain identifiable (targetable) places,
monuments, pseudo-bodies, icons, logos, manufactured non-events; signs
that in their very emptiness and worthlessness (the Twin Towers as architecture
were perfect examples) rule the imaginary earth; and whose concentrated,
materialized nullity gives terror a new chanceto frighten, demoralize,
turn the world upside down" (15).
"[W]e would argue that the present condition of politics does not
make sense unless it is approached from a dual perspectiveseen
as a struggle for crude, material dominance, but also (threaded ever
closer into that struggle) as a battle for the control of appearances"
"Weak citizenship, then, at the spectacular centre; and
weak states in the 'world economy' which the centre works endlessly
to exploit. A weak state is one whose local defences against imperial
control have (through the implanting of 'bases,' the rifling of natural
resources, the helping hand to local elites in the event of indigenous
revolt, and neoliberal penetration by the corporations) all been satisfactorily
dismantled. A failed state is one where the logic of abjection has been
carried, often imperceptibly, too farso that suddenly the 'flourishing'
economy shatters, the bribes no longer produce the shoddy goods, the
death rates climb, the effigies of Uncle Sam are paraded through the
streets, and up in the mountains or the university dormitories young
men and women cover their heads and study The Art of War"
"Of course, as materialists, we do not believe that one can
destroy the society of the spectacle by producing the spectacle of its
destruction. This is the nub of our tactical dissent from September
11, leaving aside our strategic rejection of terror as a political means.
But the present state does not share our scepticism, it seems. It feels
the cold hand of the image-event at its throat. It lives and relives
the moment that its machines always had lying in wait for itthe
violent rendezvous of speed with enormity, the non-human of technology
meeting the non-human of accumulation. As if Cheops himself had looked
on while the Great Pyramid was split in two by a bolt from the sun.
Just in time for Good Morning America" (20).
Dark's Sugar High! pointed me to the article. For some initial comments,
The Weather Underground | Dir. Sam Green and Bill
Siegel, 2002 | Docurama DVD | 92min
| IMDb link | Weather
of the temptations of spectacular terrorism in the face of an inexorably
murderous war state.... This fascinating documentary reconstructs the
collective process whereby a faction of SDS first captured that group's
name and functional apparatus and then proceeded with a campaign of
tactical terrorist violence meant to "bring the war home."
Driven underground after three people died in an explosion at a West
11th Street townhouse (formerly James Merrill's childhood home) in March
1970, the group continued its terrorist campaign even after the withdrawal
of US troops from Saigon in 1975, though with a diminishing hold on
people's attention. Unlike the Black
Panthers, many of whose members were jailed or slain under Cointelpro,
the white radicals of the Weather Underground (at least those profiled
here) not only walked away with their lives, they even experienced a
degree of "reintegration" with the society they had struggled
against: several are teachers, one owns a bar and was a contestant on
Jeopardy, etc. The film doesn't say as much about daily life
"underground" as it might, and it doesn't map the trajectory
back to ordinary, unrevolutionized, existence in any detail either,
but it does bring to the screen, indelibly, the contradictions faced
by US citizens who decide that their government has become an unsurvivable
proposition and take up arms against it.
Fahrenheit 9/11 |
Dir. Michael Moore, 2004 |
122min | IMDb link
this talked and written about is in a sense "pre-viewed" by
the time it reaches the provinces. While I was robbed of the chance
to respond spontaneously to Wolfowitz slurping spit onto his haircomb,
a few images did reach me without passing first through such a relay.
The debris, mostly sheets of paper,
swirling against a purple-gray dust haze, just after the towers went
down. The cocky assurance of the
Marine recruiters as they hustled Flint kids toward their destiny of
filling caskets and wasting away in rehab centers with lines like: "yeah,
well you need a lot of discipline in the music business, especially
after you make the million."
Footage that I'd nearly forgotten from the massive demonstration on
the day of Bush's inauguration.
Rick Perlstein | "How Can the Democrats Win?"
| Boston Review 29.3-4 | Summer 2004 | 6-13
wants to identify with an unfocused, disorganized, leaderless, sidelined,
fumbling, confused, losing, scared organization? Vote with it sometimes,
maybe, but identify with it?" (11)
"As President Clinton put it in the American Prospect interview,
'the public is operationally progressive and rhetorically conservative"
(12). From a footnote: "Presidential
politics has always been an arena of fear, a dark continent. Conveying
a political vision is almost always like telling a bedtime story: the
voters' fears must be named, described, to convince them that this particular
candidate is the one to vanquish the scary monster under the bedthat
this candidate, not the opponent, is the guarantor of security"
(13n23). The sickening condescension of this observation strikes me
as typical of the way political operatives think: Perlstein is no better
than his DLC rivals in this regard, and his vision no more inspiring
than theirs either, precisely because he conceives of it as a bedtime
story for cowering children. A gentleman, I'll leave it to oil thugs
like Dick Cheney to blurt out the appropriate expletives.
Anchorman | Dir. Adam McKay, 2004 | 91min | IMDb
July column "Happy Talk News Covers a War" tricked me
into giving this unrelievedly witless film a chance. Some in the theater
laughed at the braindead weatherman's lines, but otherwise even the
target audience (late teens) remained grimly unamused.
For a fan's take, see Unquiet
Patrick Cockburn | "Diary, Baghdad, 5 July 2004"
| London Review of Books | 22 July 2004 | 34-36
bombers, car bombs, and rocket attacks have paralysed Baghdad; the US
bases are defended by increasingly elaborate fortifications. The 14
July Bridge over the Tigris, which leads into the Green Zone, is blocked
by sandbags and razor wire. A notice hanging from the wire reads: 'Do
not enter or you will be shot.' US soldiers in Baghdad are trigger-happy
and they like Iraqis to know it. All over the city, streets are closed,
sometimes cutting of whole districts, by concrete blocks intended to
defend buildings that house American troops, foreigners, Iraqi police,
and Iraqi officials" (35).
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism | Dir.
Robert Greenwald, 2004 | 75min | DVD screened at MoveOn
House Party hosted in Bangor by the Peace
and Justice Center of Eastern Maine | IMDb link
| official site
agit-prop made on the fly and under the radar: unlikely to command interest
once the topical charge is spent, but a serious attempt to deprive Fox
News of such legitimacy as it commands in the present moment.
There were about eighty people in attendance on a sweltering (for Maine)
evening, mostly middle-aged and up, mostly in agreement with the film's
argument before the play button had been hit.
As with the Democratic caucuses in the spring, which filled the allotted
room in Orono's Town Hall to capacity and outstripped the party's ability
to supply forms to everyone, it's nice to see far more people in the
room than even the organizers had expected.
Botton | How Proust Can Change Your Life | New York: Pantheon,
1997 | 199pp | $19.95 | bought used for $8
extracting wisdom of a sort from Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
initially admired the cleverness implicit in disguising a critical book
as an advice column, but the repetitive structure of the chapters, not
to mention the decidedly un-Proustian preponderance of prattle over
actual profundity, soon enough made me impatient.
On revisability as one of the things that makes writing preferable to
friendly conversation: "As Proust went back over what he had written,
he repeatedly saw the imperfections in his initial attempt. Words or
parts of sentences were eliminated; points that he had judged complete
seemed, as he went back over the text, to be crying out for recomposition,
or elaboration and development with a new image or metaphor. Hence the
mess of the manuscript pages, the result of a mind perpetually improving
on its original utterances. ¶ Unfortunately for Proust's publishers,
the revisions did not cease once he had sent his handwritten scrawls
to be typed up. The publishers' proofs, in which the scrawl found itself
turned into elegant uniform letters, only served to reveal yet more
errors and omissions, which Proust would correct in illegible bubbles,
expanding into every stretch of white space available until, at times,
they overflowed into narrow paper flaps glued onto the edge of the sheet.
¶ It might have enraged the publisher, but it served to make a
better book. It meant that the novel could be the product of the efforts
of more than a single Proust (which any interlocutor would have had
to be satisfied with); it was the product of a succession of ever more
critical and accomplished authors (three at the very minimum: Proust
1 who had written the manuscript + Proust 2 who reread it + Proust 3
who corrected the proofs). There was naturally no sign of the process
of elaboration or of the material conditions of creation in the published
version, only a continuous, controlled, faultless voice revealing nothing
of where sentences had had to be rewritten, where asthma attacks had
intruded, where a metaphor had had to be altered, where a point had
had to be clarified, and between which lines the author had had to sleep,
eat breakfast, or write a thank-you letter. There was no wish to deceive,
only a wish to stay faithful to the original conception of the work,
in which an asthma attack or a breakfast, though part of the author's
life, had no place in the conception of the work, because, as Proust
saw it: A book is the product of another self to the one we display
in our habits, in society, in our vices" (115-17).
1 15 July
24: Season Two | 20th Century Fox | 6 DVDs | BBC
Guide (contains spoilers) | Fox site
Parallel Lines |
Dir. Nina Davenport, 2004 | Maine International
Film Festival, Bangor Screening | 98min | IMDb link
| official site
documents the six weeks Davenport spent traveling homein a generic
rental car, along back roadsto a New York City apartment that
formerly looked out on the World Trade Centers, from San Diego, where
she'd been finishing up a gig when the 9/11 attacks took place. Like
Agnes Varda in The Gleaners and I, Davenport
has a knack for insinuating herself into the lifeworlds of the strangers
she meets: as they respond to her own openness and empathetic directness,
the various people interviewed in the film find themselves confiding
more than they'd expected to. What one hears in their variously accented
voices is that life in the US consists mostly of bewildered suffering,
and what one learnsif one didn't know it beforeis that the
spectacular damage inflicted by Al Qaeda's brilliantly vicious psych-op
was a blow, but it landed as one in a long, intensely individuated,
sequence of blows, not as an event apart.
In comments following the screening, Davenport indicated that her hopes
of national distribution for the film were dwindling: it's a shame to
see such a smart, humane, and popularremember popular culture?
the one before commercial culture?shelved without receiving the
audience it deserves.
Tour de France
2004 | Daily Peloton
"Jambon Reports" | TDFblog
| Official Site
1-15, 2003 June
1-15, 2003 July 16-31, 2003
2003 September 2003
- December 2003
- February 2004
- June 2004
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