Monday, November 28, 2011

Quote of the day

In the night sky, at certain seasons when the Inner Moons are on the other side of our primary and the starry skies are clear, I can (I fancy) see the earth. A remote and insignificant spark of blue fire it seems from this distance; a tiny point of light lost amid the blackness of the infinite void. Can it truly be that I was born and lived my first twenty-four years on that blue spark—or was that life but a dream, and have I spent all of my days upon this weird world of Thanator? It is a question for the philosophers to settle, and I am but a simple warrior. —Lin Carter, "Jandar of Callisto" (at Grognardia)

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Infinite sentences

Living in a country occupied by the Russian army, deprived of my passport and so without any possibility of leaving, I found it very difficult to defend myself. I succeeded, nevertheless, in publishing a letter of protest in the Times Literary Supplement and even in bringing about the publication in Britain of a revised, complete version, that is, without deletions and with the chapters in their original sequence (Penguin Books, 1970). My satisfaction with this turned out to be only relative: a glance through the book showed me that the translation was still very free; for example, an obviously important matter of punctuation: Helena's monologue, composing all of Part Two, in which each paragraph is one long "infinite" sentence in my original, had been broken up into many very short sentences. I decided to close the book and know no more of it.
--Milan Kundera, "Author's Note," The Joke (Definite Version), 1992

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A list of stuff

1. At Shadowplay, David Cairns shares two pretty good tales out of Fred Zinnemann, An Autobiography.

2. An anonymous commenter at "my" Beatles blog, Hey Dullblog, turned me onto the videos of Michael Sokil, who has taught himself how to play the guitar, bass, drum, and piano parts to every Beatles song.

3. My old friend James Browning, now of Common Cause in Pennsylvania, talks about fracking with MSNBC.

4. This is just a list of stuff!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Paradoxes of self

My review of Lawrence Douglas's excellent novel The Vices—and my consideration of Lars Arffssen's parody, The Girl With the Sturgeon Tattoo—is now up at Bookforum:

Our narrator is so fluently revealing, even as he peppers his conversation with white lies, that it's a shock to realize that we never learn his name. Is he, in fact, not so much a narrator as a narrative device, a way to tell The Real Life of Oliver Vice? Douglas, or his surrogate, creates exceptionally memorable set pieces: a lust-and-magic-ridden party in commemoration of Beggars Banquet; a Christmas dinner in New York with Oliver's bewitching mother and corpulent, Churchill-worshipping brother. And though the novelist has a seamless voice, he allows other characters to reach us, unfiltered, via their correspondence. Oliver's frequent missives from abroad have the bitter-hilarious tang of a Thomas Bernhard rant:

But her apartment stinks of cigarettes, and I can't stand being there—the odor is so vile, it makes me physically ill. But here's the catch. The cigarette odor in S.'s studio is no different from the smell in my mother's apartment, which has never bothered me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I find the smell in my mother's apartment pleasing.

Even more impressive are the glimpses of Oliver's masterpiece, the Wittgensteinian treatise Paradoxes of Self. It's one thing for a novelist to invent a genius-author character; it's another order of difficulty to include excerpts of said genius's work that are brilliant enough to convince us of the character's literary chops. The five pages of Paradoxes of Self that Douglas presents—i.e., writes—are so good that you'll wish the book existed in full, on the shelf.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Triple Canopy - "Invalid Format"

Triple Canopy, "How to print an Internet magazine" from triple canopy on Vimeo.

I'm in this!


Which reminds me, when am I going to update


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Brothers Ouroboros

A Writer’s Diary is his miscellany of reactionary diatribes and editorials, over 1,400-pages long in the full two-volume edition, and for years I avoided it because I thought it must be insufferable. I assumed it was nothing but Dostoevsky riffing on the forgotten news stories of his time, devouring them to feed his extremism and intolerance. That turns out to be true as far as it goes, but I should’ve also realized Dostoevsky could never sustain his opinions without repeatedly coiling back and swallowing his own tail. —Kevin Frazier, Bookslut


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Music time

Unsurprisingly, for both men producing at such a rate resulted in works of varying quality. This reality, combined with Dickens’ and McCartney’s investment in audience response, led to ego-bruising encounters with criticism. Despite popular success, both men were stung by accusations of sentimentality and shoddiness, and both constructed a public persona as a screen for this vulnerability. Dickens cultivated his image as “Boz,” the friendly champion of the common folk, and McCartney has usually played the role of upbeat performer still in touch with everyday people. These personas are not lies, I would argue, but selective presentations of their real personality traits and values. Born performers, Dickens and McCartney strove to combine getting the audience and acclaim they needed with protecting a private life genuinely important to them. —"McCartney as the Dickens of Rock," guest blogger Nancy, Hey Dullblog

“He had a peculiar way of bending the strings,” Mr. Gibbons said, citing Mr. Hill’s linebacker build as the source of an audible physicality he brought to his sound. “The natural way of bending a string is pushing it upwards on the neck. Instead of pushing three or four times and getting a vibrato effect, he would push the note up to the higher note, return back to zero, and then pull the string down and it would stretch up to that same note. You have to be stronger than an ox to do it.” —"Finally, an Album for a Rock Star Who Never Was," Andy Langer, NYT

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Believer — the 2011 Art Issue

The new Believer is out—the art issue!

Check out Chinnie Ding's meditation on the meaning of the screensaver, and a conversation between James Franco and Carter. (There is a part with a Ouija board that made me laugh out loud.)

There are artists' paper airplanes inside...

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