Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Basically, arguments and facts I'm pretty familiar with but it is very good practice to refresh one's memory and find more sources. I took good notes for my winter intercession class, although I think I will use Angela Davis more than these folks.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I thought this movie was pretty ridiculous, although it was slightly intriguing. It takes place in Brooklyn during WWII and a modest, nondescript man living in a neighborhood of anti-semitic ignoramuses buys a pair of glasses that make him look Jewish. Because he wants to avoid trouble, he doesn't join in with the rabble rousers and they decide that he is a Jew lover and that his wife must be Jewish. I kept wondering why he didn't buy a new pair of glasses the second he was demoted at work. It seemed like a stubborn streak in his personality rather than a principled one, because he didn't seem to have that much of a problem with "real" Jews being harassed. The other thing that made no sense is why they cast Laura Dern as his Jewish-looking wife. She screamed shiksa. But she was supposed to be so Jewish looking that she couldn't get a job. And, she was the one who felt like if you can't beat them join them and wanted to make Macy fit in more, but she wore these flamboyant over-the-top outfits that also inspired hostility.
Still, there was something to the colorful, surreal, and noir-ish way it was filmed that held my attention. Although it really wasn't scary or creepy or tense even for a second.
Friday, November 23, 2007
But it was also very boring to me! I felt like I would rather read it. Or skip it entirely. But I definitely didn't want to listen to it. So I turned it off three quarters of the way through.
"Seems like everyone is sleep-walking through their waking state, or wake-walking through their dreams. Either way they're not going to get much out of it." Whatever.
Or, and better: "On really romantic evenings of Self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'd post some brilliant excerpts, but one can easily find them online, so I won't. Here:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It is a corny movie, and, when you think about it, a little creepy -- about the courtesan class raising a girl to be a high-class, uh, "courtesan"; a man who watched her grow up falls in love with her and arranges for her to be his "courtesan" and she is very upset. When she finally agrees, he feels like her spirit is being corrupted and so they get married. I don't know. I just don't know.
But the sets were so gorgeously over-the-top! And Leslie Caron was so beautiful. And I love that song, I Remember it Well between Maurice Chevalier and the woman who plays Gigi's grandmamma...
I don't want to say what it's about because it is one of those movies that unfolds in a choppy, back-and-forth kind of way that makes basic relationships come as a revelation.
I will give one thing away. This came as a big surprise, so don't read on if you care, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character does heroin and those scenes were in some ways the most upsetting. He played a creepy asshole, but he did it so well. Instead of hating him or feeling sorry for him I was just viscerally complicit in his self-hatred. Which is a very weird, and, like I said, unpleasant, feeling...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I just finished Brenda Coultas' The Marvelous Bones of Time: Excavations and Explorations. There is nothing like this book. The first part is a long poem exploring slavery in Kentucky and Indiana, and the poet's voice makes this history very personal, intimate, strange. Heritage and national history distilled through the unique individual. The rest of the book is comprised of prose pieces about various ghosts stories and hauntings, and is written in a sparse poetic style that again is unique and intimate, layered.
The rest of the book seems haunted by the first part of the book. The way I understand paranormal stuff is that there is mythic misperception that we have about the solidity of our reality, and that other possibilities, other presents, are somehow there. This is true, always in our mind. In memory and dream and weird associations and feelings we have in our body, and these get tapped into sometimes with greater clarity. Or, as a poet Brenda quotes thinks about "consensus reality" - "about what we as a society agree is real, and his feeling was that there are other realities, which sometimes cross over into ours". It's like a bleeding or seeping.
Here's an excerpt from The Robert Investigations:
"He met a man who asked him if he were yelling 'Annabella' in a weird voice. The man, who was wearing white shoes and a shiny dark suit, said that it might be disturbing to other visitors. Robert said, 'No, I was yelling, "Brenda"' and he demonstrated. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Robert saw something move, so he turned his head, nothing there. When he turned back around the man had vanished. Later, he realized that the shoes were from the disco era."
I couldn't find an image of the book's cover, which is gorgeous, so I used this image of a photograph of "ectoplasm" that was on display at the Met a few years ago.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
But I hadn't heard her read in such a long time. Maybe a decade. Could that be? She was an amazing reader. The first piece was a heart-wrenching exploration of grief that was done with a harmonium accompaniment. I usually don't care for the music/poetry pairing, but this was absolutely fabulous, it worked so well. Akilah's reading style is already musical, and the sounds just sort of buoyed her voice, helped carry it. The reading was in the sanctuary and it was amazing how her words filled the space. I am really glad I went to this reading, it was one of the best ones I've been to ever.
Here, from The Putterer's Notebook (out of context etc)
"where is your embodiment? this small obsession of becoming and collapse."
"What is the primary duty of repair?"
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Less principled in middle age, I have, at times at least, an increased ability to suspend disbelief. Of course The Fly is ridiculous, I realize, but I can move on from there and not be paralyzed by my own self-righteousness.
So, I didn't hate it this time around. I had completely forgotten how gross it was: arms broken with bones sticking out, ears falling off, Goldblum's face turning to an oozy mess, watery white vomit expelled from his mouth, pulling his own nails off with an expression of horrified wonder. I love the ideas Cronnenberg plays with, the biomorphic imagery, the invaded body, the false or shedding exterior. In The Fly, there is a dream sequence where Gina Davis gives birth to a giant maggot; at the end, Goldblum's shell is cracked open from inside by the metamorphosed giant insect. I was fascinated by the character's transformation and disintegration. At one point it seemed to mirror the normal aging and dying process that seems to be one loss after another. Goldblum watches his body fall apart, in a drastically speeded up and embellished version of what we all might go through in one way or another. We will still feel exactly the same inside, we will still be us, but our body will begin to decompose before our disbelieving eyes.
I have to say, Jeff Goldblum's eyes seemed more bug-like and creepy BEFORE the transformation. I mean, he was kind of weirdly insect life or not quite human from the beginning (I posted before and after transportation pictures so you can see what I mean).