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March 2004 Blog
A daily Weblog recommending not only CDs but books and films too. -- Wire Magazine, Feb 2003
Blogs I Read
http://www.sauer-thompson.com/conversations/ Philosophical conversations between two Australians Trevor and Gary, covering a wide range of philosophical topics. http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~aabb/plus9.html A daily, art-related, weblog from Osaka, Japan. http://www.geocities.com/headlobe/Blog.html My dear friend Dominique's blog http://www.mixoftheweek.com Pre-recorded, weekly mixes of soul, house, techno, dub and other groovy sounds. Consistent high quality.
2004, Mar 28; 21:24 :::: independent film
Down and Dirty Pictures : Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film (2004) - Peter Biskind (Author) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
You've heard the rumors. The film industry is filled with ruthless executives who think nothing of brow-beating their employees, of using creative accounting to cheat filmmakers, and re-cutting a director's vision into a soulless crowd-pleaser. Well, it turns out those rumors are often true--at least according to Peter Biskind's highly entertaining Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Packed with industry anecdotes and history, the book chronicles the growth and eventual mainstreaming of independent films and offers the back-story to seminal works including sex, lies, and videotape and Pulp Fiction among others. Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, divides most of his time between Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Biskind simultaneously credits these two as fostering, though ultimately ruining, the purity of indpendent film. Other indies are largely left out, although the now-defunct October Films appears prominently in the role of noble failure. Biskind has serious points to make, but he's not stingy with the war stories, either. (One particularly amusing scene involves October executives chasing Robert Duvall's agent through a Sheraton Hotel in an attempt to stop him from making a deal with Miramax to distribute The Apostle.) Those who have only a passing interest in the movie business may tire of Biskind's oft-repeated themes (Weinstein is an evil genius! Redford is a passive-aggressive control freak!) but for those who truly love film industry gossip, Down and Dirty Pictures is a feast of insider stories--each tidbit juicier than the last. --Leah Weathersby, Amazon.com
According to Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls), most people associate independent filmmaking with such noble concepts as integrity, vision and self-sacrifice. This gritty, ferocious, compulsively readable book proves that these characterizations are only partly true, and that indie conditions are "darker, dirtier, and a lot smaller" than major studios' gilded environments. The intimidating image of Miramax's Harvey Weinstein plows powerfully through Biskind's saga; the studio honcho emerges as... read more --From Publishers Weekly
It wasn't so long ago that the Sundance Film Festival was an inconsequential event somewhere in Utah, and Miramax was a tiny distributor of music documentaries and soft-core trash. Today, of course, Sundance is the most important film festival this side of Cannes, and Miramax has become an industry giant, part of the huge Disney empire. Likewise, the directors who emerged from the independent movement, such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David O. Russell -- who once had to max out their credit cards to realize their visions on the screen -- are now among the best-known directors in Hollywood. Not to mention the actors who emerged with them, like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman.
Down and Dirty Pictures chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers and of the twin engines -- Sundance and Miramax -- that have powered them. As he did in his acclaimed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind profiles the people who took the independent movement from obscurity to the Oscars, most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax an indie powerhouse. Biskind follows Sundance as it grew from a regional film festival to the premier showcase of independent film, succeeding almost despite the mercurial Redford, whose visionary plans were nearly thwarted by his own quixotic personality. He charts in fascinating detail the meteoric rise of the controversial Harvey Weinstein, often described as the last mogul, who created an Oscar factory that became the envy of the studios, while leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. As in Easy Riders, Biskind's incisive account is loaded with vibrant anecdotes and outrageous stories, all of it blended into a fast-moving narrative. Redford, the Weinsteins, and the directors, producers, and actors Biskind profiles are the people who reinvented Hollywood, making independent films mainstream. But success invariably means compromise, and it remains to be seen whether the indie spirit can survive its corporate embrace.
Candid, mesmerizing, and penetrating, Down and Dirty Pictures is a must-read for anyone interested in the film world and where it's headed. --Book Description
2004, Mar 28; 19:25 :::: dance
Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 (2004) - Tim Lawrence [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Opening with David Mancuso's seminal "Love Saves the Day" Valentine's party, Tim Lawrence tells the definitive story of American dance music culture in the 1970s—from its subterranean roots in NoHo and Hell's Kitchen to its gaudy blossoming in midtown Manhattan to its wildfire transmission through America's suburbs and urban hotspots such as Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark, and Miami.
Tales of nocturnal journeys, radical music making, and polymorphous sexuality flow through the arteries of Love Saves the Day like hot liquid vinyl. They are interspersed with a detailed examination of the era's most powerful DJs, the venues in which they played, and the records they loved to spin—as well as the labels, musicians, vocalists, producers, remixers, party promoters, journalists, and dance crowds that fuelled dance music's tireless engine.
Love Saves the Day includes material from over three hundred original interviews with the scene's most influential players, including David David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Tom Moulton, Loleatta Holloway, Giorgio Moroder, Francis Grasso, Frankie Knuckles, and Earl Young. It incorporates more than twenty special DJ discographies—listing the favorite records of the most important spinners of the disco decade—and a more general discography cataloguing some 600 releases. Love Saves the Day also contains a unique collection of more than seventy rare photos. --amazon.com
2004, Mar 27; 09:44 :::: Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer, From the Survival Series.
2004, Mar 27; 09:39 :::: 1500s
Vesalius, De Humani Corporus fabrica (1543).
2004, Mar 27; 08:27 :::: design
Glassware by Ettore Sottsass
2004, Mar 27; 08:20 :::: design
Carlton, Ettore Sottsass, 1981
2004, Mar 25; 09:10 :::: architecture
Johnson Wax Headquarters, Frank Lloyd Wright, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936
Johnson Wax Headquarters, Frank Lloyd Wright, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936
Fallingwater is the common name for the Edgar Kaufmann house of Bear Run, Pennsylvania, which was designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935.
2004, Mar 23; 23:04 :::: reggae
This was recorded in 1986 and originally released on the Heavyweight label (an offshoot of the Heavyweight soundsystem, based in the Wood Green and Tottenham areas of north London), featuring Chester Roots at the controls and his nephew Ackie at the microphone; also the helicopter sounds free with a Commodore 64.
2004, Mar 23; 18:21 :::: Manuel Delanda
2004, Mar 22; 21:48 :::: Arthur Russell
Maybe it's the millennium, or that dreaded post-modernism those "Late Show" types witter on about in the small hours, but in the last two decades music has been looking back to the past for it's inspiration, especially to music that perhaps didn't get the recognition it deserved first time around. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the ever changing world of dance music. Whether it's Hip-Hop, it's face pointed reverentially to the Old School, or House stealing Disco riffs by the truck load, people are increasingly intrigued by back-in-the-day. And common to both the aforementioned scenes and much more is one person - Arthur Russell, a man some regard as the best songwriter of the 20th century. --Chris Menist, Faith Magazine [accessed Mar 2004]
2004, Mar 22; 14:23 :::: Peter Zummo
Peter Zummo has been composing since 1967 and has performed his works for solo trombone and ensemble worldwide. He has pioneered new approaches to instrumental technique on the trombone. Choreographic commissions include Trisha Brown's Newark (with Donald Judd) and Lateral Pass, which won a Bessie award. Peter Zummo also performs and composes for the Downtown Ensemble and has developed and performed seminal works for many composers, including David Behrman, Rhys Chatman, Anthony Coleman, Dan Froot, Jon Gibson, Daniel Goode, Peter Gordon, Tom Hamilton, William Hellermann, Guy Klucevsek, Joan LaBarbara, Steve Lacy, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, Jon Lurie, Phil Niblock, and Arthur Russell. He has previously released the recordings Zummo with a X (Loris Records) and Experimenting with Household Chemicals (XI, 1987). -- Penumbra Music [accessed Mar 2004]
His music evokes Minimalism just waking; the hard, rational edges and crisp patterns haven’t yet come into focus. --Jon Pareles, New York Times
Experimenting with Household Chemicals explores a trombone-specific method for generating melodic movement, as well as a collection of related, “spinoff” melodic material for ensemble. This method is a new way of seeing and combining slide and lip movements, so that performance can precisely follow well-defined mental diagrams while generating unexpected melodic material not conditioned by other, more common musical habits. Musicians include: Mustafa Ahmed, Jon Gibson, Joseph Kubera, Dennis Masuzzo, Arthur Russell, Bill Ruyle, and Peter Zummo. --Album Description via amazon.com[accessed Mar 2004]
Peter Zummo is, in order: musician, trombonist, composer, band leader, producer, organizer and engineer. He has performed his works for solo trombone and ensemble worldwide. His work emerges from the contemporary classical tradition with a strong element of individuality and iconoclasm. Zummo explores this tradition in combination with or in juxtaposition to the so-called minimal, downtown, jazz, world music, ambient, avant-garde, folk and rock styles. He has pioneered new approaches to, and uses for extended instrumental technique on the trombone and also uses the valve trombone, didjeridu, euphonium, computers, synthesizers and other electronics in his music. His playing is characterized by a multitude of voices, many the result of non-standard muting, but many more as aspects of open playing, also with voice and lip multiphonics, and singing as well--producing some of the most engaging "new music" to come out of New York in the last twenty years. Plastics, both as mutes and horns, play a role. Zummo's compositions are built on melodic and rhythmic fragments, which are presented as lists to like-minded musicians who then pursue ensemble at the boundaries of common and extended practice. --highzero.org, [accessed Mar 2004]
Instrument training, trombone and other winds with the legendary Carmine Caruso. Also studied with Roswell Rudd, Jim Fulkerson, didgeridoo with Stuart Dempster, electronic music with Alvin Lucier, and was in the World Music program at Wesleyan University. Zummo's many compositions for ensemble (incl. Zummo Labs, the Environmental Combo, etc.) build on original melody and melodic fragments, generating interactive situations for musicians. Radical Filtering premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival, Semiotic Handgun premiered at Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors, Fast Dream at Boston Opera House. Many commisions and grants. Music for dancer Trisha Brown's Newark and Lateral Pass, and several other dance and theater works. --"Blue" Gene Tyranny [accessed Mar 2004]
2004, Mar 21; 10:41 :::: comics
Illustration par Jacques Tardi tirée de Voyage au bout de la nuit, le texte de Louis-Ferdinand Céline
2004, Mar 20; 09:28 :::: sexploitation
"What makes this story so strange is that all of the murders and deaths happened on October 15th. What makes this story even stranger is that most of the murders and deaths happened to the Kent brothers and their families." --A Night to Dismember (1983) - Doris Wishman
2004, Mar 15; 15:40 :::: grotesque
Giuseppe Arcimboldo's The Genius of Cooking (1569)
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 in Milan, Italy - 1593) was a distinctive and eccentric painter who is best known for creating portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruit or vegetables or flowers -- that is, he painted representations of these objects on the canvas arranged in such a way that the whole collection of objects formed a recognizable likeness of the portrait subject. In 1562 he became the court portraitist to Maximilian II at the Hapsburg court in Vienna, and later, to his son Rudolph II, both of whom seem to have much liked Arcimboldo's extraordinary portraits. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giussepe_Arcimboldo, Mar 2004
2004, Mar 15; 15:40 :::: movies
Lost in Translation (2003) - Sofia Coppola[Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]Like a good dream, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation envelops you with an aura of fantastic light, moody sound, head-turning love, and a feeling of déjà vu, even though you've probably never been to this neon-fused version of Tokyo. Certainly Bob Harris has not. The 50-ish actor has signed on for big money shooting whiskey ads instead of doing something good for his career or his long-distance family. Jetlagged, helplessly lost with his Japanese-speaking director, and out of sync with the metropolis, Harris (Bill Murray, never better) befriends the married but lovelorn 25-year-old Charlotte (played with heaps of poise by 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson). Even before her photographer husband all but abandons her, she is adrift like Harris but in a total entrapment of youth. How Charlotte and Bill discover their soul mates will be cherished for years to come. Written and directed by Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), the film is far more atmospheric than plot-driven: we whiz through Tokyo parties, karaoke bars, and odd nightlife, always ending up in the impossibly posh hotel where the two are staying. The wisps of bittersweet loneliness of Bill and Charlotte are handled smartly and romantically, but unlike modern studio films, this isn't a May-November fling film. Surely and steadily, the film ends on a much-talked-about grace note, which may burn some, yet awards film lovers who "always had Paris" with another cinematic destination of the heart. --Doug Thomas, amazon.com
2004, Mar 15; 15:36 :::: movies
Adaptation (2002) - Spike Jonze [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Saw Adaptation, a movie about orchids, brought to you by the people who did Being John Malkovich. It is a movie about writing (adapting a book into a movie) , about fantasy and imagination and storytelling. Lots of deep thoughts on life itself, the movie medium, genre theory, zoomorphism, Darwinism. It features drugs (loved Meryl Streep being high), car crashes, travels through time, twins and an extremely nice soundtrack by Carter Burwell with the Turtles' hit song Happy Together --Jahsonic, Mar 15, 2004
2004, Mar 13; 16:48 :::: no wave
Death Disco (2004) - Various Artists [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1. Death Disco - Public Image Ltd 2. Haile Unlikely - Steel Leg Vs The Electric Dread 3. I Love A Man In A Uniform - Gang Of Four 4. Journey - Delta 5 5. Warm Leatherette - The Normal 6. United - Throbbing Gristle 7. The Jezebel Spirit - Brian Eno/David Byrne 8. Yashar (John Robie Remix) - Cabaret Voltaire 9. Bob Hope Takes Risks - Rip Rig & Panic 10. Put The Punk Back Into Funk Parts I and II - The Higsons 11. Do The Wrong Thing - Lounge Lizards 12. Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!) - XTC 13. Why Can't I Touch It? - The Buzzcocks 14. Theme For Great Cities - Simple Minds 15. Hard Times - The Human League 16. (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang - Heaven 17 17. Let's Be Adult - Arto Lindsay & The Ambitious Lovers
Death Disco (Selected & Mixed By Ivan Smagghe) (2004) - Various Artists [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]1. Way Out 2. This Night (The Gus Gus Remix) 3. Test Four (Blackstrobe Live Edit) 4. Monochromatic (Technoclash Mix) 5. Get Real (Happy House Mix) 6. Tv Night (Elektrodub Version) 7. Stop (Nathan Wilkins & Midnight Mike Edit) 8. Let's Stop Marx 9. Six Million Ways To Live (Paul Daley Six Mil Version) 10. Luv Sikk 11. We Don't Play Guitars (Chicken Lips Dub) 12. I Walk (Superpitcher Schaffel Mix) 13. Breakout (Tiga Edit)
Hot on the Heels of the Glimmer Twin's "Serie Noire 2" Romp Through the Belgian New Beat Scene Comes France's Most Wanted Radio Hot and Compiler, Ivan Smagghe. Standing at the Crossroads Between Glamourous Parisian Hype and Musical Integrity, Smagghe Has Been on the Verge of Going Super Nova Since his Blackstrobe Recording Project Has Been Gaining Stong Critical and Clubland Acclaim. Now with his Own "Kill the DJ" Club in Paris, Blackstrobe Project and Trans Global Djing Schedule Ivan Smagghe Brings his Own Take for the Dancefloor, "Death Disco".
2004, Mar 13; 15:33 :::: art
MAX ERNST , HANS BELLMER , MAX LINGNER , HENRY GOWA ou FERDINAND SPRINGER
2004, Mar 13; 14:38 :::: art
Hans Bellmer, Tête de femme sur une tour, vers 1940.
2004, Mar 13; 14:20 :::: art
Ferdinand Springer, Ecorché I, 1939-1940.
2004, Mar 13; 14:18 :::: art
Les Yeux du silence - Max Ernst, 1943-1944
2004, Mar 13; 10:18 :::: Architecture
Ever since they were published - the first edition in the late 1740s, the second, even darker one in 1761 - Piranesi's monstrous images of prisons as cruelly proliferating mega-cities have inspired designers, writers and architects. As early as 1760 a spectacular set for Rameau's opera Dardanus copied one of Piranesi's boundless prison spaces. It was the beginning of a blackly glittering stage and film career for Piranesi's images, from Metropolis and Blade Runner to the moving staircases at Hogwarts. In today's architecture, you see Piranesi's imagination in Tate Modern, and London Underground's Jubilee line. --Jonathan Jones, http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/critic/feature/0,1169,931809,00.html [Nov 2002]
Piranèse, Deuxième frontispice - Le Antichità Romane, tome II
The film directors my parents worked with also read Planète; it was fashionable among the circle of friends my parents had. Square pages; about a hundred of them, printed not too small; a classy metallic bronze or green cover photo of some ancient statue on black background; and many illustrations inside: pen drawings by the most brilliant artists of the day, etchings by Renaissance masters, or else black and white photos, stylish but not snobbish. It was grand. I especially remember their enlarged details from some of the Carceri series by Piranesi (1720-1778) ; those "prison" interiors, with their strange architecture, and more anguish and sense of vastness than what Escher did in our century in a different mode. --Esther Rochon, http://www.sfcanada.ca/communique/RochonpieceEng1.htm [Mar 2004]
2004, Mar 13; 09:45 :::: Tanino Liberatore
Tanino Liberatore's Ranxerox
Ranxerox is a punk, futuristic Frankenstein, and with the under-aged Lubna, they are a bizarre Beauty and the Beast. This artist and writer team have turned a dark mirror to the depths of our Id and we see reflected the base part of ourselves that would take what it wants with no compromise, no apology - and woe to the person who would cross us. But it is all done with a black, wry, satyrical sense of humor. --Richard Corben
2004, Mar 11; 21:35 :::: Informationalism
Dancers create geometric patterns in Busby Berkeley's Dames.
2004, Mar 11; 10:12 :::: Nobuyoshi Araki
Araki by Araki: The Photographer's Personal Selection 1963-2002 (2003) - Nobuyoshi Araki (Photographer) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]ARAKI BY ARAKI is a record of the career of Nobuyoshi Araki, self-styled "photomaniac" and permanent enfant terrible of the Japanese art world. Published to mark the artist's sixty-third birthday on May 25, 2003, this volume features 2002 photographs covering his entire career from 1963 to 2002. Sex-trade voyeur, recorder of Tokyo cityscapes, chronicler of married life, or experimental photo artist - no matter what your image of Araki, this collection will reveal new aspects of his talent, as it traces his unique vision over forty prolific years. All the pictures were selected by Araki himself (who also provides an original commentary), making ARAKI BY ARAKI not only a comprehensive but highly personal overview of the artist's work to date. High quality color and duotone black and white printing ensure the highest standard of reproduction throughout. --From the Publisher
2004, Mar 10; 22:27 :::: Greg Tate
Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (2003) Greg Tate [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]Village Voice staffer Tate says this is a "book bent on making philosophical judgment calls regarding [rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix's] race, his romance, his tools"; a book "obsessed about the Blackness of Hendrix." So Tate and his informants munch on the "social meaning," "sexual mystery," and "scientific inquiries of Jimi Hendrix" to produce a "Jimi Hendrix Primer for Blackfolk." Whitefolk needn't feel left out, though, for Hendrix's adoration by whites is at the center of much of the discussion. Tate's own spiel runs out in 70-odd pages, after which he yields to various "witnesses" offering their insights and memories. Record producer Craig Street demonstrates forthrightness by remarking of Hendrix-influenced Led Zeppelin, "none of them are particularly strong on their own, but here are four guys who . . . form something powerful": straight talk, indeed, to Jimmy Page's and John Bonham's head-banging devotees. Though a little slapdash in places, this is thinking persons' rock criticism, commendably committed to understanding Hendrix's ongoing hold on his audience, and it should enliven any collection. Mike Tribby, via Booklist
2004, Mar 10; 22:05 :::: Loleatta Holloway
look, i'm gonna to talk to you. can i ask you a question?
i want everyone to be honest with me, ok?
i want everyone out here tonight that has ever loved, that lost before, to raise your hand.
let me see, it ain't no big thing!
all right! all right!
is there ANYONE out here tonight that has ever been with someone but was wishing you could be with somebody else??
see i know that some of y'all out here tonight wanted to raise your hand, but you standing in the situation whereas ... NEED I SAY MORE???
you see i asked the question once, really, i asked the question, i said is there anybody out here tonight that has loved and lost
a lady looked at me, really, a lady looked at me and she said, "mind yo damn tongue ... i haven't seen a man FINE ENOUGH or GOOD ENOUGH ... that i would WASTE MY TEARS and cry over him"
but you know what i told her? i said "bitch..."
"keep on living and and don't you dare die! cause you'll see, you'll get up one morning and you'll look into that same mirror you been looking into every morning ... and you'll see the ugliest mug, you ever seen in your life!!!"
you see, i'm so glad i found out it takes a fool to learn that love don't love nobody!
see a whole lot of these crazy mo-[crowd yells "fuckers"!] ... they can tell you "well honey, ain't nobody ever broke my heart, ain't nobody ever got my mind" ... THEY HAVE NOT LIVED YET. because if they live, and keep on ... keep on living and don't die ... somebody ... gonna ... TEAR ... THAT ... UP!!
CAN I GET A WITNESS???
let me tell you something, too! some never let someone know that they're gettin you down. you see if you let them know that they're gettin you down honey, they're gonna kick you!
don't bend over you'll get the shock of your life!!!
you see that sometimes that's what we do. when we fall in love, when we lose that certain ... that certain girl, that certain girl, that certain him ... we just don't wanna live no more. we just sit at home, we don't take a bath, we don't ... mop.
honey, don't do that.
THROW YOUR HAND UP IN THE AIR
HOLD YOUR WIG SO IT WON'T COME OFF
AND KEEP ON TRUCKING!!
you'll find out that don't no one monkey don't stop no show ... you probably was cryin cause they was ugly in the first place!
you see, i cried before, so those of you that know what it is to have cried, if you have found somebody that you care about today this song is for you. is there anybody out here tonight that in love?
let me see? no-one over here?!? oh, you s'posed to have your hand up, honey!!!
all you lucky people, you see this song is for y'all, because YOU ARE THE LUCKY ONES. --Loleatta Holloway , in a a rare live performance at Better Days
2004, Mar 10; 21:40 :::: Unica Zürn
2004, Mar 10; 20:37 :::: Unica
2004, Mar 10; 07:47 :::: art
2004, Mar 09; 22:58 :::: demi-monde
Phoenix: The Courtesans: The Demi-Monde in 19th-Century France - Joanna Richardson [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
2004, Mar 09; 18:41 :::: on now
2004, Mar 09; 17:25 :::: Charles Baudelaire
The Painter of Modern Life (1863) - Charles Baudelaire (Author) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
“The world—and even the world of artists—is full of people who can go to the Louvre, walk rapidly, without so much as a glance, past rows of very interesting, though secondary, pictures, to come to a rapturous halt in front of a Titian or Raphael—one of those that would have been most popularized by the engraver’s art; then they will go home happy, not a few saying to themselves, ‘I know my Museum.‘” --The Painter of Modern Life (1863), Charles Baudelaire
2004, Mar 08; 23:16 :::: H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft : Contre le monde, Contre la vie (1991) - Michel Houellebecq (Author)[Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]This short book, reprinted in the USA in its original French language, is an extended essay by author Michel Houellebecq (pronounced "Wellbeck") on the life and work of American author of the fantastic Howard Phelps Lovecraft. There have been other books about Lovecraft; science fiction author L. Sprague de Camp wrote an excellent study of the man, and S.T. Joshi's book is probably his definitive biography. What distinguishes this book is Houellebecq's uncompromising study (and, indeed, praise) for Lovecraft's personal eccentricities and the art they produced.
Lovecraft, in Houellebecq's essay, becomes a sort of secular saint, a man who eschewed money and sex in favor of a purified vision of life and art. A man, in short, whose work was something of an antipode to Houellebecq's own erotically-charged writing. Whereas Houellebecq expresses his almost gnostic disgust with the world and the flesh in lurid terms, Lovecraft demonstrated his disdain for those two motors that run the modern world by ignoring them.
The terrifying thing about Lovecraft was his refusal to find anything intrinsically worthwhile about ordinary human life. The life-denying religions take the same perspective, but usually temper it with a sense of compassion and an appeal to a higher realm. Lovecraft, however, was an atheist and a materialist. It is clear from his work that he believed that if there were any other realm of being in the universe it was doubtless even more evil and degraded than our own.
Houellebecq is admiringly frank about Lovecraft's racism, his masochistic personality, his elitism and misanthropic view of the world. These things, he suggests, were not hindrances to Lovecraft's art, but rather the very thing that drove him forward. Houellebecq disdains any psychologically reductive explanation of Lovecraft's talent; no "fishing in the dark blue sea of the unconscious" for him. Some readers may find the book superficial for this reason, but I consider it a gem. Houellebecq's admiration for Lovecraft gives the book an almost hypnotic appeal. -- beakus via amazon.com
2004, Mar 07; 21:57 :::: erotic books
Thomas Ruff Nudes (2003) Thomas Ruff (Photos), Michel Houellebecq (text) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Girls, girls, girls. And well-endowed boys. They're the subjects of Thomas Ruff Nudes, a book of photographs by a well-known German artist best known for his searching images of faces, night skies and architecture. The new photographs were pulled off Internet porn sites and enlarged, colored and blurred by the artist. The fascinating thing about these nudes is the way the indistinct tumble of imagery replicates the physical sensation of sex. Everything is hazy, incomplete, replete with longing--a giddy carnival of orifices and sex organs. Skin is suffused with the blush of sexual arousal. Women offer themselves to unseen men and to one another. Some might say that Ruff is "making a statement" about the easy availability of pornography. Nonsense. He is documenting, in his painterly way, the elemental human urges that attract us to each other’s flesh. The most interesting images in the book are the most abstract, revealing sexual appetite as the eternal pursuit of another body’s knobs and holes. Accompanying the photographs is an earthy, supposedly fictional, fragment by the controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq. The narrator reminisces about the years when he and his wife visited sex clubs on the Riviera. He writes of "dark rooms where people make love without choosing partners, submerged in the flux of tactile sensation." This is the world of Ruff's most successful photographs, a place where the staginess of pornography is transformed into the realm of pure desire. --Cathy Curtis, Amazon.com
2004, Mar 07; 14:42 :::: art
Die Abfahrt (departure), 1933, Max Beckman
2004, Mar 06; 13:25 :::: penis
Undressing - Hans Bellmer
2004, Mar 05; 23:19 :::: degenerate art
Portrait of Journalist Sylvia Von Harden, 1926 - Otto Dix
Otto Dix (1891-1969) was a German expressionist and anti-war painter and a veteran of First World War. His most famous paintings were Metropolis (1928) and a 1932 triptych Trench Warfare.
Otto Dix was born in Untermhaus, Germany, now a part of the city of Gera. In 1910 he entered the Dresden School of Arts and Crafts and supported himself as a portrait painter.
When the First World War erupted, Dix enthusiastically volunteered for the German Army. He was taken to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the fall of 1915 he was assigned as a non-commissioned officer of a machine-gun unit in the Western front and took part of the Battle of Somme. He was seriously wounded several times. In 1917 his unit was transferred to the Eastern front until the end of hostilities with Russia. Back in the western front, he fought in the German Spring offensive. He earned the Iron Cross and reached the rank of vice-sergeant-major. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Dix, Mar 2004
When nazis came to power in Germany, they regarded Dix as degenerate artist and had him sacked from his post as an art teacher in Dresden Academy. He moved to Lake Constance. Dix's paintings The Trench and War cripples were exhibited in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art. They were later burned. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Dix, Mar 2004
Dix embraced every aspect of reality including its negative side. He was a critical and curious investigator who had a wicked sense of humor that contained a strong element of the grotesque. He often juxtaposed Horror and Humor. He had a particular interest in tattoos and believed that the face and hands revealed the most about human character. --http://www.germanexpressionism.com/printgallery/dix/, accessed Mar 2004
2004, Mar 04; 11:25 :::: grotesque
Old Woman. (The Queen of Tunis). c. 1513. Oil on panel. National Gallery, London, UK
Quentin Matsys, also known as Quentin Massys, Quentin Metsys or Kwinten Metsys, was a painter in the Flemish tradition, founder of the Antwerp school. He was born about 1466 and died in 1530.
His works include A Portrait of an Elderly Man (1513), The Money Changer and His Wife (1514), and The Ugly Duchess (1515)
The Ugly Duchess is perhaps the best-known of his works. It served as a basis for Sir John Tenniel's depiction of the Ugly Duchess in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is probably not a depiction of any one model, though it is sometimes said to be a portrait of Margaret, Duchess of Carinthia, also known as Margaret Maultasch (“Satchel-mouth”).
Two of his sons, Jan Matsys and Cornelis Matsys, were also painters. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Matsys, Mar 2004
And this excitable nervousness made him particularly sensitive to the ridiculous side of things. He had a sense of the grotesque, of caricature, of the droll and the hideous, which is displayed in his figures of old men, of executioners. And this made him a wonderful genre painter. His "Banker" and his "Money Changers" inaugurated in the Flemish School the rich tradition of the painting of manners. He had a pupil in this style, Marinus, many of whose pictures still pass under his name. --CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Quentin Massys, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10037c.htm, accessed Mar 2004
2004, Mar 03; 13:35 :::: Stephen King
Danse Macabre (1981 - Stephen King [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
more here, among which an Amazon review by Fiona Webster
2004, Mar 02; 18:51 :::: death
Triumph of Death, 1562, Pieter Brueghel the Elder
"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." --Voltaire
2004, Mar 02; 10:04 :::: Catherine Breillat
Romance (1999) - Catherine Breillat [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Possibly the most sexually explicit movie to hit the art-house circuit (although not as explicit as standard porn), Romance received a tremendous amount of critical acclaim when it was released, and made several film critics' Top Ten list for 1999. An intensely sexual woman is in an unhappy relationship with a man who refuses to have sex with her, and begins an exploration of casual, anonymous, sometimes kinky sex. Complex, intelligent, and sometimes disturbing, Romance takes sex seriously, acknowledging it as a powerful and legitimate part of life and giving it a respect rarely seen in mainstream or even art-house films. This is also porn star Rocco Siffredi's first foray into more-or-less mainstream film, and we hope it's not his last -- he proves himself to be a talented actor with a definite screen presence. This reviewer wasn't personally all that crazy about the movie (too much existential ennui for her taste); but then, she almost never likes French cinema, and lots of people she likes and respects thought it was brilliant. --http://www.blowfish.com/catalog/videos/art_movies.html
2004, Mar 02; 09:30 :::: Slavoj Zizek
Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (October Books) (1992) - Slavoj Zizek [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]This book is very interesting but I think it would have been better to call it "An Introduction to Popular Culture through Jaques Lacan". This would be a proper title because Zizek dedicates more space to tell us what some products of popular culture are about (i.e. Stephen King's novel "Pet Sematary"; Robert Sheckley's short story "The Store of the Worlds") than to explain, or even outline, the theories of Jaques Lacan. This in itself is not a critique, I just want to say that the title can be misleading. You will not find here an explanation or an introduction to Lacan, but rather a Lacanian reading or interpretation of some products of popular culture (novels, short stories and films.) If you are looking for an easy or brief rendering of Lacan, this book will not be of much help. Moreover, I would say that the readers who will profit the most are those who are already familiar with, or at least know something about, Lacanian thought. This said, I think that Zizek's Lacanian reading of popular works is very good in some cases, and somewhat poor in others. For example, he recalls the novel "Pet Sematary" but he explains almost nothing about it. The good cases, however, make it worth the effort to read the book (Zizek's writing is complicated, but so is Lacan's), and even if you do not agree with some of his points, they are still useful to encourage thought and discussion. If you are interested in the study of popular culture, the interpretation of film and literature, or in the application of Lacanian theory to social analysis, this book will certainly be of use. --macpazfink via amazon.com
2004, Mar 01; 22:37 :::: Laura Mulvey
Visual and Other Pleasures (Theories of Representation and Difference) - Laura Mulvey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]This paper intends to use psychoanalysis to discover where and how the fascination of film is reinforced by pre-existing patterns of fascination already at work within the individual subject and the social formations that have molded him. It takes as a starting point the way film reflects, reveals, and even plays on the straight, socially established interpretation of sexual difference which controls images, erotic ways of looking, and spectacle. It is helpful to understand what the cinema has been, how its magic has worked in the past, while attempting a theory and a practice which will challenge this cinema of the past. Psychoanalytic theory is thus appropriated here as a political weapon, demonstrating the way the unconscious of patriarchal society has structured film form. --Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) [...], Laura Mulvey, Originally Published - Screen 16.3 Autumn 1975 pp. 6-18
2004, Mar 01; 14:43 :::: hunger
Sult aka Hunger (1890) - Knut Hamsun [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Knut Hamsun (August 4, 1859 - February 19, 1952) was a leading Norwegian author, born in Lom under the name of Knud Pedersen.
He first received acclaim for his 1890 novel Sult, translated as Hunger. The work, which is semi-autobiographical, described a young writer's descent into near madness as a result of hunger and poverty. In many ways, the novel presages the writings of Franz Kafka and other twentieth-century novelists, who explored the madness of the contemporary human condition. The book has since become one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.
Other important works by Hamsun include Pan (1894) and The Growth of the Soil (1917), for which he received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1920.
Despite his immense popularity in Norway and around the world, Hamsun's reputation waned considerably because of his support of Vidkun Quisling's Nazi regime during World War II. Following a meeting with Joseph Goebbels in 1943, he sent Goebbels his Nobel Prize medal as a gift. On the other hand, he also met with Adolf Hitler and tried to have him remove Josef Terboven from the position of Reichskommissar of Norway.
After the war, he was confined for several months in a psychiatric hospital for tests to determine his sanity. However, in 1948 he was fined 325,000 kroner for collaboration. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_Hamsun, Feb 2004
2004, Feb 29; 16:31 :::: William Gibson
Neuromancer (1984) - William Gibson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
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