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2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: Seurat

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886) - Seurat

Georges-Pierre Seurat (December 2, 1859–March 29, 1891) was a French painter, the founder of Neoimpressionism. His large work Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is one of the icons of the 19th century painting. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Seurat [May 2006]

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte) is Georges Seurat's most famous work, and is an example of pointillism that is widely considered to be one of the most remarkable paintings of the 19th century, belonging to the Post-Impressionism period. (The island is in France near the Seine.) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Afternoon_on_the_Island_of_La_Grande_Jatte [May 2006]

See also: 1886 - 1880s - modern art - post-impressionism

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: The First Moderns : Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought (1998) - William R. Everdell

The First Moderns : Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought (1998) - William R. Everdell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In the early 1870s, mathematicians like Cantor and Dedekind discovered the set and divided the mathematical continuum; in 1886, Georges Seurat debuted his visionary masterpiece, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"; by the end of 1900, Hugo de Vries had discovered the gene, Max Planck had laid claim to the quantum, and Sigmund Freud had laid bare the unconscious workings of dreams. Throughout the worlds of art and ideas, of science and philosophy, Modernism was dawning, and with it a new mode of conceptualization. With astounding range and scholarly command, William Everdell constructs a lively and accessible history of nascent Modernism -- narrating portraits of genius, profiling intellectual breakthroughs, and richly evoking the fin-de-siecle atmosphere of Paris, Vienna, St. Louis, and St. Petersburg. He follows Picasso to the Cabaret des Assassins, discourses with Ernst Mach on the contingency of scientific law, and takes in the riotous premiere of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'. But how are we to define the inception of an era predicated upon such far-flung and radically disparate innovations? Everdell is careful not to insist on the creative interrelation of these events. Instead, what for him unites such germinally modernist achievements is a profound conceptual insight: that the objects of our knowledge are - contrary to the evolutionary seamlessness of nineteenth-century thought -- discrete, atomistic, and discontinuous. The gray matter was found to be made out of neurons, poems out of disjunctive images, and paintings out of dots of color, all by innovators whose worlds were just beginning to align. Theoretically sophisticated yet marvelously entertaining, "The First Moderns" offers an invigorating look at the unfolding of an age.

See also: 1870s - 1880s - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - Modernism - science

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (1983) - Stephen Kern

The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (1983) - Stephen Kern [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Stephen Kern writes about the sweeping changes in technology and culture between 1880 and World War I that created new modes of understanding and experiencing time and space.

See also: 1880s - 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - culture - time - space

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: Six degrees

Jahsonic is not linked at Wood s Lot nor at Cipango but all are featured at the Giornale Nuovo

Jahsonic is not linked at The Reading Experience but all are featured at philosophical conversations

Jahsonic is not linked at Blissblog nor K-punk but both all are featured at popyourfunk

Jahsonic is not linked at Dadanoias but connected to it via PCL Linkdump and notes from somewhere bizarre

Jahsonic is featured at cold-me.net and so are Steven Shaviro and Blissblog and K-punk.

Reza Negarestani, Iranian writer, working in diverse fields of contemporary theory, ancient Greek and contemporary philosophy, occulture and politics. He has extensively participated in online theoretical projects since 2000. He is also the co-founder and contributor of |Hyperstition|, a research group developed through the synthesis of Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) – the distinguished renegade theoretical entity originally emerged from The University of Warwick – and Cold Me. Forthcoming books GAS: The Necronomicon of Deleuze and Homo-stasis. He is currently working on a theoretico-fictional book with Nick Land, author of The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (Routledge, 1992) --http://www.cold-me.net/parts/single-pages/contact.html [May 2006]

See also: links - network

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986) - Friedrich A. Kittler

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986) - Friedrich A. Kittler [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Card catalog description
Part technological history of the emergent new media in the late nineteenth century, past theoretical discussion of the responses to these media - including texts by Rilke, Kafka, and Heidegger, as well as elaborations by Edison, Bell, Turing, and other innovators - Gramphone, Film, Typewriter analyzes this momentous shift using insights from the work of Foucault, Lacan, and McLuhan. Fusing discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and media theory, and the author adds a vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between electronic literacy and poststructuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by our technologies.

1900 advertisement for Berliner Gram-o-phone

Advertisement for the Edison New Standard Phonograph, in Harper's, September 1898.

Technocriticism is a branch of critical theory devoted to the study of technological change.


Figures engaged in technocritical scholarship and theory include Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour (who work in the closely related field of science studies), N. Katherine Hayles (who works in the field of Literature and Science), Phil Agre and Mark Poster (who work in the closely related field of information studies), Marshall McLuhan and Friedrich A. Kittler (who work in the closely related field of media studies), Susan Squier and Richard Doyle (who work in the closely related field of biomedical studies), and Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, and Michel Foucault (critical theorists and philosophers who sometimes wrote about technology). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocriticism [May 2006]

See also: gramophone - film - modernism - new media - technology

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: Etienne-Jules Marey: A Passion for the Trace (1992) - François Dagognet

Etienne-Jules Marey: A Passion for the Trace (1992) - François Dagognet [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), the brilliant French physiologist, developed photographic techniques for the study of animal locomotion that directly influenced the invention of cinematography. His work and the images he created are among the very sources of modernity, yet his own history and background remain obscure. Marey's strange story emerges in this fascinating account of a voyage of scientific and aesthetic study that would have reverberations in many aspects of modern culture. Dagognet, a philosopher, focuses on the meaning of Marey's work, on being able to capture a trace of the usually invisible world of motion, for aesthetics and science.

Marey succeeded Claude Bernard (whose passion for recording opened the frontiers of cinema and modern art) at the Academy of Sciences. There his central preoccupation led Marey to search out increasingly accurate and sensitive methods for "fixing" motion so that its details could be studied. Around 1880 and after a meeting with Muybridge, it became clear that photography, the possibility of a snapshot, would furnish Marey with the ideal instrument for his studies. Not only the gallop of a horse but also the flight of bird, the quivering of insect wings, the bounce of a ball, the slightest of turbulences - all could all be made to stand still: from the invisible came the image.

François Dagognet teaches epistemology at the University of Lyon. Among his previous publications are Philosophie de l'image and Rematérialiser. Zone 6: Incorporations includes his essay "Toward a Biopsychiatry."

Étienne-Jules Marey (1830 – 1904) was a French scientist and chronophotographer. His work was significant to the development of cardiology, physical instrumentation, aviation, cinematography and the science of labor photography. He is widely considered to be a pioneer of photography and an influential pioneer of the history of cinema. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etienne-Jules_Marey [May 2006]

See also: early film - animation - photography - science

2006, May 22; 19:05 ::: Modernism and technophobia

A loud collision between aesthetics and technology resounded at the start of the twentieth century. High modernism, instinctively resisting machines and their growing sway over society, exuded a “technophobia,” a guarded suspicion of the mechanical. Although the Italian futurists did celebrate technology at this time, proponents of high modernist literature avoided any conspicuous cult of the machine or speed. For many modernists, the written word conveyed a personal, subjective reality, while motors and mechanical means of reproduction signified a mass-oriented, unrefined sensibility. Subsequently, numerous critics over the years have juxtaposed high modernist aesthetics with the century’s onslaught of machines. As the story goes, modernist literature steadfastly resisted this dehumanizing technology and its ostensible dulling of the senses.

Although modernism paralleled and even documented the rise of technology in the twentieth century, relatively few critics have seen technological breakthroughs as in fact enriching the substantive and formal innovations of high modernist prose.  But as Sarah Danius argues in The Senses of Modernism: Technology, Perception, and Aesthetics, this anti-technology bias has ignored, or at least clouded, an important series of artistic transformations that occurred in literature in the early part of the twentieth century.  Modes of perception and the manner in which the written word could convey the modern world soon began to conform to new notions of speed, sound, and vision, all the result of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century technological innovation.  In modernist literature’s “crisis of the senses,” as Danius calls it, artistic modes of experience could not help but adapt to and exploit the mechanized, accelerating world.--Tim Harte, 2003 via http://www.brynmawr.edu/bmrcl/Summer2003/Danius.html [May 2006]

Sara Danius' main research interests include the social history of literary forms, with a particular focus on realism and modernism. She is currently at work on a book on nineteenth-century realism and the art of making things visible. Designed as a prehistory of modernism, the project takes a closer new look at the novel from Stendhal and Balzac to Flaubert by inquiring into an undertheorized subject: the strong affinity between realism and the visible. --http://www.littvet.uu.se/danius.htm [May 2006]

See also: Sara Danius - Modernism - High Modernism - Modernist literature

2006, May 21; 19:05 ::: The Last Laugh (1924) - F.W. Murnau

The Last Laugh (1924) - F.W. Murnau [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: silent film - laughter - F.W. Murnau - German cinema - 1924

2006, May 21; 19:05 ::: Blaxploitation and kung fu

1973 marked the beginning of the one-two combination of Blaxploitation and kung fu. It happened when taekwondo champion Jim Kelly appeared in Bruce Lee's penultimate film Enter the Dragon (Dir. Robert Clouse, 1973). Kelly proved to be a popular character actor that he would sign with Warner Brothers for a few more action film, thus creating the first crossing over of these two prolific genres. Kelly would star in Black Belt Jones (Dir. Robert Clouse, 1974), Golden Needles (Dir. Robert Clouse, 1974), and Three the Hard Way (Dir. Gordon Parks, 1975). He would go on to appear in a few more action films, including a Hong Kong feature titled The Tattoo Connection (Dir. Lee Tso-Nam, 1978). --http://www.megspace.com/entertainment/highimpact/articles/blaxploitationkungfu.html [May 2006]

See also: kung fu - blaxploitation

2006, May 21; 19:05 ::: Sense of Place

In search of a philosophy of space and place.

Sense of Place is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not. It is often defined as those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.

Geographic place

To understand sense of place, we first need to define the geographic concept of place. To do that, we need to understand geographic space. Geographic space is the space that biological life move through that encircles our planet. It is differentiated from 'outer space' and 'inner space' (inside our minds). One definition of place, proposed by geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, is that a place comes into existence when humans give meaning to a part of the larger, undifferentiated geographic space. Anytime we identify or give a name to a location, we separated it from the undefined space that surrounds it. Some places, however, have been given stronger meanings, names or definitions by society than others. These are the places that are said to have a strong "Sense of Place."

Geographers and place

Cultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or peoples. Places that have a strong 'sense of place' have a strong identity and character that is deeply felt by both its inhabitants, and often for visitors. Sense of place is a social phenomenon that exists independent of any one individual's perceptions or experiences. Such a feeling may be derived from the natural environment, but is more often made up of a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape, which includes the people who occupy the landscape. The sense of place may be strongly enhanced by the place being written about by poets and novelists, or portrayed in art or music.


Places that lack a 'sense of place' are sometimes referred to as 'placeless' or 'inauthentic.' Placeless landscapes are those that have no special relationship to the places in which they are located -- they could be anywhere. Roadside strip shopping malls, gas/petrol stations and convenience stores, fast food chains, and chain department stores are often cited as examples of placeless landscape elements. Even some historic sites or districts that have been heavily commercialized (commodified) for tourism and new housing estates are sometimes defined as having lost their sense of place. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_of_place [May 2006]

See also: escapism - Peter Sloterdijk - places - space - Gaston Bachelard

2006, May 21; 19:05 ::: Spirit of place

In search of a philosophy of space and place.

Spirit of place refers to the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of a place; often those celebrated by artists and writers, but also those cherished in folk tales, festivals and celebrations. It is thus as much in the invisible weave of culture (stories, art, memories, beliefs, histories, etc) as it is the tangible physical aspects of a place (monuments, boundaries, rivers, woods, architectural style, rural crafts styles, pathways, views, etc) or its interpersonal aspects (the presence of relatives, friends and kindred spirits, etc).

Often the term is applied to a rural or a relatively unspoiled or regenerated place - whereas the very similar term sense of place would tend to be more domestic, urbanist, or suburban in tone. For instance, one could sensibly apply 'sense of place' to an urban high street; noting the architecture, the width of the roads and pavements, the plantings, the style of the shop-fronts, the street furniture, etc. - but one could not really talk about the 'spirit of place' of such an essentially urban and commercial environment. It must be noted, however, that an urban area that looks faceless or neglected to an adult may have deep meaning in children's street culture.

The Roman term for spirit of place was Genius loci, by which it is sometimes still referred. This has often been historically envisaged as a guardian animal or a small supernatural being (puck, fairy, elf, etc) or a ghost. These beliefs have been discarded in the modern world; but a new layer of less-embodied superstition on the subject has arisen around ley lines, feng shui and suchlike.

The western cultural movements of Romanticism and Neo-romanticism are often deeply concerned with creating cultural forms that 're-enchant the land', in order to establish or re-establish a spirit of place.

Modern earth art (sometimes called environment art) artists such as Andy Goldsworthy have explored the contribution of natural/ephemeral sculpture to spirit of place.

Many indigenous and tribal cultures around the world are deeply concerned with spirit of place in their landscape. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_of_place [May 2006]

See also: escapism - Peter Sloterdijk - places - space - Gaston Bachelard

2006, May 21; 19:05 ::: The Fate of Place : A Philosophical History (1998) - Edward Casey

In search of a philosophy of space and place.

The Fate of Place : A Philosophical History (1998) - Edward Casey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
In this imaginative and comprehensive study, Edward Casey, one of the most incisive interpreters of the Continental philosophical tradition, offers a philosophical history of the evolving conceptualizations of place and space in Western thought. Not merely a presentation of the ideas of other philosophers, The Fate of Place is acutely sensitive to silences, absences, and missed opportunities in the complex history of philosophical approaches to space and place. A central theme is the increasing neglect of place in favor of space from the seventh century A.D. onward, amounting to the virtual exclusion of place by the end of the eighteenth century. Casey begins with mythological and religious creation stories and the theories of Plato and Aristotle and then explores the heritage of Neoplatonic, medieval, and Renaissance speculations about space. He presents an impressive history of the birth of modern spatial conceptions in the writings of Newton, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant and delineates the evolution of twentieth-century phenomenological approaches in the work of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Bachelard, and Heidegger. In the book's final section, Casey explores the postmodern theories of Foucault, Derrida, Tschumi, Deleuze and Guattari, and Irigaray. --from the publisher

And from Peter Sloterdijk's website:

"Spheres are the spaces where people actually live. I would like to show that human beings have, till today, been misunderstood, because the space where they exist has always been taken for granted, without ever being made conscious and explicit.

And this lieu or space I call a sphere in order to indicate that we are never in fact naked in totality, in a physical or biological environment of some kind, but that we are ourselves space-creating beings, and that we cannot exist otherwise than in these self-animated spaces."

See also: Peter Sloterdijk - places - space - Gaston Bachelard

2006, May 19; 20:05 ::: Critique of Cynical Reason (1983) - Peter Sloterdijk

Quote from a hilarious passage from Peter Sloterdijk's epochal Critique of Cynical Reason
'The arse seems to be condemned to live in the dark. Among the different parts of our body, it leads the life of a tramp. It truly is the idiot of the family. Yet it would be a miracle if this black sheep of the body did not have a ready opinion of the events taking place in higher regions, just like those who have been rejected by society often express the most sober views of it.'

-- via BACK TO THE TOILET; Truth and Fiction in Wim Delvoye's Cloaca by Dieter Roelstraete via http://www.cloaca.be/back.htm [May 2006]

See also: Peter Sloterdijk - philosophy - toilet - Wim Delvoye

2006, May 19; 19:05 ::: Fiction and Christian sin

In the era of Voltaire, actors were perceived as sinners in France and were barred from a burial in hallowed grounds. This tells us a lot about the relationship man has towards fiction (if we concede that the history of man equals the history of Christian man since the 4th century AD). Even today, some Christians hold that fiction is untruth and untruth is a lie and lies are sins.

Since I cannot find a good history of the evolution of christian attitudes towards fiction I tried Googling for "actors are sinners" and came up with this:

Christians shouldn't go to movies anyway. All actors are sinners. To portray sin on the screen is also sin. What do you expect from Hollywood but sin? You cannot pretend to be something you are not. Just because the film doesn't contain sex and murder, doesn't make it good. Actors regularly portray selfishness, envy, greed, covetousness, idolatry, and many many other sins. Best avoid all films and all drama (both on TV and at the cinema) --source

The author of this comment then points to: http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_92.htm

With the Christian distrust of fiction, it is only appropriate that the Vatican urges to read the The Da Vinci Code (a work which blurs the lines between fact and fiction) as a piece of fiction. [May 2006]

See also: actor - fiction - drama - Christianity - sin - theatre

2006, May 19; 19:05 ::: Queen of Exotica (2005) - Yma Sumac

In search of artistic outsiders.

Queen of Exotica (2005) - Yma Sumac [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Yma Súmac (believed born in Ichocán, Cajamarca, Perú September 10, 1922), also earlier spelled Ymma Sumak (quechua translation of "pretty flower") or Imma Sumack is a noted vocalist of Peruvian origin. In the 1950s she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music. She is remembered chiefly for her amazing voice, which at the time, covered a range of four octaves. She is (with some controversy) credited with singing the highest note recorded by the female voice (surpassing Erna Sack) in the track "Chuncho" in one of her LPs (Inca Taqui 1953).

During the 1950s, she produced a series of legendary lounge recordings featuring Hollywood-style versions of Incan and South American folk songs, working with the likes of Les Baxter and Billy May. The combination of her extraordinary voice, exotic looks and stage personality made her a hit with American audiences. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yma_S%C3%BAmac [May 2006]

See also: music - exotica - outsider music

2006, May 19; 19:05 ::: Songs in the Key of Z : The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000) - Irwin Chusid

In search of artistic outsiders.

Songs in the Key of Z : The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000) - Irwin Chusid [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: music - outsider - outsider music

2006, May 18; 19:05 ::: Amusing Wikipedia aliases

User:That Guy, From That Show! - User:Can't sleep, clown will eat me

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: The Libertines (2004) - The Libertines

In search of rock 'n' roll.

The Libertines (2004) - The Libertines [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Pete Doherty's influences
In interviews, Doherty has listed his favourite books as George Orwell's 1984, Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet, Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire and the works of Oscar Wilde. He has also mentioned Emily Dickinson as an influence, as well as Tony Hancock. However numerous literary and musical allusions occur throughout Doherty's ongoing Books of Albion. He places particular importance on the Romantic poets and on existential philosophers such as Albert Camus and Miguel de Unamuno. Doherty has also alluded to work by the Marquis de Sade and Thomas de Quincey.

His favourite films include British films of the 1960s such as Billy Liar, Poor Cow, O Lucky Man! and the film versions of Steptoe and Son. He also cites Lee Mavers of The La's as a musical influence, having covered "There She Goes," as well as The Only Ones. He is particularly fond of The Smiths and The Clash.

Doherty and Carl Barat had a fondness for Cockney musicians Chas and Dave. Doherty also champions up-and-coming British bands, such as indie band The Paddingtons.

On March 27, 2006, the magazine Entertainment Wise reported Pete Doherty as adopting Buddhism to get through his drug problems. After attending classes on the religion, he admitted to feeling more calm. Along with his companion then Kate Moss, he aims to deepen his Buddhist practice and try more meditation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Doherty [May 2006]

See also: rock music - libertine - 2004

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: MTV's The Real World The Complete First Season - New York (1992)

In search of reality.

MTV's The Real World The Complete First Season - New York (1992) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

MTV's The Real World, which began in 1992, originated the concept of putting strangers together in the same environment for an extended period of time and recording the drama that ensued. It also pioneered many of the stylistic conventions that have since become standard in reality television shows, including a heavy use of soundtrack music and the interspersing of events on screen with after-the-fact "confessionals" recorded by cast members that serve as narration. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality television [May 2006]

See also: reality - reality television - 1992

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: Nausea (1938) - Jean-Paul Sartre

In search of the cult of ugliness.

Nausea (1938) - Jean-Paul Sartre [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote La Nausée in 1938 while he was a college professor. It is one of the best-known novels of Sartre.

The Kafka-influenced novel concerns a dejected researcher in a town similar to Le Havre who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself, on his intellectual and spiritual freedom, evoking in the protagonist a sense of nausea.

It is widely considered one of the canonical works of existentialism. Sartre won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964. They said he was recognized, "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a farreaching influence on our age." Sartre was one of the few people to ever decline the award, referring to it as merely a function of a bourgeois institution.

A nausea Antoine Roquentin calls "sweetish sickness" increasingly impinges on almost everything he does or enjoys. Over time, his disgust towards existence forces him into near-insanity, self-hatred, and finally a revelation into the nature of his being.

It was translated into English by Lloyd Alexander (New York: New Directions, 1964). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausea_%28book%29 [May 2006]

See also: Sartre - sickness - absurdity - disgust - 1938 - existentialism - New Directions - cult of ugliness

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: Rare Grooves Africa #1 (2006) - Various artists

Rare Grooves Africa #1 (2006) - Various artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Nova Records release from France features 13 tracks from Mulatu Astatqe, Toto Bona Lokua, Cheikh Lo, Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and more. 2006.

Toto Bona Lokua - Ghana Blues Geraldo Pino et The Heartbeats - Africans Must Unite Damon Albarn - Niger Mulatu Astatqe - Yègellé Tezeta Bonga - Balumukeno Oumou Sangare - Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye David Walters - Mèsi Bon Dyé Fela Kuti - Shakara (Oloje) Orchestra Makassy - Mambo Bado Amadou et Mariam - A Chacun Son Problème Danyel Waro - Bat La Min King Sunny Ade - Synchro System Ali Farka Touré et Toumani Diabate - Ai Ga Bani Julien Jacob - Cotonou

See also: Radio Nova - African music - rare grooves - jazz

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: Ethiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974 (1972-1974) - Various artists

Ethiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974 (1972-1974) - Various artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Largely the work of formidable musician-arranger Mulatu Astatqe, the 14 instrumentals here were originally issued on two LPs in 1972 and 1974 in Ethiopia, and represent a curious blend of soul-jazz and R&B with just a smattering of Ethiopian roots breaking up the stabbing horn lines, wah-wah guitars, and simmering electric piano. Curious, because at the time jazz was not very popular in Ethiopia, but that is no reflection on the quality of these primitively recorded sides of idiosyncratic Afro-funk. The grooves are long and laconic, the sound reminiscent of Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way" paired with Cannonball Adderly and Roy Ayers. But, as with all things Ethiopian, the music retains its own unique and unmistakable identity, one somewhere between a late-night jazz hole-in-the-wall group and a supper club belly-dancing combo. There are some very inventive arrangements and vigorous soloing, rendering a highly articulate and listenable music that was, at the time, doomed to go nowhere. Such is the retrospective value of reissues. --Derek Rath

Mulatu Astatke (var. Astatqé) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger. He is known as the "Father of Ethio-Jazz." Born in 1943 in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Astatke was musically trained in London, New York City, and Boston, where he was the first African student at Berklee College of Music. He would later combine his jazz and Latin music influences with traditional Ethiopian music.

In 2005, his music appeared on the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulatu_Astatke [May 2006]

See also: African music - rare grooves - jazz

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: The Dream (1883) - Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes

The Dream (1883) - Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes

See also: French art - academic art - 1883 - dream

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: Ubik (1969) - Philip K. Dick

In search of fiction that blurs the line between dream and reality.

Ubik (1969) - Philip K. Dick [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Cover of the 1970 Dell paperback edition of Ubik. Note the 1970s futuristic type.

Ubik is a 1969 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. In 2005, Time Magazine named it one of the hundred best English language novels published since 1923.

While the confusion between real and unreal, obscured by the perception of the main character(s), is common in Dick's work, in Ubik this confusion occurs in more than one way. Given the premise of half-life (no relation to radioactive half-life), one puzzle lies in resolving the false reality of the deceased with the real perceptions of those who are still alive. This is further complicated by Pat Conley, whose ability to change the past (and thus the present) may be causing the reality changes. Plus, the interference of psychics causes further confusion. As a result, the story presents unsettling shifts between realities and timelines and the reader is never certain what is real and what is illusion.

Another theme is the opposition between the twin forces of decay (the regression experienced by the characters) and restoration (Ubik, which reverses that decay).

Ubik features several character types common to Dick's fiction: Chip as the downtrodden, working class protagonist, Conley as the dark-haired, alluring, unattainable, possibly insane, vindictive and by some means empowered woman, and Runciter as a cynical but fatherly old man. These character types are nearly universal to his work and tend to follow similar roles: the downtrodden protagonist finds himself at odds with a large and complicated plot, not specifically against him, but in which he becomes inadvertently entangled, who is then alternately aided by, confused by, and maliciously harmed by the dark-haired woman, is helped indirectly by the fatherly old man (whose warnings are often unheaded or too late), and faces the spokesman of the evil conspiracy, who is mysterious, powerful, well-informed, and more or less undeniable, leaving the downtrodden hero with little or bittersweet success. Generally, multiple explanations for the nature of the events, the outcome of the story, and the nature and identity of the evil spokeman are available, especially if drug use or other psychic complications blur the lines of reality. Generally speaking, the narrator participates in the perspective of the characters, so if what they experience is a drug induced delusion or a bonafied happening is left vague for the reader. Ultimately, the reader is left to wonder what actually happened in the "real world" of the story and is left little clues, much like how a person rehabilitated from extended drug use might look back at the recent months of his life and wonder what was real, what was misinterpreted, and what was false.

Literary allusions
The term Ubik comes from the Latin word ubique, which means “everywhere.” It is also the source of the English language word ubiquitous, which means being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time. This may be considered ironic, considering that Ubik is much sought-after and rare in the novel, but it may also indicate that Ubik is a life-force of sorts.
Ubik also references Plato’s idea of Forms, great universals that define the essence of all matter. When the world begins to seemingly regress in time and all objects in it (such as television sets, refrigerators and automobiles) become that time period’s version of that object, Chip remarks that each is coming closer to barest, simplest Form.

Possible influence on other works
Though the connection (if any) is unknown, some specific elements in Ubik have appeared in subsequent motion pictures. The frozen starship captain in John Carpenter's Dark Star is in a similar state to half-life, as is the hero of Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky and its Spanish original, Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). Further films show a similar confusion between reality and dreams, again caused by an unreliable narrative viewpoint. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubik [May 2006]

See also: science fiction literature - 1969 - unreliable narrator - reality - dream

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

Arnold Bennett was a successful English playwright, novelist and journalist. Being influenced by the French novelist, Émile Zola (1840-1902), like his friends, H. G. Wells and John Galsworthy, Bennett was styled as a "naturalistic novelist" (persons are creatures of their own environment). These writers were attacked by the "modernists," like Virginia Woolf. In 1903, Bennett moved to Paris (married a Frenchwoman) and lived there for some years. --http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Literary/Bennett.htm [May 2006]

Enoch Arnold Bennett (May 27, 1867-March 27, 1931) was a British novelist.

Critically, Bennett has not always had an easy ride. His output was prodigious and, by his own admission, based on maximising his income rather than from creative necessity.

As Bennett put it:

"Am I to sit still and see other fellows pocketing two guineas apiece for stories which I can do better myself? Not me. If anyone imagines my sole aim is art for art’s sake, they are cruelly deceived."

Contemporary critics (Virginia Woolf in particular) perceived weaknesses in his work, which they partly attributed to this factor. This may have been unfair - did critics search for weakness on the assumption that writing for financial gain must give rise to it? Did they attribute a genuine weakness in Bennett's work to an unrelated factor? Or were they making an unbiased and valid point? It must also be recognised that Bennett represented the "old guard" in literary terms. His style was traditional rather than modern, which made him an obvious target for those challenging literary conventions.

His reputation, for much of the 20th Century, was tainted by this perception, and it was not until the 1990s that a more positive view of his work became widely accepted. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Bennett [May 2006]

Interestingly, Arnold Bennett achieved what Gramsci advised writers of intellectual capacity to do: write stories to elevate the of the literature that the masses were reading. [May 2006]

See also: Arnold Bennett - naturalism (literature) - British literature - modernist literature

2006, May 16; 19:05 ::: In 1877, John Ruskin accused James Whistler

In 1877, John Ruskin accused James Whistler of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face'. Jonathan Jones on the first truly modern row about modern art.

There are two histories of modern art, and two founders. The serious one begins in Paris in the mid-19th century, and its hero is Edouard Manet. But there is another, much less salubrious history of modern art, one that begins with a stand-up public row in which no one comes off well - and is perhaps more pertinent to the condition of art today.

This row took place in a courtroom in London in November 1878. Its hero, or antihero, is James Abbott McNeill Whistler. It was the second most infamous libel trial of the 19th century - and perhaps if Oscar Wilde had remembered its consequences, he might have stepped back from his own disaster. Whistler sued the great art critic John Ruskin, author of Modern Painters and The Stones of Venice, over a review that dismissed him as a fraud.


It was not modernity and tradition that faced each other in the courtroom in 1878, but two versions of modern art. We might almost say that Ruskin represented high modernism, and Whistler stood up as the first in a tradition of "low modernism" that runs through Duchamp and Dali to the present day. --Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Thursday June 26, 2003 http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,985090,00.html [May 2006]

See also: 1877 - modern art - John Ruskin - James Whistler

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