Wednesday, April 17, 2013
After much resistance, I fell for Marina Abramovic. The Artist is Present, the video about her 90 day performance at MOMA is quite moving. All this sitting and staring really touches a nerve: the nerve of human contact, vulnerability and also human loneliness and longing.
Posted by cyberiticus at 4/17/2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Place: Time Traveller's bookshop in Skibereen, West Cork
Time: Easter friday, 2013, around noon time, a beautiful grey winter day
Arriving in Skibereen, we stop on our way to Vivian's to look at the immaculate new bookshop, worthy of Munich or Milan, that has recently opened. On my right I stumble upon a row of Cecil Beaton's diaries. Idly, I pick up "Self Portrait with Friends, The Selected Diaries of Cecil Beaton 1926-1974". I know Cecil Beaton as the famous royal photographer and socialite but have no idea Cecil Beaton has written such extensive diaries, beginning in the roaring 20's. I open the book at random. I am instantly smitten: what grace, wit, levity, immediacy in the descriptions, how fast and brilliantly everything passes before your eyes. You are there with Beaton, partying in London, discovering Hollywood, meeting Greta Garbo, taking the portrait of the Queen, gingerly photographing Winston Churchill, going out in Marrakesh with Mick Jagger. And the photos: dozens, hundreds, thousands, portraits, fashion, war reportage. And he could also draw. What an excess of talent. Cecil Beaton: a coup de foudre.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Germany again. Storm of Steel, the classic account of trench warfare by Ernest Junger, in a new translation by Michael Hoffman. Better than any comment, a transcript will give the flavor and the power of the descriptions. This from the first stages of the battle of the Somme:
"Occasionally my ears were utterly deafened by a single fiendish crashing burst of flame. Then incessant hissing gave me the sense of hundreds of pound weights rushing down at incredible speed, one after the other. Or a dud shell landed with a short , heavy ground-shaking thump. Shrapnels burst by the dozen, like dainty crackers, shook loose their little balls in a dense cloud, , and the empty casings rasped after they were gone. Each time a shell landed anywhere close the land flew up and down, and metal shards drove themselves into it".
Or this description of the first dead man seen upon arriving at the battlefield:
"A giant form with red blood-spattered beard stared fixedly at the sky, his fingers clutching the spongy ground"
Images, sounds, sensations are conjured in your head, vivid as in a film which you might or might not have seen.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Posted by cyberiticus at 9/29/2012
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Posted by cyberiticus at 6/30/2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
"Limonov", by Emmanuel Carrère, is a great book, one of those which, once opened, immediately stands out from the pile and demands to be read. It tells the true story of Limonov, writer and soviet exile, who hanged out with Richard Hell at CBGB's and Rodovan Karadic in Pale, and is now the leader of the National Bolshevik party and a self styled hero for Russian youth. A pure non-conformist type, a bit of a "provocateur", his life led him from the Moscow underground under Brejnev, to New York and Paris, where, hungry for recognition, he achieved a kind of fame as the author of a series of autobiographical books depicting his (mis)adventures in appalling detail ("Le poète russe préfère les grands nègres"," Journal d'un raté" etc). His life — or rather his lives — are wonderfully told by Emmanuel Carrére, himself a kind of russian expert by default, being the son of the famous sovietologist Helene Carrere d'Encause, now in the Académie Française. It is a strange, oblique, moving and funny morality tale about the Soviet Union and the West.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
In the past, movies were shot like novels. Now, novels are written like movies. The language of cinema has infiltrated literature. Novels are becoming more visual, less psychological. Characters act in discrete scenes, rather than think or feel in a great continuum. Plot is more important than style. I have just finished the 925 pages of 1Q84, the first book by Murakami I have ever read and I feel like I went to a movie — well maybe a movie and a couple of sequels. I cannot really explain why I finished the novel — it did not seem to me great or unputdownable. Somehow, though, the story draws you in and so does the style — as he himself says, deceptively simple. It felt like a kind of pop literature of a high order.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I am still haunted by Matthew Barney's films shown yesterday at the London Estoril Film Festival. Especially his film set in Detroit, which he later explained is part of a cycle of 7 based on Norman Mailer's novel Ancient Evenings and featuring Chryzler cars as the mummy. Haunting is the word for his images of industrial decay and car worship. Barney later defined what he does as narrative sculpture, but having seen his films I now understand why he is considered one of the greatest artists alive.