My arm’s length is threatening
The purple buds
Waiting for tomorrow’s
Carnival of the sun
The diamond in your eyes threatening to cut a hole
On the glass of my window
To expose me
To the smoke and sound of this city
Outside in the streets
Mules are carrying our soiled skins,
Unaware of the fleas, like rubies
Clinging to their veins
In the horizon
The famished sun threatens
To throw up black smoke
Over the city
Then plunge beyond the darkening green edge.
Outside, the mules scattering out of a file
Threaten to drop the washed linen off their back
Into this mud
Now waiting in the open wound on the tar
Inside, the fluorescent tube
Flickers and threatens to push me into dark.
Your loud voice
Is threatening the crows
But they are not leaving
They are still on the roof
Where your eyes won’t reach.
My long shadow encroaching on your porch threatens the curtains
Making them run inside
Straining the tether
Your clothes are clinging to your wet body
Threatened by my reaching arms
Outside the mules have disappeared
Into the shadows
Threatened by the sunless sky
Finally the crows are chasing
The horizon to see
Where the sun has gone.
Thursday, December 26, 2002
Sunday, December 22, 2002
PC Magazine’s selection of the ‘Top 100 websites’ (October 2002).slrs
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
I forgot to mention it when, more than a month back, Edition II of the Srikrishnamangal ezine, edited by my friend, was published. As I have mentioned earlier, I serve as ‘webmaster’ for this venture by contributing big chunks of my leisure. The third edition is planned for around the turn of the year.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Gave in to hardware lust and bought myself a new toy:
The Sony Walkman WM-FX193
Deflowered with Oasis’ Definitely Maybe. Then revisited Dylan’s Highway 61. After that the Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night ended as Coltrane’s Blue Train chugged in. Life may not be a mistake after all.
Welcome back, Fobbin. Been a while.
Monday, December 09, 2002
Yesterday I was watching Cape Fear for the nth time. This is also one of the movies the first version of which I want to see so badly. Neslie was with me. So I asked him about remaking it in Malayalam. He was excited. As is my specialty, I started with the casting.
I said we can put Mohanlal in the place of Nick Nolte. Or Murali for that matter. But who will play the part of Robert De Niro. We thought for a while; then Neslie said sadly that we don’t have anybody to take De Niro’s place. But I took it as a challenge, but till now I haven’t figured out De Niro's equivalent in Malayalam. It is not that we don’t have people of De Niro’s calibre. But we are not ready to find out who is capable. We are not ready to experiment with casting.
The social behaviour of our contemporaries and younger ones are in a pretty bad state. I had an experience recently to come to this conclusion. It was a gathering at my mother’s home. We had a lot of young people aged between 10 and 30 years. I was really surprised at the pigheadedness with which these people interacted with each other. The main problem was that each one of them fancied himself / herself as a genius and the only person worthy of living on this planet. Like everything was spread out in front of him for his choosing.
Then I heard them discussing the stupidities of their parents and grandparents. Hey Clement, we know about the shortcomings of our parents. We know how bad a job they have done as parents or grandparents. But talking about them like discussing rat infestation is not my style. Let them call me any name they like, I don’t give a damn.
Later during dinner someone introduced me as a painter and a writer and blah, blah, blah.... Suddenly all the antennae in the room focussed on me. I had this terrible feeling of being burned and killed by the powerful laser beams, ready to shoot from their highly charged and super-intelligent foreheads. Now the aliens started to come towards me and started asking me questions. Then the girl who introduced me said that I am planning to have my debut exhibition on a pavement. ‘How stupid that is!’—one exclaimed. I asked him why. ‘Why??!! Man, when you can hire a gallery and do the exhibition like everybody else and sell your damn work and make money—instead you are thinking of hanging your paintings along our dirty footpaths. That is stupid.’ Then I made a terrible mistake, of explaining my idea of art and its place in society. That is the last thing I remember from that evening. From the things they taught me that day I don’t remember much, because what they said was way above my level of intelligence and reasoning.
Now I would sadly say that the social commitment of a male of our generation ends at the tip of his pretty, piggish nose and of a female at the tip of her hormone-rich boobs. In the case of females with a pair of silicone-filled melonotits, this rule doesn’t apply.slcw
Of Mice and Men
Few days back I saw Of Mice and Men—the screen version of the Steinbeck classic, directed by Gary Sinise, starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. The sad thing is that I couldn’t watch the whole film. (You know how frustrating it is to watch good movies at home, where people are more interested to know what happened to Mrs A’s daughter who ran away with Mrs B’s son whose ex-girlfriend who slept with Mrs A’s stepson who is now in jail for drug pushing, is pregnant but refuses to abort the baby, and she is now after her IPS, is posted in the same prison where her baby's father is kept… Hey, I am good at this!! Don’t you think?)
But, the three-fourths of the film that I saw was really good. Excellent acting by Malkovich, overall casting is good too. Good warm photography. I could not properly evaluate the music because of the raucous discussions that were happening around me.
So to get more information on the film I looked it up in Leonard Maltin’s. From there I understood that it is a remake of a 1939 film with the same title, directed by Lewis Milestone.
Leonard Maltin has given four stars to that version. The TV version of the same movie is made by the director Reza Badiyi and Maltin have given it three points. Usually riginals and the remakes do not share such good grades. Either the original or the remake will be dull, and usually that will be the remakes. Now I greedily wish to see the 1939 original as well as to read the book itself.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
The Rough Guide to Music—covers Rock, World and Classical. Fantastic. Their recommendations answers questions like ‘Which are the best recordings available of Beethoven’s violin sonatas?’ I’ll be spending some time here.slrs
Globalvillageidiot.net's selections of essential albums in some spheres of world music.
Traditional World Music Recordings—lists for introductory listening in some areas of classical music, including Indian Hindustani and Carnatic. Something I've been looking around for for a while.sll
Paul Williams is the man credited with having started the first serious American rock magazine, titled Crawdaddy!. The LA Weekly writes:
If he is right in his hunch that Dylan is The Great Artist of the 20th Century, Williams’ [Performing Artist book series] could be tied to the songwriter as strongly as critic Samuel Johnson's writings are to Shakespeare.
Williams has also authored a book titled The 20th Century’s Greatest Hits: A Top 40 List, which has one of the most offbeat such lists I’ve seen, since it considers all the art forms and ends up with a Beatles song at no 1, followed at various positions by works by Picasso, Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Martin Scorsese.sll
Saturday, December 07, 2002
The NPR ‘100 most important American musical works of the 20th century’.sll
Friday, December 06, 2002
Notes from the Brink (Extract #1)
All our writers, artists, prophets, philosophers, sages and messiahs have seen some positive aspects to this life. That is why they expressed themselves in thought, word or action, so that they may influence the state of things towards their own ideals, or to reinforce the values they found and considered to be of value. There is a wide variety to be found in their convictions. But none of them believed in the ultimate meaninglessness of things. Or so it would seem. For even if some lone voice were to proclaim that life has no meaning, or that truth could never be found, that life-denying voice would be ignored as that of a madman. Because whatever a man’s faith may be, he always lusts for certainty. Like Pascal said, all our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling. All honest thinking, coupled with an awareness of the limitations of the human mind, brings the mind to an abyss, from which it is naturally repelled. One may jump into the abyss, and may even find the truth, but this truth is never communicated to another. The one who finds it may live a madman’s life or probably suicide. (It may be worth noting that suicide notes have not received their due in the study of literature. How could they? How many of the so-called searchers for truth would read a suicide-note with the readiness to follow the author if he were to be convincing enough in his justification for his final act? None. The most these would do would be to appreciate the passion of the writing, a common feature of suicide-notes.) It may be easy to believe a Messiah if he were to come and declare that he has the Truth, and it is: Love thy neighbour as thou would thy own self. It is easy to follow him. But one who were to tell you that there is no difference if you were to live or die, laugh or cry, help or harm, wake or sleep, work or dream, fuck or fake, would be branded a lunatic, laughed at or stoned. It may also be worth noting the high incidence of so-called insanity among geniuses. Some, like Nietzsche, turn ‘mad’ after producing works which are regarded even centuries later as valuable. Many more geniuses succeed in avoiding ‘madness’ and are known merely for their ‘eccentricities’.slcw
Fragments of my self are strewn along the arc of time I have hurtled through—
a meteor screeching through time, ever longing to be whole again,
the green womb of my mother a distant dream.slcw
Jottings for Night / Insomnia:
…night night night when the chirp of insects and the wink of stars and the perfume of flowers intoxicate the senses…
How can I sleep when the whisper of a thousand voices thunder in my ears and the grey children of night crawl with their hairy legs all over my skin while I drown in the perfume of the flowers blooming rancid in the silken moonlight? I cannot sleep. I can only sprout bloody wings and flit my bat body across the grey ambiguities of the full moon’s delirious face…
…my eyes held open by the legs of an arachnid
from my navel a flower blooms yellow and red
ants marching in eerie harmony into my ears…slcw
Man has no closer brother;
For I am the one who soothes him to sleep.
I wash away the day’s wrinkles from his soul.
I help him forget.
I fight the tyranny of Memory
And the dross of Thought.
I let him play and wander in the woods of Dream.
I help him forget the pain and the sorrow;
The worry of tomorrow and the regret of yesterday.
I offer him the nectar of Sleep.
My sister is Night and my brother Weariness,
And one day I will take Man to my Father[…]slcw
Four lines, for Bob Dylan
The dancing streets ignited the howling troubadours,
Who sought mercy from the pantomiming beggars;
The astronomers, they wondered aloud,
If the tail of the elephant was singed by a whoreslcw
life is a drag. life is a story. life is a fire. life is a dream. life is an explosion, a sleep. life is one long fuck. life is a dance. it is a song. it is a search, a finding. life is a bore. it is a ride. it is a discovery. it is an expedition, a journey, a daring, a challenge. life is a bet, a gamble. life is a joke, a game, a con. life is a treat, life is a slap. life is a surprise, a gift. a punishment, a sentence. life is a question. it is the answer.slcw
It’s been a while since any of the stuff in my notebook has found its way to Salon. So here, despite their uncooked, careless, even diarrhoeal verbosity,…slcw
The first Pune International Film Festival concluded yesterday, I think. ‘Why was I not there?’ I wonder. It probably has something to do with this feeling I’ve been having over the past few weeks—best described by this line from Terrence Malick’s play Sansho Bailiff: ‘I have grown old in places where I never meant stay.’ That line says a lot about my life, especially the last two or three years. So I’m making this serious effort to get it back on track and to get control of the engines. Only time will tell what comes of this effort. The times they are a-changin’, and so am I.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Dante Alighieri, Cate Blanchett, Tom Tykwer—the big and bigger names behind the film Heaven.
Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, which shared the top prize at this year’s Berlinale. Happily, it is also the highest grossing film in Japanese history.
From Robert Lowell’s ‘Skunk Hour’:
My mind's not right.
A car radio bleats,
‘Love, O careless Love...’ I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat...
I myself am hell,
A 2001 issue of the publication World Literature Today listed chronologically ‘the most important works in world literature since 1927’. It also had commentaries and responses to the list: one, two, three.sll
Saturday, November 30, 2002
‘India and World Literature’—Salman Rushdie’s introduction to The Vintage Book of Indian Writing: 1947-1997, edited by Rushdie and Elizabeth West, as reproduced in the 9.8.97 issue of Frontline, which commemorated the golden jubilee of Indian independence.
Explore this! Art and Culture.com. Could this be my favourite website?slrs
Solaris achieves an almost perfect balance of poetry and pulp. This is as elegant, moody, intelligent, sensuous, and sustained a studio movie as we are likely to see this season—and in its intrinsic nuttiness, perhaps the least compromised.
Metacritic.com : useful site that aggregates reviews of new films and music, primarily from the American media. It differs from RottenTomatoes.com and MRQE in that it considers only the most reputed publications, including online ones.slrs
Friday, November 29, 2002
David Thomson is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, which many regard as the best book on cinema. His top ten films of all time, from The Independent.
Thomson’s profile of Martin Scorsese appeared in the same newspaper on the great director’s 60th birthday.sll
Thursday, November 28, 2002
I have come to be a regular reader of Frontline—which I believe is India’s best newsmagazine. It is a fortnightly from the publishers of The Hindu. The editor N Ram deserves a pat on the back for keeping it sober and serious, covering only those issues in the news that deserve attention. None of the sugar-coated packaging of news (in other words, sensationalism) regular in the other mags like India Today, Outlook and the dumb The Week (from Kerala’s own Malayala Manorama empire). Frontline shares its sobriety with its parent newspaper.
Newspapers are regarded to be important tools in the democratic process, but somehow I find them a criminal waste of time. The only good use they are to me are for pure information—like the day’s TV programmes, for example. The unprocessed information termed news that is found in them is only a kind of drug to make a stupid readership feel they are exerting themselves in a worthy intellectual task. How many avid readers of newspapers have the patience to read through a whole book? Somewhere in this exaggerated worth attributed to newspapers I sense a malaise that taints our times.
This malaise is only growing—especially with the advent of 24/7 TV news channels desperate to find sensational issues to keep an audience with delusions of gravity glued to the ‘idiot box’. Thus I find colleagues in my office discussing in graphic detail the contours of the latest sensational murder—gleaned from hours of Aaj Tak and Zee News—with the pride of one who is making a flamboyant display of his learning; while I have less respect for him than for the adolescent salivating over memories of the silicone-enhanced morphology of Pamela Anderson on display in the previous night’s episode of ‘Baywatch’.
But most of these ‘news junkies’ will find it an arduous effort to read through an issue of a publication like Frontline. Because they cover in detail real news, because there are real issues that demand discussion and deliberation. Because the only eye-candy to be found in those pages is perhaps a photograph of burqa-clad Afghan women queuing for rations, and not the décolletage of the latest starlet who has made it big in tinsel town.
Interesting articles I have already read in Frontline’s latest issue, apart from regular news coverage, include those on this year’s literature Nobel winner Imre Kertesz, on painter Apurva Desai, A G Noorani’s book review that introduced me to the fascinating political writings of Hans J Morgenthau (which reminded me why at one point of time I wanted to do my graduation in Political Science), and the Hindu Right’s attack on Kerala’s secular intellectuals like writer Zacharia.
One thing though: I don’t claim to have a balanced perspective on current affairs as I had not been following the news at all over the last couple of years, and though my liberal leanings sympathise with Frontline’s position on most issues (the news articles themselves are opinionated as in a newspaper editorial, sometimes fiercely so), the magazine’s strident opposition to the Rightist forces of Hindutva and its anti-US stand on both the Israel / Palestine and Iraq situations, sometimes seems too grating to feel like an unbiased stand. Or maybe I’m wrong and N Ram knows better.slcw
Monday, November 25, 2002
This weekend’s work:
Got a search facility for Salon. You can search for entries containing given keywords. Also got a Categories section, which is supposed to produce a page showing all the entries in Salon that I have listed under that particular category. However, at present the results for both the search and categories do not include entries from June, July and August, since Blogger refuses to re-publish those archives. That will hopefully be remedied soon.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
A small poem for my old friend Ismail Aldayyaffin who is a homeless Palestinian who was with me at the Lagos Medical College, Nigeria.
What if my brother is’nt telling the truth
And is hiding a gun behind his booth
I would be a fool to
Stretch my hand to touch his brows
and ask, are you full.
In his growing pain he may
squeeze the trigger and
let the hot fire
snaring in his gut
drive in the facts into my head
because truth is not important.slcw
Today is my birthday. I am thirty-one now.
Where I am now:
◊ Realised what I am supposed to do as a painter.
◊ Accomplished nothing in my art in the market sense of the word.
◊ Accomplished so much in developing my art in the spiritual sense.
◊ Have few people whom I can call my close friends.
◊ On the brink of financial success which is needed for my art to stay free from the pressure of the market.
◊ There are people around me who address me as son, husband, father, friend, lover, enemy, teacher, partner etc….
◊ Realized that existentialism of the west is not what we understood—what we call by that name within us is a different thing and must learn fast to address this. Then great art and philosophy will emerge from Bharatam, instead of the recycled ones we are making now.
If any one in your circle receives messages of this sort tell them to stay away from it. As an ex-Nigerian expatriate I can guarantee you Nigerians are very good at creating scams like this. Please pass this caution to everyone you know. Especially because we Mallu's are susceptible to any prospects of easy money.
Dear Partner to be,
First, I must apologise to you for using this medium to communicate to you about this project and it is my great pleasure in writing you this letter on behalf of my colleagues and myself.
I am a highly placed official of Government of Nigeria and also a founding member of the ruling party in Power now, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT: My committee - The Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC)-which is in charge of managing and supervising the disbursement of oil sales revenues for the Nigerian government which covers payment to foreign and local contractors, who had executed contracts for our country. The revenues under our control runs into several hundred of millions of dollars and using my position as Executive Director in charge of projects, I and other colleagues in the NDDC are currently in need of a foreign partner with whose bank account we shall transfer the sum of Forty Nine Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars($49.5m). To do this, we will need your cooperation as a foreigner who could front to receive the fund on our behalf.
SOURCE OF FUND: The amount represents a percentage of the total contract value executed on behalf of my ministry by a foreign contracting firm which we over-invoiced. Though the actual contract value has been paid to the original contractor, leaving a balance to the tune of the amount aforementioned, which we have in principle secured approval to remit by telegraphic transfer (T.T) to any bank account, you will provide.
PROCEDURE: Since the present government of Nigeria is determined to pay every foreign contractor all debts owed so as to maintain good relationship with foreign governments and non-governmental financial agencies, however, by virtue of our position as civil servants and members of the NDDC, we cannot acquire this funds in our name. This is because as top civil servants, we are not allowed by law of the land to own or operate bank accounts outside our country for now. We have decided to include our bills for approval with the cooperation of some officials from the relevant government establishments. We are seeking your assistance in providing a good company's account or any other offshore bank account into which we can remit this money by acting as our main partner and trustee or acting as a sub contractor. This will involve the swapping of account; changing of beneficiary name; and other forms of documentation.
I have the authority of my partners to propose that should you be willing to assist us in the transaction, your share of the sum will be 10% of the U$49.5million, 80% for us while the balance will be set aside for refund of all expenses incurred during the process of the transaction.
The transaction, although discrete, is legitimate and there is no risk or legal disadvantages either to ourselves or yourself now or in the future as we have put in place perfect machineries that will ensure a hitch free transfer into your account upon acceptance.
The transfer will be effected to your account within ten-fourteen (10-14) working days as soon as we reach an agreement and you furnish me with a suitable bank account and company name and address with all your contact numbers including fax number.
Expecting your response and thank you for your cooperation.
Anderson K. Eseimoku
North by Northwest
I went to see this film with Neslie and another friend. I didn’t know that I was going to see a Hitchcock film. It was only during the title sequence (very imaginative) that I realized that it was North by Northwest.
As the film progresses we realize Hitchcock’s commitment to entertain the viewer without being cheap. In a lesser director’s hand this film would’ve been slapstick comedy.
In suspense and action, this film in my opinion is a thousand times better than the best James Bond film (Dr No, my choice). One of my favourite parts is the crop dusting sequence. Visuals at the beginning of that sequence are stunning.
The first evaluation I do on any film is of its casting and in North by Northwest it is exceptional. And I would like to say most of the good Hollywood films do well in this department. But in bad films they do disgusting job in casting. (For an example: Madonna as Eva Peron!!!??? or, in most of the Stallone films where he is cast in roles that need some acting!!!)
Cary Grant was good though with a stiff backbone and awkwardly held arms. He reminded me of Gregory Peck, one of my old favourites. Both of them have similar stiff body language and both are damn good-looking.
As with casting, there is not a single sentence or a word in the film that is out of place.
The music score is like any other Hitchcock film. It is eerie and macabre.
All in all a damn good entertainer with a touch of Kafka but with a happy ending. Hitchcock is such a good man that he doesn’t want his film to end in a way that justifies someone else’s philosophy. He used Kafka where he wanted, the way he wanted. Then he closed his film the way he wanted. That’s what I call good direction.slfr
Sunday, November 17, 2002
I and Neslie are going to start a small business in Ernakulam. We already leased an office space opposite to SATM at Warrium road.
Actually there are four partners in the business. The other two are my friends. Rajesh and Sunil. You might have seen them at our house at Kaloor. We are planning to start as a training centre and then develope it into a production centre as well. Hope everything will workout well.
why I am posting this in salon?
May be several years from now I may look back at this entry and recollect the mood I am in right now.
Or as I expect, if I hit the jackpot and this thing takes off in a big way I can always comeback here and feel how small I felt then.
I want to make it really big Clement. I know my art will suffer. But honestly this is what i feel.
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Films playing here in Pune right now include Insomnia (Christopher Nolan of Memento fame, with Al Pacino) and Road to Perdition (Sam Mendes of American Beauty, with Tom Hanks). Both have garnered some rave reviews.
This is probably old news back home, but I came across this only now. In July, Malayalam film actress Samyuktha Verma, along with friends and family, were taken into custody for several hours of questioning by the mighty US’ Joint Terrorism Task Force, after a passenger on the Chicago-NYC flight found their excited behaviour suspicious and alerted security, causing the authorities to call in two fighter jets to escort the plane to La Guardia Airport! Ms Verma may perhaps have found consolation in the NYT dubbing her ‘the Julia Roberts of Malayalam-language films’ in their report on the comic mess-up. Julia Roberts. Apt?
Asian Film Connections intends to be a forum ‘where contemporary, culturally significant feature films from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are promoted through on-line video clips, press kits, filmographies, and critical analyses contributed by film scholars and critics from Asia as well as internationally.’ A pity this site’s India section is on hold at present for lack of funding.
Their article on Malayalam cinema.slrs
‘The British Film Institute presents ImagineAsia: A Celebration of South Asian Film.’slrs
A survey of ‘Contemporary Malayalam Cinema’ on the bfi website—by Dr C S Venkiteswaran, who is faculty at the Centre for Taxation Studies (!), Thiruvananthapuram. I remember reading his articles in The Indian Express. This article is intended for a forthcoming bfi publication titled Contemporary South Asian Film and Television: A Survey.
One of the most enigmatic figures in Malayalam cinema during the period was John Abraham (1937-1987), in whom Ritwik Ghatak (the great Bengali filmmaker and his teacher), saw 'the future of Indian cinema'. As erratic and unpredictable in life as in his films, John's works are imbued with a deep humanity. In a way, they dealt with the very impossibility of being human and creative.
Good to hear from Fobbin that there are interesting things being done in Malayalam films even in the commercial mode.
The first review of a Malayalam film posted on Salon got me started on a web search on Malayalam films. Found some interesting sites and articles.
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
This is an entirely different movie as far as Malayalam movies are concerned. It provides enough clues to new directors, about the trends that are going to be dominating popular Malayalam movies in the near future. I am not going to list the shortcomings of this film, which are plenty. Everything about this film is new. New actors, new theme, new approach to situations.
The story is about a young goonda who once raped a novitiate nun, who in turn is rejected by the order when she is found pregnant. To escape ridicule from the locals she is staying with her lawyer’s friend in Cochin, who happens to be a famous soap actress. The heroine somehow had to use the help of the young goonda, but both of them do not recognize each other. By the end of the film he realises that she is the one whom he had raped and also that his son is alive in an orphanage. Now the goonda wants to change but he can’t because all such movies say so. In the end he dies (?) trying to save her.
Actor Vijayaraghavan is good as a corrupt police officer, but tends to overact occasionally. Casting of hero and heroine is good, but that of most of the other characters are below average. Gangster characters are presented almost naturally. But they tend to act in a way that is not improving the movie in any way. Like I always believe, never leave your movie to the actors. Don’t let them go solo. If you do so, what you get is a compilation of clippings, of good acting from your actors, but not the movie that you planned to make.
I don’t know whether the director of this movie really understood Tarantino properly. Because some of the characters and subplots in this film are not at all necessary. The truth is that the director doesn’t know how to use that method, of plot within the plot and charactors crashing into the scenes used brilliantly by Tarantino.
As I said earlier despite all the shortcomings I liked the film. It will definitely set certain trends in future Malayalam films. It is not a great film, but it will certainly inspire young moviemakers to try and experiment with form and content in cinema.slfr
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Margaret is an American studying in Pune. She is very pleased with her India experience. The following passage from her blog is testimony to that:
"Margaret, why did you not want to take a 30-hour train ride?" you ask. Seek and ye shall receive. Trains in India are kinda dirty and broken, sort of like everything else. We were riding second class non-a.c., which is only a small step above cargo. The seats are '70s era vinyl, and they're bench seats, so you're pretty much cheek to cheek with the people next to you. Now, this would be uncomfortable enough. But to add an extra dimension of fun, the entire ride smells like poop. Why? Because people shit on the train tracks. The entire ride, back and forth, I never went more than seven or eight minutes without seeing someone outside dropping trou with their feet on the track to use this nationwide toilet. It's disgusting. Like, I'm sort of getting used to the whole idea that there's poop all over the place here, but I'm still having a hard time with actually having to see the people shit on the railroad. Yeech. If these close quarters and the all-India poopfest weren't enough, people wander up and down the aisle begging and hocking stuff. I can understand selling food and drinks and crap. But socks? OK, maybe your feet get cold on the train...even though it's 90 degrees. Key chains? OK, maybe you, uh, need a key chain. But whips? Who the fuck buys a whip? Who buys whips in general is one question, but who buys whips on a train? Then cue the 9 jillion beggars. I just couldn't take 30 hours of it.
saw malayalam film called violence, in the line of sathya.
tell you about it later
indiabike is a good resource for info on Indian two-wheelers. They also reproduce reviews and comparison tests from the Indian car & bike press.slrs
My earlier object of desire: the Enfield Lightning 535. Haunted my daydreams ever since I spotted her on a Fort Cochin street one evening. Now I hear Enfield has stopped production of the model.
By the way, Royal Enfield has a good website.
I need no one to tell me which looks better, but there is more to life, isn’t there? Or is there? Which has got to be my brand of Zen?
Enfield Thunderbird; Yamaha Enticer; Bajaj Pulsar
Monday, November 04, 2002
Now here’s a surfeit of film lists: the Village Voice’s Take One poll of 50-plus critics at the end of 1999 to select not only the best films of the year, but also of the century and of the decade, as well as the best directors of the decade. The individual critics’ selections are also listed.
Take 2 (2000)
Take 3 (2001)sll
Rather late in the year for this, but what the heck? Time’s Best of 2001: in cinema, tv/ads, books, design, sports, music, theatre and comics.sll
Time magazine made a selection of America’s best people in different fields at present. Here is the Artists & Entertainers section. Best actor: Sean Penn; novelist: Philip Roth; movie director: Ang Lee; movie star: Julia Roberts; rock band: Sleater-Kinney; songwriter: Lucinda Williams; singer: Cassandra Wilson; artist: Martin Puryear; and more.sll slrs
In association with the ImagineAsia festival, the British Film Institute have compiled a list of the top 20 Indian films ‘from the views of experts, critics, academics and practitioners’. Topping the list is Sholay—but what I can’t figure out is how a list that has John Abraham’s Amma Ariyan at no 9 have Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge at 12. Other undeserved inclusions in my opinion are Bombay and Lagaan—all the more so when there is no mention of Mrinal Sen, Aravindan or Adoor. I would even go so far as to say that Pather Panchali and Mother India are rated too highly. Yes, that’s what I said.
The long list of Indian films that were considered but failed to make the final cut.
On the Pakistani top ten list, you’ll spot this intriguing name: Haseena Atom Bomb. Not quite the type of bomb the Indian defence establishment need lose sleep over.sll
André Bazin: the French critic who practically invented film studies.
It's no exaggeration to say that Bazin is the single thinker most responsible for bestowing on cinema the prestige both of an artform and of an object of knowledge. While scattered attempts had been made before to define the "essence" of cinema..., Bazin's ideas were to prove the decisive ones in establishing its credentials as a separate and legitimate field of intellectual enquiry. In one of his essays from the 40s Bazin projected that distant day when film studies would enter the university curriculum – and it was Bazin more than anyone else who played the role of midwife.
Which are the finest documentary films of all time? Peter Matthews selects the following in Sight and Sound:
Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North (1922)
Luis Buñuel's Land without Bread (1933)
Alain Resnais' Night and Fog (1955)
Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a Summer (1960)
Abbas Kiarostami's Homework (Mashq-e Shab, 1990)sll
The archive of online features from Sight and Sound magazine: read a case for an Abel Ferrara film to be considered as one of the best in cinema of the last three decades; another one for Kieslowski’s Blue; and one for Kiarostami’s docu Homework; J Hoberman’s take on one of my favourite films of the last few years—Three Kings; Spielberg confirming his status as ‘the greatest cinematic orchestrator of our time’ with Minority Report; and much more.slrs
From the British film Trainspotting:
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that?
Bright Lights Film Journal's Banned Words.
MEDITATION, n. This is in some ways the most insidious of these terms. It is the most sentimental, pretentious, fanciful, and misleading of this little group. Example: "Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch is a meditation on violence." Translation: "Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch is an extremely violent movie, filled with bullet-riddled bodies, women beaten to the ground by grunge-faced old cowpokes, Mexicans massacred in churchyards," etc. This concept of meditation is a way of disingenuously stating a concept — most often, violence — while sidestepping its implications and of course the authors' (both critic of the piece and director of the film) involvement, even complicity in it...
Walking with the Wind: Poems by Abbas Kiarostami
That the turtle doesn't see
The little bird's effortless flight.
Photograph by Kiarostami
Sunday, October 27, 2002
From Wired News, the hazards of working in the myriad ‘call centers’ in India:
[…] Partho let his accent slip and had to confess after being pointedly questioned that he was, in fact, an Indian sitting next to a telephone in Mumbai. "The man told me, 'You guys blew up the WTC,'" he said. "I tried to explain India had nothing to do with it, but he just banged the phone down."
Mandakini Pradhan, 21, once dialed an American home in an attempt to sell a caller ID system. The man told her, "Aren't you the girl who lives next door? Can you see me? I am naked."
‘Founded in 1959, Communication Arts is the leading trade journal for visual communications. It's the largest design magazine in the world and showcases the top work in graphic design, advertising, illustration, photography and interactive design.’slrs
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”
- Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill Houseslq
From the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest movie posters of the 20th century.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
In their September issue, the folks at Web User, the UK’s largest selling internet magazine, have selected their ten favourite weblogs. Here are their top three:
2. Rebecca Blood
Others on the list include Pop Culture Junk Mail and Swish Cottage.sll slrs
Counsel: Now, Mr Chrysler – for let us assume that that is your name – you are accused of purloining in excess of 40,000 hotel coat hangers.
Chrysler: I am.
Counsel: Can you explain how this came about?
Chrysler: Yes. I had 40,000 coats which I needed to hang up.
Counsel: Is that true?
Counsel: Then why did you say it?
Chrysler: To attempt to throw you off balance.
Counsel: Off balance?
Chrysler: Certainly. As you know, all barristers seek to undermine the confidence of any hostile witness, or defendant. Therefore it must be equally open to the witness, or defendant, to try to shake the confidence of a hostile barrister.
Counsel: On the contrary, you are not here to indulge in cut and thrust with me. You are only here to answer my questions.
Chrysler: Was that a question?
Chrysler: Then I can’t answer it.
Part II of the story here.
The 50 best romantic reads, from the British newspaper The Independent, list freak that I am…sll
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Last month The Guardian announced the results of its Best British Weblog competition. The winner was Scaryduck by Alistair Coleman of Weymouth, Dorset. Just checked out the blog. The chap has a good sense of humour:
In the name of God! Pretty Woman is not - repeat IS NOT a modern fairy tale about true love and the American Dream. It's a sordid little movie about a man who drives around picking up prostitutes. He's a kerbcrawler! A sex pervert! He probably even had a small rodent stuffed up his arse while he was at it...
And under a photograph of a suspicious-looking cat, he writes: ‘LESBIAN RABBITS TURNED MY CAT MENTAL’.
Coleman also maintains Scaryduck’s House of Lies – which has some pretty good howlers.
Largecow is the website of British cartoonist and graphic novelist Hunt Emerson.
‘I was abducted by aliens once. They ate my trousers.’slrs
Nothing like a good annotated reading list to whet your appetite for books. Here’s one I found recently, from the September / October 1999 issue of the American Book Review. ‘The 20th Century’s Greatest Hits: 100 English Language Books of Fiction’ is by Larry McCaffery, who teaches American literature at San Diego State University and is co-editor of the journal Fiction International. Save it to a floppy and read it at home.
More great book lists can be found at LiteraryCritic.com.sll slrs
Right, I’ll get to Marquez on some bright sunny day, after I can get myself to stop puzzling at the ambiguous undulations that pigeons make as they sink downward to darkness on extended wings…
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Right now I am reading (rereading) collected stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Dear Clement, don’t waste your precious life reading the definitions of life, love and art, read any of these stories, especially the stories of 60's and 70's.
The grand mother shrugged her shoulder and took care of the musician. She handed him a bundle of bills that matched the figure written in her ledger.
"Two hundred and fifty numbers," she told him. "At fifty cents apiece, plus thirty two on Sundays and holidays at sixty cents apiece, that's one hundred fifty-six twenty.
The musician wouldn't accept the money.
"It’s one hundred eighty-two forty," he said. “Waltzes cost more.'
"Why is that?'
"Because they are sadder," said the musician.
The grand mother made him take the money.
"Well, this week you'll play us two happy numbers for each waltz I owe you for and we'll be even."
- ‘Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother'
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Website of the Film and Television Institute of India here in Pune. Bad text, unattractive design, and the Admissions link does not work. Reminds you that the institute is run by the government. Seems like the private firm which designed the site learnt their trade from the Department of Audio-Visual Publicity (the notorious DAVP) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The latest goof of the DAVP I heard about is the ad they published on Gandhi Jayanti in a Gujarati newspaper which read, ‘An ungrateful[!] nation pays homage to the Mahatma on his birthday.’ The Congress promptly declared that if not on purpose, the slip was surely Freudian, and alleged that the Hindutvawadis in Delhi are still after the Mahatma more than half a century after they assassinated him.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
kamera.co.uk chats with Asif Kapadia – director of the acclaimed British made Hindi-language film The Warrior. Says Kapadia:
My co writer Tim Miller… pitched me something he had read in a book of Japanese tales, it was a four line footnote: “A young Boy training to be a samurai, was bought before the Shogun, shown a severed head and asked if it was his father. The Boy knew it was not his father but to save his father's life he lied and said it was. To prove it, the Boy pulled out his dagger and killed himself. He would rather be dead than live with the shame his father had bought onto the family.” I thought it was such a powerful scene…
...in the introduction to which Slate's cartoonist Daryl Cagle argues that 9/11 brought out the worst in editorial cartoons.
[Click on above pic.]
Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index. HUGE collection of political cartoons.slrs
Monday, October 14, 2002
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Changed Salon’s archive template; got a drop-down menu for it. Changed archiving frequency to monthly. I dunno but all this seems to have solved the trouble with posting too. Everything fine then. Good.
Saturday, October 12, 2002
The art of the graphic novel – an article from December 2000 in The Observer.
Top 10’s in the Guardian’s Books section: selections of favourite ten books in all sorts of genres and sub-sub-genres of publishing, by writers, editors, academics, et al. One life ain’t enough, man!
Sample: The Observer's literary editor Robert McCrum’s ‘favourite books of the twentieth century’:
1. A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust
2. Ulysses by James Joyce
3. The Man without Qualities by Robert Musil
4. The Trial by Franz Kafka
5. Murphy by Samuel Beckett
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
7. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
8. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
9. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
10. Nostromo by Josef Conrad
It is also possible that you may discover something special: ‘The best comic strip of all time. The best illustrated book of all time. The best sustained work of surrealism of all time. A magisterial whodunwhat, full of little deaths and high adventure, insurrection and freedom.’ China Miéville here is talking about one book – Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst.sll slrs
- René Magritte: The Lovers, 1928
You liked ‘A to Z of Surrealism’? There’s more where that came from. Last year the Tate Gallery in London hosted an exhibition titled ‘Surrealism: Desire Unbound’. The BBC had many programmes in connexion with this event. The very interesting material is compiled here.
A selection of works from the exhibition.slrs
From the transcript on the BBC website of a live chat with Jonathan Meades – author, journalist and critic – on Surrealism:
Q: True or false, intelligent people can't make art?
JM: That's a very good question, I think if you're too sensient and too intelligent you probably can't do it. I think perhaps that would be a quality that you don't know what you're doing - because if you know what you're doing you can't do it.
Q: What would happen if someone were to break the rules for Surrealism? Is it possible to be too surrealistic for Surrealism?
JM: Well think September the 11th. Well evidently you can look at the film of what was happening on that day and say as Carl Heinz Stockhausen said 'This is a great work of art' - that was a crass thing to say. However, it was possible to see that from the clouds and flames it looked like all of Max Ernst premonitions had come true.
Q: What is it that fascinates you so much about the fantastical dogma of the Catholic church?
JM: I'm a card-carrying Atheist but if I smoked cigarettes I would smoke Capstan full-strength rather than Marlborough Light.
[Them’s my sentiments!]
Q: What relationship does Surrealism have to anarchy? Exploring outside the realms of common sense and common rules?
JM: I don't know, I think that art does not attempt to control people in any way. It might suggest roots by which people can behave. It doesn't try to lay down forms for behaviour. It might suggest a way of behaving but it doesn't set out templates of behaviour - it is not prescriptive.
Q: With Surrealist art the theory is to express the spontaneous. But how can a work of art, which takes time and effort to produce be spontaneous?
JM: I think it's very improbable that any work of art of any merit has been spontaneous. The only kind of spontaneity is the kind of spontaneity that has been very well rehearsed and thought out beforehand - That's knocking the idea of spontaneity right on the head.
[Again interesting, eh?]
Style for Men, from the About web portal: shaving, hairstyles, fashion. Am I being trivial?slrs
The following is from the page titled ‘The Fine Print’ on plagiarist.com. It’s pretty long – I couldn’t decide on a part to select and so here’s the whole thing. It’s a fun compendium. Reminded me of a particular Radiohead song. But Radiohead is another topic…
Plagiarist provides these poems as is, with no warranty or guarantee of any kind, either written or implied. Plagiarist reserves the right to alter the site or even remove it entirely at the slightest capricious whim. Void where prohibited by law. Subject to change without notice. PA residents add 6% sales tax. Free shipping for orders over $1,000,000. Offer not available in Alaska, Hawaii, or New Jersey. Batteries not included. No purchase necessary. For a limited time only. You may cancel at any time. Keep off the grass. Violators will be prosecuted. Slippery when wet. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Some assembly required. Contents may settle during shipping. Weight reflects pre-cooked state. Times approximate. Simulated picture. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Apply only to affected area. May cause itching, burning, inflammation of the lower extremities, choking, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, memory loss, sudden and severe weight loss, boils, abrasions, flatulence, sneezing, blurry vision, voting Republican, dancing, gasping desperately for breath, asphyxiation, tumors, hernias, hemorrhages, and a propensity to watch sitcoms. If condition persists, consult your physician. Use only as recommended. Due to some violent content, viewer discretion is advised. This is CNN. Open other end. This side up. This means you. For recreational use only. As seen on TV. No user- serviceable parts inside. Freshest if used before date stamped on carton. No postage necessary if mailed in the United States. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. Colours may fade over time. For off-road use only. One size fits all. Many suitcases look alike. Contains a substantial amount of non-tobacco ingredients. Slippery when wet. For office use only. Edited for television. 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Shading within a garment may occur. Use only in a well-ventilated area. Keep away from fire or flames. Replace with same type. Approved for veterans. Booths for two or more. Check here if tax deductible. Some equipment shown is optional. Price does not include taxes. No Canadian coins. Not recommended for children. Prerecorded for this time zone. Reproduction strictly prohibited. No solicitors. No alcohol, dogs or horses. No anchovies unless otherwise specified. Restaurant package, not for resale. List at least two alternate dates. First pull up, then pull down. No MSG used. This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your TV. Driver does not carry cash. Some of the trademarks mentioned in this product appear for identification purposes only. Record additional transactions on back of previous stub. Unix is a registered trademark of AT&T. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. No transfers issued until the bus comes to a complete stop. Package sold by weight, not volume. Your mileage may vary. This supersedes all previous notices. Repeat as necessary. Keep out of reach of children. Contents may be hot. Keep head and arms inside at all times. Dispose of properly. For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Close spout after use. Do not puncture or incinerate. Contents under pressure. If redness, irritation, swelling or pain persists or increases or if infection occurs, discontinue use and consult a physician. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact a poison control center immediately. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal. Do not spray while smoking or near fire. Products are not authorized for use as critical components in life support devices or systems. See reverse side for additional details. 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If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health care professional before using. This product has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats. For optimum performance and safety, please read these instructions carefully. Do not use the AC adapter provided with this player for other products. Do not play your headset at high volume. If you experience a ringing in your ears, reduce volume or discontinue use. Do not use while operating a motorized vehicle. Prices stated are USA prices only. This page intentionally left blank. Do not eat. This is not a toy. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. Plagiarist is a registered trademark of Plagiarist.com and Approximately, Inc. All rights reserved.
A website called plagiarist.com – a good site with a bad name. It is ‘a repository of classic and modern poetry’. Classic poetry is comparatively easy to find on the web. But this site is pretty strong on modern poetry too.slrs
I didn’t comment on your Monologue of a Bush Postman because it’s good and it shows. Typical of your stuff too. I feel like I’m beginning to get the hang of your ‘artistic vision’ (pardon the bombast). But maybe I’m too hasty. Let’s have more of your stuff, and I’ll tell you.
‘Passages, chambers, storages and altars’ – for some reason I like that. ‘Silver streaks’, ‘blinding glimmer’, ‘green breasts [beasts?]’, ‘broken mirrors’, ‘gnarled thighs’, ‘dark green silence’ – painter, aren’t you?
I’m telling you man, having read part of your African story as well as this monologue, you’ve got a good thing going with this bushman stuff. Can you get out of this something more sustained?
There’s some problem with Blogger. Whenever a post is made, it shows the message: ‘Cannot load template – we are working on this.’ And the last post does not appear on Salon even after refreshing the page. But everything is fine after a couple of minutes or so. So don’t bother if your post doesn’t appear immediately.
Life is moving fast like a bull let loose. And I being responsible for whatever it does. Sometimes rewarded, sometimes punished.
Offering explanations and justifications. Providing theories for life's dynamics, never really grasping it.
But I am addicted and stuck with it, like a woman to her charming, irresponsible husband.slcw
'A to Z of surrealism' is great. I discovered painter 'Yves Tanguy'.
How is my Monologue of a bush postman ?
Sunday, October 06, 2002
Ezra Loomis Pound
'... hysterias, trench confessions, laughter out of dead bellies.'
His support for Mussolini led to his confinement in a US mental hospital (1946-58).
'The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.'
Just browsed through the BBC website. Fantastic! Huge, comprehensive and authoritative. Easy to get lost in all that content. Some day I’ll have a permanent connection to the net and will spend my time reading all that stuff. Some day.
AboutMusic is their in-depth section on music of all persuasions, where Debussy jostles with Dylan and Davis.
AboutMusic’s profile of Beethoven with more links and recommendations. I suppose the site would also be a worthy aural experience, but the net café has no facilities for sound.
The informative entry on Dylan (‘unquestionably the greatest musical poet of the 20th century’) from the Encyclopedia of Popular Music reproduced on the site.
‘Paris in the Twenties’ – a feature article in AboutMusic.
The A to Z of Surrealism: … B is for Andre Breton:
The founder, chief theoretician and presiding spirit of Surrealism, who became such a ferocious and possessive guardian of its purity across the decades that he became known by cynics as its “Pope”.
Having looked around to find out what else other than Gandhi’s birth occurred on Oct 2, I was interested to know about the events that took place on my birthday – June 26. Here’s what I found:
In 1284, the Pied Piper lured 130 children of the town of Hamelin away. In 1894, Karl Benz received US patent for gasoline-driven auto. In 1896, the first movie theatre in the US opened. In 1945, in San Francisco, the UN Charter was signed by 50 nations. In India, the Emergency was declared in 1975. In 1989, the US Supreme Court ruled that 16 year olds can receive the death penalty. In 1997 the Court struck down the Internet indecency law; and, on the same day, upheld the ban on doctor-assisted suicide.
In 1870, June 26 saw the premiere of Richard Wagner’s Valkyrie in Munich; and in 1912 Mahler’s 9th Symphony premiered in Vienna. The Beatles released A Hard Day’s Night in 1964; and in 1977 Elvis Presley gave the last performance of his career, in Indianapolis.
People born on June 26 include the scientist Lord Kelvin, the writers Andre Maurois and Pearl S Buck, the blues singer/guitarist ‘Big Bill’ Broonzy and the conductor Claudio Abbado, the actor Peter Lorre, and the director Paul Thomas Anderson.
Alfred Doblin, who, in his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz, gave Berlin the same treatment that Joyce gave Dublin in Ulysses, died on this date. (The novel was made into a film, which, at 15 ½ hours, is the longest narrative film ever, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.)
Thursday, October 03, 2002
'We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.'
- 'Sunday Morning' (1923) st. 8slq
Yesterday was October 2: Gandhi's birthday.
Others born on this day include Richard III, Wallace Stevens, Graham Greene, Groucho Marx, Bud Abbott and Sting.
The day also marks the first time the world saw a comic-strip featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy (1950) and the premieres of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' (1955) and 'Twilight Zone' (1959).
On October 2, 1187, Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders; and in 1941, Hitler began his ill-advised Operation Typhoon to bring Russia to her knees.
On this day in 322 BC Aristotle died of indigestion; and in 1955, James Dean died in a car crash.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
"For what is essential is that the novelist, whatever else he does, should be able to show us people who by some means or other, through delighted fascination, repulsion, or mere conviction that in their own world they exist, catch and hold our imagination. if his characters fail to do this, then the novelist has failed. A novel in which the people do not seem to us to come alive cannot succeed as a novel, no matter what merits it may have as a piece of writing.
Vital relationship between us and its characters, or atleast some of them, remains central in fiction, its keystone."
J B Priestly
"Enjoying modern poetry was no longer like enjoying a glass of wine, spring blossom, the operas of mozart, but began to suggest some difficult and mysterious hobby, solving cryptograms or learning to write chinese. The gap between the poet of genius or great talent and society in general was now far wider than it had been when the age began.
contemporary poetry seemed to be written by and for specialists.And here is the tragic irony of the situation, For poetry does not represent the specialization and separation of men, cannot be another of the barriers between them. Poetry is the break-through, the whole man addressing other whole men. but now modern poetry, in its sincere effort to be more purely poetical, lost most of its audience, and just when that audience was in need of it. So if the poets were unlucky, so was the age."
J B Priestly
"Strictly speaking, 'A hero of our time' (Lermentov)is not a novel at all but a series of five tales,and no matter how beautifully they are told,five tales do not add up to a novel, just as five pavillions cannot equal in their architectural importance a splendid palace.
A great novel has a scope and sweep, a broad continuity of narrative, a massive fundamental structure, with which, fortunately for the writer of the tales, episodes,anecdotes,novelettes, has not to concern himself."
J B Priestly.
Monday, September 30, 2002
" I think Dickens is one of the best friends mankind has ever had."
Dickens possess in full measure that fiercely creative will in which Thackeray a big but slack and soft man is defficient. He had all the gifts of a master except the fiercely creative will that lifts an artist above bad luck and an unpropitius time.
J B Priestly. 'Literature and Western man'
Friday, September 27, 2002
"art is like digging up a hundred tonnes of dirt, carrying it out of the hole a sack at a time, then sifting and washing the whole of it to get a gram of gold and making exquisite jewellery out of it"
Monologue of a bush postman
There is no growth as such. Life is just a wasted time spent carrying tears and joys between people. It is spent walking the muddy shores of this river.
All the rivers are coming from this bush. The mud sucks in my legs. And my eyes are straining to see the silver streaks of fish among the blinding glimmer of the river.
Green breasts speckled with broken mirrors carrying the sun on the their faces. I wish I could sit somewhere. I wish I could rest my head on the gnarled thighs of that tree, within the dark green silence. But my rest is broken by the fact that, under me beneath this roots a million ants are toiling forever, building passages, chambers, storages and altars. The need of what they build are neither explained nor felt. I got up. Started walking again.slcw
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Samuel L Jackson as Jules
From Quentin Tarantino's blazing hot Pulp Fiction:
[Jules and Vinnie take Marvin with them in their car and Vinnie's gun goes off and blows Marvin's head off]
Jules: Oh! Fuck's happening!
Vincent: Man, I shot Marvin in the face.
Jules: Why the fuck did you do that! Oh man I've seen some crazy ass shit in my time!
Vincent: Chill out, man. I told you it was an accident. You probably went over a bump or something.
Jules: Hey, the car didn't hit no motherfucking bump.
Vincent: Hey, look man, I didn't mean to shoot the son of a bitch! The gun went off. I don't know why.
Jules: Well look at this fucking mess, man. We're on a city street in broad daylight.
Vincent: I don't believe it.
Jules: Well believe it now, motherfucker! We gotta get this car off the road. You know cops tend to notice shit like your driving a car drenched in fucking blood.
Vincent: Take it to a friendly place, that's all.
Jules: We're in the Valley, Vincent! Marcellus ain't got no friendly places in the Valley.
Jimmie: Now let me ask you a question, Jules. When you drove in here, did you notice a sign out in front that said, "Dead nigger storage"?
Jimmie: Answer the question! Did you see a sign out in front of my house that said "Dead nigger storage"?
Jules: Naw man, I didn't.
Jimmie: You know why you didn't see that sign?
Jimmie: 'Cause storin' dead niggers ain't my fuckin' business!
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfuckers. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got enough sense to disregard its own faeces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eat their own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, it'd cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we gotta be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?
Jules: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you." I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd.
Fabienne: Whose motorcycle is this?
Butch: It's a chopper, baby.
Fabienne: Whose chopper is this?
Butch: It's Zed's.
Fabienne: Who's Zed?
Butch: Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.
Captain Koons: The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any of the slopes were gonna get their greasy yellow hands on his boy's birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.
Esmeralda: What is your name?
Esmeralda: What does it mean?
Butch: I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean shit.
And I'm wondering why the hell this film ain't on my favourites list.
From the verse of A C Swinburne:
Ah, yet would God this flesh of mine might be
Where air might wash and long leaves cover me;
Where tides of grass break into foam of flowers,
Or where the wind's feet shine along the sea.
- 'Laus Veneris' (1866)
I will go back to the great sweet mother,
Mother and lover of men, the sea.
I will go down to her, I and no other,
Close with her, kiss her and mix her with me.
- 'The Triumph of Time' (1866)
For the crown of our life as it closes
Is darkness, the fruit thereof dust;
No thorns go as deep as a rose's,
And love is more cruel than lust.
Time turns the old days to derision,
Our loves into corpses or wives;
And marriage and death and division
Make barren our lives.
- 'Dolores' (1866)
'Sea Fever' (1902) by John Masefield
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life.
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
The Chicago Tribune is bowled over by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, calling the first Bollywood film to feature in the competition section at Cannes ‘an exceptionally moving and deeply satisfying work.’
But the Observer’s Ryan Gilbey ‘cannot fathom why everyone is literally making such a song and dance about… a violent alcoholic narcissist with pyromaniac tendencies.’
The Postmodernism Generator. If you try this link you’ll find an essay that ‘is completely meaningless and was randomly generated by the Postmodernism Generator.’ Refresh the page and you’ll find another one. Good stuff!slrs
Fuck. An enlightening and entertaining article on the four-letter word.
Along with "cunt," "fuck" was excluded from dictionaries and almost all writing from the middle of the eighteenth century until 1960, when the Lady Chatterley trial was held, and both words were welcomed back from the Siberian gulags of condemned words. Not without difficulty, it has since made its way onto stage and screen. It must be said that an activity that is so popular and widespread has been poorly served by polite language.
Is the traditional concert-hall performance of classical music unsuitable for our excessively visual times?
In a concert, everyone has a role to play. The performer's artistry involves the controlled revelation of a structure in sound. The audience's responsibility is stillness and silence.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
Sam Mendes's follow-up to American Beauty, The Road to Perdition stars Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post says Shekhar Kapur's new film The Four Feathers is the year's first serious Oscar contender. '...splendidly spectacular, intelligent and very well-acted...'
How Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami learned his craft making films about oral hygiene and school discipline.
Art / Design
'Art has to move you and design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus.'
- David Hockney
'Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.'
- A N Whitehead
'Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see... it is the expression of the profoundest thoughts in the simplest way.'
- Albert Einstein
'Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.'
- Pablo Picasso
'Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand them?'
- Pablo Picassoslq
'Beauty will save the world.'
'It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.'
'The nature of reality is this: It is hidden, and it is hidden, and it is hidden.'
'Sanity is madness put to good uses.'
- George Santayanaslq
'Anyone who isn't confused doesn't really understand the situation,' Edward R Murrow commented on the Vietnam war, but I suppose our ordinary lives too qualify for that description.slq
'You're mad because they lied to you? They lie to everyone! They lie to the fish!'
- Robert Duvall to Michael Douglas in Joel Schumacher's Falling Downslq
Friday, September 20, 2002
- 'Marciano vs. Simmons', by Eliot Elisofon (1951) for Life magazine