Monday, 28 December 2009

Playing the truant: my education

When I wrote a post more than a year ago proclaiming that truanting is more educational than attending school, I made this statement: "Get out of school and go to the library and borrow some Faulkner or some Kafka and read them and be astounded by the infinite possibilities of a real education." When my dear follower Doug read this statement, he wrote back "Hardly constitutes a real education" without elaborating.

What constitutes a 'real education'? Doug is the sort of person who pedals the word 'subjective' around incessantly, and I think that if he were to reconsider what he said, he'd more than find that a 'real' education is indeed what he calls 'subjective'.

Now that I'm attending college, my A-level teachers seem to be rather befuddled by how my target minimum grade is a D, considering the fact that I'm obtaining top marks. How can a student leap from a D to an A? Everything that went towards getting these grades was not culled from what was taught to me during GCSE period, but derived from my own introspection and independent study that I underwent for a two year period prior to attending college.

During GCSE period I was depressed by the tedious manner everything was taught, and by the conformity and lack of inquisitiveness from my fellow peers. I started truanting at the end of year 10, and I went to the woods/countryside instead of attending many of the lessons. This, I realised then, was a real education... my education.

After school ended, and after I flunked out of school with poor grades, I withdrew myself from others and read a lot of books - relentlessly. Prior to this period I wasn't a particularly avid reader, but I soon became a voracious one. I developed a strong affinity and understanding of literature and literary themes that seem alien to most other teenagers. After I had experiences with psychosis (read previous posts in this blog to get a small glimpse of these experiences, or read a novel I will soon write about these experiences), I ended up in an intensive care unit. The doctor there read some of my writing and he described it as 'advanced'. When we had a short conversation, he asked me "What happened with your GCSEs?", somewhat perplexed. He suggested that I should re-enter the education system.

Many artists also happened to be truants when they were younger - Francois Truffaut, George Gershwin, Frank Zappa and Iannis Xenakis to name a few - and these people didn't acquire their talents by attending school and being studious, but they developed their own unique craft in accordance to their personal vision.

I used to be strongly against the idea of being part of an education system, but academia can provide useful tools for the autodidact. But I wouldn't have entered it and have made a start at it (I will start a university education soon) if I hadn't played the truant... The conventional notion of an education is that of academia, but there are far more paths to perception/information/knowledge than just that.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Favourite You Tube videos 2/2

Film (Continued)
Nosferatu, Phantom Der Nacht



I take back what I said about Isabelle Adjani in 'Women I'd like to fuck #2'... She looks far more beautiful when she's older and with make-up. Kinsky is really impacting here, too...

Burden of Dreams



Werner Herzog is a unique visionary, and here he gives extremely insightful and articulate assertions right in the middle in the tumultuous shoot of Fitzcarraldo.

Annie Hall



funny lol

Scanners



Cronenberg's films are mindblowing..... literally.

Literature

Julio Cortázar



Cortázar talking about his penchant for nocturnal walking which, like his writing, doesn't succumb to third-rate cheap romaticism. You need to understand either Spanish or French to get anything out of this video.... otherwise, you're fucked.

Jorge Luis Borges



This is historical! But you need to have a grasp of Spanish to understand it. :p

J. G. Ballard



Ballard is probably the british novelist to have had the most accurate understanding of 20th century British psychopathology.

Football

Chile 2-1 Italy



This is when Chile went 2-1 up against Italy in the '98 world cup, with a goal of Marcelo Salas. Chile proceeded to piss all over Italy throughout the rest of the game, but in the 90th minute the referee gave Italy an inexistant penalty and they equalised 2-2! The ball went straight onto the defender's hand and he conceded it as a penalty! More than ten years later, I still cannot get over this.

Colombia 2-4 Chile



Here Chile eviscerate Colombia in an exciting match that qualifies them to South Africa 2010. You need to understand Spanish to understand the emotional outpouring spewed out by the tv presenter... Chile finished second place after Brazil in these qualifiers, and they are arguably the greatest Chilean team of all time... I'm hoping they're not going to implode and fuck up in the world cup itself.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Favourite You Tube videos 1/2

In two posts I shall go across my favourite videos on youtube. These videos range from music to film to literature and... football. I decided to divide this post into two separate parts as it would get a bit too draining in all one big post...

Music


I'm Gonna Booglarize you, Baby - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band



This is Beefheart at his most accessible while remaining defiantly uncomprising and strange at the same time.

Blindness - The Fall



I've watched this about 500 times and am equally captivated by MES on repeated viewings as I am when I first saw it... Mark E. Smith is such a unique individual.

Symphony of Wind instruments - Igor Stravinsky



This is a gobsmacking performance of one of the most important pieces of the modern repertoire...

Amsterdam - Jacques Brel



Words can't do justice to this...

Dupree's Paradise - Frank Zappa



Zappa at his best.

Harry Partch



If you've never heard of Partch before, I suggest you watch this video to discover one of the most iconoclastic and awe-inspiring composers of all time.

Ionisation - Edgard Varese



This isn't actually an accurate rendition of the piece, but I find it more exhilirating performed this way than how Varese actually intended it to be like.

Film

Jean-Luc Godard :

Week End



"Tracking shots are a question of morality." - Godard

Vivre Sa Vie



"One of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of." - Susan Sontag

Alphaville



My favourite Godard film... a melange of many luscious things...

----------------------------

Second part will come tomorrow... The second part will contain more film sequences, a few writers I admire & scenes of Chile doing well at football.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Awesome book covers


'Coz it recreates what's in the book.


'Coz it recreates the Burroughs mystique.

'Coz of the Bosch

'Coz it does what it says in the title.

'Coz it recreates the images Borges conjures up...


This isn't an accurate representation of the book - it only picks on a small moment in the book... but it is still fascinating to look at.

'Coz it's just as surreal as the book.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Q & A

Who do you write for?

I don't have a specific designated audience in my mind. I write for myself, but I think that it is also a tentative step to share my discoveries regardless of the reaction. I think it is somewhat elitist to narrow down an artform/object to one particular type of person. All perceptions are accessible to everyone. I also find it terribly boring when an artist sits down and writes specifically for the audience - it dilutes meaning, and it lacks substance.

What books do you read?

In English I read modern classics: Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Nabokov, Huxley etc. etc. In Spanish I read Latin-American literature: Cortázar, Borges, Rulfo, Onetti and many more. I also have an interest in cult authors who don't fit into any style and avoid categorisation. These authors range from Paul Auster to J. G. Ballard to Thomas Pynchon etc. etc. etc.

What is your fiction about?

My fiction either tends to be centred around dream-like vignettes or deliberately provocative and satirical. To provoke I write about the most gruesome sex you can think of... I also write quite straighforward narratives about solitary characters who encounter difficulties with peculiar situations.

Where are you from?

I was born in Chile... I grew up in a city called Concepción. I moved to England when I was 11 years old. My father is Chilean but of British descent, and my mother is English. I still keep up with my Spanish by reading in this language, and my patriotism is generally geared towards Chilean traditions than British traditions.

Why do you think anyone would be interested in your blog?

I don't care whether anyone is interested in my blog - it's open to everyone, and anyone can read it. There are people who like to read things which aren't generic, and it's good to have a space on the net which isn't generic and doesn't churn out the same boring shite most people seem to be interested in.

What are your addictions?

My addictions are sour sweets, lesbian porn, Coca-cola, Mark E. Smith, oddball music and literary fiction of many sorts.

What are your views on reality?

That it isn't credible... There is far more to things than how you see them at first glance, there is so much beneath the surface. The human body is a complete mystery to us, so we know very little about ourselves. There was so much within me that it exploded, and I had a psychotic episode... Reality doesn't necessarily have to be distorted, but it needs to be questioned.

Why are you so angry?

I'm not as angry as I used to before my episode... The reason for this anger was a grief against the world for going against me, and a fury against the complacency everyone seemed to opt for... I seemed to be the only one right while the rest of the other cunts were wrong... and 'flawed'.

Why are you reclusive?

I love spending time alone... I can pass a vast amount of time on my own without human contact of any sort. Even when I'm with someone who's similar to me, I feel out of place... It is also possible to get a lot done when you're on your own. Parties and vast congregations of people make me feel nauseous. The only solace left are my books... and my walks to the woods. Mind you, it is pretty difficult to be completely reclusive as I go to college, but I look forward to returning to this completely in my year off... which is next year.

Who are your favourite directors?

Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Coen Brothers, Robert Bresson, Luis Bunuel, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles.

Favourite painters?

Hieronymus Bosch, Willem De Kooning, Monet, Edvard Much, Mark Rhotko.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Review #7


On The Corner - Miles Davis

Every watershed moment and turning point in Miles Davis' career has been acknowledged. The Birth of the Cool signalled the departure from be-bop, Kind of Blue saw the birth of modal jazz and Bitches Brew was one of the first fusion records. I'd say that the logical progression onto a new territory after Bitches Brew was On The Corner in 1972, but it's only now been rightly recognised as this. Regarded as a huge misstep at the time by critics, On The Corner is now being rightfully assessed as a masterpiece.

This record is incredibly prescient. Its use use of phasing and looping is what was later used in hip-hop music. Miles could see this new music developing in the street, and he brought out this record just at the right time. Whereas the minimalist phasing is superimposed with vocals in rap music, here you get jazz solos spliced along with the rock rhythms and structures Miles was already pursuing with his fusion music.

Despite all the experimentalist, this music is way funkier than Bitches Brew and far more danceable. It's fun and entertaining as well as being experimental and boundary-pushing. It's a rhythm track repeating incessantly like a loop, which has now been acknowledged as being 'minimalist' or 'trance'.

Additionally, Miles culled ideas from Karlheinz Stockhausen with tape manipulation as well as drawing from free jazz visionary Ornette Coleman. The record is a melange of styles spliced together in a fun, approachable way.

One has to admire Miles for constantly reinventing himself, or adapting jazz to the prevailing fashion of the time. He could have settled for renditions of 'So What' again and again, but he chose to find new ways of redefining what jazz can be. At the same time, he doesn't indulge himself in pointless dissonance nor did he welcome the excess of free jazz. He pursued his vision regardless of the controversy.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

My state of mind #8

At the beginning of the month I was disappointed as the Germany-Chile match was cancelled because the fucking German goalkeeper committed suicide... You deserve to be dead, you cunt. Both my dad and I had tickets for the match, and I was eagerly anticipating to see the Bielsa team play - arguably the greatest Chilean team of all time. The good thing thing about the trip, though, was the game was going to held in Cologne, a city renowned for its art galleries... Another disappointment was that the Arditti Quartet, one of the most prominent string quartets known for playing the modern repertoire, were playing the day we left! I missed two monumental events! Nevertheless, the trip to Cologne was splendid and made up for these two huge disappointments.

When were waiting for the plane at the terminal we met a Chilean person, and we wandered around Cologne with him to look for our hotels around 12 PM. The next day, we wandered around Cologne and drank coffee. We went to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum as I had read that they have a painting by Bosch, but the people there could hardly speak English and they were really vague ("I think we may have Bosch in safe at the cellar"). Despite not having Bosch painting, this museum was truly spectacular, especially the early renaissance section. These paintings, like Bosch, depict the depths of 'hell' in a somewhat surrealist manner. A painting I think was called 'A wager between God and the devil' was particularly eyecatching. Going up the stairs, I saw their 20th century selection which was mainly impressionist stuff. I liked the Monet and Van Gogh, but the painting which impressed me the most was by Max Burch, and I bought a small print of it to put on my wall. Then at about 3 went to the cathedral were all the Chilean fans congregated to celebrate, waving flags and dancing and shouting ("CHILE VA AL MUNDIAL! CHILE VA AL MUNDIAL!"). I felt a bit out of place with them, and wandered around them nervously while drinking water - mimicking Bielsa himself without any conscious self-awareness. Afterwards I went to the Ludwig museum on my own, which has a selection of modern art... It's truly flabbergasting the selection they have: Ernst, shitloads of Picasso, a truly remarkable painting by Dali, Miro, Pollock... Incredible. I was quite captivated by the discovery of Max Beckenmann, an artist I was truly impressed by. After spending about an hour of wandering around the museum and intently looking at the paintings, I went down to the cafe to keep reading Roberto Bolano's Los Detectives Salvajes, drink a latte and wait for my dad. Around 6 we went back to our hotel where I kept reading my book... It was around this time that the fucking football match would have taken place...

Max Beckmann
There are some changes to some of my coursework titles... For the English language research I'll studying "How does William Faulkner re-create the characteristics of Southern USA dialect in The Sound and the Fury. My film studies research has now been made more specific and is entitled 'The film aesthetic of Jean-Luc Godard's auteurial signature during the French New Wave period'. For English Literature I will be comparing Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with William Burroughs' Naked Lunch as well as applying critical ideas of aesthetics to T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land for another essay.

This college work is becoming really fucking daunting... I spend every night getting myself geared up to do it, but end up procrastinating... I'm not making life easy for myself with these over-complex coursework titles, either... Presently, I should be working on a presentation script for my Jean-Luc Godard project, but have ended up going on the fucking laptop to wank and write this fucking state of mind post.

Reality, as has always been the case recently, is not credible... I find myself incapable of engaging with 'real life'.

Fucking Lovefilm is wrecking my film year. They were extremely reliable last year, but this year they refuse to send me the Tarkovsky film I want to watch. I had to wait 2 weeks for Solaris and have now been waiting a whole month for Stalker. I've had to watch six films I haven't wanted to watch... I've had to watch Lynch when I'm not in the mood for it as well as Woody Allen and Cronenberg... The worst thing is that I wanted to save these films for later.

At the beginning of November I finished One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which, as mentioned before, I will compare with Naked Lunch. I've had so much off-the-wall stuff before that Cuckoo's Nest wasn't as shocking as it was to the other students. Plus, I've been in a psychiatric ward. Finishing Cuckoo permitted me to finish the wonderful existential novel Zama Antonio Di Benedetto. Now I am well into Roberto Bolano's Los Detectives Salvajes, and I can see why it has been acclaimed as one of the greatest Latin-American novels of all time. I try to read this novel as much as I can, which isn't unfortunately that often. I am at around page 200, and I'm really glad that I've got 400 left to go - I hope to make the most out of them.

While I read my books at break time (which is 2 hours + a half long), a person my age sits next to me to read his book... There are many possible friendships like these, but nothing will happen unless I take the initiative.

I am no longer in love with that girl who catches my bus. About 2 weeks ago, she sat next to the most stupid, irritating student in the whole college and talked about "VODKA AND CHOCOLAT LOL AND DVDS"... She is, it seems, a cunt.... like the rest. The fact that she has turned out to be a cunt makes me feel even lonelier... I'm still full of this obsessive love, and I'm trapped with and I'm anxious to find a woman I can apply it to...

I'm not very good at articulating myself orally... I keep fucking up whenever I talk to others... I never get any practise, so I fuck whenever I do talk. When writing fiction, there's a chance to create my own sense of 'coherence' no matter how disjointed it is...

I look forward for my year of unmitigated freedom... I aim to make the most out of it... In my year off I'm hoping to indulge myself in solitude, commence my novels... and my extensive Chile trip.

I'm really fucking anxious for this year to end. It's already been 3 months... Yet, at the same time, I want this year to end but I've got to put a lot of fucking effort to obtain the grades in.... I can't wait for it to be over for my year of 'unmitigated freedom'.