Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thoughts on solitude

'Self-imposed solitude'

When I proudly flaunt the fact that I subject myself to a 'self-imposed life of solitude,' I am, it's true, exaggerating somewhat. At the summary at the very bottom of the page, I am again being somewhat hyperbolic. It sounds so romantic, doesn't it? Sadly, I can't live in a completely solitary way as I live with my parents and have to attend college where I have to, inevitably, communicate a bit with the cunt students and teachers.

Introspection

Anyone spending excessive amounts of time on his own is bound to be introspective - you can't escape it. Introspection can be quite unhealthy, too. Spending time on your own and thinking and thinking and thinking can lead to mental illnesses. But, I think, there's a lot in it for people and everyone should try it. The human mind is a wonderful, intricate mechanism. There's so much inside it, but most people seem to be reluctant to discover it. Communication with other humans is not enough; introspection will lead you to uncover more truths about yourself as well as a personal identity that isn't remotely possible through conversation. Introspection will lead you to uncover memories - be they recent or from your childhood - and these can either be a painful process or an immensely enjoyable one. Introspection will make you cry, smile, shout out; introspection may help you realise that there's far more within yourself than in anybody else; introspection will open up endless possibilities.

The endless possibilities

Thinking, walks, books, paintings, childhood comics, pornograhy, parks, memories, films... Endlessly, endlessly, endlessly...

Individual perception

Aldous Huxley described his experience of mescaline use in a solitary way in his book The Doors of Perception, but also explores how drug use can be a group experience in this very book as well as in his novel Brave New World. I do not recommend drug use, nor have I ever tried it, but I think that one of the interesting aspects of it - from what I can gather - is that can help the individual reach perception. I don't need drugs - I've got drugs within me... And this in itself leads to perception for the individual.

Invisibility

An old friend tends to accompany every Friday before I get the bus home. Testament to how little he knows me and cares about me, he described another friend of ours that he doesn't see much of anymore as invisible. Out of all people, he tells that to me. I disappeared from his life more than three years ago, and he doesn't wonder how I'm never present at any of his parties. The fact that he has overlooked that is real invisibility. I roam along the college corridors completely invisible; the students take no notice of me nor do they acknowledge my presence. Little do they know of what I have come across or what my eyes I've seen...

Anonymity

When you go through all those facebook profiles, you'll never find me there: I like to remain anonymous. I like the thought so few people know about my existence; I love the thought that so many people have forgotten about me; I love the thought that all my life is contained within myself yet shared with so little...

The outsider

An outsider is a person who refuses to compromise and is, therefore, subjected to the fringes... Roaming along the backstreets of a winter's night with the moon out... fecundity.

Possible friendships

It is inevitable that I often feel the need for a few friendships, but I have thought it over and realised that along the years people have never cared about me... Most of the friendships I've had have been rather superficial, and the other person has little interest in spending time with me and pursues other people instead. There are some people I think could make possible friendships, but I never want to take the initiative... Actually, I care more for a boy/girl relationship than I do for a friendsip...

Uncontrollable urges

If you are obsessive, celibate, a virgin, introspective and reclusive, then you're in trouble. I'm in my late teens, so I get uncontrollable sexual urges... I may be a virgin, but all the wanking I've been up to has compensated for that... My sexual impulses go through phases; I can spend some time where I am restrained, but then I go wild and all I can think about is women. At the end of last summer, I kept walking along the streets comparing women and obsessively masturbating myself at home.

The group

I find the whole concept of the group, for the most part flawed and fallacious... Be it a political ideology or whatever, it will never permit the human mind to flourish.... That's why it's more logical to shut yourself in your room all day.

Lots of time

With an uneventful social life, just think of all the spare fucking time you have to do whatever you fucking want... Don't let them or a some psychologist tell you that that a social life is healthy, use your time constructively to get many tasks and activities completed.

Creation

Many artists feel that they can only create with intensive isolation, and I feel that I fall into this category... The more time spent on your own, the more thoughts come to you; the more solitary you are, the more spare time you have to create...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Artist of the month #1

I have thought up a fourth regular to accompany 'My State of Mind', 'The Remote Edges' and 'Review'. I thought it'd be interesting if there was a space on my blog where I get to write about an artists and his work, as well as the reason why I appreciate the person's work.

Contrary to what the title suggests, I will write a new version of this post every two months rather than one. A British person may call it 'daft', a Chilean person may call it 'ahueonado' and an intellectual may call it 'paradoxical', but there you go...

I'm going to start this bi-monthly post with an artist I have had a great deal of interest in recently, and an artist who I even researched for some college work: Jean-Luc Godard.

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Jean-Luc Godard

"The movie is not a thing which is taken by the camera; the movie is the reality of the movie moving from reality to the camera."

Born to Franco-Swiss parents, Godard grew up in Nyon in Switzerland and later attended university in Paris. After the second world war, there was an influx of films available in France after years of nothing. An influential film theorist called Andre Bazin started the magazine Cahiers du Cinema aimed at educating the elite and intelligentsia, and as a vehicle for the production of 'better' films. Godard became a critic at this magazine, and another critic called Francois Truffaut wrote a manifesto entitled 'Un Certain Tendance Du Cinema,' where he championed the auteur theory. The autuer theory is that a director should be in complete control of his work in the way an author is of his book, and this applied to a few directors of the time such as Rosselini, Hitchock, Welles and Bresson. Truffaut went onto make a film entitled 4oo Blows, and this triggered a number of films from many of the cahiers critics including Godard.

Many of the French New Wave's directors' aesthetic was to film pictures extremely quickly and cheaply, use no screenplay, a high reliance on improvisation, and often use non-professional amatueur actors. Godard at the time, who was then seen as a 'poet-critic' at Cahiers due to the flowery style of his writing, got the budget for his first film Breathless from producer Georges De Beauregard, an acquaintance of Truffaut's. Godard was one of the last Cahiers critics to eventually make a film, and the French New Wave had already made a name for itself worldwide with Truffaut's 400 Blows and Alain Resnais' Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Breathless was to remain Godard's first and last commercial success. Along with cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who was to remain a frequent collaborator, Godard filmed much of the film with his two actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg either in the streets of Paris or in a hotel room. The film's main stylistic feature was the jump-cut. Certain shots will frenetically lead onto other shots with no sort of continuity (indeed, the person in charge of continuity was fired by Godard and no replacement was sought). Many of the scenes of the film deliberately misuse and discard conventional use of camera and editing in order to arrive to an aesthetic statement. This film is seen as the manifesto film of the New Wave, where many of the ideas thought out by people such as Andre Bazin are put into practice. It is also iconic of the time it was made, and it remains constantly associated with the early '60s.

Following the success of Breathless, Godard became incredibly prolific by often making two or three films in the space of a year. His next films were commercial failures but artistic successes nonetheless. His second film, Le Petit Soldat, dispensed the unusual editing in favour of a more straightforward narrative. Its star, Anna Karina, became Godard's wife during filming and would reappear in most of his french new wave films. It dealt with the Algerian war, and was banned for three years due to its subversive nature.

During his French New Wave period, Godard in general progressed to a new direction and became more and more extreme and left behind the levity which exemplified Breathless. These films included Un Femme Est Un Femme, Vivre Sa Vie, Le Mepris (famously starring Bridgette Bardot), Bande A Parte and Alphaville (which is, incidentally, my favourite of his films). With these features Godard remained, essentially, apolitical. Even using a theme like the Algerian war in Le Petit Soldat, he didn't espouse a political ideology. But this was to change dramatically with Pierrot Le Fou in 1965. Pierrot Le Fou blurred the distinction between the cinematic narrative and cinematic essay. It is in this film where Godard adopted a rabid ultra-left stance and attacked the Vietnam war and American imperialism among many other things. The films following Pierrot concerned themselves with an increasingly political agenda.

Around 1967, Godard discovered Maoism as is evident in his film La Chinoise. The situation of the French youth was spiralling out of control and this was presciently captured in Week End, a film which showed a complete disgust and rejection of his own society. The film portrays an anarchic world which very nearly emerged after the film's premiere. This film is generally deemed to be the culmination of Godard's New Wave period as the ending slogan was 'End of Cinema'. With Godard's Maoist revelation he could not carry on making films commercially and he said at the time that "The only solution is to turn one's back on the American cinema." His films could no longer be funded, and he abandoned one of the most remarkable careers in cinematic history in pursuit of obscure investigations of sound and image retaining his political ideologies.

Many people lost interest in Godard after Week End and his Nouvelle Vague period and I, truthfully, know very little about his career from 1967 onwards. After '68, many of his experimental shorts were circulated obscurely in small student gatherings. He embraced the video technology in the 1970s and these are, allegedly, very difficult to watch. He returned to feature films in the late '70s until the mid 80's along cinematographer Raoul Coutard, and these films were seen by a far wider audience. He has undertaken a highly ambitious project called Histoire(s) Du Cinema, which is an examination of film history. It has been compared to Finnegans Wake in its scope. This film was a decade in the making, and completed in 1998. Godard, now almost 80, continues making films but they are seldom watched.

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I only wrote one paragraph of this this post on Sunday the 10th, but actually completed it the rest of it on Friday the 15th...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Review #8

The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

Primo Levi was an Italian jewish chemist who, after participating in Partisan activities, was discovered and sent to Auschwitz. He miraculously survived by doing various jobs as a chemist. After leaving he wrote two semi-autobiographical novels called If This is a Man and The Truce about his experiences in the concentration camp. These novels were one of the first accounts of the holocaust, and they initially sold few copies but went on to become classics. The holocaust wasn't such a big issue in the world in the first few decades following it, and Levi was trying to bear witness to these atrocities and make people realise about the magnitude of their maliciousness. In his later life Levi was assaulted by memories of the camp, and he was plagued by thoughts that many better than he had died while he had survived. Just after finishing his final book, The Drowned and the Saved, Levi committed suicide. This book is an essay on several themes about the holocaust, and in particular Levi's insistence that the Germans must acknowledge what they did to the jews. Yet his writing is restrained and sensible and completely devoid of anger: it is a calm, subdued voice speaking of the most despicable, vile things.

In the first chapter 'The Memory of the Offence', Levi goes into psychological ground by describing the guilt/lack of guilt from many officers/high-ranking people. He goes onto write about how the third reich was "a war against memory", a falsification and negation of it. This chapter is an apt introduction, and it is indicative of Levi's state of mind while he wrote it: sombre pessimism. There is also speculation that one of the factors that led to Levi's suicide was the fact that he had a pang of fear that he was losing his memory and therefore losing the testimony agains the Nazi atrocities, and this chapter is drenched by this despair.

'The Grey Zone' is a chapter which unveils a deeply dark side to the human condition. Quite an extensive chapter, one of the many themes it covers is how many jews would resort to spiteful actions and become traitors to their own people in order to survive. Death in the camps (Levi calls it 'lager') were either random or this long, painful struggle to survive which were dictated by these betrayals. Many jews were often exterminated in gas chambers, or - in Levi's - case assimilated together in quest for survival where death was the norm and life rare. 'The Grey Zone' is once more imbued by deeply disturbing, solemn subject matter. Levi says "The hybrid class of the prisoner-functionary constitutes its armature and at the same time its most disquieting feature. It is a grey zone, with ill-defined outlines which both separate and join the two camps of masters and servants."

The following chapters are entitled 'Shame', 'Communicating' and 'Useless Violence' and they all, essentially, connote the same message. 'Shame', as the title suggests, is the overwhelming sensation Levi felt when occasionally taking advantage of others for survival. 'Communicating' is an overview of the difficulties the prisoners had not knowing German, and Levi's advantage of knowing this language. 'Useless Violence' is interesting when Levi himself says that there is, unfortunately, 'useful' violence: the need for wars etc. The Nazi regime consisted, of course, of useless violence.

'The Intellectual in Auschwitz' goes against the definition Jean Amery proposed of the intellectual, and describes the facility less educated people had when they had to carry out manual jobs. 'Stereotypes' not only explores the notions Nazis had on jews, but also on the misconception many people have of the concentration camps - particularly of the likelihood of escape.

The final chapter prior to the conclusion is 'Letters from Germans', and this reinforces one of the main motifs of the book: Levi, even in his final years of life, hadn't forgiven the Germans, and believed that not only should they repent but acknowledge one of the main genocides of the 20th century. Levi not only wants to make the events of the holocaust wide-spread, but he warns us that a tyrant - like Hitler - may appear and entice us with 'beautiful words' on his lips.

Despite being centred on the Holocaust, The Drowned and the Saved is in fact an essay on universal ideas and concepts that should be read by people who have no interest in either history or the holocaust. The book, while easy to read in some respects, deals with complex ideas that cannot be digested in swift succession.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The remote edges #9

I got a new digital camera for christmas.... my other one broke. These photographs I'm about to post are rather shitty... Same as the last 3 or so Remote Edges post... I think that I may re-photograph many of these specific locations soon...

Friday, 1 January 2010

My state of mind #9

The past two weeks have been horribly uneventful and mundane. I've got a lot going on, but I end up talking to my dad and end up wanking about instead. I usually get going at around night time, but this is inevitably terminated by sleep which consists of disappointing dreams that don't live up to my previous ones.

I've also felt a bit down by the world cup draw: Chile are in the group next to Brazil. Chile are capable of giving every single country on earth a game other than this fucking team. They will in all likelihood finish second place after Spain and then get beaten by Brazil in second round. They will certainly give them a game as their last encounter attests, but they will still lose. Still, one can't be too confident that the first round will be a cruise: Switzerland and Honduras have two very scarily solid teams.

I haven't done much of the college work, and a lot of this Christmas break has consisted of is getting ready to do it but end up procrastinating instead. But once I get going, these essays will certainly be a lot of fun to write; however, revision/exam work will be a burden. I immensely enjoyed my film studies research project which I did on Jean-Luc Godard. The research findings were put together in the form of a presentation script, but in the presentation itself I was disappointed by the indifference from the cunt students. Doug is dead right that when people are confronted with something different/boundary-pushing/innovatory their brains switch off. My presentation was indisputably the best of the class, but no-one gave a shit. I didn't want them to be impressed by how cool/intellectual I am, but I wanted them to be intrigued by Godard's work (I showed several clips from his films). Also, a teaching assistant - a young woman who finished her university studies recently - gave every student euphoric positive feedback, but gave me none! YOU FUCKING BITCH YOU FUCKING CUNTS.... I am an unacknowledged literary prodigy.

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But 2010 has started! Hoorah! A new decade! I always love it when a new year begins because I always reinvent myself and set up a new method of how to live my life. In 2006/2007 I started reading Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch, I had the biggest fight ever with my parents on christmas eve, I developed even stronger misanthropic tendencies, I started writing fictional prose, I stopped attending college/mickey mouse course, and, in a nutshell, underwent a rapid transition of been a cunt to being genuinely interesting. In 2007/2008 I was at the Derby psychiatric intensive care unit. I overcame, without a shadow of fucking doubt, the most difficult period in my life. Everything was brightening up; everything that had been previously shattered was now getting assembled together. I was about to get discharged from this incredibly (incredibly, incredibly, incredibly) constraining place, and with departure from this place imminent I could start life anew and a whole new period of my life could begin. In 2008/2009 I started my life from where my episode stole it. 2008 proved to be an incredibly disappointing year, where lethargy prevailed. In 2009 my creativity picked up, and now in 2010 it will flourish.

Books I read in 2009

I didn't read as many books as I did in 2008 because of college... In 2008 I had all the time in the world to read, but college no longer permitted me to do that in '09. Also, in '09 my concentration for reading became worse, and I could rarely read without getting distracted. Click here for a list of all the books I read in '08. Unlike '08, I haven't kept a list of the books I've read on paper... only by memory... so this summary of the books I've read you are about to read may not be complete.

The Drought - J. G Ballard

Quite an underrated book by Ballard, this is a companion piece to Ballard's already acclaimed The Drowned World. What I liked about this book was the quintessentially Ballardian images that linger in the mind: desolate landscapes, empty swimming pools, lions on the loose, educated men attempting to make sense out of a increasingly stranger world.

4/5

High-Rise - J. G. Ballard

This has to be Jim's best novel. Recreating the Shangai interment camps of his youth into this maelstrom of sex, perversion and man's darker side all breaking loose. An enormous high-rise building is locked, and all its inahibitants must live by survival of the fittest. If you had to rescue one of Ballard's novel, it'd have to be this one.

5/5

Cocaine Nights - J. G Ballard

This was Ballard's first work in a quartet of detective novels. He certainly didn't mellow with age - the sex scenes are even more explicit and confronting than anything from Crash. Yet it is all sown together in a highly readable, accessible way making it as his most accessible book. But don't look for 'emotion': this book, like all Ballard novels, dispenses emotion and welcomes the triumph of the imagination.

4/5

Kingdom Come - J. G Ballard

The suburbs dream of violence! This anti-consumerist novel shows how consumerism turns into fascism: an Orwellian prophecy Ballard deeply believed in. However strong and powerful the themes are, this novel on the whole shows failing powers. The structure is too reliant on his three previous novels, and the ending is predictable. Still, I immensely enjoyed it...

3/5

Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner

From my review of this book, which can be found on this blog:

As Walter Allen says, "This is the novel in which Faulkner most profoundly and completely says what he has to say about the south and the human condition." In this novel Faulkner has covered a wider scope than any of his other novels, developing and encompassing a wide variety of themes which he explores in his previous books. Spanning from 1835 to 1910, Faulkner has given a precise portrayal of the south and the consequences of the actions of certain people that have an impact on subsequent generations. This is the greatest insight into the Yoknapatawpha county that I've encountered yet.

What I think differentiates Faulkner from someone like, say, James Joyce is that he uses modernist methods for the purpose of conveying a narrative and story. Something like Ulysses is self-defeating and hinders the progression of the narrative by its incessant ambition. Faulkner, on the other hand, uses modernist techniques to apply them to something which doesn't fall to the expense of subject matter.

The main character portrayed Thomas Sutpen. He comes from a poor family, but with hard work and determination forces himself into the upper echelons of Southern society. He employs a number of black people and a French architect to build himself 'Sutpen's Hundred'. It is here where many of his children are born, and where he establishes his reputation. However, previous actions from his past have an effect on him: his repudiates a previous wife of hers who has negro blood, and the son of this relationship, Bon, proves as a threat to his established reputation, the stability of his life and, above all else, his daughter Judith.

The most interesting character in the novel is Rosa Coldfield. She is a few years younger than her own niece and nephew who are born from Sutpen's relationship with her sister Ellen. She herself says "I was born too late." She symbolises the transition from one era to another, and the tragic effect from the clashes of two separate generations. A great deal of the novel is narrated by her, and these prove to be the most touching and poignant segments of the novel.

The methods used to present the narrative are very, very unusual. When the narrative is related, it would be an understatement to call the syntax unconventional. Extremely long paragraphs flow along amidst parentheses within parentheses (the parentheses are so long that you often forget what preceded them). And whenver a character thinks, the ruminations are presented in italics. For the most part, the narration is presented through characters talking to each other. Mainly, the story is told through 'unreliable narrators' because they are not present in the occurrences which take place. Even someone like Rosa Coldfield hasn't got a completely adequate and precise insight into everything that takes place, because she hasn't always been present at everything that takes place. The narration is appropriately - and fittingly - told through descendants who have only recollections through what has been told to them rather than through actual experiences. Initially, the narrative is often told through Quentin's father, but eventually solely revolves around the dialogue between Quentin and his Harvard room-mate, Shreve.

The inquisitiveness of Quentin and Shreve is fascinating. Their constant determination to uncover the riddles and enigmas of their ancestors is what propels the narrative forward in the second half of the book. The longest chapter which is devoted to Thomas Sutpen is often intersected by their dialogue. Prior to this chapter, Sutpen is a highly enigmatc figure, but this chapter which relates his childhood and adventures elucidates a figure who previously permeates throughout the characters and events of the novel and remains indeed enigmatic and blurry.

Many will be put off by the frequent use of the word 'nigger'. Faulkner isn't racist; on the contrary, he condemns racism. He is attempting to show the prejudices of the time. For instance, Sutpen turns his back on Charles Bon, who could potenitally be his son. This is done for the mere reason that he may have negro blood. Bon eventually gets killed by his other son Henry, and this is once more related with the issue of race. Throughout this novel, race is often use as prejudice that determines the value of people. Interestingly, the only remaining member of the family turns out to be black - Jim Bond.

Like The Sound and the Fury, there is a spectacular (not to mention poignant and ironic) ending which ties up all the loose ends of the novel together. The house is burned by Clytie, a black daughter of Sutpen, and the whole saga is turned into dust, dispensed with. The only remaining memories are left with Sutpen and Quenting who, interestingly enough, kills himself in Sound and the Fury.

The whole novel is beautifully written. Despite being a highly 'difficult' book, I actually immensely enjoyed the process of reading it. Everything is sown together perfectly; everything is allocated correctly to its place. Though it can be very dense and, at times, cryptic, it is an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding book. It does require persistenceand determination, but this results in a highly singular experience; it is an experience which is completely singular, and can't possibly be replicated by anyone else.

5/5

Light in August - William Faulkner

This novel is a testament to Faulkner's inexhaustible invention. It's incredible how interweaves all these different viewpoints/narratives together. The novel's main theme is racial conflict, and it shows how the protagonist, Joe Christmas, murders a woman and how he is constantly scrutinized by society for having negro blood.

5/5

The Invention of Solitude - Paul Auster

Whenever I read an Auster book, I can never put it down and I always regret it for not having taking more time with it. This book collect two memoirs/essays. The first is a reflection on the death of Auster's father and parenthood, and the second is a series of thoughts on the nature of chance. This second part unfortunately tends to drag on and on a bit without a cohesive focus...

4/5


The Music of Chance - Paul Auster

This is such a great fucking page-turner. There is something in Auster's prose that is so... gripping. A fireman takes to the road and drives endlessly when, as he runs out of money, he meets an expert at poker who convinces him to play a game with two eccentric millionaires...

4/5

Story of the Eye - Geoges Bataille

Written in 1928, this book still shocks and confronts the modern day reader... Two French teenagers bully this girl to death by having the most gruesome sex you can think of, and flee to Spain where the girl tosses herself off while confessing to a priest and... I won't go any further. :) I got an erection with my heart pounding while reading this book, and I hope it has the same effect on you.

5/5
The Key - Junichiro Tanizaki

Another erotic novel. Husband and wife secretly keep diaries from each other, and the novel shows these diary entries. The husband secretly undresses his wife and photographs her... This novel is very engrossing.

4/5


The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon

Here one gets a digestible, shorter version of Pynchon's literary pyrotechnics. This novel is a strange feast of an underworld of strange happenings... if you gave up on Gravity's Rainbow, read this book and discover Pynchon's messy, ambiguous genius....

5/5

The Doors of pPerception - Aldous Huxley
Wonderful essay of Huxley's account of his mescalin use.

5/5

Pedro Páramo (re-read) (Spanish)

From my review of this book, which can be found on this blog:

The two most monumental reading experiences of my life are the same as Garcia Marquez's: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and Pedro Páramo. These are the only books I have read at a single sitting. The day I read Páramo was one of the best in my life; I was ravished, enthralled and captured, and I couldn't put it down. I was pleased that reading the book again was just as captivating and elucidates initial complications one previously encounters. The reason for why I decided to review this book now is that a major motion picture adaptation starring Gael Garcia Bernal will be released soon.

Juan Preciado goes into the the town of Comala in a quest to find his father, Pedro Páramo, after a deathbed wish from his mother. When he enters this mystic place, he discovers that he has entered a ghost town, where life no longer exists. The fact that there is no life blurs any discernible grip the reader has on the narrative, and things get much more complex from then on.

Pedro Páramo is a narcissist who is obsessed by a woman named Susana San Juan. He builds a ranch in Comala, and establishes a great fortune. He marries Dolores Preciado, takes advantage of her, and sends her back to live with her sister. As his ranch gains great fortune, this is done at the expense of others who are left in a state of misery. Conflicts arise with a whole set of revolutionaries and a lawyer, exacerbating the state of his position. The death of Susana leads him towards his demise and his vow that Comala "will die of hunger."

In a certain sense, the town comala is the novel. When Juan Preciado enters it, he dies. He becomes part of the people comprising the town. The narrative consequently revolves around the preoccupations and past memories of the people. They are all intermingled and slotted together to form a portrait of this old, rural village. This type of village is a blueprint for the Macondo of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Because all the characters are dead, they have no sense of time. They don't live in a present nor do they live in a past. This allows Rulfo to leave behind any linear, chronological order. Many narratives from different times are interweaved to create a larger picture of the village Comala. Time is fractured to the extent that there is no discernible continuity.

The ultimate motive and message Rulfo is trying to present is the tragic death of old mexican culture of the late 19th century and early 20th century. There is a sense of tragedy, desolation and loss that was in a sense heightened by the civil war that brought an end to this era. This sense of desolation is what Rulfo previously developed in his collecti on of short stories, The Burning Plain.

'Páramo' means 'wasteland', and the fact that the main protagonist is named after this is symbolic of the desperation and desolation that pervades in the novel. Pedro Páramo is Comala, and the story centres around the character and place.

The novel is amongst the most innovative of all time. It had an incalculable influence on all the writers of the literary Latin-American boom. It set a standard of structuring novels in different, non linear ways, and its mix of reality and fantasy has since been endlessly emulated in the form of magic realism.

Pedro Páramo is a small glimpse into something large. Only 130 pages in length, it opens up a whole range of possibilities to the reader. There is a sense of something big going. Its structure may seem impenetrable, and you will often read certain passages confused as to who's who and what's what, but it is an extremely accomplished insight into a decline of a culture and a fascinating portrait of malice and madness.

5/5

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

Great book. Had to read it for college. I will soon write an essay comparing it to Naked Lunch. Turmoil in a psychiatric ward from a newly-arrived patient is narrated by a pschizophrenic native American Indian in a very weird, wonderful fashion.

4/5

Zama - Antonio Di Benedetto (Spanish)

An existential character leads a solitary life and pursues several relationshi ps with women. The eponymous character, Zama, has many confrontations and, in the culmination, of the novel, is taken captive by some savage native Indians. It hasn't been translated into English yet.

4/5

The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano (Spanish)

Reading this book at the moment. On page 400. 200 left. I like it a lot. I'' ll review in February.

So far: 4/5

Films I saw in 2009

This year, film has become even more important than literature to me... It has been a new discovery... I discovered a lot of art-house films... Here's a list of the films I saw every Wednesday of the end of the 2008/09 term. I've seen a lot more in addition to those. It's 04:15 AM and I'm exhausted from writing about the books I read in '09, so that I'll just post pics from the films that most impressed me this year instead of writing about them.

Branded to Kill

Seen around February
Director: Seijun Suzuki

Ran

Seen around February
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Pulp Fiction

Seen around Febraury
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Vivre Sa Vie
Seen around March
Director: Jean-Luc Godard


Week End

Seen around March
Director: Jean-Luc Godard


Breathless


Seen around March
Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Aguirre, The Wrath of God

Seen around April
Director: Werner Herzog

A Man Escaped

Seen around May
Director: Robert Bresson

Bicycle Thieves

Seen around May
Director: Vittorio De Sica

Pickpocket

Seen around June
Director: Robert Bresson

Alphaville


Seen around July
Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Burden of Dreams

Seen around July
Director: Les Blank

Belle De Jour

Seen around August
Director: Luis Bunuel

Inglourious Basterds

Seen at the cinema in August
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Taxi Driver

Seen in October
Director: Martin Scorcese

A Serious Man


Seen in the cinema in November
Director: Coen Brothers

Dr. Strangelove

Seen in December
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Through A Glass Darkly

Seen in December
Director: Ingmar Bergman

Concerts

I saw two monumental concerts this year.

My brief description of Ornette Coleman can be read here.

My brief description of Kayo Dot concert can be read here.

Both of these concerts were a luxurious privilege, and they were amongst the best I've been to (Kayo Dot ranks as #3 + O. Coleman ranks as #4).


Trips

I went to Chile in April for two weeks + Cologne for 2 days.
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This year, in general, things have been 'on the up': I've been getting excellent grades, I'm getting on really well with my parents and there's no issues... but I year to return to the dark side every now and again...

Next year will be tough and arduous during the first 6 months and wonderful and enlightening during the last 6 during the beginning of my year off... I'm still taking 15 mg of the anti-psychotic medicine olanzapine, and I'll be on it til June... It will be slowly reduced after that. I don't give a fucking shit the dose/amount I take while I attend college, but I don't want to keep taking the fucking pills during my year off...

My writing is showing greatt promise, though, and seems to be developing nicely... I've got 5 more short stories I'm going to write (one of them is in the process of being written), and after they are finished I am going to take a deep breath, take a plunge & write a novel during my year off...

This is a transitional year... 2011 will be the year... My writng will develop + I will travel from Arica to Puerto Williams... Hopefully, during my year off I won't succumb to lethargy + I will make the most out of it... unlike this dull, mundane, boring etc. etc. et.c fucking christmas break!


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Phew! This post certainly was extensive, and no-one - not even my most devoted followers - will read it. :) It's almost 6 AM and I'm goin' to bed.