Saturday, 30 October 2010

Great art cinema

Two or Three Things I Know about Her (1966) - Jean-Luc Godard



Solaris (1972) - Andrei Tarkovsky



Branded to Kill (1967) - Seijun Suzuki



The White Ribbon (2009) - Michael Haneke



Heimat (1984, 1992, 2004) - Edgar Reitz



A Man Escaped (1956) - Robert Bresson



Hiroshima mon amour (1959) - Alain Resnais



The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) - Carl Theodor Dreyer



The Seventh Seal (1957) - Ingmar Bergman



Metropolis (1927) - Frtiz Lang



Prenom Carmen (1983) - Jean-Luc Godard

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Good literature vs. puerile thinking

I was hoping to post an essay entitled The Unconscious Forces in Julio Cortázar's House Taken Over here, but I'm nowhere near finishing it. I set myself a target to write a 1,5oo word essay by the end of this month, but I've barely written 300 words for it... Imagine that, writing an essay for leisure. Hm. Anyway, hopefully that will come next month, this post now consists of something entirely different.

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In an interview with Chilean writer Rafel Gumucio in the magazine The Clinic, he said that a 'bad' person - someone who engages in malicious activities or is perverse in some way or another - is perfectly capable of being a good writer. Bad writing is a result of puerile ideologies and false thinking.

Gumucio says this partly in response to lauded Chilean presenter Cristian Warknen. Warken is a highly respected television presenter who has a programme called (don't laugh) 'The Beauty of Thinking'. Warken's programme (which I watch occasionally because of the guests that appear on it) consists largely of pseudo intellectualism. His intellectualism is completely false and kitsch, it is an intellectualism that is, in essence, puerile. No matter what a charming and delightful soul Warnken is, his writing is completely sterile and worthless because it is stained by a false ideology.

What truly impinges on good literature is a flawed conception and a conception that is based on a depraved belief. Hitler's Mein Kampf is obviously an example of this because Nazism is a hollow and depraved ideology. The great literary classics which are cherished are good literature because their conceptual ideas are thought out well. (These ideas can also be satanic, or pedophilic or violent, but as long as they are well thought out they are good literature.)

To cite an example to back up what I'm saying: Franz Kafka was not a 'good' person in that he didn't acquiesce and give in to the desires of others - he was not a completely moral individual. He was, however, a 'good' writer in that his ideology is a moral one.

Aspiring to become a 'good' person does by no means determine good literature, nor does pseudo intellectualism or puerile thinking. Good literature consists of well-thought-out and ideologically correct ideas.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Album by album: Captain Beefheart's discography

Safe as Milk (1967)

Beefheart had already made his presence felt in the scene with a couple of blues covers, but he truly broke new mould with debut album, Safe as Milk. With arrangements and guitar playing from Ry Cooder, these are blues songs with frequent tempo changes that diverge from continuity, but they can still be followed and understood on first listen. There are a couple of numbers that hint at what to come, but overall this release is charged with rough R&B. For some reason, these songs evoke feelings of nostalgia within me. Often, the music will be at a steady 4/4 beat but will go off at a tangent. This was not the most 'far out' release from 1967 (some consider it to be his best), but it announced an audacious new voice in rock music.

Stand-out track: Autumn's Child

Mirror Man (1967)

This is basically an extensive jam session and perhaps the only Beefheart album that includes extensive improvisation and ad-libbing from The Magic Band. While Safe as Milk included snippets of his signature drumming, Drumbo's inside-out playing is more pronounced here. Apart from the two 1974 albums, this is the Beefheart record I return to the least; I get a little impatient when I hear it. Still, it is a fascinating document of a major development in Beefheart's career.

Stand-out track: Tarotplane

Strictly Personal (1968)

This is what many Beefheart followers have dubbed a 'ruined masterpiece'. Though Beefheart approved of its re-mixing, he claimed that it was done without without his awareness when he heard it criticised! Producer Bob Krosnow added many clichéd psychedelic sound effects that sometimes stifle the actual music. But people do tend to overlook the excellent song-writing, perhaps featuring one of the few 'progressive' and 'extensive' pieces of Beefheart music. It also has his best vocals, especially in his acapella opener 'Ah Feel Like Acid'. While Safe as Milk definitely had its eccentricities, there is some out-and-out attempts at weirdness here, most pronounced on 'Beatle Bones and Smoking Stones'.

Stand-out track: Trust Us

Trout Mask Replica (1969)

This is equally (or even more so) renowned for its conception than its actual content. Now having a recruited a much younger band, he ensnared them in a small house for a whole year, tormenting them psychologically and subjecting them to never-ending rehearsals. The process for composition had now changed; the music was now written on piano, an instrument Beefheart couldn't play. It was transcribed by Drumbo, who then arranged it all accordingly. The 21 pieces they constantly rehearsed (in addition to 7 other tracks that were recorded from different sessions) were intricately assembled, skewed and frenetic music that had never really been heard before and hasn't been heard since. The tracks are strangely disjointed yet somehow complementary. Beefheart never rehearsed with the band, so his vocals bear no resemblance to the rest of the music (which was conceived instrumentally), but by now there is an increasing amount of playful word-play and surrealist lyrics. It seemed as if he was approaching it as the painter/sculptor he claimed to be, rather than as a blues singer. This album has stood the test of time and is rightly cited as one of the best rock albums ever made, but it is understandable why it receives so much contempt and befuddlement. There is so much going on here that it goes over people's ears.

Stand-out track: Neon Meat Dream of an Octafish

Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970)

Perhaps because of featuring just one guitar, this is marginally more accessible than Trout Mask. Though now the complementary interplay is percussive, now featuring an additional drummer and marimba player. This album is equally compelling as Trout and even has moments that surpass it, but nowadays it is sadly overlooked and is not available on CD due to copyright issues. The Magic Band now had a flair for this kind of music and had got to grips with it. The polytonal mastery of tracks like 'Doctor Dark' and 'Bellerin' Plain' is truly mind-blowing. Beefheart's lyrics had now darkened, dealing less with a life-affirming view of the world than with apocalyptic visions and messages in tracks like 'Petrified Forest' and 'Space Age Couple'. The detractive aspect of the album is the cacophonous saxophone playing, which obscures quite a lot of the music.

Stand-out track: Bellerin' Plain

The Spotlight Kid (1972)

After the intense experimentation of his previous two releases, Beefheart now wanted to return to a simpler sound, producing an album consisting of simpler blues songs. The songs now were constructed by the band jamming with Beefheart's supervision. This album has many detractors because of its production; the songs are very slowed-down and zombie-like, but the song-writing is superb and better than in Clear Spot. Guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo isn't too fond of this album, and the tracks are meant to sound speedier as their live version incarnations attest. In 'click clack' the whole band emulates a speeding locomotive - stunning stuff. One can definitely sympathise with The Magic Band's frustration, Beefheart posing in the cover sans the band's name is selfish and a tad bit narcissistic.

Stand-out track: Click-Clack

Clear Spot (1972)

This is Beefheart going commercial without suffering a heart attack and without impinging on the music. Like all dictatorships, Beefheart's tyrannical rule had now softened and The Magic Band were given more latitude. Zoot Horn Rollo is on fire on this album, the slide guitar rollicking along and driving the music forward. For the first time, this is a Beefheart album with good production - clean, crisp and clear. There are moments when you get the impression where Beefheart is being pushed into commercial pop, like 'Too Much Time', but overall this album is one hell of a blast and very, very entertaining.

Stand-out track: Big Eyed Beans from Venus

Unconditionally Guaranteed (1974)

Wretchedly awful. Here Beefheart is self-consciously selling out, even appearing on the cover gripping money. Apart from Zoot Horn Rollo's guitar playing, The Magic Band sound nothing like they should and they would shortly leave Beefheart. Soppy music and soppy love lyrics co-written with his wife which don't sound at all genuine. Beefheart's worst.

Stand-out track: Peaches

Bluejeans and Moonbeams (1974)

Marginally better than Guaranteed, but still wretched. This group was nicknamed 'The Tragic Band' and consisted of session musicians. It has a few good bluesy numbers, but overall this simply doesn't work. Something that redeems the album very slightly is Beefheart's impressive vocals which would soon crack.

Stand-out track: The Party of Special Things to do

Bat Chain Puller (1976)

To this day, this album remains unreleased and can only be heard in bootleg form. Which is a huge shame. Beefheart got entangled in an assortment of contractual difficulties and couldn't release this, his best work since Decals. This is quite possibly Beefheart's most eclectic album; every facet of his musicality is featured here. There is a return to more atonally constructed music, but it is far more relaxed and nowhere near as frenetic. Now the guitars seem to cohere with the drum parts more, but they still remain idiosyncratic. The highlight of the album, and one of the highlights of Beefheart's entire career, is 'The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole', an immensely angular and obtuse track which sounds like what would have happened if Stravinsky had written a rock song. Ten of the twelve songs of the album would be reworked in his next three releases.

Stand-out track: The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole

Shiny Beast (1978)

This album is usually seen as a re-recording of Bat Chain Puller, but it should really be seen as an entirely different album in its own right. Five of the tracks from that album appear here, but they are re-worked. This album was a godsend to those who thought Beefheart had lost it with his '74 recordings. This is a very colourful recording and the album by Beefheart that comes the closest to sounding like Zappa. Playful, fun and intelligent with a melange of sounds including trombone, slide guitars and marimba.

Stand-out track: Bat Chain Puller

Doc at the Radar Station (1980)

By far Beefheart's harshest, aggressive and abrasive record. He sounds like he's really pissed off here. And it's probably the best of his later work! The guitars intersect and clash one another like shafts of glass and, even if you're familiar with Trout Mask, it demands a couple of listens to get familiarised with. Even if Beefheart disliked punk, its spirit is very present here as he rants against everything he hates and has ripped him off ("I hate all those people who have been riding on my bones", "Open up another case of the punks"). There is even a little oriental feel in this album, featuring Chinese gongs, a little oriental guitar piece and a mellotron interlude.

Stand-out track: Best Batch Yet

Ice Cream for Crow (1982)

After the glossy production of his two previous releases, here Van Vliet wanted a 'two dimensional' sound, "like a painting". Initially, the album was going to consist of half of new material and the other half of the unreleased Bat Chain Puller but, due to Zappa's negligence at handing over the tapes, they had to produce new material in just a few weeks. And some of the material here feels a little rushed, but there is some spectacular stuff here nonetheless. Lyrically, this is Van Vliet's best, conjuring word play and narratives that are unmatched by any other of his albums. The ending track 'Skeleton Makes Good' ends with Beefheart bashing Chinese gongs, an adieu to his entire career.

Stand-out track: The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Ipod shuffle #4

1. Une Correspondance - Naked City

John Zorn doesn't like to repeat himself, so he constantly changed the basis of his Naked City group much to the dismay of some of his critics and followers. In his album Abstinthe he 100% abandons any sort of tonality or melody; it is, essentially, noise. But it is ambient noise in that it is quite approachable and can be heard in the background to some extent. It shares similarities to Naked City's previous output in its sporadic changes, but now the music consists of industrial and mechanical sounds. Despite this, it is listenable and doesn't become overwhelming to the ears.

2. Get a Life - Frank Zappa

By far Zappa's most substantial work, Civiliazation Phaze III is the treasure tove in Zappa's vast discography. You could call this 'serious composition', but that does not prevent Zappa from integrating all sorts of snorks and comic sounds into the mix. By now Zappa had truly mastered the synclavier, and this smidgen of music is him at his zenith.

3. Hobo Chang Ba - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

This has to be one of my favourite tracks from Trout Mask. It totally rails against the rules of music; Beefheart sings at a completely key to the rest of the group and the little guitar prelude bears no resemble to the rest of the music following it. This is the result you get when you carefully construct music from piano lines from someone who can't play piano, but what marvelous results! I think that people who see Trout Mask has something to painstakingly 'sit through' on the rare occasion completely miss the point; it is something to return to again to pick certain tracks from and marvel at the intricacies of the work. The seemingly disjointed guitars actually complement each other at the beginning, but the moment when the whole group unite and play at a steadier beat never ceases to exhilarate me.

4. Unwind - Sonic Youth

This is a good bit of upbeat pop, but with distorted guitars playing against each other much in the same way as Beefheart. The album Washing Machine is their best. Two minutes into the song, it is all instrumental and the music keeps builduing up, resulting in a flurry of emotion. Sonic Youth are by far one of the most interesting bands to have emerged from mainstream rock in the mid 90s.

5. I Surrender, Dear - Thelonious Monk

Monk was one of the most radical and innovating jazz pianists, but his music still remains within the bounds of harmony and tonality. This trackconsits of astounding piano playing of him unaccompanied and it serves as great proof of his talent and versatility. It follows a basic premise and theme but is otherwise improvised. The track is highly playful and doesn't back away from going the full way. If Cecil Taylor frustrates and flusters you, turn to Monk!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Saturday, 9 October 2010

All Review

This month, instead of writing a new review, I am producing a compendium of all of them. I am going through them all chronologically and picking out one paragraph I feel summarises the ethos and vitality of the work in question. I started writing them in June 2009, all the way up to September 2010, eventually totalling15 all together. When I have written 15 more, I shall make another compendium post.

I forgot to add the links... Scavenge across my blog to read them, if you are bothered. : P

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#1 June 2009


Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

Medium: Music

Year: 1969

Country: United States

"I think that a starting point to understand the album as a whole is the track 'Dali's Car'. The guitars play around each other; they both ignore each other yet complement themselves at the same time. Listen to this track, and attempt to apply this topsy-turvy structure of the other tracks, and you'll come to the eventual realisation of what is achieved. The guitars bounce off one another, the bass rumbles along and the drums turns itself inside out yet at the same time is centred around the three other instruments. Amidst all this you get Beefheart's voice which is utterly distinctive, a Howlin' Wolf groan that enhances the instrumentations he emotionally and passionately yells against. His words are abstractions that don't make any kind of sense but, when heard orally, are displayed as revelations that succinctly summarise and encompass the ambitious scope of the album."

#2 July 2009

Absalom, Absalom! - William Faulkner

Medium: Literature

Year: 1936

Country: United States

"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."

#3 August 2009

Vivre sa vie - Jean-Luc Godard

Medium: Film

Year: 1962

Country: France
"The film is presented in a series of 12 tableaux. The twelve scenes are preceded by a title detailing the location, characters and a summary of what occurs. The central character of the film, Nana (Anna Karina), is a woman who drifts into a life of prostitution in order to pay her rent. By structuring the film into 12 parts suggests that it is an essay on aesthetics as well as a serious evaluation of prostitution."

#4 September 2009

Pedro Páramo - Juan Rulfo

Medium: Literature

Year: 1955

Country: Mexico

"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."

#5 October 2009

The Second Heimat - Edgar Reitz

Medium: Film

Year: 1992

Country: Germany

"Hermann is a musical prodigy in his town of Shabbach. Scornfully leaving his small town aside, he leaves for Munich to study music and become a composer. In the conservatory he falls in love with a cellist called Clarissa, but he often starts relationships with other women instead. In the conservatory he meets a very tragic character from Chile, Juan, who is a incredibly talented polymath who won't be allowed into the conservatory on the grounds that his music 'folklore'. Throughout the 13 episodes we are introduced to a wide array of characters Hermann meets who aren't solely musicians but also filmmakers, a philosopher and a science student. Although Hermann remains as the central protagonist throughout the film, each episode is allocated with the name of a character and the episode is roughly based around the character. As the film delves into these characters and their lives, in the background a whole historical and political life races by as the tumultuous '60s comes to fruition. Hermann eventually marries another woman, but his desire for Clarissa never wanes and they are estranged and kept apart for a substantial part of the film. He eventually succeeds with his aspirations to be a composer, even acquiring his own electronic studio permitting him to create musique concrete music. The film can be quite solemn and sombre, with several tragic deaths."

#6 November 2009

Aguirre, the Wrath of God - Werner Herzog

Medium: Film

Year: 1971

Country: Germany


"The film is full of astounding images that linger in the mind. From the shot in the beginning of the film showing a whole army of soldiers and native Indians descending down a hill to the ending scene of Kinsky in the raft with the camera majestically tilting aroud him, you know that you're in the presence of something beyond description. Herzog utilises a minimalist approach throughout most of the film, but there is an intrinsically complexity present in the film. Many people attempt at putting a meaning on it, such as calling it a satire on colonialism, but like many great works of art Aguirre, The Wrath of God defies any potential meaning by its inherent complexity put across by an appropriate minimalist approach. "

#7 December 2009

On the Corner - Miles Davis

Medium: Music

Year: 1972

Country: United States

"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."

# 8 January 2010

The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

Medium: Literature

Year: 1987

Country: Italy

"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."

#9 February 2010

The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano

Medium: Literature

Year: 1998

Country: Chile


"Bolano's work is strongly semi-autobiographical. The literary movement 'visceral realism' strongly mirrors the movement he was part of: Infarrealism. The two main protagonists from the book, and the main leaders of 'visceral realism', are in fact based on Bolano himself (his name is modified as 'Arturo Belano' in the book) Mario Santiago, who is Ulises Lima in the novel. Bolano's and Lima's peregrinations across the world are often based on their real experiences, and the narratives related by an extremely wide range of characters are often based on people Bolano knew about or on the folklore that circulated around his literary clique."

#10 March

Scott 3 - Scott Walker

Medium: Music

Year: 1973

Country: United States

"This record is half-way between the avant-garde experimentation Walker pursued with his latest releases and indebted to the mellow, approachable Pop of the Walker brothers. It is both the embryonic example of an avant-garde composer, and a pop artist distancing himself from convention."

#11 April

Civilazation Phaze III - Frank Zappa

Medium: Music

Year: 1993

Country: United States

"The track 'Dio Fa', which contains Tuvan throat singers, leads to a stunning finale that keeps crumbling before reaching what sounds like a field recording of birds. This is very serene and tranquil, and it belies the rest of the record and pretty much the rest of Zappa's career. Most Zappa records ended with relentless parodies and satires, so it refreshing to have this calm and meditative ending which brings the rest of Zappa's discography to a perfect close. "

# 12 May 2010

The Atrocity Exhibition - J. G. Ballard

Medium: Literature

Year: 1970

Country: United Kingdom


"Following the tumultuous and hectic upheaval of 1960s social panorama, Ballard captured this time brilliantly in his novel The Atrocity Exhibition. Although defining it is a novel could be seen as inaccurate: it is a series of seemingly disparate and unrelated miniatures. Ballard called these "condensed novels." Like Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch , this book can be read in any order. Each sentence is allocated with a title, and you can go through the book in any order while reading these sentences until cohesion is formed. The most remarkable aspect, I find, is that the book can be cohesive in any way you choose to read it. It is equally rewarding in multiple readings, and it is a book I keep returning to again and again because it keeps revealing new dimensions."


#13 July 2010

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - Werner Herzog

Medium: Film

Year: 2010

Country: United States

"Nicholas Cage's performance is very intense, and when one watches this film you get the impression that him and Herzog were made for each other. He gets into the character of this crack-addled cop so well that he will go hell-for-leather to accomplish his performance. This would inevitably - and justifiably - draw comparisons to Klaus Kinsky. No matter how accomplished Herzog's recent documentaries have been, he hasn't found an obsessive character who has this intensity. He briefly found it in Timothy Treadwell, but after him becoming deceased his Herzog partnership was over."

#14 August

Stalker - Andrei Tarkovsky

Medium: Film

Year: 1977

Country: Russia
"I suspect that if I hadn't seen a Tarkovsky film before, I wouldn't have been all that impressed by Stalker. When I saw his other science fiction film, Solaris, I had mixed feeling; the film came across as too ponderous and slow. Yet, months later the film reappeared in my dreams and I couldn't stop thinking about it. The film haunted my mind, there is something in Tarkovsky that clings to the subconscious mind. Seeing Stalker, I actually found myself engaged and riveted (despite accounts I've since read on the internet that describe the opposite). Tarkovsky's films take time to reveal their secrets."

#15 September

The Obscene Bird of Night - José Donoso

Medium: Literature

Year: 1970

Country: Chile

"Donoso centres Humberto Peñaloza around the 'Imbunche' myth originating from an isolated island in Chile called Chiloe. Chiloe is an island that was segregated from the rest of Chile for a number of years and thus developed its own culture and mythology. After reading the novel I have read up on this and found that 'Imbunche' is the process of an implosion of the physical and intellectual self that turns the living being into a thing or object deprived of any individuality. Peñaloza's character is depleted and he is left as an existing thing that's completely secluded from the outside world, left languishing in his own nightmares and interior monologues."

Friday, 8 October 2010

The remote edges #14

Part two of Graves Park.













Sunday, 3 October 2010

My state of mind #17

I really enjoyed my Berlin trip. It didn't turn out as I originally envisioned it to be like, but it was a completely worthwhile experience.

When coming back to Dronfield I felt depressed to the horrid stinginess and lack of enormity of this place, in comparison to a wonderful city like Berlin... It has taken time for me to adapt, but I have eventually come to grips with the fact that I am - *sigh* - in Dronfield and not in Berlin.

When I got there, I felt shattered and tired after not getting enough sleep... I could hardly think; in fact, I couldn't think at all. I roamed around Berlin with my dad until I got to hotel. Here one of my Chilean cousins, who is a doctor and is doing special research in Europe, was waiting for us.

That night I was amazed that there was a concert of Boulez and Stravinsky performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, and as I went to the venue with my dad found out that he was conducting! It was a privilege to have attended a Boulez concert. Because we were paying at the door, it meant that we were standing! Boulez conducted one of his own pieces, that included electronic segments, which was rather hard on the ears. Then they performed a substantial Stravinsky piece I hadn't heard before.

The following day my dad went back to England and I was left to my own devices to make my way around Berlin. The first thing I did was to go to the Film museum, which solely consisted of German cinema and was fascinating... More contemporary favourites of mind, Edgar Reitz and Werner Herzog, were exhibited there as well as incredible artifacts and oddities of the silent era. I'd just seen Fritz Lang's Metropolis a few days before the trip, so I was mesmerised by the enormous screens projecting footage of it.

After spending a considerable amount of time here, I wandered around Unter der Linden street and drank coffee (coffee in Germany is vastly, vastly superior to England) before making my way back to the hotel. I had arranged to go with my cousin to a concert of Wagner and Boulez. I hadn't really had the chance to know him before, but I got on really well with him. Before entering the hall, we ate German sausages and I told about my difficulties in integrating to British society, which he sympathised with to a certain extent, having had problems in his earliest schooling days. We also talked about the advantages of the undergraduate system in the UK, in contrast to Chile.

The concert, sans Boulez conducting, was truly mesmerising; they performed Pli selon pli, portrait de Mallarme and this completely changed my mind about Boulez's music, which I previously didn't consider to be much to my liking. The instrumentation was truly freakish: xylophones and marimbas, guitars, a few string instruments, about three harps, a soprano singer, brass/wind instruments, piano and organ. It was considerably long, lasting for over an hour. "The music was in a different code," my cousin said, which I guess is an apt way of describing it.

The following day was more uneventful. I had a meal with my cousin and his wife and daughter. I left them and made my way to the modern art museum Neu Nationalgalerie, but it was closed on Mondays! That completely fucked up my entire day. It was even more disappointing as I'd got lost making my way there... I drank a coffee, went for a really long walk at the local park and went to my room and read Italo Calvino for the rest of my day. I hit myself on the head later for not going to the Tiergarten park (although the sheer enormity of it may have discouraged me from going inside it). I didn't go to the Reichstag either. : /


The holocaust memorial.... at night.






The closed museum.


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I started If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino just before my trip and I'm completely immersed in it... Meta fiction at its best, without seeming kitsch or gimmicky. A reader (me, the person reading it) buys a book that purports to be a Calvino novel, but it's in fact a detective story. This leads to fascinating books-within-books that truly show Calvino's vast range and writing skills, and Calvino makes me encounter a female reader/lover, something I'm incapable of doing in real life. : p

Recently I've felt the urge to study Literature rather than Philosophy... The course of Comparative Literature at the university of Kent looks truly fascinating, centring the first year around the tale and questions of transmission and transformation (with a reading list including Poe, Borges and Kafka) and the second year dealing broader approaches to the text (with a reading list ranging from many personal favourites of mine like Cortázar and Calvino). In Hull, the modules for the second and third years of English are all up to your own choice... I have time to think about it, but I have read philosophical texts and no matter how intriguing they are they don't excite me as much as literary texts. Although the reason I wanted to study Philosophy instead is that the concepts and procedures are more interesting to study as a subject, but to study literature at university seems like a whole different kettle of fish to college and far more exciting!

There is still a possibility of getting into a more prestigious university, but it requires me to do academic work in my year off and I don't want to do that... To get into Manchester or other places I'd have to have three As (the grades are raised if you do an extra year) and I'd have to retake my Gothic lit exam to get a C and raise my grade up to an A, do Spanish A2 and pass GCSE Mathematics (a qualification I still haven't got...) ... It's not that much, but the overall sentiment I feel is: fuck off, I'm not doing it...

I always look back at my past and make myself feel miserable... ughr. This is why my mind fucked up on me... Now I can't stop thinking about my abysmal A2 exams nor Chile's tough world cup draw... echh.

Now leisure time's ended, I've gotta get a job and work on my UCAS application... The weight is back on my shoulders... So long.