Friday, 30 December 2011
But then Dostoyevsky is a different kind of writer - he prefigures the existentialists and the nightmare visions of Kafka.
But the fact is that even the tamer, more conventional writing of the period is of worth and can teach a whole lot to any budding writer.
Even the equivalent chick lit of that time. I mean there's a lot of passion to Wuthering Heights - and it's genuine, heart-warming, involving even if you're a cynical male...
And that novel is one of many that's finely structured. WH may be an odd example in that is a sort of Pandora's box story-within-a-story, but the A to B novels of the day, be it in Balzac, Zola, Tolstoy or Stendhal, have merit... They are finely written, descriptive and have one aspect that lacks in today's serious fiction - it reflects their time of production.
A lot of the social realism in those novels are mirror images of the time the writers were writing in... Stendhal, however soppy a lot of his romances are, give a real vivid impression of 19th century society. The post-modernist trickery of today's fiction is more interested in the idea of meta-fictional illusion by reminding the reader that he is reading a work of fiction... Either case, neither social realism nor meta-fictitious narratives are the one-and-only way to write fiction, but both are equally valuable.
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
The Double Life of Veronique (Kryzstof Kieslowski, 1991)
For a film module I'm taking I did a presentation on this clip. I touched on several themes, but something I covered that I'd like to explore in further detail here is a theme of 'universality' and its relation to music.
Double Life is a film Kieslowski made in the wake of a realisation that his storytelling gifts were universal. He realised that he didn't, he said, make small 'provincial' films but that his films moved hearts from across the globe.
The film features the same person, Veronique/Weronika, or far more arguablytwo 'soul mates', who make different ethical choices. Both are musically gifted and when Weronika has a chance to be a lead singer in a choral piece, because of her frail heart condition, collapses and dies. Veronique, having a presentiment or fear that this fate awaits her, pulls out of music.
So, using this clip, I argued that people from all walks of life react similarly to the same piece of music because it is a 'universal' language. I argued that music could be seen as more sensory than cognitive; you 'feel' it far more than 'think' through it.
In hindsight, I realise that this isn't entirely true... It's just that, because of my lack of technical musical knowledge, I see music as some sort of ineffable language that can't be explained nor elucidated...
But is music really a 'universal' language? This may seem odd coming from an ardent fan of classical composers like Xenakis and Varese and dissonant rock performers like The Fall and Captain Beefheart...
That's why many of the post-war composers were accused of 'elitism' - producing material that could only be heard and understood by small groups of people.
Kieslowksi used music to represent this interconnection between cultures, to bridge a gap between eastern and western Europe. People can be united by the 'Ode to joy', but would the blaring sounds of Varese's Ionisation really do the trick? ...
Yet, still, for me, listening to modern classical music is a sensory experience. Never setting my eye on the scores of these pieces I just listen to the sounds and try disentangling the musical activity. This still isn't cognitive - I'm not exactly using my brain to decode intellectual processes... I'm basically reacting very emotively to something that was conceived in a very methodical and intellectual manner.
And to place all this together is in itself a mathematical discipline. The school of serialism and many other forms of modern composition use procedures that are cognitive... But when I hear music by Webern and Berg I'm not able to distinguish all this - I react to it through sheer intuition.
Whilst listening to music is principally, though not always, a sensory endeavour... the argument I made in my presentation is arguable. The Third Reich appropriated Wagner in their pursuit of world domination, but did the whole world come together as a result? No.
Friday, 23 December 2011
A perceptive comment left by Doug said the following: "The metaphysical and the physical are one and the same. I do not feel this requires a dismissal of political events. I do feel that it does lend itself more to certain political leanings for a variety of different reasons."
Either way, both are unavoidable. The mind is at once controlled by politcal beauracracy and unconscious impulses. Rejecting one or the other is denial.
Political machinations are the foundation for everyone's lives. I wouldn't say that it's vital to keep a close watch on the current political events, but important decisions reached at the commons have a direct or indirect effect on other people's lives. It certainly isn't foolish to have political inclinations.
And the political has an intrinsic relationship with the metaphysical. For instance, the films of Kryzstof Kieslowski recurrently feature the theme of destiny and the synchronism of human emotion. These are metaphysical themes influenced by philosophical texts. Yet the destinies of these characters are at once determined by politcal undercurrents and their own free will.
Take his film Blind Chance. The film sees Witek chasing a train, foreseeing three possible outcomes: he cathces it and works as intelligence for the communist government; he misses the train and becomes a dissdent; he crashes into a train attendant and he decides to continue his medical studies, living an apolitcal life.
It certainly was audacious to make this film under the communist regime, but that's beside the point: this film is a composite of metaphysical elements and political. Witek has existential dilemmas that he attempts to confront, which are determined by the repression of the communist order.
If one is able to gauge an idea of the metaphysical, a good and common example is the dream life of an individual. The political climate no doubt influences the outcome of a dream - especially if it's communist Poland or the Soviet Union - yet at the same time the so-called 'unconscious' of an individual has an inverse function: it determines the choices we make, the way we behave, and it moulds our society.
How does the agenda I had three years ago reflect this? How does one 'distort reality'? The distortion of reality is certainly something I continue to be interested in, but is completely irrelevant to the 'reality is fiction and fiction is reality' argument. Reality and fiction play off one another - the distortion of reality is an entirely different endeavour that would require an entirely different blog post...
Saturday, 10 December 2011
A descendent of the political left, Gumucio found himself exiled from his own country, Chile. This, his first novel, charts his experiences abroad as a coming-to-age story of his place of birth viewed from afar.
What I think makes the whole thing effective is that it is narrated from the point of view of a child. Gumucio is not really evoking but almost transmitting his experiences, or 'recording' them, from the very instant.
The character aspires to be a 'genius' within a world lacking in culture, but his own limitations counterabalance against that, which leads to feelings of impotence and self-loathing.
And the novel's frequent shift to adulthood gives it a sense of reflexivity that sheds light on these 'premature memories'.
A very entertaining read and suitable for any kindred spirit who lives in Chile and has felt distanced by the country's disparity and class system.
I copy and pasted this from my GoodReads account so that I can get all the procrastination out of my fucking system and to finally focus on my essay!
Friday, 9 December 2011
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Midnight in Paris
I saw this at a cinema in Buenos Aires, an experience which shaped a short story called '8 PM in Buenos Aires'. I was giggling and smiling throughout the entirity of this. A young Hollywood hack wants to get into serious novel writing, starting a book about someone who runs a nostalgia shop in Paris. He is a fanboy obsessed with the Parisian literati of the 1920s and, hey ho, as he walks through the Parisian streets a time warp materialises, Woody doesn't explain how, and he arrives at 1920s, meeting all his literary idols - Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, Gertude Stein among others! In my story, I walk out of the cinema and meet all my Argenitnean literary heroes! It was kind of funny that, when I saw this at the local cinema here at the university, not a student was in sight - heaving with old fogeys. For them Allen is an object of nostalgia, the very thing the film (very light-heartedly) lampoons. This has to be his best film in many, many years.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Herzog acquired special permission to go into the Chateu Cave, home to the oldest cave paintings on earth. I didn't see this in 3D (it was a free screening, so I guess I shouldn't complain...), but it was still absolutely remarkable. With his classic wry humour and poetic insight, Herzog narrates these truly astonishing and historic paintings. Ever the anthropologist, there are numerous interviews with experts which delve into the living conditions of these prehistoric men. "These are the first examples of prototype cinema," Herzog says. However bizarre its ending (Herzog latches on a 'postscript' about albino crocodiles), this is still an enthralling mesmeric experience. To think that it may have been even more extraordinary in 3D!
The Tree of Life
Pretentious? Check. Humourless? Check. A lot of whispering voices? Double check! Malick has been given full rein to indulge himself as much as he can, but the thing is that this is the most ambitious and complex film to hit the multiplexes since 2001. And once more, like the Herzog, I didn't see this in its full glory. A film of such grandiose proportions should really be seen at cinemas but, alas, I went to Chile whilst this was screened in the UK. And it was just about to be shown in South America just as I came back here! So I had to comfort myself with the DVD. This really reminded me of Tarkovsky Mirror, a sort of autobiographical mosaic/cine-poem... It was beautifully shot, not to mention the fascinating recreation of the genesis... The ending I found rather beautiful, however sentimental many would accuse it of being. Few worldwide multiplex films have so many early walk-outs, but then few are this beautiful. What the hell is this all about some may ask? The answer is: everything starting from time immemorial!
Monday, 28 November 2011
When I walked out of the university cinema the other day I saw a group of bespectacled long-haired youths saying stuff like "Yeah, communism is a great way out of the current financial crisis."
And it does seem that there's a little of that in the air right now, with the movement 'Occupy.'
I've never liked the idea of movements. A bunch of ambitious youngsters develop a revolutionary idea, only to be rebuked by the following generation of youngsters a few decades later, then again - ad-infinitum.
But I'm sure it must be exciting to be involved in some sort of movement... And what's warmed my heart is that my generation, generally typified by its apathy and conformism, has forged a something exciting... A generation which has left nothing behind other than technological gadgets, shallow trends and... The Arctic Monkeys...
But what does this movement consist of, exactly? It's not clear. The Arab Spring has been cited as an influence, in addition to the protests currently taking place in Israel and Chile.
And the fact is that, in my book, in this shitty fucking world we live in... it's pretty justifiable to take a stance and complain.
But I don't think I'll take a part and never will... I live too much of a closeted life. Come the revolution everyone will be out in the streets marching, deposing the leading political figures as I'm locked in some stingy little room somewhere wanking and hearing Beethoven symphonies...
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Ever since I was a small child I was told that I'd find my niche at university. For some years it seemed that I'd never attend university, which some people may consider a "shame" or a "waste."
One of my favourite films, which I saw when I was fifteen, is The Second Heimat. The film follows a young composer who leaves behind his small village to study music in Munich. He discovers avant-garde music, intellectualises, etc. and the film focuses on several other sub-plots and characters, all of whom have their own dramas.
I don't know if this is one of the many books and films that romanticises university, or if people really do have this kind of experience at their alma mater... But I've had a pretty miserable time at university so far...
Maybe it's the university itself? I did turn down an offer from King's College to come here... But I don't know. Maybe because the world has developed and expanded over the last fifty years, attending university may not be as exciting as it was in the early sixties for Herman...
Or this says more about me than about academic institutions... Perhaps I'm such a defeatist that I always look for the worst possible outcomes... And I'm so prejudiced that I'm rarely willing to make friends with people who are markedly different...
Friday, 18 November 2011
So for this blog's video fix, time for something completely different.
Summarise Proust Competition by Monty Python
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
There's ample evidence to back the second view. There are several erudite writers who didn't grow up in literary households and great movements boom from places where culture doesn't figure in every-day life.
I was lucky to grow up in a house-hold where there were always a lot of books and films in the house. From an early age I was able to develop an interest in a broad range of subjects.
But then... I have encountered several people with this curiosity who didn't grow up in this sort of environment. I'm going to illustrate this with an environment where different ways of thinking don't really figure in every-day life.
In the city I grew up in, Concepción, it was very difficult for individuals to look out of their little insular bubble. Not only is it difficult to have intellectual interests there but take a different political stance and there's little doubt that you'll be ostracized.
My old school there is a good example of this. A school ran by disgusting beauracrats, taught by disgusting teachers, attended by disgusting students, brought up by disgusting parents - in short, a school of disgusting cunts.
So, in a 'disgusting' place like this, how does one develop an interest in anything?
It is kind of ironic that one of the people I accused in this blog (though I didn't want him to read the post, but that's one of the risks you run with being so fucking candid online) of lacking curiosity is one of the most curious people to have gone through that school: http://simonking1.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-curiosity-is-at-peak.html Unlike the typical response you would have expected from a former atendee of that school, he actually stood his ground and intelligently argued against me.
And one of my childhood friends I found out has an interest in architecture, playing musical instruments, photography, reconstructing vintage cars, 60s and 70s rock, etc. And he didn't grow up in the kind of environment where you'd expect this sort of curiosity from emerging.
Whilst these people haven't completely broken out of this 'bubble' (invariably you'll find that they espouse all the right-wing political beliefs passed on directly from their parents), they are examples that unusual and creative minds can come from anywhere. A Marxist reading of this subject would say that all human beings are products of their environment, but through my observations I find that originality and curiosity can sprout out of anywhere.
Saturday, 12 November 2011
This is some of the biggest load of cobblers I've ever heard in my life. I've got absolutely no issue with his dismissal of Kafka (there is plenty to object to about Kafka and if I'm perfectly willing to accept any tirade of abuse you are willing to pour over him), it's what he's saying...
The word 'pessimism' seems to be a term no-one is willing to embrace in the literary/film/etc. world. Negative feelings are out there; people feel disillusioned; unhappiness outweighs happiness... there is more immorality than morality etc. etc. So, if it is present, why not discuss it?
The world is ill, Alejandro tells us - art is there to cure it... Ok, if that is your aesthetic - go ahead, do all the curing you can... But the fact is that 'art' can be very morally ambivalent and still be of value.
I do accept that 'positive' feelings are good for you. What I do not accept, however, is that the 'negative' must be hid behind a cushion never to be discussed or acknowledged.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
The atmosphere of this book... is so visual and haunting. To visually recreate the scenes of this book with quality cinematography and set designs would be the bomb... The footage shot outdoors with an abundance of snow and whiteness in contrast with the darkness and murkiness of interior shots would be remarkable. Would the screenplay writer add an ending or leave it at a loose end?
THE SOUND AND THE FURY, WILLIAM FAULKNER
I think this has already been made, but from what I can gather that adaptation is a linear recreation of the book. But wouldn't it be cool to attempt a literal adaptation of this? True, it would be almost impossible, but the frenetic jumps in time would be interesting to see on the screen. It would be intriguing to see how a film-maker would try to create a cinematic equivalent of Quentin's mental collapse. With the increasing number of hollywood non-linear flicks I see no reason why someone can't take the bull by the horns and attempt to transpose this into visual form.
THE OBSCENE BIRD OF NIGHT, JOSE DONOSO
Many would argue that the sheer complexity of this novel + the number of perspectives, dual narratives would not tranfer well to the screen. Apparently Luis Bunuel kept telling Donoso that he wanted to film this, but that the narrative strand of the deformed mutants didn't interest him. He wanted to exclusively recreate the old ladies' home. Personally I'd rather see an attempt to construct expensive set designs of the castle Azcoita builds for his son 'Boy' + gory make-up and costumes done for the mutants.
HOUSE TAKEN OVER, JULIO CORTAZAR
Well, I've already written a screenplay for a short film of this, so it'd be nifty to see someone film it.
THE DROWNED WORLD, J.G BALLARD
Ballard is a very visual writer, so he really makes you feel this vision of an inundated London... The thrilling storyline would fare well in a film too.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Elecciones presidenciales, democracia y partidos politicos en el Chile pos-Pinochet - Alan Angell (Non-fiction, politics)
Habana para un infante difunto - Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Fiction)
The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross (Non-fiction, music)
The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster (Fiction)
A Cultural History of Latin-America: Literature, Music and Visual Arts in the 19th and 20th Centuries - Leslie Bethell (Non-fiction, culture)
Hijos sin hijos - Enrique Vila-Matas (Fiction)
El astillero - Juan Carlos Onetti (Fiction)
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy (Fiction)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Friedrich Nieztsche (Non-fiction, philosophy)
A book on German culture.
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (Fiction)
Existentialism is Humanism - Jean-Paul Sartre (Non-fiction, philosophy)
Los lanzallamas - Roberto Arlt (Fiction)
Los siete locos - Roberto Arlt (Fiction)
History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russel (Non-fiction, philosophy)
I want to broaden my horizons, so about 45% of this is non-fiction.
But... I plan to read all this... in about three years' time, after I've completed university. I'm so anxious to get my hands on these books that dropping out altogether may be on the cards for the rest of my tenure here!
If I manage to organise my time and actually get around to studying (instead of worrying about studying) I may get around to reading all this... but that I ain't gonna happen... Besides, I don't want to be distracted by my studies when dipping into these beasts.
Friday, 28 October 2011
A look at some of my stories - or indeed these blog posts - and I may be accused of misogny. Not only are my female characters card-board cut-outs, they are simply there as objects of desire. At best, they are objects of love...
With the exception of family members, I don't see women that much. They are a mystery. While I am often infatuated with certain girls, this is never reciprocated.
Though I must say, the few times I have met women I find that I can have far more coherent conversations with them... I find them more accessible.
But then... I find most English girls pretty vile. They continue to hold dear the social codes of the school playground - laugh at 'nerds', smother themselves up with make-up, be materialistic - that to consider spending time with me is pretty laughable.
And it should indeed come as no surprise that in the first two occasions where I made advances with women, these girls weren't English.
I saw a beautiful French girl at the airport in Paris. We looked at each other and smiled. This has never happened before.
And a few weeks later I flirted with a girl - from Syria... I seemed to have charmed her - she laughed throughout our entire conversation and said that she really enjoyed talking to me. This girl may even have considered to be sexy, but I let her slip away...
I don't at all hate women. I'd say that, in a warped sort of way, I am obsessed with them... Sadly Darwin got it spot on with the law of sexual attraction: to be attractive, you have to dress yourself decently and open yourself up to win someone else's heart. I am scruffy and withdrawn, which is why, on the whole, girls tend to ignore me or, depending on the level of cuntishness, scold me.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
But then I have made the discovery that I am apathetic about most things...
Seriously, I find that I don't care. While I am interested in certain aspects of politics and current events, talk to me about your passion for organic food, your emphatic interest in abolishing abortion or your deep disrespect for euthanasia and... you'll find me yawning.
Not to speak of science and mathematics... I remember how my dad tried in vain to coach me for GCSE maths... I mean, the few times I did manage to work out the formulas I was left cold... I mean, yeah, I get it - but what's its use? I'm sure if you study it at a more advanced level, or if you study physics, you may apply it to something more useful... But I am not willing to plough through the rudimentary basics to get to that...
And geology - again I'm apathetic. I love nature, I love beautiful landscapes... but if you were to explain how these landscapes were formed by centuries of erosion or whatever I don't give a fuck. In San Pedro de Atacama the guides would explain how the rocks were formed there, how salt appeared there... This didn't shed light on the landscape's beauty...
We keep coming back to this - people. I simply don't care about other's tribulations or quandaries... And I find most people so detached from what I'm like that to care for them... would be like caring for alien species from a distant galaxy. I'm sure this is exactly what people feel when reading this blog or what you are experiencing right now reading these very words.
Yet I'm not a nihilist. I see hope. I see a way out. That's why I stick to what I care about. And I battle on and on.
Friday, 21 October 2011
I'll try to think of more later.
THEY'RE ALL CUNTS OUT THERE!!!!!!!!
Or the need for wanking over a film or whatever with flowery language.
The French are really good at that. I'm sure if you were to take out the arts section of La Monde I'm sure it's teeming with such language.
'Overstatement' also purports to be the absolute truth... For instance, my book of a J. G. Ballard short story collection has the omnipresent Will Self declare "The most important British contemporary writer." Really, Will? According to what or whom? Basically he is camouflaging his own predilections and preferences.
And, like the previous post 'Chic', once more I will confess that I am also guilty of 'overstatement' Just a quick read through some of my posts and many recurring words surface like "Best," "Most important," or "Remarkable," etc.
Though I guess overstatement is useful in some instances. When one wants to prove a point one has to resort to overgeneralising, to prove a more complex subject in a more condensed simplified language... It still gets on my tits every now an then, though.
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Saturday, 15 October 2011
So, in turn, I don't really like showing my personality to others.
But that's something most people do - it shows in ther clothes, in their mannerisms, their vanity.
And it shows in a lot of art - the "Oh, look at me," chic poncey crap.
That's why I've become disenchanted with a lot of movements I previously revered. The Beat movement, for instance. With the exception of William Burroughs I don't think many of its participants were particularly good writers. A lot of it just consists of superfluous tricks aiming to floor the audience. Allen Ginsberg's poetry is, I find, self-consciously playful, hip and just plain literary onanism. Even though I did to some extent enjoy On the Road when I was 16 one has to admit that its literary value owes far more to its context than content.
The same can be said for much of the French new wave. Even though I love many of the films that emerged from the movement, much of it was far more concerned with self-conscious posing than any actual revolutionising of cinema.
So, yeah, in essence, we all want to be a little chic. I can't stand the idea of it and that's probably one of my many shortcoming. We can't help but feel a little vain.
This may seem quite contradictory because a lot of the writing on this blog is pure chicness... Long-winded philosophising, flowery reviews of books, venerating comments about art films... Damn.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Days when I don't meet people I feel splendid. I feel 'fulfilled', content, productive. I'm not plagued by existential dilemmas or anything of the sort: I feel like I'm really accomplishing something.
On the other, days when I meet others... I feel miserable. Either because I said something that made me look like an arsehole, the way others regard me or comments other people make.
So: the three days I come into contact with others, total fucking misery; the rest of the week where I don't communicate, wonderful.
This may go against the grain of scientific proof, but fuck me, this is the way my mind tends to work. I guess that makes me inhuman.
Though science is true to some extent: if I don't communicate at all I literally go insane. That's why I have to communicate in moderation - even if it means ringing my dad up every evening and waffling about the thoughts circulating through my head.
In any case, when other people see me, I can tell they think of me as some sort of parasitic non-entity. They have that eye on me; the same eye that all the low-lives and cunts had on me in the past. Why should I mingle with them? They are just as secular and unwilling to embrace eccentricity as the people I encountered previously. Maybe a little more educated, but that's as far as it goes.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
After all, I've been on this v. potent medication for almost four years...
I'm ok-ish at lectures and seminars, but when it comes to independent work... I can't concentrate. I've yet to find a rhythm, so I'm kind of stuck in a lethargic stupor.
Today was a major advancement: I worked for three continuous hours without my mind wandering away. Though it must be said, by the time I was finished, my brain was throbbing.
I'd have been far better off studying at university at the age of 17/18. Back then I could easily read 60+ pages per day without difficulty. Now, at most, I get through 30 pages... And that's just the bare primary reading - there's a lot of secondary reading I haven't got my hands on.
I seem to be on the moon perpetually... For instance, when I was in Chile some people in the south seriously believed that I had attention deficit disorder because I hardly ever heard dinner-table conversations... So they'd ask me a question and I'd simply stare blankly into space without acknowledging them. This olanzapine has gradually built some sort of wall around my brain, which sort of barricades vital information - either trivial or intellectual - from breaking in and getting processed.
Hopefully I'll be come off it soon and hopefully... I might get into a rhythm for my course.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick) USA
2. Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch) USA
3. Andrei Rublev (1966, Andrei Tarkovsky) RUSSIA
4. A Man Escaped (1956, Robert Bresson) FRANCE
5. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1971, Werner Herzog) GERMANY
6. The Second Heimat (1992, Edgar Reitz) GERMANY
7. The Big Lebowski (1998, Coen Brothers) USA
8. The Producers (1968, Mel Brooks) USA
9. Taxi Driver (1977, Martin Scorcese) USA
10. The Passion Joan of Arc (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer) DENMARK/FRANCE
11. Three Colours Trilogy (1993-94, Kryzstof Kieslowski) POLAND/FRANCE
Honourable mentions: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Barton Fink, Dr. Strangelove, Stalker, Mirror La grand illusion, Ordet, Videodrome, A Short Film about Killing, The King of Comedy, The Seventh Seal, Alphaville, Vivre Sa Vie, The Green Ray, Metropolis, Spellbound, Bicycle Thieves, Burden of Dreams, The White Ribbon. ETC.
Fuck, I'm procrastinating again. I'm so easily distracted...
Friday, 7 October 2011
Below I list two influences on four stories. I couldn't find any parallels for three stories (Painting on the Wall, S. B. S.B + Parasite), so these aren't listed.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano (Chile, novel, 1998)
The Outsider by Alber Camus (France, novel, 1942)
Deep Down in Talca
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru, novel, 2000)
Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino (USA, film, 1994)
The Perpetual Death of the Composer
Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (Germany, novel, 1947)
The Locked Room by Paul Auster (USA, novella, 1987)
Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (Russia, film, 1977)
The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, short story, 1941)
Monday, 3 October 2011
Let's take a book as an example. It's words on paper. You may analyse the syntax, the grammar, and reach a conclusion as to how it's structured. But that in a sense falls through when meaning is connoted... Does meaning originate from these structures, or is it some sort of... embodiment of something far more abstract? When I read I am certainly left with that sensation. I can't pinpoint a reason how words on paper often leave me with a certain... wondrous feeling. It certainly isn't something technical like grammar.
The medium most commonly used to illustrate this point is music. There are swathes of high-minded musicologists and academics who can refute that with statistics and graphs. But for someone with no technical knowledge of music, how can I explain what a Beethoven or Mahler symphony does to me? I am left in a certain emotional trance, but it is impossible to attribute concrete meaning... These beautiful sounds can evoke memories, be attributed with similes and metaphorical descriptions... but, without a grasp of its technical rudiments, can you truly describe what it means?
Finally, I want to write about an odd little feeling I experience every now and again... deja vu. When I'm often in certain locations - the Atacama desert, this uni, lecture rooms etc. etc. - I feel that I have seen this once before in a dream... Though I can't be sure because I can't entirely remember the original dream. I'm sure there are psychological explanations for this - that you witnessed a similar landscape elsewhere in the past - but I am left with a queer feeling... that I can't make head or tail of.
Friday, 30 September 2011
It seems to me that most complex concepts - in philosophy, science, etc. - start with very simple epiphanies.
There's the classic Isaac Newton example. I can't claim to understand, nor read, any of his writings, but his big idea started small: an apple fell on his head, thus the concept of gravity came about. Eureka.
And for a lot of complicated philosophical ideas to be expounded, they are often required to be presented with a simple starting point. John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism, for instance, though a complex branch of philosophy starts with a premise that a Mozart symphony requires greater levels of intelligence and knowledge than eating an ice-cream... which leads to several discussions, theories, elaborations etc. etc. etc.
This may seem v. self-evident or simply platitudinous (my very use of this word may seem like a platitude in itself)... It's merely a (small) thought that has amused my mind recently.
EDIT - When writng this I was not aware of any (possible) sexual connotations in the title of this post.
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Well, I can't say it's The New York Times - but it's something. I'm going public...
My name is on the cover of some magazine, but here I am, all alone, unable to discuss it with anyone. The Perpetual Depression of Simon King.
Buy a copy to support this excellent magazine. It's part of a dying breed of publications.
Sunday, 25 September 2011
- I desperately want to return to the routine I had in Dronfield.
- I don't like adhering to someone else's scheme-of-things. I want to impose my own self-devised timetable and programmes onto myself.
- I don't want to write about books, I want to simply write them.
- Literary analysis seems pretty futile to me... I mean, I don't really see much I didn't already know brought to the surface by merely looking at a paragraph of writing, annotating scrupulously and making observations.
- I'm yet to see an extraordinarily attractive girl at this uni.
- It has dawned on me that I am quite slow-witted. I'm dreading seminars because I don't how I will fare sitting witjh a roomful of youngsters having intellectual discourse. It takes me a long time to formulate observations - many seem to make them at the drop of a hat.
- I don't know how I'll make the transition to university-level writing. I can't really tailor my writing to a specific formula...
- This course seems terribly demanding... Apparently I need to devote 40+ hours of independent study each week...
- Here comes an incredibly prejudiced assertion, since I've hardly spoken to anyone in my course: most of the people doing this course seem like poncey pseudo-intellectuals. They wear these thick squared pseudo-beatnik glasses (I bet they aren't even prescription) and make these pretentious remarks... If this isn't the case, some of the students are merely jocks who make me question why the fuck they have even chosen this course in the first place.
- I miss the by-gone days of marvelling at the wonders of a library... without being part of any academic course of any sort.
I'm giving this thing one semester... If I'm still this despondent by then, I'm packing my suitcase and I'll take my leave.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
Thursday, 22 September 2011
This was an almost epiphanic trip for me in that several 'positive' things occurred. I did far more socialising than usual, a dislikeable headteacher from my school in Chile was fired, a short story of mine was accepted for publication and my place in university was confirmed.
I am writing from there this very moment. I feel rather disillusioned by it - both academically and socially - but that's something I'll cover in a future post.
Sadly I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, but I've uploaded more than enough here.
La Moneda, at night.
Santiago, the capital, was my base. I stood at quite a disadvantage in that I stayed at my aunt's home in quite possibly the 'poshest', most privileged area in Chile - 'La Dehessa,' which is very far apart from the city centre and tourist attractions. This meant that I had often to commute on metro to reach places of interest.
The first few days were quite boring, but I soon started keeping myself occupied.
The tentative of the trip was to really 'see' Chile, though while I stayed in Santiago I can't really say I saw 'the real Chile'. La Dehessa is a very insular place, almost antithetical to 'real' Chilean places and people. My family were very very hospitable and friendly, though
Though I did get to see more of that when going over to the Southern town I grew up in as a child, Concepción.
The two and a half weeks I spent in Concepción were terrific. The greatest joy was having conversations with the woman of the house, Paulina. I also got on very well with their elder sons and had lots of laughs.
In terms of football, there were nuggets of gold and there were catastrophic let-downs. I went to see the team I support, Fernandez Vial, win 3-0. On the other end of the spectrum Chile, despite playing attractive football, were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. And the luckiest national side in the world went on to win it, again with a very favourable draw - Uruguay.
While I was there I was enthralled in the fiery politics in the country, which I'll write about below.
Universidad de Concepcion, gaining an almost apocalyptic dimension whilst 'en toma'.
'Lemas'.An authorised protest soon to turn into something a little nastier.
Universidad de Chile.
What gave my trip an interesting 'backdrop' was the political situation. Indeed, I came back with a stronger political conscience.
The protests made complete sense to me. What the students are claiming for may be disproportionate, but the general sentiment is absolutely justifiably.
Basically, everything in Chile is determined by the class system. State education is of far lower quality than private, which all in all leads you to a lower qualification. Private universities, which require large sums of money, have lower requisites. In short: if you are privileged, you'll have it far easier.
Solve the problem of education, something the centre-left party didn't do for twenty years of power, and there you improve the class differences in the country.
From conversations I had with people I couldn't help but feel that 20% of Chile have a worm's eye view of the world. They lead insular lives, mingle with no other people and continue to espouse backward beliefs. "If they push themselves, they [lower-class people] can achieve," was one account. How can they achieve if the current always runs against them?
A statue of folk singer Violeta Parra in the town of her birth, San Carlos.
An indigenous ritual performed in Lautaro's public park. Video of this soon to follow.
Nacimiento, one of the poorest towns in Chile.
With a childhood friend I went across about eight southern towns. Miserable weather, several 'plazas', 'Mapuches - this was quintessentially Chilean.
I was lucky enough to witness a mapuche ritual right middle in the park of Lautaro. I'll upload this as a video soon.
San Pedro de Atacama
Valle de la luna.
Valle de marte.
This was an incredible, if tiring, experience. I went to all the attractions of San Pedro within two or three days, virtually without having slept at all. Atacama is the driest desert in the world and the altiplano, as demonstrated in these photos, is beautiful.
Valparaíso is a city by the port with a distinctive history. It is wonderful to climb up the hills and look at the scenery...
This was a great, great day. I was kept good company by a friend, who I relentlessly jabbered at throughout the entire trip. Couldn't have gone on a better day.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The icing on the cake. Astonishing parks, books on all corners and plenty of culture...
Friday, 9 September 2011
Back in the north of England I couldn't possibly imagine seeing a female person my age perusing a copy of one of my favourite authors... Perhaps they'll read a little chick-lit, but J. G Ballard's Crash is a little off the radar...
Well, in Buenos Aires the girls are pretty and they read the same books as me... Yet, like the Anglo girls, they are completely disinterested at looking at me when I walk past...
But fuck fuck fuck... In a book shop a girl is right next to me and she's picked up a Julio Cortázar anthology... A day later I am in a cafe, outside in the blistering sun, a pretty girl sits in a table adjacent to mine, she orders a cortado (same as me) and she takes out a Roberto Bolaño book... For twenty mintues she reads through it, annotates it, drinks her coffee as I nervously flit my eyes across her.
And fuck, on both occasions, I do absolutely nothing.
I'm pathetic, I'm vermin, I'm dumb, I'm hopeless.
I'm of use to no-one but myself.
Friday, 2 September 2011
The past has haunted and haunted me... I have made many mistakes, but I must tighten up.
I really shouldn't fret about the past. All those cunts... are a thing of the past.
I have a place in a university... A short story of mine was accepted for publication. This is my starting point and I must be cautious and furtive.
All those people I despised - school companions, teachers, bureaucrats... Are probably wallowing in their shit right now, their backward minds, their backward societies... Victims of their own making.
Even people that didn't particularly bother me - goodbye. You're part of the past, a scheme of things that is no longer relevant.
My new life beckons me.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
I've never liked the idea of advise. I've always despised all the fucking hogwash pedalled in 'PSE' classes, anti-drug presentations. Teenagers never swallow it, but they attentively listen to it.
Anyway, for most of these sessions with my psychiatrist I'd nod and say "yes" to all the advise she gave on how to avoid a relapse etc. etc. etc.
I completely forgot about this, though it re-surfaced a couple of hours ago, she said something along the lines of "You will never perceive situations the same way. Don't be surprised if you no longer engage or view your surroundings differently." Something like that - I'm not entirely sure.
But fuck, it's true. For instance, when I visit foreign countries - like now, I'm in Chile - I do not feel like I am abroad, I just 'float' by situations.
This could be due to all the medication I've consumed for nearly four years... My brain feels... scrambled... at all times, I feel drowsy... I have now reached the point where I need a clean mind.
Yet... All the fucking trauma I experienced... All those stupid delusional thoughts, all the hallucinations, all the hyperactivity... I'm pretty sure has immunised me to perceiving the world more sharply and that all new events that transpire in my life... simply pass me by.
Friday, 12 August 2011
During my stay thus far in Chile, the social inequalities here are been protested by students claiming for fairer education system, something that, if amended, would be a stepping stone to solving the staggering class differences.
The right-wing government (the first since the dissolution of the Pinochet regime in 1990) are unable to handle the protesters, slipping down to an all-time low 26% approbation. An incompetent government, constantly changing tack and direction without a fixed plan, the social injustices have exploded all over Sebastián Piñera's face. In short, there's turmoil here - but in a 'third world' country.
Can delinquency, social unrest, carnage only erupt in third world countries? These two news bulletins to me completely refute this: social unrest can surface in any part of the world. If anything, it is very like to surface in tranquil areas.
The case in Norway is staggering, a terrorist act carried out by a single man, killing over eighty people in a country where nothing happens. I know nothing of sociology, but my gut instinct says that when a country is fully-developed and anesthetised, this can unleash many repressed feelings and... wreak havoc.
A few weeks later these brutal riots surface in England... A group of youths, perhaps bored with the mundanity of their every day lives, injected a dose of violence into this calm little island. Apparently there was no political motive, it was merely an anxious need for brutality in a world lacking it.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Friday, 5 August 2011
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Unable to work on my book of stories, I have felt very fidgety and uneasy... That's why, before I set off to the North of Chile, I have started a new project called 'On the Fly', consisting of improvised little miniatures. I think I'll be writing daily for it over the course of this week.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Wish me luck. I don't think I'll be writing posts while there, but perhaps I'll upload photos when I'm back.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Confronting Reality: Stories from a Sabbatical Year is a collection of seven stories I hope to put together. I have edited the first three; the rest will be completed after my Chile odyssey.
Meanwhile there's this... An audio recording of my going through each story, describing its ethos, its incidents and messages. It's 35 minutes long; I don't understand how anyone would be willing to sit through its entirety.
I split it into two parts because it was too heavy to upload as one video... The background image was originally going to be this arbitrarily chosen one, but it made the video heavier for some reason. I had to simply slap on my profile image in the end... Not that it makes any difference.
Something I was going to mention at the end of this recording, but forgot, is that I'm like that "Shakespeare actor who always plays himself." Even though I try to write broadly, about a number of subjects, it always seems the same and somewhat monotonous... This could be remedied by attending Creative Writing classes, but I'm quite stubborn about that sort of stuff... Alas.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Kieslowski films depict characters struggling in their daily life with cultural myths. Strongly evident in this trilogy, each protagonist experiences some sort of strife with the moral codes of their community; they ultimately learn to acclimatise themselves to their conflict and find strategies of solving their issues.
Blue is a film that centres itself around emotional, not political, liberty. Julie, played by the beautiful Juliette Binoche, is wife of a renowned composer. The film begins with a car crash where she is the sole survivor, surviving her husband and five-year-old daughter. She thereafter cuts herself off from the rest of the world.
The film follows her through her isolation, discovering that her husband had been unfaithful. What fortifies the film is the perennial presence of music: whenever the protagonist closes her eyes to think, there is a fadeout superimposed with lush orchestral music.
Kieslowski said that cinema is inferior to literature because of its incapacity at showing 'the inner life,' but he does find ways of ameliorating this by depicting characters' inner thoughts. Curtailing the explicitly of cinema, he nuances the level of obviousness often prevalent in film. Everything in Blue is centred around the character, so all her surroundings become detached. Kieslowski makes every common triviality - a cup of coffee, a television set, backgrounds - lose importance as she continues to banish the world around her.
The Binoche character eventually comes around to integrating herself into the world again, completing an unfinished symphony of her deceased husband and beginning a relationship with a contact. Her emotional liberty is reciprocated and resumes her activity again.
White is considered the weak link in the trilogy, but if you consider it in its own terms it is an excellent piece of film-making. It follows the misfortunes of a Pole stranded in Paris, who is abandoned by his adored wive, leaving his him as a vagabond. After a whole series of events he becomes a rich entrepreneur after having connivingly acquired an expensive spot of land.
At the time of the film's release there was a sudden explosion in suspicious dealings and investments. For instance, people like Chealsea football club owner Abrahamovich amassed a great fortune because they managed to acquire enterprises cheaply after the dissolution of the communist hierarchy. Kieslowski was clearly unsettled by this and felt the need to comment on it.
Red no doubt features the most benevolent protagonist, played by the beautiful (how many French beauties are there?) Irene Jacob. A student who does modelling for spare cash, she runs over a dog, feels guilty and returns it to its owner. Having sought him, she finds that he is rude and cold to her. This solitary man lives isolated in a small house while monitoring tapped conversations of his neighbours.
This man turns out to have been a former judge, who now seems to be displaced with the world. With the assistance of this kind model, they establish a friendship and he turns himself into the authorities.
A concurrent narrative is of a law student's fraught love relationship. Like in Double Life of Veronique Kieslowski revels in mirroring interconnected lives. This young law student is perhaps a missing link between each other's destinies; that perhaps, had they been born in the same time-frame, they may have had a relationship.
All the films are riddled with symbolism. One recurring theme in each of the film is of an old woman scavenging over to a waste disposal to trash a bottle. In the first two films the characters simply see it from a distance; in Red, as an act of solidarity and fraternity, Jacob helps the elderly woman.
Finally: I am not one to praise, nor even notice, the cinematography of a film, but here it is unavoidable. Each film is tinted with its respective colour, in addition to being accompanied by setting and props of it. Not many directors can be acclaimed for taking content and cinematography in consideration simultaneously, not separately, but Kieslowski is one of them.
An extraordinary trilogy and definitely the most impressive piece of contemporary film-making I have encountered. Strongly recommended.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
I'm going to Chile next Wednesday, so this ritual has no come to an end. I hope to practice it during my stay at university, too.
Most of the films I enjoyed enormously. The two Fellini and Godard films were excruciatingly tedious, though. I also saw many films in addition to these throughout the year. I hope to see the last film on this list, Enfant du paradis, soon.
Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino)
Crimes and Misdemeanours (Woody Allen)
Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen)
October (Sergei Eisenstein)
Intolerance (D. W. Griffith)
M (Fritz Lang)
Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Sunrise (F. W. Murnau)
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (Robert Wiene)
8 ½ (Federico Fellini)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock)
Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock)
North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Third Man (Carol Reed)
Jules et Jim (Francois Truffaut)
Masculin Femenin (Jean-Luc Godard)
Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
Persona (Ingmar Bergman)
Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen)
Hannah and her Sisters (Woody Allen)
Stardust Memories (Woody Allen)
Le Regle de Jeu (Jean Renoir)
Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray)
Three Colours: Blue (Kryzstof Kiesloswi)
Three Colours: White (Kryzstof Kieslowski)
Three Colours: Red (Kryzstof Kieslowski)
Gertud (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa)
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
Hidden (Michael Haneke)
Enfants du Paradis (Marcel Carne)