Monday, 28 November 2011

Come the revolution

Here's one of the many things I'm missing out of the so-called 'uni experience': snotty pseudo-intellectual discussions and revolutionising.

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

University romanticised

The Second Heimat

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

You have fifteen seconds to summarise Proust!

I wanted to upload a post of this Woody Allen video from the film Crimes and Misdemeanors... but fucking embedding is disabled for it.

So for this blog's video fix, time for something completely different.



Summarise Proust Competition by Monty Python

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Innate curiosity

I'm wondering: is intellectual, scientific or artistic curiosity a result of one's surroundings and upbringing or an innate quality?

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, ConcepciĆ³n, 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

In defence of the pessimistic

In his book of new age philosophy Psychomagic, Alejandro Jodorowsky states that (paraphrasing here...) "the world is ill," the role of art is to "cure" and that "art which doesn't do this is a failure." He ends all this by decrying the popularity of Kafka.

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

Film adaptations I'd like to make

THE CASTLE, KAFKA

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

Reading list for pleasure

Post-Office - Charles Bukowski (Fiction)
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.