Saturday, May 30, 2015

"April Orchard," Franz Wright

We think if we’re not conscious we exist
we won’t exist, but
how can that be? 
Just look at the sun.
Oh, if I could only make myself
completely unafraid—once
born, we never die—
what talks we’d have, and will. It’s theorized
the universe is only one
among others, infinite
others. Though
didn’t Christ tell us, “In my father’s house
there are many rooms . . .”
And I would tell you
what it’s like,
real fear. And
how there are human beings for whom the sun
is never going to shine
Is never going to rise again, ever, not
really—
not the real sun.
They’re not exactly waking up
in radiant awareness
and celebration of their own presence these days,
who’d get rid of themselves with no more thought
(if it were possible) than you would give to
taking off a glove.
How in deep sleep sometimes even we get well.
So you can believe me, in the far deeper
sleep (these new apple leaves, maybe) we are all going
to be perfectly all right.

Friday, May 29, 2015

'safe in heaven dead'

Mike Wallace interviews Jack Kerouac for the New York Post, January 21, 1958:


MW: What is the basis of your mysticism?

JK: What I believe is that nothing is happening.

MW: What do you mean?

JK: Well, you're not sitting here. That's what you think. Actually we are all great empty space. I could walk right through you... you know what I mean, we're made out of atoms, electrons. We're actually empty. We're an empty vision... in one mind.

MW: In what mind - the mind of God?

JK: That's the name we give it. We can call it tangerine... god... tangerine... But I do know we are empty phantoms, sitting here thinking we are human beings and worrying about civilization. We're just empty phantoms. And yet, all is well.

MW: All is well?

JK: Yeah. We're all in Heaven, now, really.

MW: You don't sound happy.

JK: Oh, I'm tremendously sad. I'm in great despair.

MW: Why?

JK: It's a great burden to be alive. A heavy burden, a great big heavy burden. I wish I were safe in Heaven, dead.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ending of "Johnny Got His Gun," Dalton Trumbo (1938)

Put the guns into our hands and we will use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities. Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.

....yyyyyeah, I still remembered almost all of those last three pages not quite word-perfect but too fucking close enough (it came up in a discussion of Metallica elsewhere) and boy, talk about Excellent Books You Will Read Only Once. Never Again. And Remember Forever. And not in the good way. That story would make Gandhi punch a baby bunny.

That final paragraph always seemed like the most brutal twist of the screw ever to me, though, because how is that enraged desperate call to arms supposed to be pacifist? It seems like the war has finally driven the narrator absolutely nuts and there's nowhere else for the story to end, it self-destructs, like a bomb. The solution to killing is to kill the bastards who kill. Nobody ever said insanity was logical, though.

Alice in Chains - "Would? (Unplugged)"


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

IN FUCKING DEED

This movie went eons beyond our normal expectations, where we grudgingly award points for a well-written female character or a vaguely interesting backstory. It left that kind of judgement in the dust, a two-hour car chase with more female characters than men, including a pregnant pacifist messiah and a motorcycle gang of elderly desert cowboy grandmas. It's like this movie came from another damn planet. 

- Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Solution," Franz Wright

What is the meaning of kindness?
Speak and listen to others, from now on,
as if they had recently died.
At the core the seen and unseen worlds are one.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

T: So what films other than the Mad Max franchise has George Miller directed?

MOI: I don't know! //goes to Wikipedia ....Happy Feet, "a musical epic about the life of singing penguins in Antarctica."

T: 0.0

this was me except Step 5A was 'all my feminist friends raving about it ecstatically'

And also, no lie, the very first time I saw the trailer I thought they had rebooted the franchise with Mad Max as a girl. BUT IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN THAT.



Kate Leth, "Kate or Die"

'flaunting her belly, like a bronze shield, at her enraged pursuers'*


via

Anthony Lane (only it's MORE than that, she's shielding Furiosa and puts herself right in the line of fire because she knows the warlord won't hurt her because she's carrying his baby, and she's using her and her child's status as his property against him, to protect her rescuer. And her sister is literally supporting her. It's such a fucking beautiful moment)

we are (all) not things

Max is haunted by his past, and turned into nothing more than a body by Immortan Joe. But here’s the key: in the opening scenes we root for him against the powdered boys who are attacking him. As the chase begins we are rooting for him and Furiosa, and cheer as War Boys bite it. I went in blind, so I assumed Nux was dead after the crash, and thought that Miller was going for the sick joke of Max being tied to a corpse for half the movie. But no–Nux wakes up. So then I thought he was going to be the secondary antagonist, clinging to the truck and striking at Furiosa and the women from within. But no–after he fails to assassinate Furiosa and humiliates himself in front of Joe, he’s just a kid. A traumatized, enslaved kid who’s been duped into craving Joe’s approval over all else. He loses his reason for living when he fails, and has to remake himself on the run, just as the women are. Just as Max is. As the chase continues, more and more of his paint fades away, until we see the real face underneath. And this comes to mean even more as the cars continue to explode: under the paint and the war cries, every boy on those trucks is a kid just like Nux. All the drummers. Coma-Doof. Even the horrible Rictus Erectus manages to sound sweet and vulnerable as he shares the news of his brother. Miller has subverted the story again: other than Joe (and possibly The Bullet Farmer and The People Eater…), there aren’t really any villains here.

And then he takes that a step further as well. Nux has been trained to live for a fiery death, and he gets it–but he gets it on his own new terms. Having experienced something like real love with Capable, he sacrifices himself to kill Rictus and save the woman he was maybe starting to hope he had a future with. This is terrible, and I felt it more than any of the other deaths in the film, but it also allows him to transform his destiny. Rather than being a slave to Joe’s war machine, he is a free and independent young man who sacrifices himself for others by his own choice.

....Furiosa is terribly wounded during the storm on the Citadel, and is clearly dying. Given all the other deaths in the film I figured this was it for her, and she’d be the grand sacrificial figure. Instead, Max tells her his name–which I think marks the first time in the series that he’s chosen to tell someone his name?–and then, like Nux, takes the role Immortan Joe forced on him and transforms it into something better. Having been turned into a Blood Bag against his will, he chooses to give his blood to Furiosa, and the thing that seemed like just a sick joke/dystopian objectification at the beginning of the film is turned into an act of healing. He is doing it purely to save her, but in doing it makes a new connection to humanity, and to the better part of himself, just as Nux did in his sacrifice. He becomes a hero through this healing act, not through fighting.

....Much as silent film used to be able to reach across cultures and languages, Miller’s focus on action and emotion over dialogue and exposition allows us to experience the story in a direct, intimate way. The people who referred to this film as a “Trojan Horse” were completely correct—but Miller wasn’t smuggling feminist propaganda, he was disguising a story of healing as a fun summer blockbuster. By choosing to tell a story about how a bunch of traumatized, brainwashed, enslaved, objectified humans reclaim their lives as a balls-out feminist car chase epic with occasional moments of twisted humor, George Miller has subverted every single genre, and given us a story that will only gain resonance with time.

-- Leah Schnelbach


WE ARE NOT THINGS

BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE MOST BADASS PART OF THE MOVIE. THE FIRST MOST BADASS PART OF THE WHOLE BY-DESIGN SUPREMELY BADASS MOVIE IS CHARLIZE THERON AS FURIOSA THE WAR RIG DRIVER. SHE GETS A SMOKY EYE EFFECT BY SMEARING GREASE FROM THE WAR RIG'S STEERING COLUMN ACROSS HER FACE. SHE HITS DUDES IN THE BRAINPAN WITH A SNIPER RIFLE IN ZERO LIGHT FROM EIGHT HUNDRED YARDS AWAY WITH EASE. AT ONE POINT SHE USES MAX AS A RIFLE MOUNT. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE HOW HARD IT WAS NOT TO HOOT OUT LOUD IN THE THEATER WHEN THE MALE PROTAGONIST OF A FILM WHO HAD JUST COME BACK FROM A FRACAS WITH DESERT VILLAINS WAS TOLD TO CHILL FOR A SEC WHILE CHARLIZE THERON USED HIM AS A PIECE OF MILITARY FURNITURE BECAUSE MAX, IT TURNS OUT, IS A LOUSY SHOT WITH A SNIPER RIFLE.  CHARLIZE THERON'S EYES ARE EASILY HALF THE DIALOGUE IN THE MOVIE AND MOST OF THE LINES THEY SAY ADD UP TO SOMETHING LIKE "I'M ONLY GOING TO USE ONE BULLET ON THIS SHITPILE OF A WORLD BECAUSE THAT'S ALL IT DESERVES AND ALSO ALL I NEED TO KILL BECAUSE I AM THE MOST LETHAL TWO-HEADED LIZARD PROWLING THIS CURSED EARTH." SHE SHOULD GET AN OSCAR. I AM NOT KIDDING AT ALL.

- THE ALLCAPS REVIEW


(THE PEOPLE IN THE THEATRE I WAS IN CRACKED UP HELPLESSLY AT MAX THE RIFLE MOUNT. BECAUSE HOW COULD YOU NOT)

Friday, May 22, 2015

We just saw Mad Max: Furiosa and

MIND. BLOWN.

MIND. IS. BLOWN. Friends, see this movie. Call in sick, desert your desk job, leave the family dinner table -- GO. SEE. THIS. MOVIE. And see it in the theatre, because if I can you can, and the cinematography and editing and sound editing even are all absolutely gorgeous. Brilliantly written, acted, directed. HOLY SHIT WOW.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

this is also me at six ayem (Rocket is my backup patronus)


Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!

The contest was brief indeed. I was frantic with every species of wild excitement, and felt within my single arm the energy and power of a multitude. In a few seconds I forced him by sheer strength against the wainscoting, and thus, getting him at mercy, plunged my sword, with brute ferocity, repeatedly through and through his bosom.

At that instant some person tried the latch of the door. I hastened to prevent an intrusion, and then immediately returned to my dying antagonist. But what human language can adequately portray that astonishment, that horror which possessed me at the spectacle then presented to view? The brief moment in which I averted my eyes had been sufficient to produce, apparently, a material change in the arrangements at the upper or farther end of the room. A large mirror, -- so at first it seemed to me in my confusion -- now stood where none had been perceptible before; and, as I stepped up to it in extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood, advanced to meet me with a feeble and tottering gait.

Thus it appeared, I say, but was not. It was my antagonist -- it was Wilson, who then stood before me in the agonies of his dissolution. His mask and cloak lay, where he had thrown them, upon the floor. Not a thread in all his raiment -- not a line in all the marked and singular lineaments of his face which was not, even in the most absolute identity, mine own!

It was Wilson; but he spoke no longer in a whisper, and I could have fancied that I myself was speaking while he said:

"You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead -- dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist -- and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."

- Edgar Allan Poe


Showgirls play chess between shows, New York, 1958

Gordon Parks, 1958. Caption from LIFE. "Between scenes in the show at New York's Latin Quarter, Pat Farrell prepares to make a chess move. Opponent (right) is Grace Sundstrom. Kibitzing at left is Shirley Forrest, an ex-schoolteacher."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

don't mourn, organize

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

So I'm sitting there enjoying my witty fun little pop sci book, as you do, and then Bryson drops this fucking bombshell* on me:

....James Chadwick devoted eleven intensive years to hunting for neutrons before finally succeeding in 1932....As Boorse and his colleagues point out in their history of the subject, the delay in discovery was probably a very good thing as mastery of the neutron was essential to the development of the atomic bomb....Had the neutron been isolated in the 1920s, they note, it is "very likely the atomic bomb would have been developed first in Europe, undoubtedly by the Germans."

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST BILL DON'T DO THAT TO ME. //hyperventilates


*indeed
Atoms, in short, are very abundant. They are also fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms -- up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested -- probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any other historical figure you care to name. (The personages have to be historical, apparently, as it takes the atoms some decades to become thoroughly redistributed; however much you may wish it, you are not yet one with Elvis Presley.)

So we are all reincarnations -- though short-lived ones.

- A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson


ETA  Review: 'Most of this paragraph is correct, but because atoms are stripped of their electrons in stars, Bryson should have said, ". . . the nuclei of every atom you possess has most likely passed through several stars . . . " One might be shocked that each of the 6 trillion or so humans on Earth have so many of Shakespeare's atoms in them. However, Jupiter Scientific has done an analysis of this problem and the figure in Bryson's book is probably low: It is likely that each of us has about 200 billion atoms that were once in Shakespeare's body.' (An Estimate of the Number of Shakespeare's Atoms in a Living Human Being)

gpoy

Newton was....famously distracted (upon swinging his feet out of bed in the morning he would reportedly sometimes sit for hours, immobilized by the sudden rush of thoughts to his head).

- A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
At 30, Jane Austen was an utter failure. A blocked writer with virtually no income of her own, she was living at her brother Frank’s house in Southampton with his new bride, her widowed mother, her older sister Cassandra, and an equally impoverished family friend. When she was 21, her father had queried a publisher about the first draft of Pride and Prejudice — then called First Impressions — but they refused to read it. At 27, she sold her novel Northanger Abbey, expecting this to launch her writing career — but her joy was short-lived: the publisher advertised the book but never put it out. The year before she had been offered a very tempting, well-paid day job — the job of being Mrs. Harris Bigg-Withers — but she couldn’t bring herself to accept. Either because she didn’t love the man — or because in the era before birth control that particular day job was incompatible with writing. She was 33 when it finally happened, the blessed event that would be the making of Jane Austen as a writer. It wasn’t a burst of literary inspiration — a plot, a character, her invention of a newfangled free indirect style. It was a piece of real estate — a house provided rent-free by her brother Edward. In the summer of 1809, after eight years of peripatetic living arrangements that were unproductive for her writing, Jane Austen settled down in this house and began to rewrite and revise the manuscripts of her younger years into the masterworks we know today as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility

- Gina Fattore on Fanny Burney and dayjobs

"Intake Interview," Franz Wright

What is today’s date?

Who is the President?

How great a danger do you pose, on a scale of one to ten?

What does “people who live in glass houses” mean?

Every symphony is a suicide postponed, true or false?

Should each individual snowflake be held accountable for the avalanche?

Name five rivers.

What do you see yourself doing in ten minutes?

How about some lovely soft Thorazine music?

If you could have half an hour with your father, what would you say to him?

What should you do if I fall asleep?

Are you still following in his mastodon footsteps?

What is the moral of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”?

What about his Everest shadow?

Would you compare your education to a disease so rare no one else has ever had it, or the deliberate extermination of indigenous populations?

Which is more puzzling, the existence of suffering or its frequent absence?

Should an odd number be sacrificed to the gods of the sky, and an even to those of the underworld, or vice versa?

Would you visit a country where nobody talks?

What would you have done differently?

Why are you here?

Every symphony is a suicide postponed, true or false?

Though the young Mr. Wright witnessed firsthand the ravages of the poet’s life, his professional course was set by the time he was a teenager. When he was 14 or 15, as he later recounted in interviews, he wrote his first poem and mailed it to his father.

“I’ll be damned,” James Wright wrote back. “You’re a poet. Welcome to hell.”

- Franz Wright, March 18, 1953 – May 14, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

At ten o'clock is when I rise from my grave And cast my eyes over the ideas that I couldn't save



We were winding up the road to the site 
With the windows down and the cigarettes alight 
Singing some rubbish about, "My soul's alright" 
I didn't know what I could do, it's just you and I 
And some other guy forever passing through

go away, internet


Moi at six ayem, only slightly exaggerated