Monthly Archives: April 2011

Musical Improvisation and the Brain

This 2-hour presentation discusses brain activity as a musician is improvising. I thought it was well worth the time watching it.

Panellists and participating musicians include Pat Metheny.

[via Scientific American]

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PJ Harvey and Pinter

Over at The Guardian, PJ Harvey talks about her work and her influences, including this snippet:

Such as? She indicates a volume of Harold Pinter’s poetry that she has brought with her. “Pinter leaves me speechless. Just unbelievable. A poem like ‘American Football’ or ‘The Disappeared’. TS Eliot of course. Ted Hughes. WB Yeats. James Joyce.” She leans forward, freshly excited. “Just that feeling of reading something profound and having your breath quite literally taken away by the end of a piece. I’m reading John Burnside’s poems at the moment. Do you know his work? I’m getting that feeling – just reaching the end of every poem, going ‘Oh my God!'” She clutches her chest and laughs. “And all of these writers offer me a greater understanding of what it is to be alive, and that is such an incredible thing art can do for other people. It made me want to try and get close to this strange, mysterious thing that people can do with words.”

[via The Guardian]

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Newspaper album.

Radiohead, The King of Limbs, 2011.

Pictures of the Newspaper Album edition of The King of Limbs have surfaced.

[via Pitchfork]

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A new book about Beckett.

Stephen John Dilks has published a new book about the life of Beckett, Samuel Beckett in the Literary Marketplace. Apparently, it caused a bit of a stir initially and Dilks is hoping to win over some Beckett supporters.

More over at A Piece of Monologue. [A Piece of Monologue]

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tUnE-yArDs InTeRvIeW.

Pitchfork interviews Merill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs fame.

It’s just going to be this interesting battle in my life; not only am I performing, but I’m performing songs about self-loathing in front of people, or about sex, or about violence. These things are very dear to me in some ways and, in another way, I feel that this is my job and my role and I need to have a distance and get over myself and my self-hatred to do my job well. And as more people are telling me how they are moved and affected by my music, that becomes clear. I think, “If you get over your crap from adolescence– which is where it comes from– then you get to do this more and better and for more people. You get to be more empowered in this new job.” There’s a lot of incentive to not let it paralyze me, and that was one of the reasons I quit puppetry; I had a huge eating disorder and I was performing in front of people and I had this huge, incredible stage fright. The combination of being so messed up internally and having to perform– I’d see myself perform externally and constantly be taunting myself as if I were an audience member. I told myself, “I have to quit and go into my private life so I can heal what’s going on and go back to what I want to do.”

Read it here.

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Christopher Hitchens on Philip Larkin.

There’s a great article by Christopher Hitchens on Philip Larkin over at the Atlantic.

This is the world of wretched, tasteless food and watery drinks, dreary and crowded lodgings, outrageous plumbing, surly cynicism, long queues, shocking hygiene, and dismal, rain-lashed holidays, continually punctuated by rudeness and philistinism. In Orwell’s early fiction, all this is most graphically distilled in Keep the Aspidistra Flying, but it is an essential element of the texture of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and was quarried from the “down and out” journalism of which he produced so much. A neglected aspect of the general misery, but very central once you come to notice it, is this: we are in a mean and chilly and cheerless place, where it is extraordinarily difficult to have sex, let alone to feel yourself in love. Orwell’s best shorthand for it was “the W.C. and dirty-handkerchief side of life.”

Larkin’s own summary was, if anything, even more dank: he once described the sexual act as a futile attempt to get “someone else to blow your own nose for you.” These collected letters reflect his contribution to a distraught and barren four-decade relationship with Monica Jones, an evidently insufferable yet gifted woman who was a constant friend and intermittent partner (one can barely rise to saying mistress, let alone lover) until Larkin’s death in 1985. During that time, he strove to keep her to himself while denying her the marriage that she so anxiously wanted, betrayed her with other women sexually, and eagerly helped Kingsley Amis to employ her as the model for the frigid, drab, and hysterical Margaret Peel in Lucky Jim.

[via The Atlantic]

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On translated books.

Scott Esposito discusses reviewing translated books.

A final word on how you write about a translation in a review: I know as well as anyone that review space is often limited, and you can hardly do justice to that 500-page national epic in 1,000 words, much less save a whole paragraph to talk about the translation. But please, do not disrespect the hard work of the translator you have just read with one of those pat-on-the-head adjectives: “so-and-so’s lucid, sparkling, fresh, estimable, crisp, fine, readable translation . . .” If you’re going to talk about the translation, tell us something by which we can know you have actually appreciated the work involved and thought about the fact that this book was originally written in a completely different language.

[via Words Without Borders]

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Rojak: Omnibus

Rojak is a (typically) weekly collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week on this blog.

Yes, I know, I’m supposed to do this every week, but we had something of a big feature last weekend, so forgive me.

Assorted

Probably the only thing I share with the likes of Cortázar, Borges, Camus, Sartre, Raymond Chandler, and Grant Morrison (sadly enough) is that we are cat people. [via Writers and Kitties] (Special guest appearance by Sam Beckett.)

While we’re on the subject of writers and cats… [via The Book Bench]

Morrissey’s autobiography is getting published. [via The Guardian]

A review of the upcoming new Fleet Foxes album, Helplessness Blues. [via Obscure Sound]

On Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens. [via we make money not art]

And finally, let’s have some Sonny Boy Williamson. [via YouTube]

Bulletin

The main feature here this fortnight:

Also:

Don’t think I missed anything out!

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Omnivore: Double Album

Omnivore is a brief (and usually) weekly report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week.

For this special fortnight edition…

I’ve been listening to early Sonic Youth, some Bob Dylan, a couple of albums by the Beatles, and some Janelle Monáe. I’m also trying to get my hands on the new tUnE-YaRdS album.

I think I’ve only read one book this fortnight because it’s been ridiculously busy and I tend to slacken off a bit at the end of each semester. I’ve re-completed César Aira’s Ghosts.

I watched the new Evangelion movies in HD. I remember watching the original series when I was all of fourteen years old, and it left quite an impression. I didn’t rewatch the original series though I still have the VCDs (they were in fashion then) and based on my fuzzy impressions of it, the new movies are in some ways a major improvement. In my curmudgeonly perspective now, however, I could complain about a few things, which I won’t do so here.

One area that I can’t complain about, though, is the animation. Beautiful stuff.

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Q&A with Werner Herzog.

TIME, 2009.

And I said, very simply, Yes, because I would be a man without dreams, and I do not want to live without dreams.

[via YouTube]

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