Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rojak: Mama.

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.

Assorted

Pynchon’s V. turns 50. [via The New Yorker]

“There’s nothing better than encountering a voice that seems to have been living in your head, waiting for a microphone, or an interlocutor. It’s a feeling of being called. When art can make that connection it couldn’t be more personal.” Interview with Michelle Orange. [via The Paris Review]

Tim Parks on translating Giacomo Leopardi. [via NYRB]

‘She said, “Maya, you disapprove of me because I am not like your grandmother. That’s true. I am not. But I am your mother and I am working some part of my anatomy off to pay for this roof over your head. When you go to school, the teacher will smile at you and you will smile back. Students you don’t even know will smile and you will smile. But on the other hand, I am your mother. If you can force one smile on your face for strangers, do it for me. I promise you I will appreciate it.”‘ Maya Angelou on her mother. [via The Guardian]

The ever-brilliant Anne Carson. [via New Directions]

Interview with Anna Weidenholzer, author of Winter Does The Fish Good. [via Readux]

Hey, look, Daft Punk action figures. [via Kotaku]

On some theories about Kubrick’s The Shining. [via io9]

“Cromwell! Who is this frump and where is my sexy hot babe?” [via Hark! A Vagrant]

Tilda Swinton sleeps in a glass box at the Museum of Modern Art for her piece titled “The Maybe”. [via The Telegraph]

Bulletin

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Omnivore: It takes two.

Omnivore is a regular report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week (or thereabouts).

Still on Maidenhair, but I’ve also got The Passion According to G.H. started.

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Reading José Saramago.

Blindness is Saramago’s most powerful novel. It is a grim story of the barbarity, degeneracy, and overwhelming despair that overtakes a society in which every persom but one goes blind, and all are trapped in some extreme political malevolence and transformed into brutish beasts floundering in the horror of that awful darkness of total blindness that visits all humanity held in some totalitarian vise. None of the characters in Blindness is given a name. There is the doctor and the doctor’s wife, the girl with the dark glasses, the old man with the black eyepatch, etc., written just like that, without even the dignity of initial capitals. Saramago pushes his characters to the limits of endurance to suggest that there is no bodily degradation that a person will not submit to in order to survive, and he spares no details in the accumulation of horrors that become unbearably painful to observe—e.g., a woman must suck the dripping penis of a man who has just withdrawn it after raping another because the women’s meager ration of food is in his criminal control. The scene is created with such physical force that the reader is made to suffer the woman’s excruciatingly revolting sensation—and though it’s a world in which people cannot see what they’re doing, it could not be projected on each imagination with sharper clarity. In creating such a world, Saramago has created a novel with a searing vision, and its meaning is not exclusively political (how a nation falls into a common blindness) or anthropological (how quickly people abandon civilized control) or philosophical (why the conditions of life are so intolerable, and what, after all, is life?), but includes all of these ideas and then goes beyond them to become that poetical vision which is intuitively experienced by the reader as the distinguishing characteristic of a timeless work of art.

I was talking about Saramago to a friend yesterday, so here’s a Saramago article from Dalkey Archive Press’ Context. [via Context]

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Barnbrook on Bowie.

Graphic designer and film maker Jonathan Barnbrook, who collaborated with David Bowie on The Next Day and Heathen, discusses his experience working with the man.

[Video from Vimeo]

[via the Victoria and Albert Museum]

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I know what that feels like, Jacques.

In May of 1951, at the age of twenty, Jacques Derrida took the entrance exams for the prestigious École Normale Supérieure a second time, having failed, as many students do, in his first attempt the previous year. Fueled by amphetamines after a sleepless week, he choked on the written portion and turned in a blank sheet of paper. The same month, he was awarded a dismal 5 out of 20 on his qualifying exam for a license in philosophy.

[…]

In America, Derrida, who died in 2004, left as big a mark on humanities departments as any single thinker of the past forty years—according to a recent survey, only works by Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu are cited more often. But in France, the gatekeepers of higher learning regarded him with ambivalence and, to his devastation, kept him at arm’s length for much of his career. According to a new biography by Benoît Peeters, Derrida, a French Jew from Algiers ill-prepared for the intellectual grind and noxious food of Parisian student life, may even have “contemplated” suicide after his first attempt to get into the École Normale. He finally gained admission on his third try, despite a disastrous performance in his orals.

Emily Eakin comments on the Derrida biography (Derrida: A Biography), by Benoît Peeters. [via NYRB]

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Random Access Memories.

2013, Random Access Memories, Daft Punk [Source: Pitchfork]

I’m sure you’ve already heard that the next Daft Punk album is called Random Access Memories and is due on 21 May. [via Pitchfork]

Edit: Silly me, I made an error on the title, but I’ve corrected it now.

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On dreams.

The content of my dreams has long ceased to interest me; but their proportions, the way they rearrange the things I thought I cared about, the life I imagined I was leading, won’t go away. Why do I almost never see my mother in my dreams, although, alone in her eighties, she fills my waking thoughts so much? And why, conversely, do I return again and again in sleep to Paris, a city I haven’t visited often in life, as if under some warm compulsion?

I went there in life not long ago, to try to chase the connection down, but of course my search yielded nothing. Why, as I keep revisiting Paris in the night hours, do I very rarely see Santa Barbara, where I’ve been officially resident for almost fifty years? In my dreams, when it does appear, it’s simply a wilderness, a blank space in the hills next to which I stay, through which some cars are edging, tentative and lost.

My dreams are simply bringing forth what I think but don’t admit to myself, perhaps; they’re not revealing any truth so much as reflecting my projections back at me. Yet the way they upend what I think I think speaks for some intuitive truth: the least important moments may transform our lives more radically than crises do. I stopped off for an overnight stay at Narita Airport in 1983, and those few hours moved me to relocate to Japan. Meanwhile, the times when I have watched people go mad, try to take their lives in front of me, or die, seem barely to have left a trace.

Pico Iyer and dreams. [via NYRB]

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Rojak: New albums galore.

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.

Assorted

Chinua Achebe dies. [via The Guardian]

Deerhunter’s upcoming new album will be called Monomania. [via Obscure Sound]

Meanwhile, The National’s new album is called Trouble Will Find Me and will feature guests including St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens. [via Consequence of Sound]

And while we’re at it, here’s the full list of Record Store Day releases. [via Consequence of Sound]

Sigur Rós also have a new album coming. It’ll be called Kveikur and here is a song from it. [via Pitchfork]

A Neil Gaiman story. [via The Guardian]

How the New Yorker rejected itself. [via the review review]

Winners of the Sony World Photography Awards. [via The Telegraph]

On video games and storytelling: an interview with Tom Bissell. [via The New Yorker]

The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa is 25, and Consequence of Sound put together this handy YouTube list of all of its tracks. [via Consequence of Sound]

Vladimir Nabokov gives an A. [via NYRB]

The vinyl edition for David Bowie’s The Next Day is now confirmed for a 1st April release (no joke), and one of the places you can get it from is the official site. [via David Bowie]

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Omnivore: Holy.

Omnivore is a regular report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week (or thereabouts).

I finished George Craig’s Writing Beckett’s Letters and started on Shishkin’s Maidenhair this week. I’ve also been listening to Holy Fire by Foals.

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On Red Doc>.

Just a brief note today to say that the Millions points us to two takes on Anne Carson’s Red Doc>. [via The Millions]

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