For Your Consideration is a regular feature published on the first of each month (published on the preceding Saturday if the first is a Sunday) that lists some of my “picks of the month” in reading, music, moving pictures, and something random. These aren’t necessarily new or trendy picks, but they will be things that I hope you will find worth your time!
Here’s a new feature beginning today: I’ll be putting out a regular picks-of-the-month sort of article each time we flip the calendar. (Unless it is a Sunday, at which point I will bring it forwards to the Saturday.) Format-wise, it will have something to read, something to listen to, something to watch, and something random, which may overlap with the other three categories, or not. In any case, I’ll probably adjust this as I go along. For now, here goes!
Read This: Kangaroo Notebook, by Kōbō Abe
My first experience with Kōbō Abe was The Ruined Map, which is now permanently imprinted on my brain. I proceeded to get my hands on everything that I could afford. Kangaroo Notebook, however, has always eluded me. Abe’s last complete novel, it’s been out of stock (print?) for a while, but I’m happy to say that it appears to be back on digital shelves at most retailers. A characteristically bonkers tale, our protagonist finds himself perhaps turning into a radish, and checks into a hospital only to encounter demon kids and vampire nurses. If there’s anyone who can pull such a plot off…
Listen to This: Amok, by Atoms For Peace
Amok strikes me as an album of familiar tensions, that play of what’s there and what’s not. Songs build to climaxes that don’t usually arrive. Thom Yorke’s vocals become entangled with the electronic, losing body (the grain of the voice) and their hold on meaning in the process. The opening track sees an electric guitar loop fuzzed out into synth. Amok employs unusual restraint as it works within the tensions of the spectral: both present and absent, neither present nor absent. Picking up from Yorke’s own The Eraser, things flatten out, dissolve, and get erased. Perhaps this is what the apocalyptic album art depicts, a process of erasure signalling transition into pure texture.
Watch This: Amour, directed by Michael Haneke (now on DVD)
It’s been two months since I saw Amour in the theatre. It’s the sort of film that, much like the ghosts on-screen, never leaves you. Sometimes I think of the image of a corpse, where the text (here, the image-text) is itself a dead body waiting to be exhumed, examined, manipulated. It is a familiar image, of course, for writing and photography are so often described as being inscribed in death. Yet, here, the picture is mirrored, because, more than in anything I’ve encountered recently, the sensation that I was such a corpse, being worked on by the text, was overwhelming. The trauma of the film is by now well-known, but for me, it serves as a reminder that these cuts that it leaves behind are functions of one’s subjectivity, and there, on the level of one’s personal experiences and memories, is where the film truly attains its awful power.
Monthly Random: Building Stories, by Chris Ware
As you might know, I’ve had this for a while now. I have not been able to dig in, save for the occasional peek. But it looks gorgeous and will probably be a lot of fun to navigate through. My main interest in this has to do with a recent fascination with inventive books (books that can only be books), but the work of Chris Ware is usually a joy to explore. I will certainly make time for this in March, and I hope that you will consider spending time with it too.