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!
Gosh, is it a new month already?
Read This: The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), by Macedonio Fernández
Perhaps the most famous feature of Macedonio’s watershed book is its numerous prologues. These prologues seem to recall Barthes’s problem: “Where to begin?” Yet, in their various shapes and sizes, they also suggest the multiplied nature of possibility and the failure of the total. The Museum of Eterna’s Novel is a challenge to constitution (or constitutionability). What makes a book? For that matter, what makes a prologue? One of the most notable of anti-novels, Museum challenges the possibilities of the novel, but also the ways in which we read literature. It is a strange ballet between the possible and the impossible that excites me as much today as it did three years ago when I first laid my hands on it.
Listen to This: Random Access Memories, by Daft Punk
The tracks on Daft Punk’s new album all sound literally inspired. That is to say, they all proudly display their influences on their sleeves. (No, really.) Random Access Memories is a genre-mixing, influence-marrying pastiche of an album, presenting to us a relationship to a musical past, a notion that is consistent with the nostalgic aesthetic (from the fashion and the videos down to the design of the album cover). Set against the album’s main propositions of giving life back to music, of losing yourself to dance, the message that music has to breathe again is clear.
While this makes clear the quest, the ambition behind the album, one realises also that Random Access Memories is a very personal record. As something of a musical Künstlerroman, it is an intimate look at Daft Punk’s creative process. If this is an album about one’s relationship to the past, it is, more than anything, specifically an album about Daft Punk’s relationship to their musical past. It is in that sense a biographical album. The final track, “Contact”, the most recognisably Daft Punk of all the tracks on the record, thus strikes me as a denouement of a sort: This is how we got here, and this is how we will keep moving on.
Watch This: Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski
Polanski’s film is an exercise in paranoia, eschewing magic monsters for everyday events that take on frighteningly dark undertones. (Sure, Rosemary’s child is a supernatural creature, but this is not actually a film about monsters in the most conventional or literal sense of the word.) It is, as Ed Parks notes, a movie about acting. Most everyone is acting, putting up a show, a great theatre in which Rosemary is gradually reeled in. Yet, isn’t this one of the great fears about society in general? Indeed, Rosemary’s Baby deals most pointedly with one’s subjecthood, and, one might even argue, a specific subject position (the domestic female). It unmasks some of the most terrifying aspects of society through its basic and highly personal premise: the exploitation and inability to take ownership of one’s own body. In this light, the absurd reconciliation between the horrors of society and the impending manifestation of Satan in this film suggests that everyday life is in fact a theatre of fear and monsters.
Bonus of the Month: Music & Literature Spring 2013 : Krasznahorkai / Tarr / Neumann
Last year, the work of László Krasznahorkai made something of a splash in the English-language literary world with the release of Satantango. Before that, I had heard of the name in passing, and then only in relation to Béla Tarr. Before Satantango was released, I placed an order for Animalinside, featuring the artwork of Max Neumann. When the cahier arrived, it swept me off of my feet, to use a perhaps overly common expression. When Satantango finally arrived with all of its bleak seductive power, I immediately went back to the films of Tarr, and also tried (rather unsuccessfully) to find more of and find out more about the art of Max Neumann. Thus I got lost in this creative Bermuda Triangle. Here then, rather conveniently, is a useful collection of writing and artwork by and about this trinity of artists. It’s as good a place to start as any, so pick a copy up, and get lost.