Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tom Stoppard wins the PEN Pinter Prize.

Playwright Tom Stoppard has been announced as the winner of the 2013 PEN/Pinter prize, celebrating a lifetime of literary achievement and his campaigning work in the field of human rights.

Founded in 2009 by the freedom-of-expression writers’ group English PEN in Pinter’s memory, the prize is awarded annually to a British writer or writer resident in Britain who, in the words of Pinter’s Nobel literature prize speech in 2005, casts an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and shows a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”

[via The Guardian]

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Cover designs.

Have a look at some of Peter Mendelsund’s self-rejected designs for covers of Julio Cortázar books (mostly Hopscotch). [via Jacket Mechanical]

Remember that Hopscotch is 50 this year. Cortázar himself would be 100 next year, I believe. Good time to revisit the books.

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The suggestion of people.

Illusions

Winter months, the touch of green cloth suggests cold.
Summer months, the sight of red suggests heat.
Upon entering, a spirit shrine seems to hold ghosts.
The belly of a grand master monk suggests pregnancy.
Behind a heavy curtain, the suggestion of people.
Passing a butcher shop, one feels rank as mutton.
The sight of ice jade cools the heart’s core.
The sight of plums softens the teeth.

One of a few excerpts from a translation by Chloe Garcia Roberts of the 杂纂 (Za Zuan) by 李商隐 (Li Shangyin, courtesy name of 義山). [via Harvard Review Online]

More information:

The following lists are from the Za Zuan by Li Shangyin (ca. 813–858), a late-Tang poet famous for his lush intricacy and imagery. Written in a spare, candid style, the pieces in this little-known text record the author’s reactions to the mundane in shifting tones of humor, wonder, and sadness. A complete translation of the Za Zuan will be published by New Directions in 2014.

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Rojak: JJ Cale dies.

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

Assorted

JJ Cale has died. [via Consequence of Sound]

Here’s the Fiona Apple video for “Hot Knife” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. [via YouTube]

A very brief piece by Krasznahorkai. [via Asymptote]

There’s something about Luis Chitarroni’s The No Variations over here, which I’m in the middle of reading. [via HTMLGIANT]

Benjamin Moser tells you something you should already know: You need to know Clarice Lispector. [via intelligent life]

Atoms For Peace have set up shop at soundhalo and you can purchase a (considerably cheaper) streaming licence or a download of two of their live shows. [via Consequence of Sound]

Here is a preview track “The Clock”. [via YouTube]

Bulletin

This week:

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Omnivore: Old and new.

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

I’ve fired up some records from my really tiny vault: Fela Kuti, Chick Corea, Blind Faith, and Talk Talk. Baths, EMA, Mikal Cronin and Bassekou Kouyate have also been on my playlist.

Otherwise, it’s been a surprisingly busy week!

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César Aira story.

If I were a character in a play, the lack of true privacy would arouse in me feelings of profound mistrust, disquiet, suspicion. In some way—I don’t know how—I would feel the silent, attentive presence of the audience. I would always be aware that my words are being heard by others, and if that can actually fit in with some parts of my dialogue (there are intelligent things we say to show off before the largest number of people possible, and there are also times when we regret there isn’t an audience to appreciate those things), I’m sure that there would be other parts that would have to be spoken in an authentic and not fictitious intimacy. And those would be the most important parts for understanding the plot: the entire interest, the whole value of the play would be based on them. But their importance would not stimulate my loquacity; to the contrary; I would take the requirements for keeping any secrets very literally, as I always have. To start, I’d prefer not to speak. I’d say “Let’s go into another room, I have to tell you something important that no one else should hear.” But at that point the curtain would fall, and in the next scene we’d enter that other room, which would be the same stage with different decor. I’d look all around, sniff the ineffable… I know there are no seats in fiction, and in my character as a character I’d know that more than ever, because my very existence would be based on that knowledge, but even so…

There’s a César Aira story called The Spy on Electric Literature. [via Electric Literature]

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Gravity trailer.

Here is the trailer to Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming film, Gravity. It reminds me a bit of one of my favourite anime series, Planetes. [via YouTube]

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Krasznahorkai interview.

Ok, a short story for you. I don’t know how long but I spent many years on the road, trying to find architecture that a human being had built in defence against the bad, and that’s why I was in Denmark because of a certain city wall. At night, I couldn’t sleep so I listened to Danish radio between 1 and 2am. I found a programme in which sometimes a woman, sometimes a man read some wonderful poems, unbelievably beautiful and sad.

After a few weeks I went back to Copenhagen to my girlfriend, and said what a wonderful kind of late night literary programme you have between 1 and 2am! But we don’t have such a programme, she said. But I’ve heard it, I said, it must be a literary programme. No, we haven’t one, she said, again, and slowly, she said, it’s almost 1am, please, show me. I found the station on the radio: listen, do you hear? But László, she said, this is the weather report!

And now, an interview with László Krasznahorkai. [via Transcript]

As you might possibly expect, there’s also quite a bit on Béla Tarr in there (as well as some Max Neumann).

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Interview with Can Xue.

We must first clarify this idea—what is Chinese culture? The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the way we interact with each other, romantic relationships, sense of languages, ways of speaking—do these belong to culture? Are we immersed in 5000 years of culture? As a purely modernist artist, would I have more profound, more deeply felt feelings toward Chinese culture than the ordinary person? I have read some of the pieces of Chinese literature that you mentioned; nevertheless, with the exception of Dream of the Red Chamber and some Tang poetry, the others cannot touch my soul. The essence of Chinese culture that I contemplate is the potential force of ideas like “the unity of heaven and man.” In the past 5000 years, our people have not been conscious of this power, because we have been isolated and closed to the world, and we lack a spirit of independence. Yet we are supposed to have this power—an ethnic group that has existed for thousands of years must possess some eternal elements. If you don’t develop these elements, however, then they will forever remain in darkness and never see the light of day, which also means they will never be able to truly exist. My method is to use Western culture as a hoe to unearth our ancient culture, so we can realize its proper value. Western culture has been “divided” for thousands of years. I want to now join the two shores—earth and sky, the material and the immaterial—and combine them into one. And for that task, I have some advantages: namely, the nourishment and enlightenment I receive from 5000 years of history.

There’s loads of good stuff in this interview with Can Xue over at Asymptote. [via Asymptote]

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New Hayao Miyazaki film.

Here’s the trailer to the new Hayao Miyazaki film, The Wind Rises. [via YouTube]

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