Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whither Music?

I bought a Pink Floyd cd today. That requires an oily explanation. Spurred by Jonathan Coe and Tony Euler, there have been murmurs of interest in progressive rock and a general overview of popular music from the 1970s for some time now.

Dismissive sweeps which eject entire decades are a fool's hobby, Early in my adult life I was allowed to appreciate much of the singer-songwriter idiom from that much maligned decade of my birth: Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Lou Reed and of course Bowie were the phalanx of my exposure.

I have a corresponding interest in films from the late 1930s through WWII which will likely benefit from some proper formatting in establishing the syllogism of meaning in the dust of my faculties.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A wise man knows he has no home

My colleague here has elsewhere appropriately lauded this brief rememberance of a rough and timely literary encounter as worthy of consideration and contemplation and I can but agree. In these diaphanous and unmoored days, when ugly anger seems the defacto setting for social interaction and various conspiracy theories serve as organizing and orchestrating principles how could one not? I can offer only this and ask if alienation, and the existential ennui that it forces to the fore, is not perhaps now more our valise than ever?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Talking Teeth

FOSF has become a tired Sierra Nevada carton; it held cds during the heady 90s but a number of moves revealed it lacked the tensile strength to tote 20 books. Alas it lies warped and embarassed. Likewise Marx is revealed through accordian wizardry and the hijinks of an African President. During the same week, Jacob Zuma celebrated World AIDS Day by taking a HIV test. Somehow this should be considered progress given that previosuly Mr. Zuma sought protection after raping/having sex with an infected woman by taking a shower. The same week that Zuma embraced modern medicine the World Cup slections were announced. One is left with the paltry concepts of blood and tribe, and yet, the video of the Star Wars kid only has so much appeal.

It was another snag of fate that I vewed Twilight:New Moon and Thirst on the same day. What exactly happened to vampires, or rather to our collective imnaginations that make so enviable and fascinating?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Give me some after-dinner play Johnny

In the awkward extrapolations of Karl Marx that so often wriggles its way to the frothy top of things it is easy to forget the underlying humanism that is the basics of what the man argued. In his work The German Ideology, Marx argued that a man should be, must be, free to "hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner . . ." The proletar-ization of the working class steals from us the opportunity to do these things for ourselves - to be both well and self-fed and have the energy to tend to other metapysical and social concerns. There are those, however, who manage just this sort of self-actualization, in the evening at least, just as Marx prescribed:


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thunderbird Would Be Readily Swallowed Viewing This

Marx: the quest, the path, the destination

Alexander Kluge's nine-and-a-half hour long film of Marx's "Kapital" is not a minute too long says Helmut Merker

What is a revolutionary? The writings of Marx and Engels both use the metaphor of revolution as the "locomotive of history". Is, then, the revolutionary a standard bearer of progress, a pace setter, a frontrunner?None of the above, because in a world ruled by a turbo "devaluation" where only the new has market value, where commodity production spirals out of control, the "train of time" is a deadly trend. Alexander Kluge instead opts for Walter Benjamin's idea of the revolution as mankind "pulling the emergency brake". We must hold up the torch of reason to the problems at hand, and the true revolutionary is therefore the one who can unite future and past, merging two times, two societies, the artist who montages stories and history. And so we come to Alexander Kluge and his art.Kluge's monumental "News from Ideological Antiquity. Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital" is a 570-minute film available only on DVD which is based on the work of two other montage artists, James Joyce and Sergei Eisenstein. These two met in 1929 to discuss filming Marx's "Kapital" which had been written 60 years beforehand. Now, eighty years on, Alexander Kluge joins the party and takes up where Eisenstein failed, because neither Hollywood's capitalists nor Moscow's Communists were prepared to send the necessary funds his way.Most of the film consists of involved discussions between Alexander Kluge and other Marx-savvy writers and artists. Poet and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger compares the soul of man with the soul of money, author Dietmar Dath explains the meaning of the hammer and sickle on the Soviet flag and, from the standpoint of the Stoics, leaps (rather than marches at an orderly pace) into industrialisation, the actress Sophie Rois makes an impassioned appeal for Medea, differentiating between additive and subtractive love, filmmaker Werner Schroeter stages a Wagner opera featuring the "rebirth of Tristan in the spirit of battleship Potemkin", philosopher Peter Sloterdijk talks about Ovid and the metamorphosis of added value, a man at the piano analyses the score of a strike song while workers and factory owners face off in an opera by Luigi Nono, the poet Dürs Grünbein interprets Bert Brecht's aesthetisation of the Communist manifesto in swinging oceanic hexameter, cultural scientist Rainer Stollmann emphasises the myriad meanings of Marx's writings as science, art, story telling, philosophy, poetry. And social theorist and philosopher Oskar Negt looks sceptical when asked whether it's possible to find the right images for all this stuff when you're less interested in pedagogical content than the encompassing theory. Scholarly stuff, wide and deep in scope, yet bold and playful. But even if your own study of Marx is no more than a faded memory, it is hugely enjoyable to watch and listen to these experts as their "thinking gradually deepens through talking" and to watch Kluge interject, hopping adroitly from one thought to the next, surprising his interlocutors, catching them off balance, sending them off on new trajectories. We never know how much agreement and variance is hidden in Kluge's objections. His a Socratic approach to questioning, curious, open to everything, and so wonderfully subtle that at the end always find yourself wondering whether he had been driving at a particular target all along. Alexander Kluge is a great manipulator, an industrious loom, who weaves the most far-flung observations into his system.He is not filming "Das Kapital" but researching how one might find images to make Marx's book filmable. The quest is the way is the destination. The model for his underlying structure is Joyce's "Ulysses" where the entire history of the world is packed into a day in the life of his hero, Bloom. In Kluge's hands this becomes a collage of documentary, essayistic and fictional scenes, interviews and still photos, archive images of smoking factory chimneys, time-lapse footage of pounding machines and mountains of products, diary entries and blackboards scribbled with quotes referencing constructivism and concrete poetry. Coincidences, collisions. Back to back with a short film in which director Tom Tykwer stirs things up in a Berlin street, two readers struggle to recite the following sentence, slipping in and out of synch with increasing desperation: "Whenever real, corporeal man, man with his feet firmly on the solid ground, man exhaling and inhaling all the forces of nature, posits his real, objective essential powers as alien objects by his externalisation, it is not the act of positing which is the subject in this process: it is the subjectivity of objective essential powers, whose action, therefore, must also be something objective."No sooner are we shown "how the history of industry and the established objective existence of industry are the open book of man's essential powers, the perceptibly existing human psychology" than we have the history of capitalism is explained to us as a giant extension of the fairytale about the devil with the three golden hairs – every thing is a human being being cast under a spell. And the beginning of Mae West's film career runs parallel to the leap into industrialisation – a form of aesthetic slapstick in which not cream pies fly through the air but ideas and concepts.Unlike Eisenstein, who was driven to desperation by the herculean task of cutting the 29 hours of "October" into a 90-minute film version and turned to drugs into the process which left him temporarily blind, Kluge cooly sticks to his guns and his nine hours. And it's not a minute too long. *

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Take me parodic caravan - yes I know you can

Indeed, where do we drag it . . . or should we allow it to carry us? There is no doubt that this bit of the electronic ego-press has often lacked its its own drive-train, hardly is it Edgar Cayce's prophesied machine, but does that mean it should lapse into poverty and despair? Can it not still have a unique taste all its own? No doubt the easy thing is to simply allow the rot to filter by as Friends of Shelby: (who is whom here?)

And yet, you offer up a man who changes his name to mark his reverence for his favorite American author and fetishized weapons and hats . . . hats man! Perhaps the funneled end is narrow but that can also serve to focus the flow my friend - be that what is wished of course. Tell me there is nothing to be considered, nothing to be pondered, take a look, and tell me there is nothing:

How should it be played sir, and not that sittin and waiting for tea is a bad thing and the Popeyes does a fine biscuit and honey.