Saturday, November 25th, 2006
Funny -- the narrative voice in Against the Day that I was thinking (as of p. 41) was a parody, goes away right about p. 41 and is replaced by/transitions gently into a voice that sounds much more like Pynchon's to my ears. I like The Great Quail's suggestion that this opening is a way of poking fun at people who expect Pynchon's language to be pretentiously wordy. ("Pretentiously wordy" isn't exactly what I'm looking for here; it is the closest I can come on short notice.)
From Against the Day: I am really liking this line, from p. 41:
"Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn't happen.
"It's nothing supernatural. Most people have a wheel riding up on a wire, or some rails in the street, some kind of guide or groove, to keep them moving in the direction of their destiny. But you keep bouncing free. Avoiding penance and thereby definition."
It is Drave, leader of the order which Lew Basnight has just joined/drifted into, telling him not to expect forgiveness to come out of the works he is doing.
I am still finding the narrative voice kind of jarring and thinking it sounds more like a parody than like Pynchon's authentic voice. But against that, I'm really enjoying the story being told.
Friday, November 24th, 2006
I am finding the frontspiece of Against the Day a little mysterious:
"It's always night, or we wouldn't need light."
-- Thelonious Monk
Any one have information that will help me place this in context and make sense of it? Drop me a line.
Update -- here is a transcription by Steve Lacy of some advice from Monk, including "It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn't need lights."
I've been looking forward for a couple of months to Pynchon's new novel. And here it is! I just started it this morning and am sort of curious as to whether I'm reading the story of the novel or the story of another work that is contained within the novel -- and whether the narrating voice is Pynchon's or a character's. I'm leaning towards the latter (presumably I'll find out soon enough) -- the first chapter is reading a bit like a parody of what somebody critical of post-modern fiction might expect a new book by Pynchon to sound like.
Wednesday, November 15th, 2006
A new Moomin book arrived today -- it is the newly published Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Book One. Sylvia and I looked at the first story, "Moomin and the Brigands", this evening -- I was impressed by how well Sylvia is reading -- this was her first experience with hyphens but she seemed to get it pretty well after I explained. Here is a preview of the book. Just beautiful artwork -- the dialog (in the first few pages at any rate) is not as interesting as it is in the books though.
Sunday, November 12th, 2006
This movie "Cleo from 5 to 7" is making me think about subtitles (and wish, wish I understood French better than the very minimal amount I do, so I could understand the cross-talk and the background noise). It is subtitled very well, actually -- I seem to sense a certain self-consciousness on the part of whoever did the translation, about the limitations they faced. Two elements of filmmaking that I don't think are recognized as art forms in themselves, are subtitling and colorizing.
At one point Angèle asks Cléo something like "But I thought he adored you?" and she replies, "Il m'adore!" which is translated as "He does!" -- I picked up on this and was wondering why the translation isn't "He adores me!" and then I realized French doesn't have a verb which could be used in a reply like English "does", so the translation is probably correct idiomatically.
Saturday, November 11th, 2006
I watched it again tonight, and I am hoping to do so tomorrow as well. So many little bits are catching my attention! I want to make observations about it here but i fear they would mostly just be on the order of, "and then that scene, the one where the Cléo broke her mirror and
AngèleDorothée was trying to reassure her [or whatever the content is of the scene that I am talking about], wasn't that just amazing?" and not have much to say about it that would help if you haven't already seen the movie. So see it, then we'll talk.
Friday, November 10th, 2006
I am watching this movie right now and it is just stunningly good. Check out this lyric:
With all doors open wide
With the wind rushing through
I'm like an empty house
Like a derserted isle
Invaded by seas
My sands slip away
With beauty unseen
Exposed to cruel winter
My soul cannot dream
Gnawed away by despair
My body decays
In an open bier
If you wait too long
I'll have been laid to rest
Ashen, pale and alone
(This sort of reminded me of Syd Barrett's performance of "Golden Hair" by Joyce -- I'm not sure why though.)
There is a sort of interesting thing going on too, with a sort of hedonistic or romantic refusal to engage reality, I'm not sure if it is exactly a criticism of that tendency, it might be a self-criticism or a derogatory description of an other, or something else.
Also: Pee-wee Herman's inspiration must be the character in the film shown during the "Projectionist's Booth" sequence. (Wow -- just looked at IMDB and realized that the actor I am saying is Pee-wee's inspiration, is Jean-Luc Godard.)
(Here is a pretty interesting post about this film.)
Friday, October 27th, 2006
I felt proud of Sylvia today -- we have been taking a beginning Mandarin class together and making gradual progress -- tonight we went to listen to the Music from China ensemble playing at Seton Hall. We were looking at the program (which was in both Chinese and English) and Sylvia pointed to a 小 and said "Look Dad, 'xiao'!" And she was right. I was surprised, because I had not even been looking at the Chinese characters figuring I would not recognize any of them. So we looked at them for a while and found a number of characters we recognized, mostly numbers.
Saturday, October 21st, 2006
We watched Porco Rosso tonight -- I liked it way better than any other Miyazaki movie I've seen to date, and I have loved every one of them. For one thing the ending is really haunting, where all of the others have finished up pretty tidily. And I just love that sort of inter-war jazz aesthetic, which wasn't in the others -- it had a similar feel to Casablanca, which worked in a really surreal way with the anime/little girl nature of Miyazaki's work.
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