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Me and Gary, brooding (September 2004)

READIN

Jeremy's journal

Liberty is not a woman walking the streets, she is not sitting on a bench waiting for an invitation to dinner, to come sleep in our bed for the rest of her life.

José Saramago


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Monday, February 28th, 2011

Contorsion, Stigma

And yet (fact): Hands lack the anatomical mass required to support the weight of an adult human. Both Roman legal texts and modern examinations of a first-century skeleton confirm that classical crucifixion required nails to be driven through the subject’s wrists, not his hands. Hence the, quote, “necessarily simultaneous truth and falsity of the stigmata” that the existential theologist E. M. Cioran explicates in his 1937 “Lacrimi si Sfinti,” the same monograph in which he refers to the human heart as “God’s open wound.”
The current New Yorker prints an excerpt of David Foster Wallace's forthcoming The Pale King. It's shocking, beautiful, engaging; it "allows the reader to leap over the wall of self". You can also listen to Wallace reading this fragment, ten years ago, in a recording preserved at The Lannan Foundation.

And more! George Lazenby of 424 W 23rd St, NY 10011—2157 (an address to conjure with!) has a recording of Sunday, February 6th's edition of Endnotes on BBC radio; Geoff Ward presents his research into the life and work of Wallace.

posted evening of February 28th, 2011: 1 response
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Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Yolanda

Olegario Santana (the calichero with the pet buzzards) smokes Yolandas; he has a two or three pack-a-day habit, and he thinks of the woman on the front of the pack as his feminine ideal. Rivera Letelier returns to this several times; taking a cigarette and looking at the pack and thinking about women is by now (halfway through) sort of a master gesture for Santana. I'm torn about this -- it strikes me at first glance as a bit clichéed, a bit simplistic; OTOH Santana is a pretty alien figure to me. This could well be an accurate representation of his character.

I'm thinking of Santana as the physical presence of Rivera Letelier in the story, for a few reasons. He was the first character introduced; he is a loner, quiet and reserved in his relations with the others, which strikes me as the proper deportment for the author; he is older than the others (Rivera Letelier was in his early 50's when he wrote this book, which I believe is roughly Santana's age -- quite old for someone in his extremely hazardous profession) and is the most skeptical about the odds of their strike having a positive outcome, the first to express worries about the military presence building up in Iquique.

There has been almost remarkably little narrative foreboding vis-a-vis the impending massacre. The book's first half has been about the workers and their friendships, about the blossoming love between Idilio and Liria María, and about the pampino community's high hopes for a proletarian victory and a new order. The only overt foreshadowings I have noticed that were not explicitly in Santana's voice were in Chapter 7, where it is mentioned that the provincial governor has asked Santiago for military reinforcements "without hope that the unrest will be resolved", and now in Chapter 10, where new reinforcements are arriving from Arica and the situation is "turning ugly."

posted afternoon of February 27th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Our Lady of the Dark Flowers

Madagascar

Roy's 2011 Oscar predictions are up... I'm glad he's betting on his personal favorite Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage for best animated short -- it's the first I had heard of it. A real treat of a movie.

posted morning of February 27th, 2011: Respond
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Saturday, February 26th, 2011

A history lesson: El rey de la salitrera

At the beginning of chapter 10 of Our Lady of the Dark Flowers, Idilio Montaño is passed out in a corner of the schoolroom where the friends are staying, sleeping off his drunken fight of the previous night. As he comes to, he hears an old pampino telling a group of young men the history of John Thomas North's acquisition of the majority of the nitrate fields in northern Chile. This expository technique seems like it should be extremely heavy-handed but I think Rivera Letelier pulls it off. Anyway, I found the history lesson quite useful.

"...This English upstart is the best example of what I'm talking about. His name was John Thomas North and they called him 'The Saltpetre King." It was this proud commoner who instigated, who provided arms and pounds sterling to secure the downfall of Balmaceda, the last rightful president of Chile..."

According to the speaker, Balmaceda intended to nationalize Chile's nitrate resources; North owned vast amounts of the Atacama as a result of having purchased Chile's worthless bonds during the War of the Pacific. North is only dead about ten years at the time of the strike, and the speaker claims to have met him in person. He says the pampinos would joke about "Our Father who art in London..."

Interesting to think about how close to their country's history these characters are. This scene makes me think (in a US context) of an elderly Civil War veteran telling some young compatriots about a famous general he had met... Or to put it in the labor context, a grizzled old Teamster or Longshoresman telling about... My familiarity with labor history in the US (and indeed with US history in general) is far too limited to build a satisfactory scenario for either of these examples, alas.

posted afternoon of February 26th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Hernán Rivera Letelier

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Happy Birthday George

Let's listen to "My Sweet Lord".

You're welcome!

posted evening of February 25th, 2011: Respond
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Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Sophistry

I was happy to stumble upon Dion Chrysostom's 11th discourse, Maintaining that Troy was not captured. Kirill Yeskov cites Chrysostom as "the founder of this literary tradition of playing with others’ masks and backdrops" -- Chrysostom argues that Homer cannot be trusted as a reliable narrator, that the Achæans were in fact defeated at Troy. A refreshing read. Chrysostom's To Plato in defense of Homer has been lost to the ages.

posted evening of February 24th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Iliad

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Menneskeheden vil altid frygte monsterne.

If you're in Copenhagen this week, make sure to check out John Kenn's showing of monstrous Post-it® art at MOHS exhibit. The exhibit is titled "Office-space and beyond" and opens on Thursday. If you're not in Denmark you can always follow Kenn's creations at his blog.

posted afternoon of February 21st, 2011: 1 response
➳ More posts about Comix

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Mountain House

Thanks to Rex Broome and to neighbor Dan Rosen for introducing me to House. My recording with Dan of Saint Etienne's "Stoned, to say the least" will appear on Rex's 39-40 Covers project tomorrow. A lot of fun playing and recording this, it seems like almost the perfect music for me -- repetitive improvisation over a fixed beat is about my favorite violin activity...

What a fortuitous coincidence, to have connected with Dan at the same time Rex asked me to cover Saint Etienne! I met Dan last December, at Woody and Lisa's Solistice party; and two weeks ago we started taking the same train in to the city for work, and talking about music as we ride in. So it seemed like a natural thing to ask Dan for help with this cover; he came through in a big way!

(Update: Post #2500 for this humble blog! Halfway there, woo-hoo!)

posted evening of February 20th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Fiddling

Let's listen to

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Narration by the Coen brothers.

posted evening of February 20th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Music

女の子浮遊の写真

Natsumi Hayahi's photography blog よわよわカメラウーマン日記 is full of pictures of her floating!

(via everywhere on the Internet. Thanks for hipping me to this, Martha!)

(Post title is my non-Japanese-speaking attempt to render "Pictures of the floating girl" -- a pun which I am shocked to find has not yet been made elsewhere, in English anyways, if Google can be trusted.)

posted afternoon of February 20th, 2011: Respond
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