Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recipe: How to make Spurious

spurious, book, lars iyer, lars and w.

Lars Iyer's 2011 novel Spurious, that is.


1/2 gallon gin (any alcohol will do)

1 copy Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives

3/4 cups Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I

1 cup Thomas Bernhard's The Loser

2 DVD copies Bela Tarr's Damnation

1/4 cup Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole

1 drop Tao Lin's Shoplifting from American Apparel

1 clown nose

The complete works of Franz Kafka

3/4 cups Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption

5 cans laughter

4,000 lbs. mushrooms


1.) Before you begin, remind yourself that Wittgenstein wrote the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in the trenches during WWI. (This will instill the proper sense of inadequacy required for the creation of the dish.)

2.) In a small mixing bowl, extract the essence of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima from the second-half of The Savage Detectives; set aside for twenty years.

3.) Pour the remaining (you probably drank most of it) half-gallon of gin into large saucepan, add Withnail and I.

4.) Extract the mud from both copies of Damnation, pour into saucepan.

5.) Add 1 drop ennui from Shoplifting from American Apparel. Note: This, like the hottest of peppers, is a most dangerous ingredient. You want to instill the essence of ennui, as well as a touch of the book's glibness, but nothing else. Failure to do so will turn the whole dish to rot.

6.) Add clown nose, which you have been wearing, to mixture.

7.) Blend the Bernhard, add to saucepan.

8.) Add 1/4 cup Tsai's The Hole to mixture, stir thoroughly.

9.) Shred The Star of Redemption and Kafka's complete works. Combine in empty pot, set aside.

10.) Extract some of the dread and despair you feel whenever you read the latest climate change predictions, add to small mixing bowl.

11.) In main saucepan, stir in the feeling you had the day you looked in the mirror and discovered that you didn't look quite the way you thought you did.

12.) Add mushrooms (whole).

13.) Add 4 cans laughter.

14.) Go major in philosophy; return 4 - 6 years later when everything is moldy.

15.) Cover saucepan, turn on low heat.

16.) Watch Erland Josephson's fiery rant from Tarkovsky's Nostalghia on repeat until the essence of Belano and Lima has properly aged.

17.) Once ready, add the Belano, Lima, and despair essence to the charred remains of your once resplendent home.

18.) Leave the Kafka and Rosenzweig shreds out; it turns out you won't be needing them.

19.) The dish is now complete, but don't bother trying it. You already know that, compared to the likes of Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, and Thomas Keller, your cooking just isn't up to snuff. In fact, it's downright disgusting. Throw all of it out and sigh. Then drink the remaining can of laughter.

20.) Wonder how the dish might have turned out had you taught yourself how to cook last summer like you'd planned.

Friday, March 23, 2012

five facts

Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson have been playing at the Théâtre de la Huchette in permanent repertory since 1957.

Con artist Doug "Chameleon" Street, Jr. once posed as a Harvard Medical School graduate and, despite having very limited knowledge of medicine, talked his way into a residency at Detroit's Wayne State University Medical School. "From there he moved to Illinois, where he worked as a surgeon at a Chicago hospital and performed 36 [successful] hysterectomies before being discovered. (One of his colleagues noticed that Street seemed to run back and forth to the men's room a lot; he followed him one day and caught Doug referring to a stack of medical textbooks he had stashed in there.)"

Whenever doctor strikes have occurred, the mortality rate declines.

Just 11 people (at most) attended the funeral of Karl Marx, who died penniless.

It probably rains diamonds on Neptune.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

two plays: a comment and an excerpt

I had an Edward Albee morning -- not thematically (I'm not even sure what that would mean), but in that I read A Zoo Story and The American Dream shortly after waking up while snacking near a breezy open window (an indoor picnic).

The best thing about The Zoo Story (spoiler until next paragraph) is that Peter (the bourgeois) kills Jerry (the outcast) incidentally, wiping Jerry out in much the same way a newly built McDonalds wipes out a nearby park -- that is, sooner or later, everything around it turns to concrete (a requirement of its very presence). Likewise Jerry is wiped out simply because the status quo exists. His death may be incidental, yet it's put in motion because Peter is unwilling to concede what he perceives to be his territory. Peter is there, therefore Jerry must go.

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Cruising (Friedkin, 1980)

The American Dream is a disarmingly funny play, a kind of re-imagining of The Bald Soprano that's much more accomplished than Albee's aforementioned debut. The following excerpt is a sad and humorous account (hopefully an exaggeration) of how we tend to view and treat the elderly. Having spent a lot of time with my grandfather over the past several months, I've been able to observe the various ways in which people interact with a hard-of-hearing (and hard-of-remembering) 94 year old. The cumulative experience of those encounters made me nod along with Grandma as I read the following.

MOMMY. Daddy! What a terrible thing to say to Grandma!
GRANDMA. Yeah. For shame, talking to me that way.
DADDY. I'm sorry.
MOMMY. Daddy's sorry, Grandma.
GRANDMA. Well, all right. In that case I'll so get the rest of the boxes. I suppose I deserve being talked to that way, I've gotten so old. Most people think that when you get so old, you either freeze to death, or you burn up. But you don't. When you get so old, all that happens is that people talk to you that way.
DADDY. (Contrite.) I said I'm sorry, Grandma.
MOMMY. Daddy said he was sorry.
GRANDMA. Well, that's all that counts. People being sorry. Makes you feel better; gives you a sense of dignity, and that's all that's important; a sense of dignity. And it doesn't matter if you don't care, or not, either. You got to have a sense of dignity, even if you don't care, 'cause, if you don't have that, civilization's doomed.
MOMMY. (Crossing to Grandma.) You've been reading my book club selections again!
DADDY. How dare you read Mommy's book club selections, Grandma!
GRANDMA. Because I'm old! When you're old you gotta do something. When you get old, you can't talk to people because people snap at you. When you get so old, people talk to you that way. (Mommy sits chair right. Grandma crosses to her.) That's why you become deaf, so you won't be able to hear people talking to you that way. And that's why you go and hide under the covers in the big soft bed, so you won't feel the house shaking from people talking to you that way. (Crossing to Daddy.) That's why old people die, eventually. People talk to them that way. I've got to go and get the rest of the boxes. (Grandma exits, left.)
DADDY. Poor Grandma, I didn't mean to hurt her.
MOMMY. Don't you worry about it; Grandma doesn't know what she means.
DADDY. She knows what she says, though.
MOMMY. Don't you worry about it; she won't know that soon. I love Grandma.

And later on, the following observation:

GRANDMA. ...I'm going to have to speed up now because I think I'm leaving soon.
MRS. BARKER. Oh. Are you really?
MRS. BARKER. But old people don't go anywhere; they're either taken places, or put places.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

modernist, postmodernist


"Sometimes I have seen what men have thought they saw!"
—Arthur Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat (1871)

"[I]t was even possible that none of what he thought had taken place, really had taken place, that he was dealing with an aberration of memory rather than of perception, that he never really had thought he had seen what he now thought he once did think he had seen, that his impression now that he once had thought so was merely the illusion of an illusion, and that he was only now imagining that he had ever once imagined seeing a naked man sitting in a tree at the cemetery." —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If Kenneth Anger had directed DRIVE


I watched DRIVE again not too long ago and found it to be very different from the film that had been living inside my head. Because the style was unexpected on my first viewing, it became a disproportionate part of my memory, and the actual DRIVE turned out to be much less stylized than I previously thought. For example, the film features only a couple of atypically slow dissolves whereas my memory-version contained between five and ten.

Below are some screenshots I selected to highlight everything I like about the film as well as to approximate what I wish it had been -- a twenty or thirty minute short film unduly influenced by SCORPIO RISING and KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS.

Ideally this would be a video set to music, but I lack the hardware and software.

* * *

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Does this matter?



body image, underarm hair, hugo, scorsese, hollywood sanitation, botox, julia lesage

Is the disappearance of underarm hair in the above cut from Martin Scorsese's Hugo a continuity error or a decision? If purposeful, does it matter? Is it reasonable to believe that the people in the makeup and costume departments who worked on this scene didn't notice the hair in Méliès original film? Why should they care about continuity at all if they're not going to attempt to match everything? Who decides which details matter and which ones don't? Does it matter if a shadow was used in an attempt to cleverly mask the break in continuity? Is it unreasonable to ask for underarm hair to be applied to an actor lacking underarm hair for the sake of continuity and historical accuracy? Did someone subconsciously think the close up might offend or confuse the film's primary audience if the hair wasn't removed? Was underarm hair deemed unsafe for children? Did the MPAA threaten to give the film an R rating if the underarm hair wasn't removed? What's with all the promotion of hairlessness anyway? Do we detest hair because it reminds us that we're animals? Are we going to keep shaving areas where we have hair until there's no hair left to shave? Is this why people have shaved heads in futuristic films? Is it wrong to talk about underarm hair and expect to be taken seriously? Am I even being serious? Does it matter? Was I inspired to write in this style after reading Crispin Glover's humorous and apt take down of Spielberg? (Why is Spielberg in Blogger's spell check but Tarkovsky isn't?)

I once let a friend borrow Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us. He pointed out a continuity error in the film as an example why the film wasn't a masterpiece. I told him he cared about all the wrong things. I told him Kiarostami (also not in spell check) probably wouldn't have done anything about it even if he had noticed. And why assume he hadn't noticed?

Am I now caring about all the wrong things?

 Hollywood is obsessed with continuity. It teaches others to obsess over continuity—not just in films, but also with matching socks and clear skin. At first glance, this cut from Hugo might seem to be an example of the opposite—a disdain for continuity. But looking closer one can see that it's also an example of a much larger kind of continuity.

Through its images, America's conception of beauty has come to dominate much of the world. Is this cut in Hugo a form of cultural sanitation that attempts to render everything American? Is it an example of a kind of retroactive domination that denies the spectator any history of alternatives? In other words, an uninterrupted continuation of American culture through all time?

* * *

"In current television and popular culture, there is a significant division between connotative imagery, as in the photos above of actors and public figures, and the televisual narrativization of plastic surgery and other personal 'makeovers.' On the one hand, we have that which is merely suggested. On the other, we have shows such as Extreme Makeover, The Biggest Loser, or What Not to Wear which depict how people, often lower middle class or working class, submit to regimens of authority dictated by experts in the fields of fashion, personal appearance, and physical culture. These are disciplinary regimes, as described by Michel Foucault; the shows' participants are expected to internalize the experts' norms. Both within the shows and in the eyes of viewers, all the minute aspects of the participants’ bodies are judged, evaluated, objectified, and constantly measured for deviation and conformity. Those on the makeover shows are rehabilitated through monitoring and regulation—both the authorities' taste and their own internalization of the authorities' norms." —Julia Lesage, "Watching for Botox"

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