Monday, July 30, 2007
Speaking in my earlier post of conveniently-announced terrorist plots and large bricks of cheese, we have the following story. It's this sort of thing that cheapens government. It is irritating that people in such positions in society think in such terms about the individuals they have been elected to care for. If one can't believe terrorist alerts from the government, what can one possibly believe? And the bow keeps scraping across the same ol' violin.
This from Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus:
"...for a while [Freedom] achieves what one expected of it. But freedom is really another word for subjectivity, and there comes a day when it can no longer stand itself, despairs at some point of the possibility of being creative on its own, and seeks protection and security in objectivity. Freedom always has a propensity for dialectic reversal. It quickly recognizes itself in restraint, finds fulfillment in subordinating itself to the law, rule, coercion, system--finds fulfillment in them, but that does not mean it ceases to be freedom."
"In your opinion, that is," I said with a laugh. "As far as you can see! But in reality that is no longer freedom at all, no more than a dictatorship born of revolution is still freedom."
"Are you sure of that?" He asked.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Ok--I'm mad as hell and ain't gonna take it any more. Anyone with an objective mind can see that the crap we've been fed for over 5 years has been nothing but grade B Bullshit, and, though I know quite a few people that were very much for a Clinton impeachment for keeping a blowjob hush-hush, I've noticed far less vehement a response in the face of the staggering crap going on in Washington. Folks, I'm thinkin it's past time for impeachment. Cheney, Bush, and that weasel Gonzalez ("Would you permit the U. S. Attorney to carry out the law, or would you block the execution of the law?" "Mr. Chairman, your question relates to an ongoing controversy which I am recused from. I'm not gonna answer that question." Oh, and don't forget, he's also the one that says that American citizens have no Constitutional right regarding Habeas Corpus--who needs something like that?)
Shall we look back on the last 6 years? The call for Visqueen and Ramen Noodles and duct tape (a corresponding sale of which was obligingly given by community Kroger stores immediately after Cheney's announcement), the well-timed terrorist threats over the past years whenever enthusiasm flagged, the fact that, assurances to the contrary that we can trust the government, we still had wholesale warrantless wiretapping of the general American populace. You don't have to worry, of course, if you've got nothing to hide.
Gay folks can't marry (sanctity of marriage? I haven't seen an outpouring against atheists and agnostics and non-Christians getting married. Perhaps because they already have that right. We don't want to give out new rights if at all possible), and their parenting is certainly going to be substandard, but Cheney's grandchild is off-limits for such conversations, evidently because the child is related to the Vice President.
People can't board a plane with bottled water or Power-Ade or nail clippers, but people can cross unobserved (or observed but without follow-up) the borders of New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, and North Dakota. In spite of this, the rules and requirements for non-Americans to legally get into the country are absurd enough to give one insight as to why people don't bother with it.
And now, terrorists are putting large blocks of cheese in their luggage. Cheese, people. Cheddar, and not good cheddar at that. Be afraid. If my legislators cave in in upcoming votes, there's gonna be hell to pay. If there's one thing that this past term has done, it's made me an active member of this electoral process, and politics is gonna be a part of this blog. I don't particularly want it to be, but the conditions require it. Grr.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I got a packet of CDs from Musicweb International for review not terribly long ago, but haven't really been in the state of mind to give proper attention to them, though I found them all intriguing. It was this morning, though, that put me into gear, when my editor sent me an email asking for a review on a CD that I'd been holding on to since, oh, um, April. I sat down and looked at the notes I'd written during a casual listen. I put the disc on and listened more. And in true Davo style, once I got going on the first review, another wasn't too hard to start right in on. Currently on the playlist is a trio of feature discs from Musiques Suisses, each focusing on either a specific composer, a performer, or an ensemble. The first in the set is a disc of the compositions of Mela Meierhans, a Swiss composer born in 1961, the second is a program of works performed by a violinist I'd never heard of until this point, a certain Hansheinz Schneeberger. Upon further research, this man performed the world premiere of Bartok's first Violin Concerto and all but two of the works on this disc are dedicated to him by the composers. The oldest composition on this disc was finished in 1960, and three others were finished in 2000 or more recently than that. The parakeet likes this disc not at all. Not at all. It's been harder than I thought to write impressions on the works and performances of these pieces while my parakeet in the next room is in a non-stop AACK-fit, as if to say "makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop." Parakeets, therefore, should not be consulted when looking for a good contemporary disc of recordings for solo violin. The third disc focuses on the performances of a group called aequatour (with the first two letters merged). I do like that their name is a two-way pun, from "Equator" to a sort of multilingual English/French phrase meaning "a quartet." They make a point of playing works that are brand-spankin'-new, and I've not heard of any of the composers on that disc. To up the ante, all the works here are for soprano and quartet. I've listened to parts of this disc in the car, and let me tell you, Moonbat the parakeet will not be at all amused.
But my big discovery has been the re-release of BANG! by the Hafler Trio, which is an amazingly strange collection of sound collages that have not the slightest resemblance to a pop song or music in general. The tracks are heavily weighted toward found recordings such as news broadcasts and machine noise that have been treated and looped to fit the demands of the group in these often rather short pieces. The closest analogue would be the wonderful tracks that Talking Heads singer David Byrne and all-round genius Brian Eno came up with for the amazing 1980 album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which is a disc that should certainly be in any collection. The Hafler Trio are less concerned about making their pieces fit into a pop music mold, resulting in some often rather disorienting tracks filled with voices. For example, one track is made up of a multitracked newscaster, giving political news, a phrase gradually makes itself known over the stretch of the piece that says "All Largely Propaganda." It's a disc well worth looking into.
--picture adapted from Brian Griffin's Video Only When I Lose Myself
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Well, the Half Price Bookstores in the area did not disappoint this weekend. Yesterday I managed to pick up a brandy-new hardcover volume of the Samuel Beckett set. Today I found two volumes from the Library of America for $5 or so, as well as David Eggers' new novel for $3.50. In addition, I found the newest novel by Maxine Hong Kingston for a buck and a couple of other things. And on the way I hit a garage sale and got a garden rake and a mortarboard (and the non-dayplanner version of such, for you Purdue peoples) for a total of $1.50. It's been a fairly good day.
It appears that the parakeet enjoys being read to aloud; will sing right alongside whatever it is you are reciting. It has to be from the page, however--reciting from memory or simply talking to him gets a rather stiff response. Experimental electronic music and Big Band stuff are genres that the bird does not at all enjoy--something about the machine noise or the compressed sound of the brass always results in an extended series of AACKs from the persnickety bird. Classical and 80s New Wave seem to be the faves.
I'm going to get some reading done, dammit. I was happy to have a pen while I was slopping at one of the interchangeable Chinese buffets this afternoon--I actually got more writing ideas and notes put down. Let's see how that progresses.
--Photo adapted from L'Etoile de Mer by Man Ray
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Considering I can't seem to string words together on my own, I'll at least keep somewhat close to the idea of writing by typing the words of someone else.
"The happy thinker is the one who follows his inclination; the exiled thinker is the one who refuses to do so--out of truth--with regret but determination."
"One must bave the strength to choose what one prefers and to cling to it. Otherwise it is better to die."
"Milton's Satan is morally very superior to his God, as whoever perseveres despite adversity and torture is superior to whomever, in the cold assurance of an unquestioned triumph, takes the most horrible revenge on his enemies."
"'I withdrew from the world not because I had enemies, but because I had friends. Not because they did me an ill turn as customary, but because they thought me better than I am. It was a lie I could not endure.'"
--Picture adapted from Jonas Akerlund's video Good Boys Never Win
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Ah, another trope, this time with some freedom along with its restrictions. First, the small type:
1) We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2) Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3) People who are tagged need to write in their own blog about their eight things and include these rules in the post.
4) At the end of your post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5) Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
I tend to only deal with chain stuff if it 1) involves thought, and 2) tends to not talk about angels, paying it forward, and my mom dying if I don't respond. This did none of those things under section 2 mentioned, so here I am. I'm essentially taking the lead of someone before me, who chooses the items specifically toward what is desired to be made public, yet to keep them marginally interesting. These are in no way put together as a survey that encapsulates the blogger as a whole. These are random facts, folks.
Considering that the government, thanks to wiretapping and the PATRIOT act (how much that sounds to me like a person with delusions of persecution, yet how likely it actually is) already knows these things and would be willing to make them public were I to run for office, I throw these eight out to the World At Large:
1) I was filmed for Czech national television, in the Cathedral of St. Bartholemew in Plzen, at a performance of Mozart's Requiem, in memory of those who died in the 9/11 attacks.
2) The longest-held job I held before my last position as a corporate trainer was my 4+ years as a professional egg-gatherer at Stoppenhagen Eggs.
3)I've pretended to be a street musician to pay for lunch, singing on public streets in Moscow for money in my year after graduating from college
4) Was threatened with immediate arrest due to unlawful assembly at the base of the Statue of Liberty for singing the National Anthem.
5) As a child my most terrifying dream was a regularly recurring one: I float over a flat screen-like field that has ever-changing black-and-white geometric patterns that run across it, while I have the overwhelming sensation that I am being taken over by an evil force. I find out decades later that I was part of a study that gathered information toward my father's dissertation, which, in part, uses an experiment that explores extending very young children's attention spans (and therefore increasing their intelligence) by putting the subjects in a darkened room with nothing else visible other than black and white geometric patterns projected on a screen. I was around 2-3 at the time.
6) I sang, as a member of the oldest existing Glee Club in America, for the prime minister of Fiji, who was later held hostage by men wielding lawnmower blade machetes as weapons. He remained a hostage for over three weeks.
7) People I don't know have tried, in at least two ways, to set my apartment on fire while I was sleeping in it.
8) Has dreams in full color, which evidently is unusual among the general populace. These dreams have voice-overs and soundtrack music like fully-produced films.
My list of possible subjects for blogging candor is rather short, considering I'm at the end of the blogging foodchain. I shall forward the challenge to as many as possible. They, being the quality people they are, will have interesting responses, I;m sure.
--Photo adapted from Anton Corbijn's video Never Let Me Down Again
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Folks, it's hot. Hot. I'm not working on windows today. Won't do it. Moonbat the parakeet (I know, I know, it was Bertie earlier, but names can't be chosen lightly. Typical writer; even my pets have working titles) is cranky. Flies listlessly from chair to window to chair. I'd read that parakeets like sharp, consonantal sounds, so I click my tongue in greeting whenever I approach him. He's taken to replicating the sound, which from him sounds like a sort of cough as reproduced on a gramophone. He scolds the owners of subwoofers as they thwomp by.
The heat finally claimed the Lusitania fan, a 50s turquoise beast so-named because it looked like the product of someone hacking off the back end of a boat and wiring it to move air. Two propellers. A grille like a Buick. One of the motors froze and baked. All other fans are now aimed in my direction.
One more hot day, according to the weather forecast, and then it should be cool enough to get some things done without panting. I feel like I've been coated with a layer of something half-oil, half-silicone. But hey, this all comes with an upside: I've only had to mow the lawn twice all summer. Which I certainly wouldn't do today even if the lawn needed it. I'm not planning on doing much motile activity today. From chair to couch to bed.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Holly called on the 6th to inform me that there was going to be a SmartCar test drive opportunity at the IMA grounds on the 7th, so of course we simply had to go. No way around it. I've fallen in love with these things since a trip to France and have been hoping that they'd show up here in SUV land pronto. It now appears that they finally have. The cars will be available for next year! They're great on gas! They're easy to maneuver! You can park-em anywhere! They have more leg room than my Accord! You can change all the body panels for a SmartCar makeover! And darn it, they're cute as buttons, they are. It's like a driveable Rollerblade boot.
The line for test drives was two hours long. Much of it in the sun. The crew there had tents for us, and water too (Smart Water, so to speak, only minus the vitamins). Holly and I held up well. As we neared the front of the line, we got to inspect one of the display models. Over 40 mpg and a trunk big enough for your subwoofer so you can cronk out in the parking lot.
The meagerly airconditioned trailer had a rather disturbing video that looped constantly of a SmartCar in slo-mo collision with a full-size Mercedes. The idea I'm sure was to show that you wouldn't turn into tinned salmon if you got in a crash with big cars, but I wouldn't have minded a wee bit more of a focus on the thing driving through curvy roads in forests and mountains and driving under city lights in this or that exotic urban area. When the time came to actually test drive the things, it turns out that my license is expired. Bad bad bad. So, after all that time waiting in line, I could only test ride, rather than test drive. The ride is quite smooth, the seats comfy, and the top-of-the-line model has a cool roof that disappears, which was way nicer than my moonroof. I had no problem whatsoever in fitting comfortably. There is less headroom in my car. They aren't for everyone, but for city driving single folks like me, it'd be perfect. Every time I have to parallel park in Lafayette, I wish I had one. So who needs a hybrid car when you can have one-a-these?
Friday, July 06, 2007
I'm looking through a book of photographs--a monograph book, all of the same photographer. The pictures are of town scenes (East Europe?) near a slaughterhouse. One, a very arresting image where a woman stands in the middle foreground. In the background are people rolling barrels/drums from the slaughterhouse, the speed of their roll and the force of their impact on the pavement is shown by the sheets of bloodred that fly off the rim of the barrels, caught in the evening light.
This appears to be the motif of the series, as these red midair splashes appear in almost every photograph. Outside the slaughterhouse, blood evidently stood in the potholes: another photograph of a 60s car approaching the camera. From each front fender is a splash that extends; two red blood batwings through which the sunlight comes. Another shot is taken of the driver from the passenger seat. A young woman is at the wheel. Past her shoulder and appearing over the sill of the door, one of those bloodred wings. The whole series a set of casual scenes with these ominous shapes spreading themselves out somewhere in the frame in that captured instant.
In looking around the internet and in various reading, I came across the work of Felix Gonzales-Torres, a New York artist whose installation pieces didn't impress me much, focusing mostly on draped light strings, such as could be found in just about any college off-campus house, and candy spills. I read about some of his later pieces put together when he was sick, composed of piles of light blue candy that the exhibition-goers were invited to eat. "The artist told X that weights and numbers in his pieces was arbitrary, but he also told friends that the weight of the candy pile was the combined weight of his and Ross's bodies, slowly disappearing, being consumed. ...Also, X repeatedly questions [Felix] about the shade of blue that appears in so many of his pieces, the artist evades the question even though he had told close friends that the blue was the blue of Ross's hospital gown."
Top photo can be found at http://renaissancesociety.org
Monday, July 02, 2007
Found this in Dostoevsky's The Insulted and Injured, in Constance Garnett's translation. Dostoevsky always did an amazing job putting himself in the position of those characters he used to argue against the position he himself chose, often to the detriment of his own position. Here we have Prince Valkovsky, a man of means and position, telling us like it is. It certainly isn't far from the gist of what appeared on CNN today:
"'I tell you what, my poet, I want to reveal to you a mystery of nature of which it seems to me you are not in the least aware. I'm certain that you're calling me at the moment a sinner, perhaps even a scoundrel, a monster of vice and corruption. But I can tell you this. If it were only possible (which, however, from the laws of human nature never can be possible), if it were possible for every one of us to describe all his secret thoughts, without hesitating to disclose what he is afraid to tell and would not on any account tell other people, what he is afraid to tell his best friends, what indeed, he is even at times afraid to confess to himself, the would would be filled with such a stench that we should all be suffocated. That's why, I may observe in parenthesis, our social proprieties and conventions are so good. They have profound value, I won't say for morality, but simply for self-preservation, for comfort, which, of course, is even more, since morality is really that same comfort. [...]
'...you charge me with vice, corruption, immorality, but perhaps I'm only to blame for being more open than other people, that's all; for not concealing what other people hide even from themselves, as I said before.
'[...] All is for me, the whole world is created for me. Listen, my friend, I still believe that it's possible to live happily on earth. And that's the best faith, for without it one can't even live unhappily: there's nothing left but to poison oneself. They say this was what some fool did. He philosophised til he destroyed everything, everything, even the obligation of all normal and natural human duties, til at last he had nothing left. The sum total came to nil, and so he declared that the best thing in life was prussic acid. You say that's Hamlet. That's terrible despair, in fact, something so grand we could never dream of it. But you're a poet, and I'm a simple mortal, and so I say that one must look at the thing from the simplest, most practical point of view. I for instance, have freed myself from all shackles, and even obligations. I only recognise obligations when I see I have something to gain by them. You, of course, can't look at things like that, your legs are in fetters, and your taste is morbid. You talk of the ideal, of virtue. Well, my dear fellow, I am ready to admit anything you tell me to, but what am I to do if I know for a fact that at the root of all human virtues lies the completest egoism? And the more virtuous anything is, the more egoism there is in it. Love yourself, that's the one rule I recognise. Life is a commercial transaction; don't waste your money, but kindly pay for your entertainment, and you will be doing your whole duty to your neighbor. [...] I'm looking at your face; with what comtempt you are looking at me now!'
'you are right,' I answered.
'Well, supposing you are right, anyway, filth is better than Prussic acid, isn't it?'
'No. Prussic acid is better.'
'I asked you 'Isn't it' on purpose to enjoy your answer; I knew what you'd say. No, my young friend. If you're a genuine lover of humanity, wish all men the same taste as mine, even with a little filth, or sensible men will have nothing to do in the world and there'll be none but fools left. ...and there are legions like me, and we really are all right...we shall exist as long as the world exists. All the world may sink, but we shall float, we shall always float to the top.'"