Saturday, March 28, 2009

The New Yorker on Samuel Beckett

In a magnificent letter of 1932, to McGreevy, Beckett had chastised one of his own poems for being facultatif, or optional. It did not, he said, "represent a necessity." These letters are a quest for necessity, "for what must be written about, at whatever cost."

Read the whole thing here. "More and more my language appears to me like a veil which one has to tear apart in order to get to those things (or the nothingness) lying behind it."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Synecdoche, New York

"Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won't know for twenty years. And you'll never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it's what you create. Even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never really comes or it seems to but doesn't really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope for something good to come along. Something to make you feel connected, to make you feel whole, to make you feel loved."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An article in the Believer on Jonas Mekas

"The then-seventy-eight-year-old filmmaker describes sitting in his editing room on the eve of the millennium and thinking about all of his departed friends. He ends the film with a close-up of his face, as he plays the accordion on the sound track and sings, 'I know nothing about life... I do not know where I am, but I know that I have experienced some brief moments of happiness.' The screen fades to black."


"In Walden, Mekas finds a metaphor for paradise regained. He acknowledges the impossibility of reaching paradise through both overt and subtle ways - for example, his frequent cutting to Thoreau's book open on a table, but with the camera so close to the pages that we can't read the words.

"Two-thirds of the way through the film, though, a group of smiling young people in bright red costumes marches through Central Park on stilts, as if part of a carnival. Mekas says in a voice over:

" 'And now, dear viewer, as you sit and watch, and as the life outside in the streets is still rushing... The images go. No tragedy, no drama, no suspense. Just images, for myself, and for a few others... These images, which I figure, as life will continue, won't be here for very long... this is Walden. This is Walden, what you see.' "

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Smaller and smaller

"I think I mentioned this in another interview, but I can't remember if I said it or whether I read it somewhere. And this is not so much showing your poems to people as talking about the writers who have influenced you as you're sort of growing up. These writers are like people standing on a shore waving at you as you're on a boat pulling away from the shore. They keep getting smaller and smaller and waving and smiling in the distance."

John Ashbery

Paul Pena

Paul Pena taught himself Tuvan throat singing after hearing it on the radio. They called him "Earthquake" because his voice was so low. There were no Tuvan to English dictionaries, so he used two dictionaries- one Tuvan to Russian and one Russian to English. He was blind, so he had to use something called an Optacon to read them - which is an interesting read itself.


The Bridge is as sad as you can expect a movie about the world's most popular suicide destination to be, but it's really well made and beautiful.

Potato and Leek Gratin with Cumin from the New York Times. It's good even if you use cheap store-brand mozzarella instead of $16.99/lb gruyere.

Animal Collective - My Girls, which I liked even more once I found the lyrics (below)

There isn't much that I feel I need
A solid soul and the blood I bleed
With a little girl, and by my spouse
I only want a proper house

I don't care for fancy things
Or to take part in a vicious race
And children cry for the man who has
A real big heart and a father's grace

I don't mean to seem like I care about
material things like a social status
I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens sitting around and talking, unmoderated, for two hours. Very interesting!