Thursday, November 26, 2015

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The Chinese astrologer wears out his years calculating the date of his death. Until dawn each night he amasses signs, figures. He ages, becomes a stranger to his fellows; but his calculations advance. He reaches his goal. Astrology will reveal the date of his death. Then, one morning, the brush falls from his fingers. From loneliness, from fatigue, perhaps from regret, he dies. He had but one sum left to perform.
     Allow me to liken the Chinese astrologer to the intellectual who died of exhaustion at a young age for, on top of a draining, harassing, and poorly paid day job, he put his every spare moment toward preparing a monumental and definitive critical edition of Lafargue's The Right to Be Lazy.
                                                                            —Jean Ferry, The Conductor and Other Tales

November 26

When Karl Marx read The Right to Be Lazy, he concluded, "If that's Marxism, then I'm no Marxist."
     The author, Paul Lafargue, seemed less a communist than an anarchist who harbored a suspicious streak of tropical lunacy.

     Neither was Marx pleased at the prospect of having this not-very-light-complexioned Cuban for a son-in-law. "An all too intimate deportment is unbecoming," he wrote to him when Paul began making dangerous advances on his daughter Laura. And he added solemnly: "Should you plead defence of your Creole temperament, it becomes my duty to interpose my sound sense between your temperament and my daughter."
     Reason failed.

     Laura Marx and Paul Lafargue shared their lives for more than forty years.
     And on this night in the year 1911, when life was no longer life, in their bed at home and in each other's arms, they set off on the final voyage. 
                                                                                                                —Eduardo Galeano, Children of the Days

Monday, November 09, 2015

affinities XXVIII

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Herzog, 1974); A Field in England (Wheatley, 2013)

There are also some similarities between Wheatley's bleak and blackly humorous film and Beckett's Waiting for Godot—some superficial, some not.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

the Monoculture

From Noah Tavlin's "What 'Orwellian' Really Means," animated by TED-Ed.

I really ought to get a tumblr for stuff like this...

Thursday, October 01, 2015


leafie: a hen into the wild, animal rights, vegetarianism, seong-yun oh,
leafie: a hen into the wild, animal rights, vegetarianism, seong-yun oh, world vegetarian day,
leafie: a hen into the wild, animal rights, vegetarianism, seong-yun oh, battery hens, factory farming,

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (Seong-yun Oh, 2011)

Monday, August 31, 2015

things overheard (I)


A. (a man in his late 20s)
B. (a man in his late 50s)

Scene: A woman in her early 20s stops near the two men. She takes a moment to playfully flirt with B., then exits.

A. (in earnest, turning to B.): "That's low. If I had a daughter who flirted with an older man like that, I'd slap her silly. It's disgusting."

B: "I don't know if I would," B. ponders, giving the thought due consideration.

He longed to beat her, to strangle her, to tear her hair out... He sat still, his arms crossed, his eyes turned skyward, his mind too agitated to think as yet. He only felt within him the rancour fermenting and the anger swelling which lurk at the heart of all mankind in presence of the caprices of feminine desire... Then by degrees his mind became calmer, and bearing up against his pain, he thought: "All women are prostitutes. We must make use of them, and not give them anything of ourselves." The bitterness in his heart rose to his lips in words of contempt and disgust. He repeated to himself: "The victory in this world is to the strong. One must be strong..." —Maupassant, Bel Ami (1885)

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From Anthony Bourdain's The Layover (2011)

Monday, August 24, 2015

consciousness deferred

Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015)
La Noire de... / Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1966)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

a real life conversation (II)

Setup: A. and her sisters have agreed to a book club. The Picture of Dorian Gray is their first selection. B. is a work acquaintance.

B. Have you started Dorian Gray yet?

A. (remembering) Oh! No, not yet. (Pause.) My sister is half-way through, and she said it was boring.

B. Really? I'm surprised. Almost everything Lord Henry says is either witty or funny, and often both.

A. Does it take a while to get started? Is there a lot of description in the beginning?

B. No. There's a conversation between Lord Henry and another character by the second page or so.

A. Well, I think my sister just has very high standards.

Monday, August 17, 2015

inspiration, derivation, or no relation? (2)

After someone in the film gives a nightmarish performance, the MC says the following (not sure why the closed caption is so blurry):

Lost River (Ryan Gosling, 2014)

("By the way, he's also available for children's parties.")

"FUCK THAT, I WANT MY ROCKSTARS DEAD!!! I want them to fucking play with one hand and put a gun in their other fucking hand and go 'Hope you enjoyed the show!' [mimics gunshot to the head] YEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!! YEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! PLAY FROM YOUR FUCKING HEAAAAARRRRRRRT! [pause] Ahem, I am available for children's parties by the way." —Bill Hicks

Night Train To Lisbon (Billie August, 2013)

"If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses." —Lenny Bruce (early 1960s)

"A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross? It's like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a rifle pendant." —Bill Hicks (early 90s)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Twitter, links, etc.

Since Google+ is a graveyard I've moved my "Recent Links & Discoveries" to Twitter (@TheTarpeianRock—link also on sidebar). I'm not 100% adept at Twitter yet, not completely sure I understand every aspect of it, and only one person I know uses the service... But I like trying to come up with pithy things to write. (Warning: Sometimes I tweet lame jokes into the wild!) I haven't done too much link sharing as of yet, largely because I haven't been reading/watching/exploring much online, but this will eventually change. Right now I'm just trying to have some fun with it.

Follow or check in periodically if interested.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

top: Pierre Brignaud via @mattzollerseitz (source)
bottom: Joan Cornellà via (source)

Monday, August 03, 2015

"Borges is half-blind. Never forget that." —Orson Welles

Excerpts from Jean-Paul Sartre's and Jorge Luis Borges' negative reviews of Citizen Kane have been making the rounds lately (you can navigate to them both from HERE). To accompany them I've scanned a chapter from My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles in which Welles responds to their criticisms. (I extended it a little beyond the subjects in question due to the ridiculously amusing nature of the conversation.)

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

an image in 527 words

last year at marienbad, garden, robbe-grillet, shadows, resnais,

It doesn't even look like a photograph anymore, this image. It's too strange, too iconic. All the models have been captured by the camera and turned into a kind of landscape, locked in time like unweatherable statues. The hedges and rectangular space give the impression that the people have been shrunken down into a board game of sorts (Chance, Sorrow). Three couples, three singles. The lone woman standing off by herself, staring directly at us, gives the sense that she knows exactly how important this moment is. She stands like a model before an artist working on an already legendary painting. "No one will know me," she thinks. "Nevertheless, I am immortal."

It's Last Year at Marienbad, yes, but also something else, something separate. Like the Mona Lisa or Starry Night, by the time we finally see this image in the film we can't really see it because we feel like we have already seen it—somehow, somewhere.

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

Imagine them that day, lined up on their marks, some black paint representing their shapes stretched out before them. . . The woman in the foreground a little off, her shadow disconnected from her body. Did Resnais or Robbe-Grillet tell her to do that, or was it an overlooked mistake? Or perhaps an act of sabotage. . . Maybe she was fed up, hot and tired from standing still for so long. . . "I'll show them," she thought, taking a small step back. . . The man standing with her smiles, noticing her defiance and wishing he was as brave—but only after the camera starts rolling. . . "I would have done it with you had I noticed in time," he tells her after someone yells Cut! "But it was too late." They shoot another take. The man stays in place. The woman laughs. Cut!

What did it look like in color? The painted shadows were probably too dark and too defined, lacking the fuzzy outline found when the sun paints our silhouettes. Did they, looking at their black outlines, think it was all a bit too odd, not knowing the composition and how the black and white photography would transform everything? Did they feel silly standing there, motionless, arms to their sides, as still as their frozen shadows? Or were they in another state altogether?

One cannot imagine any sounds while this was being staged and shot, no coughs, no birds chirping. . . Did the birds also stay frozen, wings to their sides?

Looked at another way, eyes slightly out of focus, the white is a reflecting pool, the figures hovering on the water's surface, the triangle topiaries turn into buoys, and in the distance some magic castle. . . An island in the middle, a small bridge across it in the distance, irrigation canals on each side. . . Or ice, yes! A frozen lake. There is more mystery here than a few misplaced and missing shadows. . .

This image is the whole film. Or perhaps another film altogether.

Some of these questions have answers. 

Thankfully, I do not know them.

* * *

"My abuse consists of having photographed you without your permission. Of course, it is not like an ordinary photograph; this is my latest invention. We shall live in this photograph forever. Imagine a stage on which our life during these seven days is acted out, complete in every detail. We are the actors. All our actions have been recorded." —The Invention of Morel (1940)

The poem above is excerpted from Rossetti's "Sudden Light," which Borges quotes in his prologue to Adolfo Bioy Casares' masterpiece The Invention of Morel, a novella that has been described as the "model" for Last Year at Marienbad, as well as—less assuredly—a "possible influence." In her introduction, Suzanne Jill Levine says Bioy Casares' book, translated into French in 1953, "inspired" Robbe-Grillet's script.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Lost in Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003); The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

Sunday, June 28, 2015