Monthly Archives: July 2008

Possibilities of Michel


Trailer to Possibility of an Island

On September 10 France will get the chance to see Michel Houellebecq‘s own film adaptation of The Possibility of an Island[1]. It was rumored that Rem Koolhaas would design the decors, but in the end he did not, I believe. Fernando Arrabal was prominently present at the film’s recording.

Houellebecq is a contemporary French writer and everyone’s current cult favourite.

He has his detractors however … he was disparagingly compared to Thomas Bernhard by a friend “with infallible judgement” of litblogger Stephen Mitchelmore in 2005[2] and English novelist Will Self, commonly called the French counterpart (see equivalents and synchronicity) of Houellebecq, described his equivalent as “just a little guy who can’t get enough sex” (The Trouble with Michel).

I’ve yet to read Bernhard and Self. Since I haven’t read The Possibility of an Island, I’ll try to catch the film, but … after seeing Eichinger’s botched adaptation of The Elementary Particles … I fear for the worst. The only film adaptation of Houellebecq I can vouch for is Extension du domaine de la lutte by Philippe Harel. That was an excellent film. From the trailer of Possibility, I can only say that the film feels like another Jahsonic fave: Christophe Honoré‘s 2004 My Mother, probably due to the shared Ibiza scenery.

Staying with French literature, Anglophone litblog A journey round my skull celebrates Maurice Blanchot‘s “The Madness of the Day“. [3][ notes].

Post scriptum: I didn’t publish yesterday‘s notes. If you wish to follow my daily note-taking, visit my bliki.

Previously at Jahsonic: Carnivalesque damsels

Elsewhere #12

Australian blogger Gary Sauer-Thompson on hauntology[1]. Thompson, relatively new to the hauntology arena, concludes that hauntology is the counterpart to the ‘nostalgia mode’ of Fredric Jameson (the supposed cultural homogeneity of late capitalism) as described in Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. So hauntology is the new avant-garde? Read a wikified version of Thompson on hauntology here.

Excuse my focus on hauntology, but basically the word is a neologism, the struggle of which to enter the real world (it was only accepted at Wikipedia in August 2007) I am recording.

French publisher Léo Scheer has issues[2] regarding Wikipedia notability, after his dismay that his neologism rétropublication (reverse publishing) did not get passed Wikipedia notability criteria.[3]. He has high hopes for Knol. (I don’t) Here [4] Scheer can be seen at the Prix Sade 2007, from Alex Jestaire‘s YouTube channel. With music by Jahsonic fave Miss Kitten. I wonder what Prix Sade 2008 has in store.

Robert Hughes had a verbal exchange with Albert Speer in the late 1970s in which Speer said that architecture was certainly one way to unite a people, but that if the Nazis had had television, there would have been no stopping them. NYT, 2005

A friend came back from Denmark, where he visited the Museum Erotica and bought the DVD of Ole Ege Pornography film, with a soundtrack by Dexter Gordon (recorded at the Jazzhus Montmartre)… they call it a musical …, but on that same DVD came A Summer Day, that most infamous film of the sexual revolution in Scandinavia. That last film is set to the tune of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the film itself is silent. Bodil Joensen has the gaze of a ghost-ancestor of Nina Hagen or Lene Lovich.

New Byrne and Eno imminent: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. —John Coulthart

Happy birthday Robert Hughes

The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes by you.

Australian writer and art critic Robert Hughes turns 70 today. Congrats Robert, and thanks for The Fatal Shore (the history book on Australia) and The Shock of the New, a well-reputed modern art history book I only managed to be lukewarm about, when I read it some time in 2006. Too much attention for Cezanne (I’ve never taken to him, from my “dilettante” perspective), and Hughes fails to mention the influence of photography and illustrated newspapers on Impressionism.

To give you an idea of Hughes’s art criticism, here are his insights on Equivalent VIII, a work by Carl Andre:

“The essential difference between a sculpture like Andre‘s Equivalent VIII[1], 1978, and any that had existed before in the past is that Andre’s array of bricks depends not just partly, but entirely, on the museum for its context. A Rodin in a parking lot is still a misplaced Rodin; Andre’s bricks in the same place can only be a pile of bricks.”–The Shock of the New, Robert Hughes.

The future will be boring

J. G. Ballard. Autopsy of the new millennium by you.

John Coulthart announces[1] J. G. Ballard. Autopsy of the new millennium, an exhibition on the work of British writer and cult favorite J. G. Ballard at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona curated by Jordi Costa.

The exhibition runs from from 22 July to 2 November 2008.

Its poster features an abandoned and rusty car wreck in desert Tunisia, Chott el Jerid (a location used for filming Star Wars) by Sami Sarkis.

I am not a bibliophile

On intertextuality and litblogging

[FR] [DE] [UK]

When I wrote a couple of months ago, echoing Grillet, that I am not a cinephile[2], I meant that I am interested in more than films, but more on the lookout for certain sensibilities which also steer my publication bias. By the same token, I am not a bibliophile. But I love books, and books is mainly what I’ve bought the last couple of years. By books I do not necessarily mean fiction (have you ever noticed how reading has come to equal reading fiction?), I only read fiction when on holiday. When I do read fiction, I love metafiction, which can consist of a number of varieties. One particular variety is fiction steeped in the history of literature. The first one I consciously read of this type was probably Erica Jong‘s Fear of Flying in the summer of 2006.

A book of pure intertextuality has recently been brought to my attention: Montano’s Malady by Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas. On the book’s intertextuality Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading notes that Enrique Vila-Matas is a writer “who entertains the notion that contemporary literature amounts to scribbling in the margins of the great works.”[3] and Melissa McClements in the Financial Times adds:

“Some of the other writers and literary thinkers referred to in just the first 25 pages [of Montano’s Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas] include Spanish poet Justo Navarro, Argentine novelist Ricardo Piglia, Mexican writer Sergio Pitol, French surrealist Jacques Vaché, Italian humorist Achille Campanile, Marxist literary critic Walter Benjamin, New York literary critic Harold Bloom, Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas, French poet Arthur Rimbaud, Czech writer Franz Kafka, American poet Ezra Pound and, most tellingly, Jorge Luis Borges, the giant of 20th-century Latin American literature, famous for his self-reflexive, labyrinthine fiction.” —Melissa McClements in the Financial Times via This Space[4]

Books such as Montano’s Malady teach you about literature (what I usually expect of non-fiction) while still manage to entertain.

A great way to learn about literature today is to read litblogs (please note how the list of litblogs[5] has defied Wikipedia’s notability criteria). The first litblog I started to frequent was The Reading Experience in May 2006 (when I was researching literary realism).

Other litblogs friendly to Jahsonic (or vice versa) are The Existence Machine [6], This Space[7], The Reading Experience[8], Tales from the Reading Room[9], and the Spanish Portuguese and Spanish language blogs Livros de Areia [10], Pimenta negra[11] and Moleskine Literario[12].

But the blog which informs me most consistently of literature, and in my own tongue, is De Papieren Man[13].

Please forgive me if I’ve left out fellow-traveling litblogs.

Stanley Kubrick @ 80

Kubrick For Look

Stanley Kubrick would have been 80 today if he hadn’t died in 1999, aged 70. So today marks the 10th anniversary of his death.


The dark tower monolith scene, sound: Requiem by György Ligeti

I’ve previously mentioned[1] my disenchantment with Kubrick and “modernist film” in general (an exception needs to be made for its deviant siblings). His work is of course incontournable, as the French say, but 2001 is one of the most boring films I’ve ever seen and only comes close in tediousness to Citizen Kane.

Nevertheless, as all flawed products, 2001 has one or two redeeming elements:

2001′s soundtrack did much to introduce the modern classical composer György Ligeti to a wider public, using extracts from his Requiem (the Kyrie), Atmosphères, Lux Aeterna and (in an altered form) Aventures (though without his permission).

To conclude: a good YouTumentary the significance of 2001[4] by Collective Learning by Rob Ager

One can’t argue with popular

Internet nostalgia.

Around 2002 I discovered Tom Ewing‘s I Love Music (ILM). The forum featured posts by bloggers and writers such as Simon Reynolds, Philip Sherburne, Mark Fisher, Scott Plagenhoef, Momus, Stevie Nixed and Sasha Frere-Jones. ILM represented the first batch of serious music writing in the blogosphere, and was notable because of its non-rockist approach.

I stayed around for a year or two, lurked more than I contributed and moved on, starting my own domain in that same year.

The reason I go back to these days is a blog I found by Tom Ewing on popular music[1] over at Freaky Trigger, a site/blog he has as a follow-up to NYLPM [2]. Tom means popular music in the literal sense, reviewing every UK number one single since 1952[3]. As of now, he has arrived in 1978.

The reviews are funny and well-informed. Consider this recent entry on Kate Bush‘s Wuthering Heights[4]:

“I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, though I like to imagine its heroine does a pushy-arm dance at some point. Looking it up on Wikipedia, however, I was shocked to realise that Kate Bush is singing this song as a ghost, but really that’s just another oddness on a teetering pile of them: in a really excellent article on Bush for the late Stylus magazine[5], Marcello Carlin (hi dere!) points out that she is “the last musician to be allowed to do what she likes, as and when she likes”, and the precocious, precious “Wuthering Heights” is both evidence and justification for this indulgence.” —Tom Ewing at Freaky Trigger[6]

After viewing the list of 1977 number one hits one must come to the conclusion that a lot of interesting things can be said about what I like to call guilty pleasures[7], and secondly, that one can’t argue with popular.

‘Sumptuary moments’ are revolutionary in themselves

Unidentified gold toilet

This is my third post on Georges Bataille‘s general economy. The first was here[1], the second here[2].

This post consists of a quote by the designer Nic Hughes I believe, author of the blog Haunted Geographies.[3]. Yes. Haunted. As in hauntology.

“In ‘The notion of expenditureGeorges Bataille concentrates on the more destructive expressions of potlatch, specifically ‘non-productive expenditure’- the type of ‘Killing wealth’ only rarely experienced these days. For instance, the KLF’s burning of a million pounds[4] or Ryoei Saito’s cremation[5] of 160 million dollars of fine art. For Bataille, sumptuary moments’ are revolutionary in themselves, purely because they are the antithesis of use. Games, war, spectacle, art, non-reproductive sex, all challenge the tyranny of utility. They ‘represent activities which, at least in primitive circumstances, have no end beyond themselves’ (Bataille, 2004, p118). Later he spins off on a more Nietzschean tact, extending the metaphor to genocide and the destruction of a whole class- the power elite potlatch.” –Nic Hughes at Haunted Geographies [6]

Gratuitous nudity #8

Lest I be accused of too much theory, it is time for some gratuitous nudity, number 8 in our series[1].

Love in the year 2000, in Paris Tabou

Source: [Bxzzines]

This picture, taken from an unknown issue of Paris-Tabou, comes our way via Bxzzines[2], the blog on French obscure magazines.

This particular photo depicts a nude female embraced by a robot. The title is “L’amour en l’an 2000”, love in the year 2000. If we consider the robot as dressed, we can categorize this picture as belonging to the nude female/dressed male trope, should this notion to be far-fetched, it can still qualify to shed light on the sex and science fiction trope.

Paris Tabou was a French pin-up magazine published from September 1949 until 1953. Possibly taking its name from the Tabou Club, it published pin-up girls and stories by such authors as Boris Vian, who contributed L’Amour est aveugle, published in its first issue in 1949). Illustrators included the Italian Gino Boccasile.

Do not be surprised if it turns up at the excellent blog PonyXpress[3], the author of which has just favorited it at my Flickr stream[4].