Post by mummifiedstalin on Aug 11, 2011 23:16:43 GMT -5
Wolfe is, in my not so humble opinion, the greatest science fiction and fantasy writer of the last few decades. The Book of the New Sun was one of those books I read that made me feel like I was staring into a world and a type of imagination I never knew could exist. It was incredibly strange, incredibly meaningful, and incredibly beautiful. The basic story is: a young apprentice torturer lives at the end of the Earth’s (or “Urth’s”) lifespan. The sun is so old, it’s red. Earth now exists on top of millennia of history, and its civilizations are tired and dying out. He’s exiled because he shows mercy towards a “victim” with whom he’s fallen in love, and he sets out on adventures. And, oh yeah, he might be Christ. There’s a legend of the “Conciliator” (the lost story of a messiah) and it seems like he might be the Conciliator reborn. OR…he might just be the dupe of vague alien manipulators who are using him to advance certain larger devious plans. !!OR!!, and this is where it gets good, they might both be true.
You never know for sure. And what makes Wolfe such a fascinating writer is that he works by clues and half-truths. It took me a few times to read the books. The first time I tried, I thought they were boring and somewhat “done.” The second time, I realized that I’d just missed the entire subtext, since the “real” story isn’t what actually gets narrated. But I couldn’t figure it out. The third time, I was able to read essentially three different stories at the same time, and that’s when I got it.
Simply amazing stuff. He’s written other books that are really very good, but The Book of the New Sun is a literary experience that I’ve never had with any other writer, and it makes him fascinatingly unique.
Waiting for Godot
I was either a freshman or sophomore when my parents took me to see this as part of a theater subscription. It was my first real “modernist” literary experience, and I can distinctly remember almost every moment of that production. After about 15 minutes, I knew that this was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I certainly understood the general “existentialist” mood of the thing, but that wasn’t new or what really fascinated me. What grabbed me was during this play, I first understood how literature worked. I saw how Beckett was using words and actions to create this experience in a way I’d never seen before. WfG is a *very* self-conscious play, and it’s so intentionally artificial that it makes you pay attention to how each moment and each meaning is being made. I saw every step of it, and I became entranced. I knew after I saw that play that I’d be fascinated by how imagination works and how it makes impossible things from then on. So, unlike most people who love this play, I’m not as interested in the general “Where is God?” atheist/existentialist themes (although that didn’t hurt at the time…I liked to think I was intellectually rebellious). It’s that the play is so thoroughly MODERN, so obsessed with its own literariness, that captured me.
Tanguy is a surrealist you likely haven’t heard of before, but he’s my favorite painter. When I first saw the painting below, I was shocked that someone somewhere had actually seen the exact same dreamscape that I had.
For a long time, I’d been looking for literature or poetry or music that captured this sense of a landscape that had no characters or narrative or symbolism, but still evoked all kinds of moods. I’d gotten interested in abstraction because I kept having this sense that, somewhere in it, someone like Kandinsky or Klee would capture the feeling of “meaningless meaning” that seemed to happen when I’d dream or when I’d listen to certain composers I liked for awhile. But it didn’t happen until I found Tanguy.
My favorite Shakespeare play. It’s the least plot-heavy, or at least one where the plot is obviously just stupid. But that lets it do something similar to Waiting for Godot, which is become a play about what it means to pretend. But what I also love about this play is that, in the midst of all the meta-drama that goes on, it’s also one of the most amazingly human. There’s a scene that always brings me almost to tears. Right after Jacques gives the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech, which is basically saying that all life is meaningless because all human experience is just playing out the same old tired patterns that other people have played out…and is really depressing and I don’t know why people like it so much… Anyway, immediately after that speech, Orlando comes running on stage with his ancient, loyal servant Adam in his arms. Adam has collapsed from hunger, and Orlando wants nothing but to save him, even though he’s on the run for his life and might be killed for letting himself be found. So you have this great set speech where Jacques says “Everything sucks because it’s all a cliché.” …But then Orlando completely disproves him by essentially saying, “Oh, yeah? Well, I love this old man and will do anything to save him. Is that a cliché?” Beautiful. The play is filled with all kinds of moments like that where sincerity and artificiality have to face each other head on, and you’re never sure which is more meaningful. Screw Hamlet. I’ll take Rosalind.
One of the first popular guitarists to open the instrument up. Altered tunings, unusual composition style, percussive techniques. He opened up acoustic guitar to all kinds of possibilities, and he also had a really unique un-song-like style that still catches me off guard today. I’ll always love his albums, and I’m sad that he died so young.
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 16, 2011 23:23:54 GMT -5
The thread lives again! I remember Tanguy (and his wife) from my college days. I was not as in to abstraction (I tend to prefer seeing reality twisted, ala Dali) but I do remember being impressed with his work.
I was just watching a Hedges live performance on youtube. at the end of it he says to the audience, "drive safely," and I winced--recoiled, really--back from the screen. What a loss.
Yeah, so sad. I had just really learned about him when it happened.
MJ, glad you've actually heard of Tanguy. I've even known some art history majors who never came across him. It's not for everybody. My wife just finds him incredibly cold and inhuman. But, as far as abstraction goes, I find him incredibly expressive...without being personal, if that makes any sense.
And you're right about the difference with Dali. In some ways, they seem very similar. There's something "realistic" about the presentation in Tanguy, but there's nothing representational. And it's the intentional a-reality that I've always been attracted to. I think it's the notion that they look like landscapes, and thus "naturalistic," but are really abstractions that is always compelling. It's an elsewhere.
"Why: 'Cuz mummi says so." -- Change B. Goode "5. Butter a midget" -- Ratso's Amazon recommendation More Ratso: post you ass ag bags! Mitchell: I also just used "mount" correctly in a sentence.
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 23, 2011 0:57:11 GMT -5
Jesus Christ Superstar How could I forget this. One of the most important and meaningful things in entertainment in my life.
It's funny to think of the controversy this caused, even years later when I saw the touring revival with a much older Ted Neely, there were sign wielding protesters outside the building. And despite the critics being lukewarm to the film and play, it endured and to this day boasts a steadfast fan-base.
It began as an album in 1969, with Deep Purple's Ian Gillian playing Jesus. I remember that LP, the insert with hand drawn images and lyrics. Would listen to it for hours and sing along. Sometimes my brother would join it and corny as it might sound, we'd take a part (he'd sing Judas, I'd do Jesus or vice versa). Boy did I love these songs. At it's core, I adored the music.
In 1971 it became a play (the great Ben Vereen won a Tony playing Judas). In 1973, a film with Ted Neely and Carl Anderson.
In film, different aspects of Christs personality and being have been emphasised. For example, in Jesus of Nazareth his Jewishness was thoroughly explored, in other productions it might be his divinity. In Superstar it was his humanity. And that upset some Christians. Some critics complained that this was an unsympathetic and whiny Jesus... but as a young man this was the first time I saw Jesus as a man. I guess he was always a sort of superman to me, I was told of his suffering... but in my young brain, how can you hurt a divine being? So JCS was the first time I truly experienced a sense of loss and grief in the story of Christ. This was a man, and he did suffer and it broke my heart (seeing the film, it might have been the first time I ever cried over the crucifixion)
I do remember when the movie started, I heard my dad say of Neely, "He just looks like your average punk kid?" lol, I guess he did.
I've gone to the play (took my parents to it once), seen the film so many times I've lost count. Have purchased the albums several times and hope to do so again (because they need to remaster the remaster of the movie soundtrack. There are fluctuating sound levels, in one song the orchestra suddenly 'drops out' so to speak)
Here are some versions of Gethsemane by Gillian and Neely. Over the years there has been debate over who was better. The way I see it it's apples and oranges. Gillian was a singer, performing a song. Neely was an actor, who had to emote and do other actory things as he sang. I love 'em both.