1 june 2007

Still, Woman in the Dunes, Hiroshi Teshigahara.

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7 june 2007

A podcast: Conrad Aiken's 35th Prelude from Time in the Rock [2:34].

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8 june 2007

What do I remember? I remember a country train in France somewhere. Two priests were wheezing with laughter, unable to speak, leaning forwards over a tiny table clutching plastic glasses of wine. As I walked past down the aisle, one of them managed to utter, "Il était mince . . . il était maigre . . ", before subsiding again into helplessness.

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11 june 2007

Dr. Jenkinson's Cholera Powders, "the only known specific for this Fatal Complaint." Next came a discreet bottle for Female Ailments, not otherwise described, and a large assortment of cheap medicines: Doctor Hoborow's Mixture for the Blood. Old Doctor Gubbins's Liver Remedy, with a picture of old Doctor Gubbins being told by an Eminent Scientist that the Remedy was essential to Health.
Rhubarb Pills, for use in the Spring.
Dr. Mainspring's Mariner's Joy, for the most obstinate cases.
Bile Pills.
Liver Pills.
Dr. Primrose's Kidney Pellets, as prescribed by the famous Dr. Primrose to the unfortunate Queen of the French.
Dr. Gubbins's Spring Mixture, for the Blood.
Dr. Gubbins's Autumn Mixture, for the Blood.
"These Sovereign specifics correct Nature in those difficult seasons when the Body politic is adjusting itself to changed conditions."
Nature's Remedy, "Vegetable Pills prepared from plants known to the Red Indians, who by their daily use attain to the ages of 100: even 120 being not uncommon."
Senna Tea, "two tablets dissolved in the cup that cheers ensures a happy household."
"The Salt of Life, being the active principle of Epsom and Glauber Salts extracted by a new process."
In addition to these, there were wrappers and empty boxes which marked where others had lain.
"Dr. Gubbins's Nutrient Corrective, being a Medical Food derived from Active Vegetable Principles by the World Famous Lemuel Gubbins." There was a picture of Dr. Gubbins, who seemed to be a mixture of Euripides and the Duke of Wellington.

from John Masefield, The Bird of Dawning

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13 june 2007

To such a pass our civilization and division of labor has come, that A, a professional huckleberry-picker, has hired B's field; C, a professed cook, is superintending the cooking of a pudding made of the berries; while Professor D, for whom the pudding is intended, sits in his library writing a book. That book, which should be the ultimate fruit of the huckleberry field, will be worthless. There will be none of the spirit of the huckleberry in it. The reading of it will be a weariness to the flesh. I believe in a different division of labor, and that Professor D should divide himself between the library and the huckleberry field."

- Thoreau

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22 june 2007

Still, Alphaville, Godard

"This dump of yours isn't Alphaville, it's Zeroville" shouts the tetchy protagonist. And such is the gravitational pull of this film on first viewing that the rest of cinema seems like Zeroville indeed. It's like a neutron star or an imploded katamari, packed full of references, portmanteaus of plot and history and semiotics. At any moment what's on screen is setting off bombs in your head, large and small (Oh, Eddie Constantine chain-smoking has Kurt Vonnegut's eyes). There are delicious cameos by Jean-Pierre Léaud - on-screen for all of two and a half seconds - and Akim Tamiroff, whose sad expressive face lasts a little longer before his character's rubbed out by a computer-controlled Class Three Seductress.
There are strong echoes of Tati's Mon Oncle, made seven years before in 1958. Superficially Lemmy Caution is Tati's character, with permanent hat and raincoat, juggling cigarettes and a gun instead of a pipe. Both stand bemused in the vast foyers of modernist space-age Paris, the director lovingly poking fun at the architecture. Both come from the Lands Without; and as in Alphaville's universe, the inhabitants of Mon Oncle's New Paris are constrained in emotion and thought, unaware of the largesse of the real world outside.
Also Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating, where the villa's inhabitants are unable to see or hear outsiders, and indulge in slow-motion arm flailing ("Aidez-moi . . . au secours . . .") reminiscent of the strange movements of Alphaville's population once Alpha 60 has melted down. Sad though that Godard seems to have associated technology with science: Alphaville's streets are named after the great physicists of paradox: Fermi, Heisenberg, don't they deserve better?

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23 june 2007

John Piper Sunflowers at Marignac, 1956

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