Friday, March 30, 2007

Serge Daney: Postcards from the Cinema

I just placed an order forPostcards from The Cinemaby Serge Daney; translated by Paul Grant, published by Palgrave MacMillan. I can't wait to read this. I've head so much praise about his ideas.

UPDATE: A good overview/review of Daney's writings that have been translated into English can be found here.

From the publisher:

Postcards from the Cinema is the book Serge Daney, one of the greatest of film critics, never wrote. It is based around an interview that was to be the starting point for a book, a project cut short by Daney's death. Postcards turns a history of cinema into a profound meditation on the art and politics of film. Daney's passionate and lucid engagement with film, combined with his concern for journalistic clarity, effectively created film criticism as a genre. Equally at home with the theories of Deleuze, Lacan and Debord as he was with the movie-making of Bunuel, Godard and Ray, Daney was also a fan of Jerry Lewis and Hitchcock. At the same time - and before his time - he championed the critical analysis of television and other audio-visual media. Long-awaited, this is the first book-length translation of Daney's work, testimony to a life lived with a fierce love of film.

Author Bio
Serge Daney was a writer, and eventually editor-in-chief, for the highly influential film journal Cahiers du Cinéma. He went on to write for the newspaper Libération, and founded the film journal Trafic."

Friday, March 23, 2007



Every once in a while a new pop album comes out that takes hold of you from the first listen, "We Don't Just Disappear" by Future Conditional is one of those albums. I had high hopes already for this disc (so much that I decided to pre-order it) based on the concept and personnel involved. The notion of Glen Johnson and Cedric Pin (of Piano Magic) collaborating on a disc heavily influenced by early OMD, early Human League, Kraftwerk, early New Order and Section 25 circa "From the Hip" was more than enough to keep me intrigued. The album exceeds my highest expectations-- it plays like an unreleased masterwork from Factory Records' heyday. The album starts with a series of 'clicks' reminiscent of the theme to the cursed Scottish television program "The Omega Factor" before becoming an analogue synth charge: "I have trouble holding on, I have trouble staying straight" Dan Matz (of Windsor from the Derby) sings to a singeing-dry electronic beat. It is the perfect opening to an album filled with so many highlights. Angele David-Gillou (of Klima & Piano Magic) sings "You never got over the last girl that kissed you..." on "Crying's What You Need" a track that seems like a perfect rejoinder to New Order's "Perfect Kiss". The album ends with Bobby Wratten (of Field Mice & Trembling Blue Stars) singing on "Your Leaves Me Colder", as if assessing all the stories of love and loss that have come before on the disc, before the beat fully stops and the song ends in a chant:



If only more songs could haunt me in the same way.

UPDATE: Its now available for download on emusic.

from the website:
The debut album (2007) from Future Conditional blends classic analog synth-pop with sleek retro-futurist beats, and features a stellar array of guest vocalists including Melanie Pain (Nouvelle Vague), Bobby Wratten (Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars), Angele David-Guillou (Klima, Piano Magic), Dan Matz (Windsor For The Derby) and Carolyn Allen (The Wake). As Glen Johnson explains: "Future Conditional isn't just an exercise in nostalgia. We are, in some way paying homage to the groups we love and inspire us, but we're also experimenting with the glacial electro/human emotional interface. The future is a robot with a human heart."

Full tracklist: Bright Lights & Wandering, Broken Robots, We Don't Just Disappear, Switchboard Girl, Substance Fear, Crying's What You Need, The Volunteer, The Last Engineer, Typos, Your Love Leaves Me Colder.

Monday, March 19, 2007

2007 Rhâââ Lovely Festival

This music festival in Belgium is coming up fast and is pretty hard to beat. Thanks to the Silent Ballet for providing free downloads of a compilation featuring bands from this year's festival. Enjoy.

P.S. FYI- the 'agenda' section of the Rhâââ Lovely Festival website provides a good listing of upcoming concerts in Belgium-- where the active music scene never rests.

a bit of a wash

Last weekend went alright, as weekends go, relatively uneventful and somewhat plain. I finished Jan Kjaerstad's "The Conqueror" (review shortly forthcoming) and started "That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana" by Carlo Emilio Gadda (recently reissued by NYRB). Its a book I'd purchased used years ago after reading a reference to it in one of Jonathan Rosenbaum's film reviews (probably either in Movies as Politics or Placing Movies). The fact that its being reissued is certainly good news. It is definitely a unique "murder mystery" that more probably investigates the sickness of a society, but not without humor and a touch of the absurd. Apart from that, I finally got around to seeing the movie "Dirty Harry" as it was playing at the Brattle this weekend. Having read J. Hoberman's The Dream LifeI was more than prepared for the picture however, in retrospect, I didn't imagine the film to be so cartoonish. So much of the film felt like a very low-grade morally loaded argument. More sledgehammer tactics to make views from the periphery seem like the only sensible position to adopt. Oh well. Things are brightening up at the moment, weather-wise at least. I still have another issue of the NYRB to sift through, amongst other things. I have also been steadily transcribing other earlier journals, to be served up in some for or another, expect some of that shortly.

That's all for now.

P.S. I will be on the air this Friday, March 23, 2007.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First Signs of...

The first Sunday in March I spent walking about listening to music and watching. I went across town with some kind of objective in mind, that I quickly dispensed with after a moment's consideration. For reasons I cannot entirely explain I became saddened and filled with an intense overwhelming fear. I could not isolate this in order to understand it and prevent it from further inhibiting my movement. Still, I proceeded on, I came to a hill and worked my way up. I noticed most people around had on winter coats and such. I let the mild 10 degree increase in the temperature go straight to my head and had left the house in jeans, a fred perry and zip-up jacket. As I walked up the hill, I noticed the lawns of the houses mostly empty and scarred from the ice and snow of just a few days past, with the exception of a few at the very top. There was a tree on the front lawn, beside that tree were a couple of Robins, as my eyes moved slightly past the few birds, I noticed a couple more and a couple more, then I noticed some in the tree and on the lawns of either house beside this one. The ground was filled with a plothera of Robins. I looked up at the gray, overcast skies, and back down at the many birds about and smiled.

Later in the day I told a friend of my observations, this led to much joy and shared smiles amongst us. Perhaps things are brightening up after all.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Times of Perilous Discovery (Excerpt)


Times of Perilous Discovery. Watch Out! These fields will be forever darkened. To happier times. I come home to this same sense of distress and disregard for the future. How you mediate time is what it comes down to: we have to look out for each other. She did it on purpose. She did it to get rid of me. I was too much of a burden. Escape—for freedom’s sake! Now that they separated—the real battle begins. Foolish Motives—kept half in reality and half in fantasy. The truth—when will I cross it again? Placed in such a stale room waiting for the hour to come. She wanted to stub a cigarette out but none was lit. The best she could come up with was to grind her heel in the dust. She wanted to be a futurist but couldn’t keep up with herself. So many loose ends—broken by the fear of absolute desire. Act at once or leave it all alone. What you do shouldn’t be done. Stay clever like this and you’ll never leave the house.
“It didn’t work out but it was fun while it lasted.” J-F said about his last girlfriend.
Turmoil ‘hidden’ beneath an open surface.
“I never lied to you. She said—do you know that? She actually felt like telling me that!” J-F continued, wallowing in his pint. I hoped it wasn’t to make me comfortable. I had too much else on my mind. I hoped my progeny wouldn’t go through this same mess. Perhaps the next time it won’t be so apparent. You’ve seen it all before—what good are my words when they delete the possibility? How good are these clichéd moments? I don’t think of you very often.
Past the white porcelain banisters and onto the marble floor below. Teasing out the warm strain. The difficulties of an unrecognized half age. I call to you like a child once more. I home and dream of exits—different passages from this shallow plane. It will work out. I see her now in that lovely blue gown crossing the floor, approaching the arches that led to the sea. Perhaps then, then it will make sense. The island, the sorcerer, the girl—other frozen traps of belonging—breaking away from the sequences. I layer this fiction with blood and violence. The words examine all I could ever love—shaking away on a night such as this. Back into it—drifting after the planned excursion. You see all these tortured words—look at my skin; the absence of marks—try to live this way for a second and you may understand. I am pushed and realize there is nothing left alive.
Her eyes blinked for a second. I witnessed it all in close-up, the relaxed facial muscles, the absence of thought, the pale skin.
Work in a new form—stop bothering us all with recycled trash. Oh, but we can’t move—a likely forum for interruption. My teeth came down hard at the thought. I nearly bit my tongue. The blood came rushing into her cheeks.
We colored outside and over the lines—didn’t we?
“I confided in you and you abused my trust.”
I didn’t believe any of it anymore—the language is gone. Its rubbish for the Silent Cinema. The images do justice to the text. Our relation is strained, I sense that—you don’t feel as much as you should and I—my desire is wrapped in so many secluded gems. The connection is too forced. She lets out the sigh I’m waiting for: now the adrenalin kicks in. I’m not allowed to smile yet. The sky turns from pale blue to ultramarine—her dress shimmers in the wind. I want to raise a glass but put my arm around her waist instead. Should it start now? Yes. It is time. Simplify things. My dreams overlap and envelop each other until I can’t read them any more. It arrives now, I suppose it was always there—only now, it’s prominent—I sense her smell. Things aren’t collapsing now—its difficult to describe, the disparate origins have formed a tapestry of sorts—a coherent goal: yes, it’s starting to gel.
Ask what color this scene is—I cannot tell you: my eyes are shut. I don’t want this sensation to end.
We are together on the bed, covered in flowers locked in a suitcase moving from stations to the all-consuming end. Like the liquid that issued from between her thighs. I wondered what was inherent in the middle. The minute hand hadn’t moved very far—twenty minutes passed at most. She joined me on the terrace. I smiled finally as she approached. Her arm extended, I kissed her hand. People, other couples were out there dancing to our left. The square was filled with as many people—lovers, scoundrels, foreigners, and children, all lost in the crowd.
One can still find a legitimate reason for sending a postcard.
Pick a cut and I show you the wealth of the ages. I’ve set it up and off before. Along these white walls with blue trim. “That’s the empty room—it’ll be our nursery when the time arrives.” I said with a smile, my eyes bursting with happiness to look at her.
“Why do you think its over? It’s barely even begun—you must understand that.” J-F told Jurgen in all sincerity. To escalate their fraudulent works. One day, I’ll tell you how it all should be—domestic rupture, life in the cities, a suicide of morals.
Past the dilapidated apartment complexes, into the cleanlier city center.
The beautiful parts of the city are home to students, foreigners, and the well-off. When did I sell what I loved—no, I don’t think I profited from that, I gave it all away freely. Letting it clog my own worthless sense of sunshine. I don’t like paying for the abuses the misconceptions of others. “Let them drown in their own confusion.” What is the range of this distraction? You—the charm is gone: you’ve worn it out.
Questionable displays of anatomy: My eyes: your skin. The predictable misery of it all: Description? Another sweet conceit: The rooms, the color of the lights, the people present, the smell of the air and her perfume, the cut of the dress she wore and how long before our tempers gave way. It’s a lying sense of collared shame. As I listen to songs of forgiveness and passion. The sickness burns my lungs apart.
I don’t want her to see me like this. I know it will pass. Reissue it with different packaging. It’s inevitable. Another section of this fiendish plot. I can feel the presence of another directing us toward destruction.
“She was here. You’ve missed her apparently.” I was left with the salty residue of her tears on these sheets. Isn’t culture so much more refined these days? Yeah, but in the end it only makes matters worse. Crime’s become just as sophisticated by half. Inquires? Domestic tension—as they say. Quickened journeys. What’s the point of travel? Real experience? Guilt? Such travesties—cutting apart examples every day. The process starts over—I cannot help it. Do you recall the sound of such things?
Festival Time. The streets are lit, the arches filled with streamers, long paper chains covering all the main shopping districts. Each restaurant has added its own special touches to the traditional Festival Menu. The performers from out of town have arrived. They’ve taken up residency in the various hotels near the theater district, while some have camped out on the park’s grounds. One can see the vendors with their carts setting up—selling useless gifts or food—each with its own specialty or gimmick. I knew better than to give in. After a few drinks however, it seemed like a good idea—as my stiff judgment waned.
“You’re too young to be disillusioned.” I remember telling her—she wasn’t jaded, she just had no trouble recognizing all the symptoms.
Perfection—let’s be progressive. Your rationale seems insignificant when put into perspective. Too much decay. Disturbing compression. I wish it would all subside. I can’t be any clearer. Take out the filter and clean it!
“Isn’t there some kind of detergent I can use?”
Why do these stories persist? Forward all kinds of subjects related to the project at once. Odes of love or fetish objects. Clouded eyes—perpetrating the dismal presence of misguided wants. Other pockets of shame. The shifting of words. I’ve been off to a slow start. I expected to accomplish more. Writing here—in this dry heat on this white table.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Way It Begins (excerpt)

A curiosity at length—brushing past the days as I prepare for the reality around me. A better, bitter size of worth exclamation and degradation—where will this lead? There are other ways to handle it, surely. None of them have proved sound. I hold the keys to my sadness, my sorrow, my poetry. It is better to be alive, awake, and working. I wish I could compose my own happiness. Why should I tell you anything? When will the sky break past the trees? When will I realize that complaint means the end of it all? The difficulties are difficulties—nothing more. The strain of living—snuffed out by information overload. I am not able to keep up with the cost. Moving along slowly—she stopped. I heard nothing. Silence. The difference of rooms. Antiquated subject matter beyond belief—it’s a past time, something I don’t think of very often. I stamp out my own misery rather quickly. I transfer this thought to a new plane. To move on it—to reassess the joy within such motives. Snaps of childhood—other careless treats. The one time I want you. Pictures of birds singing with difficulty. Always challenging such bliss. I have tried, I worked at it. I gave it what I could without punishing myself. The rain subsided. Perhaps better things are to be expected. Perhaps they will come at a later date—when I am awake enough to understand such reasoning. The absence of conscience—almost approaching abject malice. A dismal state of affairs. Eliminating such healthy behavior. No negotiations—the ambassador had not arrived. A step forward. I count the days, the hours and the minutes until something better comes along.
I feel a little out of it today. My senses continue to arrange themselves in a disparate manner. Searching for a beginning—how might this work and what can it possibly promise? The details—you’re just drifting now—you couldn’t just produce (it) when it was required. You couldn’t sense how hard it is for me. What was I demanding, once again? When did it eclipse me? To make nothing willing or worthwhile—why is such idiocy permitted? How can this knowledge break apart my reality? In the beginning—was it all a cover story? I was replicating past sins—I suppose—nothing I’d particularly cared to relish. This is a month of blood and growth—away from the pain of being, far from this body. Carefully thought out plans. I’m losing touch with the challenge of the idea—its all too personal—such promises are meant to be broken. This city will swallow me whole. She is already away –must I remain dormant once again? I don’t want to destroy anything. There are other possibilities. Other times. I want to move on. Do something besides listen to such sadness.
We define each other. They stray from the truth. These insights horrify me. I don’t want to accept it. The feeling causes too much pain and trouble. How many characters? Very few. The events of the past have an effect on the present. They don’t just die out. They carry the sudden memories of each other in their absence. The meeting was quick, there wasn’t time to think—interim before her schedule kicked in again. He couldn’t reach her after they tampered with her life. Too much has been said—the way I do business means nothing—I will never understand. I will never learn what it means. My life is wrong. I should put an end to it. Desperation and Dialogue. I want to hear her whisper in my ear once again. Such studies form the basis of truth. Why do you persist? When will you shake this sickness? It upsets me too much. Alternate studies. Other kinds of action. My mind is flooded with all I cannot be. They aren’t ideals, they aren’t my goals.
“Thanks. I’d rather walk to the station—if its all the same to you.” She said and walked away. Down through the streets that, try as she might, she could not familiarize herself with.
It was this practice, this miserable study, this disgrace of action—tempting her away from him. She tried, beyond the sickness of secrets, she tried, phenomenally confusing him—pushing him into despair. The waking rocks on the surface of all our lies. She blinked at him, tried to smile, then left.
Such studied portrayals of our own delicate realities—all this does is ease the tide. Does it make you sit down and reconsider what she said? No. Not even for a second—as it so happens. None of it pointed to the truth—that was Triestessa’s sweet fantasy. She had experience—and that was better than any mystical idea. Evidence saves us from belief. Your words aren’t believed—your actions are. You must understand this, don’t you? We’ve tried. You wouldn’t let it go. We exploited it. Whatever I said before doesn’t count. It only pertains to what happened to you. Why is such behavior tolerated? How can it be—if it no longer exists/
We can do this later certainly, it doesn’t have to happen now.
“What do you think? Do you approve?” She asked, with hopeful eyes.