I still, sometimes, dream you in technicolor whenever I’m alone.
Fur Immer, Fur Ewig
Working on an essay about Hope and Satan in Paradise Lost, and I’m trying to confine it to the first 6 books. Interesting, hard, and sort of tedious with no real thing to do other than map how it works in the text itself (i.e., cannot give my/a definition of hope, but have to rely on close reading to extract meaning). It’s on.
There Will be Tears
There will be stories,
And laughs shared.
There will be tears,
And silence too.
And we’ll all come together
In the middle of the place
He built for us, and stand,
And sway, and remember,
And maybe that will be enough.
There will be tears,
But there doesn’t have to be.
There will be stories,
And those will be enough.
There will, there will, there will.
I bought two, what I thought to be, relatively large bookshelves when I moved into my place a little less than six months ago. They’re these IKEA Expidet series shelves that have 8 alcoves for books in them. Unfortunately, six months in, I now have no more room on my bookshelf. The only way to get another set, and yes, I am that anal that I need another one of the same series, is to drive out to Pittsburg and get them. I know I won’t get to do that til at least the summer, so now I have to figure something out in the mean time. Ugh.
Engineering (Taken with instagram)
We Don’t Even Know It Yet
I’m almost done reading Bolaño’s 2666, which I thoroughly recommend to anyone considering themselves to have an interest in post-modern literature, and I keep coming to the question of who are the current greats? Who are our generations Hemingways and Fitzgeralds? Who is our Pynchon or Nabokov? Here are the top five writers I think will be remembered five years from now. Let it be said this is not a list of favorite authors, and that they may seem obvious, but it’s something I think about often and something some other people may find interesting enough to think about it themselves.
- Mark Z. Danielewski: He is on the verge of being the greatest author of our generation and most people don’t even know his name. His first two novels are possibly the greatest novels I have ever read. His legacy will be determined by the 27 volume serialized novel, The Familiar, that he is currently working on. Even without it, House of Leaves will be remembered as a seminal work of the early 21-st century, combing the narrative of Johnny Truant, the Navidson record, and mixing it with hypertextuality. It’s new, it’s fresh, it defies all explanation, and every writer should read it and compare themselves to it.
- Paul Auster: For every bad Paul Auster novel I’ve read, I’ve read an incredible Auster novel. Let’s point to the New York trilogy which made me want to read Paradise Lost. An absolutely brilliant novelist, he reads more like a Fitzgerald than anyone; commercially acceptable with a mix of literary splendor.
- Roberto Bolaño: I’ve only read this novel, but so far I find it absolutely amazing. A Twisted allegory of a small town in Mexico is used as a stand in for the entropy felt by the world at large.
- Jonathan Lethem: A novelist, essayist, short story writer. More than anything, Lethem understands what the author and novelist means to society at large in the 21st century. With the addition of The Ecstasy of Influence to his growing bibliography, Lethem has cemented himself as a visionary of the future, but also an interpreter of the present. I will always suggest Gun, with Occasional Music to anyone looking for a good contemporary SF novel. And, everyone will recommend Motherless Brooklyn to you, which is also worth a read.
- David Foster Wallace: Do I really need to explain? His bibliography speaks for itself. He was a true visionary of the 21st century and understood man as he stood at the turn of the century better than anyone else. While Infinite Jest may be his best known work, everything that he has ever written is amazing and worth a read.
An Aversion to Reading
It came up amongst my roommates and I reading has become hard in this age of the internet. It’s harder, my one friend argues, to read a novel or a large work when we are so used to absorbing short bursts of information that it’s harder for us to take in a wealth of information that a novel, biography, etc. brings. Maybe this is the key to understanding our attachment to characters; it’s far easier to latch on to the fleeting characters than to hold on to the collective whole that the characters are in. But that’s not a biproduct of the internet age, rather something that people have been doing since that beginning of storytelling. So what is it? Why do we not want to sit and read?
Let’s point at Huxley and Postman and point to Orwell too. We are saturated by media, by stories, by news. It’s unsurprising that the news we get is no longer in newspapers and is on Twitter or on Google. It’s unsurprising that we limit ourselves to 140 when we think we can get a point across, both in a tweet or a text. We are so drawn in by fleeting passes of information that we fail to take in the larger picture around us. Reducing this even further, why even read the news if we can just watch it and absorb it passively?
More than any of this, communication becomes a problem. We reduce ourselves to Idle Chat, to banter, no longer looking for dialog or contemplating in silence. Rather, our real time shared narrative is broadcast in short bursts for all to quickly view and, just as quickly, dismiss. Where on the internet is there a place for this dialog to take place, then? We are all looking for that quick bit, that tweet, that nothingness that we let real substance pass us by. Check out House of Leaves the website where people are currently working through a novel that’s over ten years old just by having a dialog. Why don’t we have more places like this where we express coherent, extended thoughts and have other people comment on them? Where do you go to do it? Blogs are fleeting and reddit has trolls. There needs to be some sense community. I’ve thought tumblr, but I’m not sure.
Bloc Party is Back
It’s true. One of my favorite bands is coming back. They’ve recorded two songs and demoed 17 according to Okereke. And, best of all, he’s ready to make rock music, no more techno. In honor of this, I thought I’d post my favorite five Bloc Party songs and suggest you go out there and take a listen.
5. Tulips (YouTube): Start with that addicting drum beat from the human drum machine that is Matt Tong, going directly into a beautiful arpeggiated riff and soft strums from the guitars. The bass drops in to rock the intro and then becomes sparse, almost making the listener forget that Gordy was even in the song. The whole band kicks back in for the chorus under Kele’s repetitive and cryptic lyrics. “This could be an opportunity”, he croons, hinting at a love that needs reciprocation. Getting to the bridge, everything drops less one guitar and the bass as Kele continues to serenade, only to have everything come back in for the climatic outro. An awesome track. Tulips marks one of the best moments of Bloc Party’s early career.
4. Signs (YouTube): One of the only redeeming moments on Intimacy was this song. Starting with the glockenspiel provided by Moakes who gives his bass duties over to Kele, the song kicks into things with Russell’s simple but powerful riff and the hard four on the floor form Matt. About a lost love, whether actually dead or just gone, Kele sings this sorry tale bringing the listener to a sympathetic understanding of a love that can no longer be. He cries, “I could sleep forever these days/Cause in my dreams I see you again.” Every lyric reminds the listener about what it’s like to lose someone you love. Awesome song on a less that appreciated album.
3. Cells Shaped Like Stars (YouTube): A Far better mix, maybe less the vocals, than We Were Lovers, which ended up being released as a B-Side from A Weekend in the City. These lyrics are some of the best that Kele has ever done, bringing microcosmic relations to the macrocosm. There is something about that addicting return to guitar driven, bass rocking, drum smashing that brings the listener back to Silent Alarm and before. A near perfect Bloc Party Song.
2. Plans/This Modern Love (YouTube, YouTube): This is sort of a copout, but these are the two best songs on Silent Alarm, bar none. Please find the Black Session live versions if you can because those two are by far the best. Plans is the cryptic journey as Kele screams out, “I’ve got a taste for blood/Leave the weak, leave the young/…/I’m walking out without you.” Absolutely awesome guitar work and drum work. This Modern Love is a defining love song that absolutely explains modern love as Kele asks, “Would you like to come over and kill some time?”, hinting at far more than he lets known. The live version is the best as Kele shouts at the crowd, “Tell me facts, tell me facts, tell me facts!/Throw your arms around me,” as if begging for an answer to what the love he is singing about means.
1. The Present (YouTube): My personal favorite. Something about it sounds like winter and the lyrics are absolutely amazing. Simplistic in one sense, pointed in another, and more, so easily relatable and masterful. “I stole you that rings ‘cause I wanted you to have/It wasn’t about me, I just wanted you to have it/You smile, baby you smile, baby I come alive.” Doesn’t that say it all?
Honorable mentions: Wet, Atonement, Blue Light, Like Eating Glass
You can’t really go wring with Silent Alarm or the B-sides from A Weekend in the City. Go out there and listen to some Bloc Party.