Friday, September 09, 2005


How about Never? Is Never Good For You?

Good Song from 1929. (Moistworks) stock market crash metaphor?

In reference to the ancient-ness of my last post, Bilge Ebiri has two pieces on the last Istanbul Film Festival.

In June, Yektan Turkyilmaz was arrested in Armenia and charged with trying to smuggle books out of the country and was finally released in mid August (Blogrel and Onik posted updates and pictures of the trial). The guy is a Ph.d candidate in cultural anthropology at Duke University and it was his fourth visit to the place. Signatures and letters were sent in protest to the President of Armenia, but I'm sure he held back from giving a detailed response so he could start getting letters from really cool people, you know, like Bob Dole. Turkish media coverage has been very mild on the subject, probably in part due to Turkyilmaz's work not being too kind to the official Turkish thesis. Meanwhile a Turkish documentary maker Berke Bas is doing a piece on Armenian orphans taken in by Turkish families ("We do know that it was on a scale that the then rulers of the Ottoman Empire issued secret orders to punish families who saved Armenian children"--Professor Selim Deringil). The conference by Those Fuckers that was postponed at Bogazici (Bosphorus) University is now re-scheduled for the end of "September". Orhan Pamuk has just been charged for the "public denigration of the Turkish identity" according to our kick-ass penal code and faces 3 years of jail time if convicted because he failed to collect 200 when he passed Go--I mean--because he blabbed to the Swiss about Armenians being killed 90 years ago. Pamuk's defense team will try to make their case by arguing that Switzerland isn't even a country.

Shalom & Kasuri, the foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan (not to be confused with the famous contortionists) hung out in Istanbul recently. According to the Israeli foreign minister, Erdogan suggested the meeting to Sharon when he called to congratulate him on the Gaza withdrawal. At one point, Shalom was heard referring to Kasuri as "the shrewd schlemiel", but in a good way.


Guess You Had To Be There

"The interesting thing is that the same person who goes to see the film The Brown Bunny, and groans as the insects pile up on Vincent Gallo's windshield, will curl up at home with Everything is Illuminated and chuckle approvingly at finding the phrase "we are writing" printed 191 times in a row. (Such assuredness--and in one so young!) In short, two aesthetics often exist in the same mind: a moviegoing aesthetic that trusts primarily in personal taste and perception, and a reading aesthetic that is more likely to defer to established opinion. Which brings us back to the style that established opinion holds so dear. " -- B.R. Myers

McCarthy is probably best known, though, for a rather different register, in which his prose opens its lungs and bellows majestically, in a concatenation of Melville and Faulkner.

--James "Good Cop" Wood

[Cormac] McCarthy has never been much interested in consciousness and once declared that as far as he was concerned Henry James wasn’t literature. Alas, his new book, with its gleaming equipment of death, its mindless men and absent (but appropriately sentimentalized) women, its rigid, impacted prose, and its meaningless story, is perhaps the logical result of a literary hostility to Mind.

--James "Bad Cop" Wood, same review

There's something about book reviews that give them more of a solid feel on a whole to me than film reviews. I think it's because the presence of quotes provides at least some guarantee of objectivity within the review--I can always check whether what the reviewer says goes with the quotes he dishes out. Which is not to say that the literary field isn't just as quarellous, just look at when a certain Dan Green complains about king-of-the-hill literary critic James Wood: said critic hilariously crashes blog (scroll down to Dear Dan Green). This kind of quote-grounding obviously cannot be present in film reviews, to converse about sensory experiences requires abstracting about sensory experiences--which often leads to accusations of simplification ("it's just two guys walking around for two hours", "just another fairy-tale romance"...) and counter-accusations of projecting self onto movie. Of course, there's nothing innate preventing simplifications from being wrong, which complicates things further. Something should be made easier when your source material is already in abstract form, yet the presence of the same kind of stumbling blocks on the literary side still mystifies.

From the French Quarter

Seized by a strong need to piss, and tired of the Starbucks, McDonald's, and Pizza Huts, where there are almost always signs telling you the name of the guy who "cleaned this bathroom with pride" and the name of the "supervisor" whom you should call "for comments and compliments," I ask Tim to let me off at the edge of a quiet field bathed in sunlight. Scarcely have I begun when I hear behind me the roar of a motor followed by a screeching of brakes. I turn around. It's a police car.

<>"What are you doing?"
"I'm getting some fresh air."
"You don't have the right to get fresh air."
"Okay, I'm pissing."
"You don't have the right to piss."
"What do I have a right to, then?"
"Nothing: it is forbidden on highways to stop, hang around, dawdle, and to piss."
"I'm French …"

"I couldn't care less if you're French — the law's the same for everyone. Keep moving."

"I wrote a book on Daniel Pearl."

"Daniel who?"

"And a book on the forgotten wars."

"What kind of wars?"

"I'm writing about following the path of Tocqueville …"
<>And suddenly, as the name Tocqueville is uttered, a sort of miracle occurs! The cop's face goes from suspicions to curious to almost friendly.
"Tocqueville — really? Alexis de Tocqueville?"<>

And after I tell him yes, Alexis, I'm following in the footsteps of this great compatriot who, 170 years ago, must have passed somewhere near here, this awkward customer, red with rage, who for all I knew was getting ready to book me for inappropriate behavior, for sexual display on a public highway, or, in any case, for "loitering with intent," looks at me with sudden affability and begins to ask me what, in my opinion, continues to be valid in Tocqueville's analysis. --Bernad Levy, In The Footsteps of Toqueville

It's somewhat odd when Americans (The Atlantic) think it useful to ask a Frenchman to retrace the footsteps of Tocqueville, especially when they have the likes of Don Delillo and his ilk internalizing that oh-so-familiar outsider perspective, and like them Levy often brings That Other French Guy along for the ride as well, Baudrillard The Bold. Not to say it isn't mildly entertaining to have Bernad Levy on the walkabout being told to say the "atheist's pray", or noticing that there aren't any fast lanes on the highways, but at times Levy's musings on France seem more informative than his comments on America. As a result, his presence on the continent works better in moments revealing the American View On A French Guy. Also, he likes Seattle, surprise surprise.


The Frog Prince's Burden

Remember when France gave it's top two votes at the Eurovision contest to Turkey and Israel respectively? Nice plea bargain, funny guy.


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