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Archives for May 2012

Canticle: A Lamentation of Lamentations

for Jonathan Potter

Telling it ruins it.- Walker Percy

If time’s axes could be measured by x’s and y’s,
Weightlessness would hit the moon and comes up short
As typical astronauts would goof on graffiti
That beats them to the punch – “Clapton is God,”
The lunar lithograph exclaims. The pretensions
Are less than literary and more than time allows.
This message from the stars came back as reverb,
A name renamed, distortion, a bending of chords….
The same for seeing Israel dimly touching goatskin
On a TV talk show – “That’s Esau, or my name’s not Ishack!”
He touches his nose and suddenly all of Egypt knows
The shivering of naked bodies, all twisted by weird news –
Assemble on a hardwood bench before a swimming pool,
Olympic-sized, its water cold with catharsis. A sauna
Awaits an answer, scalding hot with cleansing steam.
The swimming instructor presumes to know their ἕποι
Let’s count them off – a madwoman who bent herself
Into a chimney and another into a ventilation shaft:
Both waited to die, discovering what we’ll never find out
Unless we interpret their deaths as more akin to life;
A man who chewed away at the face of another man,
Strong with the urge to prove that human flesh must eat,
Faceless, drug out from shadows, out into light,
Miami’s hot sun, in plain view, faceless, nothing new….
A boy who burnt his parish church down to see Christ
The night He was born. His innocent match lights the hay,
The statues, altar, body, blood, soul and divinity.
Still another boy who greeted mother as a corpse
Every day for seven weeks after school, alone, together,
And not knowing death, only sleep and love;
He took direction from her ghost until the matrix
Decided enough was enough; then there was the last,
So lost in numbers among forceps and lawful blood,
The airlock of bickering rhetoric, a silent scream,
This one, he or she, counts, observable, if only for Rachel.
Remember Rachel? “Who is Rachel? What is she?”

My guitar gently weeps.

Location Scouting, Somewhere Along the Gulf of Mexico


Man versus the elements

If we do decide to establish regional branches to report back to Korrektiv HQ, I may have found us some prime beachfront property in Florida. Wish you all were here.

“So Much for Vicars and Churches…”

Or, the discovery of the moral universe, done way better than I ever did it.  Longtime Friend of the Kollektiv Santigao Ramos tears it up:

“So much for vicars and churches,” because even when they’re not present, life is still a problem and a question. Even when the marriage plot dissolves, the human drama remains. It resurfaces in a different context.  As far as literature is concerned, the problem is not that liberalism has eroded the materials a writer makes use of. The problem is that no writer has lived up to the challenge of facing his own time, of being a “novelist at the end of the world.” To paraphrase the common piece of advice that conservatives give to radicals: The problem is not the system, man. The problem is you.

And it is not even true that no writer has lived up to the challenge. Modernism was, if nothing else, an attempt to live up to this challenge. I am struck by the confident way that T. S. Eliot uses that very word, “you.” “My words echo/ Thus, in your mind,” in “Burnt Norton,” and “You cannot say, or guess, for you know only/ A heap of broken images…” in “The Waste Land.” In fact, even though it is not a novel, “The Waste Land” is perhaps the quintessential example of the type of work we need today: a work that accepts the ambiguities and fragmentation of its time, and still finds the human heart beating within it. He knows who you are.




Because we are more hip than Santiago had thought.

Don’t look now, but First Son makes electronica.

Artist’s notes: “It’s late, I’m tired, and this track sucks. [Aw, he takes after his old man.] I started out mixing a good kick, which I think I did pretty well, but the rest of the track eventually went to hell, mainly because I used too much reverb on everything. Well, I forced myself to finish it and post it for completion’s sake. It’s kind of Trance-y, which is what I was going for (my favorite subgenre of Electronica), with a signature Super Saw Lead and pulsating bass line. Again, I THINK this is Trance; to me, it sounds like Trance. If any expert wishes to refute that, then, be my guest.”

BONUS TRACK: Apparently, the kids these days like this thing called Dubstep…

Artist’s notes: “So, yeah, This isn’t that great a track. I’m still an amateur. But it is one of my better ones, and I thought, ‘Hell, this is good enough to at least put on youtube.’ I THINK it’s dubstep, according to the original definition of the genre, but I don’t pretend to be an expert. Criticism and hatin’ are all okay and encouraged. At least it’s feedback, and that’s kind of the only way I’m gonna get better. As for the name of the track, well, No lyrics, so I could title it anything and it would sound kind of stupid.”

Whispers of the River Ghost

More here

Bob gets a medal.

Going Pro

Why yes, I did actually get paid to play the Director of the British Museum on a radio drama that is basically the Creationist version of Johnny Quest.  Why do you ask?  More importantly, do you need someone to do voice work?

Giger Redux

Yes, I know I’ve already sounded the bell on Giger and the Horror of Babies, but I can’t help linking to this silliness over at Ye Other Blogge.

Happy Birthday Dr. Percy

Walker Percy
Toasts to mercy
And he drinks
To Kate and Binx.

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Southern writer Walker Percy (books by this author), born in Birmingham, Alabama (1916). Percy’s early life was marked by tragedy: his grandfather and father both committed suicide with shotguns, and his mother drowned when her car ran off the road into a stream. When his uncle in Greenville, Mississippi, adopted Percy and his little brothers, things took a turn for the better; it was there that he met his lifelong best friend, the neighbor boy Shelby Foote. As teenagers they took a trip to Oxford to meet their hero, William Faulkner — Percy was so overwhelmed that he stayed in the car as Foote and Faulkner talked on the porch.

Percy went off to college in Chapel Hill, and later to New York for medical school. He contracted tuberculosis and spent the next two years at a sanitarium. It was, he later said, “the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me a chance to quit medicine. I had a respectable excuse.”

Instead, Percy decided to be a full-time writer. He finished two novels—one was based on his experience at the sanitarium—neither of which he could not get published. [sic] But he kept at it, and his novel The Moviegoer (1961) came out when he was 45. A year later it won the National Book Award. Percy published five more novels and many essays.

In 1976 Percy was a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans when a woman called him, asking him to read her son’s manuscript. He felt guilty turning her down—the woman’s son had committed suicide in part because of his despair over not being able to find a publisher for his novel—so Percy agreed, and was so impressed that he conspired to get it published. The Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, went on to win a Pulitzer.

Prometheus, aka the prequel to Alien, is Coming Soon!

Look, the Reader needs the traffic, so you’ll have to go here to watch the amazing H.R. Giger double feature that I’m referencing in this post.  The first part is an autobiographical bit, and the second is about the making of the original Alien costume and set.  The latter bit is the more entertaining, but the former is more…illuminating.  I pulled a few fun excerpts, because while I still think that E. Michael Jones overreaches when he claims that Alien is all about contraception, there’s no doubt that it’s in the mix, starting with the man who made the monster…

“What led me to paint these repulsive children’s heads which frighten all women? What scares me most is overpopulation, with all its horrifying side effects such as epidemics, mass hysteria, famine, and total environment destruction. For me, the greatest criminals against mankind are those who, with the help of religion, or false ethics, forbid the pill, prevent abortions, and hinder old people from dying.”

But apparently, they don’t frighten all women – certainly not this mommy, who bought the painting…

“We bought this picture because it fascinated us, and not, as so many people claim, in order to provoke them.  This picture expresses everything for me which a woman can feel for a child.  Birth, contraception, overpopulation, infection, and plague…In any event, one can do something against the abscesses and blood of the children in Mr. Giger’s paintings.”

She makes a good point there at the end.  Giger himself takes pains to note that he loves nature, and color – you know, the beautiful world.  He paints the things he does not because they delight him, but because they horrify him.  They are protest paintings.  You know, like this one:

That’s why, as this guy notes, the hippies love Giger – he’s wise to the technological horror show.

“When one has many opportunities to visit country communes in which young people are trying to develop a new lifestyle, one is struck by how often Giger’s posters are to be seen on the walls.  These people don’t even know who the poster is by.  The only explanation is that these images express something which is in us all today.  Something archetypical and primal that we long for or are frightened of.”

Some hint of Giger’s experience of that technological horror show slips out when his dad chats up the camera:

“Where does he get this fantasy?  From the mother, of course…Of course this fantasy is connected with an overdose of hormones at the time of nursing, in infancy.  When they started testing these products, it didn’t come from mother’s milk alone.”  What hormones?  Testing what products, exactly?  Yeep!

Giger addresses the strapped-in, restrained character of his figures – in particular the children, but maybe also some of the ladies? – by a reference to his childhood:

“Sometimes, when I look at my paintings, I ask myself, what led me to such things?  For example, these strapped in children who have to play Indians.  Children often have to play roles, probably because their parents wanted it that way.  Duress of this kind in youth follows you into old age.  I still remember very well how my mother packed me up in a kind of overall, which closed with a lot of buttons or a zipper at the back.  This caused difficulties when I had to go to the toilet.  I despaired when I realized that I could not piss and shit at the same time, because the construction of my suit only allowed one of these activities at a time.  So I had to squeeze both of them in and wait until evening when I was freed of my straitjacket.”

Childhood also contributed to the prevalence of (frequently invasive) tubes in his work  Surprise, they’re not penises – they’re worms!  (Well, okay, sometimes they’re penises.)

“Among the elements which repeatedly appear in my paintings, it is above all the worms and the snakes which horrify me most, and I think to find a worm in excrement or vomit is the most horrifying thing I can imagine.  In my pictures, worms take the form of technical elements, such as tubes and hoses, and that reminds me of this.  Once at Easter, I had to look after my grandmother’s grave together with my mother.  When turning over the earth, a thick worm crawled out and I thought, ‘My God, that’s part of my grandmother.  I let the spade fall and ran out of the graveyard.’”  Death, baby.  Death.

As I said, illuminating.  But the Alien stuff is the fun stuff, of course.  Love this bit on the eggs:

“The original idea for the eggs’ opening was a kind of mobile elastic slit, but the production felt that this was too directly reminiscent of female sex organs and worried about possible censoring in Catholic countries.  So we settled on a similar but crosswise shape, which satisfied both the Catholic countries and my own sense of forms.”  Who knew Catholic countries had such clout?

But the best bit?  The really fun bit?  “In another studio, Carlo DiMarchi (sp?) is working on the facial musculature of the monster.  Because the creature is able to perform real movements, these have to correspond optically to the facial muscles.  For this work, we’re using contraceptives.”  That’s right, they cut up condoms to make the Alien’s mouth.

The amazing awfulness of the translucent skin pulling back from those teeth?  That’s a prophylactic in action: