« December 2013 | Main | February 2014 »

Do not become emotional about the lace blouse

Do not become emotional about the lace blouse

Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list. Do not become emotional about the lace blouse. Do not get a hard-on when you say panties. Do not get all shivery just because of the towel. The sheets should not provoke a dreamy expression about the eyes. There is no need to weep into the handkerchief. The socks are not there to remind you of strange and distant voyages. It is just your laundry. It is just your clothes. Don't peep through them. Just wear them.
Leonard Cohen, "How to Speak Poetry"

The only convincing love story

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.37.48 PM

Lolita is not about love, because love is always mutual; Lolita is about obsession, which is never, ever love, and Nabokov himself was so disappointed that people did not understand this and take away the right message… For how could anyone call this feeding frenzy of selfishness, devouring, and destruction “love”?
— In her preface to LOLITA, Mary Gaitskill reflects on a review by Vanity Fair’s Gregor von Rezzori in which he calls the novel: “The only convincing love story of the century”


the Long Tradition of Hating Your Own Work


Let’s take Woody Allen as another example. When Allen completed Manhattan in 1979, he was extremely dissatisfied. He recounts his thoughts at the time in Robert B. Weide’s fascinating 2011 documentary:
“When I was finished with it [Manhattan], I didn’t like the film at all. I saw it, and I spoke to United Artists at the time and offered to make a film for nothing if they would not put it out. I just thought to myself, ‘At this point in my life, if this is the best I can do, they shouldn’t give me money to make movies.’”
Fortunately for the rest of us, Allen did not succeed in suppressing the film. Manhattan was released to significant critical acclaim, earned two Oscar nominations, and became his second biggest box office hit of all time. More than 40 films later, Manhattan is still regarded by many as Allen’s best film, and has become one of the most iconic pictures ever made about New York City.

+ Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, and the Long Tradition of Hating Your Own Work

We shall now discuss love.


We shall now discuss love.   

What powerful words, what weapons, are stored up in the mountains, at suitable spots, in special caches of the granite heart, behind painted surfaces of steel made to resemble the mottling of the adjacent rocks! But when moved to express his love, in the days of brief courtship and marriage, Hugh Person did not know where to look for words that would convince her, that would touch her, that would bring bright tears to her hard dark eyes! Per contra, something he said by chance, not planning the pang and the poetry, some trivial phrase, would prompt suddenly a hysterically happy response on the part of that dry-souled, essentially unhappy woman. Conscious attempts failed. If, as happened sometimes, at the grayest of hours, without the remotest sexual intent, he interrupted his reading to walk into her room and advance toward her on his knees and elbows like an ecstatic, undescribed, unarboreal sloth, howling his adoration, cool Armande would tell him to get up and stop playing the fool. The most ardent addresses he could think up - my princess, my sweetheart, my angel, my animal, my exquisite beast - merely exasperated her. “Why,” she inquired, “can’t you talk to me in a natural human manner, as a gentleman talks to a lady, why must you put on such a clownish act, why can’t you be serious, and plain, and believable?” But love, he said, was anything but believable, real life was ridiculous, yokels laughed at love. He tried to kiss the hem of her skirt or bite the crease of her trouserleg, her instep, the toe of her furious foot - and as he groveled, his unmusical voice muttering maudlin, exotic, rare, common nothings and every-things, into his own ear, as it were, the simple expression of love became a kind of degenerate avian performance executed by the male alone, with no female in sight - long neck straight, then curved, beak dipped, neck straightened again. It all made him ashamed of himself but he could not stop and she could not understand, for at such times he never came up with the right word, the right waterweed. 

— Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things

terrible lingering fears about ourselves


"How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?"

Don DeLillo, White Noise

games also soothe broken people


Almost everyone I know who loves video games — myself included — is broken in some fundamental way. With their ceaseless activity and risk-reward compulsion loops, games also soothe broken people. This is not a criticism. Fanatical readers tend to be broken people. The type of person who goes to see four movies a week alone is a broken person.
+ A letter to Niko Bellic about Grand Theft Auto V

our brain is not an ideal organ for constant retrospection

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 6.26.32 PM

Jake & Dinos Chapman, One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved III, 2008 


Pure Time, Perceptual Time, Tangible Time, Time free of content and context, this, then, is the kind of Time described by my creature under my sympathetic direction. The Past is also part of the tissue, part of the present, but it looks somewhat out of focus. The Past is a constant accumulation of images, but our brain is not an ideal organ for constant retrospection and the best we can do is to pick out and try to retain those patches of rainbow light flitting through memory. The act of retention is the act of art, artistic selection, artistic blending, artistic re-combination of actual events. The bad memoirist re-touches his past, and the result is a blue-tinted or pink-shaded photograph taken by a stranger to console sentimental bereavement. The good memoirist, on the other hand, does his best! to preserve the utmost truth of the detail. One of the ways he achieves his intent is to find the right spot on his canvas for placing the right patch of remembered color. 

Vladimir Nabokov, Interview with Kurt Hoffman for the Bayerischer Rundfunk in 1971.