on . the . long . winding . road

“What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?”

– Jack Kerouac

“The road goes ever on
down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone
and I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with eager feet,
until it finds some larger way.
Where many paths and errands may meet
and whither then? I cannot say.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

View On Black

on creeping death

Came across Lovecraft by chance; and followed a trail back to an old Metallica song. It’s always interesting to find the sources of inspiration for artists, musicians, writers, and so on.”That is not dead which can eternal lie,And with strange aeons even death may die.”
In this case, Metallica seem to have found inspiration from Lovecraft‘s work across many songs. Lovecraft had an oddly disturbing way of looking at the World, perhaps no less real than the framework that I, or any of us, for that matter may use. Only thing is, he seems to be coming to the same conclusion from the other side of a looking glass. Will explore his work more over this weekend, hopefully. “The thing that should not be,” Metallica

from father to son

stumbled across a live version of Dirty DayIt got me thinking of the progression of U2’s music. I don’t come from the Joshua Tree generation. My first introduction to U2 was the audacity and spectacle of Zoo TV and PopMart. Then you track back to Achtung Baby and Rattle and Hum, before you get to The Joshua Tree.The idealism of The Joshua Tree seems to have been transcended, hardened (from “I’ll see you again, when the stars fall from the sky”; to “Still lookin’ for the face I had before the World was made”), melted away, and replaced with a (dual) infusion of pragmatism and despair (from One, to Gone) on the one hand, to the absurdism of Dirty Day, Mofo, or Lemon.The progression from Achtung Baby, to Zooropa, to Pop seems to be that of the development of the son into the father, while still trying to remain the son. Neither here nor there, but with the burden of both roles.

on the american dream

A period in Paris, just after the war brought Bellow in touch with existentialism and post-war American writing is the subject of some ironic reflections in a famous essay Bellow published in 1963, “Some Thoughts on Recent American Fiction”. (The piece was written just as he was about to publish Herzog.) Here he reflects on the current appeal of new American fiction for European intellectuals; recalling the title of Wylie Sypher’s brilliant and then influential study of modernism, ‘Loss of the Self in Modern Literature and Art’, he observes that a literature of the lost and inauthentic self has become a staple of contemporary writing. In Europe, in the work of writers like Gide, Beckett, Sartre, and Camus, this arises from the crises of contemporary history, and the breakdown of Enlightenment thought, and has clear origins in philosophical theories of the human condition. ‘American writers, when they are moved by a similar spirit to reject and despise the Self,’ Bellow then adds ironically, ‘are seldom encumbered by such intellectual baggage, and this fact pleases their European contemporaries, who find in them a natural, that is, a brutal and violent acceptance of the new universal truth by minds free from intellectual preconceptions.’ In European writers he sees a nerveless collapse of humanism, a sacrifice to history or necessity or logic. In post-war American writing the violence of being, the absurdity of existence, the state of alienation are presented as plain and brute empiricism, a view of the way things just are.- Malcolm Bradbury

I don’t know if it is post-war or if it actually started before the war. Of the European philosophers, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Derrida and Baudrillard would be my greatest influences. Thoreau and Paine are the Americans I am reasonably familiar with. Thoreau and Paine and Baudrillard have always seemed the “Free-est” of the lot — Thoreau and Paine by virtue of, as Bellow points out, having a natural (if brutal — not comfortable with the flavor of this word, unless understood in an exact intent) outlook, Baudrillard by virtue of having ripped apart (or rather, progressed to the next logical stage) of contemporary thought, with his precession of simulacra and the hyperreal. Nietzsche tried to break free of the shackles, and succeeds somewhat, but he, like Sartre, I think, is encumbered by the baggage of prevailing politics — which for Sartre was his movement towards communism.Camus is the odd one out here, somewhere between Thoreau and Derrida, I think sometimes, scraping against the outer arc of the idea, the event horizon of contemporary thought (I’d like to call this event horizon The Theater of the Absurd) without really breaking free of it.Still, the tools these thinkers set into place have great value. One I haven’t mentioned, since I am still getting acquainted with his work, is of course Wittgenstein. Anyways. I found this piece rather interesting, and, having now been immersed in these ideas for a while, I can’t help but thinking of Friedrich Holderlin’s words…”We are in the period of darknessbetween the Gods that have vanishedand the God that has not yet come,between Matthew Arnold’s two worlds,‘one dead, the other powerless to be born’”Those thinkers are all gone, Baudrillard was the last. But their work remains incomplete.

Movies

Had written this for another site long ago; had been lying in my drafts section, figured I’d publish it.L’Annie derniere — MarienbadL’Annie derniere – Marienbad (Last year at Marienbad) is one of those exquisite New Wave films that utilized the concept of the Stream of Consciousness. It follows the attempts of one character, a man (we never find their true names) trying to convince another, a married woman, that they met the year before at Marienbad, or maybe Frederiksbad, and planned on eloping this year. The year is in doubt, as is the location, as are the identities, memories, and the story itself. Masterfully executed with a screenplay that holds your complete attention, and visual movements and devices to further aid the fluid process of the interaction of memories, this is a must watch film.Dr.Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombKubrick has never truly been credited enough for his contribution to Cinema. Dr. Strangelove tells the story of a deranged Scientist who plots a nuclear Armageddon in order to stop the Communists “stealing precious bodily fluids”. It is perhaps the most hilarious end-of-the-World movie you will ever see. The film is all the more brilliant because of the time when it was made – at the beginning of the Cold War era, when the hawks we see in the film would have been more the norm than the exception. Kubrick’s efforts are often overlooked by the better known New Wave artists when it comes to the proponents of the renowned Theater of the Absurd. His combination of visual artistry, a flair for fluid screenplay, and biting cynicism inspired by Nietzsche and the existentialists can be compared perhaps, only with Jean-Luc Godard in cinematic history.WeekendThose who are acquainted with Godard’s work will know that he is usually rather angry, or rather, pissed off. There is an even sharper edge to the bleeding cynicism inherent in his commentary in Weekend. What is Weekend about? The film follows the journey of a married couple through the country side. It also happens to critique bourgeoisie society, the counter-culture, cannibalism, sex, adultery, consumerism and Cinema as a medium itself, all at onego. “What a rotten movie. All we meet are crazy people” says the husband at one point. Communists, capitalists, fascists and psychotherapists… no one is really spared in this film, and it is certainly one of the best (if not the best) films ever made, and certainly a leader in the New Wave.

t h e . r o a d . g o e s . e v e r . o n

“Still round the corner there may wait
a new Road or a secret gate;
and though I oft have passed them by,
a day will come at last when I
shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

better larger, on black