Title Comment Comment Date Comment Link
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

I've been revisiting films lately, and it's been a pure pleasure. Punishment Park, The Sacrifice, The Wind Will Carry Us, Dead Man... Lancelot du Lac was a particular standout--Bresson was truly one of the great 20th century artists. The other incredible film was Abigail's Party. There were so many painful, uncomfortable moments where I wanted to look away. Amazing performances and screenwriting.

11/16/2014 View
Fave literature

Henry James Sr is reported to have said--half-exasperatingly, half-admiringly--to his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, "O you man without a handle!" I think this description could be profitably applied to Shakespeare. Every time I return to his texts there is almost a feeling of unfamiliarity: I notice something new, and feel like I understand less. In the Lighthouse is yet another text I've neglected!... I like A Portrait but prefer Ulysses and sections I've read of Dubliners. Fathers and Sons is a full blown masterpiece.

It's nice seeing a list about literature around here!

11/10/2014 View
Stretch Corleone's Album Listening Log 2014

Are you going to check out Logic's Under Pressure? Undoubtedly derivative of Kendrick, but that doesn't mitigate my enjoyment. Bounce and Under Pressure are two of the best tracks, in my opinion.

11/9/2014 View
Fave literature

In complete honesty, it's nice seeing Winnie the Pooh. I loved the books as a child and today I can see how eloquent and profound Milne was. It's a shame that one often sees his quotes--like Shakespeare, Pope and Emerson--wrenched from their context and aphorized, though there is undeniable wisdom and power even in his smaller phrases and passages. That said, I really don't like Catcher in the Rye. I read it a few years back and found Caulfield unbearable.

I was at the bookstore the other day and was tempted to pick up Notes from the Underground but put it down; one of these days I will get to it! Since Dostoevsky is at the top of your list: have you explored the other great Russians? Tolstoy and Chekhov of course, but also the harrowing Isaac Babel, and the deeply moving and intelligent Turgenev.

11/9/2014 View
Greatest Paintings of All Time (in-progress)

Have you looked at Velazquez? An incredible storyteller... Las Meninas, in which he paints of the infanta's visit to his studio, and The Surrender of Breda, which details the victorious Spinola, are the highest flights of painting. The former is especially, I think, one of those happy convergences where the work's acclaim is proportionate to it's greatness. Bacon said "If you can say it, why paint it?" and I think Velazquez shows how different the narrative possibility of painting is compared to literature.

11/8/2014 View
My Music Lists

This is such a perceptive comment! I completely agree with your interpretation of Otello. In my opinion, to find equals (in opera) to the likes of Aida, Otello and Falstaff one needs to look to the Da Ponte collaborations, although Mozart may in fact surpass Verdi. (Admittedly, I'm no Wagnerite, though I love Tristan & Isolde). I hope you find a chance to dig into more Verdi soon!

11/8/2014 View
My Music Lists

...did you ever get to Verdi's operas!?

11/6/2014 View
Media Log 2014

I love (love love) me some Mingus and Coltrane, but for a different spin on jazz, have you heard Bix Beiderbecke? I'm Comin', Virginia is rightfully regarded as a masterpiece, and is a great track to begin with, but listen to how haunting the cornet is, with its flexibility and dexterity, in I'll be Your Friend With Pleasure. Sublime. A great tragedy he died before reaching 30.

10/26/2014 View
Media Log 2014

Let's not forget that with many (post)modernist works--whether by Eliot, Joyce, or Lynch--understanding often isn't really the point. Artists often excite a desire for clarity that isn't to be found in the actual work, and to impose a strong sense of coherence would be to do serious damage to the deliberate opacity of the work. For example the 10 clues that Lynch distributed with Mulholland Drive convince me more, not less, that obscurity is fundamental to his expressive intentions.

Of course 20th century artists get all the credit for being abstruse and esoteric, but we find the same thing in the Shakespeare of The Winter's Tale and Hawthorne in "The Wives of the Dead"...

10/26/2014 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

Yeah, I understand that. I was in a similar boat, filling up a lot of my time with classical music and neglecting other genres, which is partly why it's so nice to be returning to these pieces. BTW, re: the albums I mentioned--Coltrane/Jackson, Getz/Gilberto--I don't think these albums have what you look for in art, in terms of awe inspiring emotion, etc but they are very solid, beautifully crafted albums that are quite wonderful to listen to... And I would take them over any of the Ring cycles!..

10/18/2014 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

I am currently addicted to John Coltrane and Milt Jackson's Blues Legacy. I've been returning to a lot of jazz these days--Monk, Ellington, Dolphy, Coleman, Coltrane--and it's been very rewarding. Like speech after long silence..! I've found some albums, such as the aforementioned Bags & Trane, and Getz/Gilberto, opening up for me in a way they haven't before.

Does much jazz find its way into your listening sessions these days?

10/18/2014 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

I will never dispute the value of Nightwatch, as Rembrandt is Rembrandt is Rembrandt (who else could show God in a flayed ox?? Or inject so much vitality in seemingly haphazard lines) but the self-portraits--taken in sum--are, for me, perhaps the greatest story ever told, in any form. I couldn't tear myself away from the Self-Portrait at 63. There's a strange, teasing quality to the mouth that I can't shake... I don't have the eloquence to write about them, but Antony Hopkins's remarks on Beethoven seem pertinent:

The thirty-two piano sonatas of Beethoven are his most significant and revealing biography, worth more than all the thousands of pages that have been written about him. In them we see not the exterior events of day-to-day life, as we do in most biographies, but the infinitely more important life within. In these sonatas lie the stages of a great composer's journey, which paradoxically began with the complete confidence of a young man who knew he had the stuff of genius, and which ended in loneliness, with the composer cut off from the world by a barrier of silence, pushing bravely but sometimes gropingly into a new era.

Perhaps I'm mistaken and it's really the sonatas which are the greatest story ever told!?..

10/12/2014 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

First off, please stay off my Favourite Paintings list!!!!!!!! It is hopelessly out of date :). None of my lists have been attended to in ages, but the Painters one in particular expired long ago.

I admit I have not yet hit a saturation point with nude females, but it all depends on the execution. People like Rembrandt, and Titian engage me irrespective of their subject matter. I am reminded of what James wrote about Shakespeare: "The subjects of the Comedies are, without exception, old wives' tales--which we are not too insufferably aware of only because the iridescent veil so perverts their proportions. The subjects of the Histories are no subjects at all; each is but a row of pegs for the hanging of the cloth of gold that is to muffle them".

I know what you mean about finding people to go with, it's not uncommon for me to wind up at the theatre alone and then be surrounded by what seems to be the entire senior population of the city. But I never regret going. I'm also becoming more and more convinced that Verdi was a genius of the highest order.

10/12/2014 View
Favorite Literature

I have not read Notes from the Underground, although I've intended to for ages now. Thank-you for reminding me. I feel like I've neglected Dostoevsky, having only read Crime & Punishment.

While Washington Square is a good book I do not think it ranks among James's best; it was a necessary prelude to the astonishing masterwork that is The Portrait of a Lady. It, and Confidence, are best understood as experiments in which James negotiates artistic problems. Portrait would be, I think, the best place to begin. And from there the brilliant late short stories and novellas: "The Jolly Corner", "The Altar of the Dead", "The Beast in the Jungle", "The Figure in the Carpet", "The Middle Years", etc.

If you ever get around to James (Washington Square or otherwise) do let me know what you think!

10/12/2014 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)

I see your appetite for art hasn't diminished! I continue to think your methods are bizarre (15000 paintings in a few weeks! As far as painting goes I've been communing with only Charlotte Salomon for that amount of time) but I certainly don't knock it.

I see literature still isn't your thing, but I highly recommend this very short piece written by Borges on Shakespeare. Beautiful, and will hopefully convince you to pick up Othello or King Lear or The Winter's Tale!?! I'm not sure where you live but are the MET Operas screened to a theatre near you? Virtually all of them are incredible (I saw Macbeth today) but you should especially, if possible, check out The Marriage of Figaro which is coming up. One of the most sublime works in any field, of all time.

I will be sure to check out your new lists of paintings..!

Edit: have you seen the work of Stefano di Giovanni? A weird, wonderful Gothic painter... Here is an example.

10/11/2014 View