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‘Brickjest,’ the LEGO version of ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace


“These are three Deans—of Admissions, Academic Affairs, Athletic Affairs. I do not know which face belongs to whom,” p. 3
 
Infinite Jest, the famously brilliant and famously unread 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace, frequently described as the most important novel of the 1990s and then some ... finally has inspired a LEGO muse to take up the task of executing a brick adaptation. It is called BrickJest. Infinite Jest is about many things, including tennis, addiction, filmmaking, corporate sponsorship, and terrorism. It’s a rich tapestry that positively cries out for the medium of brightly colored plastic bricks.

Charmingly, the photos below (just a fraction of the whole) are the fruits of a collaboration between Prof. Kevin Griffith of Capital University and his eleven-year-old son Sebastian, who “created all the scenes based on his father’s descriptions of the relevant pages.” They were jointly inspired by The Brick Bible by Brendan Powell Smith.
 

“‘I am not just a creatus, manufactured, conditioned, bred for a function.’ ... ‘Sweet mother of Christ,’ the Director says,” p. 12
 

“He felt similar to the insect inside the girder his shelf was connected too, but was not sure just how he was similar,” p. 19
 

“And out of nowhere a bird had all of a sudden fallen into the Jacuzzi,” p. 44
 

“The tall, ungainly, socially challenged and hard-drinking Dr. Incandenza’s May-December marriage to one of the few bona-fide bombshell-type females in North American Academia, the extremely tall and high-strung . . . Avril Mondragon . . .,” p. 64
 

“So but when Schtitt dons the leather helmet and goggles and revs up the old F.R.G.-era BMW cycle . . . it is usually eighteen-year-old Mario Incandenza who gets to ride along in the side-car . . .,” p. 79
 

“Feral hamsters are not pets. They mean business,” p. 93
 

“Video telephony rendered the fantasy insupportable,” p. 146
 

“1610h. Weightroom freestyle circuits. The clank and click of various resistance-systems. Lyle on the towel dispenser . . .,” p. 198
 

“Gately now shares the important duty of ‘breaking down the hall,’ sweeping floors and emptying ashtrays . . .,” p. 360
 

“Clipperton plays tennis with the Glock 17 held steadily to his left temple,” p. 409
 

“Gately has to smile at the Wraith’s cluelessness . . .a drug addict’s second most meaningful relationship is always with his domestic entertainment unit, TV/VCR or HDTP,” p. 834
 
via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Balcony’: Peter Falk, Leonard Nimoy & Shelley Winters frolic in Jean Genet’s twisted whorehouse

balpostcony.jpg
 
The Savage Eye was an early example of American cinema vérité that began as a film project worked on (over several years at weekends and days off) by three friends Ben Maddow (famed and award-winning screenwriter of Asphalt Jungle amongst many others), Sidney Meyers (radical film-maker and documentarian), and Joseph Strick (successful businessman and ambitious film-maker). Their movie mixed social documentary and drama that told the story of one woman’s (low) life in big, anonymous, brash, modern Los Angeles. It became a major hit at the Edinburgh Festival and won the trio a BAFTA—the equivalent of a British Oscar—in 1960. Encouraged by the film’s success, Strick sought out another project to work on.

He tried and failed to option James Joyce’s Ulysses, a project he had long cherished, though he would eventually film Ulysses with Milo O’Shea in 1967, and later produce and direct the big screen adaptation of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with Bosco Hogan and John Gielgud in 1977. Having failed on a first attempt with Ulysses, Strick approached Friedrich Dürrenmatt to option his play The Visit—in which a woman offers her home village money and success at the cost of killing her ex-boyfriend—but was also knocked back. He then approached Jean Genet and asked to option the film rights to his highly controversial play The Balcony. This time he was successful.
 
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Jean Genet.
 
The Balcony is a brilliant and often disturbing drama, hailed as either the play that re-invented modern theater or the first great piece of French Brechtian theater—take your pick. Set in a high-class whorehouse situated in some unnamed city during an apparent bloody revolution, the play works as a metaphor for the different classes and corrupt structures of society. Genet wrote the first version of The Balcony (and a first version of The Blacks) in the spring and summer of 1955. Over the next ten years, Genet constantly wrote and rewrote The Balcony and between 1955 and 1961 he published five different versions. (There are some—like the play’s editor Marc Babezat—who believe Genet destroyed the script through his incessant revisions.)

In his introduction to the first version of The Balcony, Genet explained the drama’s story:

This play has as its object the mythology of the whorehouse. A Police Chief is infuriated, chagrined, to notice that at the ‘Great Balcony’ there are many erotic rituals representing various heroes: the Abbe, the Hero, the Criminal, the Beggar—and others besides—but alas, never he Police Chief. He struggles so that his own character will finally, through an exquisite act of grace, haunt the erotic daydreams and that he will thereby become a hero in mythology of the whorehouse.

Though Genet claimed he had no interest in films (“Cinema does not interest me”), he agreed to Strick’s offer to produce a movie version of The Balcony. Edmund White in his biography of Genet described the original meeting between French playwright and American film-maker:

Strick first encountered Genet in Milan, where Genet had reserved rooms in two different hotels ‘in case he had to reject my idea—he’s that sensitive,’ said Strick. Genet had seen one of Strick’s earlier films The Savage Eye, the story of a sad, recently divorced woman and her view of the seedy side of California life. Genet instructed Frechtman to speak to Strick for him: ‘Tell him that a lot of the images in his film touched me, but that the plot construction, the under-pinning appeared to me very weak. He doesn’t prove to us that this woman has changed at the end of the film. Now, a film adapted from The Balcony needs a very solid structure. Who will provide?’

While Strick stayed in the luxurious Hotel Negresco, Genet preferred a ratty hotel he called the Horresco. He was clean and neat but always dressed in the same corduroy trousers, turtleneck sweater and black leather jacket. Genet wrote a long treatment, a detailed description of the action without dialogue. Two stumbling blocks were the character Roger’s self-castration, and the whole end of the play, which is not well integrated with the preceding scenes. In the final version the castration was indeed removed. Genet worked four hours a day. Strick wanted Genet to do a shooting script and promised to follow every shot, but Genet didn’t want to invest any more time in the project. He latter told Marianne de Pury that he found the collaboration very irritating. He was still working on The Screens. He did accept, however, the idea that The Balcony should take place in a film studio and not a whorehouse.

 
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Peter Falk as the Police Chief and Shelley Winters as Madame Irma in Strick’s ‘The Balcony’.
 
Ben Maddow was then employed to write the final script. The movie was then shot a very low budget, with the actors all working for minimum wage. Strick originally wanted Barbara Hepworth as Madame Irma, but she refused working for a minimum fee. Strick therefore approached the Hollywood star Shelley Winters to play the madame. Peter Falk, in only his second movie, agreed to play the Chief of Police, while future Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy played the role of Roger. Ruby Dee reprised her stage role as one of the prostitutes. Though considerably tamer than the Genet’s play, Strick still manages to maintain much of the play’s integrity. However, critics were mixed on the film’s release, with some papers, like The New York Times—quelle surprise—hating it. Watching it now, Strick made a bold and brave venture of a difficult and powerful drama.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The return of the ‘Drugstore Cowboy’
08.25.2014
08:26 am

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Movies

Tags:
James Fogle
Drugstore Cowboy


 
Gus Van Sant’s 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy, based on author James Fogle’s autobiographical novel about his lifelong addictions, adventures, and crimes, was an unexpected cult success. However, it did not lead to the publication (authorized, anyway) of Fogle’s other works or more films. 25 years later there is a sequel in the works, Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror), written by Drugstore Cowboy screenwriter Daniel Yost with input from Fogle during his last years.

“The original film is almost all Fogle (though, of course, beautifully directed, acted, and photographed), as it came from a novel he sent me with the story intact and lots of dialogue,” Yost says. “The sequel started with an idea that came to me when I woke up one morning and couldn’t resist. I wrote it, then asked Jim to send me a couple of things, one being the experience of going through withdrawal. On screen this will be harrowing, rivaling what Gene Hackman’s character went through in French Connection II.”

It was Yost who first introduced then-fledgling filmmaker Van Sant to Fogle’s work and he has been an ongoing champion for its publication and development ever since. Over the years Fogle sent Yost several novels and short stories, but prior to meeting Gus Van Sant Yost was unable to get Fogle’s short stories published anywhere, even after editing and tidying them up himself.

Fogle could have become a Burroughs-like anti-hero or even a triumphant artist like Jim Carroll in 1989 upon Drugstore Cowboy’s release. He certainly had the opportunity to makeover his existence and enjoy the rewards of minor celebrity. But despite multiple attempts at clean living, his self-destructive streak remained. Much to the frustration of his friends and family, Fogle became something of a folk hero in the Northwest, with multiple arrests for (of course) expertly robbing pharmacies, with the last two times occurring in Redmond, Washington and Seattle in 2010 and 2011. All of his stories and novels were written in prison, where he spent nearly fifty of his seventy-five years, and he found it impossible to write elsewhere. At the time of his death in prison in 2012 he had been writing another novelized autobiography.
 

            
In an email interview Daniel Yost recently answered a few questions for Dangerous Minds about his experiences working with James Fogle and his plans for Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Henry Miller reads from ‘Black Spring’
08.12.2014
07:18 am

Topics:
Books
Literature

Tags:
George Orwell
Henry Miller
Black Spring


 
Not a lot of writers ever attained a badass quotient as high as Henry Miller did in Paris in the 1930s. He was a Whitmanesque American novelist in the international center of high art, writing scandalous books about sex and having plenty of sex with Anaïs Nin. And unlike the works of the “hordes of shrieking poseurs” populating Montparnasse at the time (to quote Orwell from the essay linked below), his books are very good! They remain highly readable to this day, especially Tropic of Cancer. In 1976 Norman Mailer wrote a book about Henry Miller called Genius and Lust, in which he called Tropic of Cancer “one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century, a revolution in consciousness equal to The Sun Also Rises.”
 

 
George Orwell’s extended 1940 essay “Inside the Whale” uses Miller’s works as a prism to make some trenchant observations about the modernist movement as a whole. His remarks on Black Spring are worth quoting here:
 

When I first opened Tropic of Cancer and saw that it was full of unprintable words, my immediate reaction was a refusal to be impressed. Most people’s would be the same, I believe. Nevertheless, after a lapse of time the atmosphere of the book, besides innumerable details, seemed to linger in my memory in a peculiar way. A year later Miller’s second book, Black Spring, was published. By this time Tropic of Cancer was much more vividly present in my mind than it had been when I first read it. My first feeling about Black Spring was that it showed a falling-off, and it is a fact that it has not the same unity as the other book. Yet after another year there were many passages in Black Spring that had also rooted themselves in my memory. Evidently these books are of the sort to leave a flavour behind them—books that “create a world of their own,” as the saying goes. The books that do this are not necessarily good books, they may be good bad books like Raffles or the Sherlock Holmes stories, or perverse and morbid books like Wuthering Heights or The House with the Green Shutters. But now and again there appears a novel which opens up a new world not by revealing what is strange, but by revealing what is familiar. The truly remarkable thing about Ulysses, for instance, is the commonplaceness of its material. Of course there is much more in Ulysses than this, because Joyce is a kind of poet and also an elephantine pedant, but his real achievement has been to get the familiar on to paper. He dared — for it is a matter of daring just as much as of technique — to expose the imbecilities of the inner mind, and in doing so he discovered an America which was under everybody’s nose. Here is a whole world of stuff which you supposed to be of its nature incommunicable, and somebody has managed to communicate it. The effect is to break down, at any rate momentarily, the solitude in which the human being lives. When you read certain passages in Ulysses you feel that Joyce’s mind and your mind are one, that he knows all about you though he has never heard your name, that there some world outside time and space in which you and he are together. And though he does not resemble Joyce in other ways, there is a touch of this quality in Henry Miller. Not everywhere, because his work is very uneven, and sometimes, especially in Black Spring, tends to slide away into more verbiage or into the squashy universe of the surrealists. But read him for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood. “He knows all about me,” you feel; “he wrote this specially for me.” It is as though you could hear a voice speaking to you, a friendly American voice, with no humbug in it, no moral purpose, merely an implicit assumption that we are all alike. For the moment you have got away from the lies and simplifications, the stylized, marionette-like quality of ordinary fiction, even quite good fiction, and are dealing with the recognizable experiences of human beings.

 
Here’s Miller reading from “The Tailor Shop” from Black Spring:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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J.G. Ballard’s favorite food
08.11.2014
10:54 am

Topics:
Food
Literature

Tags:
J.G. Ballard


 
Visionary writer J.G. Ballard‘s list of simple but enjoyable foods would probably make most struggling “healthy living” bloggers’ heads explode. Especially the ones on restrictive diets whose mission is to bore everyone around them to death by talking of nothing else. Ballard, who spent two years of World War II in a Japanese internment camp with his family, also remembered the postwar food rationing that persisted into the ‘50s in the U.K. Even so, he wasn’t obsessive about food. In fact, he saw a happy correlation between food and sex.

He told The Guardian about his usual diet in 2003 (and, of course, a doctor was brought in to explain why all of his choices were unhealthy):

One should love outside one’s own head. I believe that the tongue is just as important as other organs. If you have an appetite for food, you’ll have an appetite for sex. I’m always suspicious of people who lack an appetite and I admire people with strong appetites. However, now I’m 72 I don’t eat a great deal and, let’s say, my tastes have simplified. It is a matter of metabolism, and I’m bored. I’ve eaten everything.

I live alone and eat rather modestly when I’m at home…

I wake at 8 a.m. and have a couple of cups of tea. Midmorning I make a coffee to get my brain in gear. I used to have a large scotch (and that worked even better). Alcohol used to provide a large proportion of my calorie intake and my life enhancement, but I’m too old for that now. I don’t drink spirits any more. Carte Noir is a good substitute. I’ve always drunk instant coffee at home—ever since I read Elizabeth David, who wrote about its virtues. For lunch I eat odd things—Parma ham with a few drops of truffle oil. Dinner is usually an omelette.

If I’m out I like some lobster, but you have to be lucky because it can be very disappointing, and I order a lot of crab dishes. I’m not as keen on beef as I used to be but I still enjoy a nice juicy steak. I’m also very fond of game. I love quails—Maquis do a wonderful quail dish—but I like grouse best of all. I eat a lot of game because the flavour is richer, it’s darker. I drink it with a good red wine. I prefer French wines, possibly because they were the only good wines when I was young. I used to drink a bottle of wine a day, now I have less: half a bottle a day.

Below, J.G Ballard profiled by Melvyn Bragg on The South Bank Show:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Hunter S. Thompson’s typical daily intake of drink ‘n’ drugs
08.07.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs
Literature

Tags:
Hunter S. Thompson

hstdrugdrinkpic.jpg
 
Hunter S. Thompson once said:

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

If E. Jean Carroll’s biography Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson is to be believed, then drink and drugs certainly did work for HST. Carroll begins her memoir with a list of Hunter’s daily intake of drink and drugs:

I have heard the biographers of Harry S. Truman, Catherine the Great, etc., etc., say they would give anything if their subjects were alive so they could ask them some questions. I, on the other hand, would give anything if my subject were dead.

He should be. Oh, yes. Look at his daily routine:

3:00 p.m. rise

3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills

3:45 cocaine

3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill

4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill

4:15 cocaine

4:16 orange juice, Dunhill

4:30 cocaine

4:54 cocaine

5:05 cocaine

5:11 coffee, Dunhills

5:30 more ice in the Chivas

5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.

6:00 grass to take the edge off the day

7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch-Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas.)

9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously

10:00 drops acid

11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass

11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.

12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write

12:05-6:00 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies.

6:00 the hot tub-champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo

8:00 Halcyon

8:20 sleep

Impressive. But as Hunter also said:

Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.

And who can argue with that?

Below the 1978 Omnibus documentary on Hunter S. Thompson.
 

 
H/T Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘The Mind Benders’: The true story behind the cult classic psychological thriller

moviemindbenders.jpg
 
The writer James Kennaway was working as a publisher’s agent when he first heard talk of the sensory deprivation experiments carried out at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, during the early 1950s.

Kennaway’s job entailed traveling across England seeking out academics and scientists to contribute texts for Longmans catalog of books. The stories he heard at Oxford University were just idle chat shared over cups of milky tea or warm beer in pubs. Rumors someone had heard from somebody else that students were being paid to undergo a week of sensory deprivation—so far no one had succeeded. Though still an unpublished author, Kennaway knew he had found material for a very good story.

James Kennaway was born on 5 June 1928 in Auchterarder, Scotland.  His father was a successful lawyer, his mother a graduate of medicine. The younger of two children (his sister Hazel was born in 1925), Kennaway’s early childhood was one of tradition and privilege, with the expectation that he would one day follow in his father’s footsteps.

His childhood idyll ended when Kennaway’s father died in January 1941. Though at a preparatory school in Edinburgh, the twelve-year-old felt obliged to take up the role as “male head of the household.”  He suppressed his own emotional needs and began to write letters to his mother full of the advice and emotional support he felt his father would have given.

The untimely death made James feel that he too would die young, and this early trauma, together with the pressure he felt to succeed at school led to a fissure in his personality that would widen with age. Kennaway’s biographer, Trevor Royle described this gradual change of character as:

James was the sophisticate, Jim the “nasty wee Scot”. Later, he came to characterize the split as James the domesticated man constrained by society and Jim the artist who should be allowed any amount of license.

Or, as Kennaway later described it:

James et Jim, man and artist, wild boy and introvert.

At school “James” was the likable, eager-to-please pupil; while “Jim” was beginning his first thoughts towards a career as a writer—as Kennaway explained in a letter to his mother:

...I feel I have been granted with more than one talent; in such a life my talent of sympathy would shine but my other talents would lie buried. On my part I would get lazier and fatter every day. I might however do this at the same time as I write and really go in for writing, but I must learn more about the English language before I can write any stuff worth reading.

After school, Kennaway carried out his National Service in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders before going up to Oxford to study Modern Greats (Politics, Philosophy and Economics or P.P.E.). It was here he met Susan Edmonds, whom he married in 1951.

After university, Kennaway worked for a publishing firm, and in his spare time, started work on his first novel Tunes of Glory.
 
tunesglorypos.jpg
 
Published in 1956, Tunes of Glory was the story of a psychological battle between bully Major Jock Sinclair and war-wounded Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow for control of over a peacetime battalion stationed in a Scottish army barracks. The story had been inspired by many of the people and events Kennaway encountered during his National Service.

Max Frisch noted in his novel Montauk that a writer only ever betrays himself; this is true for Kennaway who channeled the experiences of his life through the prism of his writing.

The book’s overwhelming success brought Kennaway more work as a writer: a commission to write an original screenplay. This became Violent Playground, which was filmed in 1957 with Stanley Baker, David McCallum, Anne Heywood and Peter Cushing. Its story of a juvenile delinquent holding a classroom of children to ransom was inspired by real siege in Terrazanno, Italy, when two brothers, armed with guns and dynamite, held ninety-nine pupils and three teachers to ransom. The brothers threatened to kill their hostages unless various demands were met. The siege ended after a teacher attacked and disarmed the brothers allowing the police to rescue the children. Kennaway followed the story in the papers, keeping numerous press clippings, and using the story for a key scene in his screenplay.
 
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The following year, Kennaway was commissioned to write another film, this time he relied on the stories he had heard from academics at Oxford in the early 1950s.

The term “brainwashing” was first used by journalist (and CIA stooge) Edward Hunter in an article he wrote for the Miami News, 7th October 1950. Hunter used the term to bogusly describe why certain U.S. soldiers had allegedly co-operated with their captors during the Korean War. Simply put, Hunter was suggesting the Chinese had used various psychological techniques to create a false sense of friendship with which they could undermine, reprogram and brainwash American soldiers. This led to Western governments commencing their own brainwashing experiments.
 
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In June 1951, a secret meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal saw the launch of a CIA-funded, joint American-British-Canadian venture to fund studies “into the psychological factors causing the human mind to accept certain political beliefs aimed at determining means for combating communism and democracy” and “research into the means whereby an individual may be brought temporarily or perhaps permanently under the control of another.”

Dr. Donald Hebb of McGill University received a grant of $10,000 to examine the effects of sensory deprivation. Volunteers were paid to lie on a bed, cradled in a foam pillow (to block out external sounds), their arms wrapped in cardboard tubes (to limit movement and sensation), whilst wearing white opaque goggles. Without any external stimuli and only short breaks for testing, feeding and use of the toilet, the volunteers quickly began to hallucinate—seeing dots, colored lights, and faces. The experiments had disturbing affects on the volunteers with only a few managing to continue beyond two or three days—no one lasted the week.

The experiments progressed with the use of flotation tanks that became central to Kennaway’s screenplay.
 
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In an article “The Pathology of Boredom” published in Scientific American, one of Hebb’s associates wrote:

Most of the subjects had planned to think about their work: some intended to review their studies, some to plan term papers, and one thought he would organize a lecture he had to deliver. Nearly all of them reported that the most striking thing about the experience was that they were unable to think clearly about anything for any length of time and that their thought processes seemed to be affected in other ways.

It was also noted during these experiments that the volunteers were overly susceptible to external sensory stimulation—making them open to ideas or beliefs they may have once opposed. In A Question of Torture, professor Alfred McCoy of Madison University, noted that during Hebb’s experiments “the subject’s very identity had begun to disintegrate.”
 
More on James Kennaway’s ‘The Mind Benders’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Everything to the extreme’: Be a guest at one of Henry Miller’s dinner parties
07.23.2014
02:04 pm

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Henry Miller


 

“The earth is not a lair, neither is it a prison. The earth is a Paradise, the only one we’ll ever know. We will realize it the moment we open our eyes. We don’t have to make it a Paradise-it is one. We have only to make ourselves fit to inhabit it. The man with the gun, the man with murder in his heart, cannot possibly recognize Paradise even when he is shown it.”

― Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

“We get about as much information about the other peoples of this globe, through the movies and the radio, as the Martians get about us.”

― Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

I think I probably “discovered” Henry Miller from Tom Schiller’s SNL shorts that featured the dry wit of the Tropic of Cancer author and from his role in Warren Beatty’s Reds as one of the “witnesses” who had personally known John Reed and Louise Bryant. Miller’s presence onscreen was remarkable for a man his age and I wanted to know more about him. I was a kid, but I thought he was a very cool motherfucker for an old guy, like his near contemporary in authoring banned books, William S. Burroughs.

By the 1970s, Henry Miller’s work, once very, very difficult to come by in America, was being stocked in regular shopping mall bookstores and could be found on local library shelves, even one in a conservative backwater burg like my hometown of Wheeling, WV, which had most of his books. Frankly, the “erotic” Henry Miller didn’t really interest me all that much. I was more interested to read his opinions on things and events, non fiction essays, in other words, or interviews with him. High on my list of Miller’s writing were “A Nation of Lunatics,” his bicentennial contribution to an anthology titled Four Visions of America and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, his scathing assessment of traveling around America in a car for two years after a decade spent in Europe (Think of it as a mix of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, which it preceded by many years. with Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night.)

When he was 84, Miller began a relationship with a young woman of twenty named Brenda Venus—a future Playboy model and author of several bestselling sex instruction books—from Biloxi, Mississippi. Venus found Miller’s address in a used book she’d purchased and had written to him. Miller was was infatuated by her and wrote her over 1,500 love letters, which were published in 1986 as Dear, Dear Brenda. (Worth noting that Dear, Dear Brenda was staged as a play in Russia a few years back, with Venus played by Olympic gymnast Svetlana Khorkina. According to her Wikipedia page, Brenda was invited to be the guest of Vladimir Putin at the premiere, which was held at the famed Moscow Art Theatre, home of Chekhov.)

Miller was an extremely gregarious man, known for holding court at frequent dinner parties he threw during the final two decades of his life spent in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the video below, you can be a fly on the wall during one of Miller’s dinners. “The Botticelli of Mississippi” is present at the author’s side. The Swiss poet and novelist who Miller is expounding on at length, and calls his “hero,” is Blaise Cendrars, who many considered the heir to Rimbaud. It’s probably a good idea to read the Wikipedia page on him before beginning this video, because he’s the main topic of conversation. Note that the conversation begins with Miller talking about how he’s hoping to win the Nobel prize (for the cash reward!) and where it ends up a half hour later.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Our Father, who art in Mordor…’: Hilarious reviews of Tolkien-themed prayer ring
07.22.2014
01:07 pm

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Christianity
J.R.R. Tolkien

ringalone
 
I’ve been far too engrossed by the amusingly vitriolic negative reviews of protein supplement shakes on Amazon and almost missed the gloriously geeky reviews of one of the most absurd products of all time:  a men’s black ring with the text of the Lord’s Prayer written in Elvish script.
 
ringdescription
 
According to Wikipedia: “The Tengwar are an artificial script created by J. R. R. Tolkien. In his fictional universe of Eä, the tengwar were invented by the Elf Fëanor, and used first to write the angelic tongue Valarin and the Elven tongues Quenya and Telerin. Later a great number of languages of Middle-earth were written using the tengwar, including Sindarin.” 

Here are a few highlights:

Exactly what I wanted. Lovely ring. Well made. I’m only giving it a 4, because it is a little uncomfortable. But my plans for world domination are now coming along quite nicely. The included power to command the wraiths has been very convenient.


Stainless? I don’t think so. This ring is supposedly stainless steel, but the mark it left on my soul will never be healed. Beware, my friend, beware.


Simply precious! I love this beautiful ring. It’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world. Although, ever since I’ve started wearing it, I feel like someone is stalking me. He follows me constantly, staring at me from the shadows, mumbling and hissing. He wants to take the ring.


I bought this ring as a weight-loss aid. I’m giving it only three stars, because while it did help me lose weight, it left me feeling thin, and stretched, like butter spread over too much bread.


Special Care Instructions. I found this ring to be of fantastic quality and very durable - at one point my friend had hit it with an ax with no noticeable damage. However, I would suggest the following tips when caring for this ring:

1. Keep it secret
2. Keep it safe


I keep mine in an envelope and this works very well.


Didn’t last very long. Wanted as family heirloom to last several generations unfortunately they neglect to list that it’s Not lava proof, #thoroughly disappointed.

Via io9.

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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The doodly Picasso faces of Norman Mailer
07.17.2014
08:07 am

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Art
Literature

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Norman Mailer
Pablo Picasso

Norman Mailer
 
Norman Mailer’s admiration for Pablo Picasso is well known; in 1995 he published a book, Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man: An Interpretive Biography about the modernist master.

According to Amy Weiss-Meyer at The New Republic, Mailer would frequently take his two daughters to what he called “the Church of MOMA,” where they often would find themselves admiring this or that Picasso masterpiece. He also loved to draw, and he commonly sent friends cute little doodles, many of them of the human face. According to Mailer’s daughter Danielle, drawing was a respite from writing, which was a laborious and taxing undertaking. Drawing, on the other hand, was simply fun for him, an escape into pure delight. A new online platform called POBA is hosting a good many of Mailer’s doodles, many of which are reproduced below.

This passage from J. Michael Lennon’s Norman Mailer: A Double Life mentions the doodles: “Most of his correspondents got Xerox copies of one of his drawings, doodles, and cartoons, and faces made of numbers, an idea he says he got from Picasso, who as a boy thought the number seven was an upside-down nose.”

As you can see, there’s a numerological facial portrait in the set, but Mailer opted to use a 1 for the nose, rather than a 7.
 
Norman Mailer
Parted Hair, 1985
 
Norman Mailer
Open Face, 1985
 
Norman Mailer
Ink on paper, 1974
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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