follow us in feedly
Jayne Mansfield reads the poetry of Shakespeare, Shelley, Browning and others


 
Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky & Me, Jayne Mansfield’s delicious album from 1963 or 1964 (depending on where you look), has never seen a CD release and it’s not available on the music streaming services I consulted. That scarcity has driven up the price: right now you can get a copy from Amazon.com for $60 and up.

Assessing Mansfield’s intelligence is something of a mid-20th-century parlor game. Quoting Wikipedia: “Frequent references have been made to Mansfield’s very high IQ, which she claimed was 163. She spoke five languages, including English. ... Reputed to be Hollywood’s ‘smartest dumb blonde’, she later complained that the public did not care about her brains: ‘They’re more interested in 40–21–35,’ she said.” Wasn’t there some meme about Jayne Mansfield enjoying the works of Immanuel Kant? Where did I get that from, some James Ellroy novel?

So how are her recitations of some of the greatest erotic poetry in the English language? Welllll, just fine, I think. I wouldn’t say she exactly reads them well—she reads them about the way you’d expect a big movie star to read them, crisply and evenly, perhaps a little too briskly. She brings a purr to the material that you wouldn’t probably get from current U.S. poet laureate Charles Wright, let’s say.

Here’s a track listing, followed by a clip of about six minutes from the album:
 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How Do I Love Thee”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Indian Serenade”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Good-Night”
Robert Herrick, “You Say I Love Not”
Henry Constable, “If This Be Love”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Lady’s ‘Yes’” -
Lord Byron, “She Walks In Beauty”
William Shakespeare, “Cleopatra”
Christopher Marlowe, “Was This The Face”
Joseph Beaumont, “Whiteness, Or Chastity”
Anonymous, “Madrigal”
Leigh Hunt, “Jenny Kiss’d Me”
Anonymous, “Verses Copied From The Window Of An Obscure Lodging House”
Thomas Otway, “The Enchantment”
Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Sheperd To His Love”
Robert Herrick, “Upon The Nipples Of Julia’s Breast”
Ben Jonson, “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”
Lord Byron, “The Lovers”
Robert Herrick, “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Inclusions”
William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old”
William Wordsworth, “Daffodils”
William Shakespeare, “Take, O, Take Those Lips Away”
Thomas Carew, “Mark How The Bashful Morn”
Anonymous, “Oh! Dear, What Can The Matter Be?”
Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Miller’s Daughter”
Charles Sackville, “The Fire Of Love”
Sir John Suckling, “The Constant Lover”
John Dryden, “Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow”
Thomas Moore, “Believe Me, If All Those Enduring Young Charms”
Anonymous, “Love Me Little, Love Me Long”

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Philip K. Dick on sex between humans and androids
09.10.2014
08:22 am

Topics:
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
Philip K. Dick
Blade Runner
philosophy


 
In 1981, Philip K. Dick discussed the ideas and themes behind his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in an interview with author Paul M. Sammon. Dick’s novel about a hired assassin (Rick Deckard) paid to eliminate escaped androids formed the basis for Ridley Scott’s classic science-fiction film Blade Runner. The story had its genesis in research for his novel The Man in the High Castle. Dick studied psychological studies on the mentality of the Germans who became Nazis and read how these Germans were often highly intelligent but emotionally “so defective that the word human could not properly be applied” to them.

This led Dick to a philosophical investigation into “the problem of differentiating the authentic human being from the reflex machine I call an android.” 

For me the word ‘android’ is a metaphor for people who are physiologically human but psychologically behaving in a non-human way.

This was a subject Dick discussed in a lecture on “The Android and the Human” in 1972:

...an android means, as I said, to allow oneself to become a means, or to be pounded down, manipulated, made into a means without one’s consent—the results are the same. But you cannot turn a human into an android if that human is going to break laws every chance he gets. Androidization requires obedience. And, most of all, predictability. It is precisely when a given person’s response to any given situation can be predicted with scientific accuracy that the gates are open for the wholesale production of the android life form.

 
	01pkdpic.jpg
Philip K. Dick.
 
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Dick developed the idea of “androidization” further when he considered what would happen in a war between humans and androids—would humans become more android-like if they won?

This emotional interplay between humans and androids was also examined in the relationship between Deckard and the android Rachael Rosen, which Dick discussed in “Notes on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968):

And this brings up the whole underlying subject: sexual relations between humans and androids. What is it like? What does it mean? Is it, for instance, like going to bed with a real woman? Or is it an awful, nightmarish, bad trip, where what is dead and inert seems alive and warm and capable of the most acute intimacy known to living creatures? Isn’t this, this sexual union between Rick Deckard and Rachael Rosen—isn’t it the summa of falsity and mechanical motions carried out minus any real feeling, as we understand the word? Feeling on each of their parts. Does in fact her mental—and physical—coldness numb the male, the human man, into an echo of it?

...[Deckard’s] relationship, by having intercourse with her, has melded him to—not an individual, human or android—but to a whole type or model, of which theoretically, there could be tens of thousands. To whom, then, has he really given his erotic libido?

...Here, I think, the crucial questions of What is reality? and What is illusion? come up strongly….The more Rick strives to force her to become a woman—or, more accurately, to play the role of a woman—the more he encounters the core of the unlife within her…his attempt to make love to her as a woman for him is defeated by the tireless core of her electronic being.

Dick postulates that the failure of their lovemaking “may be vital in his determination—and success—in destroying the last of these andys.”

In this interview, Dick discusses some of these key questions about what is reality? what is human?
 

 
Thomas M. Disch once said that his friend Philip K. Dick liked to play-up the image of the hard-done-to artist, struggling in the garret, living off ground-up horse meat (which supposedly led Dick to translate his name into “Horselover Fat”—Philip Greek for horse lover, Dick German for fat), but things were never really that bad. However, he agreed America gave short-shrift to speculative science-fiction writers, and was grateful for the adulation and serious critical appraisal both received in Europe.

In 1977, Philip K. Dick was interviewed for French television where he discussed the problems of being a speculative science-fiction writer in America, as well as many of the philosophical ideas behind his works.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Cool minimalist cover art for the new James Bond 007 audiobooks
09.04.2014
07:43 am

Topics:
Books
Literature
Media

Tags:
James Bond
007


 
Good news for Bond fans from SpyVibe:

The Reloaded editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, read by prominent British actors, was re-released yesterday in the US by Blackstone Audio. The collapse of AudioGo last year had Bond fans clambering for out-of-print CDs and box sets, but Ian Fleming Publications was able to strike a deal with Blackstone to keep the recordings in circulation. Each 007 title is available in CD, download, and MP3 CD editions.

The “prominent British actors” reading the novels include the likes of David Tennent, Kenneth Branagh, Rosamund Pike (who acted in the Bond film Die Another Day), and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, among many others. The new audiobooks also sport some extremely cool geometric/abstract cover art. If the artwork looks familiar, it should—these abstractions were used by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer paperback series of the Ian Fleming novels just a couple of years ago. In addition to issuing the new series, Blackstone is also keeping in print a series of Bond audiobooks from 2009, read by the acclaimed narrator and voice actor Simon Vance. That series had a cheesecakey, retro-kitsch cover design scheme, which we thought would be fun to A/B with the new ones—the contrast is awfully stark.
 


Octopussy
 
 


Casino Royale
 
 


You Only Live Twice
 
 


The Spy Who Loved Me
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
The creepy fantasies that inspired John Fowles’ novel ‘The Collector’

Acollectorcoevrfowles.jpg
 
John Fowles was a 37-year-old school teacher when his first novel The Collector was published in 1963. Though Fowles had been writing for fifteen years completing two novels and an early draft of his second book The Magus, he considered himself “unpublishable.” Then he started work on an idea about a man who kidnaps a young art student and keeps her imprisoned in the basement of his home.  Fowles wrote the book in about a month, and thinking he had nothing to lose sent the manuscript off to his agent, Michael S. Howard who liked it and passed it on to the publishers Jonathan Cape. Tom Maschler at Cape thought The Collector a powerful and impressive debut, but was concerned that Fowles (who thought of himself a “serious writer”) may damage his reputation with such a lurid and disturbing tale. Fowles was adamant—he wanted the book published under his own name.

Anyone familiar with The Collector may have wondered what inspired Fowles’ grim tale. In a letter written to Maschler in July 1962, the author explained his sources in writing the novel:

...all this came from a newspaper incident of some years ago (there was a similar case in the North of England last year, by the way). But the whole idea of the woman-in-the-dungeon has interested me since I saw Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which was before the air-raid shelter case.

 
9collectorposter9.jpg
Film poster for ‘The Collector’ starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, 1965.
 
The news story Fowles mentioned concerned “a man who had kidnapped a girl and imprisoned her for several weeks in an air-raid shelter at the bottom of his garden.”

While the musical reference Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle (1911) told the story of Duke Bluebeard who warns his new bride Judith not to open any of the seven doors in his castle. Impelled by curiosity, Judith opens each of the seven doors finding behind the first a torture chamber and behind the last, the ghosts of Bluebeard’s previous wives.
 
4collectorstamp4.jpg
Terence Stamp as butterfly collector Frederick Clegg.
 
However, there was far darker, more personal and disturbing inspiration for the novel, which Fowles explained in his journal entry for February 3rd, 1963:

The Collector. The three sources.

One. My lifelong fantasy of imprisoning a girl underground.

I think I must go back to early in my teens. I remember it used to be famous people Princess Margaret, various film stars. Of course, there was a sexual motive; the love-through-knowledge motive, or motif, has also been constant. The imprisoning in other words, has always been a forcing of my personality as well as my penis on the girl concerned.

Variations I can recall: the harem (several girls in one room, or in a row of rooms); the threat (this involves sharing a whip, but usually not flagellation—the idea of exerted tyranny, entering as executioner); the fellow-prisoner (this by far the commonest variation: the girl is captured and put naked into the underground room; I then have myself put in it, as if I am a fellow-prisoner, and so avoid her hostility).

Another common sexual fantasy is the selection board: I am given six hundred girls to choose fifty from and so on. These fantasies have long been exteriorized in my mind, of course; certainly I use the underground-room one far less since The Collector.

Two, the air-raid shelter incident.

Three, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

 
3collectoreggar3.jpg
Samantha Eggar as art student Miranda Grey.
 
Fowles separated The Collector into three sections, where the captor (Frederick Clegg) and his prisoner (Miranda Grey) describe the events of the book. It begins with Clegg describing the subject of his obsession:

When she was home from her boarding-school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Hall Annexe. She and her younger sister used to go in and out a lot, often with young men, which of course I didn’t like, When I had a free moment from the files and ledgers I stood by the window and used to look down over the road over the frosting and sometimes I’d see her. In the evening I marked it in my observations diary, at first with X, and then when I knew her name with M. I saw her several times outside too. I stood right behind her once in queue at the public library down Crossfield Street. She didn’t look once at me, but I watched the back of her head and her hair in a long pigtail. It was very pale, silky, like burnet cocoons. All in one pigtail coming down almost to her waist, sometimes in front, sometimes at back. Sometimes she wore it up. Only once, before she came to be my guest here, did I have the privilege to see her with it loose, and it took my breath away it was so beautiful, like a mermaid.

 
2collectorstampeggar2.jpg
Clegg (Stamp) and Miranda (Egggar) in William Wyler’s film version of ‘The Collector.’
 
Fowles’ intention was not just to write a horror story, but to use the characters of Clegg and Miranda as conduits for his own analysis and critique of modern society, in particular his contempt for the lack of intellectual rigor in contemporary fiction—the Angry Young Men who had so forcefully invaded with John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger—and for the failure of socialism to bring equality and change to Britain:

The plot of the novel was:

1. present a character who was inarticulate and nasty, as opposed to the “good” inarticulate hero, who seems to be top dog in post-war fiction and whose inarticulateness is presented as a kind of crowning glory.

2. present a character who is articulate and intelligent—the kind of young person I try to make Miranda Grey—and who is quite clearly a better person because she has a better education.

3. attack the money-minus-morality society (the affluent, the acquisitive) we have lived in since 1951.

On its publication, The Collector was a best-seller. The paperback rights were optioned for “probably the highest price that had hitherto been paid for a first novel”.  The film rights were sold and a movie starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar was made in Hollywood and London directed by William Wyler.
 

 
In 1984, The Smiths used a still of Terence Stamp as Clegg from The Collector on the cover of thier single “What Difference Does It Make?” As the actor had not given permission for the image to be used, the single was quickly reissued with Morrissey copying Stamp’s original pose—though a glass of milk had replaced the chloroform.
 
7collectorsmithstamp7.jpg
Terence Stamp as Clegg on the cover of The Smiths single ‘What Difference Does It Make?’
 
9collectorsmithsmozz9.jpg
Morrissey as Clegg on the reissued single.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘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
follow us in feedly
‘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.
 
baltenegj.jpg
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.

 
balcofalwint1.jpg
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
follow us in feedly
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
follow us in feedly
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
follow us in feedly
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
follow us in feedly
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
follow us in feedly
Page 2 of 39  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›