Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Post Thanksgiving Post

Hope my American friends' got their winter holidays off to a proper start. I read this nice little Adam Gopnik essay (see below) on the day we had a little Thanksgiving here in Osaka. Every year a dear friend manages to pull together expats from allover along with Japanese friends for a taste of America. Like everything that enters Japan, it takes on traits of Japan. The vast table always includes some sushi as well as seasonal Japanese fare. And of course the Kiwis bring lamb and an Aussie gives a cornbread recipe a go.

Anyway, this Gopnik essay made me again realize how much this holiday (especially in its current form out here) means to me. Of course, the essay is way bigger than my little world. But much like the holiday we recently enjoyed, I think there's a potential here for Americans, and all people of the world, to see in themselves. Here's to hoping we can keep the dream.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Actual Post! (Well, Ramblings) Tree of Life Is Finally Out in Japan!

Watching Tree of Life on Saturday I was constantly reminded of how much I enjoyed this film for many of the same reason I couldn't stand Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3. I wasn't sure why I kept thinking about Barney's film, which I hadn't seen since 2002. But now I think it has to do with 3 points:

1. Both films deal (to some degree) with progeny, particularly patriarchs.
2. Both films rely heavily on metaphor and symbol
3. Both films are considered (perhaps because of point 2) difficult and "artsy"

I also feel that these films share point 2 (and perhaps 3 as well) with a lot of poetry I like and dislike.  (Ok, this sounds really complicated now, but I think it will get easier now that that's out of the way. Bear with me.)

To start with, let's look at Malick's Tree of Life. Now my interpretation of the film is that it is about trying to understand why God has made the world as it is, a conflicting place of love and strife. If God loves us, why put us through pain? Why allow us to cause others pain? In the end, (again my interpretation) Malick suggests it is so we may experience mercy. So that we may have gain grace by understanding and choosing it. Not a new interpretation of the Old Testament, but new way of showing it and conveying his feelings on it.

Malick chooses a complicated metaphor to surround this story of a family dealing with a death: the birth and death of the universe. A challenging, but fitting metaphor. First, we see the birth of the universe as something grace and the birth of life (nature) as something violent. Life devouring life to evolve. Then there is this long scene of the two dinosaurs meeting on the river. The predator pins it's weak prey. (Survival of the fittest: his prey buddies got out of there while he slept.) But the predator waits, seems to think and doubt, then walks away. I think this is meant to be the first act of mercy, and the beginning of a new image of life. (Hence the destruction of the dinosaurs; destruction as a form of evolution, not of a species but of life.) Later, as the movie closes, we see the Earth being devoured by the Sun as it grows into a red giant. Again, destruction is the only response to evolution, but with the promise of life renewing.

Now as complicated as Malick's Tree of Life is, his images and metaphors (the above mentioned as well as those involved with the main plot of the family) are chosen and shaped to revolve around a center, the conflict and the emotional response the artist is trying to share with his viewers. The metaphors and images of the film are used as tools to make the viewer feel. Reading the above paragraph is not moving, but watching this film attentively is very moving. 

Barney in Cremaster 3 (according to fans I've spoken to who have read the viewers guide to the film and to my own interpretation) deals with evolution from one generation to the next. Barney overtaking his father among other powers overtaking a predecessor. Now, Barney's film is not very loving compared to Malick's--it is violent and the victor is often the one willing to lose something of grace (i.e. cheat, destroy, etc.)--but that is not important. Both concepts are sound and can be moving, whether to sadness or fear or anger; art is meant to make one feel, but what it makes you feel is up to the artist. But what I find troubling in Barney's film, is that he chooses his images not to create a center, but to confuse the observer. One example that comes to mind is the car fight scene, you can find it spread out in scenes of the video below:

Now the center car, as best I remember, is a model that was built the same year Barney's father was born, and the surrounding cars were built when Barney himself were born. So they are supposed to represent, I suppose, the child rebelling. And the dead woman returning to life inside the old car? Apparently, therise of Japan as an industrial superpower. Now, what is one supposed to feel here? All I really get, from a raw take and after conversing with Barney fans, is confusion. The symbols and images are chosen to be obscure and codified to not only an educated few, but an educated few willing to research the Barney's choices outside of just watching the film.

I guess in what I'm trying to say, in what's become a pseudo-review (and very hastily thought out at that), is that complicated art can be beautiful. But to complicate your art on purpose (to choose complication not as a way to more fully express your vision, but as a means of "muddying the waters" of it) has no place in art.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Iggy Pop Pulls It Off

I think watching this video can give people an idea of how it was perceived in '78 and how Baudelaire was perceived in 1857. Particularly love that we have some cowboy hats here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Datamoshing

I've seen a few of these videos before I realized it's a fast growing artform. I love it: the strange feelings it gives seeing glitches made into a new piece of work; the mix of past--be it old video footage (my current favorite) or the exploitation of what was once a common error in an earlier Internet and earlier browsers--and the obscure. Have a look. (Warning: the video below really shouldn't be seen by children. Obviously--from the still--there is some sexual content, but the visual effects themselves would have freaked a younger Steven Breyak. (I was pretty sensitive.))

It's like visual hip-hop. With a lot of psychedelics going on. If you like, check out Youtube, and please share some thoughts here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Pyramids

Our Twin Galaxy

My Home Country

Take that Khufu!

Check out the article about our twin galaxy. (That's a real image by the way. Taken by telescope... in Chile!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

All Praise The Writer's Almanac

Today, and not for the first time, I heard an amazing poem read through the amazing voice of Garrison Keillor. This radio program has been essential to me as a writer and a person. Not only for its often wonderful choices in poetry (both well-known and young writers) but also its fantastic scope in its daily history report. Here's the poem I heard today that made me realize I haven't given Anne Sexton enough of my time. If you are new to Writer's Almanac, bless you. Have a look; have a listen. Subscribe to the podcast.

Although in the past, I've disagreed with some of their political biases--which seem to have cleared up since the Bush era ended--they often put together an amazing few minutes of beauty. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Example of a Lazy Post

Just to give you a taste. Here's a band I'm sure you all heard of before me. But thanks to Sam for letting me in on the cool crowd. Anyway, like I said: lazy. I'm going to let Yuck do the rest of the work.


Aaaah! I've been avoiding this for years. I think I'm the last living poet to throw together a blog for the sake of self-marketing. I would love to say that it had to do with some moral standing, but I really have been... Well, busy and lazy and not looking forward to updating a blog.

(Not a very good salesman am I?)

Truth is: I want you (Yes, you!) to pay attention to the things I make. And the best way for me to make sure you get to my work is to set up this little blog of me as an advertisement. So here goes.

So far you can find links to most of written work available online over there to your right. It's mostly poetry, with one or two variations in the mix. I'm hoping to explore some other creative avenues, old and new, in the near future. As I do I'll be sure to put them up here.

As I mentioned, I'm a lazy blog poster. (You may remember this ghost cybertown.) So I'm going to try something new. Well, new for me. I'm going to just throw some random posts of things I find interesting up here from time to time to keep you from hating me. Will write ideas as they come if they fit the blog-vein. (And yes, that is my word, "blog-vein" and no you can't use it unless you can type that weird little copyright symbol followed by my name after each use.)