Saturday, February 24, 2007

The unexamined life

Sigmund Freud - Werner Horvath

I spend the day reading one of yesterday's acquisitions, The Interpretation of Murder, by Jed Rubenfield. It tells a fictional, psycho-analytical, detective story: shrouded in the actual people and events that surrounded Sigmund Freud's one trip to America, in 1909.

I had to choose between A M Homes, This Book Will Save Your Life (which I desperately want to like in a cult book way and am terrified that I won't) and the book I chose on Freud. In the end, I decided by reading the first pages. I enjoyed it, despite the fact that it hinges on Freud, who is not one my favourites. It made mincemeat of Jung, too, presenting him as an arrogant nutter, which may or may not be true. I think what I liked most about the book though, was that the author was not afraid to poke fun of himself and his central idea. He's got a great website, too, which I haven't seen before in many books for grown-ups.

The Heights are silent, but for music, and the incidental soundtrack of life: taps running, kettles boiling etc. I am engaged in a television amnesty. What I really want is a silence - mine - but this is too hugely impractical. If I cannot engage in emitting no sound, then I will engage instead in omitting sound, or at least as much as the NSNs allow - these people puzzle me deeply, when I am prompted to think of them at all: it seems they can do nothing quietly, not even being quiet.

This morning, before my silent readathon, I brave the world to return the films my sister and I borrowed. I watch The Last Kiss with/by Zach Braff, but am disappointed with it. There is something too saccherine, too clean about it that I don't believe and don't want to. Even though the happy ending is cute. I didn't like what they did to Rachel Bilson: her character felt like a cardboard cut-out.

I like the quote from the film that the Chief pointed out to me earlier in the week: If you never give up, you can't fail.

Although, I'm not sure if it's technically correct. What if you were buried alive?

Here's an interview with Mika, and one of the many great cheesy songs on his great cheesy album.

Friday, February 23, 2007

the most beautiful silence never heard. Bukowski

On the way home from Emsworth, where we spend the morning book-shopping, we pass an ice-cream van sitting patiently waiting for trade in the pouring rain. This is the definition of optimism, I think.

I find a poem by Billy Collins on YouTube called 'The Dead.' It is a new concept to me to animate poems, but it's one I like.

Bean prefers his poem, 'Forgetfulness.' He says he can relate to it more.

We both agree, however, that you can't go wrong with Bukowski. This is taken from the film, Born Into This, which I'm not sure you can get in the UK yet. It is an edited version of a poem called Dinosauria, We. (The link here takes you to a site advertising a documentary on Bukowski, called Born Into This).

It has been a peace-full day, at least outside of my mind. And I have many new books.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Words are very unnecessary?

Danny Dyer, the best thing in Severance after Laura Harris

Writers should not be short on words. Yet I am. I come to the blog over the last few days and the best I can give are the words of other people or a snapshot of my own. Fortunately, no one has complained yet, or picketed my house demanding a return to the old content, although this could be of course, because they have stopped reading altogether!

I'll hope not.

Over the last week, my creative work has taken the famous long walk off the infamous short pier and when I haven't been struggling over a blank page, I've been struggling over a blank blog screen! The only place I can work well at present is the Ministry and that work - whilst also of enormous and unquantifiable benefit to the residents for whom I pledged to serve - has been a welcome escape into professional research and writing.

Creatively, though, I believe more firmly in denial than I do in writer's block (writer's of unusual wordlessness? - I don't think they exist). My struggle with the blank pages is more to do with not knowing what to say than it is with not having anything to say. The blog has been neglected over this week, but sometimes, just sometimes, mind, other things are more important.

My addiction to YouTube, Spaced and all things Shaun of the Dead lives on, though today my sister and I lived through a movie double bill of Severance - which was surprisingly impressive and funny, and which introduced us to a new sweet London face, Danny Dyer - and the terrible, funny-in-all-the-wrong-ways Wicker Man remake with Nicholas Cage, which really shouldn't have got that far. What is Hollywood's obsession with remaking films that were better the first time round?

Later, I watched a film very like the soon to be released, The Illusionist, with a very bearded and attractive Edward Norton - he was in the film, I wasn't watching it with him, I watched it with my brother and the Bean. This was a beautifully filmed story teller of a film. I'd recommend. I also recommend the Hot Fuzz website as a place to relax and unwind with your favourite British celebrities, or my favourite, to be precise.

And in case you're missing your daily dose of culture, here's Plath with some loneliness and fury:

Monologue at 3am, Sylvia Plath
Better that every fiber crack
and fury make head,
blood drenching vivid
couch, carpet, floor
and the snake-figured almanac
vouching you are
a million green counties from here,

than to sit mute, twitching so
under prickling stars,
with stare, with curse
blackening the time
goodbyes were said, trains let go,
and I, great magnanimous fool, thus wrenched from
my one kingdom.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wednesday Song

Falling Girl by JMonzani at deviantart

There are many ways to catch someone who is falling:

The sister reaches for her sister’s hand.
The woman in the office sees a tear and offers her shoulder.
The part-time colleague sings, recites a poem, in perfect time.
A stranger’s hand, extended.

There are many ways to fall:

Un-noticed, uncomplaining.
Uptight, wedged–in, unable to say one word:
Screaming til the neighbours hear
Not knowing that you fall at all.

In my heart, a grain of fear becomes as large as a planet,
it mingles with my history:
creates a tide, a shore, an ocean.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Never Give Up

Anger by Stephen Dunn

A good thing, the experts say, the getting it out. I know they're right. The few big times I've exhibited it, I felt spent and righteously clean. A grudge is more my style, weeks, months of resentment silently borne. At my worst, after quarrels, I've kept it in and let it mix with any old bitterness it could find. When it finally emerged—stunted, timed, cruelly calm—I was no one's decent man. But I'm seldom at my worst and can only envy the brilliantly angry in books and in films. I can't bear anyone routinely angry, anyone with a childhood untamed. In truth, I prefer the manners of those who keep most things to themselves. We're unable to entertain opposites when we're angry. We're so bloody dull. Everything I love about the mind disappears. I choose my friends by the quality of their hesitations, their ability to be ambivalent about the smallest things. Harm anyone I love, though, and I'll seek you out and break you fucking in two. I'd at least want to. I'd certainly understand anyone who would.