Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 14 - 24, 2008

Fischli and Weiss The Way Things Go
Jeremy Millar
2007, hardcover
18 cards

Fischli and Weiss are amazing. Joel and Amanda told me all about them this past summer after they say an exhibition of their work in Europe. Then MoCAD had their work Questions in the brilliant Words Fail Me exhibition. Their Manifesto is also a great addition to any wall and life. This spring Joel and Amanda saw Fischli and Weiss's The Way Things Go again at the Hirshorn and picked up the DVD version of it (available on Netflix even now). This book focuses on The Way Things Go exploring why and how is fascinates in a way that expands this work in exciting directions. The book starts from observation and experience of the work in museum and people's reactions, a rich terrain upon which to build while never reducing the work's "purposeless purposiveness".

Some brief notes from my cards and reading:
-Opens with a Wittgenstein quote
-Der Lauf der Dinge (The Ways Things Go)
2- clapping
-"Even in our was clear that we had watched something great."
3- "...It was a little frightening, being moved like this..."
4- "what makes it popular also makes it good"
-Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy, 1759
-connection to Fischli and Weiss's 1984 Equilibres
8- "Our traditional means of formal analysis seems unable to deal with works, such as those, that are less concerned with external appearance than with 'internal' conceptual coherence."
9- gravity
10- procede- Raymond Roussel
-Roussel, near-neighbor of the Prousts
11- Duchamp- Roussel- The Large Glass
12- "As with Fischli and Weiss, a rigorous play is fundamental to Roussel's practice."
-Parmi Les Noirs, 1935- identical phrases- single letter- different meanings
15- Kierkegaard "Boredom is the root of all evil."
17- change
20- anticipation
-"Everywhere things are transformed into actions, nouns become verbs."
21- illustrations by Wiliam Heath Robinson
-Frederick Winslow Taylor
23- Esperanto
24- Futurists
27- " seems to be both an anticipation of the birth of time and memory of its end. But where does that place us?"
28- Archytas of Tarentum- 4th c. BCE- treatise on place
29- Focillon- "'a work of art treats space according to its own needs, defines space and even creates such space as may be necessary to it.'"
32- Henri Bergson- Creative Evolution
-the concrete solution
33- Bergson, time
34- waiting- humor
- Creative Evolution- influence on Marcel Proust
36- interventions
37-38- epic and anti-epic
55- "It becomes a part of time not apart from it."
-Bruno Schulz- "Our creators will not be heroes of romances in many volumes. Their roles will be short, concise; their characters- without a background. Sometimes, for one gestures, for one word along, we shall make the effort to bring them to life."
57- Bakhtin- laughter and the epic
59- the Incongruity Tradition
-1981 film, The Least Resistance, rat and bear costumes
60- 1979 sausage series
61- At the Carpet Shop- gherkins
66- Peter Fischli, "Operating on two planes at once is part of our practice."
-Koestler- impersonator
67- Baudrillard, The System of Objects, 1968
-machines and perfection
70- The Way Things Go- "...objects do no more than they need to, no more than they are able."
-simple object, technology
-familiar and unexpected
-Bergson, Le Rire, 1900
71- automatism and life
73- "Balance is most beautiful just before it collapses."
75- rigidity
76- pause
-timing, comedy
77-78- Kant- "laughter as 'an affection arising from the strained expectation being suddenly reduced to nothing.'"
80- "purposeless purposiveness"
81- seeing how it was made
82- "of the smile rather than the laugh"
-"smile of wonder"
83- "This smile is not ours alone, but sits with quiet benevolence on the faces of the artists too... Just as one can hear the smile in the voice of someone talking over the phone, so one can see it in Fischli and Weiss's artworks."
-"one can produce wonder only if one succeeds"
-place of wonder in their practice
84- St. Augustine
107- Fragen (Questions), relationship to Daston and Park Questiones naturals of Adelard of Bath
87- David Weiss, "There is a reason why the Pyramids are famous. When you go there, no matter how many photographs you've seen of them before, you realize that the Pyramids are unique and that you don't understand them..."
89- the sublime

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 15 - 23, 2008

Master of Reality
John Darnielle
2008, paperback
4 cards

This is another fabulous book in the 33 1/3 series. While the Patti Smith book would have been the next title I purchased I bought this one about Black Sabbath's Master of Reality. This was the first time I've never heard the album one of these books covers, but now I'm ready to hear it. John Danielle (from the Mountain Goats) lives in my town so he gave a book reading at our wonderful independent bookstore. This is perhaps one of the best books to ever hear an author read aloud, particularly because of pages 1, 2 and 3. Now I have my own copy!

10- covers of albums
11 "my favorite tape which is also my favorite LP"
12- "But there were barely any stories."
14- anti-social workers
17- "drew a picture of the cover of Master of Reality, 'What is reality?'"
30- "So I want to tell you what the song means TO ME. This is different from what the song is really about. There is so much more to it!"
39- "But when something is secret, or half secret, or hidden in some, it becomes cooler for me."
40- "I wish I had somebody to talk to about it who could understand."
42- "I have to say you are not really even alive unless you have done that. Sat in the dark with a tape you love and other people do not understand and just kicked back with it."
46- FTW
47- Halloween
-not forgetting
54-55- talking to each other without knowing it
74- "You circle around a song trying to find out why it's bothering you, why the feelings that come out of you are what they are instead of something else. Or why sometimes there aren't any feelings just a numbness."
80- "I wish they'd conduct a national poll to find out who feels out of place and who doesn't."
81- "we can see people like us"
83- "it's like listening to the inside of your mind"
-"when they try to write a love song it always ends up being about getting rejected before anything really got started"
"They are just rags. All they have is themselves, but that's turned out to be enough. For them."
90- The Who- dancing at parties
95- 8 vs. 12
97- "It was like I'd found the part of the album that had never been taken away from me because there was no way anybody could really possess it."
99- sewing their clothes
101- "That's why I loved those people who couldn't help me."

May 13 - 22, 2008

dean young
paperback, 2007
7 cards

This book arrived as one of the titles in the McSweeney's Book Club. I was in grad school when it arrived and then I moved, but finally I picked this brilliant volume of poetry up. Dean Young twists words into amazing, vivid, fabulous phrases and ideas. From robot monkeys to the pround, this collection is truly wonderful. Don't delay in reading it like me.

15- "Dachshunds!"
"What am I but the intersection of these loves?"
-"Mexican animal crackers!"
17- "my nightmares are your confetti"
20- "I want to get as close as possible to rain without actually being in it"
"I would rather spend an hour with a dying squirrel than tour a cathedral."
22- "Erik Satie's birthday comes and goes and barely a notice on public radio."
-"Hours in front of the mirror, still the mirror forgets. Hours in front of the mirror, now you're all reflection."
24- tambourines
25- "The immortals torn from the grooves like cancelled stamps from envelopes, the message carried within no longer known."
28- "primarily by zigzags like a poem, bunny moves"
29- "...the doubleness of being one place but feeling you are another is solely a human blessing/curse..."
30- "a twice-met person"
31- "Mallarme...his poems seem not so much written as evaporated."
33- "There must be a point where a broken thing can be broken no more. Probably, we need protection from each other."
34- "...and my dreams remain attached to me by silver thumbtacks..."
36- "The sea seemingly a constant to the naked eye is one long goodbye, perpetually the tide recedes, beaches dotted with debris. Unto each is given a finite number of addresses, ditties to dart the heart to its moments of sorrow and swoon."
-tuna melt and waiting
37- "Probably worthless but it is my heart so take it"
40- giraffe
-"some things can't be bought, they can only be paid for"
42- "There is a time for tinsel, and it is not now.:
43- "So much life we cannot have or find or repeat yet so much we had and found."
44- "mark permanent on the heart"
47- "One attempts to be significant on a grand scale in the knockdown battle of life but settles"
63- Basquiat
65- "Why am I so afraid of nothingness?"
66- "The second CD only the witlessly bored watch."
69- "For a while I was in danger of becoming someone who gets up in the middle of the night to make sure the flashlight in the drawer is off then I found the giraffe!"
71- babies
73- middle
75- "Yellow pencils composing odes to birdlife, mostly wrens"
76- "Every bird knows only two notes constantly rearranged"
"We make paper hats of headlines and float them away."
-"my favorite poem is cinder scratched into a sidewalk"
81- Ant Farm's Cadillac Ranch
89- "The nighttime is no time to undertake a search yet that is when we begin and sometimes must end..."
92- "Hurdy gurdy, says the world feeling a wee cranky"
-"the people who haven't found out won't a while longer"
96- "smaller and smaller the sea bashes everything until viola: sand"
"even though everyone already knows is death a secret that must be told and told?"
"Every sunset is a crease"
100- Jean Tinguely
101- "Poetry is an art of beginnings and ends. You want middles, read novels. You want happy endings, read cookbooks."
"We go to art to learn the unlearnable, experience the unexperienceable."
-"Put your trust in the inexhaustible nature of the murmur, Breton said that"
103- "So while in Italy, see as many Caravaggios as you can and I will look here in my bushes and grocery store."
105- shoe prints
"no cloud without tears, how it smells like iron then it rains and rains and rains"

May 16, 2008

All Tomorrow's Parties Billy Names' Photographs of Andy Warhol's Factory
Hardcover, 1997
3 cards

Billy Name is someone you might not know by name, but it was he who covered Warhol's first factory in silver, and he who took many of the iconic photographs. While his black and white photographs are well known (one of a tattoo was the cover for the Velvet Underground album White Light, White Heat is just one of many) this book presents his color photographs.

Naming the Colours essay by Dave Hickey
10- (Name's black and white photographs)- "instant classics"- "they have subsequently become exactly what Warhol intended them to be: official icons in the public imagination, ravishingly seductive advertisements for the corporate culture of the factory...these photographs get it exactly wrong themselves, as advertisements."
12- (end of 1968)- "the self-conscious sense of living in the midst of history and very near the end of it"
-Max's, speed freaks scribbling in notebooks
13 "Because colour is vision's amphetamine...the attribute of seeing that kills history, abolishes its aura and delivers us into the embodied present."
"Thus, in an image, it can deliver us, insofar as an image can, not into the grisaille tissue of the past, but into the flash and differentiation of an alternative present/"
14- "Because colours gives us more than characters in a setting, it gives us people with spaces between them."
A Talk with Billy Name, Collier Schorr
17- Meeting Andy
18- "It was almost as if the Factory became a big box camera- you'd walk into it, expose yourself and develop yourself."
19- "The Factory was a very functional place- the only qualifications were that you had some specialty, some beauty or some talent."
20- "We never bought anything. The funny thing is, you didn't need money then."
21- "I'm very much interested in portraiture, not only of people but of space, or people in spaces. I was interested in using angles to make the structure evident."
21- listening to Motown music at the Factory
24- "Film began to turn into art and that's what Andy became fascinated with."
26- Velvet Underground cover

May 6, 2008

in The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Paperback, Modern Library edition, 2000
4 cards

This is the first time I have read anything by Ralph Waldo Emerson. While this is just one essay of many it might be a while before I finish the whole book so I thought I would post my cards about this essay since it had a great effect on me. An Emerson reading group is trying to form where I live so I figured I would give it a try. I haven't yet made it to a meeting but I feel like I've benefited already just by reading this essay. Emerson makes many excellent points about the need to think one's own thoughts and to write. While one could take his notion of Self-Reliance too far these days, the points he raises are particularly interesting in light of the global world in which we live.

132- "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
133- "...envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide"
"none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he had tried."
-"Trust thyself."
134- "These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members."
-"Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs."
135- "Your goodness must have some edge to it- else it is none."
136- to live
-"My life is for itself and not for a spectacle."
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think."
-"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
-"But do your work, and I shall know you."
138- "...with consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
-"To be great is to be misunderstood."
139- "See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency."
-"Greatness appeals to the future."
140- "a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things. Where he is, there is nature."
-"all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons."
141- intuition
142- worshipping the past- "The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and authority of the soul."
143- "If we live truly, we shall see truly."
-"Fear and hope are alike beneath it."
145- "We must go alone."
146- to live in truth
147 "...he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances."
149- (travelling)- "the wise man stays at home"
150- "Insist on yourself; never imitate."
"Every great man is unique."
"Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
153- "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

April 22 - May 13, 2008

Autobiography of Red
Anne Carson
1999, hardcover
16 cards

Autobiography of Red was recommended to me by someone who has pointed me in the direction of brilliantly fabulous books. Anne Carson is an amazing writer. She chooses words and combines them in ways that delight and surprise, and also more. Her fascination with and command of language proves what can be done with language. Other writers in comparison often only arrange letters.

Some excerpts/points of interest:
3- Gertrude Stein quote
-words bouncing
4 "Nouns name the world. Verbs activate the names. Adjectives come from somewhere else."
-"These small imported mechanisms are in charge of attaching everything in the worlds to its place in particularity. They are the latches of being."
22- Emily Dickinson, "Can human nature not survive without a listener?"
-"The only secret people keep is Immortality."
23- (stones) "To stop and imagine the life of each one!"
26- "A space for its meaning remained there but blank. The letters themselves could be found hung on branches of furniture in the area."
28- "Facts are bigger in the dark"
36- He would remember when he was past forty the dusty almost medieval smell of the screen itself as it pressed its grid onto his face."
39- "They were two superior eels at the bottom of the tank and they recognized each other like italics."
42- map
43-"'How does distance look?' is a simple direct question, It extends from a spaceless within to the edge
of what can be loved. It depends on light."
46- "Sometimes a journey makes itself necessary."
48- "He could feel the house of sleepers around him like loaves on shelves."
49- toast and death
51- "Red Patience"
55- painting
56- "Nothing to say. Nothing."
58- "Why are you along in this huge blank garden like a piece of electricity?"
59- Barnum circus
61- Krakatoa
65- " is a way of playing with perceptual relationships."
-stars, memories
66- "...nobody knows how to look at a photograph nowadays."
70- "Huge wads of silence stuffed the air."
72- yellowing index card
73- donuts
-Muhammad Ali, poems
75- slide projector
80- 15 names for clouds
-"What is time made of?"
82- Heidegger, postcards
90- "It is an abstraction. Just a meaning that we impose upon motion."
92- "White is black. Black is white. Perhaps I will get some new information about Red."
93- time, photographs
94- olives
-"Children make you see distances."
97- slippery foods
98- "Empty street below gave back nothing of itself. Cars nested along the curb on their shadows. Buildings leaned back out of the street."
-"sleeping pavement"
103- nothing
105- Philosophic problems, red
106- Walt Whitman
109- wings
120- water tank
125- "trying to think how to photograph Lima"
131- "Human Valentines"
139- "I am a beast"
141- time
145- Photographs #1748
-"The Only Secret People Keep"
148- blinking, blindness

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 8 - 10, 2008

If You're Feeling Sinister
Scott Plagenhoef
From the fabulous 33 1/3 series
Paperback, 2007
8 cards

I have always been fond of Belle & Sebastian. The characters in the songs tapped into bits about how I felt in high school, the people they sung about were the people I wanted to be friends with, but in a town with one stoplight, they weren't too many like them around. I didn't hear Belle & Sebastian in high school though, if I had, they would have been much like R.E.M. for me. I remember Automatic for the People allowed me to realize there are interesting people out there, they think some of the same things you do, that it can get really interesting out there in the world, and there's lots to discover. I first borrowed B&S cds while working at an ad agency. I enjoyed them but the quest to know more about them didn't grip me. Their new cds came out and I enjoyed them. Then a few years ago something caused me to go back and listen more closely to certain songs, particularly Sinister's "Get Me Away from Here I'm Dying." I saw them a few years ago live in Detroit. I love Belle & Sebastian now, but I still didn't know as much as I should. Thanks to Scott Plagenhoef though now some of that's been filled in. One part of Plagenhoef's book that I don't quite understand however is his stand against the internet and quick, dismissive chatter about bands on it. He waxes on this topic here and there throughout the book yet the back cover says he works for Pitchfork. While I read Pitchfork and it is great for tour news, it is one of the biggest contributors to being quickly dismissive of amazing albums or bands. What I know about Pitchfork and what Plagenhoef writes about seem to be at odds. This is still a good book and I really enjoyed reading it. He's totally right about how we currently listen to music, and the need to really listen, and not just allowing it to become merely background noise. Listening with people is also a lovely activity much like conversing about music.

Selected notes/passages
1- "In November 1996, when Belle & Sebastian released their second album, If You're Feeling Sinister, being a fan of the band took a great deal of patience and work."
3- Madame Cecile Aubrey's Belle & Sebastian
4- "Murdoch had taken to songwriting in order to engage with a world outside of home..."
6- "B & S's cover stars weren't celebrities or cult heroes, they were friends and acquaintances no more glamorous than the people expected to be buying the records."
7- interviews- "...repetitive and dull for the subjects themselves"
8- Murdoch, "The band is really not about me. The interesting things happen when it goes beyond me."
9- playing at offbeat locales- libraries and churches- "...a hearkening back to the time when underground or indie music was something discovered and investigated by the curious rather than something branded in the music press."
10- Murdoch, "I always think that the best songs are the ones I'll write tomorrow..."
11- "They hold hands but 'only as a display of public solidarity.'"
12- imagining and discussion of Tigermilk
15- strong sense of place in B & S songs
17- "Characters hope to belong, to find kindred spirits, but crucially they refused to compromise themselves in the process, as so many of us must throughout adulthood."
-"life is never dull in your dreams"
20- "do something pretty while you can"
31- (The internet's Sinister list) "The entire experience felt like a night at the pub with friends, dissecting and examining culture, art and each other's lives."
-John Phillip Sousa and the phonograph- "Something is irretrievably lost when we are no longer in the presence of bodies making music."
-"Their fans couldn't investigate the group itself, so they made inroads into each other's lives instead."
32-33- (Sinister list) "a place where people engaged in conversations about each other's thoughts and ideas about music rather than merely their record collections or the contents of theirs external hard drives."
41- rockism
43- Murdoch, "the trumpet should be as important as the guitar, the cellos should be as important as the piano"
47- Malcolm McLaren, "In the end [punk] is about making ugliness beautiful, it's about destroying in order to create something that liberates you from orthodoxy."
47-48-"The modernists and their followers challenged the belief that creative aesthetics wasn't mean to simply reproduce or reflect life and pursue beauty, but to alter and shape society through intellectual pursuits and progressive approaches to technology, science and the arts."
48- Duchamp
-beauty and youth culture- being suspicious
55- "...audience and artist were almost indistinguishable from one another, in look, and, some would sneer, talent."
63- Isobel Campbell- The Bell Jar and Dorothy Parker
71- Murdoch's exploration of emotions through childhood- "is less about nostalgia or escapism as it is exploring core human emotions without the distractions, compromises and obligations of adulthood."
75- "poet laureates for the outcast liberal arts set"
-dedication of "We Rule the School" to a young, smalltown girl on the BBC- "because life isn't easy for a 16 year old in the middle of nowhere."
-discussion of New Pop vs. The Smiths
79- "Murdoch not only wrote his own myths, he also wrote his own apologies as well."
84- laddism vs. wallflower feminism
85- Nick Hornby
- (talking about Murdoch) "In his songs, women take the chances, have sexual fantasies, and are generally the ones either put at risk or rewarded for living active rather than passive lives."
86- freedom to stumble and fall
87- (Murdoch on cd) "...he's merely a vessel for communicating about life in general rather than his life in particular..."
-"sex, religion, friendship, education, family- rarely are any of them finite or defining characteristics. Whatever we think of any of the above shifts depending on the year or day, and in Murdoch's songs you can feel his characters struggle to come to terms with each as well."
88- Jenny Toomey's writing about their ability to "describe a character in a way that represents their complexity."
-Murdoch "No regular rock venue is set up to deal with the subtlety of singing... But the intimacy of someone's bedroom, when they've just got the record home, there is no scope for any bullshit. To absolutely absorb somebody as they listen tot he LP through on their mono Dansette is what I really want."
91- iPod era "more time hearing music...but less time listening to it...typically something we do in isolation"
92- "One's first records are often spoken of as mystical or magical things- you'd study the sleeve, maybe imagine your own parents being young and listening to the music you discover in your home."
97- "Frankly, almost any line on 'Get Me Away'- perhaps the most immediately loveable track on Sinister- is worth quoting."
104- "Online criticism now seems less about communicating ideas than about simply sharing music."
105 "shrinking column inches and fencesitting major media outlets...considers music criticism to be nothing more than a utilitarian tipsheet, to the point that many are suspicious of anyone wanting to communicate ideas about art rather than simply bit-sized opinions. And although there may now be more chatter about music than ever before, there seems to be far less conversation."

April 27 - May 8, 2008

Andy Warhol
Blow Job
Peter Gidal
Afterall Books, 2008
Part of their brilliant One Work series
11 cards

I think we're really getting into an interesting period of Warhol scholarship and this book is just one step in that direction. Warhol left a lot behind. There is a lot to deal with but in what has been dealt with, much has been overlooked. This type of focused approach to a single work is the best type of contribution to writing on Warhol since differences and minute details are integral to Warhol's practice. He left many clues but many remain to be found or deciphered to the extent of their full complexity. Gidal sets out a careful and thoughtful analysis of Blow Job while offering exciting jumps to connections between the film and Velazquez's Luncheon or Three Men at a Table as well as Duchamp's Large Glass. I love the MCA bookstore in Chicago and I was particularly excited to see that they had this new release.

Select notes/passages of interest:
1- Warhol's classic figment quote
-exploration of duration
-projected speed, flares, edge numbers, time for reel breaks
4- "...his courage in being prepared to act without denying his sexuality was no mean thing, then or now."
5- four agents in the space
7- Gertrude Stein
8- "no less real for not being seen"
-"The real world is appropriated by the film..."
11- "unendurable durations"
12- the paradox
14- Proust
15- "...not about time regained but time lost. 'In search of...' means not that you find it but that you don't."
18- "existing only in its absence"
19- Velazquez
22- "making nothing materially present"
24- mirror
26- Warhol's time
-"The fear of death doesn't need more than a moment."
28- shadows "understanding the state of suspended or arrested recognition"
"Warhol's works are emphatically not iconic"
31- real time during the viewing
32- Proust again
-"extreme light can create an absence of image"
36- "We are unable to lose ourselves in the series of acts represented....'realism' of another kind."
37- machine and body
-"In that re-viewing, the repetition becomes a memory."
38- palimpsest
-"the taking up of time, its being filled, is what obliterates it"
-"Thus the subject of the film is never just what you 'see.'"
-silkscreens and squeegee marks
41- Warhol titles
45- boredom
46 (Warhol film) "you are left bereft"
59 Henri Bergson (via Bertrand Russell)
60- the subject and where it exists
61- adequateness and language
61-63-discussion of leaders
63- The Chelsea Girls- silent screen, indexical
64- Empire- "the skyscraper can be both itself and an image of a stable structure and fragile evanescence."
-printing of Sleep
-discussion of time and death towards the bottom of the page
65- "'You don't have sex with a name.'"
66- "So what."
69- time held- Suicide silkscreen
71- "In Warhol's films, meaning is, in the end, always determined by production not consumption. And in the beginning too."
73- Duchamp's Large Glass
73-74- concept of Marcel Duchamp
75- stillness
76- uttering a word- "no sooner spoken than unspoken"
78- moments only