Saturday, November 24, 2007

review of Alexander Watson's Marginal Man: The Dark Vision of Harold Innis which I've just started reading. Here's another one & the Wikipedia entry is very good...

Ezra Pound at Expo '67?

"Pound’s appearance at Expo may have been one of the great non-events in Canadian literary history but it would be an ideal subject for a speculative novel, one that would feature high-level politicians like Pearson, Diefenbaker and Trudeau, Quebec neo-Nazis and fans of Lionel Groulx, and a host of dithering writers and poets..."

bye-bye John Howard

"Remember that heading in the Herald a few weeks back, after one of the opinion polls bumped up the Government's lousy standing a point or two? "Lazarus stirs", it said optimistically of John Howard. Wrong. It was just the flies moving..."

Friday, November 23, 2007

soon-to-turn-one Belle sez: Time for Toast!

good essay on The Leopard

"Partly because Lampedusa took the opportunity to vent his spleen against Italian opera, Sicilian indiscretion, political corruption, greed, and a whole host of other shortcomings he associated with his native place, The Leopard has been viewed by many of his countrymen as anti-Sicilian or even anti-Italian. Its politics have also been disparaged as right-wing or reactionary, though Louis Aragon, the French Marxist, interpreted it instead as a left-wing critique of the right-wing aristocracy. Such views strike me as severely inadequate. If The Leopard manifests doubts about the Sicilian character, it does so very much from the inside, and if it has any politics at all, it is neither of the right nor of the left, but rather a politics of irony.

But can there be such a politics? Fervid electioneers and dyed-in-the-wool adherents of the various ideological isms would say no. On the other hand, slyly dissident satirists of the Soviet system, German-speaking Jews like Karl Kraus, and the helpless, hopeless critics of the present American administration might all say yes. To see the local with the distance of the astronomical and at the same time to feel its tragedies locally: That is politics, surely, of a very useful sort..."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Enabling Martin Amis

"Though he was forced to squirm a little, Amis refused to recant or apologise. His demeanour throughout was the ostentatious weariness of the unfairly traduced, and he called for an end to the whole dull business. "Can I ask him [Eagleton], in a collegial spirit, to shut up about it?" he wrote in a letter to this newspaper.

Do we let the homophobe off the hook just because he tells his critics to shut up? Do we pass over the rantings of the antisemite just because he did not commit the poison to the page? To judge from the response of most liberal commentators, the defence seemed to work, and Amis's wish to have a line drawn under the affair was granted. While Eagleton was attacked as a clapped-out marxist, Amis was commended, by a writer in the Observer, for "owning up - bravely, as it turned out - to what amounted to a revenge fantasy". His "thought experiment" was the incautious but challenging musing of one of the most vivid and verbally energetic modern writers in English. In the Guardian, one writer concluded that although he was often irritating, Amis had raised important questions, while among the rhetorical questions asked by Professor John Sutherland was whether Eagleton's - Eagleton's! - position at Manchester University was tenable after labelling a colleague a bigot and a racist..."

glad I was able to make it to Evan Lee's beautiful new show--

"At Monte Clark Gallery, Evan Lee’s Drawing, Photography juxtaposes small graphite drawings of elderly Chinese women with two large scale black and white photographs, one of a woman working in a backyard garden, the other a portrait of the artist’s frail grandmother shortly before her death, reclining on a bed surrounded by framed family photographs of her children and grandchildren.

Much of Lee’s work plays, like Gergley’s, with double meanings. Lee has previously photographed cardboard boxes that look like smiling cartoon faces, ginseng roots resembling exotic birds, and transparent plastic drafting tools that imply flamingos or cartoon snakes. In this new exhibition, the “doubleness” of Lee’s work is put aside in favor of the direct representation of his subjects. His pictures’ apparent lack of a straightforward message, moral, or theme is actually the result of Lee’s deliberate decision to represent his subjects as they are, paying careful attention to each woman’s gestures, clothing, and physiognomy, thereby representing their individual specificity and avoiding the temptation to convert them into symbols or representatives of a “class.” Lee’s show is not flashy, and lacks the dry wit characterizing much of his recent photography, but the work is solid, brave and nakedly biographical..."
Fortress Canada

“This is our future,” he said of the rising incarceration rate. “I sometimes think this agenda is about building more prisons.”

Jones said he’s been told some prisons already hold 40 per cent more inmates than they were designed for.

On any given day in 2005-06, an average of 33,123 adults and 1,987 youth were in custody in federal and provincial jails and federal prisons in Canada.

Although Canada tends to jail people at a higher rate than most western European countries, it is far behind the United States.

Sweden posted an incarceration rate of 82 per 100,000 population in 2005-06, and France, 85.

By comparison, the U.S. adult rate was 738.

Jones said the Conservative government’s proposals for more minimum sentences, tougher bail and an end to conditional sentences are following a U.S. lead.

“There’s a definite American cast to this,” he said. “They’re just going to focus on security.”

The Labyrinth Scored for the Purrs of 11 Different Cats

"The labyrinth at Chartres is a unicursal path winding in 552 steps through 11 concentric rings into the center. In order to hear the sound of this path I have changed the steps into cats purrs. The 552 steps have become 5,520 seconds of purring, each step being equal to 10 seconds of sound. The 11 concentric rigns then become 11 different cats, each cat representing one complete ring with all its steps. The stereo balance of the tape corresponds to the directional movement throught the labyrinth. The tape begins with 10 seconds of the 1st cat (ring), 10 of the 2nd, 10 of the 3rd, 10 of the 4th then turns left for 130 seconds (steps) of the 5th ring (cat), overlapping into the 6th ring for 140 seconds and so on winding through the labyrinth into the center which is represented by the simultaneous purring of all 11 cats..."

Tangled Up

"The problem for “I’m Not There” is not one of credibility (after all, these tales are meant to be tall) but of what authority a movie retains when its component parts fly off in different directions. Dylan, to judge by the ardor of his admirers, is indeed inexhaustible, in his gifts as in his changes of tack, and one quite understands why Haynes—who co-wrote the film with Oren Moverman—should have scorned a plain bio-pic. To come at a stubborn subject from multiple angles was a smart move, but Haynes is so enthralled by the stylistic opportunities that his plan affords, as he was in the fifties-hued “Far from Heaven,” that he ends up more interested in the angles than in anything else, leaving the elusive Dylan, once again, to slip away..."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007