This was definitely unexpected. I thought I was requesting a book of outsider art from the library; instead this is a book of vignettes about severalThis was definitely unexpected. I thought I was requesting a book of outsider art from the library; instead this is a book of vignettes about several late USAmerican outsider artists. Generous, gentle, grateful, and impeccably respectful of the artists and their circumstances.
I think I get outsider artists. I think I get suffering, which bends and reshapes a person the way extreme sun bends and reshapes a tree. I think I get religious or spiritual obsessions and how they arise from our deepest needs. Partly this is because I get that people cannot survive without some sense of sturdy meanings. When sturdy meanings collapse, when the world stops making sense, as it did for the artists I write about, we—you, me, them—have no choice but to rationalize and relativize, to create a new world in our minds, and then wholeheartedly believe in it. (5)
Many 20th century scientists, whether working for the military, industry, or their own self-aggrandizement, have been responsible for perpetrating horMany 20th century scientists, whether working for the military, industry, or their own self-aggrandizement, have been responsible for perpetrating horrible shit against "the least of these": prisoners, women, minorities, the mentally retarded, and even children. Forced sterilizations, feeding radioactive isotopes to pregnant women, and keeping prisoners in solitary confinement for decades are just a few of the insidious activities carried out, not by the Nazis or Soviets, but good, red-blooded American researchers, for the sake of increased knowledge, control, and power (but never wisdom, it should be noted). This graphic (in every sense of that term) collection is disconcerting, in both form and content, and it did an excellent job of lowering this reader's already often abysmal estimation of his fellow human beings. ...more
This is probably my favorite Stephen King novel thus far. Apparently King wrote this while struggling with alcoholism, and**spoiler alert** 4.5 stars
This is probably my favorite Stephen King novel thus far. Apparently King wrote this while struggling with alcoholism, and the way in which he depicts the everyday terrors of a father struggling to provide for his wife and child in the face of depression and failure are almost confessional in their stark, painful honesty. As someone who has struggled with a history of emotional abuse, I connected deeply with Jack Torrance's tragic flaws, while at the same time I recognized that the novel itself, like the very life of a loving father, is ultimately, really, about his son, Danny. I can easily see how this book would scare the crap out of its teenage readers, who would look at their parents differently afterward, but its hardest punch, I now see, is reserved for those with children of their own.
I must mention that I was somewhat taken aback at how the novel ended so differently from the film version, but in the end I think I liked this ending better. While the film's conclusion is the more chilling, pardon the pun, of the two, the book's ending evoked a few classic literary horrors: the house-as-antagonist alludes to Shirley Jackson's unsettling The Haunting of Hill House) and the utter destruction of the Overlook Hotel suggests the fall of the house of Usher, from Poe's short story of the same name. It also allows us to see Jack Torrance in a good light one final time, not as a bug-eyed madman, but as the loving (if horribly conflicted and himself abused) father he always struggled to be. ...more
I find myself agreeing and disagreeing in roughly equal measure with this critical review of the graphic novel adaptation of the cinematic adaptationI find myself agreeing and disagreeing in roughly equal measure with this critical review of the graphic novel adaptation of the cinematic adaptation of Philip K. Dick's autobiographical, paranoid druggie classic. I agree that the comic "has a very artificial and lifeless feel" in part because it hasn't really been adapted to the comics/graphic novel/sequential art medium; instead, it looks as if the film stills have simply been cut-and-pasted into a book template and left at that. I do think that this graphic novel, even in its current artificial and lifeless incarnation, is valuable, however, because it allows the reader who is also familiar with the original novel and the film to bring together the textual and the visual, to triangulate so to speak, and in so doing to obtain a clearer picture of what Dick was attempting to tell us. For me at least, the original novel on its own was less than stellar and somewhat confusing (like many of Dick's books, alas), and the film, while one of the better and certainly more original cinematic adaptations of PKD, is also a bit cryptic, and so this graphic novel, lying as it does somewhere between the worlds of print and cinema, provides a helpful bridge to flesh out Dick's vision more fully. ...more
A pale imitation of its predecessor. The collage, painting, and script are all still interesting; honestly, the visuals are what saves this from beingA pale imitation of its predecessor. The collage, painting, and script are all still interesting; honestly, the visuals are what saves this from being a one-star book. The story, though, lacks the originality of Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. Here the character of Griffin strikes me (and himself!) as petulant, self-indulgent, melodramatic, and just plain uninteresting. And the story doesn't end with him growing up. Or with resolution. It ends with another formulaic "mystery" that doesn't really make any sense, but that leaves the door open to a third installment. ...more
I remember when these books first hit the shelves twenty years ago. They were so popular. As with so many other popular books (I'm looking at you, HarI remember when these books first hit the shelves twenty years ago. They were so popular. As with so many other popular books (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter) I had to come to them in my own sweet time. Luckily my daughter recently asked me to check out Simms Taback's Postcards from Camp from the library, and when I did so, I also checked out the three books in the original Griffin and Sabine trilogy. So what did I think? Awesome! Lovely artwork, a poetic sensibility, the mystery of the connection between the titular characters, and the illicit fun of opening envelopes and reading another person's mail. I cannot wait to continue with the series, and heck, this might be the catalyst I needed to explore The Egyptian Jukebox I got for Christmas back in 1993....more
These two cassettes collect unabridged readings of some of Poe's most famous work, including The Raven, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Tell-tale HThese two cassettes collect unabridged readings of some of Poe's most famous work, including The Raven, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Tell-tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Fall of the House of Usher.> Fun listening for the Halloween holidays....more
Taking a scattershot approach, Clifford Pickover first sketches biographies of various "mad geniuses" including Nikola Tesla, Samuel Johnson, and theTaking a scattershot approach, Clifford Pickover first sketches biographies of various "mad geniuses" including Nikola Tesla, Samuel Johnson, and the Unabomber (this section was fun, with lots of strange factoids and trivia). He then describes what we know about obsessive-compulsive disorder and speculates on the connections between the aforementioned mad geniuses and OCD and other neurological peculiarities. He describes a fascinating questionnaire on genius and IQ that he shared online, as well as many of the thoughtful and thought-provoking responses that he received (this was my favorite section in the book), after which he winds down with a section on temporal lobe epilepsy and religious experience (another section I found especially interesting, given my own interesting history with TLE). He concludes with the assertion that human thought and behavior is far more constrained by neuroanatomy and neurochemistry than we would like to believe. Then he has another chapter in which he describes other characters from the history of science who didn't make the final cut to be included in the earlier biographical section, and finally he wraps up the book with a section of blurbs summarizing cutting edge (as of 1998) research on the brain and various eccentricities. Methinks Pickover himself would fit in quite well with some of the characters in this book. ...more
Coleman's paintings are like anti-icons, spiritual portals that draw the gaze unflinchingly toward what Kurtz called, "The horror! The horror!" VibranColeman's paintings are like anti-icons, spiritual portals that draw the gaze unflinchingly toward what Kurtz called, "The horror! The horror!" Vibrant color, painstaking detail, and a graphically realistic style provide access to a deeper, darker, more awe-full reality than that which most inhabit by (usually unspoken) consensus. To say that these images are difficult to contemplate would be understatement, yet their very real dark beauty and power, like that of a black hole, to magnetize and pull in the viewer, make them, and the horrors about ourselves, about our species that they present, impossible to ignore.
"Coleman isn't simply an artist who moved from low means to high art means. His deft use of bright colors, minute details, and graphic emphasis, as well as his combinations of image and text, suggests that the strongest precedence for his art is the illuminated manuscript. It is with this in mind that the viewer should look at his modestly scaled acrylic paintings on masonite. The difference is that the illuminated manuscripts were based on sacred texts, while Coleman collapses together both the sacred and the profane." - John Yau, p. 37
"His attention to all kinds of detail embodies as well as echoes his awareness that the world is undergoing continual, unavoidable change, that torment and mortality are an inevitable part of the process of living. The news he tells us is discomforting: We cannot escape our past (our fate), and the best we can do is confront it head-on, look at it in the eye." - John Yau, p. 38
"Society purges itself by sequestering, isolating, condemning or executing those who threaten its illusions, but it finds it more difficult to bear responsibility for the injuries it thrusts on those who are helpless. This is the hypocrisy Coleman addresses in his paintings." - John Yau, pp. 40-1
"Beneath our skins, his art seems to say, we are nothing but bone, blood, and corruptible matter. But if we keep digging further, there is the hope--even the faith--that we will discover something infinitely greater: the redemptive power of the soul." - Harold Schechter, p. 118