DISCLAIMER: I only read the essay about David Lynch.
Really 3 essays in one: an on-the-set report about Lost Highway, satirical expose about the produc...moreDISCLAIMER: I only read the essay about David Lynch.
Really 3 essays in one: an on-the-set report about Lost Highway, satirical expose about the production of a Hollywood film, and a personal account of the significance of Lynch's work in Wallace's own life. The piece was not helped by is tripartite nature. The stench of Hollywood sleaze was nothing new, nor was the analysis of Lynch's oeuvre, myself being a long time Lynch fan. Wallace's perception of the particular production he was assigned to cover was interesting though. He seemed to have high hopes and foresee positive things about Lost Highway which went on to become one of Lynch's most maligned films.
Was it entertaining? Yes, but I'm in love with the subject matter. Was it enthralling? Hardly. With an editor it could have been easily turned into a run of hill production report. Not that it was poorly written, but it was self-indulgent and didn't make me want to read any of Wallace's novels.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I...moreWe all live in a yellow submarine. Get it?
Kick out the JAMS! Get it?
Kraftwerk are really the Illuminati! Get it?
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did when I read it in college. It's the first book I'll be taking off my all time favorite reading list after a reread, but I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a funny thought provoking urban fantasy / alternative history novel. I was concerned it didn't meet the criteria of the Experimental Literature Book Club but rereading I thought its mix of camp, satire, religion, philosophy, deliberate befuddlement of the reader, and sheer length definitely qualify it as an experimental text.
It seemed at the beginning Wilson and Shea (both possibly under the influence of drugs) were mailing each other their contributions without collaborating, then after the fact they brought it all together. I'm convinced that the Mavis / Maris ambiguity was the result of a typo and they just decided to work it in as a plot point. If you didn't make it that far, by the last hundred pages it does all come together and all the layers of the glass onion are revealed. The moral the story in contemporary parlance: sometimes its best to just let Jesus take the wheel and not try to control everything. Though parody is part of the program, the corny cover probably scares readers away. The master of wrapping complex philosophical ideas in pulp fiction clunker prose was (either by necessity or design) Philip K. Dick. It's notable that all Dick's works are a fraction of the length of Illuminatus!, even his trilogies. Some of the “offensive” passages are necessary as one of the core ideas of the novel are that important ideas (or at least esoteric knowledge) is sometimes hidden in low culture for everyone to see.
I remembered the book being apolitical, but reading it again it seemed very political in the sense it was explicitly pro-anarchist. We'll each have to determine for ourselves the legitimacy of the anarchist viewpoint, but its important to remember there was time in our country that saying you were an anarchist was the equivalent of saying you are a terrorist now. Ferdinando Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed largely due to their anarchist affiliations. Joe Hill was executed because of the his association with the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization which could be construed as an anarcho-syndicalist organization. Now that anarchism has been discredited in popular culture, authors can give a (quasi) hero an anarchist viewpoint albeit within a satirical faux epic. I see the same ideological neutralization occurring with communism. I see the images of Marx and Lenin slowly becoming pop icons divorced from their original meaning.
The plot alludes that all religions are intrinsically false, or at least misunderstood, by most adherents. Yet most of the characters utilize the practices of yoga and meditation. The idea that yoga will somehow gift you with any number of psychic powers is one the find all too frequently in popular culture. That's just my pet peeve. It seems to me an intrinsic Western bias against other cultures. We're lazy thinkers so we just appropriate what we want without having to fully comprehend what that something is or what it entails. Yeah, I know its a deliberately over the top SF wünderfest and I should just let it go.
The design work is beautiful, superior, every superlative you can imagine, but the how miserable we all are attitude of the content I can do without....moreThe design work is beautiful, superior, every superlative you can imagine, but the how miserable we all are attitude of the content I can do without. Todd Solondz, David Foster Wallace, and Chris Ware all walk into a bar... the joke is on them. Mark Twain had more hope for humanity than this. I love myself. I love being alive. The R. Crumb worshipping, self loathing, misanthropic, stunted adolescent comics auteur crowd has wore itself thin with me. (less)
I enjoyed this but it was also kind of a let down. In an attempt to interweave the story with Preludes and Nocturnes Gaiman just repeats himself. The...moreI enjoyed this but it was also kind of a let down. In an attempt to interweave the story with Preludes and Nocturnes Gaiman just repeats himself. The storylines are really the same, replete with psycho killer and 90s alterna-girl stuck in a dreamworld.
Gaiman has the god-character dilemma: how to make a god-like character interesting or face suspenseful challenges? I’m not sure that he really succeeds. Sandman just shows up and fixes things. It just takes him 24 pages to walk there in every issue. Gaiman’s storytelling gift is present but it doesn’t have the same effect on me as it did when I was a kid.
Dringenberg’s limitations are apparent when he takes over as full time penciler. Too many frames seemed rushed and rough. Too many pages devolve into six squares without a draftsman’s touch you get in some indie comics.(less)
I've said that Naked Lunch is the Rosetta Stone work by my favorite author for so long now its hard for me to know if either proposition is true anymo...more I've said that Naked Lunch is the Rosetta Stone work by my favorite author for so long now its hard for me to know if either proposition is true anymore. It's been a number of years since I'd had read any of his works. The release of the first ever audio edition of his most famous, if not his finest, artistic artifact seemed the perfect opportunity for re-visitation.
William Lee is a junky running West from the law. His consciousness slowly segues itself into a nightmare world called the Interzone. The chapters are in random order so the reader is constantly navigating shades of gray between “reality” so called and the Interzone. Burroughs calls upon his life long struggles with heroin addiction illustrate how all of are addicted and controlled by something, most importantly the controllers are addicted to controlling and the controlled addicted to being controlled. The majority of the scenarios Burroughs envisions are too horrific or obscene for me to mention here. They also are terribly funny. You'll be laughing your way past the graveyard and needle filled garbage dump. Like when “all American deanxietized man” is brought before the “international conference of technological psychiatry” and reduced to the ectoplasmic homicidal centipede he really is. As most critics have argued, Naked Lunch is a satire and Interzone is actually represents a place for more real than any of us would like to admit. It's the place were all our fears and most cynical assumptions about medicine, government, sex, and law are painfully true.
The book is not some much pornographic as it is grotesque and it is not without good reason that Burroughs work is often compared with that of the painter Hieronymous Bosch. There is surrealism and there is horror but there is not sexual arousal. If it is pornography, it is pornography for psychopaths. Personally, I encountered this work as a teenager and after reading it any possibility of abusing opiate drugs was out the window. Since then I've only had to laugh/grimace at the thin veiled glamorization of heroin addiction that blossoms in the media every few years. Burroughs taught me early about the black putrid zombie death world addiction will transport you to. It won't transport you to hipster cruising with Jennifer Connelly and Jared Leto.
Praise be to Blackstone Audio for hiring Mark Bramhall, a reader who understands the tone of the work and brings enough verve to enliven material that can be very difficult. In a lot of ways, it is a work that is meant to be read aloud. The most psychotic chapters are prose poem rants that need a certain umph in the delivery. Bramhall knows when to turn it on and off. His interpretation of some of my most beloved denizens grated me a bit (why give Dr. Benway a Texas accent), but this probably due to my being overly familiar with the material. Blackstone also did right releasing an audio edition of the so-called “restored text” which puts the novel itself first, and all the various introductions and appendices that have appeared over the years as supplemental materials in the back. For concerned parties this supplemental material will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the writing and publication of this singular work.
My final verdict: Naked Lunch remains the bug bomb of 20th century America. If your house has yet to fumigated, it's time to call the exterminator. (less)
You can take or leave as much of the Lacan as you want but this is still most insightful analysis of Lost Highway out there. The irony about psychoana...moreYou can take or leave as much of the Lacan as you want but this is still most insightful analysis of Lost Highway out there. The irony about psychoanalysis is that it does such a great job with the topography of the psyche (Zizek sensibly deciphers an obtuse text) but fails in the expounding the geophysics of said topography. It can accurately explain the way things are (or what texts are about) but fails to explain the why. Which is, I think, opposite of psychoanalysis’ intention.
I feel like a sophomore.
I’m giving it five stars because of my long, intense, personal relationship with this film, and the fact Zizek was brave enough to stare it right in the face and not blink. Probably deserves four. (less)
Hodge podge of truisms by a world leader obviously convinced of his own moral superiority. Is there wisdom in here? Sure, but it is wisdom any intelli...moreHodge podge of truisms by a world leader obviously convinced of his own moral superiority. Is there wisdom in here? Sure, but it is wisdom any intelligent, remotely self reflective, person will already possess. (less)
A great book that serves its purpose well. Unlike some other design books, which shall remain nameless, everything is presented a clear and precise ma...moreA great book that serves its purpose well. Unlike some other design books, which shall remain nameless, everything is presented a clear and precise manner. (less)
Some good info, but its buried in pages of disorganized filler. Readability is sacrificed for visual flare on each page which makes for a hard read. (...moreSome good info, but its buried in pages of disorganized filler. Readability is sacrificed for visual flare on each page which makes for a hard read. (Ironically, this is what White instructs designers not to do). He introduces terms without defining them until chapters later. He can't seem to decide whether he is writing a guide for beginners or his grand treatise as a designer with years of experience. Generally his tone is pedagogical and snobby. (less)
Mostly consisting of the very psychoanalytic interior monologues, these stories are best when narrative takes a back seat for pure poetry. Though noth...moreMostly consisting of the very psychoanalytic interior monologues, these stories are best when narrative takes a back seat for pure poetry. Though nothing much happens, the lace-like intricacy of the language is to be admired, as well as the crystaline disentaglement of the murky relationships between human psyches. Very sensual and decadent, Nin is an aesthete's dream.(less)
This book was fail. I only give it two stars in honor of the album that inspired it. There is an art to criticism and I had hoped an approach to one o...moreThis book was fail. I only give it two stars in honor of the album that inspired it. There is an art to criticism and I had hoped an approach to one of the most dynamic, creative, inspiring, unclassifiable records in the history of rock would have been just as dynamic and inspiring. Instead what we get is this a middle of road tract that reads like an essay written by a teenager about his "favorite band" but with all cuss words left out to make sure he doesn't piss off his English teacher. A little bit of music theory actually would have been nice. Blurry anecdotes about what the songs' lyrics' aboutness are all you are going to find here. Maybe we could have learned that ourselves from I don't know... listening to the album, which if you're bothering to read this book you've probably wore this record out three times over.
The author teaches a university course about punk rock and bought a copy of Double Nickles on the Dime on the way home from taking his college prep tests. He splits the difference between academia and punk attitude and the results are neither insightful or inspiring.