OK I am back.
Apart from all the usual rants and diversions I hope to each week do a book of, a cd of, and a dvd of, the week. So let’s start with the book.
I’ve always been an adventurous reader but i am coming more and more to appreciate the non-experimental novel well done. I’m all for pushing the boundaries but when I look back on the novels that have made the most impact on me, the ones that are most re-readable, they might be astonishing in their depth and yet conservative in style. Case in point: Submergence by J.M.Lefgard.
Crappy cover but one of the best books I have read in the last year (others being Son, Lowlands, Come Barbarians and Constellation of Vital Phenomena). None of those are odd in any way but all are brilliant.
Ledgard’s 2nd novel has its main character, a British agent held in captivity by Al Quada in Somalia who believe him to be a British agent. His method of coping with his privation is to remember his life before which includes his relationship with an oceanographer. The novel is smart the way Harper’s Magazine is smart – throwing out all sorts of intriguing bits of information about this remarkable world but in particular about life in the deep ocean. This forms a nice contrast with the desert interment of our spy.
Its one of those small press books with little hoopla but garnering more critical praise than most.
Been going through a lot of new music and some older. Part of the time I have been revisiting jazz. My first jazz record was Keith Jarrett and Gary Burton and at the time I was unaware of Jarrett’s participation in Charles LLoyd‘s group. Just recently I ran across this very swinging tune from LLoyd (Water is Wide) which reminded me a little (why exactly I am not sure) of Jarrett’s De Drums.
De Drums from the Fort Yaweh album is quite something with a not inconsiderable contribution from Charlie Haden on bass.
(ps a little shout out to Rachel Alderman in Swansea for saying hi on my blog after so long a dormancy. Took another look at it and thought I might as well give it another go for a while.)
I have some reservations about what he says but he does make some very good points….”when we suffer we suffer as equals”….my major reservation is that the problem with humanity is not so much its actions which any species would do…its not that we are worse but simply that there are so many of us….at any rate any open minded omnivore (and I am one) should be willing to at least listen to this
I haven’t posted about music in a while but this one caught my ear. The latest Regina Spektor (What We Saw From the Cheap Seats)is very worth the purchase. This song below stuck out because if the voice was stripped out and we had just the structure, the lyrics, the melody and the instrumentation, I would have identified it as a Hawksley Workman song.
Here is Hawksley doing Ice Age from one of his best cds, the end of the world Treeful of Darling.
Other beauties on the plate these days are the latest Walkmen, the Divine Fits (for those who need another Spoon cd), and still enjoying the Fiona Apple.
About a century ago a sculpture know as the Ain Sakhri Lovers was found near Bethlehem. It is about 11,000 years old (I ran across this in The History of the World in 100 Objects).
As described, this piece is about the size of a fist, and when viewed from other angles can resemble the genitals of either gender. As British sculptor Marc Quinn puts it in the book:
What’s incredible about this sculpture is that when you move it and look at it in different ways, it changes completely. From the side, you have the long shot of the embrace, you see the two figures. From another side, it’s a penis, from another a vagina, from another side breasts – it seems to be formally mimicking the act of making love as well as representing it. And those different sides unfold as you handle it, as you turn this object around in your hand, so they unfold in time, which I think is another important thing about the sculpture – it’s not an instant thing. You walk round it, and the object unfolds in real time. It’s almost like a pornographic film, you have long shots, close-ups – it has a cinematic quality as you turn it, you get all these different things. And yet it’s a poignant, beautiful object about the relationship between people.
I won’t bother trying to add to that but when you see this you cannot help leaping over ten thousand years to make the connection to Rodin.
Rodin: The Kiss
There are of course differences. As some scholars have pointed out, the woman is the aggressor and the man not necessarily willing as evidenced by his passive hand. This contrasts with the parallel absorption of parties in the older sculpture.
Rodin’s remarkable work has not only had a great public impact but has engendered responses from other artists such as Brancusi.
Brancusi: The Kiss
And then there is this Shona sculpture from Zimbabwe (undated) which may or may not predate Rodin.
And finally (at least for now) a contemporary quite abstract ceramic work from on this theme from Liz Lescault.
Lescault: The Kiss
Why sculpture is more like photography than painting
Odes to weight
Modern sculpture can give the wrong impression