Sunday, November 30, 2008




caffeine + sugar = deliberate obscurantism?

David Lynch ate at lunch at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank every day for 7 years. He had a shake every day, apparently claiming that one day he would have the perfect shake. He also said that the combination of sugar and caffeine (from his chocolate milkshakes and coffee) gave him ideas for a lot of his films.

baby needs a brand new pair of eyes

From the very first day that you were born
to the very last time you waved and honked your horn
had no chance at all to watch you grow
up so sadly, beautiful
up so sadly, beautiful

(the replacements)

What I'm "Reading" Right Now

C.S. Lewis - Perelandra
John Porcellino's comic adaptation of Thoreau's Walden
Christopher Butler - Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction
Stan Lee/Steve Ditko - Amazing Spiderman
Ed. Richard Lewis with Photographs by Helen Butfield - The Way of Silence: The Prose and Poetry of Basho
Ruth Nichols - A Walk Out of the World
I.O. Evans - Jules Verne: His Life and Work
Sei Shonagon - The Pillow Book vols. 1 and 2
Tom Wolfe - The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby
James K.A. Smith - Introducing Radical Orthodoxy
Italo Calvino - If On a Winter's Night a Traveler
The Bible
Ed. Richard Lewis - Still Waters of the Air
Poems by Garcia Lorca, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Antonio Machado.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


In euery daunse, of a moste auncient custome, there daunseth to gether a man and a woman, holding eche other, by the hande or the arme, whiche betokeneth concorde.
- The Boke named The Governour
Devised by Sir Thomas Elyot, Knight
(to whom T.S. Eliot is related and quotes in his Four Quartets)

Artists I'm Interested in Right Now:

Alex Katz - American pop art. His piece Varick is a picture of a single strip of lighted windows (6 in number) in the top left corner of the canvas, the rest of the canvas being a deep black, apparently an image of a high rise office building at night, evocative of a tiny outpost of "Civilization" in a sea of darkness...

Yuri Smirnov - Russian bookplate illustrator. A soft, gentle surrealism.

Monday, November 24, 2008

this past week

griffith observatory.

wayne's world-themed surprise birthday party.

listening to Boards of Canada driving through the Valley with Brie at twilight.

looking at a Dutch-styled architectural oddity (with stained glass windows) looking very incongruent in the middle of Van Nuys.

dressing like an Indian for a Thanksgiving party with church friends.

biking near a Frank Lloyd Wright Mayan-inspired house in Pasadena on a sunny Saturday morning.

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".

Manual's new ambient LP, Confluence.

Phase IV, a rather terrifying 70s science fiction film.

writing. drawing. thinking. praying. biking.

3 John Christopher books read.

nearly finished with a book on Postmodernism.

Starlight Crest.

hiking at Rubio Canyon.

my roommate shoving a holiday catalog at my face and yelling for me to "eat it".

up the airy mountain, above the gilded hills of arcadia, on a thursday morning.

needing God's love.

thankful for many blessings.

listening to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in rapt awe.

tearing up looking at a sloth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Til the night closes in

I realize that my favorite love songs are the ones where Death is never far away in the background, an ominous, black spectral-cloud, hovering above the lovers picnicking on the grass. The Grim Reaper standing with his sickle watching teenagers make out...

Monday, November 17, 2008

an "annihilating intimacy" of noise

This is from an interesting article on the meaning (or interpreted meaning) of noise in modern popular music by Torben Sangild - NOISE - THREE MUSICAL GESTURES : Expressionist, Introvert and Minimal Noise . It contains a quote about My Bloody Valentine, from a NME review of Loveless.

All of “Loveless” is suffused with an apocalyptic, pre-orgasmic glow, the sound of an annihilating intimacy. My Bloody Valentine music is a smelting, melding, crucible of love in which every borderline (inside/outside, you/me, lover/beloved) is abolished. Instead of the normal perspective of rock production (bass here, guitar there, voice there, with the listener mastering the field of hearing), My Bloody Valentine are here, there, everywhere. They permeate, irradiate, subsume and consume you. (Reynolds, 1991).

My Bloody Valentine, Sangild asserts, uses noise not as a Dionysian explosion of ecstacy, but as a gesture of boundary-blurring intimacy, a "de-centering of subjectivity". "De-centering of subjectivity". That seems a very vague term, certainly open to multiple interpretations - in which subjectivity ceases to be the subjective viewpoint of one person (myself) and rather merges with another's? or a de-privileging of my viewpoint into a more blurry, floaty view encapsulating many different views?

I'm not sure, but it's an interesting article.

I saw My Bloody Valentine a month or so ago, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The concert was, apparently, around 132 dB loud at least, louder than the loudest concerts on record. You could feel your hairs on your arms vibrating. You could feel the bass deep in your chest. It was like being inside a cave during a mining disaster. I think the most shocking thing was seeing a few imprudent (to say the least) concertgoers without ANY hearing protection, despite the fact that earplugs were passed out for free at the door. Nearly 20 minutes of immersion in a cavern of unending rumble and sheer noise. It was pretty amazing. I didn't really feel driven into an altered state or anything, as some said is the effect of the noise. It certainly didn't feel angry the way most noise is used in rock - it felt more like being in a big cavern or at the bottom of the sea, while a storm rages overhead. It felt intimate; though the noise certainly seems de-personalized, it didn't feel de-personalizing, the way some avant-garde music affects me. However, a lot of my memories on the show are colored by the anticipation of seeing Kevin Shields, and the joy of watching it with my friend Justin, who is definitely one of my favorite people. During the noise part, he would tilt his neck back, eyes closed, mouth agape. That's how shoegaze should be, I think.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Did the Captain of the Titanic cry?"

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

excerpt from T.S. Eliot's Choruses from the Rock

Friday, November 14, 2008

Consensus Science

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . .

I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way. . . .

Michael Crichton, excerpt from "Aliens Cause Global Warming" lecture at CalTech

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Current 93 and Bibio

Current 93 Interview with Wire:
It's getting late and Tibet sees me to the door. Outside silence reigns in the moonlit street. "What permeates life completely, I believe, is The Inmost Light," Tibet concludes. "The secret glory, this is whatever you want to call it, the presence of Christ in everything. It is there and if we don't find it before we die then we're doomed. We must find it, we must, it's the only thing we're made for, to try and get even just a glimpse of the glory that lies behind everything that's hidden from us. The world seems to be disappointing and full of suffering, because we just can't see what's shining behind it all. And it's the only thing which is important. Although there is that incredible transcendence at the same time - although that is a reason for great joy and a feeling that there is something, there is more that just this - at the same time if we miss the chance to get it, that's it: we don't get second chances."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

some stuff i'm listening to

I'm listening to -

Steve Roach - A Deeper Silence
ambient music pushed to its 1-track, 74-minute sometimes inaudible, environmental and immersive conclusion.

Keith Canisius - Ferris Wheel Makeout
what a great title for a shoegaze album! this is the guy from denmarkian shoegaze band Rumskib, and this album is pretty rad. Jonas Munk from Manual did some production on it apparently. and it's. totally. legit.

Low - Trust
alan sparhawk is pretty rad. so much space. so much meaning packed into every word, the phrases becoming more and more rife with deep (and multiple) meanings with every repetition.

Glen Campbell - The Moon's A Harsh Mistress
What an amazing song. Jimmy Webb should be named an American cultural treasure. His songs are SO legit. I read that he became a Christian (or more passionate about his relationship with Christ) a while ago, and I'd like to hear the songs that came out of that. His stuff has such a depth of sadness, the soundtrack to lives lived in the heartland of America - sunsets, fields of wheat, lonely truck drivers, threadbare apartments, warm nights on the porch with friends and cheap beer, lost dreams, the smell of stale cigarette smoke in a dead-end bar, country music bleeding from the AM radio in the fading hours of a late afternoon...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Reflections on Nostalgia

Natsukashii is a hard to translate Japanese adjective, referring to nostalgia for the past - but not simply the past, but soemtimes referring to an idealized past that never really was...

From an interview with the Canadian comic artist Seth:
Am I nostalgic? Can you feel nostalgic for an era you never lived in? I am interested in the time before I was born, but I feel the most nostalgia for the era of my own childhood. The 1960’s and early 70’s was the last vestige of that old world… elements of it were still hanging around everywhere. I didn’t think about it much as a child, but now I realize those old businesses and products and movies etc. that were lingering into the time of my childhood left a deep impression on me. All that stuff seems very sad to me. I’m not really a nostalgic type so much as a melancholic. I spend a lot of time alone, and most of it is spent in a fog of self-pitying melancholy. It sounds pathetic, but it is so true.

When there is no hope for a future (or for any world beyond this current one, dominated as it is by the inexorability of decay and the merciless march of time), many must turn to an idealized past - sometimes quite conscious of the artificiality of this constructed view of the past - to find some semblance of safety, of home, and, I would even argue, of the Eternal we are built for.

Glen Campbell sings "Southern Nights", inflected as it with a sweet kind of sadness.
Glen Campbell is so wonderful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh, Zizek, you crazy diamond!

I watched a documentary on Slavoj Zizek, the rather flamboyant and controversial philosopher-literary critic-academic. He's honestly laugh out loud funny. Anyway, here's a quote I stole from James K.A. Smith's blog (, as he in turn quotes Zizek, speaking of traditional marriage as a dynamically counter-cultural commitment:
What if, in our postmodern world of ordained transgression, in which the marital commitment is perceived as ridiculously out of time, those who cling to it are the true subversives? What if, today, straight marriage is 'the most dark and daring of all transgressions?'" - Zizek, "The Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy," in Theology and the Political: The New Debate

A praise of traditional marriage by Slavoj Zizek, self-proclaimed Lacanian-Marxist, and an academic known as "the wild man of theory" (!)

Speaking of which, I kinda think that Lacan is ridiculous. There is a scene in the movie where Zizek is watching Lacan extolling his philosophy on French television, and Zizek talks about how phony the whole thing is (the form of Lacan's lecture, that is, not the actual content thereof). It is interesting that Zizek calls himself a Lacanian and yet offers constructive critique of Lacan - I think it is quite sensible that he feels free to critique Lacan and remain within a Lacanian framework. I sensed some sort of tentative binary being hinted at, wherein Derrida and Lacan are seen as two opposing camps within post-structuralism. Seems kind of funny, especially given post-structuralism's professed deep aversion and violent deconstruction of "Western" binaries.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

so it begins

(monk by sea by caspar david friedrich)