Posts from 14th March 2004

14
Mar 04

TS:

Do You SeePost a comment • 132 views

TS:
Victorian Tudor Gothic
vs
Neo New-Elizabethan Gothic Tudor

you decide!! yay!!!

TROTS IN SPACE

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 391 views

TROTS IN SPACE!!

Grrr, Uncarved beat me to the link. I meant to write something abt the plans and politics of other radical space orgs, such as the since-disbanded AAA, but the Fortean Times took such an age to get this on-line that other projects intervened. For now, just note that across the square from me on Lower Clapton Road, in St Johns Churchyard, is a nice sign announcing “Hackney Community Space Centre”: it’s the Cape Kennedy of East London!!!

Heartwood by James Lee Burke

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 303 views

Heartwood by James Lee Burke

I wrote an item months ago suggesting that genre writers in general, taking crime as a good example, are still undervalued by the literary critics and academics, and by extension by most readers. Then I was especially talking about Lawrence Block, but it applies every bit as much to James Lee Burke.

Don’t read him for mysteries and puzzles. Heartwood has one good twist late on, but mostly the payoff is a bit dull, almost perfunctory. What’s great about his writing is the characters and prose. Few writers create more of a range of characters with distinct sets of emotions and motives and ways of thinking. A lot of them are memorable and powerful and scary too, all in their own different ways. I think he beats out Elmore Leonard at this, another crime writer very good at setting a load of strong characters in motion without offering clear dividing lines between the good guys and the heels. Burke also has the Ross Macdonald strength of centring plots on long-established relationships, important to the key characters, if not quite with Macdonald’s focus on family tragedies.

But I think his prose is even better. A lot of it is clear and straightforward, almost casual in tone, a narrative voice that sounds as if some ordinary person, not a novelist with literary intent, is telling you what happened, but what shines out in particular is his gorgeous and hugely evocative setting of scenes, especially outdoors. He calls up landscapes (one series of tales in Texas, another outside New Orleans) as well as anyone I can think of, not just within genre writing. I’m not setting him up as a new Faulkner or anything like that, but I’ve read countless respected and award-winning literary novels without anything like Burke’s strength in creating people or with his prose quality. Why do writers this good never get a look in when the award nominations appear, for instance?

One of the more arresting and memorable exhibits at Bilbao’s glorious

Do You SeePost a comment • 204 views

One of the more arresting and memorable exhibits at Bilbao’s glorious Guggenheim for me was Pierre Huyghe’s ‘One Million Landscapes’ from 2001, the somewhat retro-futurist CGI reminiscent of Shynola and Alex Rutterford‘s work for Radiohead, enough for my tiny mind to find compelling on it’s own.

But what does it meeeean? Having initially missed the brief introduction to the piece in the form of explanatory narrative with diagrams and thus been intrigued by the ghostly parade of lunar-waveforms and trudging forlorn girl hologram slowly mouthing a Neil Armstrong monologue, I was a little disappointed upon viewing that beginning part afterwards. It seems to balance ideas of both despair and hope, fact and fiction – but with not quite enough strength to provide a truly profound or moving experience. For me the pull was in it’s aesthetic concept and execution alone – something about just walking in on this looping presentation a third of the way through provided much of the appeal – not knowing the intentions behind it or even when it dates from but becoming instantly drawn into the alternative world presented to you, something that relates to my fascination with short pieces as reliant on audio as they are on video, exploring the relationship between the two both literally and non-literally, juxtaposed or synchronous. Meaning and intentions can blur and drown easily when the combination of sound and pictures strike a resonant chord with the viewer, as they seemed to on this occasion.

Other higlights included the permanent Pop Art collection, the temporary but seemingly quite comprehensive De Buffet range, Miquel Navarro’s Wall City and Sam Taylor-Wood’s people-focussed and often rather rude staged photographs. Another obvious but amusing DYS moment arose from Douglas Gordon’s ‘through a looking glass . . ‘ video piece which runs two copies of THAT scene from Taxi Driver, facing each other on giant screens.