Posts from 9th November 2004

9
Nov 04

Douglas Coupland – Eleanor Rigby

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 476 views

Douglas Coupland – Eleanor Rigby

I always look forward to Douglas Coupland books.

In typical style, Eleanor Rigby is buzzing with ideas; Liz is a grown-up Coupland character (someone who would have received less sympathy in earlier novels). She’s comfortably well off and uncomfortably friendless (all the lonely people etc). Her son reappears in her life for a brief period and unfolds a chain of events, including comets, Austrian dentists, farmers’ visions, Frankfurt airport and the ability to sing backwards.

At university we used to fill in questionnaires. The results determined your attitude to project work with the aim of forming capable groups. For example, if you were creative you hooked up with someone who could be bothered to write the report up. Coupland is an ideas man, but he certainly isn’t a completer / finisher. So many themes are developed: relationships with God, the passing of time, rewriting history, the backwards & the forwards. Some burn, others fizzle. His books are almost structured like thrillers, but with less tangible concepts. And missing the chapter which knots them into a satisfying whole.

As with previous novels the dialogue is snappy: “He had a complexion that said, I like vodka.” “My mother was lost to Cognac.” The sort of things you wish to say at dinner parties but only characters in Coupland books actually do.

At first I thought the text might be full of Beatles songs. The same way as Girlfriend in a Coma was splattered with Smiths references. Must have been hard to resist, but perhaps too obvious (or too costly?)

I always look forward to Douglas Coupland books and I’m always disappointed by the endings.

How to tell a film is based on a book: 1: A Home At The End Of The World

Do You SeePost a comment • 192 views

How to tell a film is based on a book:

1: A Home At The End Of The World

Lots of stuff happens. Very little of it makes any sense. The characters tend to be uncommunicative and quiet, you can tell there is shedloads of internal monologue going on in their heads. Pages and pages and pages of the stuff.

Take A Home At The End Of The World: The lead character’s family dies off by the age of fourteen (in grisly ways occasionally), he moves in with his best mate, tries out being gay, is rejected, becomes a baker, moves to New York, becomes part of an unconventional threeway family, move to the country, have a kid, gets left by the mother and kid and his best mate gets AIDS. Full on tear-jerker plot, with potential feelgood leanings as we see how these problems are dealt with. Yet I found the whole thing almost completely emotionless. I suppose it is nice for a film to allow us to fill the emotion in for the characters, not rely on a score or obvious histrionics; but actually that is not what the limited running time of a film does well. You do get the feeling that Cunningham’s script of his own book was greenlit only due to the success of The Hours, and unsurprisingly suffers a similar remoteness.

Am I alone in finding David Starkey repellant? He’s history’s Carol Vorderman. “I’ve tried to eliminate the really crass errors but I’ve no doubt that I’ve made huge numbers of mistakes. That’s the name of the game when you’re looking at the big picture,” he tells today’s Guardian. Not a sentiment you’d get from, oh, any remotely serious historian: the mystery is that Starkey is regarded as a a better fit for TV and stardom over anyone else. Maybe you have to really *want* it: get the agent, work the old contacts, I don’t know, otherwise I’d be doing it myself. Whatever, Starkey’s ideas would have seem antediluvian in Namier’s day, and teh Guardian’s l4ym0r inverse snobbery line — “He’s not some rent-a-gob pundit straight out of Oxbridge. Like them or hate them, his views are founded in academic rigour [unlike aanyone from Oxbridge…]” — is merely a symptom of the real dumbing-down both it and Starkey claim to deplore. The ‘trickle-down effect’ into TV from the serious historiography of the past 70 years (basically from the French ‘Annales’ school via the British Marxist group) would appear to have been decisively halted — whether this is or is not itself a result of ‘trickle-down’ from the corporatizing of publishing — which, of course, has made history so hot right now — I don’t know. Rockist? 4 life, beeyotch.

Do You SeePost a comment • 124 views

Am I alone in finding David Starkey repellant? He’s history’s Carol Vorderman. “I’ve tried to eliminate the really crass errors but I’ve no doubt that I’ve made huge numbers of mistakes. That’s the name of the game when you’re looking at the big picture,” he tells today’s Guardian. Not a sentiment you’d get from, oh, any remotely serious historian: the mystery is that Starkey is regarded as a a better fit for TV and stardom over anyone else. Maybe you have to really *want* it: get the agent, work the old contacts, I don’t know, otherwise I’d be doing it myself. Whatever, Starkey’s ideas would have seem antediluvian in Namier’s day, and teh Guardian’s l4ym0r inverse snobbery line — “He’s not some rent-a-gob pundit straight out of Oxbridge. Like them or hate them, his views are founded in academic rigour [unlike aanyone from Oxbridge…]” — is merely a symptom of the real dumbing-down both it and Starkey claim to deplore. The ‘trickle-down effect’ into TV from the serious historiography of the past 70 years (basically from the French ‘Annales’ school via the British Marxist group) would appear to have been decisively halted — whether this is or is not itself a result of ‘trickle-down’ from the corporatizing of publishing — which, of course, has made history so hot right now — I don’t know. Rockist? 4 life, beeyotch.

Design and Art

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 439 views

Design and Art

The murals that bedeck the sides of the 50s era Bowl-a-Rama on Glencarin and Bathurst, in Toronto, have an eerie resemblance to the larger Barnett Newman work, of the same time.

Why is Newman art and Bowl-a-Rama design ?

(Newman interest in the kaballah would be useful here, the belief that words are powerful incarnation to meaning. Theory and not object make art–and the Bowl-a-Rama is constantly renewing, the murals change, the carpet changes, the font on the sign changes, so it becomes an athropology project. Newman will never change.)