Archive for November, 2012
Am reading or re-reading two of the great macho writers: Dashiell Hammett and Robert E. Howard. Both were emasculated after death by female biographers who were close to them. Novalyne Price's posthumous quotes from Howard make him seem like another mere angry right-winger ranting about the death of civilization. Lillian Hellman in her intro to The Big Knockover dwells on Hammett's illnesses, drinking, and years as a non-productive writer.* I haven't read Price's Howard bios, only the quotes a Howard scholar lifted from them but he sounds like an ass, which he is anything but in his supremely confident writing.
Price admits not liking one of his main creations, Conan the Barbarian. It's hard to see how this wouldn't color her impressions of the man. "Oh yeah, world, you like that big brawler? Well let me tell you about the mama's boy who created him (after he is safely dead)."
The interesting stories, O Long-Lived Women, are not the bundles of frailties behind the legends but how the frailties were transcended or sidestepped in writing that endures. In her Knockover intro Hellman tells us nothing about how the young Hammett could be so smart about human nature or how his years with the Pinkerton detective agency prepared him for his intricately-wrought plots. Instead we get emphysema, hoarding, booze and jail. You have to keep reminding yourself as you read what Mary McCarthy famously said about Hellman. Conan, as Howard paints him, is more akin to a philosopher-king than Schwarzenegger muscleman, and the stories, like Hammett's, have a preternaturally wised-up world view for having been written by someone so young (and even less travelled than Hammett). That's what we want to know about, not his personal opinions on, say, how decaying societies become sex-obsessed. In fairness to Price, perhaps her biographies bristle with more insight than the few quotes I've read -- will read them and let you know.
And of course, biography is not literary criticism and we shouldn't hold that standard to people who tell us about people. Unfortunately literary critics look at any scraps of biographical info (especially about tight-lipped writers) to explain the stories. Hence this short gripe.
*Update: A friend commented that Hellman also attests to Hammett's intelligence and character in that intro. True, but her compliments seem backhanded: the lingering image is of a man reading a stack of complicated books on a variety of subjects yet no longer assimilating them into art.
I ordered some survival candles after Sandy and now I'm getting catalogs for scary-looking knives.
Thanks to Aron Namenwirth for this photo of yours truly assaulting the groovebox at Apex Art last night.
The mock-retail background elements are from Apex's current show celebrating fictional products and brands.
"Ladies' Paradise I" [2.5 MB .mp3]*
"Who Let Him Out? (Ladies' Paradise II)" [4.8 MB .mp3]*
"Semi-Aleatoric" (previously posted)
"Spring Forward" (previously posted)
"New Wavs" [mp3 removed -- tune is now on Bandcamp]
"Fork It Over Remix" [5.3 MB .mp3]
Many thanks to event organizer Marc Weidenbaum and Apex for a well-planned, fun evening.
*I told Marc I would post on Soundcloud the two "Ladies' Paradise" remixes above, based on samples I made from the Disquiet Junto retail store field recordings, but I lied. Just realized Soundcloud requires a Facebook login, and you know what that means around here. For the time being I hope I can be classed as a Junto Adjunct - if that's OK with Marc.
Update: Am told I "don't need Facebook to make a Soundcloud account" but this sign-up screen has Zuckerprints all over it!
woodfloors: that's just a button.. the form below requires no such zuckery
tommoody: if that's the case they need to work on their layout - "sign up with facebook" probably shouldn't be the first thing you see when you come to the login screen
melipone: fb wants and is close to being the single login
tommoody: it's just - it's just - evil
extravagant bows to jameriaqai and @bitch
Tonight I'll be performing music at Apex Art in Tribeca in connection with the Rob Walker-curated exhibit "As Real As It Gets." Marc Weidenbaum organized the sound art component of the show, which runs until December 22, including tonight's event.
Repeating my earlier description:
Walker's show deals with branding and commercialism, including fictional precedents and fake products. Inspired by Emile Zola's description of a bustling 19th Century department store, Weidenbaum asked musicans to make and then modify field recordings of actual retail spaces in the present-day world.
My performance will include a music piece based on some of these recordings, as well as one other recent work.
The other performers are Arcka (Shawn Kelly), Brian Biggs, Ethan Hein, Kenneth Kirschner, Joon Oluchi Lee, and Roddy Schrock. The event starts at 6:30 pm at Apex Art, 291 Church Street, New York, NY. I hope to see you there.
GIF by plams; optimized from its original 1.7 MB down to 185 KB, at the loss of some blade motion.
"Give me a picture with a girl, a baby, and a helicopter and I can sell anything." --J. Walter Thompson, 1944
Two kinds of people can be found on city streets: those with white wires trailing out of their ears, babbling gibberish into the void and those walking quietly -- observing, listening, thinking.
Last night something in a dream cracked me up and I woke up at 3 AM laughing. This rarely happens; am not sure it's ever happened. It was some combination of images and a badly spelled word.
I am about to jettison my landline. Verizon still has these legacy copper wire customers they are neglecting because the big push is for wireless this and that. Every year or so I get overwhelming static on the line and some hapless unionized guy has to go up the pole and kind of half-fix it. I will switch to all-cell service but it ain't gonna be Verizon. F*** your shitty company.
generous nods to ssnack, joy, kiptok, others
"I Said Fork It Over" [5.2 MB .mp3]
A short, sort of drone metal chamber music piece for modular synth and PC. The slightly skewed harmonies at the middle and end were done by physically dialing among waveforms in a wavetable oscillator.
The occasional background crackles are a feature rather than a bug of the sampler module used to make the drone sounds, one I'm not entirely wild about but don't care enough to try to filter out. There are plug-ins that give you that kind of lo-fi texture!