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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Eno’

Staff Picks: Gold Teeth, Hawk Noses, Flying Cars

July 8, 2016 | by


Andy Thomas’s animation of bird sounds.

In 1924, Samuel Beckett, eighteen, lurked at a Sunday salon in Dublin, standing obtuse and silent against the wall, his head down as conversation breathed around him. Five years later, in 1929, in Paris, he sat silently on the edge of a circle of James Joyce’s acolytes, while “Shem” (Beckett’s affectionate sobriquet for Dublin’s literary master) held court. On a balmy afternoon, in 1932, he slouched into a corner during tea at Walter Lowenfels’s (a cheerful American—and failed publisher—in Paris’s literary society), where he sat “tall, thin, looking like a forest ranger in a Western.” Beckett’s dark form—I imagine him in the shadows of these parties, hunched, hawk-nose angled down, and blue eyes focused on a point—is a recurring image in the early chapters of Samuel Beckett, the 1978 biography by Deirdre Bair that I started reading this weekend. But these aren’t my only impressions of him. Bair was given unprecedented access to Beckett: the book was written while he was still alive, and though he didn’t give her any interviews, he allowed Bair to write to his friends and family, informing them that they should give her whatever they like. And so Beckett emerges—layered, brilliant, brooding, genius. —Caitlin Love

From the first page of Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel Zama—in which the eponymous hero spies a monkey’s floating corpse “caught among the posts of the decrepit wharf … ready to go and not going”—a humid nimbus cloud of despair settles over the story, never to dissolve. Set in the Paraguay of the late eighteenth century, Zama follows a bureaucrat in his tortured efforts to secure a better position in far-off Buenos Aires, where he hopes to settle with his even-farther-off wife and children. Listless, phlegmatic, and increasingly horny, Zama wanders the lush country doing something close to nothing, watching almost distantly as he loses his moral compass. As a study in exile, paranoia, and the lonely tedium of quashed ambitions, this is great shit. But read it above all for the triumph of its style: Zama holds forth in deep, stewing paragraphs as pompous as they are incisive. It’s Sartre by way of J. Peterman, and in Esther Allen’s translation it still feels unique and alive. —Dan Piepenbring Read More »

The Idylls of Prison, and Other News

March 4, 2014 | by


Alyse Emdur, Anonymous Backdrop Painted in State Correctional Facility, Otisville, New York. Image via Beautiful Decay.

  • Who owns the moon? It could be you! (It’s probably not you.)
  • The National Enquirer’s sixties covers show how the language of scandal has evolved—what used to pass as odious is now just sort of quaint. “I’M A SLOB. I Burp & Slurp in Public,” says one headline. The horror.
  • Brian Eno has chosen twenty essential books for saving civilization; I’ve read zero of them.
  • “I thought at the time it was really bad luck to survive. I really wanted to die with them.” An interview with a kamikaze pilot.
  • The surreal world of prison portraiture: “visitation rooms of penitentiaries have backdrops where friends and family can get pictures taken of/with the inmate … Often, these backgrounds are idyllic landscapes that offer the inmate a moment to emotionally escape their sentence.”