Posts Tagged ‘Edward Hopper’
January 2, 2013 | by Jacob Leland
The opening scenes of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times demonstrate the indignities mechanized factory production perpetrates upon the bodies of its workers. The first shot, of sheep herded into a pen, dissolves into one of men leaving the subway. They’re bound, the viewer assumes, for the kind of job in which the next cut finds Chaplin’s Little Tramp: working on an assembly line, his motions so repetitive that they become reflexive. He can’t stop twisting his wrists, as if to tighten bolts, even when he leaves the station where he tightens bolts all day. His body is so bound to the line and to the factory that the same boss who controls the conveyor belt’s speed also controls the movements of the Tramp’s body. Finally, the factory extends its control to the Tramp’s last autonomous function: eating his lunch.
A salesman so committed to mechanization that he lets a machine speak for him has brought to the factory boss’s office a prototype of “the Billows Feeding Machine, a practical device which automatically feeds your men while at work.” He asks the boss to pick one of his workers for a demonstration, and of course Chaplin’s Tramp is volunteered. Strapped into the machine, hands incapacitated, the helpless Tramp watches the machine rotate plates before him: soup, air-cooled between spoonfuls; corn, spinning on its cob; cubes of meat, pushed by a mechanical arm from the plate into his mouth; and finally cake for dessert. The machine promises to “eliminate the lunch hour.”
Even before the machine goes predictably haywire—speeding up, spilling soup on the Tramp’s shirt and cake in his face (always pausing, hilariously, to wipe his mouth)—it’s clear to the viewer that some kind of line has been crossed. Read More »
November 28, 2011 | by Avi Steinberg
Because I do not want to die in the brawny arms of an industrial-kitchen-fixtures salesman from Tulsa—at least, not one I’ve only just met—I don’t much care for airline travel. During a recent trip from Salt Lake City, my Boeing 757 began to lurch and heave and make dreadful noises. At times we seemed to be in free fall. I caught the look on our veteran flight attendant’s face as she rushed by: it was genuine fear. During one particularly terrifying plunge, I felt the brawny fingers of that kitchen-fixtures salesman inching toward me, tugging at my sleeve. I needed an escape. I reached into the seat pocket in front of me.
At 33,000 feet, and falling, we are presented with roughly the same options as on earth. First, we get the in-flight magazine’s glossy parade of petit bourgeois distraction. But, face it, when your plane is going down, what good is a recipe for a quick and easy hake with hazelnuts and capers? For those seeking something more directly relevant, there’s the Sartre-esque barf bag. But for those of us who occupy that metaphysical middle ground between the in-flight magazine and the barf bag, there’s the airline safety card.
November 18, 2011 | by The Paris Review
I was thrilled when a copy of The Doll—Daphne du Maurier’s early short stories, some “lost”—arrived in the office. They’re not all amazing, but when she’s good, she’s great. There’s the same sense of cold dread that pervades Don’t Look Now and Rebecca, and the title story presages the latter’s themes of obsession. (Not to mention, the object of obsession is named ... Rebecca.) —Sadie Stein
Olympia Le-Tan’s world! I dream of carrying my MetroCard and keys inside one of her handmade books, or minaudières, as they say in France. —Jessica Calderon
“I often feel that the scenes in Edward Hopper paintings are scenes from my own past” writes Mark Strand in Hopper, which pairs the artist’s paintings with Strand’s prose ruminations on them. It’s a little like meandering through a gallery with the poet. In it, “we feel the presence of what is hidden, of what surely exists but is not revealed … It weighs on us like solitude.” —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn
I’ve been reading and rereading the lovely long poem “The Blue Book” from Anna Moschovakis’s I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone. Its circuitous logic, in which one line feeds off the one before it, is mesmerizing. Each section describes the progression of an idea as a kind of mathematical equation, proving itself even as it calls itself into question. —Nicole Rudick