Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’
June 27, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- At ninety-seven, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still telling stories, hanging out with Sterling Lord, and drinking Merlot, as one does: “The partnership between Mr. Ferlinghetti and Mr. Lord, two towering legends in the publishing world, traces back to the heady, early days of the Beat movement, when a literary and cultural revolution was ignited by a band of iconoclastic writers … Both men attribute the longevity of their lives and careers partly to the fact that they weren’t as wild as the Beat writers they championed. Mr. Lord, who cycled through four marriages, hung around with many of the rebellious, semi-feral writers he represented, but he was always the straight man. He never even smoked cigarettes, at least not in the last half-century. ‘I did smoke a little, in my thirties,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t inhale.’ ”
- The biographer Michael Shelden would like to say that Herman Melville had a mistress, and William Giraldi would like to say that it doesn’t really matter: “Biographers have long known about Sarah Morewood, the Melvilles’ bewitching neighbor in Pittsfield, Massachusetts—an indefatigable thrower of parties and the Berkshires’ top literary hanger-on—but Shelden wants you to know her in the Biblical sense. ‘Sexy beyond measure,’ Morewood is ‘one of the great unsung figures in literary history,’ a woman who ‘didn’t like to take no for an answer.’ Shelden describes her as Melville’s ‘goddess in his Berkshire paradise,’ the ‘powerful key to unlocking his secrets,’ an ‘untamed spirit’ whose ‘seductive powers worked their wonders on more than a few men.’ Her supposed years-long affair with Melville was ‘so intimate and revealing that it colored every aspect of his life.’ Shelden’s panting, cliché-choked style soon has you reaching for the light switch and candle, then the cigarette and bonbons.”
- Eliot, Auden, and Yeats all praised David Jones’s 1937 In Parenthesis as a masterpiece, the best long poem to come out of World War I—so how come no one reads it anymore? “Fuelled by direct experience, but highly composed, with a frame of reference that reaches across centuries, In Parenthesis works at the level of poetry, yet isn’t verse, nor, I’d argue, a poem. Multiple narrative possibilities are deployed throughout, fragmented lyricism giving way to sections of prose, dialogue, stream of consciousness, slang and song. The flow between these modes and registers never feels anything less than organic, and yet the work is built upon a parenthetical structure of mathematical precision; a subterranean architecture of image, pace and movement that provides a governing background rhythm to the multiple transitions of voice, perspective and cadence … In the seventy years since its publication it has been too rarely read, or even known, though it has maintained an influence on writers and poets working in its wake.”
- Isn’t it time you took a good, hard look at the typefaces and art design in Blade Runner? The movie is set in 2019, and that’s right around the corner—best to be prepared. Don’t worry. A lot of it will be familiar, including “a neon advertisement for popular American food processor manufacturer Cuisinart … Cuisinart are far from the only 1980s company advertised in 2019’s Los Angeles cityscape, however. We once again meet American flag-carrier Pan Am … popular carbonated sugar-water Coca-Cola … perennial halitosis-mitigator Dentyne … extraterrestrial game manufacturer Atari … regularly product-placed watch manufacturer Bulova … alcoholic beverage brand Budweiser … and genius, irreverent, sexy mythical perfume brand Jōvan.”
- Spending time in Berlin this summer? I know this cool artists’ collective curating this cool Biennale you might want to che—oh … wait … “the Berlin Biennale has, under DIS’s curation, transformed from one of Europe’s most critical pinnacles of contemporary art into a vast obsolescent pageant of irrelevance, a disposable cobranding opportunity made to measure for privileged shareholders with little (if any) connection to the numerous issues facing Germany, Europe, or the international community today. Instead, what DIS have come up with is an exhibition so vacuous, ideologically apathetic, ahistorical, sarcastic, and dehumanizing, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been blacklisted solely on account of its conformity to commodity fetishism.”
May 11, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Miao Xiaochun’s new exhibition, “Echo,” is at Galerie Paris-Beijing from May 12 through June 18. A Chinese digital artist, Xiaochun specializes in what he’s called “algorithmic painting,” recasting work from a religious European tradition—famous canvases from the likes of Bosch or Brueghel—as vibrant, science-fictional virtual worlds. These dreamscapes are “populated,” as the gallery puts it, “by strange cybernetic beings, with no clothes, character, or expression.” See more of his work on Art Radar.
Read More »
April 22, 2016 | by The Paris Review
On a sad, sad morning, thanks to J. J. Sullivan for sending us this 1989 cover of “When You Were Mine,” by the Blue Rubies. —Lorin Stein
Since Mary Ruefle’s 2008 book Most of It, I’ve watched for a second collection of her short prose. So I was pleased when we published two such pieces from her upcoming book, My Private Property, in our Spring issue. (NB: they’re nestled under Poetry, but as Ruefle told me over the phone, she doesn’t think them poems, per se.) I’ve since gotten my hands on a galley of that book and have read it twice over: Ruefle is as good as ever. In forty-one ambrosial bits, she muses on everything from programs littering a concert-hall floor to menopause to what a bird might think as it watches a woman die. Many of these begin simply—with a golf pencil or a string of Christmas-tree lights—but they unspool into larger existential meditations, on language and death, on creation and sadness and boredom; some are even doused in whimsy. Ruefle’s is a soothing, enlightening voice—always playful, always gentle, and always unfettering some ineffable truth. There’s a closeness I feel toward her as I read this book, as if she’s telling me all the secrets of this world—or at least of hers—and that I’d be wise to listen. “And if you sleep through a truth,” she writes, “you will wake at the bitter end.” —Caitlin Youngquist
This summer marks the bicentennial anniversary of “Frankenstein”—not the book itself, but the spoken nub of the story, which Mary Shelley first narrated by firelight in Switzerland in the summer of 1816. The eighteen-year-old Shelley had traveled with her lover, Percy Bysshe Shelley, their infant son, and Mary’s stepsister to the shores of Lake Geneva. Their idea was to spend the season with Lord Byron, far from the dreary chill of London. This part of the story is well-known: incessant rain confined the group to the house, and to fight off cabin fever, they each wrote a ghost story. Shelley summoned the tale of Frankenstein, whose frequent confusion with his nameless creation became a great gift to two centuries of pedants, and, lately, to Twitter. What I learned this week, however, from a recent episode of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg’s indispensable BBC radio show, is that the bad weather that night had its own traceable origin. A year before the Lake Geneva gathering, the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history occurred in Indonesia. The explosion, of a mountain called Tambora, threw thirty-eight cubic miles of rock, ash, and magma into the air. The airborne cloak of sunlight-reflecting ejecta circled the globe and was ultimately responsible for the “ungenial” weather of 1816, which became known as the Year Without a Summer. Tambora’s explosion likely killed some seventy thousand people, so it was hardly the innocuous butterfly of classic chaos theory. Still, we can guess that Shelley might have appreciated, at some level, the distant and violent origins of her tale. “Every thing must have a beginning,” she wrote in the 1831 introduction to Frankenstein, “and that beginning must be linked to something that went before … Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” —Robert P. Baird
Read More »
April 12, 2016 | by Edward Gauvin
How Blutch’s graphic novel Peplum shatters the Satyricon.
In an interview after Peplum’s first publication in book form, Blutch tells of a reader who asked him why he was such a difficult author. “But I don’t feel like I’m difficult at all!” he exclaimed. “I don’t understand why I get asked that. What I do is fairly simple, and not at all intellectual. In my stories, I try to favor action.” And in action, Blutch’s book abounds: stabbing, stoning, amputation, eye-gouging, sex, seafaring, Attic dance, pirate attacks. Yet these sequences are as artificial as they are visceral, feral, and formal at once. Taking as its title the European term for the sword-and-sandal cinematic subgenre, Peplum offers a decidedly different take on the toga epic—one of aporia and ambiguity, a fractured tale of antiquity in all its alien majesty. Read More »
February 1, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Philip Larkin’s poems and letters present him as misanthropic, hard-hearted, and above all miserable—but he moonlighted as a photographer, and his work in the medium shows a dramatically different side of him. “In their sociability, tenderness, and sweep, the photographs complicate the caricature of Larkin as England’s laureate of despair, squeezing out lines between shifts as a university librarian … Rather than a poet committed to monkish isolation and routine, Larkin the photographer appears as an eager traveller through Britain and Ireland, with [Monica] Jones often in tow … Larkin kept these travels, and the photographs they inspired, a secret from pen pals like Kingsley Amis, for whom he reserved obscenity-filled reports of his own bitterness and alienation—his wide-eyed curiosity replaced by an ironic sneer.”
- A new exhibition at the Jewish Museum, “The Power of Pictures,” looks at the revolutionary intent of early Soviet photography and film: “Russia’s new political masters wanted to create a new society and a ‘new Soviet man’ … Many of the best-known avant-garde artists embraced this task with enthusiasm: some felt as though their art was the engine driving history. Artists like El Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Stepanova, Goncharova, Malevich, Mayakovsky, and Tatlin—to varying degrees influenced by Cubism, Futurism, and other western European movements, as well as by Russian folk traditions—had been making work that in different ways sought to redefine the very notion of art … Photography was the perfect medium for promoting the new state order. Its use in newspapers, magazines, posters, journals, and books as something other than portraiture was a new phenomenon. It was by definition ‘modern’ and ‘forward-looking’—a non-elitist medium for the age of mechanical reproduction.”
- We’ve all tired of the manic-pixie dream girl, that brazen testament to the narrowness of the male imagination. But John Green, in his young-adult novels, gives the stereotype considerably more depth: “In Green’s novels, there is considerable tension between the potent appeal of his manic pixie characters, the excitement and fun they bring into the narrators’ lives, and the messages these characters impart about their own lives and identities. It is only through celebrating the quirky charisma of manic pixie dream girls and fully exploring their attraction that he is able to show their accompanying problems … In his most complex work, he deconstructs the type, showing readers the pitfalls of defining others in narrowed ways … ”
- Afronauts, the Ghanaian director Frances Bodomo’s new film, tells the little-known story of the Zambian space program, which mounted an ambitious attempt to send twelve astronauts to the moon in the sixties. “Zambia’s landscape isn’t really arid desert; it’s not really desolate,” Bodomo says. “And this is where the sci-fi comes into it, because you can take liberties and telling an alternative history comes into to it. You know it’s wonderful that they’re already on this landscape that already feels like the moon, that already feels like they’re already where they’re going. That feels like the message at the end of the film, that they’re already where they always wanted to be. The loneliness and the pain and the self-negation that exists here is what it’s going to be up there. The trials and tribulations here are going to be up there. Visually, they’re already in their dream space.”
- Concrete, simplicity, utopia—let’s hear it for brutalism, people. Put your hands together for brutalism. A new book by Christopher Beanland argues that we must learn to love brutalist architecture, and that there’s plenty to love in it: “The key thing about concrete, Beanland argues, is it can span great distances (enabling architects to construct stronger and more spacious buildings) and be stretched into wild shapes, from ziggurats and beehives to flying saucers … Beanland believes our concrete nostalgia is a protest against the greed of the current housing market, with cities like London being bought up by the international super-rich.”
January 12, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Hiroki Tsukuda’s “Enter the O,” the artist’s first exhibition in the U.S., opens this Thursday, January 14, at Petzel Gallery, in New York. Tsukuda, who lives in Tokyo, draws his inspiration from science fiction and video games; his works in ink and charcoal feature a welter of futurist architecture and industrial design. His compositions are always dense with infrastructure, looping and jutting out at acute angles. It’s as if some midcentury modernist utopia had been corroded by the needs of a burgeoning population, and eventually abandoned to the forces of nature. Having been colorblind since he was a child, Tsukuda developed a sensitivity to shading and contrast—reflected in the works on display here, which are largely monochromatic. He said in a 2013 interview with Freunde von Freunden that he aims to create the sense of having escaped to an alternate reality:
I always had a strong desire to travel to another realm outside of this world, even from a young age. It’s not that I hated reality and wanted to escape; it was more like I wanted to take a peek into the parallel universe that exists on the other side of this world. So when seeing a landscape or buildings, I always imagined that there was a spacecraft launching pad in the mountains or was convinced that the building was actually a secret research lab. A huge bridge 12,300 meters in length called Seto-Ohashi was built when I was a child, and I remember vividly seeing it close up for the first time. I was blown away by the unbelievable size of its concrete mass. For me, it was absolutely an ancient ruin from another universe. So I doodled a bunch of stuff like that as a kid, like a cross-section of a mountain and a facility underneath it ... I often choose motifs that are symbolically beautiful: beautiful landscapes, sculptures that are considered historically beautiful or sexy images that I find online. By transforming a part of this, a sense of awkwardness is created, as well as an indication or a sign, that broadly speaking creates a feeling of being abducted.
“Enter the O” is at Petzel Gallery through February 20. See more images below.
Read More »