“The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso
“Lord Ganesh of curved elephant trunk and huge body,
Whose brilliance is equal to billions of suns in intensity,
Always removes all obstacles from my endeavours truly,
I respectfully pray to him with all my revered sincerity.”
– 31 -”
― Munindra Misra, Chants of Hindu Gods and Godesses in English Rhyme
I have always been intrigued by art depicting the Hindu deity Ganesha. This is one from the DMA.
“There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
One of the nice things about travelling to different places and looking at the art is finding the same sculpture in two settings.
What is even better is finding very similar sculptures by the same artist – compare and contrast. Two Miro birds, one in Houston, Oiseau, and one in Dallas, Moonbird.
“She was like a drowning person, flailing, reaching for anything that might save her. Her life was an urgent, desperate struggle to justify her life.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
At some point we’ve got to stop asking ourselves what is the meaning of everything, maybe it’s not so very important what it means. It’s probably more important what the sense of it is.. they are two very basic and different things.
I have been a fan of the sculptor Tony Cragg for some time. During a tough time I was buoyed by visiting an exhibition of his work at the Nasher Scupture Center here in Dallas.
There is also a nice piece of his work called Stevenson in the garden at the Dallas Museum of Art.
One of the cool things about sculpture is finding work by familiar artists at new locations. I enjoyed finding a Tony Cragg work, New Forms, at the Cullen Sculpture Garden in Houston.
“You can only cruise the boulevards of regret so far, and then you’ve got to get back up onto the freeway again.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice
So, last September I read Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon because… well, because it is Thomas Pynchon – but more specifically because I had read that Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master) was making a film based on the book and I wanted to experience the text first.
Pynchon has occupied a great many of my thoughts and a large part of my time ever since I first picked up a paperback copy of Gravity’s Rainbow at the KU Bookstore in 1976 or so (I was not able to finish it for a quarter century – not until a summary, an online page by page annotation, and wiki helped me keep the characters straight). I have read most of the rest of his oeuvre (still have an unopened copy of Bleeding Edge on my bookshelf) and am most assuredly a fan.
Up until I read Inherent Vice I considered Pynchon’s fiction to be unfilmable. After reading it, I agreed with PTA in that Inherent Vice was only almost unfilmable. He had tried to adapt Vineland into a movie, but realized that was impossible.
Because of business and inattention to the Internet, I missed the Dallas showings of the film in December, but finally a wider release was in the offing. My son and his friends saw it over the initial weekend, but I wasn’t able to fit the time in so I decided to go after work.
On Monday I logged into the Alamo Drafthouse website (it’s only a stone’s throw from my house and my work) and bought a ticket for that evening. I was tired and it was bitter cold and I knew that if I didn’t buy it ahead of time I would wimp out after work and go home and sleep.
The Alamo Drafthouse is such a nice experience. You get a reserved seat, craft beer (Temptress Baby!) and the food isn’t bad at all. I ordered a hamburger – a Royale With Cheese, of course. Alamo’s policy of no talking and no cellphones is certainly a welcome perk.
So… how was the film.
If you are a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson you will be disappointed. This isn’t a PTA movie; it is a Pynchon movie. PTA’s movies can be weird (Frogs!?) but this one is WEIRD. What makes it crazy making if you don’t know what to expect is that he sets the stage with so many familiar tropes and then abandons them without a moment’s hesitation or regret. From the trailer you might think that it is a detective story – about a search for a missing billionaire and the detective’s old girlfriend – hoary old familiar plot devices -, but from the book I knew that this is a feint – that nothing is going to be explained, nothing is going to make sense, and the mystery will fade away rather than be resolved. What the hell exactly is The Golden Fang anyways?
You might also think that this is going to be a druggie comedy in the style of The Big Lebowski. There are elements of that – but the comedy is overshadowed by Pynchon’s signature paranoia and despair.
But, that said – I thought it was great. It is the kind of thing you will like if you like that kind of thing.
Despite the ending being changed and large sections of the novel excised (you have to do this to get a tolerable running time) it is amazingly faithful to the book – for good and bad.
What was crazy for me is the way the characters speak. I have been reading Pynchon for so long I am very familiar with the unique language a Pynchonian character uses – his cadence, style, and subject matter. I have been reading these letters on the page and hearing them in my head for decades.
Now, to hear these words coming out of another human being’s mouth was astounding. I could only shake my head at this ephemeral world of imagination now come to life on the silver screen.
Notes From the Scrum: The thing you love can kill you
As the car’s front bumper hit my rear wheel, the sound of it wasn’t but absorbed. The front wheel popped out, and the tire ripped off as the violence of energy went from car to bike and human being. I came down on a naked fork going roughly 25 miles per hour.
And so this is how it happens. This is how you die.
People are everywhere, and the traffic of presence is jammed in my head. Cars stopped; a deputy from the sheriff’s office arrived; a firefighter was pressing my wrist and along my vertebrae; I watched the road rash on my lower right leg, at first blush the only real injury, begin to weep. The general consensus was that I was on some nine-lives stuff, flanked by angels, lucky beyond reason. I never even heard the car before it hit me. The driver wrote her speed down on the police report as “35?”
We were all thankful and happy under the circumstances; I had been obliterated from behind at a decent clip speed and was standing up, talking. We were happy as we could be, given the fact that I could be dead.
Until the Colorado Highway Patrol showed up.
Walking toward me as I sat on the side of the road shivering under a heavy coat, one of them asked, without any precursor, if we were riding two across. If we were riding in the middle of the road.
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“I think to myself:
I don’t want to survive this one
I want to burn up in the wreckage”
― Henry Rollins, The Portable Henry Rollins
Cullen Sculpture Garden, Houston Museum of Fine Art