We adapt. We create new fictions in order to adapt. The more things are beyond our control, the more fictions we create. This is the basic setup for one of the best films of 2015, “Room,” starring Brie Larson, who won an Oscar for her role as Joy, mother of five-year-old Jack.
The room in question is a shed. It’s their entire world, mother and son’s. They are not allowed to leave. Joy invents games and stories and explanations for Jack, in order to make this extraordinary situation ordinary. She invents games and stories and explanations in order to shield her boy from the harsh realities of life as a captive, a woman kidnapped seven years ago by a man they both call “Old Nick.”
We learn bits and pieces of their story as time goes on, but, at first, the freakish abnormality appears almost normal — Joy’s plan for her son. Just the two of them, making the best of it, with the occasional bouts … Click to continue . . .
The holy is not the gods. Humans have been told about thousands of different gods, for thousands of years, primarily to steer us into obedience of earthly powers, and to make us give up our searching.
The holy is not religion. Religions were designed to organize this obedience, to add layers and layers of fictional supports, to add so many layers our heads spin, so we give up our searching.
The holy is not empire, or nation, or nation-state. These things are formed to protect earthly power, with layers and layers of fictional supports, to make our heads spin, while they and their religions use the old gods and the new to make us obedient, so we give up our searching.
The holy is not money, or capitalism, or corporation. These things are used to power empire, or usurp it, to defend, expand or subsume it, so we remain in obedience to the … Click to continue . . .
An old trail opposed to change. A gate with the top slat for comments, “I was just here” etc. I must have missed you because the day hadn’t. Consequently, there is misery in your circle dotted I’s. Who takes the time to cauterize the wood and burn the careless pistols? Ah sure, it’s only testosterone but it’s fading just the same.
Squandered, fairly innocent chimes hanging from a tree. This place has suddenly become quietly profound. Formally just the jingle of tact, none of which was particularly happening. Now an unthematic sound abides inclusively. The chimes allow someone’s prayers to catch a wind and wave phonetically.
Don DeLillo, the author of White Noise and Underworld, has given us one of his best novels to date at the ripe old age of 79. The subject matter is fitting. It’s about mortality, life after death — or its absence — and is a poetic meditation on the potential of science to extend said life. It may also be about the potential for junk science to heighten and exploit our delusions regarding the hereafter, but DeLillo doesn’t tell us how we should take this. One way or the other. And its success, its strong, compact prose, its aphoristic beauty in parts, its solid craftsmanship, also go against one of my own (poorly supported) theories about artistic creation: That its quality tends to go down over time, and with novelists, especially, declines rapidly after one’s 30s or 40s. DeLillo is clearly, skillfully playing with our prejudices and beliefs on several levels. What is “decline”? Is it all in our … Click to continue . . .
I can breathe here. With exceptions, like when large groups of tourists descend upon the mountains. When engines rev too high. When children flock to the trails, run, scream at each other, in joy or out of spite. Mostly, it’s quiet enough to hear the mountains. If you listen carefully, you can hear them breathe, too. Not like my breath. Especially not like my labored breath after I walk up trails.
Walking down them is much easier.
But that’s not the mountain’s breath. Its breath is slow and long and like a controlled blast of wind. So controlled, it’s more like a breeze set free.
Sent soaring above the valleys, with the birds, with the higher clouds and their child wisps. How many times have I stopped, stared at the clouds, the birds and their inhuman children and wanted to go there. Not much higher than they are. But a little bit. High enough to see them below me, and then … Click to continue . . .
Over the years, I’ve become more and more interested in photography — in taking pictures, myself. When I was young and pursuing a degree in Art, with painting the focus, I was ambivalent about it as an art. I couldn’t really see it at nearly the same level as painting, as involving the same degree of talent, much less genius. Of course, at the time, my list of snobbish opinions regarding a host of different things was too long to detail, and would fill a book or two. Snobbery about books was, perhaps, at the top of that list.
But with age comes, if not wisdom, then at least some understanding of one’s limits — perhaps because those limits are starting to manifest themselves in ways we simply can no longer shrug off. Age, if utilized, causes us to slow down a bit, stop, take notice of our once take-no-prisoners declarations of likes and dislikes, and wonder: Could I have been wrong about … Click to continue . . .
Known by most as the lead singer of Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter was already a seasoned vet of 30 when he took the helm of that quintessential Glitter Rock band. I became a much bigger fan when he struck out on his own with his first solo effort in 1975, Ian Hunter, and continued to follow him through subsequent efforts — with All-American Alien Boy and You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic being favorites.
For me, Ian Hunter was like an English Dylan, one who didn’t try to hide his accent, his rawness, his earthiness. He wrote great songs, and had excellent Rock musicians backing him, especially Mick Ronson, David Sanborn, Jaco Pastorius and Queen. The sonic variety of his music impressed me always. Tough, hard-edged to sweet, rowdy to contemplative, raw to cooked and back again, his oeuvre is one of the best in the Rock world and is easily among the most overlooked and underrated.