October 16, 2014 at 10:52am
I realised that life can be considered commonplace in spite of its appearing so beautiful at particular moments because in the former case one judges and underrates it on quite other grounds than itself, upon images which have no life in them. At most the difference between each real impression — differences which explain why a uniform pattern of life cannot resemble it — can probably be ascribed to this: that the slightest word we have spoken at a particular period of our life, the most insignificant gesture to which we have given vent, were surrounded, bore upon them the reflection of things which logically were unconnected with them, were indeed isolated from them by the intelligence which did not need them for reasoning but in the midst of which — here, the pink evening-glow upon the floral wall-decoration of a rustic restaurant, a feeling of hunger, sexual desire, enjoyment of luxury — there, curling waves beneath the blue of a morning sky enveloping musical phrases which partly emerge like mermaids’ shoulders — the most simple act or gesture remains enclosed as though in a thousand jars of which each would be filled with things of different colours, odours and temperature; not to mention that those vases placed at intervals during the growing years throughout which we ceaselessly change, if only in dream or in thought, are situated at completely different levels and produce the impression of strangely varying climates. It is true that these changes have occurred to us without our being aware of them; but the distance between the memory which suddenly returns and our present personality as similarly between two memories of different years and places, is so great that it would suffice, apart from their specific uniqueness to make comparison between them impossible.
Marcel Proust, Time Regained [trans. Stephen Hudson]
I knew at some point I would devote too great a part of my life to one particular book, and be irreparably harmed for doing so. But I kept reading Proust anyway.
Reading Proust is the converse of a dangerous endeavor. Much time is spent staring at paper with a narrator all too willing to remind you he’s staring at paper too. When he’s not staring at paper, he’s staring at people in pathways, people in beds, people not eating dinner. Proust demands complicity in this. As I drifted along on my fifteen year journey through these seven novels (a year off between each volume), I had to accept that not much would be added to the confines of my short term memory, and that at any moment I might fling the book across the room and go back to reading the internet.
When I read this excerpt a few months ago, wandering as if in a Nyquil daze from the 4/5 to the B/Q platforms inside Atlantic Terminal, I was reliving train rides to Balbec and the observations that remained with me thousands of pages ago. Time Regained stirs the soul’s waters and makes them murkier: memories intermix, become inseparable, until eventually - and this sounds insane I know - they become dependent upon one another. Now that I have reached the end, I am looking back on what I thought were fixed memories. They are as vital to me as they are to Proust. Sensations flood me - sensations of not just where I was when I read those scenes but what I saw when those images were conjured for me. They are as much their constituent parts as their whole, as much a single image as an aura.
I believed very strongly in endings when I was younger - and felt as though the sweep of a closed chapter of living fostered a sort of moral righteousness. I would end relationships and friendships resolutely; I would move on from experiences in search of new ones; I would discount the beauty of one isolated outpost of humanity because I was forever headed to another. I was told by some peers that this constituted a mark of maturity - an old soul’s approach to the finality, the forward progress that marks our time here on earth.
I realize now that maturity has nothing whatsoever to do with progress, self-determined or otherwise. A faith in the resoluteness of endings - any endings, even the endings of novels - seems painfully immature to me now, not because it was or is, but because that view resides within me in a place so closely associated with so many other infant perspectives that I’ve had to relinquish. I’ve grown to accept that things do not end quite so neatly as I’d like - not in death or the quiet of a night alone. And my question, and yours too probably, is “So what?”
Well, I think I’ve identified a ruse played on me as an adult, something I’m only now noticing. Here’s the example: I recognize a distinct change in my philosophy, from say, A to negative A, and believe this journey qualifies me as being somehow more enlightened than I had been before. I could reverse my previous faith in endings with what I have believed since, and claim that reversal as a selfsame personal growth. This is stupid. It is rank conformity. I would be coming dangerously close to sounding like one of those goddamned people who accused themselves of acting like fucking monsters ten years ago and feel righteous for knowing now what they should have known then. A belief in knowing better is no belief at all. To hell with endings. To hell with continuity. And while we’re at it, to hell with rebirth.
All this is supposed to lead somewhere. I began the first volume of In Search of Lost Time when I was 18. By the shear act of turning pages, I’ve now finished the final volume. If I am to believe what I once believed, I should be thrilled to have reached the ending. If I believe its converse, then I should admit that the book doesn’t really end at all. Marcel Proust has placed me somewhere in between these two fates, but I’m careful to withhold just exactly where this “somewhere” is.
The entire time I’ve been typing this I’ve come scarily close to offering “Proust’s thesis” - which any number of Amazon reviewers will do for you free of charge - as a guide for the casual reader to “get” what Proust is “doing” so that at least this post has some utility, something valuable as a “takeaway.” But “takeaways” are placed in plastic containers, their contents not long for this world, the containers themselves cruelly, ironically more permanent than we are. Proust’s novel is well over 4,000 pages and has become so deeply a part of my past that there is only the forward movement of turning pages awaiting me. I don’t believe any longer that this book has ended, or that I will finish it. I have just begun living it. The life that it has created within me, the space it has carved out, may be both purely aesthetic and as real as anything I count as genuine lived experience.
"I call Larry once in awhile to check on his ass to see what the fuck he’s into – see if he’s fucking with himself, playing with his balls or whatever the fuck he does in his spare time. I don’t know what Larry does in his spare time. Larry can be doing any fucking thing. For all I fucking know, Larry could have a toupee in his off time. I don’t know what Larry does. Larry might even dress up like a hip-hop star. I don’t fucking know what the fuck Larry does in his spare time cause I don’t see Larry in his spare time. Larry in his spare time is like seeing Elvis and shit. It’s some fucking weird shit. He’s like a living icon. He’s like a dead icon who’s living. Where the fuck is Larry at? And if you do see him, it’s like oh shit! Fuckin’ Larry! You know what I mean? You’re surprised like it’s Elvis or some shit. Like it’s the walking dead."
-JB Smoove, Rolling Stone [7.20.11]
Wire, “Another the Letter” from Chairs Missing 
Fish Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia [7.21.14]
Sam Cooke, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” from My Kind of Blues 
The Northumberland Strait, PEI/NS, Canada [07.26.14]
Frank Sinatra, “The Moon Was Yellow (And The Night Was Young)” from Moonlight Sinatra 
This 1917 recording of Brahms’ fifth Hungarian Dance is historically important for a couple of reasons. It is the first record Leopold Stokowski ever made with the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is also, probably, the first American recording of an orchestra to employ its full complement of musicians. Most earlier orchestral recordings, due to the limited technology of the time, employed reduced forces. For Stokowski’s first recordings, the Victor Talking Machine Company constructed two huge dome-like structures to be situated over the orchestra; these directed the sound into the acoustic recording horn and allowed Stokowski to record the whole orchestra — resulting in a much fuller sound than you normally hear in an acoustically recorded (pre-1925) record.
Also: That $1 price (in 1917 dollars) is equivalent to about $18 today — all for just under three minutes of music!
Indignation at literary wrongs I leave to men born under happier stars. I cannot afford it… There is no profession on earth, which requires an attention so early, so long, or so unintermitting as that of poetry; and indeed as that of literary composition in general, if it be such as at all satisfies the demands both of taste and of sound logic. How difficult and delicate a task even the mere mechanism of verse is, may be conjectured from the failure of those, who have attempted poetry late in life. Where then a man has, from his earliest youth, devoted his whole being to an object, which by the admission of all civilized nations in all ages is honourable as a pursuit, and glorious as an attainment; what of all that relates to himself and his family, if only we except his moral character, can have fairer claims to his protection, or more authorize acts of self-defence, than the elaborate products of his intellect and intellectual industry?
Prudence itself would command us to show, even if defect or diversion of natural sensibility had prevented us from feeling, a due interest and qualified anxiety for the offspring and representatives of our nobler being. I know it, alas! by woful experience. I have laid too many eggs in the hot sands of this wilderness, the world, with ostrich carelessness and ostrich oblivion. The greater part indeed have been trod under foot, and are forgotten; but yet no small number have crept forth into life, some to furnish feathers for the caps of others, and still more to plume the shafts in the quivers of my enemies, of them that unprovoked have lain in wait against my soul.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
Marvin Gaye, “Trouble Man” (Extended Version) from Trouble Man Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 
Landscapes, Prince Edward Island [07.26.14]
October 1, 2014 at 11:46am
Bob Dylan, “If Not For You” from The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait 
September 30, 2014 at 6:12pm
Prescribed myself some Dr. Barnes for the weeks ahead. A gorgeous edition. No expense spared. Standard hardcover size, it weighs almost 3 pounds.
I’m lost by life. I don’t know anything about life. If I make a movie, I don’t even understand why I’m making the movie. I just know that there’s something there. Later on, we all get to know what it’s about through the opinions of others. If you make a film, it might as well be as important as be nonsense. You can’t go for ten cents and expect to come up with a million. You have to go for everything. Whether you fail or don’t fail, you have to go for what will make us better when we’re finished. I like to work with friends and for friends on something that might help somebody. Something with humour, sadness; simple things. The artist really is a magical figure whom we would all like to be like and don’t have the courage to be, because we don’t have the strength to be obsessive. Film is an art, a beautiful art. It’s a madness that overcomes all of us. We’re in love with it. Money is really not that important to us. We can work thirty-six, forty-eight hours straight and feel elated at the end of that time. I think film is magic! With the tools we have at hand, we really try to convert people’s lives! The idea of making a film is to package a lifetime of emotion and ideas into a two-hour capsule form, two hours where some images flash across the screen and in that two hours the hope is that the audience will forget everything and that celluloid will change lives. Now that’s insane, that’s a preposterously presumptuous assumption, and yet that’s the hope.
— John Cassavetes (via bbook)
(Source: herewithmyabsentfriend, via unmondesanspitie-deactivated201)