Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Art Garfunkel's reading list 1968-1970.

Art Garfunkel, Watermark LP, 1977.

Every year since 1968 Art Garfunkel has kept a detailed list of the books he has read, and wow, he plows through up to 30 a year sometimes.   Its amazing how fast you forget the details of your daily life as it passes-- what books you've read, what movies you've seen, what cities you've visited.   I can barely remember what I ate yesterday, so I try to get in the habit of recording my daily life in list form like Sir Garfunkel, from what films I see to what books I read.   I love the record keeping because its so satisfying to look back on what you've accomplished at the end of the year.  And sometimes surprising that you're actual life is nothing like you imagine it to be.   A comprehensive annual list of the material you've been soaking up all year can be a good catalyst to refocus your references, pointing you back in the direction you want to face.    You are what you consume.  Especially when there's still territory to explore, there's no reason not to have a list of books and movies reflecting your area of interest or expertise.   And, a list full of guilty pleasure movies probably means you need to either stop feeling guilty or cut the references out of your media diet.    I fancy myself a silent film lover, but looking at past years, I realize there's not a silent film on my movie list-- its time to put a few Chaplins on my queue.

Really, I think discovering Art's book list years ago, seeing the 40 years of books laid out in front of me, the accomplishment of an afro-ed folk singer on a quest to devour literature and life, inspired me to start recording lists of what I've seen and done.  My memory is so atrocious, if I didn't have my lists, I wouldn't know what Ive seen & done.

Below is Garfunkel's list from 68 to 70, to see the complete 40 year book list, and a list of Garfunkel's favorites of the bunch, go to his official website here.   Those with astrick's on this list below are included among his all-time favorite reads.

Jun 1968
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Confessions *
 606 pp.
Jun 1968
Erich Fromm
The Art of Loving *
146 pp.
Jun 1968
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
288 pp.
Jul 1968
James Thurber
My Life and Hard Times
115 pp.
Jul 1968
William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet
146 pp.
Aug 1968
John Barth
The End of the Road
206 pp.
Sept 1968
Aldous Huxley
Brave New World
199 pp.
Sept 1968
Fritz Peters
Boyhood with Gurdjieff
174 pp.
Oct 1968
P.D. Ouspensky
In Search of the Miraculous *
389 pp.
Nov 1968
Russell H. Miles
Johann Sebastian Bach, Intro to his Life & Works
164 pp.
Dec 1968
Hunter Davies
The Beatles
340 pp.
Dec 1968
P.D. Ouspensky
The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin
166 pp.
Jan 1969
René Daumal
Mount Analogue
106 pp.
Jan 1969
Bernard Malamud
The Assistant
192 pp.
Jan 1969
C.G. Jung
Memories, Dreams, Reflections
359 pp.
Jan 1969
Philip Roth
Goodbye, Columbus
97 pp.
Feb 1969
Malcolm X and Alex Haley
460 pp.
Feb 1969
Jule Eisenbud, M.D.
The World of Ted Serios
339 pp.
Feb 1969
Penelope Gilliatt
A State of Change
221 pp.
Feb 1969
Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray
234 pp.
Feb 1969
Joseph Heller
Catch 22
463 pp.
Feb 1969
144 pp.
Feb 1969
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
182 pp.
Feb 1969
L.N. Tolstoy
War and Peace *
1444 pp.
May 1969
Philip Roth
Portnoy's Complaint *
274 pp.
May 1969
George Orwell
Down and Out in Paris and London
155 pp.
Jun 1969
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamazov
701 pp.
Jun 1969
Norman Podhoretz
Making It
262 pp.
Jun 1969
Rodney Collin
The Theory of Eternal Life
123 pp.
Jun 1969
Norman Mailer
Miami and the Siege of Chicago
223 pp.
Jul 1969
G.I. Gurdjieff
Meetings with Remarkable Men
303 pp.
Jul 1969
William Shakespeare

Aug 1969
James Simon Kunen
The Strawberry Statement
151 pp.
Sept 1969
Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights *
320 pp.
Jan 1970
Herman Melville
Moby Dick
535 pp.
Jan 1970
Johann Wolgang Goethe
The Sorrows of Young Werther *
199 pp.
Feb 1970
Jean-Paul Sartre
253 pp.
Mar 1970
Garrett Mattingly
The Armada *
402 pp.
Apr 1970
Honoré de Balzac
Eugénie Grandet
248 pp.
Apr 1970
Bertrand Russell
The Conquest of Happiness
180 pp.

Baby green-blues.

Françoise Hardy circa 1967.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Serenade kitty divine.

Clip from the 2008 documentary "Patti Smith: Dream of Life".  The movie won the "Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary" at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dreamy recollections and the delusions of hunger.

"Negotiating the thick psychedelic atmosphere of St. Mark's Place, I was not prepared for the revolution under way.  There was an air of vague and unsettling paranoia, an undercurrent of rumors, snatched fragments of conversation anticipating future revolution.  I just sat there trying to figure it all out, the air thick with smoke, which may account for my dreamy recollections.  I clawed through a thick web of the culture's consciousness that I hadn't known existed.     

I had lived in the world of my books, most of them written in the nineteenth century. Though I was prepared to sleep on benches, in subways and graveyards, until I got work, I was not ready for the constant hunger that gnawed at me. I was a skinny thing with a high metabolism and a strong appetite. Romanticism could not quench my need for food. Even Baudelaire had to eat. His letters contained many a desperate cry for want of meat and porter."

Excerpt from Just Kids by Patti Smith.
Image source unknown.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to make Patti Smith cry...

Dancing Barefoot written by Patti Smith
performance by First Aid Kit

This really kills me.  Its too beautiful.   

At a 2011 European award show, celebrating the creative genius of Patti Smith, Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit wove their usual hypnotic, intertwining harmonies over Smith's gorgeous tribute to her late husband Fred 'Sonic' Smith of MC5.  The song, so visceral, so magical, is one of my favorite Patti numbers, and was originally released as a single and recorded on her 1979 album Wave.  The crowned 'godmother of punk' undoubtedly got a little choked up over First Aid Kit's rendition, the lyrics poignantly describing her love affair with Fred and the mysteries of life and love and death.  

"she is re-creation
she, intoxicated by thee
she has the slow sensation that
he is levitating with she ...

here I go and I don't know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
'til I lose my sense of gravity...

I'm dancing barefoot
heading for a spin
some strange music draws me in
makes me come on like some heroine

(oh god I fell for you ...)

the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
grave visitations
what is it that calls to us?
why must we pray screaming?
why must not death be redefined?
we shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
and whirl on a pane of glass
an affixation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
the hands of he and the promise that s/he is blessed among women.

(oh god I fell for you ...)"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Muse: Françoise Dorléac.

As with the beautiful when they die young, French belle Françoise Dorléac captured imaginations, leaving people to wonder what would have become of this captivating actress if she had lived past 25. 

Françoise was the older sister to legendary french actress Catherine Deneuve (née Dorléac).  The sisters were raised in a family of actors, fathered by actor Maurice Dorléac with two other lesser known actor sisters: Sylvie Dorléac and Danielle Dorléac.  At the young age of 10,  the precocious and extroverted Françoise was already making her debut on stage.   However, as free-spirited and both young Françoise was, her sister Catherine was just the opposite.  Catherine and Françoise appeared in a number of films together ("Les Portes Claquent", "Male Hunt", "The Young Girls of Rochefort"), and were viewed as complementary influences.  They had different temperaments. Whereas Catherine was considered was sugar;  Françoise was spice.  Although they were purportedly close, their opposite natures led to a fiery relationship.  Catherine penned in her book:

  "When we were children, we were almost too close so we fought a lot. We yelled at each other, we fought a lot.  I would say we were almost like fraternal twins-- very complementary and very different at the same time.  Françoise spoke in a very aggressive way....  I was very discreet and rather withdrawn into myself, an introverted child....  The bickering was also a game between François and I.  At a certain level, both of us would say things to see how the other would respond, and we could change our minds five minutes later.  It was our mode of operation...." (from Her name was François,  1996).  

"Francoise was my sister first. As I said, we would yell at each other, she would annoy me, then, we would argue... we banged our heads hard against one another.  Interactions between us were extremely violent and passionate. But this is the relationship sisters often have...  it wasn't on the level of actresses.   We had a vital need to talk to each other.  Sometimes it was more serious than chatting... it was necessary to boost morale, to find words of comfort if one or the other was in trouble.  Françoise and I were like best friends, someone to confide in late at night."  ("Her name was François", 1996)

Françoise formally began her career with the short film Mensonges (1957), studying at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique (1959-1961) and modeling for Christian Dior.   She was a pale gamine with brown hair, and her look instantly captivated those in the film industry.  Her motivation spurred her shy sister Catherine to follow her into film.   Upon entering the film world, Catherine changed her last name to her mother's maiden name to maintain a separate identity from Françoise.

Françoise did a number of films before skyrocketing in 1964 from promising starlet to it-girl with the release of François Truffaut's melodrama The Soft Skin (1964) and the James Bond-esque spy spoof That Man from Rio (1964).  The films couldn't show more diverse sides of a young actress:  One role exuding tragic femme the other quirky, ditzy goodtime gal.  "Unlike Catherine, Francoise proved a carefree, outgoing presence both on and off camera. Known for her chic, stylish ways and almost unbridled sense of joie-de-vivre, she continued making strong marks as the adulterous wife in Roman Polanski's black comedy Cul-de-sac (1966) and even joined Gene Kelly, George Chakiris, and her sister, who was now a cinematic star by this time too, in the rather candy-coated The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), a colorful movie which paid homage to the Hollywood musical and one of her most iconic roles. The film resonated with audiences who relished seeing the real life sister-beauties in the role of singing twins who dream of Paris.

Catherine described Françoise honestly, lovingly:  "My sister was a very cheerful young woman, a child, she dressed her cats, loved animals, and later slapped insect-killers. She also liked pickles, chips in the coffee, perfumed talc, and her chihuahua. She was a little extravagant girl who could dance all night, never drank or smoked, but also sometimes a little desperate for attention.  François Truffaut himself often said that he had to be patient with her, and that his strong personality belied her fragile and romantic physique. He sent his letters addressed to 'Raspberry Dorléac' to make sure they're read with a smile."  (Madame Figaro, 1989).  

Although she seemed to have the world wrapped around her finger:  A promising acting career, modeling, a successful family, etc, Françoise was still wracked with anxiety over her physical appearance.  Catherine recalled, "Not only was she beautiful, but she was madly photogenic ... [However] She often told me: "This is the picture that is beautiful, it's not me." She had a look: a beautiful cut chin, a perfect profile, a beautiful jaw, and character to her face. A very pretty mouth, and also a wonderful smile...  I had some traits that may be more stable than those of Françoise, but this does not explain the pain that she could feel.... her home life was a real anxiety. It is quite common among girls pretty to not love themselves physically.... She always spoke of her asymmetry. It was an obsession. I saw her refuse to go out one evening at the last moment, moaning: "I can not show myself with this face, I will not leave. I look terrible." and vanish in the bathroom, broken by anxiety ..."  Françoise was a mixture of lightness and fantasy... bold, determined to make herself seen and heard, unrestrained by anyone, but at the same time, volatile and completely wracked with anxieties.   People who worked with her on set generally loved or hated her.  Françoise could be excessive, exhausting, and unrelenting.  She needed to feel constant love and support, which may have driven her into the limelight of acting, with its constant audience feedback and possibility of obsessive adulation by throngs of fans.  

Françoise's impulsive enthusiasm was something Catherine witnessed from an early age: "Because she was so excitable, she first wanted to be a nun. We attended religious schools. Francoise was very religious and she thought about having a religious vocation. Then, she wanted to become an actress. Basically, the idea of being an actress rose from the idea of ​​being religious."  According to "Look" magazine's 1965 article on the sisters: "As a little girl in ballet class, [Françoise] danced on and on, after blood oozed out of her toes."  Hauntingly, "When she spoke of the future she was quite pessimistic at times, going through periods of negativity. She said she did not see himself growing old, she would never be able to live normally. She would never consider her professional future, so the future was for her a source of concern" said, Catherine Deneuve.

By 1967 Françoise was branching out into non-French movies such as Genghis Khan (1965), Where the Spies Are (1965), and Billion Dollar Brain (1967).  She was on the brink of international stardom until, on 26 June 1967, Françoise died in a terrible accident on the Esterel-Côte d’Azur freeway.  She was traveling from the Nice airport to fly to London, where she was to finish filming on The Billion Dollar Brain.  She felt so rushed, afraid she would miss her flight to London.  At one point, speeding down the freeway in her rented car, she lost control and the car flipped and burst into flames. Witnesses saw the actress struggle to escape the vehicle, unable to open the door. Police identified Dorleac's battered remains from a stub of her check book, her diary and her driving license.

Catherine later admitted, "It was an event far too violent, too traumatic for everyone... for my parents, my sisters, for myself, so we can't talk about it.  Its our history, our unity, our way of being together. Intuitively, we felt that the reunification of our sorrows would not have meant much. And just to mention the loss of Françoise was physically impossible for us to handle.....  When my sister died, I had no one to share my pain, so I kept it to myself. I was young and working on a movie and I only had one or two days to mourn. It was a bad thing, being alone with this pain. Years later, I was taken back.  It has invaded my life.  It was a very difficult time. [...] I wish I knew how to share my grief when I lost my sister.  I am very, very grateful to know how to do this much better now."

The death of Françoise affected Catherine for many, many years afterward, but she acquired the strength to write a memoir about her life with her sister entitled "Elle S'Appelait Françoise" ("Her Name Was Françoise" quoted throughout this entry), which was turned into a French documentary. Although Françoise Dorléac is not as well-known as Catherine Deneuve, Françoise's influence upon her famous sister is evident and, as you can see in the endless roll call of Deneuve fansites offering photo after photo of the sister-pair posing like gemini, Françoise's spirit hovers in the air as Catherine's fabled soul-twin.

"My sister is pretty;  I'm beautiful. She is a genius, I have talent."
Françoise Dorléac, quoted in Paris Match 2001

"She takes nothing seriously. Everything in life seems like a game to her."
Françoise Dorléac, quoted in Cinemonde 1963, about Catherine.

"Between the two of us, we make one great woman."
Françoise Dorléac, on her differences in contrast to her sister.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

By the sea.

Its gorgeous and warm here.   I find myself by the expansive shorelines of Brazil, yet all I can think about is going back home, sitting in a drafty little room, and literally getting back to the drawing board.   I've been living overseas, miles from anywhere bearing semblance of home,  finding myself in the most beautiful locales, working odd jobs-- some art related, some not; some for pay... or not.   Being tossed from wave to wave around the world, floating and never settling, like bottle on the sea... sounds lovely, but it hasn't been as relaxing as I figured.  

'Success is a series of small acts repeated everyday'. I roll that over in my mind from time to time.

When you look at your massive to-do list, when you're focused on the big picture of it all, filled with details and nuances, each twist and turn fashioning my brain in knots, its important to remember the creation process is really just a series of small acts enacted to infinity.  Small bites will finish the pie.  And even harder still to believe is that the ends are in the means.

2011 brought some amazing sights, discoveries, and a chance for me to hone my aesthetic.   And now, all I can think about is creating my collection and the impending move-out doom come April.  2012 will be filled with tedious in-transition limbo, but everything will be building toward the launch of a collection and shop I am tentatively planning for November.  Art and accessories, zines, small clothing items, etc.  Thats the plan, and I'll be documenting it, hopefully, coming to fruition over the course of this year-- with major stalls in between.  There's no telling the many set-backs that can pause a project, so I am letting the current take me where it may.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Golden Notebook.

I have always been in love with old book cover art... especially those blurred and surreal photos or strange paintings that look so... not commercial by today's standards of bubbly bright lettering and crispy hyper-real images.

Lately though, my book obsession is with audio books. It feeds my need to multitask and it is a great companion when I have my eyes glued to the page drawing. I was so pleased to see the original cover of the Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing above. I've started listening to the audio book, read by narrator Juliet Stevenson who has the voice of velvet.  Its a long meandering tale so far, and it seems that most either love it or hate it.   Its a long devil of a book, with the audio version lasting over 27 hours (where most only go for 5-10 hours).  

It has been regarded as a canonical novel of the 20th century exploring women's lib movements, sexual politics, communism, and mental and societal breakdown in modern times.    Below is the plot summary:

The Golden Notebook is the story of writer Anna Wulf, the four notebooks in which she keeps the record of her life, and her attempt to tie them all together in a fifth, gold-colored notebook. The book intersperses segments of an ostensibly realistic narrative of the lives of Molly and Anna, and their children, ex-husbands and lovers—entitled Free Women—with excerpts from Anna's four notebooks, coloured black (of Anna's experience in Central Africa, before and during WWII, which inspired her own bestselling novel), red (of her experience as a member of the Communist Party), yellow (an ongoing novel that is being written based on the painful ending of Anna's own love affair), and blue (Anna's personal journal where she records her memories, dreams, and emotional life). Each notebook is returned to four times, interspersed with episodes from Free Women, creating non-chronological, overlapping sections that interact with one another. This post-modernistic styling, with its space and room for "play" engaging the characters and readers, is among the most famous features of the book, although Lessing insisted that readers and reviewers pay attention to the serious themes in the novel.
(Via Wikipedia)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

You hold the key... All in your trembling hand.

Love is but a song to sing
Fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why....

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass....

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command.... "

Image sources unknown
Text: The Youngblood's "Get together"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

At land (1944).

Maya Deren is a huge inspiration to me.  If I could only acquire one measly ounce of her graceful surrealist magic, I would would be forever happy.   Deren was a pioneering Ukrainian-American avant-garde filmmaker, choreographer, writer, dancer, and photographer from the 40s and 50s.   She was in staunch opposition to Hollywood's big budgets, false images, hypocrisy, and skewed ethics.  Her firm resistance to Hollywood and deep commitment to her art lead to a life of malnutrition and, when coupled with years of dangerous levels of prescribed medicines from quack doctors, caused a brain hemorrhage, ending her life far too soon.  Her legacy as a director of American experimental, short film is enduring.

The above clip "At Land" (1944) is one of the strongest most iconic examples of Deren's work.  It is a 15-minute silent film Deren wrote, directed, and starred in.  There is a dream-like, nonlinear flow to the film where Deren's character washes up on a beach to encounter people and visions reflecting herself. She described the film as a journey through self-identification.

The film also features contributions by avant-garde music legend John Cage.

View Part 2 here.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nocturne No. 4.

Erik Satie, Nocturne No. 4.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Still Film: Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo?/ Who are you, Polly Maggoo? (1966): Fairy tale scenes.

I am in love with my recent self-bestowed Christmas gift, the Williem Klein box set.  Above all I purchased it for the canonical fashion art film, 1966's  Qui êtes vous, Polly Magoo?/ Who are you, Polly Maggoo?  The camera movement, seemingly achieved with a lot of handheld motion, winds around characters at eye-level and captures a natural, cinema verite-style portrait of people on the street and groups of eccentric staged characters alike.  The film also segments, in an abrupt 60s pop-art style, using jump-cuts and title shots, collages of illustration and photography, and staged stills in the 60s surrealist fashion, with documentary-style interviews, and elegantly choreographed and scripted film scenes.  Moving rapidly between dream fantasies, fairy tale-like story lines, and realistic segments the loose plot moves in a non-linear, surreal fashion, making it impossible to know what is real and what is a dream-- and who is even dreaming?  

"The Prince of Borodine" is a character that seems to be controlling the fantasy world, but Polly, the film's 20 something fashion it-girl, also seems to be guiding the narrative into her own territory.  Who is a fiction of whose imagination?  The story is largely a satire of the fashion world, but its told in such a chic style, it may be a critique, but its also a nod to the industry.   Polly is an American model from New York who has crossed the pond to Gay Par-ee to follow her fashion career deep into the center of chic.  She interacts with fashion insiders, journalists, dirty men on the street, and even a Prince, whose fantastical daydreams about Polly give him pleasure in his boring, isolated world of princely excess.

The end credits is among my favorite in all of film history, showing a seemingly endless drawing in a 60s Victorian-revival meets 60s Art-Nouveau revival style scroll by French surrealist illustrator Roland Topor over music by Michel Legrand.   

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...