Saturday, September 8, 2007

the savage detectives, a midsummer night's dream, 33 to nothing, walmartopia, darwin's nightmare

Another week, a work week, has ended, and I am again aware of how I have not worked during this week, how I have not only not worked in the sense of going to an office, doing shitty work, and getting paid for it, but how I haven't even really done much with my free time, my not working time, to justify that not working, how despite living in this new apartment and having lots of alone time, I still have not been able to make myself write amazing things, that instead all this alone time is just being put to use to make myself elaborate omelettes and to watch video after video on either xtube or youporn, masturbating for hours and then feeling incredibly guilty about doing so, about how by doing so I have failed to do the things that I should have been doing with that time, namely writing great things and/or looking for money-making opportunities, legit stuff or that other stuff I do.

Despite not producing any things, I have consumed a great deal, and it is a nice stew in my head right now, all these cultural products and the thoughts they are inspiring.

First off, I finally finished Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives. The book traces the history of these two Mexican poets, Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano. They start a poetry movement, the visceral realists (obviously a gibe at the magical realists), and treat it like membership to a kid's clubhouse, at one point randomly kicking out members. Small in terms of how many pages she is mentioned on, but looming large thematically over this book is their obsession with Cesarea Tinajero, an older poet who they have found one poem by, and who they trace down across Mexico. The book is intentionally messy and because of its set-up lacks the novelistic voice that I normally like from a work of fiction. Instead, the novel is the diary of a young poet infatuated with the visceral realists and then interviews with many, many people about their relationships with Belano and Lima. I kept thinking that this book would all come together, that the messiness would be worth it, that the ending would make everything clear, its purpose, however as I neared the last thirty pages, I knew that it would not happen, that the book was just messy and not what I wanted from a novel. There are genuine moments of beauty and some really stellar pargraphs and pages, but compared to Bolano's shorter fiction, this book just didn't do it for me. It did provoke a lot of thoughts in me and gave me so many intense instances of wanderlust, particularly for Mexico City, but I would have a hard time recommending this book to someone that was not already a big Bolano fan. I am still processing the book though and these feelings very may well change, particuarly as I re-read the criticism about the book I had read, much of it essentially hailing this book as a masterpiece. I would like to go re-read those arguments to help me process what this book was trying to accomplish.

Several plays were also seen this week. A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Delacourte Theater was the best of them. It is a play that I love a lot, that I acted in high school, and that I have seen several times. More and more levels of meaning to this play become apparent with each encounter. The metanarrative aspects to it with the interpolated play, Pyramus and Thisbe, are so weird and seem very modern. There is so much to parse out there on the nature of plays, of acting, of performing, and even more so of watching, of what it means to be an audience member to this thing and the relationship between a work of art and its audience.

33 to Nothing, a musical, dealt with a band in its death throes, breaking up for various reasons, and their last rehearsal session as things start to fall apart. The play dealt with aging, with attempts at artistic greatness, and when and at what point one must realize that they are never to achieve such a thing, that they will always be a mediocrity, and give up the struggle. There were amateurish aspects to the thing, but it did, in not always subtle ways, present questions certainly worth being asked.

Walmartopia, another muscial, was at certain moments silly and at other moments a little ham-fisted, but really what else is to be expected with a leftist musical? For what it was, it was really good. The two lead actresses had amazing voices and to hear them sing was a joy. Wal-Mart is evil and this country is fucked up, the world is, and the musical could have been so much more terrible (not that it was terrible at all, just at time a little preaching to the choir).

Perhaps it should be mentioned now, amdist these terse and superficial critiques (if they even can be called that) of artistic products that I am a bit drunk, having gone to some party in the East Village tonight where there were cute boys and where I drank a decent amount of vodka.

Gallery openings were went to last night and tonight. So there is a whole mess of stuff bobbing around in my head from those, chief among them though the new Larry Clark stuff on view at Luhring Augustine. Most of the photographs focus on this young boy (of course, it being Larry Clark), and Clark elevates this boy through his gaze and his lens to such a beautiful status. When a photographer loves their subject it comes through so clearly and there is some magic on display on those gallery walls, something that I would like to talk about more and something that I may upon second viewing and when I don't have so many other things in my head right, artistic products, boys, and otherwise.

But the one reccomendation that I would like to make to you, the thing that is most on my mind right now, is this documentary I watched today, Darwin's Nightmare. I could say stuff about it but it would be better if you were just to watch it. It is a movie that will break your heart and think that the world is hopeless, which it very well seems like it is. It focuses on a village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania and how their economy is built upon fishing nile perch from the lake, a species which is non-native to the lake and which is totally destroying the ecosystem. There is terrible environmental stuff happening. There is the exploitation of the natural resources of developing nations by developed nations. There is a country suffering from famine but exporting all of this food to Europe. There is HIV and AIDS, large numbers of people dying from these, and stupid preachers saying that condoms are a sin. Then there is weapons smuggling on these same cargo planes that take the fish out of the country. I felt physically ill at so many points during this movie, realizing that the world is a terrible place, that by my purchases and my existence in a developed nation, I aid in its terribleness, and that really there is little that can be done to stop it. This movie and some of its scenes will be on my brain for a long time, and that I think is a good thing, will help keep me focused. If you have yet to see this, I suggest that you do.

And there all these things, all these cultural products consumed, plus many not even listed, and it is all floating around in my brain, and it's so easy to consume this stuff, far harder to do the opposite and produce, but I am aware of the things that need to be done, aware of the things I am doing, and am moving myself in that direction.

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