I’ve been enjoying 130 poems by Jean Follain quite a bit, ripe with poems like this one:

Signs for Travellers

Travellers in the immense spaces
when you see a girl
twisting in her resplendent hands
the long black fleece of her hair
and what’s more
when you see
near some gloomy bakery
a horse lying dead on the ground
by these signs you’ll know
you are where humans live.

(Translated by Christopher Middleton, Anvil Press 2010)

Oh yeah! The Blog…

I have had to find new ways to carve writing time for myself out of the very packed days I am living, and remembered I started writing here in 2008–good lord, can it really be that long? Well, sure. time marches on and all that. And I do want to get back to watching the 100 movies with my love, but I fear that may be even harder to accomplish. Might have to just soldier on with that project myself (read that in a whisper, so Comfortina does not find out).

But first: Engine Summer. I read Little, Big, and found it alternately hypnotizing and annoying, so I put off Engine Summer (by John Crowley) for a bit, and once I did, well, it has been knocking around my head the way the best books do, coaxing new dendrites into being. It’s a pastoral post-apocalyptic novel, devoid of zombies or feral gangs or really much violence at all, thankfully, but still manages to be almost unbearably sad by the end, and moreso upon reflection. I just finished Riddley Walker (Russel Hoban) before starting this one, and that, too, was all embracing (once I got the hang of the invented dialect), but also was much more typical of the genre in terms of the brutality of the humans who lived in the shadow of the fallen civilization. Why so many post-apocalyptic novels? T’was not an intentional selection, I just had the books in a pile, though they certainly do resonate with news of climate change growing more and more dire, and the general shrug that most people have adopted as their standard response to the crisis. Anyway… Little, Big was something else, and I won’t spoil it by revealing more of the story. Sad and beautiful, it is.

This Too…

A strange sensation accompanies me these past few weeks, a feeling that I am burdened, but not in the more familiar, immediate ways—too many bills, too much work, too much time wasted. The burden I am aware of now I have been aware of before, in flashes: the burden of my species. Much the way … Read more

Movie 87: Gertrud

Manly Footwear: There is a light snow falling outside, lovely and gentle the way snow can be, a new President was just inaugurated, the dogs are sleeping, and I’m sitting by the window trying to figure out Gertud. Not that the movie is unintelligible, or even opaque, the way avant-garde films often try to be—the … Read more

Movie 88: A Man Escaped

Manly Footwear: I am not surprised I’d never seen this film, or even heard of it except in the most tangential way, but I am a little chagrined, because it is not only stylistically remarkable, it is morally edifying to watch, not something I can say about many of the movies on the list of … Read more

Movie 89: Annie Hall

Manly Footwear: My first reaction to seeing this movie on our list was a pleasant wave of nostalgia, followed quickly by a discomforting reminder of the Troubles Woody Allen has had in his personal life, and finally the realization that I don’t really know what happened with regards to his daughter Dylan, and will never … Read more

Movie 90: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Manly Footwear: I realize this might sounds batty, but this John Ford Western reminded me of Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States. It is the story of a the end of one kind of masculine, American archetype, and the rise of another, but also it is about how the latter archetype–the … Read more

Movie 91: Jaws

I have seen Jaws enough times—not as often as The Shining, or It’s Wonderful Life, to choose examples from elsewhere on the top 100 list—but often enough that I can, like many US citizens of a certain age, quote great, salty chunks of dialog from it. I was not sure that it truly belonged on … Read more

Movie 92: Sansho the Bailiff

Manly Footwear: Another film that I knew very little about, although I knew the director, Mizoguchi, from having seen Ugetsu many years ago. The pacing of this film is both perfectly elegant—“one-shot-one-scene”; long takes with deliberate, broad motions often occurring in the background; intensely deliberate mise-en-scène that nonetheless evokes spontaneity and naturalness—and perfectly jarring, given the relentlessly sad … Read more

Movie 93: Greed

Manly Footwear: I both knew and did not know what to expect from Greed. I knew it was a tragedy, and that the making and subsequent mangling of the 10 hour long original cut was also a tragedy, and that there were at least 2 semi-restored versions, one that was 4 hours, the other 2. I … Read more