down up

I saw this movie one time called Imitation of Life. The movie was really kind of shitty but I loved the title.

2013-07-12 ~ 11:50 p.m.

I just watched strange Swedish film Songs from the Second Floor. A man who owns a furniture shop sees his business go up in smoke (though we don't see the fire). Then he finds himself haunted by ghosts. One of his sons is in a mental hospital as the result of too much poetry, the other is struggling to get by. Other similarly gloomy Swedish people go about their lives.

It's got some amazing scenes. Without giving much away, there's a brilliant scene trying to dispose of Catholic tat that just gets stranger and stranger. And there's also a slight Monty Python feel to some of it. Bits are a little glib or easily pessimistic, and the characters feel a bit 2-dimensional. But it's certainly unique.

I also read Heart of Darkness for the first time since I was about 18 (after reading stuff about Apocalypse Now).

I can understand Chinua Achebe's complaints about the book - mainly that Conrad largely ignores the individual black Africans, presenting them purely as a force of savagery contrasted with Europe, which has escaped its savagery but still has something dark at its heart. And he makes some telling points (how the only times black characters speak are to discuss cannibalism and to deliver the famously bathetic "Mistah Kurtz - he dead"). But if you tried hard enough you could claim that Conrad doesn't necessarily endorse the narrator Marlow's viewpoint (Achebe seems to think that an author has got to slip in unambigous "ha ha I don't believe that" references, or else you're expected to take everything as true). Plus he objects to Conrad's style, the repetition and use of incantatory adjectives, which he's entitled to dislike but it's unfair to conflate moral and aesthetic objections.

Maybe Achebe has a point that it shouldn't be the most-taught novel on English classes (so Achebe said, writing in the late 70s). But students like its shortness, and it certainly doesn't ignore the ugly side of capitalism and imperialism even if you disagree with its treatment. As a novel about white attitudes to colonialism it's profound (though the ending doesn't work for me). There's some clever satire. And it's also funny the way Conrad pokes fun at Marlow his melancholy, point-missing narrator.

These are some of my favourite quotes: of Marlow's inconclusive experiences.

"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."

I remembered the old doctor -- 'It would be interesting for science to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot.' I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting.

No, I don't like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don't like work -- no man does -- but I like what is in the work -- the chance to find yourself. Your own reality -- for yourself, not for others -- what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.

I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be.

Apocalypse Now doesn't add a lot except chaos, but it was pretty much a case of them going out into the jungle with no idea of what their film was actually about, which mirrored what America did in Vietnam. And the more I learn about what Coppola filmed and cut out, the more I'm impressed by his singlemindedness.

The LRB had a sour article by Jonathan Coe about inter alia the 60s satire boom and later Have I Got News For You? I think I agree with Michael Frayn:

Conceivably the demand arose because after ten years of stable Conservative government, with no prospect in 1961 of its ever ending, the middle classes felt some vague guilt accumulating for the discrepancy between their prosperous security and the continuing misery of those who persisted in failing to conform, by being black, or queer, or mad, or old. Conceivably they felt the need to disclaim with laughter any responsibility for this situation, and so relieve their consciences without actually voting for anything which might have reduced their privileges.

Tomorrow night I'm going on my first date for quite some time. I'm a little nervous (not least as to whether she'll turn up and whether I'll recognise her from her not-astonishingly-clear online photos). Just as long as we're not sat there staring at each other silently after 15 minutes, anything else will be a bonus.

0 comments so far


Far away - 2014-02-16
Finally found someone I love more than the rain - 2013-09-17
Taxi driver, be my shrink for the hour, leave the meter running - 2013-08-29
Dear friend, I cannot tell the reason why we started well - 2013-08-06
I saw this movie one time called Imitation of Life. The movie was really kind of shitty but I loved the title. - 2013-07-12

mail note tunes cabbages sprouts

days of yore space year 3000

NYRB LRB Guardian Popjustice Missprint Popbitch Playlouder Honest facade Straight Dope Bad Science Ehrenreich Overheard in NY BPS Research Digest Engadget B3ta Britney's naked cat-a-phone Filmhouse S1play IMDb Everyhit LJ Periodic videos Photoshop disasters iylismwdyglt?

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!