Monday, January 28, 2013

Grocery List for Culture Pie: Camille Paglia – Glittering Images, Adam Humphrey’s, American Intrigue #1, Michael Haneke’s Amour, Soft Boiled Eggs

How is it still January?  Maybe it’s only me but this feels like the longest month ever. Jupiter, please end your retrograde!  Apparently this will end on the 30th, 2 more days of gruel-blah to go through and then hopefully you, me and everyone else will be re-fitted and be-jazzeled with new energy and our usual joie de vivre.  During this dark, bitter cold, sleety-snow purgatory, staying in and never leaving warm beds is the ideal but we’re not sissies and culture and art must still be massaged less we have creative entropy.  Below are a few things seen and heard that have been minced and blended together this past week or so that has made even this bleakness bearable. 

Camille Paglia’s, Glittering Images, A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars, 2012, Pantheon Books – I’m reading this now and although there are many flaws it is worth the read.  It is a cursory overview of specific works of art through the ages and the lecture style facts and histories sprinkled within are just a-ok for my slowed down brain at the moment.  Paglia is a ‘love her or hate her’ type of cultural figure and although I’m not in either camp, I do think she has mastered a little whip with language and that is always fun to read.  Her own surmises of implication, observation and conclusions on some works are at times embarrassing to be privy too but hey, it’s her book, she can do as she damn well pleases.  What was thought provoking though was her introduction in which she lays out her intent and reasons behind writing this book and the trajectory of aesthetic knowledge and practice.  The entirety of it is an interesting read but this in particular caught my attention:

But mass media are a bewitching wilderness in which it is easy to get lost.  My postwar generation could play with pop because we had solid primary-school education, geared to the fundamentals of history and humanities.  The young now deftly negotiate a dense whirl of relativism and synchronicity: self-cannibalizing pop, with its signature sampling and retro fads, has become a stupendous superabundance, impossible to absorb and often distanced through a protective pose of nervous irony.  The rise of social media has blurred the borderline between private and public and filled the air with telegraphic trivialities, crowding out sequential discourse that invites rereading.

Hmmm.  This is a strong and specific statement and there are parts that I think are true and fitting but there is an unsettling nattering to it as well.  A slapping on the wrist of one generation’s use of images, technologies and culture inherited seems a bit divisive and oversimplified.  It seems like a thought she must have more to say about, which she probably already has, and it makes me curious to see these thoughts and to find out what it is she is actually saying about what the “young” now do. 

Adam Humphrey’s, American Intrigue #1 Feast of Burden, 2013, Lucky Dragon Editions –  Sometimes people you know do things that are interesting and they are not just interesting because it was done by someone you know or because it includes people you know but because it is actually interesting. This is the case with Adam Humphrey’s downloadable PDF, American Intrigue #1, Feast of Burden.  It includes: Brad Troemel Comments on the World at Will, Tao Lin and Ariana Reines Correspondence, Status Updates by Amber Steakhouse, Eugene Kotlyarenko Interview, and book reviews by: Zachary German on Justin Taylor’s “The Gospel of Anarchy” and Alec Niedenthal on Marie Calloway’s “what purpose did i serve in your life.”  The content is not mind blowing but there is something oddly sincere and earnest while also being ironic (possibly?) in its miming of tropes of seriousness and legitimacy that abound in the intellectual literati.  The visuals are also a mix of “wow that’s really ugly” to really slick and pro.  I especially like the entirely unnecessarily large font and also the formatting of dialogue in Humphrey’s piece with Brad Troemel.  Overall, it’s funny and smart and charming in its f-you to this type of thing but also playing the game to win it.  What will American Intrigue #2 bring?  Whatever it is I’m sure I will laugh out loud and also grimace at many points.

Michael Haneke’s Amour, 2012: I saw this the other weekend, by myself, not a good idea.  The film is very beautiful, subtle, powerful, dense, all the words that the critics and all else say about it.  It was all those things but it left me very sad for the rest of the night and even some of the next day.  It is about a couple, Anne and George, who are in the golden days of their lives and they live full, quite lives in Paris.  Anne has a stroke and the movie is about the process and the moments that result from this.  It is quite for most parts, although sound design is very significant and measured.  It is a story of love and dedication; life lived with another person and the truth of the body and of death.  For me, and possibly for anyone else who has themselves been witness, on an intimate level, of lingering deterioration and then death of a loved one, the stark realism of this situation and what is involved was a bit too close to home.  This is not to say that this movie isn’t brilliant in many other ways but it was, for me, depicting and telling of something that is too private and fraught with real life memory to be able to applaud. If you have not seen it yet but plan to, go with someone else, go with someone who you can sit quietly with and sit close to afterwards.

Soft Boiled Eggs – Okay, so this is bit of a cheat but I have just discovered the glory that is soft boiled eggs.  You don’t have to live in Downtown Abby or in Europe for that matter to treat yourself as the sophisticate you know you are deep down inside.  You would think eggs are eggs but this method of cooking them does something entirely different to the egg experience. I have never been a big yolk fan, but there is a buttery-ness to the yolk in this form.  Really, a delightful (and healthy) way to start one’s day. 

Fill a pot with water, enough so that it will cover the egg(s) completely.
Bring water to a boil.
Once at a boil, reduce heat so it is a rolling simmer.
Place egg(s) in water.
Let cook for 5-7 mins (less for runnier yolk)
Remove egg(s) with slotted spoon.
Run under cold water for 30-60 seconds.
Place in an egg holder (or shot glass if you don’t have an egg holder)
Cut off tip of egg (about 1 inch)
Eat with spoon.
Sprinkle with salt as desired.