The premier journal of http://clinomania.blogspot.com criticism.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
When the doldrums of academe get to be too much, we occasionally challenge ourselves with brain puzzles. Here's one:
Tom Cruise ------ Nicole Kidman
A????????? ------ C???????????
B????????? ------- D???????????
Here's the challenge: standard movie game rules, and you can only use a given movie once. Actor A has to have appeared in a movie with Actor C, Actor B, and Tom Cruise. Actor B has to have been in a movie with Actor A, Actor D, and Liam Neeson. Actor C has to have been in a movie with Actor A, Actor D, and Nicole Kidman. Actor D has to have been in a movie with Actor C, Actor B, and Liam Neeson. This is indicated by the lines.
We have found the most ingenious proof, but haven't room for it here. Godspeed.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
A matter about which we have often wondered is this - does the literary critic, beneath all the veils and circumlocutions, analyses and insights, create nothing but an ode to his jealousy? Is the critical essay in the end nothing more than a poem in praise of a greater artist - il miglior fabbro, to borrow from that consummate artist/critic, T. S. Eliot? Does the critic do nothing more than express, backhandedly, his awe? Is the language of the academy nothing more than the elaborate modest code-speak that allows the critic to express his true feelings in a world where such profound modesty would be unacceptably debasing?
We thought about this matter today in particular, because the segment of Jack's post entitled "The Great Fairy Road" is pitch-perfect. Not a word is misplaced. It's an interesting satire as well in that it points out the Anglophilia of the fantasy-adventure genre. American readers seem to prefer to believe that England is a magical wonderland full of Peter Pans and Harry Potters and bucolic lanes and cottages, and by and large reject the equally accurate impression that England is a war-ruined industrial wasteland, where a few stalwarts protect grand traditions that allowed such wars to be carried out, and her youth is more likely to be Johnny Morrisseys and Ray Davies than a fanciful wizard, and her sports fans are more interested in bashing the heads of the Frogs than watching some fucking crazy flying broom game.
Anyway - we got sidetracked. But to return, and summarize - the critic often finds himself in awe of the artist's gifts, indeed that might motivate his entire critical enterprise. And today, when in awe of Jack's exceptional prose, we felt that perhaps the Muses have blessed him more than us. But on the other hand, the world managed to stay in balance, in the following way:
People in our office were just giving away Pixies tickets. There were like 4 up for grabs. And to think, Jack would surely love to have gone! Nothing would have entertained him more! But he's not here, so we're taking Jones.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
The Thirsty Scholar
Seeking a respite from our quotidian life of musing over Jack's work and toiling in the Clinomania vineyard, we recently visited our colleague Vali
. The visit proved a productive one, not merely in Scotch consumed, but in idea generation.
For our discussion raised the question: Is Jack and his "blog" an example of a perfect match of man and medium? One often encounters characters as verbose as Jack in the real world, and they can on occasion prove a bit much to handle - prattling on until the ears are fit to fall off. But the blog form might be perfectly suited to such a fellow, who has penetrating insights buried in a twisting verbal forest thick with undergrowth. The blog, not unlike various chemical and medical instruments, has the controlling ability to deliver its medicine in reasonable, semi-regular doses. Further, when reading his blog, one can control intake, like an old woman pressing the morphine button on her hospital bed.
Anyway, we're pretty into Jeff Gordon Sucks.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Theme for a Country Song
We had a marvelous idea for the premise of a country song - the jist of it would be the speaker comparing his heart to an item at a store, and warning a woman not to break said heart. The title would be "You Break It, You Bought It."
Some commentary on Jack's X-Men thoughts will follow in the near future, as well as some ruminations on word-tonnage in Jack's work.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Here's this week's "Didya Know?"
Didya know singer PJ Harvey opposes the fox-hunting ban in Great Britain?
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Junkers, Come Here
We recently attended a screening of a film that helped illuminate some of the issues we've been bandying about in past weeks. The film was "Junkers, Come Here," an animated film from Japan. As one might expect, the film was thoroughly entertaining and takes some turns which don't "make sense." The part when Hiromi and Junkers do their magic tricks is splendid filmmaking. There's some good comedy of the "huh?!", drunk-tossing-aside-a-bottle type when Junkers talks to the crossing guard. Junkers is a good character because although he's a talking dog and later it will turn out he's magic, he has a lot of pretty unsound ideas about human relationships, and enjoys television. Say what you will about the Nipponese - if you see one of their drawn-picture movies, you will be at the very least confused and fascinated, and at best confused and delighted.
Aside from the fact that we expect Jack would enjoy this film tremendously, it got us to thinking about our earlier discussion about authorial cruelty. The reader will recall we delved into whether Jack, as an author with a devoted readership, has an obligation to post, whether winning over readers brings with it not merely admiration, but an attendant responsibility.
While watching Junkers, we quite fell in love, but were concerned that some miserable fate might befall him. Which got us to thinking about authorial cruelty. Can an artist be faulted for malicious intent? If a creator wins an audience's love for a character, slowly earning sympathy and then visits some dreadful punishment upon him, isn't that an act of violence, an act of cruelty upon the reader? We refer here not to tragedy generally, but to cases where the trap is sprung quite by surprise.
It would be a difficult task to achieve, certainly - lulling a viewer or reader into a false sense of security. But the blogger, who knows no genre, could pull a sneak attack at any time - some sudden burst of fury, some break in tone. Surely some of these academic jerk types who theorize about this sort of nonsense and pose experimental types of theater and whatnot must have thought of this specific kind of theater or literature of cruelty.
In any case, that's how a Japanese talking dog reminded us about the remarkable power a consumer yields to a producer of art and entertainment.
We like cartoons!
At long last, there's a site dedicated to Somenotions criticism. Some very spirited discussion of can be found on Unobstructed Views.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
(We have little doubt that regular readers of this site are no fans of the Fox corporation. But too ridiculous to not mention that we are unable to link to a website with the full text of "The Pillow Book" because the corporation's computers apparently judge it to be pornography. O tempore! O mores!)
An outstanding post. The sentence "I would enjoy if every now and then when a woman did something that something were not immediately qualified as having been done by a woman" cuts to the very quick of a rampant problem in magazine journalism, namely wholesale jackassery. The fucked up thing is that of course the magazine writer always thinks women doing something is somehow extra badass points, writing things like "she's smoking hot, salty mouthed. . . and oh, yeah, she's also a FUCKING RACE CAR DRIVER" or "quail hunting ain't your daddy's sport anymore," with a picture of a woman in a tube top holding a shotgun.
Jack makes the excellent point that women have been involved in literature for a while before the Shopaholic series and Caren Lissner's epic Carrie Pilby
. The best "chick lit" [a term which we despise] book in our opinion, a distinguished one, is "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan." People are prone to jabbering on about how blogs are an amazing new medium. But literally TEN CENTURIES AGO Sei Shonagan figured out that writing down lists of things that are great or bad, and short descriptions of things that happened, was a good sort of writing. Furthermore, there have been TEN CENTURIES in which people could have gotten the idea that short lists of things are interesting and fun to read, and one should put them in one's book. And yet, here we are, and most books are endless deserts of words that one has to slog through.
On we go. Jack's Massachusetts nostalgia rears its head as he recalls Shawmut Bank. We do, in fact remember said bank. In fact, kindly Mrs. Nelso who lived up the street from us was once presented with a bust of Shawmut himself, an American Indian complete with feather, in commemoration of her having deposited quite a sum over the years, or some such thing. She gave said bust to us, imagining no doubt that a young scholar should have a bust lying about in the book room. And indeed, we very much appreciated it, and did think it looked quite stately, and there it sits to this very day, his stern Algonquin visage surveying the books on Bonnie Prince Charlie and such that filled our bedroom as a youth, and still do today.
Later, our sister informed us that at Girl Scouts she learned that Shawmut was an Indian word meaning "good place to land a canoe." The tendency of white people to think that fairly short Indian words conveyed somewhat complicated concepts is testimony either to the fact that Native American languages were far more rich and descriptive than English, or that settlers to America weren't always getting the top-notch translators.
Interested parties are informed that yet another Clinomania Conference will be held in the near future, the subject being "Jack's Blue Period? The Summer of 2004 In Clinomania." Suggested topics for papers include:
"From Logline to Film: Jack on Hollywood, in Conception and Execution."
"New Arrivals? Mentions of Associates on Clinomania."
"Foundering Boat?: A Critical Examination of the Future of Boat Studies."
We ourselves intend to lighten the mood at the Saturday banquet with our presentation of a series of artists' renderings, depicting what Jack's ideal city might look like, based on his opinions on design and architecture.
Entertainment will be provided by an impersonator of the late silent film star Irene Grossbard, who does the charleston and says her own name in a singsong voice for several minutes.
Location TBD, interested scholars are invited to RSVP.
My Friend Jack Eats Sugar Lumps
Readers are to forgive us for once again laxing into laziness of the first order. The offices have been all aflutter with summer boisterousness, not at all conducive to generating proper Clinomania criticism.
But back we are, and so into the fray once more. For a while, one might have been upset, and with good cause, over the scarce postings between Sept. 3 and Sept. 7. Which begs the following question: Jack of course is well aware of the bored and easily distracted nature of his readership; indeed, in "Because It Makes People So Very Happy," he mentions their "chronically underemployed" character. What obligations, then, does the artist have to his audience? What can fairly be expected of Jack, in terms of production, and can he be held accountable for failing to oblige? If so, by whom? And under what criteria? We don't expect this debate to be resolved immediately, perhaps, but it's a puzzler one might tickle over while walking to the movie theater to see Vanity Fair by oneself, for example.
Jack's enthusiastic postings of today surely let him "off the hook" for the time being, in any case. "The Spiritual Exercises" is a most worthy subject, often bringing out the best in our correspondent. [Perhaps, we daresay, he has here a subject worthy of a book? one wonders.] The critic of course can't help but be reminded of some parts of Joyce's "Portrait of An Artist As a Young Man," which one was required to read in college in between popcorn chicken eating episodes, and which also included some frenzies of overzealous Catholicism.
Let's consider for a moment Jack's dream - the babe Jesus holding dominion over all of Manhattan. What a remarkable vision indeed, and yet Jack swiftly cuts down its epic nature with his apologia for cliche. Truly, Jack's genius lies here: in matching the epic to the human, the sublime to the mundane. Consider Jack's rants against the stinky nature of a particular subway station. He reminds the reader of the amazing power of subterranean transport, but only by pointing out how shit smelly it is. Build, and demolish, build and demolish are his watchwords.
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