[Hi all rejects and deviants. I meant to write this a while ago but somehow didn't, then reading Christian Peet's post yesterday and rereading Johannes and Joyelle's previous posts on the Memphis three reminded me of it.]
Some Thoughts on Masculinity (Or Whatever)
A couple of weeks ago I had a vivid dream in which I was writing a manifesto. It was one of those dreams when you wake up and feel terribly regretful and disappointed because you were doing something awesome. Writing the manifesto was coming very easy and it was full of exciting hyperbole and many different fonts and exclamation marks. Something about a “thin veneer”? I could see the text but it was blurry. I’m pretty sure it was a manifesto about masculinity. I don’t remember if it was for or against.
I think what made me think about masculinity more than usual was watching an episode of 20/20 a couple of months back and this interview they were doing with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o which made me write the following (grammatically suspect, but impassioned) post on facebook:
(yes, I’m officially using my own facebook post as a reference)
“so i finally got caught up on this manti te’o thing. the crime seem to be two-fold. 1) to as a man (and football player, a symbol of masculinity and violence) be duped and otherwise victimized (how come you didn’t suspect anything?) not just by a woman but another (lesser) man. it’s an interesting conflict of interest, confess to involvement and retain your masculinity. consider last weeks brief mention of crabtree’s suspected sexual assault and many others, violent crimes don’t contradict the story line of masculinity. if the culprit had been a woman it could possibly had been explained by women’s general devious nature and offered some relief, instead there are creepy gay undertones (“she sounded like a woman”) leading to 2) the suspected use of a dead girlfriend to further own “overcome” story-line, an overcoming that is quickly adapted by media as an integral part of character building. the hoax then doesn’t just reduce manti’s masculinity index which corresponds directly to his drafting number but threaten to turn a digestible success story into a collective gorging on dead bodies. phew. did i get close?”
Thinking about masculinity in this way reminded me of a Swedish poet that made his debut a number of years ago when I still lived in Sweden and it was widely written about at the time (or so I recall) mainly because he was something so weird as a hockey player who turned to poetry, writing poems about what goes on in those testosterone-packed towel-slapping don’t-be-a-pussy locker rooms.
I had to google for a while to find out that his name is Tom Malmquist and the book fittingly called “Sudden Death”. Here is a blurb (translated) that I like (for the writer, not the book:)
“He’s written about hockey as oppression-mechanism and about men who breast-feed, is a country singer, have dental trolls rather than groupies and like to root around masculinity’s hole.” (See)
Apparently his second collection is called Fadersmjölken (“Fathersmilk”, if you allow the merger). There is a poem from it at that link but I couldn’t decide how to translate words like “uppdragna” and “sugreflexen” so I got frustrated and didn’t.
Also, one of his country songs is called “Van Gogh’s Ear”, which I wanted to like more than I did.
It’s on youtube somewhere.
I’ve always loved both poetry and sports. I don’t really see the contradiction. It’s costumage, it’s beautiful, a spectacle of nothing but its own spectacle.
not an introduction
So this summer I had two weeks with the kids and nothing better to do than to round them up and shoot a no-budget zombie-vampire-ghost film. Shoot might be an exaggeration, more like use the video function on an old kodak camera. This was partly inspired by some horror movie posts on here, David Lynch, Ringu etc. A very short script was quickly written and lost. Something about cornfields. I wanted to make a movie that was not jokey-scary but scary-scary. One idea was that if the kids were turned into monsters this might relieve their fear of horror.
For xmas my daughter got an English translation of a Swedish children’s book I remember from being her age. Lilla spöket Laban (“Little Spook Laban”) It’s about a family of ghosts that live just like real people except they’re ghosts and have to do ghost things like go to the big castle and rattle chains and scare chambermaids. Little Laban in this book fails to live up to his father’s ghost-standards (“Daddy Spook had made himself invisible as soon as the chambermaid moved toward the oak door. He was already on his way home to Mummy Spook to tell her how unsuccessful Little Laban was.”) and is suddenly left at the castle and becomes good friends with “The Prince”. The end.
What I like about it is that when the non-ghosts (real people) appear they seem to be the strange, inhuman ones, and you don’t want them to find you. Sort of like goldilocks seem inhuman when she appears in the little bear’s bed. You identify more with the bears.
Or something. (continue reading…)
(Hi. wrote this some weeks back.)
Wmagazine is the New Family Bible
/a fairy tale
It was good timing that our New Yorker prescription ran out and not so long after the magazine W took its place and started circulation within our home (wife went on an obsessed internet survey-binge and amassed some free stuff: tea, soaps, lady things, Martha Stewart’s magazine and W). The first issue was some kind of super-size-me-up binder full of mid-evil pixiegoth housewifery, featuring among other awesome things, Super Linda.
Our daughter, at 5, now comes home from school, asks for a snack (“I just want candy”) and hangs out in the sun room, flipping through the magazine. One of the twins was reading it the other night while watching Jeopardy (or maybe it was The Rifleman). It should be said though (mom) that other than that first issue (which has mysteriously disappeared, boys will be boys will be girls etc.) there is not much in terms of visible nipple-crotch-ass nudity going on.
Since goth week always seem to correspond with Nobel week, and since Haruki Murakami is a bit of a front runner in both categories, I’m going to try to write a little about 1Q84, his massive three-part novel that I read this summer (the first two parts in Swedish, the last in English, strangely fitting, somehow, seeing as it is a novel of parallels worlds that remain quite similar.)
One thing that interests me about his writing is how, when I read most of his stuff a couple of years ago, it made me feel again like a teenager swallowing books. Not reading books as much as moving into books and living there for a while. And why that might be. It seems not incidental that his writing resonates with a lot of young people. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a book of this size since I was 16 burning in the Spanish sun with a copy of The Brothers Karamazov (or maybe it was Stephen King’s IT).
One appealing aspect of his work, I think, and a potential answer, is its failure, its incompleteness, its fragmentation For instance, there seems to always be sections in his longer novels where nothing happens. Where a character is just stuck and waiting it out. Not to give anything away, but one of the three books that make up 1Q84 is pretty much just one long wait. Then there is that exhausting part in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle where the main character descends into a well. (continue reading…)
I didn’t get around to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland until yesterday, partly, I think, because I didn’t care too much for Sweeny Todd, but partly because of the overwhelming bad critique it received when it first came out. It quickly fell out of view. I never actively sought it out. Luckily, in a home where many kids roam, these things tend to correct themselves.
In short, I thought it was awesome. I’m glad my daughter got to witness a female lead in an adventure pic hopscotch on severed heads and without much anguish and tribulations decapitate the top-beast-monster, the grimly jabberwocky, voiced by the always evil baritone Christopher Lee. (Is he even a bariton? It sounds nice to say though.)
What the critics I’ve read seem to agree on is that Alice sucks because the characters are flat, too much craziness going on and not enough substance, repetitive, the simplistic division of good and evil etc. It is also predictable. Alice’s arranged husband to-be in the beginning of the movie is a total dumbass, flat, a caricature like the rest of the aristocracy undone by their own formal gesturing, and of course Alice is not going to marry him. So what? Alice is quirky, goth-pale and doesn’t belong. She prefers to chase rabbits. She says weird things. Why would you want “realism” in Alice in Wonderland? Come on.
I was expecting a hallucinatory dream, which might have been its own awesome, but found the story surprisingly straight forward. However great Fantasia is, there’s no way my daughter would sit through it. We’ve tried. She sat through all of Alice and giggled. She’s almost 5. Her standard response when we ask her if something is scary (like when the little mouse pops out the bandersnatch’s eye with a needle) is “yes”, but when we ask if she’s scared, she’ll say “duh, no.” (continue reading…)
Hi. The following started out as a response to Johannes’s post “Take your goddamn class hatred and shove it up your ass”: DN attacks Johan Jönson. But mutated. Became big. An elephant.
“When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick – one never does when a shot goes home – but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant.”
-George Orwell, Shooting An Elephant
“The elephant’s age had led to its adoption by our town a year earlier. When financial problems caused the little private zoo on the edge of town to close its doors, a wildlife dealer found places for other animals in the zoos throughout the country. But all the zoos had plenty of elephants, apparently, and not one of them was willing to take in a feeble old thing that looked as if it might die of a heart attack at any moment.”
-Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes
Some time ago I happened upon Aase Berg’s DN article “Hatet mot teatern gnager i mig” (“The/My hatred for theater nags in me”, nags or bites or tears) by chance, through a response to the article, by Leif Zern, also in DN: “Hatet håller teatern vid liv” (“the hatred keeps theater alive”). The soundbite being that Aase Berg, apparently, hates theater.
She writes, in the beginning of the article:
“This is probably not the right forum to write something like this, but OK: I don’t understand theater. Yes, it has happened that I have used the word “hate”. I have said exactly this in conversations with decently culture-interested people: “I hate theater.””
(Should note that in many instances “culture” is probably more accurately translated as “art”.)
Leif Zern, in turn, informs us that he’s not upset by the hatred, but surprised that a writer and literature critic seems unaware of the history of theater, which sets him up nicely to proceed to educate Berg, and anyone else reading in, about this history. There is a bit on Plato, some Euripides and Christianity in the middle ages, with the obligatory Strindberg thrown in. (continue reading…)