Tag Archives: Vladimir Nabokov

Tea With Chris: Cosignatures

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Andrew “Noz” Nosnitsky considers the class stratifications in and around rap right now, where a small elite of mainstream stars dispenses favour via cosigns and commercial album sales bear a decreasing correlation (but increasing white-and-middle-class skew) with actual popularity: “It’s a gentrification of taste. Kids with disposable income on the outer perimeters of the culture are dictating its direction because they posses the income to displace the demands of the proverbial hood.” Also, great use of the word “fanute.”

Vladimir Nabokov, yearner for proto-emoticons.

Margaux: Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation -  fun to imagine that the time-based medium of our specific simulacrum is constrained by what typical narratives are always constrained by: time, meaning, conclusion.

Speaking of bad narratives, I’ve been listening to an audio book of Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken. The idea of the book is that video gaming culture makes people feel so vital and engaged that when they stop playing games and return to real life, real life seems broken. The book proposes making the narrative of real life a better story. Or at least that’s what it seems like it’s about so far. Jane McGonigal argues that hard work (in a video game) is more fun than fun. That made me feel pretty smart since I’ve never liked to have fun. It’s pretty hilarious listening to this book on my headphones while walking around town – the book came out last year, but it feels like it came out next year – like bizarre, banal and practical discussions from the not-so-bad, not-so-good near future.

This conversation between liberal actor Alec Baldwin and conservative journalist David Brooks seems way less phony than all this 2012 American presidential debate nonsense. That’s probably because actors are good at making things seem less phony, that’s their number one job. Maybe it should be a rule that only respected or semi-respected actors can become president. Maybe that would make The Movies better.

Speaking of The Movies, I just saw two great ones last night by legendary singer/model/filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin at the Imaginative Film and Media Arts Festival (lots more happening at the festival in Toronto till Oct 21). The first movie was the 1971 short (and Alanis Obomsawin’s first film) Christmas at Moose Factory. The 13 minute film is made from footage of children’s drawings about what Christmas is like at Moose Factory along with the voices of the children talking about their drawings. The structure is smart and simple and captivating. It’s filled with gentleness, curiosity and love. All the good things.

The second movie was Alanis Obomsawin’s most recent The People of the Kattawapiskak River, a documentary about the state of emergency called in Northern Ontario in 2011 by Theresa Spence, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation. That is very painful subject matter but the movie has a similar feel to Alanis Obomaswain’s first movie – with love and strength and humour always close at hand. It was interesting to have her oldest movie and her most recent played together. You could see the consistency of her specific way of seeing things, even from movies made 40 years apart.  It was interesting to see that both movies functioned completely as whole works of art  and also as whole works of activism without sacrificing either category. It was good to be reminded that love and patience can be tremendously political.

The Bloor Cinema in Toronto where it was shown was packed with a rowdy and diverse audience. People from all backgrounds cheered and jeered and laughed along with the movie – with tears mostly coming during the moments of impressive strength and optimism.  Even with all the horrible problems they’re having, it was easy to see from the movie that the community featured is a very special one. It was nice to “meet” all the people who passed by on the screen. One of the people was a lawyer who fought in court for the people of the Attawapiskat Nation. I can’t find her name on the internet, but I would fight for her to be president. The movie was in two episodes, like two episodes of a television program. I’m not sure if more are to be made.

During the Q&A, Alanis Obomsawin talked about how, while taking pictures at a construction site in the reserve, she was told repeatedly and by different people that she was in the wrong place, that she needed to leave. She laughed on stage as she talked about how she just smiled and agreed, but didn’t leave until she was finished doing what she needed to do. Maybe it’s that kind of serious playfulness that accounts for the main feeling that the movie left you with – that there is lots to be done, lots of new ways to go about things, that the hardest things are manageable, that everyone can play a part.

Maybe that serious playfulness can be credited for making Alanis Obomsawin appear to be the most beautiful, and youthful, 80 year old I have ever seen. As I was leaving the after party around midnight, I noticed that she was still dancing.

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson, movies, visual art

Tea With Chris: The Many Revenges

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week.

Chris: I’m in New York City. During my first and only previous visit, I crossed paths with St. Vincent after emerging from the subway in Manhattan. I wanted to say hi, maybe tell her she’d been great in Toronto the week before, but it was the hottest day of the year and I was a sweaty stranger who had just seen a dead-looking person trapped beneath an overturned van, so I shambled on uptown in silence. At least I can shout out Annie Clark on the internet, such as for this clip from last week, where she covers Big Black in  world-destroying fashion.

Marginalia!

Carl: Rock’n’roll pioneer Bill Hayley’s widow and children finally speak about his sad diminuendo. Her undying love for her very difficult husband kept her quiet all these years – but she eventually realized that her silence was muting his reputation and erasing his history. Michael Hall’s piece from Texas Monthly rocks – must I say it? – right around the clock.

For three weeks I’ve been meaning to write something about my dear friend Sean Dixon‘s excellent new book, The Many Revenges of Kip Flynn. I wanted to discuss it in the context of Torontopia and Toronto-dystopia, of which it is probably the best example in fiction, and I wanted to talk about the way that it colour-saturated my mental image of certain city locations, and the rich ways in which the real biographical facts about Sean that I know shine through cracks in its architecture. But then I discovered that, minus the bio-friendship aspect (which was always a little indulgent), that my post had already been written, by Amy Lavender Harris, who is far more qualified to write it than I am, being an expert on the ways Toronto has been rendered and transfigured in prose and poetry through the years. Her essay more than merits your attention. It should convince you how much the book does.

Speaking of friends and books, it was very enjoyable to see the Los Angeles Times this week call our friends Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman‘s forthcoming collaboration The Chairs Are Where the People Go ” intelligent, quirky, charming, hard to classify … a sign of health in the publishing industry. It shows that there is a willingness to take risks – and maybe even have some fun.”

Enough logrolling. I leave you with the time that Pere Ubu was mistaken for children’s music. Was it the name?

Margaux: I came across this hilarious and painful Edmund White book review “In Love with Duras”  about the French filmmaker and novelist Marguerite Duras. It’s also kind about the one-time French president François Mitterrand (and the good and the bad things things he and Duras did during the World War 2). I lost track of what book it was talking about – it includes the line “he was finally shot by a madman in 1993 – fortunately for everyone” – but I sure do now have a better sense of Marguerite Duras and how she sometimes made fiction a little bit safer than real life.

We miss you William O. Douglas (1898 –1980), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, he who declared, “Trees have standing.” Justice Douglas famously argued that “inanimate objects” should have standing to sue in court (thanks to Chris Randle!):

The critical question of “standing” would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation.
 
Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation sole — a creature of ecclesiastical law — is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases…. So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes — fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson