Dennis Cooper on Derek Jarman

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"The first time I heard the name Derek Jarman pronounced respectfully, I was living in Amsterdam in the mid-’80s. My friend the late filmmaker Howard Brookner (Burroughs, The Movie; The Bloodhounds of Broadway) had stopped through town for a visit. He’d just been in London to see Jarman, who, unbeknownst to me, was one of his heroes. While there, Howard had managed to see an almost-completed cut of Jarman’s film in progress, The Last of England, which he exuberantly declared the greatest piece of art he’d ever seen. I expressed huge reservations based on my experiences with Jarman’s earlier work, so Howard sat me down and conducted a little tour through the guy’s films, one by one, pointing out things I’d missed or misconstrued. The key, according to Howard, was to accept the films’ strange imbalances and pretensions, lags and lurches, as what naturally happens when an artist has had to wrest his material from countless years of heterosexual ownership. There were moments when the liberation was complete and the picture in focus, and moments when Jarman’s struggle became the point. It was a notion of distortion-as-beauty familiar to me from the rock music I knew, but less so from other media. So while I understood Howard’s theory, it wasn’t until I finally saw The Last of England—a staggering, hallucinatory meditation set in a desolated future London—that I began to see Jarman as an artist with specific, definable genius."

–Dennis Cooper. "The Queer King." Smothered in Hugs: Essays, Interviews, Feedback, and Obituaries.

I am invested in the full spectrum of transgression. When I was younger, I think I deliberately sought out the militantly transgressive (David Cronenberg, Kara Walker, J.G. Ballard, Valerie Solanas S.C.U.M., John Waters, etc.) As I get older I increasingly look for material that disrupts binary systems quietly and on a subconscious level (Derek Jarman's "Blue", Alice Munro, Todd Haynes "Far from Heaven", Janet Cardiff's sound work, etc.)

Next on my list to familiarize myself with – the queer theorist Guy Hocquenghem.  

Day Job: T.S. Eliot – Clerk

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"In 1917, Eliot took a job as a clerk at Lloyds Bank, in London ... Eliot was grateful for the job. Previously, he had been devoting all his energies to writing reviews and essays, teaching school, and delivering an ambitious lecture series — a devouring workload that left him little time for poetry and, worse, barely earned him enough money to scrape by. By contrast, Lloyds was a godsend. Two days after his appointment there, he wrote to his mother, “I am now earning two pounds ten shillings a week for sitting in an office from 9:15 to 5 with an hour for lunch, and tea served in the office.… Perhaps it will surprise you to hear that I enjoy the work. It is not nearly so fatiguing as school teaching, and is more interesting.” He often used his lunch hour to discuss literary projects with friends and collaborators. In the evening he had time to work on his poetry, or to earn extra money from reviews and criticism ...

It was an ideal arrangement, but over time the routine became dulling. Sensing his weariness, some of his literary friends, led by Ezra Pound, invented a scheme to free Eliot from his employment: they would create a £ 300 annual fund by soliciting £ 10 a year from thirty subscribers. When Eliot found out about the plan he was appreciative but embarrassed; he preferred the security and independence afforded by Lloyds."

–Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Mason Currey. 

David Foster Wallace on cleverness

Added on by Vivian Wong.

David Foster Wallace: "You know, it's real interesting. I was a very difficult person to teach when I was a student and I thought I was smarter than my teachers and they told me a lot of things that I thought were retrograde or outdated or B.S. And I've learned more teaching in the last three years than I ever learned as a student. And a lot of it is that when you see students' work where the point, whether it's stated or not, is basically that they're clever, and to try and articulate to the student how empty and frustrating it is for a reader to invest their time and attention in something and to feel that the agenda is basically to show you that the writer is clever. All the kind of stuff, right, when I'm doing my little onanistic, clever stuff in grad school, that when my professors would talk to me about it, I would go, "Well, they don't understand. I'm a genius, blah, blah, blah, blah." Now that I'm the teacher, I'm starting to learn—it's like the older you get, the smarter your parents get—now I'm starting to learn that they had some smart stuff to tell me."

–Interview with David Foster Wallace by Leonard Lopate, WNYC, March 4, 1996.

Full interview here

That time when Slimer ...

Added on by Vivian Wong.
... ran away from home because Peter Venkman yelled at him for gulping Winston's surprise birthday cake. 

... ran away from home because Peter Venkman yelled at him for gulping Winston's surprise birthday cake. 

I cried a little. 

I cried a little. 

"The Real Ghostbusters", episode 104 "Slimer, Come Home".

Link to the whole episode: 

Happy 30th anniversary GHOSTBUSTERS! You guys were a big part of my childhood.

I love you Slimer!

Surprising Fans

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"So I'm rehearsing this piece I had rescored with the orchestra at Abbey Road and Paul comes over to me and said, 'Angelo, it sounds great. Let me tell you this story. I was invited by the Queen's (Elizabeth II) office to perform forty minutes of my music to celebrate her birthday at Buckingham Palace. I'm about to go on and she comes by and says 'Oh, Mr. McCartney, it's so lovely to see you, but I can't stay!' Paul said, 'What do you mean? We're celebrating your birthday!' The Queen said, 'You see, it's five minutes of eight; I must go upstairs and watch Twin Peaks.' Paul turned around and punched me on the left arm right on the conductor stand and had a few choice words. (laughs) I thought that was incredible! David Lynch and I both like the Queen a lot as a result of this." 

-Angelo Badalamenti

"After the first season a lot of crazy things happened, like me and Mark sitting at Steven Spielberg's house convincing him to do the opener for the second season. That was all ready to go. This is a long story, but my first wife (Tricia Brock) is and was Kate Capshaw's best friend so I knew Steven pretty well and he was a huge fan of the show – watched it every week, I mean a huge fan. Because we were friendly we talked about it a lot and he said to me in passing how fun it would be to direct an episode, so I went to Mark over the summer and said, 'This probably is not a bad way to kick off the second season, right?"

"Steven just said, 'I want it to be as weird as possible; it'll be so much fun.' So whether or not he would have even done it, we'll never really know, but when Mark told David he didn't even hesitate, saying, 'No, no, I think I'll direct the first one. Maybe he can direct later in the season,' which he obviously didn't." 

-Harley Peyton. Series screenwriter and season two producer. 

Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks. Brad Dukes. 

Routines: John Waters

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"I make notes ... This idea. This joke. This thing. This character. This this. Pages and pages and pages of notes. Then I go through and outline. This is exactly how I do it: I always have to have an exact kind of legal pads from Towson Stationery. They make the brand I like the best. Bic pens, black like twenty of them. Then a red Bic pen to circle the ideas I like. Then a red pencil to circle the ones I like even more than the red pen. Then I go back to another legal pad. I have a whole book of titles, a whole book of casting, a whole book of who the characters are and what happens with them in the first, second, and third acts … All of my movies are within five minutes of being ninety minutes long. It goes back to three reels, my old 16 mm days, you know? A beginning, a middle, and an end."

–John Waters. "Artist in Dialogue", interview with John G. Ives, 1992. 

Postmodern Pain

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Physical pain, the pain of the body itself, is no longer the constituent element of the penalty. From being an art of unbearable sensations punishment has become an economy of suspended rights. If it is still necessary for the law to reach and manipulate the body of the convict, it will be at a distance, in the proper way, according to strict rules, and with a much 'higher' aim … Today a doctor must watch over those condemned to death, right up to the last moment–thus juxtaposing himself as the agent of welfare, as the alleviator of pain, with the official whose task it is to end life. This is worth thinking about. When the moment of execution approaches, the patients are injected with tranquilizers. A utopia of judicial reticence: take away life, but prevent the patient from feeling it; deprive the prisoner of all rights, but do not inflict pain; impose penalties free of all pain.

Michel Foucault. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

Service Culture

Added on by Vivian Wong.

Zadie Smith on "Takeout" in America vs. "Takeaway" in England

"In London, you don’t tip for delivery. A man on a motorbike arrives and hands over an oil-soaked bag, or a box. You give him the exact amount of money it costs or wait and look at your shoes while he hunts for change. Then you close the door. Sometimes all this is achieved without even the removal of his motorcycle helmet. The dream (an especially British dream) is that the whole awkward exchange pass wordlessly ... 

But I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic. If the choice is between the antic all-singing, all-dancing employees in New York’s Astor Place Pret-A-Manger and the stony-faced contempt of just about everybody behind a food counter in London (including all the Prets), I wholeheartedly opt for the latter. We are subject to enough delusions in this life without adding to them the belief that the girl with the name tag is secretly in love with us."

Zadie Smith. "Take It or Leave It". The New Yorker. 

Americans are so insecure.

Don't Judith Butler Me

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"I mean, it was very funny to say, 'don't Judith Butler me,' but 'to Judith Butler someone' meant to say something very negative about men and to identify with a form of feminism that was against men. And I've never been identified with that form of feminism. That's not my mode. I'm not known for that. So it seems like it was confusing me with a radical feminist view that one would associate with Catharine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin, a completely different feminist modality. I'm not always calling into question who's a man and who's not, and am I a man? Maybe I'm a man. [laughs] Call me a man. I am much more open about categories of gender, and my feminism has been about women's safety from violence, increased literacy, decreased poverty and more equality. I was never against the category of men."

-Judith Butler. Gender Theorist. 

Her writings include "Gender Trouble" and "Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex".