An unexpected continuation of the VIABLE SYSTEMS collections of ambient soundscapes. Very welcome this morning.
WARREN ELLIS LTD Articles.
Making time this morning for this magnificent Rothko via Daily Rothko.
In 1914, the Austrian actress Tilla Durieux was driven from Berlin to Paris some 15 times to sit for a portrait by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In the resulting painting, Durieux looks serenely grave, fixing her gaze somewhere outside its shimmer of rose and honeyed tones. Writing years later, she described the severely arthritic artist. As he was wheeled into the room by a nurse, Durieux was “flabbergasted” by Renoir’s hands. His right, she noted, had been frozen by the arthritis in the gesture of holding a paintbrush; the left was contorted in such a way that it perfectly held a palette.
Fascinating nugget from this piece here at Art In America.
Some 2,300 light years from Earth lies the pulsar PSR B1257+12. It flashes 161 times per second and has been nicknamed “Lich” after an undead creature in western folklore. It is orbited by three rocky, terrestrial planets named Phobetor, Draugr and Poltergeist.
Yesterday, 21C. Today, 15 at best. The clocks went back and the long Indian summer went away. Today is for bacon sandwiches and coffee, roasting sausages and making mashed potato.
The newsletter went out this morning, and if you’re not subscribed, you can catch up and add yourself to the list at this link right here. As noted therein, I’ve been derelict in this space, due to factors including really enjoying the long and difficult thing I’m writing right now. But I do need to knock this place into shape, and that’s going to be one of my winter projects.
The advent of winter feels really good. I know that in four months I’ll be cursing the sky, and I am frankly dreading the Xmas time-crush.
Am beginning my winter reading projects, and I suspect the next book I take off the digital pile will be WAR AND WAR by Laszlo Krasznahorkai (link), of whom WG Sebald wrote “The universality of Krasznahorkai’s vision… far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing” and who wrote several films with Bela Tarr, which is how I became aware of his work.
Speaking of the great wanderer himself: Sebald, author of the transformative THE RINGS OF SATURN (link), taught creative writing, and two of his students compiled a fascinating list of his writing tips. That right there is your essential reading of the day.
Fiction should have a ghostlike presence in it somewhere, something omniscient. It makes it a different reality.
Got some help this morning to finish coppicing the virburnums, and we decided which of them we’re going to uproot and remove next week. As of right now, I’m eight pages into the script I started yesterday, which is too slow: I lost too much of yesterday to processing contracts and documents.
CURRENTLY READING: NO PLAN B, Lee & Andrew Child
INBOX: a hopeless 93. Back to work.
AN EVENT IN AUTUMN was a Wallander novella that Henning Mankell wrote for the Dutch book market. They did a thing one year where if you bought a book, you got one free, apparently, and Mankell wrote this as the free giveaway book. It comes just before the final novel in the Wallander sequence, I think, but works just fine as a standalone intro to the Wallander experience, despite what reads like a less-than-smooth translation in places.
It’s a dank and miserable little story, very much in the Sjowall/Wahloo Nordic noir tradition. (Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo were Swedish Marxist journalists who invented modern Nordic crime fiction as basically a side gig.) Signatures of the style include the story taking up a large stretch of time, because it takes forever to get forensics and do the field work and police detectives have more than one case to deal with at any given moment. Also, there will almost always be a sociopolitical angle – some failure of the state or society. I found that particular note slightly muted here, or perhaps scattered. This is Mankell at his least pungent and most melancholy.
AN EVENT IN AUTUMN was adapted by the generally fine WALLANDER tv series made by the BBC and starring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. However, if you’ve seen it, the book has surprises. The adaptation folded it into the arc of the show, and that’s not where the book happens.
If this slim book appeals to you, then it will open up the entire Wallander sequence for you, and I envy you getting to discover it and hope it is as joyful for you as it was for me when I first laid eyes on that spare, bleak prose.
AN EVENT IN AUTUMN, Henning Mankell (buy)
Love that cover. Via 70s Sci Fi Art.
The abstract art of Frank Bowling.
Influencing Machines are described by their troubled inventors as complex structures, constructed of “boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries and the like.” Sometimes these devices are thought to be their doubles, unconscious projections of their fragmented bodily experience. Patients will typically invoke all the powers known to technology to explain their obscure workings. Nevertheless, they always transcend attempts at giving a coherent account of their function: “All the discoveries of mankind,” Tausk asserts, “are regarded as inadequate to explain the marvelous powers of this machine.”
RIGHT NOW: drinking coffee and working on tomorrow’s edition of the newsletter, wherein I probably talk a bit about new and current projects and also The Great Nazi Wisteria War Of 2022.
LISTENING: episode 365 Hypnagogue Podcast.
JAPANESE MICROSEASON IS:
I have to clear my inbox down and figure out my work/life schedule for the next four months. There may be a lot more process and setup talk here over the next little while, once I get things under control.
Wittenburg says that composing these interludes was initially difficult but he took inspiration from John Cage’s approach of giving space to silence. The Berlin-based artist is referring to the experiments Cage did in an anechoic chamber at Harvard University in 1951, in which the American master concluded that absolute silence did not exist. Within the chamber, Cage heard two sounds, one high and one low – afterwards, an engineer explained that the high sound was his nervous system and the low one was his blood circulating throughout his system. Another great American composer, Pauline Oliveros, later observed that Cage was listening to the sounds caused by the early symptoms of the stroke he would later die from, and as such, according to Oliveros, while Cage was in the anechoic chamber he was ultimately listening to his future.
Astronomers have observed the brightest flash of light ever seen, from an event that occurred 2.4 billion light years from Earth and was likely triggered by the formation of a black hole.
I’ve barely moved from the office chair in days, aside from breaks to try and saw down some bits of tree, and my back is killing me and my eyes are bleary. Show me the brightest light in the universe, please.
In this exhibition, (Tom) Sachs investigates the accepted understandings, assumptions, epistemology, and consensus of what constitutes a spaceship. By tracing its evolving historical and linguistic understanding, the artist explores a spaceship’s physical, metaphysical, and spiritual possibilities.
And, you know, fun stuff, but I was immediately reminded of British model maker Martin Bower, who specialised in science fiction tv and film.