Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


MoMA Dada

Prompted by the NYRB rave, I checked out MoMA's Dada show yesterday and found it to be as promised (as is the excellent catalogue, duly purchased). I couldn't linger for the films (another visit will be required) but progressing through the galleries brought on a growing if not knowing smile -- somehow the visitor parked foursquare in front of one canvas staring fixedly at the explanatory text off to one side was apt rather than aggravating, and it was hard to inhibit the impulse to unfurl my umbrella in the elevator descending from the exhibit. More bemusing was the LATimes artcritic's crass projection of narcissism, particularly in invoking the latest casualty figures, given the prominence given to George Grosz's work in the show. But even sarcasm is not without its humor; would that that could be said of such critics. 8.8: closer to the case.

Recent reading, attempts to return to childhood of one sort or another:

Thomas Bernhard, Extinction: Perhaps influenced (Q: How? A: Unduly.) by the tack my reading has taken lately, I see this further blurring the line between literature and performing arts (with self-commentary on the performance), with the rejection of heritage (beyond Bloom's personal anxieties) allied to representation's expropriation and extirpation of memory (Nabokov also commented on how personal memories were compromised by incorporating elements into his writing). (Waggish was there last year, with more on offer.)

Italo Svevo, A Perfect Hoax: A long short story dressed up as a novella by Hesperus (as is their wont, though they do contribute good ancillary matter), but still quite good for all that, and like his other writing drawn on himself ... Saba's afterword reminiscence concludes: "No sooner did he understand that he was dying and that he had really smoked that 'last cigarette' [his request for another LC denied], than his fear suddenly disappeared. 'Is this all there is to dying?' he asked his family. 'It's easy, very easy. It's easier,' he said, trying to smile, 'than writing a novel.'"

M.John Harrison, Light: Best thing along these lines since Gibson's Neuromancer. Pushing performative quantum-mechanical gnosticism to the limits (if there are any), in which mathematics has its own agenda. Not without flaws, but these overcome by its ambitious scope, the farther/deeper out you go, the older you get.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Little, Big reference there. I had given up on Harrison after Signs of Life, which I thought mediocre, but several people have been boosting him recently to me.

1/8/06 15:31  
Blogger nnyhav said...

I only wish the reference had been advertent (and older is a frame-of-reference thing; I might as well have said younger from a Universal standpoint). Obliviously my kibitzing sees more than registers. I really have to pick up on Crowley one of these days ...

1/8/06 23:33  

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