hazelk: (Default)
This Christmas instead of gorging on my mothers latest wannabe Georgette Heyers I had a literary nostalgia-fest and read a bunch of 70’s sf books including the Phillip K. Dick novel A Scanner Darkly. Like all of Dick’s work much concerned with identity and reality and which is which. Scanner draws very explicitly on a time in Dick’s life when he’d stopped writing or pretty much anything but downing huge quantities of amphetamines and hanging out with other users.
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hazelk: (sellack)
This vid is totally kicking my arse. Right at the last, which happens to be the first and I know exactly what it needs to do and the kind of things it needs to do it but just can't seem to figure out exactly what. Had an inspiration this morning that almost cracked it only to realise that the colour was all wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So yay me for noticing something colour-related (for possibly the first time ever) but damn Technicolour for ever tempting the movies out of good old black and white. And then inventing aspect ratios. Bastards.

Tangentially, I just finished reading Walter Murch's In the Blink of an Eye. Murch is/was a film editor who worked on, amongst other projects, The Conversation, American Graffiti, Julia, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather (parts II and III), The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The English Patient. Fortunately I didn’t realize about the last of these until I’d already ordered the book. That movie took three hours of my life!

Admittedly the problem I had with it was probably down to Minghella who does exactly the same thing of lingering infinitely on every other emotional moment in all his films. I think the killer on the EP was when having already been sitting in the theatre since the late Cretaceous, someone decided it was necessary to show the complete sequence of Ralph Fiennes crossing the Sahara desert. On foot. In slow motion. S-L-O-W M-O-T-I-O-N.

The book is a much more fast-paced experience. I have a fairly cast iron kink for hearing people who know stuff talk about stuff they know that this hit big time. I think I was sold from the first time he made a comparison between film editing and mammalian genome evolution. That makes it sound terribly dry but it really isn’t. A good read.


Jul. 28th, 2005 02:34 pm
hazelk: (Default)
Reading around in the wake of the new Harry Potter I came across this excellent essay by [livejournal.com profile] minisinoo about style and heart in writing. It was posted with reference to an earlier discussion of JK Rowling’s work possessing the latter quality despite the stylistic deficiencies and made a lot of sense to me. I like the Potter books, they’re fun and they do seem to have some indefinable something for which ‘heart’ seems as good a word as any.

In the earlier post there was also some comparison of Potter with Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising.’ As it happens they’re both series I’ve read first as an adult which makes an objective comparison easier than one with say UK le Guin’s Earthsea books. Cooper like Rowling is highly addictive, I think I ploughed through the entire series in 2-3 days. Both also deal with a magical world that exists in parallel to the modern one but other than that they feel very different. For me the great strength of ‘The Dark is Rising” is that sense of the world being on the verge of being swallowed by a great building darkness. The strongest section of each book come in the middle before that threat gets deus ex machina’d away. OK that’s a little unfair but the endings do feel a little too inevitable. Whereas with the Potter the best part usually is the last when all the plot threads miraculously fall into place. Cooper has some strong but subtle characterisation particularly of Will, the boy who finds he’s an Old One, in the second book and later of Bran the Pendragon figure. In general, however, the characters come across as a little indistinct compared with those of the Potter books, who are almost cartoonishly drawn.

The Cooper books are steeped in Arthurian mythology, while I don’t get the impression that Rowling has any closer acquaintance with the Matter of Britain than I do. Which is not zero but it’s mostly second hand. More often she (Rowling) seems to draw on her own experiences. The Dementors are supposed to be a representation of depression aren’t they? With the new book I wonder if the Pensieve isn’t a metaphor for writing. Storing little pieces of your thoughts in a form that others can share. Picture LJ users strung together by a web of those silvery threads. A slightly disturbing image – as Buffy once said, “if taken literally incredibly gross.” And the Boggarts, which transform into the observer’s greatest fear and are rendered harmless by the confusion engendered by audience diversity. A similar effect would seem possible with written forms of communication being open to all comers. But I quite like the idea. Being a masochistic bloggart.
hazelk: (Default)
Well that’s probably the least appetising subject heading yet. All it needs is a good dollop of cold semolina and….

Topic: there was a five things book meme doing the rounds a few weeks ago that I thought about but never actually did. Anyway my ‘5th ‘book that influenced you’ was going to be a collection of five half-remembered sf stories that I imprinted on as a teenager and for some reason I’ve been thinking about them today. The first, and this one I do actually remember most of, was Shattered Like a Glass Goblin by Harlan Ellison. I just like the title image for some reason. The story was some hippy druggy nightmare about LSD trips gradually turning real. I just like the title OK.

There’s a second imagery one, I think by Gene Wolfe, about a man with a face in his stomach who meets a girl with the same condition and they kiss. The third is a Roger Zelazny novel where the science premise has to do with chirality and the existence of a (literally) mirror world where L forms of organic molecules replace D. Or is it the other way round. I can’t remember what happened in the story at all, I just thought it was a neat premise.

The fourth is a longish short story by James Tiptree Jnr that had something to do with rats and a ‘king rat’ forming as a collective rat consciousness but I remember it more for the not-a-love-story going on at the same time. There’s a man and a woman talking about bonsai trees and how their beauty is essentially a product of major tree torture and it ends with one of them asking something along the lines of whether two broken things can ever make a bonsai. So I’m a complete sap but I think that’s my big romance kink right there. It’s probably a major part of what I liked about S7 of Buffy. Because there’s Buffy and Spike and Xander and Anya and they’ve all broken each other beyond hope of repair and yet by the end they seem to find something new. Not something big, noisy and passionate, but small like a bonsai is small. Quiet. I like the quiet.

And my fifth story I think must be classic sf. Because there are Venusians and the point is that Venus is a drab looking place to our eyes but the Venusians have adapted to it by developing a much more finely tuned sense of colour in that part of the spectrum. So to them viewing our beautiful Earth landscapes is a garish epilepsy-inducing experience. Well I always liked the idea (apparently not true) that Inuit languages contain dozens of words for different grades of snow.
hazelk: (Default)
Call this a coda or a very late placed intermission for the ‘Ulysses’ melee. I still haven’t finished it due to feeling that the last two chapters should be properly savoured and snatching odd paragraphs by omnibus isn’t the way to do it. But I have found time to revisit a much shorter work that Joyce wrote while finishing ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’.

If ‘Ulysses’ is a turbulent river in full flood, ‘Giacomo’ is a crystal clear mountain stream. Clear but not pure, the story is essentially a more refined version of Nausikaa. It was never published in Joyce’s lifetime possibly due to being too overtly autobiographical.

A description of his daughter proved tragically prophetic:

A flower given to her by my daughter. Frail gift, frail giver, frail blue veined child.

Parts quite strongly evoke the later work. My favourite is in the first paragraph describing Giacomo’s meeting with the object of his infatuation:

Yes: a brief syllable. A brief laugh. A brief beat of the eyelids.

The story jump-cuts between the protagonist’s various thoughts and impressions of his inamorare over the course of their non-affair. He gives her a lesson on Shakespeare, has a chance street meeting with her father, spies on her from the Gods during a visit to the opera and is finally rejected.

In one stanza, briefly reminiscent of Sirens, he describes her in terms of sounds that she makes:

High heels clack hollow on the resonant stone stairs

In another of nursery food:

…smitten by the hot creamy light, grey wheyhued shadows under the jawbones,streaks of eggyolk yellow on the moistened brow…

She’s a bird:

Great bows on her slim bronze shoes: spurs of a pampered fowl

And a foal following her mother:

…Hillo! Ostler! Hilloho!

Always through one metaphor or another, by the end it feels as if you know her well but at one remove. This sense of distance pervades the whole piece, while Giacomo wryly looks on at his own ineffectualness and inevitable failure. And yet, as with ‘Ulysses’, the overall effect is of a clear eyed affection, a sometimes crotchety sympathy for both the characters.

…and now reminded of something completely different )


hazelk: (Default)

May 2012



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