Sunday, June 22, 2008
The writing part has been going pretty well. I can't rightly say what I am doing with the writing anymore, other than that I am doing it and it is taking me in unexpected directions. The Cul De Sac still stands at the center of my thinking, but I've been writing about more philosophical things the past two weeks. First, a meditation on the shape of the circle at the end of the cul de sac became a mediation on geometry and platonism, which lead the next day to a meditation on memory.
None of which prepared me for the next part of the project, which took well over a week to semi-complete, which turned out to be an eight page meditation on the idea of god, written (as were the other two poems and some of the others I have been writing since I've been down here) loosely in blank verse. Formally, I think this is an area I'd like to explore further, that is, using blank verse as a means to write discursively.
I've been trying since completing my last book to explore poems of greater length. I have also been experimenting with line length, trying to extend myself out of the short line and fragmentary thought into something more expansive, without losing the sense of musicality in the language. Blank verse serves this purpose well, as it works with the regular rhythms of iambic pentameter, but the length of lines allows for infinite rhythmic variation from line to line.
It somehow also feels natural when extending the lines out so (from my usual 4-6 syllable line to a 9-11 syllable line) to write about more discursive subjects. I find myself much more willing to let my thought meander and to add information as I go, whereas writing in short lines leads me toward a more fragmentary kind of poem. While the short poems are often more precise, the longer ones offer me the opportunity to continue on with a thought and to play with the excess a bit more, rather than looking for only the essential in every instant.
The 8 page poem is also one long sentence. This, I think, is a habit leftover from writing short works, where I often break up a sentence into short, sharp lines, ending the poem or the section of the poem with a period. The habit of making the poem out of a single sentence as extended itself into these new, longer works, which makes them somewhat exhausting to read aloud to myself, as I often do when writing. It will be interesting to see how a live audience responds when I start reading them in public.
I have also declared this the summer of reading in Spanish. I have been reading books in Spanish only since I arrived. Currently, I am reading La Muerte De Artemio Cruz, by Carlos Fuentes. I next plan to read Los Detectives Salvajes, by Roberto Bolaño, which I had intended to read in English until I found out the America editor of the book decided to arbitrarily chop two chapters out of the original.
Movies seen since the last entry:
The Bank Job - a serviceable heist film from the UK, starring Jason Statham.
Get Smart - I really wanted this to be funnier than it was. I am also, since I noticed it in the Indiana Jones film, getting impatient with the way in which CGI is blurring the bounds between live action and animation. Live action films no longer even bother to explaning how, for instance, a man might fall from an airplane without a parachute, land in a barn, and walk away without a scratch, which happens in GS. Formerly, you at least had to suggest a plausible imaginative explanation or rationale for this kind of thing. Now, the filmmakers don't even bother, which makes it more like watching Roadrunner cartoons than watching a film. That said, it's worth a few laughs, but probably not full admission price.
Two films by Carlos Reygadas: Japón and Battle in Heaven. Tarkovsky meets Kiarostami and Costa? That might be an apt description for these fascinating, slow-burning, philosophical explorations of pockmarked and wrinkled faces, aged and/or obese naked bodies, graphic violence and sex, and viscerally sublime landscapes. Anyhow, well worth checking out, and I am looking forward to his next film, which everybody raved about after Cannes last year, but which has yet to show up in the U.S.
F for Fake - a monotonous and borderline laughable pseudo-documentary by Orson Welles.
Boarding Gate - the latest from Olivier Assayas, starring Asia Argento and Michael Madsen. The first 30 minutes, in which Argento and Madsen try to heat up some chemistry is terrible, but once the plot twist occurs, this film turns into an intense, beautifully-shot thriller. It's worth the pain to get to the good part, but just barely.
47 Ronin -- Mizoguchi's 1941 version of this story is long, very, very long, and for the non-Japanese like myself, somewhat difficult to follow, as it is really about exploring the intricate details of the samurai code of honor, which are not always explicit in the discussions. And the subtitles and the print on the DVD are pretty bad, which makes it harder to watch. However, it-s almost 4 hours worth of classic Mizoguchi image-making -- perfectly composed shots, amazing tracking, etc, so good for that.
Two by William Klein -- Who Are You Polly Magoo and The Model Couple, both 60's and 70's era satires of, respectively, fashion and sociology. Both are entertaining for a while, and both are prescient pre-reality-television-style films, but both peter out after a bit. Polly Magoo is the better of the two. I am waiting to see Mr. Freedom, the third in the collection.
And that's all for now. Time to write poetry, eat, go to the gym, etc. Oh, yeah, and to play Scrabulous, which I spend way, way too much time doing on vacation and in real life.