Ben Ratliff quotes Niall Scott at ‘Hideous Gnosis’, a six-hour symposium on black metal (via Sumant Srivathsan)
… the day’s most profound lecture came from Mr. Scott, who spoke in priestly cadences about black metal as part of the ritual of confession.
“The black metal event is a confession without need of absolution, without need of redemption,” he said. It is, he added, “a cleaning up of the mess of others.” He invoked the old English tradition of sin eating by means of burial cakes, in which a loaf of bread was put on a funeral bier or a corpse, and a paid member of the community would eat the bread, representing sin, to absolve and comfort the deceased.
“Black metal has become the sin eater,” he intoned. “It is engaged in transgressive behavior to be rid of it.”
George Ttoouli offers A Reviewer’s Manifesto
1. The audience for a review must be defined, according to readers past, present and future, of the book under review.
2. The review must be functional, once the reader is defined, in order to serve, honestly, the review’s readers. The ultimate aim is to allow the reader to decide for themselves whether the book might be of value to them, or increased value to them.
3. In order to decide the reviewer’s degree of honesty in holding their opinions, the reader must know the reviewer’s biases, past and present, and possibly even future, in relation to the book, the book’s author, and the writing of the review.
4. The review must avoid highbrowing the reader in a way that becomes exclusive. This does not mean second-guessing the reader’s intelligence in a condescending fashion. It means making sufficiently diverse and detailed comparative associations between the book’s qualities and metaphors, other books or authors, other art forms, social phenomena &c., that the reader will at least feel some of the review’s descriptions are engaging and comprehensible, even without knowledge of the subject being compared to.
zunguzungu on Inglourious Basterds (via Space Bar)
The point, then, is that we have learned to forget that anti-semitic racism was once as American as apple pie precisely by mis-imagining that Hitler was the personal source and origin of all racism in the world, the same way that we have learned to forget that Britain and France pretty much did conquer the entire world (often, explicitly in order to create “living room” for its excess population) by, again, retroactively making Hitler himself into the very alpha and omega of racist imperial ambition. We have, in other words, fetishized Hitler and the swastika so as to forget how widely shared the ideologies they represented were (and are) in the West. Making the symbol evil instead of the ideology therefore has the effect of vindicating those who only shared the ideology, the racism, and the imperial ambition. Europe and America might have conquered the world to acquire living space for the white race, you see, but at least they weren’t Nazis.
What makes Inglorious Basterds an interesting movie, then, is that it understands this, at least a structural level. To echo Traxus4420 – whose post at American Stranger you should read – the Nazis in this movie aren’t Nazis because they’re evil, but rather they’re evil because they’re Nazis, and because of how an allied victory causes “Nazi” to signify (as someone smart observed, this is a movie filled with swastikas seemingly stripped of their ideology). Just as it was by marking Nazi Germany that the West was able to take off its own Nazi uniform in a metaphorical sense, the final scene of Tarantino’s movie is literally about how marking Landa un-marks Raine: by refusing to allow Landa to repent (however self serving it may have been), the Nazi becomes the scapegoat for the entirety of Western evil. And I think the fact that Pitt plays an improbably hillbilly anti-racist vigilante is, then, precisely the point: the endemic racism of the American rural South gets displaced it onto the figure of the Nazi, with whom he has everything in common but the uniform.
Don Share on how to deal with poets
# Set boundaries. Set limits on the length of your interaction and on what you are willing to talk about.
# Spell out your constraints. Be consistent. Don’t break your rules by extending a conversation, spreading gossip, or inviting the poet out for coffee or a drink.
# Stay calm. Avoid reacting dramatically yourself. Using adjectives tends to magnify emotions, so take Pound’s advice and condense.
# Validate, and redirect. Some people like to talk through a situation, but analysis only intensifies emotions for poets. Acknowledge the poet’s problem, then help him or her focus on the positive or, better still, on what can be done to improve his or her lot in life. Say, for example, “Well, of course you’re upset, but how would [name trendy or award-winning poet] handle this?”
# Create a paper trail. If a poet disrupts your life, document each interaction, noting the date, time, and precise nature of the encounter. At some point, you might want to inform your therapist of the problem. And remind yourself that some day your memoir could snag you a book deal — or at least your blog will get noticed.
# Consider cutting ties. If the relationship turns toxic despite your very best efforts, you might have to get out of it, even if doing so means finding another job, not getting published yourself, or separating from your S.O. You should consider visiting a counselor to understand how poetry is affecting you and whether there is any point in your continuing to indulge in it.
Stephen Burt on what we can learn from Project Runway
With its invitations to test our tastes against experts, its parade of outfits for us to critique, Project Runway even recalls the famous exercises in “practical criticism” performed at the University of Cambridge in the 1920s, in which professor I.A. Richards asked his students to make snap judgments about unfamiliar poems. Richards meant to improve (as he saw it) students’ tastes, and to examine their own sense of beauty and meaning; Project Runway might spark such examinations too.
Roberto Bolaño gives advice on writing short stories (via Rahul Soni)
(1) Never approach short stories one at a time. If one approaches short stories one at a time, one can quite honestly be writing the same short story until the day one dies. (2) It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time. (3) Be careful: the temptation to write short stories two at a time is just as dangerous as attempting to write them one at a time, and, what’s more, it’s essentially like the interplay of lovers’ mirrors, creating a double image that produces melancholy. (4) One must read Horacio Quiroga, Felisberto Hernández, and Jorge Luis Borges. One must read Juan Rulfo and Augusto Monterroso. Any short-story writer who has some appreciation for these authors will never read Camilo José Cela or Francisco Umbral yet will, indeed, read Julio Cortázar and Adolfo Bioy Casares, but in no way Cela or Umbral.
Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all of this. – A
Greetings: Turns out it’s Christmas eve. I’ve spent several hours working on a university application and packing cake and kuswar for my mother. Not fun. I did, however, buy some poetry for myself. – A
And Vivek Narayanan‘s Universal Beach — I couldn’t find an image, but I have a new scanner and I’m dying to experiment with it.