An innovator and commander of imagination, by any standard. The Left Hand of Darkness changed my reading life and my life, not least by making me finally understand what a boys’ club sci-fi was. This was a fully formed female voice in the genre, and beyond it as well.
The first is from the original edition of the H.G.Wells landmark. The second from a fairly contemporary Brazilian translation. The third from the terrific, much more recent, treatment by Edward Gorey.
The thing that always puzzled me about these creations is that Wells accurately presented the Martians — giant heads on top of tentacle-like fingers — as crawling around and gasping, clearly oppressed by the thick atmosphere and strong gravity of Earth (compared to Mars). And yet these weird, spindly war machines, persuasive products of the Martian environment, were not similarly crushed and slogged by the Earth environment. Maybe they worked out a magic technology in prep for the invasion.
Interesting update on, yes, quite faded “platform reality.” I stayed away from it not least because it was another way to avoid doing work and because the avatars seemed like such banal caricatures of real persons. And the idea had been around for a long time. I mean, Second Life is almost exactly what was imagined in “The Machine Stops.”
Dropped by the French Culture Center (a must-visit for Boston locals — delights abound) and discovered that by chance it was the Library Book Sale. Hundreds and hundreds of volumes — $1 each! Zoot aloors!
What I grabbed:
Cinema magazine (May, 1971), featuring La Salamandre by Alain Tanner (not least because I can never have enough pictures of Bulle Ogier).
Cinema magazine (June, 1981), featuring Les Annees Lumiere by Alain Tanner (Light Years Away in the US) (not least because I saw this strange flick and loved that it did not even try to make linear sense)
Les Gens de Justice by Daumier (1974). Of course the jokes are lost in the French text, but the reproductions are so superior to any American volume I have run across that … less than a penny a page seems like the bargain of a lifetime.
Amour – Erotisme en Cinema, by Ado Kyrou, edited by Eric Losfeld (not sure what this means) (1966). Treasure of new to me film stills, from the heyday of hedonism-on-the-rise in movie houses. The historic stuff is also incredible. Has a bookmark. Looks the most-used of the books I got. Donated to the Cultural Center in 1969. (PS: the cover features a stylized image of Louise Brooks, confirming the country’s obsession with her erotisme.)
Various, La Chanson de L’Annee 2016 (MCA/Universal). Four-CD set! A bit less MOR than I expected, and way, way more fun than 25 cents a disc.
Right off my shelf are African Folktales (1983) and Afro-American Folktales (1985). And I should read more, esp. since he shows such insight into language nuance. Gonna go for the ground-breaker, Deep Down in the Jungle (1964).
(After many partial plays of Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues.)
Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John, Good Times in New Orleans 1958-1962 (Soul Jam, 2017) A collection of the good Dr.’s vintage studio work that I bought without remembering I had an earlier version of such a survey and played in an attempt to decide if I should ditch one or the other.
Khemmis, Hunted (Spin, 2016). Plugged by Motorhead head as something Doom fans should hear. I agree — fresh synthesis of everything Stoner and Doom from before without wretch-inducing lapses and, while songs are humorless, you can feel the love and comprehensive knowledge of the styles. Nothing feels long long long.
Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize Speech. Yep, as brilliant as everybody claims. Guy’s got a unique memory, seems to me — at my most credulous, I think he’s doing as much a bean-dump on the books as he is on his apprehension of rock, R&B and folk. These swirling spiels are what he retains and he polishes up only until it’s all in his own voice.
Dr. John, Storm Warning (The Early Sessions of Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack) (Jazzmine, 2004) See above. Well, chocomo fee nae nae — with a total 55 tracks between them (six or seven overlaps) the contrasting mood and texture of these collections makes them both worth keeping. The recent one has brighter, more detailed sound, this earlier one livelier mood and feels more like a Dr. John album.
Motorhead, Aftershock — Tour Edition (UDR, 2014). When I recently consulted the Motorhead head (see above) he said Aftershock was their best since the ’90s and said the live disc (“Best of the West Coast Tour 2014”) was either #1 or #2 of such programs. I donno about that, but it is exceptionally strong and highly recommended. The studio album is a deep–late-day triumph for Lemmy & crew — and the salute to him I’ve meant to do since the innocent days I thought his death would be the prime blow to the heart in 2016.
I’ve been fascinated by the manuscript ever since I heard about it as a romantic book-boy out in the sticks. I mentioned it early on in this blog. But I looked at my reproduction around the time I did that post and was disillusioned — how could I have thought the text was a made-up language? It’s merely decorative script-babble. Plus, the mysterious, secret-knowledge manuscript was a lot more common fantasy back in the ’60s and ’70s. I’m almost cynical enough now to put down the Voynich as being too famous for being famous.