Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let's Just Hope That Is Enough

For CC, who is skyborne. And because I love Michelle Williams.


Everything was love.
Everything will be love.
Everything has been love.
Everything would be love.
Everything would have been love.


Let's just hope that is enough, Conor would say.

P.S. The book is A Word Child, by Iris Murdoch.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hrepenenje

A real linguistic rarity is hrepenenje. Contradicting the rules of logic, this Slovenian term expresses a feeling of longing for something that hasn’t yet happened. Therefore it seems that the word seems to be something totally opposite to here and now. According to some, the hrepenenja state is dangerous as it is linked to the necessity of staying out of touch with the reality and remaining in the undefined, fantasy sphere.
- Café Babel: Untranslatable words of ‘longing’ across Europe

Friday, October 12, 2012

Draculette

Last weekend I finished marathoning yet another tv series. Catching up on The Vampire Diaries, more exactly - in the process remembering why I've first given up on it right in the middle of the second season. The writing on this show is embarrassing! The string of plot twists is absolutely ridiculous. I understand the need to keep the viewer engaged but there has to be a limit to how many times you can kill a character and then resurrect him/her, or to how many hidden "clauses" a spell can have. Yes, True Blood is even more ADD-like. The difference is: True Blood doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't spend too much time on, you know, FEELINGS and character development.

The writing aside, The Vampire Diaries has a serious witch problem. A very serious witch problem. Up until one point, all the witches on this show are black ('cause you know, Blacks and their voodoo and juju and all that. UGH!). Up until one point - because later on we find out that the original witch is... white. Of course! This makes me so angry that if I could cast a spell on this show, it would be a very dark one.

However, I must be the one under a spell, or under compulsion because I massively enjoy watching this show. So much that I've already re:watched the first season plus the first eight episodes of the second season. I'm not sure if mine is a teenage heart or a teenage mind. The former is not so bad, but the latter... The truth is that so and so tv shows are seem mildly better when marathoned. The explanation is a simple one. Marathoning a tv series - as opposed to watching one weekly episode and then waiting for the new season for months - allows you to really immerse into the story, as flawed as it is, and to better empathize with the characters. And to better notice certain things. With stories like The Vampire Diaries and Twilight, it's easy to focus only on femininity stereotypes. Damsels in distress, maternal to the point of annoyance, etc. But these stories also say a lot about masculinity as a - you know it's coming - a "social construct." Power, money, muscles, knight in shining armor. Boys are taught this is what girls want. Girls are taught to expect this from boys. In Twilight, all this is embarrassingly transparent, especially the money aspect. In TVD, it's a little more toned down, mainly because Elena also comes from a family with a lot of history, a family of aristocrats. So although she herself is not exactly rich, the class difference is not that obvious. Twilight, on the other hand, is a straightforward Cinderella story. Yes, Stefan also has the impressive mansion, the flashy sports car. However, it was smth less obvious that clicked, that directed my attention towards the construct of masculinity in these two vampire stories. The moment Stefan takes Elena for a private ride on the ferris wheel in the middle of the night reminded me of a similar moment from the first season of the Romanian version of The Bachelor, when this misogynistic a-hole, whose name will not be mentioned in this space, took one of the girls for a ride on a hot air balloon at sunrise.

The Vampire Diaries (season 2, episode 2: "Brave New World")

Obviously, I am aware it's not exactly the same thing. In TVD, this boy/man/vampire (whatever) is doing a romantic gesture for his girlfriend, whom he loves, because he knows that's what she wants. That's what she needs. In The Bachelor, there is nothing romantic about the gesture this man does, starting with the fact that the girl could have been any other girl - they were all interchangeable. The bachelor's purpose is strictly to impress, to show off his power. And that's exactly where these two gestures intersect: power. Money-power, to be more specific. In Stefan's case, compulsion is his currency. (IRL, he would have had to bribe the guard to let him use the ferris wheel.) Needless to say, that moment on The Bachelor was absolutely sickening. Well, everything about that show was sickening. What was particularly sickening about these big empty gestures on The Bachelor was that not only the girls on the show were expected to be impressed by them, but also the female viewers were expected to be impressed. The problem is: men who do big gestures like these to impress their dates are usually the men who treat women as accessories, as trophies. Ha. In a way, these men really are vampires. This misogynistic a-hole of a bachelor used to go on and on about how the woman on a man's arm represents him, about how he has to invest in her. Make her. Transform her. Call it however you like, but this jerk's views on heterosexual relationships is exactly what's going on in both Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. Edward's power is transferred to Bella. Stefan's power is transferred to Elena. Both girls are transformed. They become vampires. They become women. As if their transition to vampirism/womanhood would have been impossible in the absence of these powerful men. These might be another type of fairy tales, but the gender stereotypes remain the same. And don't be fooled, stereotypes is what they really sell. Love is just a cover-up. And yet: being aware of all this doesn't change the fact that I enjoy these vampire stories way more than I should / than it's healthy.

Going on a rant about the freaking Vampire Diaries was not my intention when I started this post, though. (There is actually another theme I was surprised to find in the third season of TVD: domestic violence. But I'll leave that for another time.) This was supposed to be just a quick post about the patterns formed by my pop cultural consumption.

(Later edit: the TV.com photo recaps are hilarious!)

Found on The Vampire Diaries Facebook page earlier today:


According to an article I found flipping through an old magazine last night, Damon is right. Dracula is a she.

Strange that I should stumble upon this exactly when I'm reading Dracula.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dark Shadows (8 October)

Eternitatea, Iaşi (October 8, 2010) / Dark Shadows Mixed Tape (October 8, 2012)



(I'm all about vampires and witches these days. Must be Halloween month.)

Sailor Moon (dubbed in Italian) (season 1, episode 1: "Una guerriera speciale")

Twin Peaks (Pilot)

Varjoja paratiisissa/ Shadows in Paradise ( Aki Kaurismäki, 1986)

Friday, October 5, 2012

True Love

Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is making the rounds on American film websites, which reminds me: I cannot believe I haven't even mentioned this adaptation here. Also: I can't believe I still haven't read Wuthering Heights in original.

Wuthering Heights means quite a lot to me as it is the first book I picked up from my parents' book shelves and read and enjoyed after four years of not reading, of dreading any reading assignments. Although I didn't start devouring books immediately after having read Wuthering Heights, it certainly opened up my appetite for reading smth else besides silly magazines.

Until this year I have successfully avoided any movie adaptations, but Andrea Arnold's sounded too interesting to ignore. I loved her emphasis on the visual, her raw aesthetic. In this case, I wasn't interested in the narrative because I already knew the story. What I expect from a movie adaptation is a visual enhancement of that story that I already know. Unfortunately, I can't really say I love Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights in its entirety. There's one scene that kinda ruined the whole movie for me. I don't even think that scene is in the book, I certainly don't remember it being in the book. Whether or not that particular scene is in the book is not the problem, though. At first, I wasn't even sure that what I thought I saw was exactly what I thought I saw. But I googled it, and others have seen the same thing. So um yeah: spoiler! I'm talking, obviously, about the necrophilia scene. Necrophilia is so wrong that I don't even like it in my fiction. Well... except for vampire stories - loving the undead and all that. Certainly, you can talk about a necrophiliac aspect when it comes to Heathcliff's obsession with Catherine long after her death, his seeing her ghost. But to take that in the most literal sense goes a little beyond my limits.

Besides the aesthetic, and besides the fact that Arnold didn't play the Hollywood whitewashing game, one other reason for which I was looking forward to seeing this adaptation of Wuthering Heights was the beautiful Kaya Scodelario. I was curious to see if and how she could embody a character other than the now iconic Effy. There are actors who play a character so well that their careers will forever remain defined by that one character. Luckily, that won't be the case with Kaya Scodelario. Playing a classic role was a smart move on her part.

Kaya Scodelario as Catherine in Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2011)

Heathcliff: "My plan was to see your face [...]"

*

More recently, I've seen Kaya Scodelario in the third episode of True Love, in which she plays Karen, a high school student who falls for her teacher, Holly, played by Billie Piper. (Can't believe I'm old enough to remember Billie Piper's music beginnings!) Though poorly, I've explained before my stand on student-teacher love relationships in fiction vs. IRL. The cheapness of this cliché is emphasized when it's used in literature, but for some reason, it doesn't bother me at all when used in tv series or movies. This episode of True Love is probably the first scenario of this type - that I've ever seen - in which the nature of the relationship is not straight. I don't know why I find that surprising, though. It's a shame the episodes of this series are so short. Things feel a little rushed. The way this script is written, I don't quite understand why Holly would fall for Karen. Genuinely fall for her. Holly seems to be a magnet for inappropriate relationships, thus making Karen look like just one of her bad choices, one that she could leave behind at any moment. In the end, Karen is the one that holds on to her, to their love.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lonerism {reprise}

A quote ("refugiarse a leer en un buen sofá mientras fuera el mundo se derrumba") from this article in El Pais tweeted by sm in Spain (@cajadecerillas) reminded me of this Italian song from a band I was obsessed with during my last year of high school.


Flashbacks to nights spent in front of the computer, starring at a video (this one, that now loads in an instant) that was buffering, and buffering, and buffering... Dial-up is what they used to call it. Kids today have no idea how lucky they are, right? And finding their album, Dieci motivi - how complicated that was. First, I asked a classmate to ask her sister who was living and working in Italy to look for their album and also for Francesco Renga's(*) Camere con vista. She only found a pirate copy of Francesco Renga's album. Soon after that, my dad visited Italy for two weeks and of course I made a list for him. He finally found Velvet's album in Venice. I almost feel guilty about not listening to them anymore considering how difficult it was to find their music. Then again: Velvet's music is transitional music - exactly that type of music you listen to in high school, in your first year of college, when you're still figuring out what music you like. But maybe that's just me. Kids today *grandma voice* are certainly more advanced - at 15-16 they listen to music I barely listened to in college.

(* ) Ah, Francesco Renga! That voice! That hair! Angelo used to give me chills. I wish I could go back to those days when a song like Angelo could still give me chills. Chills and tears. Oh, wait. I figured out what the problem is. I guess it's just the official video that doesn't work for me. I guess I need to see the live version of this song, to see him feeling the song, to see his intense gaze, to see all the effort he's putting into this song. All the effort and all the love - because Angelo is dedicated to his love, Ambra. (If you don't know who Ambra is you're either too young or too old.)




"Siamo soli... è questa la realta?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lonerism





Living Alone


is easy, no one
telling you what to do
or when to do it

no one questioning why
you’re eating M&Ms
so early in the morning

or peeling a potato
with your fingernails
instead of a knife

no one watching you forget
to screw the top back
on the coffee maker

or put the glass pot under
the spout, spraying coffee
all over the kitchen

no one asking what’s for dinner
as you walk through the door
no one there

to see that living alone
is as easy
as landing on the moon

every night, looking
to claim your place
on an empty planet

with every tentative
weightless
step you take.

by Elizabeth Burk

from Rattle


+ First listen: Lonerism, Tame Impala

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ghost Records


(Watching Ghost World again and thinking: if it didn't mock feminism, it would be perfect, I could love it without any reservations.)

This Indian song and Enid's consequent interest in old Indian records always reminds me of my unconsumed obsession with old Cambodian records. This started with an article from Republik (April 2008), thanks to which I started listening to Dengue Fever. But Enid wouldn't listen to Dengue Fever. She would go straight to the source, to the original. There are were a lot of music blogs that digitized old records from around the world but I had never found what I was looking for on these blogs. Turns out: they were on youtube all along.



+ Dengue Fever - A Go-Go (live)