The Actor’s Face at Rest

April 21, 2017 § 1 Comment

It is never quite clear to me what the actor does.

What she does, when I discern something like doing, seems to hover between great style and great anonymity.

The style of some actors reveals itself in vocal and somatic stillness.

Others, through a clipped or frenzied movement.

In neither case do I receive the actor’s work as a full expression. Full as in the purported aptitude of form to enact (perfectly) a content. The notion that an actor might communicate with precision an inner sorrow, joy, or turmoil is to me absurd.

The silent and frenetic actors whom I enjoy never entirely convey their characters. There is too much that cannot be seen or heard. So the actor’s presence is a shape: a gravity, a sonority. Her personality resists novelization.

In this sense, style—or stylization—is a kind of anonymity. Actors of camp are virtually unrecognizable, as actors and as quotidian subjects.

I think that when style increases, anonymity increases also. But I also think that anonymity increases when style decreases. Anonymity always increases.

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Foreword to Farid Tali’s PROSOPOPOEIA

April 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

Mortal, think: what’s under a charnel’s lid:
a worm-bitten corpse, bare of nerve and
bare of flesh, whose naked bones, undone
and stripped of pulp, their swivels quit:

here, out of putrefaction, falls a hand,
and there, turning inside out, the eyes
distill into phlegm, and varied muscles,
for gluttonous worms, become some grassy land:

the torn-up belly blaring with stink
infects the nearby air with a foul stench,
and the half-gnawed nose deforms the face;

Jean-Baptiste Chassignet (1594)

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This poem forewords Tali’s story of the death of a brother. The book describes the decomposition of the brother’s body upon death, and also its ruination by drug addiction and AIDS when alive. Chassignet’s baroque sonnet is thus very apt. Tali presents it incomplete—fragmented—as is the body, the narrative, elegy. You can read the entire poem, in French, here.

The translation of the poem is mine.

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You can buy this book from Action Books or SPD.

 

 

2016: Movies

January 19, 2017 § 2 Comments

In 2016, after years of staying away, I spent a lot of time in movie theaters. With a few exceptions, this meant I forced myself into public acts aloneness in the city of Denver, which is not conducive to such acts.

I liked this very much, though I still find it difficult to adjust to the popcorn-eating of fellow moviegoers. The world today might excuse/explain this trait of mine, which other eras would have called a quirk or bad manners, as something that makes me special. Give me a hug/death. But while I allow for the possibility that I’m really very brilliant for not being to stand the sound of popcorn-chomping, it’s really the smell that gets to me and, even more so, the disrespect. It doesn’t at all bother me that hordes of horrific food items might be publicly consumed at some blockbuster movie, but at Carol? Or Moonlight? Non-horrific foods and beverages, discreet foods, like bits of chocolate, I would not object to those.

Yes, I am an e l i t i s t. But the point of a dark room lit up on one wall seems to be the darkness and popcorn cuts through all that like the vilest fluorescent light.

Barry Jenkins. Moonlight. 2016.

Barry Jenkins. Moonlight. 2016.

Recent Movies I Loved That I Saw in Theaters

Todd Haynes. Carol. USA, 2015.

Barry Jenkins. Moonlight. USA, 2016.

Chaitanya Tamhane. Court. India, 2014.

Paul Verhoeven. Elle. France, 2016.

Old Movies I Loved That I Saw in Theaters

Satyajit Ray. Jalsaghar. India, 1958.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Black Narcissus. UK, 1949. « Read the rest of this entry »

2016: Books

January 5, 2017 § 2 Comments

Bref, I read a lot of poetry translated from German and a lot of nonfiction translated from French. This is not very shocking. Much of my non-book reading happened at Asymptote: this reading (plus editing) is far more diverse and includes work by poets like Vicente Huidobro (Chile), Jan Dammu (Iraq), and writers who push at the limits of what translation means (the Special Feature in our January issue). One of my favorite pieces of this latter sort is Bronwyn Haslam’s anagrammatic translations of Nicole Brossard’s poetry (“Soft Links” becomes “Silk Fonts,” for example):

It’s nouns that gulp fire and life, one can’t tell if they’re Latin, French, Urdu, Veda, Cree, Mandarin, Aleut, Creole, Basque, English, secrete a number, deed, quorum, animal or accelerate old anxieties eddying before us in doubled somber contours full of luster and immense legends.

I also got to collaborate with my friend Michael Joseph Walsh to put together a different sort of experimental translation portfolio for Denver Quarterly 50.4 I have a few extra copies and would be happy to mail them to anyone interested (or you can subscribe). Joshua Ware’s visual translations of Celan appear as an online supplement to this portfolio here.

Photography by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

Photographs by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

For some years now I’ve been obsessed with a film by Yvon Marciano called Le cri de la soie (1996), which fictionalizes the life of pioneer psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault. This year I read two texts relevant to this film, de Clérambault’s case studies of women who developed an unusual sexual “passion” for silk and other textiles: Passion érotique des étoffes chez la femme (1908) and its suite (1910). « Read the rest of this entry »

2016

December 31, 2016 § 2 Comments

11.01.16

Resolutions:
– speak less of other people
– watch more good cinema
– sleep well

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15.01.16

I found a poem I wrote on 06.04.09 called “A doctoral student confesses”—it is oddly prescient:

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19.01.16

“so sound would be plural like description is” (Giscome Road 52)

“Sentences find you, style finds you on the road out; it overtakes you effortlessly, it palavers” (69)

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28.01.16

“circumbabeled”
Celan/Joris (327)

* « Read the rest of this entry »

(Recent) Women (Poets) in Translation

August 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Compressed Food Blog

May 31, 2016 § Leave a comment

1

I would very much like a machine that compresses my fruit.

Idgaf about sous vide, but a fruit compressor. Yes, please.

2

I love cooking for people, but tend to be nervous about it. I also haven’t done much of it since I moved to Denver three years ago, but I usually do a good bit when I’m visiting my family in Bangalore. On my most recent visit I made my folks risotto with clams. My brother said, “It’s like khichdi but Italian.”

3

I cry almost every episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. I think it’s easily the best original series they’ve made.

If you don’t know, Chef’s Table devotes each episode to a different world-renowned chef. Some of them have Michelin stars, some don’t—but judging by Season 1, they’re all compelling, driven, philosophically-minded people. And some may not be as famous as other chefs who might have been invited to be profiled in this way, as this article on Ana Roš suggests.

There is something odd about having this relationship with fine dining when I really don’t fine dine. At all.

And something precarious too, because food as art only ever throws into relief food as utterly basic to living—not “a way of” of living, as though you could find a beautiful way to be destitute.

And yet I’m weeping over these chef’s creations, which I’m not ever going to eat. Part of it must be the honesty of it all, naked stories of struggle and triumph. And part of it is—not the dishonesty exactly—but what’s lurking under all of the very articulate—maybe over-articulated—philosophies which really are more like political statements.

Some of the weeping happened during the Dan Barber episode in Season 1, who comes off surprisingly unlikeable—not maybe in general, but to me. Barber goes into this thing about how he can’t really leave his kitchen in the hands of others and he has to be there, always. I think what I didn’t like about him is what I don’t like about myself.

4 « Read the rest of this entry »