Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who was the Pinball Wizard that Came up with That One?

To get back towards some sort of more biographically-oriented blogging (given that the only even vaguely substantive contribution I've made to the blog recently is my (rather spot-on, if I do say so myself) Heidegger parody), I'll mention that this semester I'm taking three literature courses which, although they do nothing to raise my estimation of the quality of the non-MFA aspects of my University, do require quite a bit of reading--this is the first semester where my coursework actually feels like a full time job (I have no less than 40 hours of reading to do a week). That being said, I've also been determined to not give up on my "free" reading, since giving way to something like coursework would bring to bear a sense of professionalism which is for me untenable (except for the occasions wherein being a grad student in something like writing poetry feels to be an utter scam (this co-exists with the feeling I was describing to several people on my holiday travels as needing to believe that I and my closest friends are all brilliant and the future of forward-looking American letters))--in fact, it is this very sense of professionalism which makes these literature classes somewhat draining for me; they're taught with the utmost sense of utility, whereas writing poetry allows for more free-play of critical ideas (I often refer to one of my main motivations for writing poetry is to have it as a way to both maintain my own intellectual agenda but also keep that agenda focused towards some notion of output).

I was thinking for a little while that I might keep a list of all the books I'm reading, in order to publish a list after three months that would balance the famous bars-I-went-to-in-Portland list. There's some chance the number of titles would surpass the number of bars (no easy feat), but I've subsequently decided against, partly because I also read quite a few books while I lived-worked-and-went-to-bars in Portland (most notably (at least in my memory), I read Pynchon's Against the Day and Hofstadter's I Am a Strange Loop in Portland), and partly because I don't necessarily like to brag about my specific reading--I mention stuff occasionally when I really like it (we had, for instance, a hearty number of posts here on the blog about Strange Loop), but, since my own attitude towards my reading is that I accomplish the volume through brute force (the analogy being with computerized probably solving); that is (incidentally, Jack, I've gotten into the habit recently of setting off my "that is," statements from what precedes it with a semicolon; is that correct?), I read not particularly fast but dedicate an inordinate amount of my time to reading.

I also keep time to watch a lot of movies, and here get to the actual part of the post which I was intending to write when I started it: So, I was watching Truffaut's The 400 Blows last night, which is a wonderful film, and if you're at all cynical towards the French New Wave cinema, this is a good one to watch to realize how vitalizing the movement was. A lot of the cinematography is joyful and energetic in way that seems unfamiliar to movies being made in the '50s. Watching one of the sequence where the main character and his friend have cut school and are wandering around the streets, I was thinking to myself that if I were a filmmaker, I would totally rip off the way they are shot. Of course, just as I was finishing this thought to myself came a shot which Wes Anderson totally ripped off for a scene in Bottle Rocket (where one character is playing pinball and the other standing next to the machine). So there you go, good taste is good taste.


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