Friday, July 9, 2010

Vollmann, Miles, Godard, & Kerouac's Big Sur

Browse Inside this book

Lately, I've been dipping into the new William Vollmann book, Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater, with some thoughts on Muses (especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Poets, Housewives, Makeup Artists, Geishas, Valkyries and Venus Figurines. The subtitle is so long, amazon cuts it off at "Hou," which is all you really need to know about amazon as a "bookseller." The following is from the first chapter and concerns kimonos used in contemporary Noh Theater:

The weaving of the old kimonos is finer than today's, not only visually but also structurally; in them Mr. Umewaka [today's leading Noh actor] can move more freely, or I should say less constrictedly, thanks to some peculiar fashioning of the sleeves which would now cost millions of yen to reproduce. Moreover, he tells me, the artificial fertilizer ingested by the plants on which twenty-first century silkworms feed weakens the silk."

Something that, on many different levels, should give us all pause.


Two of my favorite things: the music of Miles Davis and Jean Luc Godard's film Alphaville. Who can resist a mash up on this level; certainly not me. One of the blogs on my Quick List on the sidebar, Five Branch Tree, posted this the other day and I told Brian I'd love to pass it on. So here it is. I first saw Alphaville almost 40 years ago as a teen and even than it seemed to be simultaneously set in the distant future and the not so distant past. Haunting, poetic, absurd, and illuminating, this is on a par with Cocteau's Orpheus Trilogy: a film not to be missed, all these years later.


It's hard to imagine anyone, Godard, Miles, anyone, making a better trailer for the Kerouac film, One Fast Move or I'm Gone, than this one, which I believe my buddy Mr. Baker tipped my way. Sam Shepherd reading, Tom Wait's with a devastatingly brief observation - just wonderful. In addition, these equally brief, equally spot-on thoughts:

"I would say it [Kerouac's work] was based on observation, it was
based on imagination, it was based on benzedrine, also."


"Oh, Jack ..... Jack, Jack , Jack.


And, finally, for this lazy blissful hot height of summer Friday, when maybe the heat wave breaks and maybe it doesn't, here's one of Pittsburgh's finest purveyors of the short form, Bart Solarczyk, from Lilliput Review #146, October 2005, reminding us that we've forgotten what Father Walt really had to say:

Walt Whitman's Watching
We sweat & we wipe
work the world's rhythm
sway with the grass & leaves

we drink the day's end
ignore the astronomer
gazing at the stars in our cups

we speak what we will
across cyberspace
bold water, flesh & air

so snuggle up
take off your clothes
let me write a poem on you.
Bart Solarczyk

stinging bug
you too someday, some time...
dewy grass
translated by David G. Lanoue



Ed Baker said...

took the dust jacket off of Vollmann's book so as not to mess-it-up

am savoring every page/phrase/word/photo.

Dig t h a t photo at the opening of chapter


(and note "*": "In her early eleventh-century list of things that are near though distant, Sei Shonagon included 'relations between a man and a woman'"

so simple, huh?

Stone Girl
in a new dress
for noh reason

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, thanks for the tip - have the library copy out right now and am savoring every bit also - quite amazing. My coming birthday and my own copy will be secured.

Love the Stone Girl poem ...

Charles Gramlich said...

At a restruant I often dine at they have two magnificient old kimonos on the wall. Just amazing.