30 June 2009

I have recently registered the blog spots for eight Ian Guides to cities and hope to get the time to fill them out, which sadly may mean a break from internet BBQ writing. At times my compulsion that people going somewhere don’t miss important things gets awkward, as with two occasions when people going to Paris for a few days got 16 page emails, so by putting this online I don't assign an itinerary burden to one recipient.

The new Paris guide is up and I declare it an instant classic to be printed out for the plane or the familiar armchair. My personal incentive for writing this can be found in the Montparnasse section.

The classic works of travel memoir have created a caste system in which function is assigned a lesser value. The Norton Anthology of Travel, which includes only English language essays without noting this criteria for omission, says in its introducton by Paul Fussell, whose ignorant pomposity can be seen in his criticism of Alice Notley: "Guidebooks belong to the world of journalism, and they date; travel books belong to literature, and they last."

Setting aside the fact that any Blue Guide is eternally more interesting than anything Fussell will ever write, we see why the omission of Ezra Pound's "Europe or the Setting" essay from Guide to Kulchur is necessary - it contradicts Fussell's narrow-minded assessment. The narcissistic arithmetic that so often guides the travel essay lacks the earnest insistence to let the reader see for themselves:

"You have a concentration of treasures that will need al your calf muscles, all your ankle resistance. Perugia, the gallery of the Palazzo Publico.. Ravenna, mosaics.
If any man or young lady will first get his eye-full, this ideogram of what’s what to why some great works of art are from it omitted.
Goya, yes, Goya. The best one I know is in New York.
How to see works of art? Think what the creator must perforce have felt and known before he got round to creating them...
A fugue a week for a year wd. teach even a bullhead something.
Loathe the secolo decimonono. What was good from 1830 to 1890 was a protest. It was diagnosis, it was acid, it was invocation of otherness. Chopin carried over precedent virtue."

I declare both forms infinite. We cannot map the cultural geography of the world with microscopes. I like to drink caffeine in the morning reading rail schedules for places I'm not going. I go to cities because I don't live in one and so I go to gather the new.

22 June 2009

New on dvd

Tuesday: Last Year at Marienbad. Some of you may have been hoping it'd never come out on dvd, but at long last Criterion has issued a two disc set of the screenwriting of that glorious dead end of literature, Alain Robbe-Grillet. If you wonder how much Robbe-Grillet needs Resnais' direction, how much he was indebted to Surrealism, or generally want to lose respect for him, suffer through La Belle Captive. It's also amazing how many great films Delphine Seyrig is in. Can't wait to see the snappy new print.

also: Waltz with Bashir: haven't seen it and I don't like cartoons, but this uses the format to recover historical memory, so I hear.

Last week: Scott Walker: 30th Century Man. Haven't seen it. Not a long time Walker fan, but I have listened to his recent The Drift more than a few times which is like Ray di Palma writing lyrics for a depressed Prague Rock band. That's a recommendation, in case you're wondering.

Bergman Island: Did catch it this past week and enjoyed it, although if you don't like Bergman there's no reason to bother. Candid interview near the end of his life and a limited tour through his abode. What I liked was how he had a Russian fireplace which had a crevice to lie down to the side of the fire, in which he would stare out at the sea and snowstorms. Near the end he attempts to wrap up his spiritual meditations, coming up with something resembling Tibetan Buddhism: he believes in the divine in living things revealed in great art and music.

20 June 2009

(Ferdowsi square, June 2009)





Learn through Cuba's independence how
to prevent in time United States from
taking over the Antilles and from forcibly
subjecting to their rule countries in the

-Nicolás Guillén, 1973, The Daily Daily, tr. Vera Kutzinski

16 June 2009

08 June 2009

Amazon Watch: Eyewitness Reports Accuse Peruvian Police of Disposing the Bodies of Dead Indigenous Protesters ...

Bagua, Peru (June 8, 2009) – In the aftermath of Friday's bloody raid on a peaceful indigenous road blockade near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon, numerous eyewitnesses are reporting that the Special Forces of the Peruvian Police have been disposing of the bodies of indigenous protesters who were killed.

"Today I spoke to many eyewitnesses in Bagua reporting that they saw police throw the bodies of the dead into the Marañon River from a helicopter in an apparent attempt by the Government to underreport the number of indigenous people killed by police," said Gregor MacLennan, spokesperson for Amazon Watch.

"Hospital workers in Bagua Chica and Bagua Grande corroborated that the police took bodies of the dead from their premises to an undisclosed location. I spoke to several people who reported that there are bodies lying at the bottom of a deep crevasse up in the hills, about 2 kilometers from the incident site. When the Church and local leaders went to investigate, the police stopped them from approaching the area," reported MacLennan.

"Witnesses say that it was the police who opened fire last Friday on the protesters from helicopters," MacLennan said. "Now the government appears to be destroying the bodies of slain protesters and giving very low estimates of the casualty.

President Alan Garcia is being widely criticized for fomenting a climate of fear mongering against indigenous peoples by drawing parallels to the brutal Shinning Path guerrilla movement of the 1980s and early 1990s, and by vaguely referring to external and anti-democratic threats to the country.

The Amazonian indigenous peoples' mobilizations have been peaceful, locally coordinated, and extremely well organized for nearly two months. Yet Garcia insists on calling them terrorist acts and anti-democratic. Garcia has even gone so far as to describe the indigenous mobilizations as "savage and barbaric." Garcia has made his discrimination explicit, saying directly that the Amazonian indigenous people are not first-class citizens.

01 June 2009

George Tooker's Waiting Room II. A three dimensional version would make for a good installation in the Capitol building. Unlikely, but walk around town a little and you'll see it all.