samuelbeckett-walking“As a literary structure, the recounted walk encourages digression and association, in contrast to the stricter form of a discourse or the chronological progression of a biographical or historical narrative. A century and a half later, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf would, in trying to descrive the workings of the mind, develop the style called stream of consciousness. In their novels Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, the jumble of thoughts and recollections of their protagonists unfolds best during walks. This kind of unstructured, associative thinking is the kind most often connected to walking, and it suggests walking as not an analytical but an improvisational act. Rousseau’s Reveries [of the Solitary Walker] are one of the first portraits of this relationship between thinking and walking.”

— From Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

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Samuel Beckett. Photograph: Erika Rabau.

“Stuttgart airport. Check-in. You have a first-class ticket. ‘Would you like to go through to the Senator-Lounge?’ You look down at your parka, look at me: ‘Do we look like senators?!’”

– Walter Asmus on Samuel Beckett, ‘Farewell Beckett’ in the Journal of Beckett Studies, Vol. 19 (April 2010).

A one-day symposium at the Institute of English Studies, London • 12 December 2016

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About the conference

Counter to the conventional perception of modernism as ahistorical, there have been recent academic and critical efforts to historicise it. The Historical Modernism Symposium seeks to contribute to this  trend by inviting readings of modern/ist literature and avant-garde art movements in the historical contexts of their production and reception, while assessing their entanglement with history and modernity transnationally.

The symposium aims to look at the history of modernism and the avant-gardes in relation to and their place in (literary and art) History, addressing questions of their relation with modern times, raised, for example, by colonialism; nationalism; globalisation; economics; politics; tradition; technology; urbanism, classicism; mythology; mysticism; religion; psychology/psychoanalysis.

Moreover, and importantly, it will examine pertinent philosophies of time, historiographical practices and representations of local and world historical events, such as the two World Wars, the Russian  Revolution and the rise of Fascism.

Finally, it will also investigate modernist concepts of the spirit of the times as well as new notions of and approaches to literary history. (more…)

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From Open Culture: “One of the very first feature-length sci-fi films ever made, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis took a daring visual approach for its time, incorporating Bauhaus and Futurist influences in thrillingly designed sets and costumes. Lang’s visual language resonated strongly in later decades. The film’s rather stunning alchemical-electric transference of a woman’s physical traits onto the body of a destructive android—the so-called Maschinenmensch—for example, began a very long trend of female robots in film and television, most of them as dangerous and inscrutable as Lang’s. And yet, for all its many imitators, Metropolis continues to deliver surprises. Here, we bring you a new find: a 32-page program distributed at the film’s 1927 premier in London and recently re-discovered.” [Read More]

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Seamus Heaney

Christopher Carroll (The Wall Street Journal) traces Seamus Heaney’s connection to Book VI of the “Aeneid”, in light of his father’s death:

“[…] Heaney’s own translation of Book VI of the “Aeneid,” which he completed in July 2013, one month before he died. It is his last published poem, a poignant rendition of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy and journey into the underworld to see his dead father. And though it is beautiful in its own right, this portion of the “Aeneid” had a special significance for Heaney—one that began in his school days in the 1950s and lasted his entire life.”

More at The Poetry Foundation.

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Charlie Parker

“Decades after Parker’s death, a new album compiles previously unknown performances by the alto sax legend. Critic Kevin Whitehead says the record will please both jazz experts and casual listeners.”

More at NPR.

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“Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.”

More at NPR.

Beginning on 14 August 2016

blog_images_1336518756-arvopartIn August 2016, the Arvo Pärt Centre will host its sixth series of Film Nights, showing films that feature Arvo Pärt’s music. For the first time, the makers of as many as two of the films to be shown, David Trueba and Piero Messina, will be in Tallinn to talk about the background to their films and their reasons for their choice of film music.

The film evenings will open with the Soldiers of Salamina, a film from 2003 by the versatile Spanish filmmaker David Trueba, which takes the audience to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War as seen through the eyes of a contemporary writer. The film repeatedly uses and intertwines three often-used compositions: Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. [Read More]

David Tucker writes about how the personal and the political cross paths on the island of Samos, Greece, where refugees are still arriving daily
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Photograph: David Tucker

At 2:30am on the island of Samos in the northern Aegean I walk through the main town in a sickly yellow streetlight glow. One end to the other and beyond, where three armed police eye me as I arrive at the old port. At this time of night I suppose I could be anyone; an innocent family member come to welcome new arrivals for sunny summer holidays, a people-trafficker looting wilted bones from wars stage east, or any shade of economy in between. White lights out at sea were vague and maybe just some far-off land but imposing themselves steadily they become industrial scale and the grinding metal bulk revolves a forty-five-degrees slowing stop. The cargo-door lands as a ramp, scraping at the edge of this land of bare skin, swimming.

(more…)


This morning, I was surprised to read that Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has been cancelled.

The Larry Wilmore Show, which had come about under Michele Ganeless’ time as Comedy Central president, and which she had described as ‘a panel of diverse voices, a panel of underrepresented voices’ that was something that wasn’t ‘being done right now,’ has just been canceled under new network president Kent Alterman. He said in a statement that it ‘hasn’t connected with [their] audiences in the way that [they] need it to.’

The timing of the cancellation is somewhat bizarre, considering the show’s excellent coverage of the ungoing American presidential election. Larry Wilmore has become a staple commentator of social justice issues and civil rights activism since The Nightly Show began, using playful monologues and group discussion to bring urgent and neglected issues to light. (more…)