Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts

This is the fourth in a new weekly series that brings together the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that has caught my eye over the past seven days. Including: a review of the fourth and final volume of Samuel Beckett’s Letters; how to spot a communist using literary criticism; five films that influenced David Lynch’s Blue Velvet; and successful authors offer their best writing tips. Take a look, and feel free to share! (more…)

Innovative arts journal promotes the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and librettist
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Music & Literature (No.7): Paul Griffiths, Ann Quin, Lera Auerbach

Today’s artistic landscape can often feel like a busy marketplace, where voices compete for attention and creative validation. And, as a result, some voices do not get heard. Since its launch in 2012, Music & Literature has been a torchbearer for writers and artists that are often neglected by the mainstream: its first issue was notable for its discussion of avant-garde composer Arvo Pärt, offering an unprecedented glimpse into his life, work, and motivations. Scott Esposito points out that the journal offers ‘the kind of thing that’s unavailable anywhere else’, and he’s right. Music & Literature is a fascinating read for enthusiasts, and a valuable cultural resource for scholars.

Now publishing its seventh volume, Music & Literature is celebrating the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and accomplished librettist Paul Griffiths. His first novel, Myself and Marco Polo: A Novel of Changes (1989), is a work of speculative fiction that reimagines the life of the world traveller through his memoirs. More recently, Griffiths translated eleven Japanese noh plays, published as The Tilted Cup: Noh Stories (2014) in a beautifully illustrated volume. Paul Griffiths has written five librettos, and is an insightful commentator on modern classic music; he is the author of a number of critical works on topics ranging from electronic music to the history of the string quartet, and was a music critic for both The New Yorker (1992-96) and The New York Times (1997-2005). As if that wasn’t enough, Griffiths is also the biographer of a number of modern composers, from György Ligeti and Bela Bartók to John Cage and Igor Stravinsky. (more…)

Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts

This is the third in a new weekly series that brings together the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that has caught my eye over the past seven days. Including: articles commemorating the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in 2001, news about the mythical long-lost soundtrack of David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, and President Barack Obama’s summer reading picks. Take a look, and feel free to share! (more…)

To mark the release of Brian Eno: Oblique Music, a new collection of essays celebrating the musician’s life and work, I talk to the editors about their shared obsession

You previously collaborated on a book of essays about the German electronic group Kraftwerk. What made you decide to put together a book about Eno?

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Brian Eno: Oblique Music, eds. Sean Albiez & David Pattie (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Sean Albiez: In the final stages of the editing and writing process of Kraftwerk: Music Non Stop we started to discuss further book projects as, though we had never met before starting the book, we found that we enjoyed our collaborative process and had many similar musical interests. It think it was David who initially suggested looking at Brian Eno. Eno has been a major figure in music since the 1970s and yet little academic attention had been paid to his work. Any attention that had been given seemed to repeat and replay the same ideas and stories. So we felt that undertaking detailed research on Eno’s diverse activities over several decades from a range of academic perspectives would produce new ways of thinking about his work.

“As Eno says, he’s very interested in the idea of music as landscape; and it’s a landscape that I’m quite happy to inhabit.”

David: As Sean said, we’d enjoyed working together on the Kraftwerk book; and when we were discussing other projects Eno seemed to be the obvious next option. He’s amassed quite a reputation as popular music’s resident intellectual, but, aside from one book in the 1990s, his work hadn’t been given the kind of in-depth analysis it deserves. On a more personal level, I’ve been listening to Eno’s solo work for over three decades, and I find it endlessly fascinating. As Eno says, he’s very interested in the idea of music as landscape; and it’s a landscape that I’m quite happy to inhabit.  (more…)

Sad to hear that there’s been more cultural fallout from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. You can read more at the visual culture website, It’s Nice That (an unfortunate name for this particular occasion).

Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts

This is the second in a new weekly series that brings together the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that has caught my eye over the past seven days. Including: a look at the first ever reviews of James Joyce’s Ulysses, articles on HBO’s new crime drama The Night Of, and over 500 hours of jazz. Take a look, and feel free to share! (more…)

A celebration of veteran cinematographer Frederick Elmes
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John Turturro and Riz Ahmed star in HBO’s The Night Of
For the last eight weeks, Sundays have been the night of The Night Of, a dark HBO crime story set in New York. The show blended police procedural, courtroom drama, and character study to produce mystery, suspense, and black humour. Based on a five-part UK drama produced by the BBC in 2008-9, the mini-series centres on a man accused of murder after a night of drugs and heavy drinking. Riz Ahmed is excellent as the young Muslim defendant, inspiring sympathy and suspicion in equal measure. And John Turturro steals the show as an opportunistic lawyer who leads the defence (a role originally intended for late Sopranos star James Gandolfini).

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A glimpse into the singer’s lifelong pastime, and the texts that shaped his identity
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Bowie pictured with American writer William S. Burroughs, whose ‘cut-up method’ was adopted during the writing of Diamond Dogs

When David Bowie was 15 he read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, a Beat Generation novel that inspired him to leave the cloister of London suburban life. For Bowie, the paperback novel offered more than just escapist fantasy, it could affect and change the way someone lived.

Alongside the influence of music and contemporary art on Bowie’s creative development, the songwriter drew on literature as a fertile resource of possibility and transformation. For example, the lyrics of Bowie’s 1974 album  Diamond Dogs adopted the ‘cut-up technique‘ of the experimental American writer William S. Burroughs, whereby existing passages are broken up and reassembled to create something new and original.

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