David Lynch at work at his home, the Beverly Johnson House in the Hollywood Hills, CA. Photograph: Patrick Fraser
David Lynch at work at his home, the Beverly Johnson House in the Hollywood Hills, CA. Photograph: Patrick Fraser

Spent some time yesterday afternoon touring the Universität Basel in Switzerland. Aside from walking the city streets and dipping my feet into the Rhine, I’ve been devoting some time to reading. As I mentioned in previous posts (1, 2), I am enjoying Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I am also slipping back into the world Twin Peaks, which has reignited my fascination with all things Lynchian. Here are a few of the articles that have caught my attention over the last day or so:

LA Weekly has posted a fantastic gallery of David Lynch shooting locations, with accompanying stills from Eraserhead, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire • “[A] heady whiff of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton” — Tom Huddleston recaps episodes 5-6 of Twin Peaks: The Return • German image-maker Michael Wolf‘s first retrospective exhibition shows urban living at its most extreme • Listen to the history of rock music before and after Radiohead‘s OK Computer • Ali Smith on meeting W.G. Sebald • The pros and cons of the digitized Walt Whitman and his “lost” novels • Miroslaw Balka and Joseph Rykwert discuss how art and architecture shape the politics of memory around conflict • Why American modernism is older than you think

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Hotel BildungsZentrum, Basel, Switzerland.

I am staying at the Hotel BildungsZentrum in Basel, Switzerland. It is thirty-four degrees centigrade. I’m sustaining myself with delicious fresh fruit and cold green tea. Having finished my work late this morning I picked up Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and it would appear that Levin is beginning his transformation. (more…)

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Clarice Lispector in 1961.

Went cycling to Cardiff Bay barrage with Jennifer this morning. We sat for some time in the sunshine, before deciding to return to the cool shade of the apartment. I’m still reading Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina, which is just superb. I have also come across a number of interesting articles, reviews, and commentaries from around the web:

12 visual artists interpret Radiohead‘s seminal 1997 album, OK Computer • (Re)reading Don DeLillo‘s White NoiseFalling Man, and Cosmopolis in dark times • Sam Jordison on the publication of A Confederacy of Dunces David Hering on Alan Clarke‘s ‘hypnotic junkie odyssey’, Christine • On the diaries of T.S. Eliot‘s first wife • And 17 brilliant short novels you can read in one sitting, including works by Marguerite DurasThomas BernhardRoberto BolañoCormac McCarthyClarice Lispector, and more.

A selection of quotations from Georges Bernanos’ 1937 novel

On alienation

Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest
Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

“Every day I become more aware of my own ignorance in the most elementary details of everyday life, which everybody seems to know without having learnt them, but a sort of instinct. Yet I don’t suppose I’m really more of a fool than most people, and if I stick to easily remembered rules of thumb, I can look as though I really understand what was going on. But all those words which seem to have such precise meaning for some folk, and pretty nigh indistinguishable to me, like a bad card-player to whom one lead seems as good as another. Whilst they were discussing the savings-banks I felt like a child strayed into a room full of gabbling grown-ups. […] I fear I shall never be practical, and I don’t improve with experience.”

“I left the Château late—far too late. I am also very bad at taking my leave. Each time the clock goes round I make a tentative move, calling forth much polite protestation which I have not the courage to resist. It might go on for hours!”

“My nervousness has lately become a real obsession. It is hard to conquer that childish unreasonable terror, which makes me turn with a jump whenever I feel the eyes of a passer-by. My heart comes into my mouth, and I can’t breathe freely again until I’ve heard his ‘good morning’ in answer to mine. When at last it comes I’ve ceased to hope for it.” (more…)

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

I have a new routine. Since finishing my duties at the university where I work, I have been dividing my time between applying for full-time academic posts and working on a manuscript for Ibidem’s Samuel Beckett in Company series.

I rise early and prepare myself a light breakfast with a cup of green tea. I check the news headlines with a sense of stoic resignation. And then I spend some time reading and writing. After finishing Stephen King‘s The Stand a week or two ago I moved on to William Peter Blatty‘s notorious novel, The Exorcist, and then found myself completing Georges Bernanos‘ excellent Diary of a Country Priest.

Yesterday morning, I restlessly searched among my books for another novel to read. Something that might pique my interest. As someone with a tendency to collect books, there is never a shortage of titles to choose from. Among the contenders were Émile Zola‘s Germinal, and both of Gustave Flaubert‘s novels, Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education. But I stopped on Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina. I am an avid reader of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, but have never read Anna Karenina before. Somewhat ridiculously, I own two translations of the novel: the recent Pevear and Volokhonsky edition that drew critical attention and acclaim, and a 1912 translation by Louise and Aylmer Maude. According to my Everyman’s Library edition, the latter were a Quaker couple that befriended Tolstoy while living in Russia, and helped him organise the Doukhobor migration to Canada in 1893. I also find in their short biography that they “share[d] many of Tolstoy’s views on spiritual life, moral obligation, and passive resistance to violence”. I picked up the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation and began reading. (more…)