“The film places Thom Yorke at its centre, and we watch as he prowls restlessly through a series of rooms, which change with each new door opened. If these are the corridors of Yorke’s mind, it is crammed and complex…”

More at Creative Review.

NPR Music‘s staff really doesn’t agree about the band’s recently released ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Not at all.

A collection of essays, reviews, links, and images

Behind-the-Scenes: The Shining’s Final Shot • Adrienne Rich on Writing & Literature • Black Feminism & Contemporary American Politics • Kierkegaard in LA: Malick’s Knight of Cups • Is That Kafka? 99 Finds • Joseph Conrad and Contemporary Terrorism • George Steiner on Thomas Bernhard • Albert Camus and the Limits of Absurdity • Elisabeth Sifton on Editing Saul Bellow • Sylvia Plath’s ‘Platinum Summer’ • R.S. Thomas on Waiting • Tom McCarthy: In Praise of Freud • Simon Critchley on David Bowie • Don Cheadle on Portraying Miles Davis • George Orwell on Making a Perfect Cup of Tea • Pulp Fiction: Behind-the-Scenes • Would Ballard have approved High-Rise adaptation? • Eudora Welty on the Pleasure of Writing

Ari Braverman (Guernica) talks to philosopher Simon Critchley about the death and legacy of David Bowie

Guernica: Why do you think David Bowie’s music has maintained its appeal for so long—and do you think it will last now that he’s gone?

Simon Critchley, author of <i></dt><dd class=

Simon Critchley: It will. No doubt at all. On some level when you’re talking about music you have to be vulgar and be able to say, “This is just really good.” A lot of people did what Bowie did, a very few of them before Bowie (Tony Newley, Syd Barrett) the rest of them after, but no one for me came anywhere close to being as good. There’s something about the craft and quality of his work that just makes it better. The technical proficiency of what he did with his voice, given his vocal range (he didn’t think his voice was good enough, back in the day), is often overlooked, the amount of time he spent in the studio just trying to get the right effect. Robert Fripp shares this story about watching Bowie in the studio, trying for hours to get his voice to match the emotion in the music. That’s complete artifice, complete inauthenticity, and yet he’s able to hit those feelings in a way no one else could. And what you feel when you hear that is something simply strong, powerfully true. That’s where he achieved his magic. (more…)

Michel Martin (NPR) interviews actor and director Don Cheadle about his recent film, Miles Ahead
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Don Cheadle as Miles Davis in Miles Ahead (2015)

Miles Davis never had just one sound. Though his body of work remains singular and unmistakable, he changed gears time after time in a 50-year career. A few times — half a dozen, by his own estimation — he managed to take the entire music world with him. But just like the music, the man himself contained multitudes. Davis was brash. He was abusive. He could be downright mean.

Somehow, actor Don Cheadle manages to capture all of this in a new film called Miles Ahead, which he also wrote, produced and directed. Cheadle says the last thing he wanted to do was make yet another biopic that tries to cover its subject’s entire story but only skims the peaks. Instead, he says, he aimed for a valley — a period in Davis’ life when he was struggling to reconnect with his muse — and used it as a prism for the artist’s unique relationship with craft. (more…)

From Justin Juozapavicius, Associated Press:

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Bob Dylan

TULSA, Okla. — More than 6,000 items of Bob Dylan memorabilia such as handwritten lyrics to Tangled Up In Blue and his first contract with a music publisher have found a home in Oklahoma near a museum honoring one of his major influences, folk singer Woody Guthrie.

The archives from Dylan’s six-decade career, acquired by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa for between $15 million and $20 million, also include early recordings from 1959 and a wallet that contains Johnny Cash’s former address and phone number.

Dylan, who’s originally from Minnesota, said he’s glad the archives found a home and the Tulsa location makes a lot of sense, “to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie and especially alongside all the valuable artifacts from the Native American Nations.”

“It’s a great honor,” Dylan said in a statement. [Read More]

4th Estate releases beautiful contemporary editions of Ballard’s novels and short stories

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4th Estate have collaborated with the artist Stanley Donwood, known for his work with the rock group Radiohead, to produce a series of luminous, beautiful, surreal, and contemporary designs for 21 of J.G. Ballard’s works. Donwood is known for the way he playfully manipulates the signs and symbols of modern life, in colour and collage, and his signature style is ideally suited to Ballard’s aesthetic. The new editions, which come complete with a series of illuminating introductions, will welcome a whole new generation of readers to Ballard’s fantastical and prophetic worlds. Extremely impressive.

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Critics respond to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 film, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)

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Uncorrected Proof of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice

After a publishing career of more than 50 years, Thomas Pynchon has finally allowed one of his novels to be filmed. Inherent Vice, which has been adapted and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is all about a stoner private detective named Larry “Doc” Sportello in 1970 southern California, called in by an ex-girlfriend to investigate the sinister disappearance of her married lover. It is an occult mystery upon which Doc attempts to shed light using the torch he still carries for her.

The resulting movie is a delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon’s prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges. Each enigmatic narrative development is a twist of the psychedelic kaleidoscope. (more…)

I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.

— David Bowie

Author of Wittgenstein Jr and the Spurious trilogy of novels describes Bernhard’s devilish sensibility

Thomas Bernhard is a kind of figurehead for many authors, I think. I’m reminded of what Henry Rollins said of Mark E Smith in a documentary about The Fall:

He really is that guy you really hoped you could be. If you were in a band, you really don’t want to care what people think, but you do. And you really want to crank out a record every nine months, but you can’t. And you’d love to keep surprising people and baffling your critics by every third album turning out your best music.

Bernhard’s reclusiveness from the literary scene, his intransigence, the barbed acceptance speeches he gave for literary prizes, make him an exemplar. He just doesn’t care what the literary world thinks. At the same time, he writes and writes, one masterpiece following on the heels of another. (more…)

Few artists have excited me like David Bowie. As a teenager, the punk electronica of Low, the bombast of “Heroes”, and the angular anthems of Lodger helped me acclimatise to living alone in the city.

There was also the glacial paranoid chic of Station to Station, the throbs and screeches of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), a panorama of the 1980s New York, to say nothing of the postmodern murder mystery, 1. Outside. (I can still remember the thrill of hearing songs from the latter album opening David Lynch’s Lost Highway and closing David Fincher’s Seven.)

All of these records, alongside those by Bowie collaborators Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed, became the soundtrack to my undergraduate years. Neurotic, pulsing, existential pop.

I found in David Bowie a fantastic empty signifier, a blank canvas ready and waiting for me to impose and inscribe my obsessions. During these years he became my idol. Not simply someone to identify with, but an idea or an image that I aspired toward: a striking embodiment of the power of art to transform ourselves and the world around us.

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A selection of the photographs taken by Don Hunstein
The original artwork for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
The original artwork for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

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Former REM frontman reflects on the images that haunt America
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Image: Douglas Coupland

With a small, powerful set of images, Douglas Coupland actually manages to playfully (how did he pull that off?) remind us of our collective 9/11 moment – the act that unzippered the 21st century in most of the world, and changed my notion of home and safety forever. Coupland’s at first seemingly Op Art paintings are just black dots – abstract, weirdly familiar. But then you look at them on your iPhone (because you’re going to take a pic and post it … this is 2014, after all) and you have the ahhhhhhh moment when a chill runs down your spine and you realise that it’s them: the jumpers. It’s him: the boogeyman. Doug offers us the choice to either see or not see these deeply internalised images. Having that choice is what enables us to survive from day to day without going nuts. (more…)