Buster Keaton on the set of Samuel Beckett's Film
Buster Keaton on the set of Samuel Beckett’s Film

Editors Paul Stewart and David Pattie are seeking contributions to Pop Beckett, a new collection of essays to be published by Ibidem Press:

“The subsequent presence of Beckett in popular culture – both the works and the figure of the man himself – covers a wide array of fields that, as Emilie Morin has suggested, might lead us to re-think Beckett’s continuing position in neoliberal capitalism. Moreover, the boundaries of popular and ‘high’ culture are open to contestation.”

— Source: The Samuel Beckett Society
Abstracts for possible submissions are requested by 20 December 2017, and, upon acceptance, the deadline for full-length essays is set at 30 May 2018. For more information about the projected book, visit the announcement on the Samuel Beckett Society website.

Hannah Fitzpatrick and Anindya Raychaudhuri discuss a topical podcast that covers politics, power, and pop culture

What is the State of the Theory podcast?

Hannah Fitzpatrick: Like most podcasts, State of the Theory is a manifestation of our narcissism. It began as an optimistic hope (albeit with few expectations) that our casual conversations might be of interest to, and spark debate among, our friends and colleagues. We used to commute together a few times a week, and the car became a sort of impromptu seminar venue, but without the audience. After the last research auditing exercise undertaken by the UK government in 2014, Impact and Public Engagement became quantifiable entities that might be used for or against us later in our careers, so the podcast is a sort of compromise, a way for us to demonstrate that our thoughts have value beyond the walls of the Vauxhall Astra, while still doing it on our own terms. A way of selling out without entirely selling out, if you will. Also, we missed the long drive, where all we could do was chat, and we could have these long, multi-stage conversations over the course of a week or two, so the podcast was a way for us to recreate that time. (more…)

welcome-to-twin-peaks-new-sign-revealed-david-lynch

“I often wonder if Lynch is the era’s most original artist, or at least the creator of its most haunting images—the severed ear in Blue Velvet, the Red Room in Twin Peaks, the Mystery Man in Lost Highway—but his works feel too schlocky, seedy, tearful, too male, too white for me to want to say this often in conversation. His cinema is disreputably baroque, brimming with meaning that it seems to disavow. He’s of the same generation as Terrence Malick, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, but where they now seem historical, Lynch still has the fragility of the contemporary. The greatness of his art seems directly linked to the kitsch of his materials, all the B-movie unheimlich maneuvers: doppelgängers, prosthetics, recurring numbers, dream sequences, animated corpses. And this, I think, is an enigma worth pursuing.”

— Adam Thirlwell, The New York Review of Books

The Samuel Beckett Society has details of an upcoming conference exploring the role that technology plays in the writer’s work:

“In April 1981, having devoted considerable time to resolving the technicalities that surrounded his TV play Quad, Samuel Beckett confessed to Ruby Cohn: ‘Not long back from Stuttgart. Unsatisfactory. Television is beyond me.’ Frustrating as it may have been at times, technology held its fascination for Beckett and often became enmeshed with his work. It remained central for him, as it continues to be for researchers and practitioners engaging with his work today.”

The deadline for the call for papers is 15 January 2018. The conference will take place between 13-15 September 2018 at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague.

American filmmaker answers questions from the audience at a recent photographic exhibition

“What matters is what you believe happened. […] Many things in life just happen and we have to come to our own conclusions. You can, for example, read a book that raises a series of questions, and you want to talk to the author, but he died a hundred years ago. That’s why everything is up to you.”

David Lynch

In October 2014, it was announced that David Lynch and Mark Frost would be returning to the world of Twin Peaks, the television drama series which followed the intuitions of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he investigated the death of high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Twin Peaks is the name of the small northwestern town where the murder takes place, and is home to a community of eccentric personalities and troubled figures. First aired in 1990, Twin Peaks become a cultural phenomenon that spanned two series and a feature-length film (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, 1992). The show secured David Lynch lasting mainstream recognition, and the show has influenced countless television series since.

Lynch and Frost’s continuation of the story in Twin Peaks: The Return, aired by Showtime, has offered some of the most boldly audacious television of the twenty-first century. The series has been ingenious in its use of timing and dialogue to generate mystery, suspense, and humour, and the writing and performances have been superb throughout. I found the two-hour finale confusing for a number of reasons, but I also found it appropriate to the story Lynch and Frost were telling: for me, it was haunting and deeply moving. (more…)

On pursuing a vocation in art, writing, and simple living

The reasons for my decision

Back in June, I attended a cardiology appointment that had a profound impact on me. My meeting with the cardiologist was routine and I did not receive any alarming news, but I became aware of the fragility of my own body in a new way. As an infant I was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, and my life had been saved by the UK’s National Health Service and the surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. I have always felt grateful for the life-saving help that I received, and could talk superficially about my condition with friends and loved ones, but now I see that I was also prone to a form of denial. Throughout my adolescence and early adulthood I placed my heart condition to one side as I tried to establish an identity for myself. My routine appointments continued from year to year, but in my conscious mind and my behaviour I aimed to suppress what they represented with denial and distraction. This year marks the first time that I am fully and consciously aware that I have a congenital heart condition. And while there is no reason why I cannot live a full and happy life, I am now awake to the fact that I nearly didn’t survive infancy.

(more…)

Jason Bailey (Flavorwire) has alerted my attention to Amazon Prime’s recent acquisition of David Lynch: The Art Life, a feature-length documentary about the artist and filmmaker from Missoula, Montana. The film is now available to stream to all Prime customers residing in the United States, but for many in other regions the wait continues:

“‘You drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, and you paint… and that’s it.’ That, in his youth, was David Lynch’s notion of “the art life,” right around the time he decided that was the life he wanted to lead – that nothing was more important to him than being an artist, no matter how long it took to make it as one. “I knew my stuff sucked,” he recalls, “but I need to burn through. I had to find what was mine. And the only way to do that is to keep painting.” This moody and informative documentary from directors Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm is solely interested in those early years, with particular interest in his Pacific Northwest upbringing (“My world was no bigger than a couple of blocks”), and how all that suburban normalcy gave birth to his darkness and peculiarity – the way flashes of dread and strangeness would invade this idyllic childhood, and alter him forever. Lynch is, as ever, a fascinating figure, full of great stories, odd turns of phrase, and disturbing images; this unconventional documentary does right by its subject, which is no mean feat, and serves as a valuable guide to the psyche of the man who’s currently blowing our minds every Sunday night.”

Source: The 5 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Okja,’ ‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ – Flavorwire