Discover more from S/FJ
Monday July 11 2022
Nothing but rabid enthusiasms! To start with, one of my favorite writers, Dan Fox, has launched “a newsletter about music, books, art, film, featuring new writing and interviews, posted every Sunday.” Read about Flora Purim and get on board.
We finished all three seasons of Mr. Inbetween in less than a week. Actor/director/creator Scott Ryan has devoted a chunk of his life to the character of Ray Shoesmith, a freelance hitman in Australia. Ryan was right to put in the time and do it his way. No spin on the ball, no telegraphing events, no weak cast members. There’s a hint of the Parker novels here in the sad sack rumbles and professional fumbles. Family, illness, aging, violence, therapy, resentment, toothbrushing, pissing outdoors. Beautiful.
The comment section on Playboi Carti and Future’s “TeenX” video. Either it’s a heartbreaking masterpiece or the end of civilization. Nobody can figure it out.
Three hours with Charlie Bones and Hannah Holland? The camaraderie, the elevated house, the horoscopic info, the “reverse shame” comment? Solid gold and all yours.
We loved The Bear on Hulu just like everyone else. The hot chef is hot! The restaurant scenes seem very real (to two people who worked in kitchens so long ago you should not listen to us)! My only complaint is the nonstop man music and overweening “pushing it to the max” feeling the show has, like a gym bro doing an extra set for the new girl. Calm down!
Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. Caitlín Doherty with a fantastic review of the new Ottessa Moshfegh novel, Lapovna, which people seem to be struggling with. (Don’t @ me bc I haven’t read it.) Doherty is able to take Moshfegh completely seriously, even though she ultimately doesn’t feel the book succeeds. This enriched my perception of Moshfegh’s work without asking me to take some imaginary side.
You’re enjoying these summer goodies and now here I am telling you to read—wait for it—William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience. Likely not going to be an instant click here but aside from influencing the program of AA and launching a thousand strains of spiritual growth, James is an incredibly modest and concrete host. He doesn’t even emerge from the book in a particularly spiritual frame of mind.
Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (my copy at least) opens with a short introduction in which Lessing roasts book reviewers and academics for being sheep who copy each other, which warning has not prevented 60 years of reviewers reducing this novel to some sort of partisan broadside. Her take on the “men vs. women” business, it charts the progress of a woman named Anna, who keeps different notebooks for different thoughts, and her life as a “free woman.” It’s a novel of ideas that can, oddly, be spoiled.
Necropolitics, by Achille Mbembe, is the coldest, sweetest bad news. If you want to confront the state of constant war and sadistic downpression we are in, and not flinch, start here.
And here is the movie that will make it all OK: RRR, which we saw on July 4th. Two revolutionaries become friends while fighting the British colonialists in 1920, for three hours (with one intermission). The conventions of Bollywood (including but not limited to the ability to throw motorcycles) only seem over the top if you think the emotional and spiritual stakes of a movie need to be cloaked in some kind of narrative gauze. When it comes to slaughtering the pigs of the British Empire, clarity is welcome. When the cops have broken your legs but not your spirit, you can do pull-ups inside a box. What isn’t realistic about that? And if that isn’t enough karmic balance, go back to 2019’s Bacarau, a viscerally satisfying movie about, well, tourists.
Three remarkable projects came to an end within a month of each other: Gordon Faylor’s Gauss PDF began in 2010, releasing digital texts and works, and just issued its last PDF. (Click on that—everything was and is free.) The Heat Warps, a project sustained by a fan named Jeremy Erwin, revisited “every Miles Davis live tape from 1969 to 1975 in chronological order.” Now it’s done, though everything is still free to download if it was there to begin with. And Entr’acte, a label that Allon Kaye started in 1999 and which maintained a ridiculously high standard for experimental (largely electronic) music, just came to an end. I’m interviewing all three of these people, so keep it locked.