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AB Helton
Facilis descensus Averno; Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est.
Facilis descensus Averno; Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est.

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The Almost Summer Reading Update

Current Reading

I have three books going right now, which is typical these days. Often I juggle between a morning book, a commute book, and an evening book. I got excited about the most recent addition to my current reading that I put my evening book on hold for a few days to make some progress on it.

From least to most recently added:

La Casa de los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. My Spanish is best described as a building with many open corridors that turn back upon themselves or suddenly end in locked doors; with rooms in varying intensity of shadow and whose features are accordingly visible; and with countless dusty corners containing fragments of hints of understanding. I'd like to say I have some idea what balance of the text I am getting versus missing, but I can't really be sure about that. Still, I am getting the major plot points, even though Allende switches point of view frequently. At 75 pages in, I still have only a vague idea what the book is about. This might not be a problem, though, since I've read some books (even recent ones) where I couldn't say even after finishing them what they were about.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I don't recall having read any Steinbeck in the past. Before picking it up at the library while my kids were searching for books to check out, I didn't know anything about the book. It's short, and I should be able to finish it quickly, but I haven't yet...

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, translated by Edith Grossman. I would blame this on Jordan, but the most I can ascribe to him is the timing. I've been meaning to read this for a while now, and the suggestion arose at an opportune time.

Recently Completed

In order of least to most recently completed:

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. This might be among the strangest books I've read (though see below for another contender). Perhaps I lacked any grounding in steampunk, though. I stand by the one-line summary I cooked up for it on Facebook: "Victory can be achieved, if you're willing to make commensurate sacrifices, usually of other people." I might add an asterisk to the term victory, however, pointing to its qualifier: "The victory you settle for may not be the victory you envisioned. Or even close." If you're a fan of very detailed world-building, and you like the feel of crafted worlds that feel authentic, you might like the setting. The plot, for what it's worth, kept me guessing for a while. I gave the book four stars.

A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk. This is a good retelling of the story of the Wolf of Gubbio, from Fioretti di San Francesco, wherein St. Francis tames a wolf. The book is mostly from the wolf's perspective. The messages of love, redemption and forgiveness shine through. My five star rating was based only partially on the fact that I follow Mark on Facebook, that I found him through Jordan, and that I happen to find myself agreeing with him a good deal of the time.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I'll admit, this was a hard read. The prose was fine, except for the occasional bog-downs in the brand parades. It was nauseating in many ways, and quite bleak. I still don't know if I gained anything by reading it. I gave it three stars.

Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. I had taken interest in this from a New York Times article about it, then forgotten about it until recently. It's maybe not a novel? The structure is certainly unconventional, largely in its occasional breaks through the fourth wall and the bits and pieces of biographical and personal commentary. I really liked it, and almost gave it five stars on the strength of its novelty and Enrigue's treatment of a vast array of seemingly unrelated subjects (and they are, I assure you, related), from the origins of tennis to the clash of civilizations in early post-Columbian Mexico. I settled on four stars. This might benefit from a re-read. It's quick and fairly short.


June is supposed to be set aside for My Struggle vol. 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård. I'm guessing the only space I'll find for it will depend on wherever Don Quixote ends up (but Don Quixote makes for find bedtime reading).

I also have ready at the library The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien, which I added based on the attached review.

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My Spanish is improving. I can read nearly every work in these instructions without checking the English instructions for help ....


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>> Indeed, of the top 50 philosophy doctoral programs in the English-speaking world, only 15 percent have any regular faculty members who teach any non-Western philosophy.

I guess I am done name experimenting. It would be nice if Google let you separate your Google+ and Gmail names. Oh well.

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I have questions about American Psycho. I'm only about 120 pages in, so I am sure there will be more development that might help answer.

1. In the very beginning of the book, Bateman limits his psychopathic commentary to his internal dialogue. As we progress through the story, his comments begin appearing in quotes, signaling that he's verbalizing them, though his utterances are masked by other noises. But now he's explaining how he enunciates carefully and clearly his nature, but is failing to get any reaction or response (the closest we get is during the interaction with the Chinese proprietors of the laundry, but they don't seem to understand his words, only his tone). So the question is: is he actually saying these things out loud, or does he just think he is saying them?

2. The narrative is quite fragmented, which is natural, but I can't tell yet if he's been acting on what he calls his nature or not. If so, he only mentions this activity in passing, but I get the sense that it's daydreaming more than anything. Maybe I don't truly want an answer to this yet.

Additional commentary:

1. If Bateman is the psychopath, he has a good deal of competition. His professional and social circles are packed with reprobates. I can't help but view the lot of them through a Gervaisian lens.

2. The relentless parade of designer branding and the sheer tedium of, I suppose, gilded banality, are deeply nauseating to me. 

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You guize.  Srsly.  This is a cake.

Because +Debbie Goard is ridiculously talented.  Like there's "talented" and then there's "very talented" and then there's "I can't believe this is a human being who breathes air like everyone else, she's probably some kind of alien or cyborg or something talented".

I almost want to cry for how intensely amazing this artistry is.

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Tabloid Vivant (2015)

// Back in 2013, I assisted my good friend +Kyle Broom on his debut feature film, Tabloid Vivant. Long time readers might remember me talking about it occasionally.

The film was released last year at the CATE indie film festival where it won the audience award, and it will likely be available as a VOD in the near future. As the film has started making it into the hands of critics it has been generating a lot of publicity and positive response, mostly from independent horror review hubs. I'm compiling some of the reviews below:

Mark the Movie Man praised the film for taking chances, comparing some scenes to Ed Wood, and generally loved the art and symbolism in the movie.

(Note: He calls it an example of "consumption horror"; Tabloid Vivant's producer (and Kyle's wife) Alex Spector has a history of producing excellent examples of the genre. See Sweets: ) (9/10): "Vivant expertly displays the pain of creating something so personal, and putting it on display for others... How this will be marketed I have no idea, but whichever way it is will probably be wrong, so just heed my advice and watch it." (3/4 stars): "Tabloid Vivant is bold, experimental, occasionally rather jarring, unpredictable, immensely fun, and as thrilling as you're likely hoping it would be." (6/10): "Audiences with a taste for flair or fans of art films in general will really appreciate the work Broom has put into this." (8.5/10): "Tabloid Vivant is a classical, thematic and haunting masterpiece." (4/5 skulls): "Tabloid Vivant’s script... manages to juggle both emotional resonance and complex intellectual discussions in a messy but entertaining thriller that would make storytellers like David Lynch and Clive Barker proud."

Lion's Share interview with Kyle Broom and Jesse Woodrow:

Movie Pilot interview with Kyle Broom:

Bloody-Disgusting interview with Kyle Broom:

// A taste of the discussions this film is generating, from the B-D interview:

> BD: Though the issue of reality has been disputed in the art world for many years now, recent technology like functional virtual reality and other forms of digital media have made this discussion relevant again. Do you personally think that filmmakers (and artists in general) will one day truly be able to cross the line between representation and reality, or is the line itself just an illusion?

KB: Wow. Thanks so much for this question! I think this line between reality and representation isn’t so much an illusion as a matter of facility and usage. Reality is a just a bunch of representations we are so good at interacting with that we don’t notice they are representations. It’s just that some representations, like a photograph, are so unresponsive and low-bandwidth, that it’s difficult to imagine effectively interacting with it in place of the person it depicts. But what if the picture could move? Make sounds? What if you could talk to the person in the picture and the person could talk back to you? At some point, you could get used to interacting directly with the person instead of using the picture as a “mere” representation. This is basically Skype – no one is tempted to say the person you’re talking to on Skype isn’t real, but you certainly interact with a representation of that person when you’re using Skype to talk to her.

So, if anything, representation versus reality is a matter of how accustomed your brain is to using certain inputs. And this, of course, is something that changes and develops–and something that art can and does very powerfully influence. Picasso famously said about his portrait of Gertrude Stein: “Everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will.”

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Yes, this: "Culture is the necessary art of perpetuating the disturbing rumor that reality is meaningful."

>> Time, of course, is the merciless slaughterer of all these infinitely qualified anchors of the meaning of life. Wait long enough, and every truth will crumble. Wait long enough, and every value will dissolve into moral ambiguity. Wait long enough, and every habit will decay, first into ritual, then into farce. Wait long enough, and every slain demon will rise again.


Forty years is not enough to specifically undermine every truth, value, and habit, but it is long enough to generally undermine the idea that there are non-transient truths, values, and habits. You’ve seen too many business cycles, too many political cycles, too many cultural cycles, too many saints and sinners trading places, to believe that this time a source of meaning will endure.


Culture is the necessary art of perpetuating the disturbing rumor that reality is meaningful. That beneath the pain and the pleasure, the cruelty and the compassion, the estranging and the connecting, the breaking and the making, the ugliness and the beauty, the losing and the winning, the dying and the living, there is Something More.™
Reality of course, is the bit that doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it. The meaning of reality, unfortunately, isn’t part of reality. And beyond reality, there is nothing more.


But for those standing far enough away that they can Fucking Love Science! instead of actually doing science, disturbing the universe creates pleasantly disturbing rumors that J. Alfred Prufrock actually had an overwhelming question. One to which he could have discovered the answer if only he’d had the courage to disturb the universe. A fucking lovely answer. <<

After some absence, I am rethinking my approach to Google+. Bear with me. 
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