Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guy Delisle

(French-)Canadian animator Guy Delisle made some noise back in 2003 with the release of his Pyongyang - a journey in North Korea. Its a travelouge/autobiographical graphic novel that with its insigthfull glimpse in to one of the most closed countries in the world reach a high artistic level with its portrayal of alienation (and linguistic alienation), boredom and the missing of the little western reliefs like good coffie.

One of the best books about the expat I've read and a easy introduction to the craziness that is North Korea.

I aslo read his 2000 graphic novel Shenzhen - Travelouge from China. Although its a nice book I would only recomend it to people escpesially interested in China, or fans of Delisle who want to check out how much better he got at storytelling from 2000 til 2003. I cant wait to read his 2008 work about Burma or his rumored upcoming book about Israel...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Den vidunderlige kjærlighetens historie...

... or Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot - his Wonderfull Love and his Terrible Hatred as it is aptly translated is was presented to me as one of those you-obviously-learned-to-write-in-the-author-academy novels mentioned in an earlier post. And since I felt for just that, feeling a bit under the weather and all, I decided to read what is said to be Carl-Johan Vallgren's best novel.

I usually stick to litterature that is 50 years+. I like to say that it's because anything written after the holocaust is crap, but in reality there is a whole conglomerate of reasons for this habit; whereas the most important is that I have little patience with timethiefs, cultural and individual (authoral) vanity and crap. If it survived since before the war you can usually rely on it to be good shit.

Now, also, I usually try not to read blurbs and back-covers on neighter books nor films, and I did'nt this time either. Which I'm very glad for, not because there was much of a reveal, but because the extatic blurbs I found after finishing the novel would have sorley disappointed me if I'd read them up front. Skånska Dagbladet: No! This is not a masterpiece and yes, yes, yes the art of storytelling gets a lot fucking better.

If you want a proper review I'm sure you can find it elsewhere. Vallgrens pathetic exploration of love, language and hate is'nt worth anybodys time. Since I get the impression he is trying to portray Hercule Barefoot as a pretty smart guy... the general stupidity of the thing must be atributed to Vallgren himself.

There used to be a time when artists were afraid of looking stupid. I want that time back as soon as possible. If you want to bother us with your lack of inteligence write a comment right here in the commentsfield, or start your own damn blog! Don't pretend to be an author.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Martha Argerich

Hailing from Argentina, Martha started playing piano at the age of 3, at the age of 5 she began studying under Vincenzo Scaramuzza and had her debut 3 years later with Beethovens piano concert #1. This is Scarlatti's sonata in D-minor Kk. 141 - I love the way youtube is completly unable to follow her hands during most parts of the take.

It seems almost magical. I wonder if the Saudis would kill her as a sorceress (see previous post) if she ever visited them...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Magicians Beware!

Popular Libanese televisionpersonality Ali Hussain Sibat (48), host of a fortune-telling show on Beirut sattelite channel Sheherazade, has lost his case in the court of appeal and will be executed for sorcery in the near future.

The father of 5 was arrested during his pilgrimage to Mecca (the Umrah) in may 2008. You can read the full report @ amnesty international. If you want to help you can donate or become a Amnesty International Member here; you can appeal directly to Saudi Arabia at their Washington embassy here; or you can write a P&P Letter to

King Hussein
Saudi Arabia

and just tell him how ignoble you find his noble rule to be.

P.S And by the way... it's not only if you've dabbled with the arcane arts that you should steer away from Saudi Arabia - a couple of years ago an Italian man was executed for unknowingly bringing a splinter of hashish (less than 0,1 grams) into the country with his pocketlint.

All quiet on the western front

Eric Maria Remarque's 1928 novel is to this day known as one of the best anti-war novels of all time and the novel about WW1. Remarque (born 1898) was drafted when he turned 18 and the novel is full of the kind of details only a man who has actually seen war can come up with. There will be !!!Spoilers below the pic!!! so just let me say in short that I read the 195 pages in an afternoon and an evening. It's a classic that will add to our cultural capital & a very good book. The anti-war message war-is-hell is nothing new for the non-ostrich-people; and the theme trench-warfare is a a bit outdated... but Remarques main theme is ptsd and that is as actual today as it was then. Recommended.

The title on the book reflects the ending. When protagonist Paul Bäumer dies on the last page, as the last of the 20 boys from his class who enlisted at the outbreak of the war, 'looking like he did'nt suffer long' (which he did - but perhaps not from the fatal wounds), the military news dispatch of the day only states its standard "All quiet on the western front."

The norwegian 1955 translation by Ragnar Kvam switches with ease between antiquated and stiff, almost danish, language and easy (almost) modern norwegian to illustrate the different you/thou relationships between the soliders and their superiors.

Personally the strongest part of reading this novel of kids (they are 18 at the start of the book) trying to survive hell and the alienation they feel on leave in the civil world is how similar their psycology is to my own. While I am suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, I have experienced nothing close or even resembling the hell these boys goes through. Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemmingway describes the shellshocked boys of WW1 as 'un generation perdue' - the lost generation; and Remarques main point is that the boys that had'nt yet "started" life was the ones that got destroyed, while the older men with lives and wifes mainly were OK (if they managed to survive the fields of slaugther).

"We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing from ourselves, from our life. We were eigthteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces." My own vulnerability to this inflamation of my thoughts and soul was mainly due to my young age at the time of the catastrophe. Had I been settled with an education, a life and a strong sense of identity I would likly not have succumbed to my wounds; becoming lost to the world of the normals.

Whats interesting to me with this is that in all my readings about ptsd I've never read anything about this link. But if there indeed exists such a link we probably should reexamine our practice of sending our boys&girls to war in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere - for the main body of our expeditionary forces are exactly that: Young men and women who have yet to find their station in life. If these are the very ones that are most vulnerable to ptsd (unlike true proffesional soliders and older, more settled, individuals) we will soon have our very own 'generation perdue' - thousands of ex-service persons lost to the civillian world.