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Monthly Archives: June 2010

It’s a source of minor embarrassment that I know next to nothing about poetry.

Nonetheless, every now and then I chance upon a poem that strikes me as so assuredly good, I’m in awe of how well written it is, prompting me to say (sometimes rhetorically, sometimes not), “If this isn’t a good poem, then tell me what is.”

Aubade, by Philip Larkin, is one such poem.


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
– The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Today I acquired an original copy of one of my favorite pieces of music, the Made Up In Blue EP by The Bats. The Made Up In Blue EP, by The Bats You can hear what this sounds like here.

Another month and lo and behold another string of rejections. Though I’m doing my best to remain optimistic, I’m resigned to the fact that Robert on his Lunch Break won’t play in any festivals of note at any point in the foreseeable future.

But instead of succumbing to apathy, I’ve grown restless, so I’ve decided to bite the bullet and arrange my own screening…

On the night of Friday, August 13th, at Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee, Robert on his Lunch Break will be shown along with three other films of mine (Ped; the always-good-for-a-laugh Self-important Empirical Film #3, with Voice-over; and the short, kinetic concert film Fugazi’s Last Stop in Wisconsin).

This will be my first official solo show.

Here is the poster I made last night:

It’s not going to win any awards, but it gets the job done. What I like most about this poster is that it eschews the use of one dominant, central image in favor of showing the film’s four main characters, each relegated to his or her own aesthetic reality–the poster, like the film itself, conveys the chasms between different subjectivities.

In his excellent book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, bad-ass painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote:

…when outer supports threaten to fall, man withdraws his gaze from externals and turns it inwards. Literature, music and art are the most sensitive spheres in which this spiritual revolution makes itself felt. They reflect the dark picture of the present time and show the importance of what was at first only a little point of light noticed by the few.

Quiet Harmony by Wassily Kandinsky

Last weekend I hung out with my buddy Will and borrowed from him the Criterion DVD of Les Enfants Terribles, the notorious collaboration between Jean Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville. Cocteau’s legacy is larger than life, and for a while now Melville has been one of my favorite directors, so it was nice to be able to finally see this.

Nicole Stéphane

A lot could be said about Les Enfants Terribles–it’s a good movie–but when I watched it the other night what stood out more than anything else was Nicole Stéphane: her performance as the bratty, comically overzealous sister was extraordinary. Stéphane’s over-the-top acting took me by surprise, though, because in Melville’s previous feature, Le Silence de la Mer, she played a character who was stone-faced and taciturn–seeing her in Les Enfants Terribles was like watching a completely different person.