Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh, hai

I may not be so good at posting for a week or two...but we'll see. Just so everyone reading this blog with bated breath (you may or may not exist) knows, it's gonna get a little bit sporadic, but only for a little bit. Soon you'll be happy and postmodern once again! For now, enjoy this classic picture of Italo Calvino:

Dude, yr so crazy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fragile Happy Things

Today, HaPomo salutes a veritable Renaissance man of postmodernism. With a literary oeuvre that encompasses novels, short stories, poems, a band biography, screenplays, TV scripts, songs, liner notes, graphic novels, and more, it has to be Neil Fucking Gaiman.

What's not to love about him? There's his amazingly British voice, which is just a short distance away from being Alan Rickman's voice. There's the fact that he's affianced to Amanda Palmer, and wrote the text to a photobook about her many deaths. There are his other collaborators, who include Terry Pratchett, Kim Newman, Tori Amos, Roger Avary, and Charles Vess. Did I mention that he wrote the English dub of Princess fucking Mononoke?

Yes, Mr. Gaiman's done it all and gone back to do it again. He's on Twitter. Did you know that he directed a short film starring Bill Nighy? He's so eclectically accomplished, he's like the George Plimpton of literature. He even knows how to talk to girls at parties, and wrote an educational short story on the subject! So in his honor, let's live life the Neil Gaiman way: by wearing black and telling stories.

Oh, and did I mention the "wrote the greatest graphic novel series of all time" thing?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Welcome To Happy Times

Labor Day is over, and now that E.L. Doctorow is here, things probably aren't going well for the American worker. But Doctorow (to really hit you over the head with his archetypal nature, we'll call him Postmodern Author) does have an entry in the distinguished canon of Books I Read While Working at the Zoo Snackbar, and whatever you might say about Postmodern Author's work, I much preferred Ragtime to cleaning out the popcorn machine, in its patronizing way. Besides, he's the only postmodernist to hit Broadway, and that's something. (So far, I can't get any takers for "Giles Goat-Boy: The Musical," even with goat costumes by Julie Taymor.) Most of what I know about Postmodern Author beyond that, and a few terrifically awkward sex scenes, has slipped away with the passing years. But E.L. seems happy enough with that, and I'm not going to argue.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy (Cinematic) Postmodernists: A Short Film About Happy

Oh, Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski, aren't you a roguish fellow! You gaze down on the ethically challenged citizens of Warsaw, draw subtle analogies between their lives and the Ten Commandments, and then grin whilst a cigarette juts out of your coyly pursed mouth. Aren't you just a cheeky little auteur!

And hey, prior to your 1996 death, you were one of the greatest living filmmakers. So although your films may have tended toward depressing subject matter (like grief! Loneliness! Capital punishment!), you should still get a smoking/smiling break every now and then.

And that's a lesson everyone can use. Including a reclusive ex-judge played by Jean-Louis Trintignant. Or you, dear reader!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More Die of Happiness

Saul Bellow is really, truly, and terrifyingly happy. I can only assume that this means that a lifetime of picaresque adventuring has finally allowed him to find the Precious. Why else would this mighty midwesterner leave the idyllic banks of the St. Lawrence in Lachine for the staunchly Tim-Hortons-and-poutine-free city of Chicago? It wasn't in pursuit of the Pulitzer, or even the Nobel Prize. Why would he read an Ayn Rand novel, much less have it sitting on his desk in plain sight in this photo? Yes, I'm pretty sure the only plausible explanation for a smile that large and maniacal is that Saul Bellow has finally found the Ring. Anyone who gets married 5 times is obviously looking for something of the sort.

Confidential to Saul: I promise I'll finish The Adventures of Augie March someday! Until then!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Modernist, er, Monday: Se hace camino al sonreír

Antonio Machado does not smile. Here he is chillin' in a hat, resolutely not smiling. OK, you say, but maybe it was just a bad day. Maybe he was just crossing the Pyrenees on foot and half-dead that day. I wouldn't smile about that.

But here's the thing. He's marrying his beloved child/French-student-bride in this picture, and he's STILL NOT SMILING. It's basically the happiest day of his life, and he just can't turn up the corners of his mouth to express that. Even Ian Curtis smiled when he got married, Antonio, or at least he tried really hard. She's only 16, and she's certainly not going to die of consumption two years later. So why so sad?

Luckily, when the Spanish government put an engraving of Machado on a postage stamp, they added just a little smile, even though it doesn't seem to be based on any actual photos of him. Let's hope that wherever Machado is now, he can manage at least that. I think he's earned it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Countdown to Freedom

Hello, gentle reader. I've been gone for a while, haven't I? Well, don't worry your pretty, little head. I'm here with a second post, as a part of the Two Posts in One Day Challenge/Challange.

During the 6 or 7 hour window of my time spent away from HaPomo, I got to think about a lot of things. I thought about what a sense of accomplishment completing the rabies post-exposure prophylaxis instills in one's heart. I thought about what footwear is the sturdiest but also the most comfortable. I thought about the impending death of the literary novel (300 years on its deathbed and still ticking!), I thought about why anyone would ever want to make a career of production management, and I even thought about Ted Dansen. But the one thought that really penetrated the old grey matter, gentle reader, was this: Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" will come out in exactly four days.

4 DAYS. Barack Obama has already been spotted with an advance copy. Unfair. Where did he get it?! Just because he's POTUS, doesn't mean - well, I guess it does.

Since I'm a regular Franzen Fanatic (FF), I thought I'd make a little list of reasons why Everyone Should Love Franzen. (It's like Everyone Loves Raymond, except the love is mandatory!)

1. Jonathan Franzen is extremely happy. Look how much fun he's having in this picture below! Whereas most novelists would see the book jacket photo as an opportunity to make the pouty face they spent years perfecting in mirrors at their respective Small Liberal Arts Colleges, Franzen's just smiling. He's thrilled to be on the jacket of his own book!

2. Jonathan Franzen is fluent in German. He translated Spring Awakening. And then he found fault with the butchering of the play on Broadway. And he was right to - it was a shoddy production. And people were like, "What's your problem, finding fault with this play?" And he was like, "Yo, I'm Jonathan Franzen." And that shut them up.

3. Jonathan Franzen Just Said No to Oprah.

4. Jonathan Franzen won the National Book Award even though he said no to Oprah. Take that, Oprah! Your well-oiled literary machine is fast corroding!

5. Jonathan Franzen wears glasses just like mine. Look at that fucking eyewear coincidence.

6. Jonathan Franzen likes birdwatching.

7. All of Jonathan Franzen's family except Jonathan Franzen were born in Minnesota.

8. Jonathan Franzen was on the cover of TIME, and he looked FAR LESS confused than Nabokov did on his TIME cover. Why so crazy, Uncle Vlad?

9. Jonathan Franzen can fly.

10. Jonathan Franzen can't actually fly, but sometimes it feels like it.

Whether he's grinning or writing from the POV of a frustrated suburban mother, this literary hero is a friend of the downtrodden (the late DFW) and an enemy of the uptrodden (Broadway). He's like a contemporary Robin Hood who writes domestic realism and lives in New York City sometimes.

Just like Robin Hood.

Enduring Happy: the Solar Atonement Edition!

Hi. My name is Rebekah, and because of a recent unexcused and inexcusable absence from HaPomo and a court order resulting from the aforementioned absence, I'm taking the Two Posts in One Day Challenge! (Or "Challange," if you're feeling continental.) That's right, folks. Your humble little poster is going to reach Anorak City levels of productivity today (I'm looking at YOU, James Murphy!) Then I will vanish from HaPomo once again - as abruptly and magically as I appeared.

Taking the Two Posts in One Day Challenge is easier when you wrote one of the posts a long time ago while being extremely bored in PEPS. McSweeney's Internet Tendency thought my jottings were "sharp," but declined publication because they didn't want to make any enemies of living authors. I can understand where they're coming from. And I feel that it's very important to maintain one's...


What To Do If You Find Yourself in Ian McEwan’s Early Short Fiction

First of all, stay calm. There’s no reason you can't make it out of this alive. Assess your surroundings. Where are you? You’re in postmodern England, probably somewhere in the suburbs. Which suburb? It doesn’t really matter right now.

What are you doing? Are you eating breakfast? Are you checking your phone messages at work? (Has your mistress called?) Are you preserving the organs of dead people in jars of formaldehyde? Are you committing some sort of act of bestiality? If you are in fact committing an act of bestiality with an innocent and weirdly humanoid animal who thinks it’s your lover, stop doing that right away. Go to the window, light a cigarette and think about what’s happened in your miserable life that caused you to begin a loving, consensual relationship with a chimp. If there are no windows, go to your desk and try to write a novel. If there are no windows or desk but there is a social worker, tell your story to the social worker. The social worker will encourage you to go into extreme detail, thus abusing his privileges as a social worker and indulging his perverted, voyeuristic fantasies. But it’ll be nice to get these feelings off your chest.

Now you’re walking along the street. Be careful, though. You’re never just walking along the street. Think back. What was your mother like? (This is extremely important, so think hard.) Was she sensuous? Was she domineering? Did she treat you like a baby? If she treated you like a baby, what color dress did she usually wear? Red? Green? Black? If she wore black dresses and looked young for her age, she’s probably remarried after leaving your good-for-nothing father and has a fulfilling sex life that leaves no symbolic room for your Oedipal angst. If this is true, then you’re walking down the street because you’ve just shoplifted from a department store because you don’t know how else to take care of yourself because you’re a virginal manchild with an un-integrated ego. The police are probably on your tail right now. Run.

You’ve stopped running? Good. Look around you. Are you near a body of water? Yes? That body of water will probably serve as a powerful metaphor sometime soon. What is that metaphor? Try to figure it out; your life depends on it. Are you near a house? Is the house full of teenagers? Are the teenagers wise beyond their years, sexually experienced products of the hedonistic mid-70’s? If so, there are probably a few small children staying with these teenagers. Don’t worry - the children are there to serve as a Blakean contrast to the teenagers’ worldly sangfroid: innocence vs. experience. Go into the house, eat the teenagers’ vegetarian food and smoke hashish with them. If you don’t like the teenagers’ cooking or their lack of hygiene, don’t complain. You don’t want to get on their bad side. If a feral animal shows up in the teenagers’ house, do not be the one who kills it. You’d be killing a symbol of contemporary society’s wild carnal obsession. Let the sexless geek with the coke bottle glasses do it.

Are the teenagers about to take their homemade boat out on the body of water? Whatever you do, do not get in the boat. How many teenagers are in the boat? Better yet – what’s the teenager-to-child ratio? If there are more children than teenagers, and some of the children are actually the accidental children of the teenagers, there is no question that the boat will capsize. Figured out the metaphor yet?

Go back to your suburban home (if you are not a thief, writer or pornographer, you will have your own suburban home). Now think: what day is it? Is it your anniversary? Is it the day your incredibly unhappy wife announces that she no longer finds you attractive? Is it the day the exterminator’s coming to kill the hard-to-kill rats in your house? (Good thinking hiring someone else to kill them.) Is it your daughter’s birthday? If it’s your daughter’s birthday and she’s turning sixteen, then you’ve got to cope with the fact that she’s got a mysterious life of her own now and it probably involves some sort of experimental sex. Cope with this by going out and buying her really age-inappropriate gifts like toy ponies. Bring the toy ponies home and feel seamy and half-elated at your immaturity. Give your daughter a stern, parental hug when she comes out of her room to greet you. How is your daughter wearing her hair? Is it in pigtails? Pleats? If it’s in pleats, then your daughter personifies the sexual revolution. She is lesbian. Cope with this by staring out a window while it’s raining and swirling some brandy in a glass.

Congratulations! You’re still alive! But don’t get too excited. You’ve got Enduring Love to look forward to tomorrow.

But seriously, Mr. McEwan. No hard feelings. I adore your fiction. Heyyy - you're alright!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A heartwarming work of of, something.

Against all odds, Dave Eggers is a happy postmodernist. It's inspiring, really, that the man who wakes up each day knowing that he is the editor of McSweeney's*, and has fathered a child horrifyingly named October Adelaide Eggers Vida, can still manage a smile at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Even though he's rubbed elbows with such dark and shady characters as Beck and...shudder...Sufjan Stevens, he's not letting it get to him, and I think that's a message all of us at Happy Postmodernists, whether or not we harbor an irrational dislike for Mr. Eggers, can get behind.

*Actually, I do kinda like McSweeney's. Especially the Icelandic Fiction issue, because I read it while I was hopped up on anaesthetics after I got my wisdom teeth out, and then again in 105 degree heat while I was selling snocones at the zoo in Kansas. Both times it was very good. Delightful, even. But I have the disconcerting feeling that my skin got just a little whiter both times, and has never gone back.

Oh, PS, We actually like Dave Eggers and hope we're not being too hard on the poor guy for some rather unfortunate experiences with high school snobbery that were in NO WAY HIS FAULT. Keep it up, Dave. We mean it! And feel free to name your child whatever you want.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Transitional Tuesday: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft

After many late nights on the Internet, I've finally found this picture of happy Nietzsche! You knew he could rock the mustache, but who would have guessed that he had such a soft spot for kittens? And this cuddliest übermensch sure seems to know his way around eating ice cream and cupcakes! It wasn't easy to find, but this picture sure was worth it. Also sprach Zarathustr-awww, amirite?

For a real dose of cute Nietszche, why not try some Jens Lekman? And with a sample from Blueboy, Nietszche references don't come any twee-er, or more fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Electric Kool-Aid Happy Test

Nope, this HaPomo post isn't about Tom "Tommy the Wolf" Wolfe; rather, it's about the subject of the nonfiction novel being referenced above: Ken Kesey, that wacky, bandana-wearing motorist to your right.

Kesey was clearly meant to join the HPm fold. Hell, he led a band of drug-addled gadabouts called the Merry Pranksters. If that's not happy/postmodern, I don't know what is. In fact, that image of the (probably high) Kesey driving like a madman is easily among the happiest images I've ever seen.

Plus, reading Cuckoo's Nest back in my junior year of high school was a hella tight experience. And if not for that novel, imagine how many fewer manic grins we'd have seen on Jack Nicholson's face! So, Mr. Kesey, we salute you. Sometimes, you are a great notion. Huzzah!

Now here's Ken Kesey in "Mel Brooks Lookalike" mode:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Modernist Friday: The Long Happy Life of Ernest Hemingway

That is a man. That is a happy man. Ernest Hemingway was an influential modernist. He lived, drank, and partied in Paris. He was friends with Gertrude Stein. He shot himself in Idaho in 1961. Shooting oneself comes naturally with being in Idaho.

Here he is coming out of a successful job interview. The beard was key. At least, isn't it pretty to think so? Well, "Papa" Hemingway sure is pretty to think about. Also, he rises. Kind of like yeast. Whether you're a fisherman or a big game hunter or even a gunrunner or even a bullfighter, think about Hemingway and be happy.

Oh! And speaking of bullfighters, Hemingway wrote a nonfiction novel about them called Death in the Afternoon. In it, he wrote about the first Jewish toreador, Sidney Franklin.* And Sidney Franklin's great-niece? Happy Postmodernists' very own Rebekah! Happy Friday, everyone!

Hemingway doing his "Happy Orson Welles" impersonation.

*Addendum: Per Rebekah herself, "Look at THAT fucking Hebraic Torero." Franklin was featured in a Time Magazine profile in 1952 entitled "Yanqui Matador."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Latin American Madness! Gabriel García Márquez v. Carlos Fuentes

Let Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Márquez explain the Latin American Boom to you...with gestures! "It was really big, and it spread out in all directions," says García Márquez. "Yes," says Carlos Fuentes, laughing, "and had it been a literal boom it would have been very loud! I suppose if you stood near it it might have felt like getting punched in the face by Mario Vargas Llosa, right, Gabo?"

Yes, it looks like fun, but just moments later, Gabriel García Márquez punched Carlos Fuentes in the face.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Happy, Postmodern Teatime of the Soul

In my ongoing attempt to write about things that the People Who Use the Internet (PWUI) are known to enjoy and occasionally Google, and in light of the fact that Happy Postmodernists reaches its landmark 42nd post today, I'm posting this not-at-all difficult to find picture of happy Douglas Adams! Enjoy, PWUI! "But wait!" say the PWUI collectively, "There's no way he's postmodern! He's just a goofy (awesome) sci-fi author!" Well, that's where you're wrong, dear readers (who may or may not exist), and PWUI (who definitely exist). I'm just going to ask you one question. Would the name Ford Prefect be out of place in a Pynchon novel? Of course not! And I'm pretty sure that if Pynchon had given Pierce Inverarity the name Zaphod Beeblebrox instead, we would have just yawned collectively. At most, we would have affectionately sighed "Oh, Tom," before turning the page. There you have it. Thomas Pynchon and Douglas Adams are definitively the same person. Have you ever seen them together?

I'll leave you with a little game of "Guess The Blurb!" Did Pynchon or Adams write a "ghost-horror-detective-time-travel-romantic-comedy-epic, mainly concerned with mud, music and quantum mechanics?" You tell me, PWUI!

The Happiest Music in the World

We've known for a long time that Kazuo Ishiguro is just the postmodernist to brighten your day! Sometimes, when I'm feeling really sad, I just think about that butler, walking alone down the boardwalk and wondering if he would connect with people if he sometimes made jokes, and I cheer right up! ...Just let me pause a second to wipe my eyes. No, of course I'm not crying about The Remains of the Day. What a ridiculous idea. It's just, uh, just allergies.

Kaz, at least, seems happy enough about it. In fact, he's a pretty happy guy who seems perfectly capable of normal human emotion and interaction. So why does his usual smile seem a bit dimmer, more mysterious, as if he were repressing a forbidden emotion or dark secret the way only a Kazuo Ishiguro character can? It's because he's about to BLOW YOUR MINDS. That's right. Because the seemingly mild-mannered Mr. Ishiguro also wrote the screenplay for The Saddest Music in the World. Yes, the same one directed by that Wizard of Winnipeg, Guy Maddin (who should probably have his own post here, as soon as we convince him to get a Twitter account)*. So next time you think about Kazuo Ishiguro, raise a glass of beer for him. And if that beer is Lady Port-Huntley Beer, all the better. And if you're drinking it out of a glass prosthetic leg, then that's bizarre. But a fitting tribute nonetheless.

*Andreas (aka Pussy Goes Grr) suggests that Winnipeg may not have the Internet, but rather a "steampunkish, 2-strip Technicolor simulacrum thereof." Nonetheless, I think we'll see Guy tweeting someday, and I hope that all of his tweets, when we finally convince him to join, will later be used as titles in a silent film about a mad scientist putting on a musical while coming to terms with his childhood and the death of his own child as well as the harsh land that has been his only home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life is šweet!

Hello, Serbian avant-garde filmmaker Dušan Makavejev! Your eyebrows sure are arched this morning. And look at the smooth curvature of your egg-shaped head. Impressive.

But, after all, anyone's who's been as vindicated by history as you have deserves to express themselves through an enthusiastic half-grin. You may have been expelled from your native land for directing such daring, transgressive films as W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) and Sweet Movie (1974), but now the Cold War is over and they're considered international masterpieces. Suck on that, Yugoslav movie police!

And you, Mr. Makavejev? You go on being happy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anyone with the name Umberto deserves at least half a chance

It's Umberto Eco, your favorite droll college professor! You'll be hard-pressed to find another postmodernist who can be easily described as "jolly," or who can so easily pull off the cardigan-sweater vest combo. But there's more to Umberto than just standing in front of bookshelves wearing large glasses and smiling. (Why doesn't he have a pipe?) He also regularly DJs "Semiotics Night" at the Book (read the symbols!), and he's an official Italian Ghostbuster. That's right, he's a member of an Italian organization advocating for more objective coverage of paranormal events by the news media. So if there's something strange in your neighborhood, and it's being covered by Italian media, who you gonna call? This happy postmodernist!

Coming soon: A sample of one of Umberto's semiotic DJ sets. Get ready to dance your signifiers off!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Airborne Happy Event

Goodmorning, post-quadrivial 18+-ers. I trust that there are scores of you reading this blog and that you're all scratching your little sleep-fuzzed heads right now and thinking, "Hey, now, what does Happy Pomo have in store for me this morning? Because haha this is a little embarrassing but I was so excited thinking about it last night that I couldn't even get to sleep. Which thing (sleep) is extraordinarily important to get and maintain, especially if you want to keep the weapons in your intellectual arsenal sharp and ready-to-use during your waking hours." And I know this is all a way of saying: This is the David Foster Wallace post, right? Even though it's got the Don Delillo title, but you already did the Don Delillo post, so it's the David Foster Wallace one, right?

Well, no. You're wrong in almost every way. There will be a DFW post, but it's as of now sine die so that'll be an extra-special surprise for you, you little insomniacs. So. Rather than risk excessive pleonasm I'm just going to say straight out: the DFW post is coming when you least expect it and it's going to be really awesome, like a hallucinatory rainbow. OK? That's settled.

I'm actually darkening the proverbial, blogospherical "door" right now to tell you a little story about someone else who, like you, gentle reader, is extra-special. His name is Jay Murray Suskind, and he's a professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Blacksmith College. Why do we care about Jay Murray Suskind? Well because he wrote an article on DFW called "An Undeniably Controversial and Perhaps Even Repulsive Talent" and it was a pretty interesting article, all things considered, and it was published in the journal Modernism/modernity which should make at least some of you happy.

So you're just trotting your eyes along this article by Prof. Suskind and everything's fine until you come to this gem (you've got to click on it to see it):

And you're thinking, Wow hey waitaminute this has absolutely no place in a scholarly article. And then you're like, Oh Jesus I think I know the name Jay Murray Suskind from somewhere. He's a character in White Noise. And he cites How I Conquered Analysis: Ten Ways to Dupe Your Therapist by Infinite Jest's very own Hal Incandenza (aka The Incster):
So there you go. A review of fiction written by fictional characters. This is the kind of thing that a certain aesthetics-and-irony-loving demographic would really appreciate. Take off those non-prescription glasses and that keffiyeh, gentle reader: that's you! Does it make you happy that Prof. Suskind has overcome the considerable handicap of not existing to author a scholarly article? Does it depress and/or disturb you that academic scholarship is falling prey to the same literary hijinks and self-referential hoohaw that have become very de riguer, fiction-wise? I don't know how you feel, but I'm feeling pretty great right now, and that's because I'm going to eat a vegan gyro in about 2.5 hours.

Goodnight and god bless.

p.s. Many thanks to the lovely folks over at Infinite Tasks of Philosophy who brought my attention to this. I'm giving them credit for this entire post. You should really check them out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Your Face Tomorrow? Happy!

Javier Marías is the man, and I get the impression that he kinda knows it. So why does this fine piece of Nobel Prize bait seem to never smile? Is it because Real Madrid lost to Barça? Is it because people often think they're being insulted when someone says "I'm gonna read Your Face Tomorrow?" Is it because he's being compared to Proust again (despite the notable lack of cookies in his work)? Is it the weighty responsibility of his fake Caribbean kingdom? Is it because the Real Academia can't decide if "sólo" should be spelled with an accent? Or is it just because it's hard to look cool and mysterious with a cigarette if you smile? We'll probably never know, and we certainly won't know if any of this holds true tomorrow. The smiling we see Marías here will probably betray us to the fascists without our ever suspecting it, all while never removing those awesome tortoiseshell shades.
And he seemed like such a nice little kid...

Question of the day: Are Javier's shades ironic? Vote yes or no in the comments!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why I Want to Hug Ronald Reagan

Oh, man, J.G. Ballard is just having the time of his 1930-2009 life! You'll have to pardon him; you see, he just read The Onion's lol-tastic Libra horoscope referencing him, and now he's trying to stifle a laugh.

Looking at this distinguished gentleman as he partakes in a rather boisterous guffaw, you'd think he's a slightly loony Oxford professor, or perhaps the real-world equivalent of the Mad Hatter - but little would you suspect that he's actually been adapted by our own D-Cro of Toronto!

So let that be a lesson to you! Don't judge postmodernists solely by the striped blue of their ties, or the recession of their hairlines.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Modernist Friday: Not with a bang, but with a smile

Hey, everyone! I found T.S. Eliot's yearbook photo! Or maybe it was taken for his star turn in a community theatre production of "The Breasts of Tiresias?" Either way, it's dreamy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Architecture and Morality

I love modernism. So much. But I'm a little bit skeptical about modernist architecture. I enjoy reading Le Corbusier, especially when he's hysterical. (Remember that time Le Corbusier flew in an airplane and freaked out? It was great.) But his buildings just remind me of "Don't Worry about the Government," and not in a good way. Wikipedia even goes so far as to criticize him without any citations, saying that "people are not machines and it was suggested that they do not want to live in machines." Sorry Le Corbusier (I'm just gonna call you 'Le' from here on out), but on issues of architecture, Wikipedia always wins. Luckily, our favorite Target-loving postmodern architect, Michael Graves, is here to save the day. And although he looks very friendly, I worry that he may have been beaten up in school. Just something about him suggests that to me. It's ok, Mike, you can laugh all the way to the postmodern bank. Then when you get there, you'll probably stop laughing, because, while the postmodern bank is beautifully designed, it's still a pretty soul-crushing place.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Transitional Tuesday: The Post Has Already Deconstructed Itself

Is Jacques Derrida happy? It's hard to say. There were happier pictures of him, but this picture sums up the real issue at hand. Jacques Derrida will seduce you. His terrorist-obscurantist gaze has already deconstructed your soul. "There's no structure here, baby, we've moved past all that," he whispers in your ear, sounding much more like Serge Gainsbourg than you would expect, "just go with it. I know your mother thinks I'm just a nihilist who doesn't make sense. I know she wants you to go with Lacan. But this is the real thing! There's no room for here for that kind of meaningless opposition. It's just you and me now. Let's deconstruct." Before you know what's happened, you're at The Book*, dancing the night away. You can't be sure of anything anymore. Maybe it was just the champagne, but it seems like the foundations of society no longer exist. It's just you, experimental music, and Jacques Derrida's eyes. You'd always thought this sort of thing was just for undergrads, but now you know it's real.

*If you're not in The Book, everyone's favorite fictional nightclub, you're out.

In other news, this picture of Jacques comes to us from some apparent kindred spirits with a blog about haircuts. This particular post features the haircuts of plenty of 19th and 20th Century greats, lovingly described in Spanish. It seems that they, too, find the Arthur Rimbaud cut irresistible. I'd certainly recommend that over the Charles Baudelaire "face in front, hair behind" look.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Portrait of a Romantic

Yes, Steven Millhauser looks happy now. You might say he's happily married with kids and has a cushy job at Skidmore and a Pulitzer Prize that, I'm told, he keeps in the closet. But it wasn't always this way. It started rather innocently. A smile at a stranger on the subway, the purchase of a new straw hat for no particular reason, the sudden growth of a mustache, or a new angle to the sunlight. But Steven Millhauser was still, after all, a postmodernist, and he knew it was best to keep his secret under wraps. He kept silent and dour. Only at night, when he was alone in his room, did dreams and desires start to bubble up from an unknown source. Soon, Millhauser began to neglect his postmodern duties, believing himself to be one of those unstoppable American dreamers of fin de siècle New York, longing to be free of the dust that clung to his Austrian tobacco salesman father and the muumuu of his anachronistic suburban mother, not to mention the mysterious inventor who lived in the basement, with his horrifying illusions and sensory deprivation machines. He alone would build the grandest theme park this old city had ever known, half underground and full of fleeting shadows and brusque hands that could never be placed, half exposed to the harsh beams of a sun that revealed all the wonder and horror of the scientific age. Some would go missing and others would appear. Some would never enter and others would never leave. Still others would become impossibly delicate miniature automata to be viewed only through ornate telescopes by the élite of the ancient, crumbling empire. Soon Steven's waking life began to be filled with these visions, too. He became a dilettante, obsessed with the perfect construction of a dream, as if, through concentration, he might be able to bring it to perfect life. And as his dreams grew, so did his happiness, along with his penchant for porkpie hats. He didn't even notice when he got a lucrative movie deal; the outer world became less and less real to him, until it faded away entirely and he entered his dream, his obsession, his hope and his torture. Some said you could still see his ghost wandering around the Skidmore campus and claiming to teach something called "creative writing," but these sightings were never confirmed.

And then, as quickly and innocently as it had begun, the bubble burst. MIllhauser's idle, glassy stare began to be forgotten altogether, dismissed as ludicrous and fantastic. Like the precocious young boy who died on the boardwalk outside the labyrinthine museum, each passing day made Millhauser's former existence seem less real, as if it had never happened at all. But the happiness remained, a vestige of one of history's twists and dead ends that never quite worked itself out, and proof of the obsessive shadow existence once led by this now happy and respectable member of the Skidmore community. And yet, when the light is just right, you can still see the spokes of the ferris wheel, gleaming in the light of science, magic, and obsession. Some say it is waiting, others say it is dying, and some say that it is simply a fact, as true and false as any other...

I do this because I love you, Steven. So does Pitchfork's reviewer of Patrick Wolf's Wind In the Wires. I love that album, too, but this review has to be seen to be believed. What other Pitchfork review segues from "Bunyanesque protagonists" to "gypsy-disco" and "ukelele madrigal?" Probably several. And that album deserves at least a 9. At least.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy (Cinematic) Postmodernists: A History of Cheerfulness

Since he's scheduled to write & direct a film adaptation of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis, let's give David Cronenberg a hearty welcome to the HaPomo fold. For 4+ decades, this native son of Toronto has been delighting us Yankees with his vision of the human body as an unstable, viscera-spurting sack of tissue. And when you destabilize scientific ethics and sexual identity too, boy oh boy, there's no end to the fun! Just look at that smirk! Maybe he's just had one of his films premiere at Cannes and is pondering how best to photograph Viggo Mortensen's penis in the future.* So let's honor Mr. Cronenberg by remembering some of more fancy-free moments from his filmography...
  • The Brood: awww, motherly love.
  • Videodrome: Every day's a happy day when you're a sleazy James Woods!
  • The Dead Zone: Christopher Walken's got a fever, and the only cure is more visions of impending death.
  • Dead Ringers: The only thing more happy than the existence of gynecologist Jeremy Irons... is the existence of two gynecologist Jeremy Ironses!
  • Om nom nom Naked Lunch.
  • See previous remark about Viggo Mortensen's penis.
*As we learned recently, sometimes for-real postmodernists do real this blog. Therefore, I'd like to point out that any resemblance between this David Cronenberg and any real David Cronenbergs, living or dead, is pure coincidence. (Outpostmodern that.) Also, Mr. Cronenberg, if you're reading, I'm a huge fan. Also -- hey look, it's rock star David Cronenberg! Why, with that silver mane, he could be David Byrne!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Modernist Friday: Triestine Happy

Woah. What's going on here? Have you gentlemen been sharing the same hat? Because it looks like you gentlemen have been sharing the same straw or possibly felt hat. Is this some kind of a prank you're pulling? Is this your idea of a joke? Because I'm not laughing.
Oh. Wait a minute. Maybe it's one of those Mean Girls-type things where everyone in your modernist clique wears the same type of hat but then you don't tell any of the uncool kids. James Joyce and Italo Svevo show up to the lunch table wearing the same hat and Thomas Mann, who's wearing a bourgeois bowler hat, gets all embarrassed and runs into the bathroom crying. So that's what this is all about, isn't it? Well, I won't have this sort of mean-spirited indecency running rampant in the hallways of this junior high. Both of you, march yourselves to the principal's office immediately!

The man you see in the upper left-hand corner, ladies and gentlemen, is Italo Svevo, whose Conscienza di Zeno I'm making a semi-valiant attempt at reading. The similarly-hatted man on the right is James Joyce, who was Italo Svevo's patron while the both of them were living in Italy. Svevo, like Joyce, is charmingly misogynistic. Unlike Joyce, Svevo has a severe unibrow. Like Joyce, Svevo had a talent for writing antiheroes whose disenchantment with the European middle class manifests itself in negative physical symptoms or severe alcoholism. Unlike Joyce, Svevo was not an alcoholic.

But like Joyce, Svevo had a well-groomed mustache. So there's that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Transitional Tuesday: The Rooster Who Pretended to be Jorge Luis Borges*

or Emily Thomas, author of Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.

Today I've decided to rewrite Borges' Pierre Menard, author of the Quijote, as my own creation. Borges will be playing the role of a very old, hispanic Thom Yorke. The computer Alpha 60 will play the role of his mysterious lover. Both will be happy transitional figures. I'll get back to you when it's complete!

*With belated but very sincere apologies to Jaime Perales Contreras, the author of a great story with a great title. Let us know if you'd like us to change the title, but for now I'll encourage our readers (who, as always, may or may not exist), to check out the first part of "El gallo que fingió ser Jorge Luis Borges," or "The Rooster who Pretended to be Jorge Luis Borges" in the current issue of Américas magazine. (That's July/August 2010). It's brand new and has been up for some awards, you can read it in English or Spanish, and who could say no to that title? (Also, Jaime Perales Contreras has read our blog. This is a serious milestone. Sorry you had to read the post that didn't make sense, Mr. Perales!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Poem

I'm taking a break from my normal postmodern posting duties to offer you gentle readers a poem I've written. It's composed entirely of sentences/sentence fragments from the July 26th issue of The New Yorker. Enjoy:

White People
a poem in three parts by Rebekah

"See? No Socialists."

There's a dream architect,
Ariadne (Ellen Page),
who can create convincing interior worlds.
Christopher Nolan is a literal-minded man
-the brioches fly through the air in taunting slow motion.
Maltese hunters are in the weak position of wanting something:
A silhouetted snake intrudes.
My untutored pleasure directs me
To the whipsaws of "View of Notre Dame" (1914).
Spring was always the main hunting season in Malta;
I said, "You crazy. Someday I'll be world champion."
Blagojevich grew up in a white ethnic neighborhood
on Chicago's Northwest Side.

Matisse's Big Adventure.

Las Vegas during fight week provides
a pretty good simulation of an alternate America,
one where boxing is still king.
After meeting with Republican senators,
he made a characteristic move -
images of "extreme" nature
(waterfalls, mountaintops)
play on monitors.
Soon they're hauling around a male stiff
and a female hostage
and plotting to rip off a sexually demented desert miser (Stu Lancaster).
The folk-rock group Swell Season
is devoted to postwar and contemporary prints
It's down in McCain's Arizona.
Bloomberg calls the national immigration policy
"national suicide."

The Dodd-Frank bill is a most useful beginning.

A new generation of journalists
Has taken over the press box.
I know a guy
who knew a guy
who was the senior editor of the Village Voice.
I asked Orsi if he favored hunting
every bird species to the maximum compatible with sustaining existing numbers.
Harvey Pekar.
The blue of the Mediterranean isn't pretty to me anymore.
As city kids send home lanyards from summer camp,
one subset is polishing tap shoes up in the Catskills.
It was Monday afternoon, and Mosley was in his garage,
the only drug around is good old American PCP.
Blagojevich spent an inordinate amount of time being fitted for suits.
Some of the veteran dredgemen grumbled that their outfit lacked a houseboat.
"I'm doing a good job. So fuck all of you."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Die Glücklich Klavierspielerin

That's right, dear reader. Gaze into the eyes of happy Austrian postmodernist Elfriede Jelinek. She's just won her Nobel Prize and, with that same dispassionate half-smile she has in all her photos, she's going to sultrily stare you down. Would Jelinek, with all "extraordinary linguistic zeal," approve of an adverb like "sultrily"? Who cares; just gaze back with wildly psychosexual, central European abandon!

Also, here's Elfriede being the happiest, sultriest SLA member!

Modernist Friday: Lights of Bohemia 2—Electric Boogaloo.

Get ready for an extra steamy post today as we fin your siècle with Verlaine AND Rimbaud! Verlaine abandons his wife and infant son to be with Rimbaud, then shoots him in the wrist in a jealous rage! Rimbaud retaliates by writing "A Season in Hell," calling Verlaine his "pitiful brother" and "mad virgin!" Verlaine, meanwhile, goes to jail and converts to Catholicism! RImbaud gets his leg amputated even though it doesn't need to be, then dies of cancer after a few experiments with Ethiopian trading! And mistresses! Verlaine dies a few years later in a haze of absinthe and bohemian misery! And despite all that, neither one of them is very happy!
Guess it doesn't work out when the glassy-eyed new-wave superstar (that's RImbaud) gets together with the mysterious martial arts master (Verlaine and his trademark fu-manchu). Or does it? Find out on my new soap opera, Symbolistes Maudîtes!

So what's the good news here? It's that Verlaine can still find solace in alcohol Look at that adorable almost-smile!

That's what I call a happy modernist!

Happy Postmodernists Salutes You, Anonymous Pitchfork Guy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Whoah, There

Gah! Don't sneak up on me like that, William Gaddis. I was just sitting here, completely innocent and unsuspecting, and then I turn around and there you are. Staring at me. I need to catch my breath...OK. I'm calming down...


Stop doing that! Jesus!

You're a truly terrifying man, Mr. Gaddis. For this post I had to choose between a picture of you wherein you were outright frowning and another where you're giving someone to your left a rather condescending look. In the latter picture, you appear to be saying "Whoah, there. You mean you haven't read The Recognitions? That's my most accessible work." As you can see, I went with the condescending look. Because if the viewer squints hard enough, it almost looks like you're smiling.

I know there's some happiness buried somewhere in that shriveled heart. Beneath that boarding-school tie and that Harvard jacket there's got to be a little mirth. Or maybe some joy. Do you have joy, Mr. Gaddis? Excuse me - I misspoke: are you joyful? Let me try to ask this question in a language you'll understand:

- Happy? she asked in a voice that rustled.
-Used to be happy. Sort of an unsettling feeling. Like an intestate death. Yes waiter make the bill out for my man Coen; yes without the H.
-Όπου είναι δική μου άποψη? asked as she pored over the various menus, a few of which had been torn apart or had items that were never ordered as the average entree went for many several hundreds of dollars for this was an expensive restaurant.
-Nyugodt! he responded.
-You have not answered my question.
-I do not want to. Madam...I find such questions very abusive to my brain.
-What she said standing up I take offense.
-Nyugodt he repeated with a slight decrease in volume.

I hope I've gotten through to you, William Gaddis.


You've really got to stop scaring me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Philip philip philip Glass glass

Happy happy happy happy happy happy postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern postmodern music music music music music.

Also also also:
What did Brian Eno say to Philip Glass? Let us know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transitional Tuesday: Man Ray and André Breton: A Dialogue

ANDRÉ: Bonjour, Man.
MAN RAY: Hey, André. Ready for the photo shoot? I've got everything all set up, so if you could just go sit in that chair and look kind of contemplative, I'll take the shot, and then I can get back to looking at Kiki de Montparnasse.
ANDRÉ: Sounds good, Man, but I did bring a few things of my own. I hope you don't mind.
MAN RAY: Well, let's face it André, you're not the one who's the greatest photographer of all time here. But I do like that cardigan. Is it made out of the same material as your pants?
ANDRÉ: Yeah, surreal, right? But listen. I'll just go sit down and get this thing ready to go. You'll love it, I promise.
MAN RAY: I spent all day setting this up, André, can we just take the picture? Wait….
ANDRÉ: TA-DA! I cut a hole out of my pillow, then strapped it on with these awesome leather goggles I found at the thrift store!
MAN RAY: Um…I dunno, André. You're sure you don't want to look a little more serious? I was thinking something a little more noir.
ANDRÉ: This IS serious, Man. Trust me. It will look formidable! exceptionnel! excellent! sensationnel! merveilleux! magnifique! fantastique!*
MAN RAY: Alright, how about we take one of each. Let me just tell Kiki I'll be a little late. OK, just look at me and try to look serio….I can't do it! You look ridiculous.
ANDRÉ: If you don't just look away and take the shot, I won't let you be a surrealist anymore.
MAN RAY: OK, OK, I got it. Now let's do a profile….ok, very nice. Looks like we're done here.
ANDRÉ: You sure you don't want a few more shots with the glasses?
MAN RAY: Please don't put those on again. Look, I gotta go be inspired by Kiki now, so how about I just bring these to the surrealist meeting tomorrow?
ANDRÉ: All right, see you then.

…the next day, at the meeting...

MAN RAY: I've got the shots, André. What can I say? The camera loves you.
ANDRÉ: Let's see. Beautiful! I don't really care for the profile, though.
MAN RAY: sigh.
ANDRÉ: Hey Louie, Tony, come check this out!
LUIS BUÑUEL: Woah. It's like everything in my subconscious is right there!
ANTONIN ARTAUD: Awesome. Cruel, almost. Gives me some ideas. Oh, hey Man, next week could you take a photo of me looking like a vampire version of Jake Gyllenhaal?
MAN RAY: For you, I was thinking of something more….well, whatever. I'll call Kiki.
ANDRÉ: Wait. You can keep the profile.
MAN RAY: sigh.


*André Breton loves Téléfrançais. It is the true expression of surrealism.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happiness, or Whatever

Laura Freixas? What are you doing here?! I mean, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. There really aren't any non-smiling pictures of this woman. I almost thought she was too cheery to be a postmodernist, but then I remembered that she titled one of her novels "Love, or Whatever." Sounds like she makes the cut! Oh, and she translated Virginia Woolf! Look at this feminist literature love connection.