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.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Modernist Friday: A Playroom of One's Own

Virginia Woolf doesn't look ecstatic, exactly, but she's obviously pretty pleased with herself. And why not? She's a pioneer of modernist and feminist literature. People are afraid of her. She's going to be played by Nicole Kidman some six decades after her death. And she spent most of the 1920s having an affair with Vita Sackville-West.

With all those accomplishments under your belt, and being one of the preeminent literary voices of the early 20th century, why wouldn't you raise your eyebrows and rest your head in your hand? Perhaps she's about to utter a Groucho-esque witticism. Or perhaps she's pondering her future happy plans, like taking a wade in the river Ouse with pockets full of stones. Or maybe she's thinking about the symbolism of garden parties. Whatever her thoughts, she's one happy modernist.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Smiling of Lot 49

I've tried to be creative in my choice of postmodernists, but let's face it. Sometimes all you want is that old-time Pynchon. And we here at Happy Postmodernists are happy to accomodate you, reader who may or may not exist!

When I read Thomas Pynchon in high school, I had nightmares for a month. Most of them involved Pynchon chasing me. I don't really know how to deal with this in a constructive way, but I do know now that Pynchon is a happy postmodernist. Just try to find enough pictures of him to prove otherwise!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Did This Man Ever Have An Unpublished (Happy) Thought?

So we meet again, John Updike. You've lured me into your underground lair and now you've got me tied up, and I'm being lowered into a vat of hot acid that somehow contains live, highly carnivorous alligators. Within minutes, you will press the button that will destroy all of New York City, and it appears there's nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all. You cackle maniacally as I squirm to break free of my fibrous bonds...

Actually, that's not at all what's going on. What's really going on is you've been dead for a little while and have left behind an intimidating literary legacy and I'm just some schlub who's blogging about you (or at you, as the case may be). You look very young in this picture, and pensive. It's hard to believe that you were once the same age as the young girls whose luscious, shadow-dappled thighs you grabbed greedily with your former-high-school-basketball-star-hands in about 98% of your fiction. (Please don't tell Gerard Manley Hopkins that I'm using the word "dappled" in this context. He'd be upset.) There is some New-Englandy clapboard behind your head, and it emphasizes the J. Crew-itude of your sweater. You are clean-shaven and probably wearing wingtip shoes. The whole ensemble screams: "I'm a Harvard man! And I love luscious, shadow-dappled thighs!"

John, you may have passed away, but the transcendent beauty of your prose lives on. Whether you were expertly pondering that hoary question the Great American Novel has set itself up to answer - "Should I have an affair with a 20-year-old woman or should I kill myself?" - or reviewing a recipe book (you would review anything, wouldn't you, you old dog?) or shaking your head in quiet bemusement at teenagers who need the internet to use something called Wikipedia (you had no idea what an internet or a Wikipedia was, but you were firm in your assertion that the Harvard card catalog had always been enough for you, thank you very much), you were staggeringly eloquent. You probably paid more attention to Pennsylvania than it ever deserved, but Pennsylvania was thankful for it. Because of you, all the license plates now feature the words "The Licentious State" printed across a pair of luscious, shadow-dappled thighs.

You were not much of a postmodernist in terms of style. But you were a postmodernist in that you happened to be writing after the year 1960, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. We at Happy Postmodernists salute you, John Updike, and your many opinions, fetishes and sweaters. If you had been a member of Vampire Weekend, well...that would have been weirdly appropriate. Godspeed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Modernist Friday: Ese gran don Ramón con las barbas de chivo

Today's modernist is my man Ramón María del Valle-Inclán. He's basically been the modernist Santa Claus for a while: giant white beard, twinkling eyes, quevedos, adorable Galician accent, obsession with the distortion and emptiness of modern life which could eventually only be expressed through puppets...wait, what? I guess I can go with that. But if don Ramón was hoping to be eternal for his sins, it seems like he's made the cut. Apparently he's a superhero who battles evil flower-sellers now! People are even dressing up as the lightning-powered superhero version of him, part of a whole team of Ibéroes defending the peninsula from danger (and only some of them are made out of jello). ¡Admirable!, indeed!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Un buen año para Miki

I had to go really deep into Google to find this picture, and now I wonder: is José Ovejero happy or extremely distressed? You decide. I'd say the latter based on his books, but he's actually just a really happy family man who loves New Wave. And he has THE BEST GLASSES IN THE WORLD.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Transitional Tuesday?: Perto do coração feliz

Clarice Lispector is just way too cool to smile. But you don't have to sacrifice feeling to be a cold, distant, and glamorous modern/postmodern figure! Here, I imagine that Clarice has just eaten some delicious chocolate. Mmmmmm!

Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

I've spent this long, postmodernist-free weekend wondering one thing: Is Julio Cortázar a pirate? And if so, is the pirate's favorite postmodernist Julio Cortázarrrr? Because he really looks like a pirate. The beard, the smirk, the wizened face and the ultra-mod mock-turtleneck/tweed jacket combo all support this theory. Personally, I prefer the clean-shaven Cortázar. He was such a nice young translator. Where did it all go wrong?

Note: I considered giving Julio Cortázar a Captain Crunch hat, briefly. Then I considered going to bed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Modernist Friday: Les Mamelles (Hereuses) de Tirésias

How to follow that post about Susan Sontag? Why, with Guillaume Apollinaire, of course! Have I ever actually read him? Or course not! I like many things, but I'm not that into turn-of-the-century modernist erotica. Here he looks like kind of a creeper, but happy enough. Most of all I'd like to note that smooth, clean shave. I have it on good authority that Guillaume actually shaves with a picture of a razor fitted with a razor's edge (apologies to Hodgman), and I'm all about that porkpie hat. I mean, Guillaume looks, well, like a young don Juan who may have fathered a child with his own aunt! You can't tell me you wouldn't be happy, too! Dying from the Spanish flu after being weakened by a war wound, well, that's just the icing on this surreal cake, or the filling in this modernist-surrealist sandwich, or the strawberries on this vaguely erotic, automatically written shortcake, or....yeah!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Regarding the Happiness of Others

Umm...hey, Susan Sontag.
You're looking super happy. And a little bit un-sober.
What happened? You probably just abandoned your young son David and left nothing more than a note saying "Mommy's been bad," right? Don't smile, Susan. That was a dick move. I mean, it's great that you left a heterosexual marriage that would have ultimately made you unhappy, but that kid was like five. You could have at least taken him to the zoo and broken the news there. Then his memoir would've read better.

So, yeah. We don't really have much to talk about. That's primarily because you can't talk from beyond the grave - unless you have some freaked-out supernatural microphone or something, which would be badass - but also because you were always pumped about talking in really bad French, and I don't even know really bad French (let alone really good French). I mean, even if you could talk, what would we talk about? Annie Leibowitz? She just did a really weird, risque photo shoot of naked Miley Cyrus...but her Simpsons appearance was spot-on! (Annie's, not Miley's.) Photography? I didn't read your essay on it. The Volcano Lover? I found it unreadable...

Haha whoops did I just say that? Man, you public intellectuals catch everything. So I heard that in 1993 you staged a production of "Waiting for Godot" in besieged Sarajevo. I bet that was chill. "Didi, when will he get here?" "Who?" "OHH GOD LOOK OUT IT'S A MOLOTOV COCKTAIL!"

I've been meaning to ask you this, but I've been afraid to. Why do you have a giant shock of white hair? Is that like a gang symbol or something? If so, why don't other public intellectuals have it? I can see you, Cornel West and Allan Bloom getting together and laying down some mad beatz about how all your undergraduates know nothing and then going out and shooting someone over a pair of Nikes. That'd be cool. You guys would have been an intimidating gang. You're all so, so...unique separately that together you really would have been a force to be reckoned with. And denied tenure.

Also, why is this poor child being made to wear a jumper bearing your likeness? Is it because her parents still smoke weed?

Peeling the Onion

It's hard to find a happy picture of Günter Grass. Usually he just hides out under that droopy mustache. And why not? He was kind of a Nazi. And not a good Nazi like Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. Just a regular Nazi. But these things happen, I suppose, and we're willing to let it slide if he keeps cranking out magic realist classics. And he's done some pretty good stuff about being peaceful so, ok? I guess it's ok? John Irving said it was ok? I really shouldn't have brought it up. Just keep Vergangenheitsbewältigun-ing, or, if you prefer, Geschichtsaufarbeitung-ing, until further notice.

Confidential to Günter: The beret looks great. Jaunty, even. Keep up the good work.