Look what I found while I was trying to figure out what year . . . Baby One More Time came out:
1. Elton John - Candle In The Wind 1997
2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
3. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets
4. I Want To Hold Your Hand - Beatles
5. Hey Jude - Beatles
THE GREATEST TRACKS EVER, ACCORDING TO GLOBAL SALES FIGURES AND CHART-EVALUATIONS, AIRPLAY, VARIOUS INQUIRIES, AND THE PERSONAL INTENTION FROM EXPERTS AND REVIEWERS COMPILED AND PROVIDED BY MEDIA TRAFFIC. LAST UPDATE: MARCH 2007 COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 - MEDIA TRAFFIC
Candle in the Wind 1997. Sweet mother of fuck, we live in decadent times. Hopefully it's a badly compiled study. Candle in the Wind 1997 . . . ahead of the Beatles.
On the subject of decadence: last night we went to my favourite square in Brussels, a 'secret' square to all but those who live around it, at whose restaurants we're eating in turn. We went to the pizza place this time, and it was rather magnificent.
Eventually the people sitting next to us asked if we were American, and then sent us a little battery of questions about our respective countries upon being told we weren't. The gist of it was wanting to know if they were good places to make money. I told them they were better than Belgium in terms of being able to accrue wealth - taxation here is jaw-dropping. But as the two of them revealed they were artists (our neighborhood is rotten with artists of one kind or another), I told them not to think about it as while there are markets for art in Canada and Australia, there's nothing like the government support artists receive in most of Europe.
That got me thinking almost as soon as it came out of my mouth. Even in Italy, whose social system is crumbling under the weight of corruption, ineptitude and tax evasion, there's social support for professional artists ensuring that those who are capable of getting work in their field over something like three months, or 50 days have a regular income all year. It's a priority here - fine art, music, and generally spectacles that aren't self-supporting blockbusters are a priority. That sounds like common sense when you consider the degree to which attractive and useful bits of patriotism are shaped by national art. But when I think about that as a priority, as a Canadian, it's shocking, even revolutionary.
In Canada the arts do get funding at the provincial and federal level, and there are grants available to support artists. However, funding is awarded on a project-by-project basis and the grants for individual artists seem to amount to some sort of lottery - they aren't built into a system of employment or sales (in the case of artists producing commodities rather than spectacles) and demand an extremely involved application process. Completely different.
And I think it's much better here. Maybe if we had a system for supporting artists as recognized professionals in Canada, rather than having them enter lotteries and hope for the best while they wait tables or work temp jobs, we'd have the sort of stronger national identity that so many people, especially on the right, moan about far too much. And less of the commercial, sales-oriented pablum I moan about far too much, and have been able to avoid in most part since coming back to Europe.
Well, that's not wholly true. I have heard the new Vanessa Paradis single more time than I care to count, actually, but it's sort of catchy in a breathy crackwhore kind of way, and has decent instrumentation and a cute beat:
giovedì, agosto 16, 2007
Look what I found while I was trying to figure out what year . . . Baby One More Time came out:
mercoledì, agosto 15, 2007
So I guess if you consider the multi-disciplines we studied through that degree, philosophy was my least favourite because I liked the others more, but not because I disliked philosophy. And when people from that degree went on to study philosophy some more, I didn't think they were doing anything untoward. As I met more and more people from all sorts of backgrounds who were doing philosophy grad work, I always thought that they were doing a clever, nice thing.
Because it's about love of wisdom, right? A love of knowledge. The search for an adequate framework to consider our existence. A literate search for some sort of truth too universal to be abstract in the normal sense, a systematic search with an idea of proof and argument built into it so that it had more substance than tarot cards, virgin births or romantic daffodils. Something based on human understanding instead of faith. That's nice.
But maybe I'm wrong, especially about the last, because lots of the professional philosophers I've met (and once you get to master's level, it's a profession as far as I'm concerned) are misanthropes with a great deal of general disrespect for human understanding and a great deal of focused disrespect for the understanding of those with a religious or non-academic perception of the world. It's been striking me lately as we've been meeting some miserable, angry professional philosophers with miserable, angry outlooks - not just cold, but miserable - and it follows a pattern of some I knew in Canada. Not all, but some.
It seems so defensive. I guess if you start studies with the story of Socrates drinking the hemlock it makes sense, but it also seems a bit distortingly emotional for people whose love is supposed to be for knowledge. I have a hard time accepting too much emotion or nerves or defensiveness in someone when I think their love is supposed to be for knowledge. I guess it was a bit distorting for me to start what I know about philosophy with Socrates too, who was so good at accepting things. I don't know.
martedì, agosto 14, 2007
Yep. Just like that.
But it didn't go that way - there was hardly anybody there - certainly no brooding owners with eyebrows that did his job for him, no attractive Charles Bronson-y blue collar types, no indentured children rushing about with brooms, and no consumptive coughing. There were three engineers who I might have slipped a business card to if I was still footloose and fancy free, but I'm not. Je suis sage comme une image, and anyways they weren't dressed in period costume.
When I realised there was hardly any staff at the mill, I stopped fantasizing about a pornographic mash-up of class-concerned classic novels - something like Lady La Spliffery's Lover from the North goes South - and thought instead about industrial labour and its changing nature in a north European context.
The man taking me on the tour bragged about how the mill was perpetually decreasing overheads by investing in clever machinery and hiring fewer and fewer blue collar workers. And the mill I was touring had merged operations a couple of years ago with a mill a few kilometres away, so they'd also managed to sack half the white-collar staff working at them. The workers that remained were kept in tip-top shape - their health system was excellent, even for here, and they were given full physicals every year to make sure any long and expensive diseases or illnesses were nipped in the bud. "Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency," he said with some satisfaction, and more than once.
In our industry, the satisfaction is merited; these sorts of mills can and do run anywhere, in conditions that continue to be Victorian-ish in the sense that you can pay workers in buttons and ignore their health and safety concerns. If this high-paid and labour-organized part of Europe can compete internationally, it has to be inhumanly efficient.
And this brought me back to North and South - more the book than the BBC series, which was 'faithful' in the sense that the last Pride and Prejudice book was 'faithful' to Jane Austen. That is, no Laurence-Olivier-Wuthering-Heights-type bastardization of plot lines or characterizations, but many annoying instances of dialogue or setting being changed in an effort to make it more accessible and in the effect of draining most of the humour or meaning from the author's work. The book North and South ended in a sort of funny, sweet way, albeit too quickly because Elizabeth Gaskell's publishers were sick of paying her by the word, and the series ended so fucking drippily. Making out in a train station and getting into your lover's cabin unattended before marriage for a three hour journey indeed - what nonsense. Margaret Hale may be a real drip of a heroine, but she's not that big a drip. It was almost as bad (and certainly as open-shirted, uncharacteristic and artificial) as the closing scene of that Pride and Prejudice when that drippy Mr. Darcy walked across the field to make out with Kiera Knightley's drippy Elizabeth Bennett, which was only worse because making Elizabeth Bennett a drip is a far worse crime than making Margaret Hale a drip, and because Richard Armitage looks really good. But the bungee cord of my disbelief was nonetheless well snapped.
Anyways, before I got onto that rant, I wanted to say that the mill yesterday made me think more of North and South as a prescient sort of book, sociologically speaking - raising suggestions of a soft, paternalistic but highly efficient owner-worker dynamic which is probably the only thing besides the CIA which stopped Europe from going commie. It was neat. It makes me recommend North and South, if you have the patience, bearing in mind as mentioned that Gaskell was paid by the word so it does rather go on a bit in some places.
lunedì, agosto 13, 2007
And words like "north, south, east, west" have a great deal of meaning there. Especially since 'south' also means 'down', as the whole city slants in one direction, towards the lake.
Brussels, conversely, is an organic city that looks like this.
Compass points mean nothing here, it's a magnetic jungle. To add insult to confusion, the south is hillier than the north, but meaninglessly. It makes Toronto's gentle grids look like a Tic-Tac-Toe game, and Florence, which at least had the decency to be built by Romans who understood straight lines, look like an SOS game.
And Paris, which was complicated enough for me to be lost for a month or two there, looks like a simple, pretty snailshell in comparison. Paris was all chopped down, you see, I think in the 19th century, and then rebuilt in a sort of enduring spiral motif that had townhouses for the rich, disease-breeding suburbs for the poor, and punctuations of long, wide avenues that would accommodate cannon shot being fired at rioting plebs:
As you see, it also has a river, as Toronto has the lake, that helps one orient oneself.
Brussels has a river too, but it's buried underground as that's where the townspeople continue to dump all their untreated sewage. In many ways this continues to be a medieval kind of place, you see; certainly it is in how the streets just sort of are there, natural growth sort of things from many, many different small villages which sort of grew into each other.
So it has been a long process but I am getting the gist of Brussels now, and almost never get lost anymore. It's a question of understanding how all the organic different small villages link up and the distinguishing features of each of them. The distinguishing feature of mine, Saint Gilles, is bourgeois Art Nouveau houses, lots of Portuguese people, the Parvis, and a ridiculously ostentatious city hall, considering that despite Art Nouveau efforts to the contrary this is a working class neighborhood:
Every Monday it has a market, at which some farmers show up - they don't have farmer's markets here per se. I get goat milk there, or failing that raw cow's milk, and then I feel sorry for the sterility of Canada - its straight lines and pasteurized everything - even if people there know better than to throw their shit straight into a river.
domenica, agosto 12, 2007
No, the damp squibbiness was in the fact that the last twenty minutes of the finale was fucking pointless - as soon as they managed to get in a final revolting death (complete with onlookers chucking up, touché) we were at the end of the visual jolts the series had to offer and had to put in twenty more minutes of ungarnished product placement and those awful children of his, who illustrate every dramatic danger involved in hiring child actors.
I have a lot of anger towards the Sopranos because it should have ended a long time ago. They should have pulled the plug at the end of season four if this show was going to be distinguished in its arty merit for an American broadcast production. The last three, pardon me, two seasons were utterly pointless and they'd only stepped up the product placement. My disbelief was long unsuspended by the end - it was sprawled on the floor, facefirst in its own sick. But because of the first four seasons, I was emotionally engaged enough in the characters to NEED to watch until the end, wasting hours and hours and hours of my precious time. D.V., for all my fine words, this is truly the end of me NEEDING to watch any television show, and I've been taken in by those cunts for the last time.
Oh, and while I'm in a spoiling mood - Harry sleeps with Ginny at least twice, and the chick in the Crying Game is a dude.