DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Georges Perec An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1975) *

* (restored)

 

‘“My aim,” wrote George Perec (1936-1982) in the first page of the booklet An Attempt to Exhaust a Parisian Place, is “to describe what is generally never noted, what is never noticed, what is not important: what happens when nothing happens, but time, people, cars and clouds.” For Perec, a novelist, filmmaker, and essayist, famous for his dedication to “constrained” writing, the mechanism of space is a series of opening momentums with neither beginning nor ending: irregular cadences accentuated by a dark and opaque sky announcing misfortune in the weather, changing the plans for those who wanted to walk, or detaining some passer-by at a bus-stop. In this moment of sudden obscurity, the space is in mutation.

‘Space and place are enigmatic areas that are not to be measured, according to Perec’s ideas, but to be exhausted. Measurements are made arbitrary and the assumption that space and place are definite entities is way too illogical for Perec as he is looking at space as something unpredictable and way more inspiring. The observer’s perceptive operation is full of surprises, irregular phenomena, and furtive elements that make the world nothing but definitive.

‘In one of his most famous books, Things, Perec describes the world of everyday people, their interests and projects, some of their achievements. In scrutinizing the residence of a young couple who live in a stylish but tiny apartment, Perec reveals his talent to incorporate spaces or places: writing in excruciating detail, the French author describes a world devoted to materialism, an intimate and reclusive relationship between people and objects, commodities. Behind this wise, coherent world, there is a chaotic order: objects can be imitations; belongings are fake as well as ultimate aspirations of the protagonists.

‘The expert, sitting at a table, in a cafe, for hours, morning and afternoon, a ghost nobody is expecting: in front of him, the world is moving, in a cube, an appropriate space to gather liable observations as a request on paper: people appearing as specters, their concerns, their occupations, professions, careers, vocations, their affairs, responsibilities, duties for others, obligations, their problems, anyone systematically trapped in existential situations. Less interference between those existences; anyone individually busy, occupied, involved — if the reader prefers — absorbed in a world on the go. This industrious exercise is not an arrangement of facts but the perseverance of a chaotic build-up.

‘In trusting the absolute minimalism of life, the world becomes hospitable for the reader when he realizes how accurate and aesthetic Perec’s descriptions are: ordinary people, anyone’s routine, minimal operations, displacements are appropriate operators to understand a place. The result is an intriguing booklet with monotonous descriptions, a simple fabric of coincidence, a corpus of minimalist details, a curious and intrigued contemporary puzzling with scattered pieces.

‘In fact, any chronicle or narrative is in this work totally inadequate; the equilibrium of this strange exercise is nothing but persistent sharp descriptions with an intent to raise a world to something authentic and spontaneous in space and time. Through Perec’s lens, pieces of the world are distributed into something minimal and stylistic: an attitude that would give every painter a crucial authority.

‘The treatment of this detailed reality, the anxious composition charged with the details of everyday life, the collision of facts, the unexpected acts in the street is an audacious effort for the observer sitting in a cafe to become a painter, with words.

‘Here, the unpredictable facts are Perec’s contingencies detected in space, brought to light on his notebook, as it happens when one’s applying paint, pigment, color. But here the painter is a writer and his game of brushes is instead words reflecting descriptions; its surface is not a wall, a canvas, a piece of wood, glass, lacquer, or even clay, but paper.

‘There is an intriguing link with Perec’s descriptions and the mid-19th-century realist painters, many of whom found their inspiration in the life around them: think Courbet’s or Manet’s Parisians at ease in restaurants, in parks, or on boats; think Pissaro’s concerns for everyday factual matters in Parisian landscapes, river scenes, and the immediacy of life on the streets; think Manet’s free sketchy brushwork and broad patches of color juxtaposed without transition, making the sketch dynamic and lively. Interestingly, not only are the themes similar to Perec’s interests but so is the composition, which neutralizes emotional expressions.

‘For Perec “every painting is an attempt to possess the world”. In fact, between his twenties and thirties, Perec explored the notion of realism in art and in literature through one of his favorite painters, Paul Klee. Klee’s vision of the world is one of chaos that has to be “removed” through the work of the artist. The quintessence of reality lies for both artists, the writer and the painter, in the question of space, an entity that has to be fragmented, that has to be built. While it is difficult to escape from the ordinary, Perec’s reality is conceived from “very little things of everyday life,” what he called (and made one of his best opus) the “infra-ordinary.”

‘His aptitude to describe fragments of universes, or spaces, or places, in every detail abolish every frontier of reality: making a place his protectorate, committing to unrestricted details, engaging the reader to feel every corner, every part of those universes. Perec lets us view the poetic power of realism. Any conceptualization is useless. The high intensity of details compensate the low level of conceptualization: the operation of exhaustion consists then, of a simple tyrannical attempt to reach and exacerbate the real with nothing but simple words: “I have the impression that if a painter had influenced my work, it would be Paul Klee, but I don’t know exactly how,” said Perec in an interview he gave in 1979. As a reply, this wonderful quotation from Klee: “to look at a painting, you need a chair…”

‘Perec sat, in October 1974, in Paris, on a terrace in Saint Sulpice Square, in front of a place, and painted with words… ‘ — Samuel Neural

 

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Saint Sulpice
photos by Jean Francois Delaware

 

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Further

Association Georges Perec
Georges Perec @ Oulipo
‘How Georges Perec’s lost first novel has finally come to be published’
Georges Perec @ Editions P.O.L.
‘”Je me souviens” par Georges Perec’
‘Il aurait eu 80 ans aujourd’hui : Georges Perec, mode d’emploi’
‘Le Grand Palindrome
de Georges Perec (1969)’

‘Reading Georges Perec’ @ Context No. 11
‘I Remember Georges Perec’
‘The Infra-Ordinary’, by Georges Perec
‘Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books’, by Georges Perec
‘Georges Perec en plein vertige taxinomique’
‘Pretzel’
‘Perlaine et Verec : à propos des Micro-Traductions de Georges Perec’
‘Ellis Island — Georges Perec’
‘A Renaissance for Belleville’s Georges Perec, Master of the Lipogram’
‘Avoided: On Georges Perec’
‘Georges Perec: Soft Chalk and Pigeons’
‘Les Lieux de Georges Perec, une œuvre éclatée’
‘The Nouveau Roman and the Refusal of the Real’, by Georges Perec
Buy ‘AN ATTEMPT AT EXHAUSTING A PLACE IN PARIS’

 

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Extras


Qui était Georges Perec ?


Georges Perec: La vita istruzioni per l’uso [Intervista 1976]


Georges Perec – Mi ricordo [Je me souviens]


Georges Perec : Prix Médicis pour “La vie mode d’emploi”


Georges Perec Google Doodle

 

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Interview, 1965

 

Question: Things? It’s a puzzling title, easily misunderstood. Haven’t you really written a book not about things, but about happiness?

Georges Perec: That’s because there’s a necessary connection, to my mind, between modern things and happiness. The prosperity of our society makes one kind of happiness possible–you could call it Orly-joy, the joy of deep-pile fitted carpets; there is a current form of happiness that means, I think, that you have to be absolutely modern to achieve happiness. People who think I have denounced consumer society have understood absolutely nothing about my book. But that happiness is only potential–in our capitalist society, what’s promised isn’t delivered. Everything is promised; well, advertising entices us towards everything, to having everything, to possessing everything; and we have nothing, or we have just tiny little things, tiny little bits of happiness.

Q: Sure, but aren’t your characters wrong to accept having those tiny little bits?

GP: What keeps them from being despicable is that they have at least one positive feature–they have a gift for happiness, they possess as it were an appetite for happiness, they’re waiting for it, watching out to grab it. They take it wherever they can find it.

Q: But that’s a pretty empirical kind of happiness….

GP: Modern happiness is not an inner value. At any rate, I didn’t want to see it as an inner value. It’s more like an almost technical relationship to your environment, to the world….

Q: Not to the world, surely, but to objects….

GP: Well, it’s a very “bodily” value. Bodiliness is very important, you know! I decided voluntarily to restrict my characters to an everyday quest; I didn’t make them conscious of the fact that happiness is a new idea, a new idea that has yet to be imposed. As soon as they start wanting happiness, they’re caught, almost in spite of themselves, in a kind of logical sequence. Happiness is a process that in the end is the same thing as accumulation–you can’t reach the end of being happy. My characters would be quite prepared to be satisfied with their lot if they got different “messages” from the outside world. The main point is the relation between contentment, work, and convenience. The messages society gives us of work are always negative, always connected with the idea of obligation. Everything to do with convenience, from the simplest level of domestic gadgetry up to the most sophisticated form of upper-class luxury, is conveyed through highly positive images. There’s even a point where the switch occurs, where convenience metamorphoses into an art of living, an ideal of life where having becomes a model of being, where accumulation turns into an exemplary style of living.

Q: What kind of accumulation are we talking about?

GP: It’s as if there existed true bourgeois values over and above capitalist ones, not the value of saving but its opposite, as if collecting knickknacks, heavy things in gold, silver, pewter, brass was a purely aesthetic matter, an art of living–not at all a matter of accumulation. What poisons the lives of Jerome and Sylvie is the tension between these minor moments of real happiness and the art of living they dream of. They only escape when they’ve partly put that kind of dream in check; my book is the story of moving from the conditional to the future–and to the present. In a word, a process of mastering dreams.

Q: So your conclusion is optimistic?

GP: The ending is neither positive nor negative. It opens on to ambiguity; to my mind it’s both a happy ending and the saddest conclusion you could imagine, it’s a logical ending…. What could be more natural than working to earn a living? For a young intellectual, there are only two solutions, each as desperate as the other–to become a bourgeois, or not to….

Q: It’s not just the end of Things that is ambiguous, it’s the whole book.

GP: That’s right. I don’t deny the ambiguity. For me, it’s a way of asking a question to which I do not know the answer. All I hope is that I’ve asked the right question. I must say also that the book was in the beginning two different plans: first an exercise on Barthes’s Mythologies, that’s to say, on advertising language as it is reflected within us, then a barely heightened description of a particular social set, which happens to be my own. That’s perhaps why it took me three years, not to write the book, but to extract, from everything I had written, the 120 final pages of my book. Because everything was a problem: should I give the characters individual, specific lives? Should I have them talk to each other, and about what? An author has little freedom with respect to his characters. He can be above them, or inside them. I chose to stand beside them. Maybe it’ll be held against me, like an easy way out; but I’m keen on keeping my options of drawing closer to them or moving further away from them, as I wish.

Q: Doesn’t that distance necessarily imply coldness?

GP: Definitely. That’s undoubtedly my greatest debt to Flaubert. The essence of Flaubert is that tension between almost epileptic lyricism and rigorous discipline. It’s that kind of passionate coldness that I wanted to adopt, without always managing it.

Q: It’s your main debt, you said, but not the only one. Apart from the Flaubertian attitude towards your characters, and sentence rhythms constantly reminiscent of Sentimental Education, there are whole sentences lifted from Flaubert into Things, like collages.

GP: That’s quite right, and I stand by that. I used Flaubert on three levels: first, the three-part sentence rhythm, which had become a kind of personal tic; second, I borrowed some exemplary figures from Flaubert, ready-made elements, a bit like Tarot cards–the journey by boat, the demonstration, the auction, for instance…. And third, there are sentences copied over, purely and simply pasted in.

Q: What is that really about?

GP: I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that for some time now, in fact since the surrealists, we are moving towards a kind of art that could be called “citational,” and which permits a certain progress, since the point where our predecessors finished up becomes our own point of departure. It’s a device I like a lot, that I like to play with. At any rate, it helped me a great deal. At one point I was utterly stuck, and the act of choosing a model in that way, of inserting cuttings, so to speak, into my material, got me over my block. For me, collage is like a grid, a promise, and a condition of discovery. Of course, my ambition isn’t to rewrite Don Quixote like Borges’s Pierre Menard, but I would for instance like to rewrite my favorite Melville story, “Bartleby the Scrivener” It’s a text I wanted to write: but since it’s impossible to write a text that already exists, I wanted to rewrite it–not to pastiche it, but to make a new Bartleby–well, the same one actually, but a bit more … as if it were me who’d done it. It’s an idea that seems to me invaluable for literary creation, much more promising than the mere business of writing well that Tel Quel and other reviews of that kind go on about. It’s a desire to place yourself in a line that acknowledges all the literature of the past. So you bring your personal museum to life, you reactivate your literary reserves. Anyway, Flaubert is not my only model, not the only thing I’ve collaged. There are less obvious models. Nizan and The Conspiracy, Antelme and The Human Race.

Q: So, despite what’s been said, then, that way of looking at literature has nothing in common with Robbe-Grillet?

GP: That doesn’t matter. Robbe-Grillet keeps to the surface of things, he uses very neutral words, what Barthes calls a “transitive language,” or else psychoanalytically loaded words that recur in his books like obsessive themes. What I wanted, on the contrary, was for my words to be “injected” with meaning, loaded with resonance. Fitted carpet, for instance: for me, that phrase conveys a whole system of values–specifically, the value-system imposed by advertising. So much so that you could say that, in places, my book is a piece of advertising copy; but, obviously, with distance, and with the irony that distance brings. The words I use do not designate objects, or things, but signs. They are images. Things is the story of poverty inextricably tangled up with the image of wealth, as Roland Barthes wrote to me.

Q: What is also very striking is a kind of uncommittedness in your characters. But several times you say they are “on the Left.” Why?

GP: Oh well, there’s the Algerian war, after all. As students they are naturally, spontaneously engages in the struggle against that war. At a time when the Latin Quarter was patrolled, under siege every day, you couldn’t forget the war. But when Jerome and Sylvie stop being students, the war, which hasn’t stopped, remains the sole surviving constituent of a “hard” political awareness. It is for them the totality of political action. When the war ends, or even when Jerome and Sylvie grasp that it’s going to end, their awareness of being on the Left becomes an empty conscience. When they lose the Algerian war, they lose their sign of identity. They never find new grounds for opposition.

Q: In a word, they’re retired activists; would that be why some people saw themselves portrayed in Jerome and Sylvie?

GP: Yes, you could say that. I think the reader feels challenged for another reason–because the book describes not people but a relationship. And since we all have a pretty similar relationship to objects …

Q: But in that case, doesn’t this book about everybody become nobody’s book?

GP: Maybe. In any case, a book that does well is always suspect. It must have been “recuperated.” The author can’t do anything about that. The dominant ideology always finds a way of annexing him. Especially when the book is ambiguous, like mine.

Q: And will your next book resolve the ambiguity?

GP: Not really. Because A Man Asleep is in a different place. As it stands at the moment, it describes the dark side of a reality shown in Things exclusively on its glittering side. It’s no longer fascination … I’m concerned far more with words like indifference, solitude, refusal, giving up. And paradoxically, whereas in Things the details were autobiographical without the book as a whole being so, in my new book I’m trying to recover a particular period in my own life by using elements that are not autobiographical themselves, or not very much….

Q: Proust is in fashion this year….

GP: The title comes from Proust, at any rate. But don’t make me say any more. I feel as though I’m moving the camera with which I’m taking photographs.

 

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Book

Georges Perec An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris
Wakefield Press

‘Long neglected by English-speaking scholars and Perec devotees for the author’s other, more flamboyant endeavors, An Attempt… has remained a kind of secret treasure for those interested in Oulipo- and Situationist-inspired tracts of Paris. Marvelously simple and deceptively well-designed, Perec’s slim volume presents itself as an artifact of the street, ushering the reader into a spontaneous phenomenology of words, conventional symbols, numbers, fleeting slogans, trajectories, colors, and, as he more technically describes them, means of locomotion, means of carrying, means of traction, degrees of determination or motivation, and body positions.’ — Erik Morse, Bookforum

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Excerpt

There are many things Saint-Sulpice: a town hall, a chamber of finance, a police station, three cafés (one for tobacco, a cinema, one a church in which Le Vau, Gittard, Oppenord, Servandoni and Chalgrin worshiped and which is dedicated to a chaplain of Clotaire, Bishop of Bourges [624-644], and for whom there is a holiday on Jan 17th), a publisher, a funeral home (entreprise de pompes funebres), a travel agency, a bus stop, a tailor shop, an hotel, a decorative fountain next to the statues of four great Christian orators (Bossuet, Fénelon, Fléchier, and Massillon), a newspaper stand, a market for selling religious objects, a parking lot, a beauty school, and yet many other things.

A great number – many – of these things have been described, inventoried, photographed, related, and even recorded by census. My goal for the following pages has been rather to describe what others have missed. What is not generally noted hasn’t been noticed and is irrelevant (n’a pas d’importance): this is what happens when nothing happens; otherwise, time, people, cars and clouds.

I

Date: October 18, 1974

Time: 10:30

Place: Tabac Saint-Sulpice

Weather: dry, cold. Grey sky. Minor flashes of sun.

Sketch of an inventory of some things strictly visible:

-Letters of the alphabet, words: “KLM” (on someone’s carrying bag), a capital “P” designating “parking”, “Hotel Recamier”, “St Raphael”, “money adrift”, “taxis arriving at the station”, “Rue du Vieux-Colombier”, “La Fontaine Saint Sulpice brewery and bar”, “P ELF”, “Saint-Sulpice Park”.

-Conventional symbols: signs under the “P” of parking lots, one slightly angled toward the ground, the other, towards rue Bonaparte (on the Luxembourg side), at least four signboards seeming to speak, that is, interjecting (a fifth reflected in the café window).

-Numbers: 86 (at the crest of a bus of class 86, indicating its place of origin: Saint-Germain-des-Pres), 1 (name plate no. 1 of rue Vieux-Colombier), 6 (here to indicate that we are in the 6th Paris arrondissement).

-Fleeting slogans: “From the bus, I spy Paris”

-On the ground: a pile of gravel and sand

-Stone: sidewalk edging, a fountain, a church, houses…

-Asphalt

-Trees: (leafy, yellowing)

-Quite a large piece of sky (perhaps 1/6th my visual field)

-A cloud of pigeons suddenly pounding the central platform between church and fountain

-Vehicles (their inventory remains to be taken)

-Human beings

-A type of basset hound

-Bread (A baguette)

-Lettuce (wilted?) protruding from the top edge of a shopping bag.

Trajectories

:

96 goes to the Montparnasse station

84 goes to the Champerret Terminal

70 goes to Place du Dr-Hayem, headquarters of O.R.T.F.1

86 goes to Saint-Germain-des-Pres

Ask for the truth into the green oval of the Roquefort Societé

No water sprouting out of the fountain at all. Pigeons sitting on the fountain basin edge.

There are benches on the (central) platform, benches doubled by a strange pilaster. I’m able to count six from my position. Four are empty. Three bums gesturing classically (drinking red wine from a bottle) on the sixth.

63 goes to the Muette Terminal

86 goes to the Saint-Germain-des-Pres

Cleaning up is good; not getting dirty is better

A German bus

A Brinks delivery truck

87 goes to Champ-de-Mars

84 goes to the Champerret Terminal

Colors:

Red (Fiat, dress, St. Raphael, one-way)
blue sack
green footwear
green raincoat
blue taxi
blue 2CV
70 goes to Place du Dr-Hayem, headquarters of O.R.T.F.

Green Méhari

86 goes to Saint-Germain-des-Pres

Dannon: yogurts and desserts

Ask for the truth into the green oval of the Roquefort Societé

many people with at least one hand occupied: they hold a sack, a small case, a shopping basket, a cane, a leash with a dog on the end, the hand of a child

a truck delivering beer in metal barrels (Kanterbrau, the beer of Master Kanter)

86 goes to Saint-Germain-des-Pres

63 goes to the Muette Terminal

A “Cityrama” bus with two levels

A blue Mercedes truck

A brown Printemps Brummel truck

84 goes to the Champerret Terminal

87 goes to Champ-de-Mars

70 goes to Place du Dr-Hayem, headquarters of O.R.T.F.

96 goes to the Montparnasse station

Darty Réal

63 goes to the Muette Terminal

Casimir, master caterer.

Carpenter transit

Berth France S.A.R.L.

Drawing of Le Goff with beer3

96 goes to the Montparnasse Station

driving school

Coming from Vieux-Colombier, an 84 turns onto rue Bonaparte (towards Luxembourg)

Wallon relocations

Fernand Carrascossa relocations

Potatoes in bulk

From a bus of tourists, a Japanese woman appears to photograph me.

An old man with half a loaf of bread, a woman with a bundle of cakes in the shape of a pyramid

86 goes to Saint-Mande (it does not turn onto rue Bonaparte, but takes Vieux-Colombier)

63 goes to the Muette Terminal

87 goes to Champ-de-Mars

70 goes to Place du Dr Hayem, headquarters of O.R.T.F.

Coming from Vieux-Colombier, an 84 turns onto rue Bonaparte (towards Luxembourg)

A bus, empty.

Other Japanese people in another bus

86 goes to Saint-Germain-des-Pres

Braun art reproductions

Calm (from weariness?)

Pause

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. Welcome back to you and to me! Warning: I’m very jet lagged/ sleepy/ hazed this morning, so … ** Steve Erickson, Hi, Steve. I got and implemented your post addition/changes. Good question about Fulci. I would imagine that ShineBright’s notions of gender are as complicated as his profile text was in general? Lots of things by you for me and for everyone concerned to catch up on, so let’s go. Everyone, here’s a catch up on Steve Erickson’s assuredly compelling reviews and things that occurred while my end off the blog was indisposed. (1) His review of the Swiss film THE DIVINE ORDER. (2) His review of Julien Baker’s album TURN OUT THE LIGHTS. (3) His review of Richard Linklater’s LAST FLAG FLYING. (4) His review of Takashi Mike’s BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL. Every time I think social media has brought out the worst in a lot of people, it brings out even worse. What is that new post-Other Music store? ** David Ehrenstein, Morning, pal. I think that’s my fave Fulci too. Ha ha, I suspect most slaves’ offers, promises, and what-have-you are 90% wooden nickel? That film you linked to yesterday is by Antonioni? Well, yes, I did miss it. I’ll give it a gander. ** Misanthrope, Hey, G. It is sad that Halloween’s over, so true. I spent it on a jet. That’s sad as well. Adulthood does have its experiential advantages and challenges re: power, and I like those adds. Honored to be in those strange dreams of yours. How’s everything going with LPS? And with you?  ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben! I hope your Halloween was heavily rockin’! I’m going to go watch ‘The Future’ as soon as I have some rested brain cells, thank you! The Felicity Hammond show does look exciting in that pic. And big congrats on your latest successful driving lesson! ** Jamie, Hi, buddy. My health did right itself not long after I last posted, thank goodness, and thank you. The new ‘Thor’ was too new to be in-flight, I think. The poster does have cool colors. Did you see it? My return flight movie entertainment was: ‘Logan’ (I thought the main girl/mutant was cool), ‘Passengers’ (barely watchable), the new ‘Spiderman’ (not as terrible as I had imagined it would be), ‘Dancer’ (kind of interesting documentary about an emotionally complicated Ukrainian ballet dancer), and ‘The Girl On the Train (I think making films the way Zac and I do has made me intolerant of conventional actors acting up a storm, and this film had a ton of that). May your Thursday be enormously less sleepy than mine. Cheese quesadilla love, Dennis. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. How was your Halloween season? Any highlights, fortuitous scares, … ? I was feeling much better until I got hit with a nine hour time difference yesterday, but you know very well how that goes. 80’s John Hughes was a thing this year? That’s interesting. I wonder why? ** Ishmael, Hi, Ish. I got back to you. Whoop! Happy belated Halloween! ** Derek McCormack, Yay, Derek! I and it (here) were and will forever be so honored, maestro. How was your Halloween? ** Peter moskowitz, Hi, Peter. As you know, if you’re reading this, I saw your comment, and we’ve been in touch. Thanks! ** S., Hey, S.! Awfully great to see you, man! Post-Halloween greetings and well wishes back to you! How were the ghosts and the writing and all that cool stuff? And a Halloween writing thing from you! Awesome! I’ll read it as soon as I have enough of a brain to absorb and appreciate anything. Everyone, Please do go read S.’s short Happy Halloween tale for any number of reasons. Here. Love and hugs! ** Dóra Grőber, Him Dora! Happy Halloween a little bit late to you! I’m very jet lagged as of this moment, but otherwise I’m good and happy to be home. I ended up going to 15 home haunts. My very favorites (I think all of these were listed in my So. Cal Haunt post, but I’m not sure) were Terrorll Avenue Haunt (done by two 15 year old filmmakers in one of their parents’ front and backyard, gloriously ambitious and sweet), Spooky Hollows (done by vets of LA’s most legendary, now defunct haunt ‘Bob and Dave’s Spooky House’. Extremely elaborate and amazing), Rosehill Haunt (put on by a 16 year old teen in his family’s garage/yard), and Backwoods Maze (probably LA’s most famous and popular home haunt, and super great as always). My only regret was that I didn’t manage to go to Mystic Motel, which is the home haunt I’ve most wanted to visit for years. It’s put on by a boy in his parents’ house, and it includes a dark ride. I think it’s the only home haunt in the world with an actual ride inside the house. But it was hours drive from where I was staying, and I just couldn’t find the time. Sad. Other than Halloween stuff, I mostly saw a few friends, a bunch of art, a couple of movies (‘Blade Runner 2049’, which I thought was terrible. Painfully calculated, fake, uninspired ‘Blade Runner’-esque visual tropes laid over a boringly over-elongated, tiresome, predictable story. I don’t understand people’s enthusiasm for the film at all), as much Mexican food as possible, etc. It was a good trip. The art gallery job! Whoa, that’s very cool! What is the job exactly? I hope the test day is a huge success, but I guess I’ll talk to you before then. I hope your Thursday was big fun. What happened? ** Armando, Happy Halloween a little after the fact to you! Please no more generalizing anti-Islam comments, thank you. I did see the Didion film while I was away. I thought it was very good too, yes. Good to see you too! Today’s plans: try to stay awake and try to start to get my body clock back in working order. Very lovely stuff about Antonioni, thank you! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh! Thanks a ton! I should get his soundtracks, yes. On it. ** Shane Christmass, Hi, Shane. How’s it going? Good to see you! It its so fantastic, isn’t it? I think you writing that novel is a swell idea, naturally. ** Okay. I believe we’re caught up. You’ll continue to get some (but not all) restored posts for the next bit until I get the blog back up to speed asap, including the one up there about a sweet book by the very great Georges Perec. See you tomorrow.

15 Comments

  1. Thank you for the comment to Armando re: Islam. After my work this summer on. a film with an Arab-American actor and my ongoing work programming a retrospective on an Iranian director, my tolerance for Islamophobia has reached absolute zero.

    Mainline Records is a much smaller store than Other Music, with a greater emphasis on collectible vinyl, and there are genres that seem to be almost completely missing (metal, reggae, hip-hop.) But I would up dropping a huge amount of money there, buying Hendrix’s BAND OF GYPSYS, the new Can singles compilation, the Numero Group collection by transgender soul singer Jackie Shane, the new albums by Lankum, the Dream Syndicate, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard, and Moses Sumney. In short, I blew my music budget for the month in a day. I realize that when I go back there, I must take the credit cards out of my wallet and just bring $20 or 30 so I can get one or two CDs.

    After looking at the booklet of BAND OF GYPSYS, I realized that it was recorded at the Fillmore East. I live 2 blocks away from its former location. A much older friend of mine saw Bachman-Turner Overdrive there in the early ’70s, and his brother went there frequently. I was surprised that it only held 2,600 people, considering that Hendrix played there, and a photo of a marquee in the booklet shows that Blood, Sweat and Tears and Ike & Tina Turner played there around the same time. I guess it was the hippie equivalent of CBGBs, which I did spend lots of time at (although I hated their policy of 8-band bills with the headliner going on around 1:30 AM.)

  2. David Ehrenstein

    November 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    “I Tre Volti” is an omnibus film Dino DeLauentis’ put together to make socialite Princess Soraya a star. Antonioni directed one segment of it.

  3. David Ehrenstein

    November 2, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Perec est parfait!

  4. Dennis,

    Welcome home! (To Paris). I’m hoping your illness was dispensed fairly quickly and you got to enjoy Los Angeles while you were there. Did you visit any haunted houses? See any old friends? Did you and Zac visit any bookstores?

    How was the narrative conference with Kevin in San Francisco?

    I hope you’re doing well and that the old beast jet lag isn’t too rough on you.

    Much love,
    James

  5. Dennis I just read your comments about your haunted house visits, so no need to fill me in there. But still, how was the NN conference? And what did you read there?

    Xoxo

  6. Georges Perec! Any day with Perec is a better day without Perec. Does that sentence make any sense? “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris” was a consistent sell in Book Soup when I was working there. Readers loved that book, and I love it as well. As a homage to Perec, a few years ago I went to the exact location and I think the exact bench that’s in the book. It was a great “tourist” moment for me. I like all of Perec’s work, except the book of dreams. I didn’t like it for some reason. Perhaps a need to reread it. Welcome back to Pariee.

  7. I’m buying a ticket to visit my parents for Thanksgiving for about 5 days this weekend. I must confess I have a phobia about traveling because I’m scared someone will break into my apartment and steal my stuff. (This actually happened between my third and fourth years of college – someone stole most of my CD collection. Amazingly, I had a list of all of the CDs and renter’s insurance, but I didn’t get as much money as I deserved, and it took the better part of a year to receive it.) This year, I’m bringing my laptop to my parents’ house so I can use it as a stereo, essentially, and also because I might have to write reviews from there.

    Does it feel weird to return to Paris after several weeks away? It always feels odd for me to come back to New York, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. It felt better when there were tons of things I could do within walking distance of my apartment that I couldn’t do in Connecticut.

  8. @ DC, hope your brain has de-lagged itself a bit by now.

    Last week I began watching Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, which is an epic undertaking that I’m enjoying a great deal. I only just started watching RWF’s films last year so I’m kind of late to this party. So far I’ve got through 4 of the 15 BA hours and it’s really living up to its storied reputation.

    This weekend I’ll be back in the DCA print studios for another couple of screenprinting sessions. My creative powder seems to be dry so I’m hoping for a hot idea ahead of Saturday.

  9. D., long time no see Mr. The ghost life is exiting here
    in Florida. I’ve bought 5 books about ghosts from here
    already. Great stories, lots of turn of the century hotel
    California stuff. And Death Metal was invented here! Went
    looking for Jack. Great bookstore been there since 33. Story
    goes when he was dying here after writing all that great stuff
    in Orlando, he would come to the old bookstore and move his
    books to eye-level so people would buy them. They keep his books
    on the bottom shelves there. Mom bought me a Grumpy Cat book and
    I picked up Sontag’s On Photography. Haven’t slept one good night
    here, so I’d say the ghost business is going swimmingly. At least
    4 stories ready to be fleshed out. I’m happy to see this post today
    it gives me a step back before continuing this writing. I like
    narrative can take any direction, but I want to try my hand at some
    tricks. The blog looks great on my new notebook. Get some rest mon ami, well deserved I’m sure. Hope you like the story. And did I tell you about riding out the hurricane? xoxo

  10. Hey Dennis!
    Lovely to see you back here. Hope the jet-lag’s as unbad as possible. How’s it being back in Paris?
    I’m sure somebody must have mentioned this here before, but I came across this a while back –
    https://tictail.com/studiooperative/an-attempt-at-exhausting-a-place-in-gta-online-michael-crowe
    – which I think is a nice idea. I’d like to try and write a version of this looking out my own window, purely for myself, although in this flat I think it’d mostly be about dog walkers and deliverymen.
    Nice in-flight movie reviews. You’re not the first person I’ve heard saying that the new Spider-man is not as bad as they’d expected, faint praise as that is. I’ve not been to see Thor: Ragnarok yet and think it might be one where I’ll have to go alone.
    May your Friday feel like it was spun upon the loom of the most masterful day-weaver to ever walk the earth. Too much?
    Case of beer love,
    Jamie

  11. Hey!
    How was the ps vacation? Did your sickness clear up?
    The one act went over well in the class. I was super excited about it, but now that I’m a couple days removed it feels like unfixable trash haha. I’ve always loved working out first drafts, but hardly know where to start when it comes to editing.
    Also, I’ve been on and off reading some books from your top 50, and connected to Fable by Pinget in a major way. So thanks for the inadvertent recommendation.
    Good luck with the jet lag!

  12. The D Man is back!

    Glad to have you back, Big Dawg.

    Well, you know that I’m prone to exaggeration. Adulthood isn’t all that bad. (Still kind of sucks, though…hahaha).

    Thanks for asking…we’re okay. LPS has been getting to school and class every day. Two of his four Fs are now Ds, with another about to be a D. So he’s doing better. When the 2nd quarter starts, he has to make sure he doesn’t dig himself another hole to try and climb out of. The frustrating thing is that when you take out all the assignments he’s not handed in, he’s got all As and Bs very easily.

    Me, I’m okay. My stomach hurts. Down around the bladder. Not the type of pain I used to have. Ugh. I see my doc on December 20; if I’m still having that pain, I’ll mention it to her and see what she says.

    Otherwise, I’m fine.

    Glad you’re back safe and sound.

    Oh, and speaking of fucked up dreams, I had one the other night that you definitely were NOT in. So here it is: I sitting there in my dream and realized I have two not-at-all-painful boils on my crotch. So I pop them and all this yellow bitter pus shoots out of them and into my face and mouth. I woke up pretty quickly after that nasty shit.

    • You know, Misa, once I was flipping through Tony Duvert’s book “Diary of an Innocent” and there’s a disgusting scene where the narrator is using a knife to remove worms from his anus. I recall thinking, “This is the kind of thing I could imagine Misa enjoying.” That dream you just shared reminded me of that again.

  13. Hey Dennis, welcome back! I think my favorite thing about these return p.s.’s of yours is reading your capsule reviews of the inflight films.

  14. Welcome back, Dennis. I don’t know if John Hughes is really the thing this year, but I certainly saw some boys dressed that way. Good to hear you and Zac were able to check out all those home haunts.

    I’ll probably break down and go see Blade Runner 2049, but at a theater that serves decent pizza and plenty of craft beer. Yes, I’ve already been warned that it “could be shorter”. The new (only?) Borbetomagus documentary is pretty fun, by the way.

    Hope your jet lag lets up soon…

    Bill

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