by Matthew Lewis
p. 1796 UK
The Monk is a useful place to end a discussion of 18th century literature. It was the last major gothic novel. Lewis was a one hit wonder, and his story of instant celebrity is recongizable to anyone who watches American Idol. Lewis had the benefit of having studied in Germany in his youth, at a time before many of the great contemporary German novels had been translated into English. Lewis was haunted by claims of plagarism throughout his life, though to a contemporary reader the relationship between the Monk and a book like Doctor Faustus resembles more one of influencer/infulenced than plagarism.
According to the introductory essay, Lewis wrote Monk with the idea that he would be creating the 18th century equivalent of a "smash hit." Lewis was smart, sophisiticated, from a good family. He was not an unconventional type. The Monk was controversial in a way that presages the response of authorities to literature during the Victorian period. There was a loud outcry about the 'blasphemous" nature of "The Monk," and Marquis de Sade was a huge fan. None the less, Lewis didn't suffer any kind of censure, after writing "The Monk" he went on serve in Parliament.
I thought that the Monk retained its... raciness. I was somewhat shocked by the explicit um... passion... of the titular character. Perhaps 50 pages of gripping prose is sheathed in 300 pages of confusing digression and lengthy verse. At times, Lewis' writing has the ostenacious genre-combining flavor of Thomas Pynchon, who is well known for his song lyrics. The Monk, like so many other 18th century novels, displays such an awareness of self and artifice that it leads you to question any distinction between "modern" and "post-modern" in the novel. Perhaps the more appropriate distinction when one considers the whole 300+ year history of the novel is "realism" vs. "non-realism." I, for one, am I on the non realism side.
It's surprising that this has not been turned into a Merchant and Ivory type movie production. Especially with the recent penchant for vampire themes and Hollywood's enduring fascination with Jane Austen narratives, you would think that this text would have been adapted.
Dedicated to classics and hits.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
The Goths were an ancient people whos migration from northern europe to southern europe assisted in the collapse of he Roman Empire.
During the 18th century, "Gothic" was used to describe a theme of Romantic literature characterized by wind swept castles, ghosts and the macabre. Gothic literature of the 18th century existed as the English extension of a wider movement towards Romantic themes in the arts. By the beginning of the 19th century, Gothic themes had become cliche to the point where writers like Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey) were using Gothic motifs as inside jokes to sophisticated readers. A brief survey of Gothic literature of the 18th century, as typified by works like The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolfo and The Monk, can be reduced to a single line: "Castle, rape, murder, ghosts, the devil, love story." Gothic literature is not that complicated, and it is familiar to a modern reader.
During the 19th century, Gothic became synonymous with what we call "Midevial" today. A group of social critics, Thomas Carlyle and William Morris in particular created a Gothic critique of 19th century industrialism. The 19th century use of Gothic in the context of social criticism shared some commonalities with Gothic literature of the 18th century, but 19th century Gothic was a more serious affair that had less to do with novels and more to do with architecture. It was during the 19th century that the area of "Gothic architecture" began to develop as a critical field, and opposed to ancient and renaissance architecture. Mainly we're talking about church design here.
In the 20th century, Gothic was used to describe first a genre of popular music, and then expanded to embrace a larger lifestyle that may or may not have something to do with "goth" music of the 20th century. Although the term "goth" is no longer used to describe new music, the influence of that music continues to make itself felt and the gothic lifestyle movement, typified by a heightened link to romantic and gothic themes of the past.
Certainly gothic themes continue to sell in the marketplace, be they Vampire movies or pop musicians. This is probably due to the fact that the gothic theme has been used to sell cultural products, be they novels, plays or music for over 300 years. That's 300 years of gothic, preceded by close to 500 years of people actually being "gothic" (in the midevial sense.) It's a lot of cultural baggage to ignore and since it's inception, Gothic moves have been linked to nostalgia and a desire for a more romantic past.
Posted by catdirt at 1:57 PM
Friday, March 12, 2010
Once again it is time for the "great demo review" in the local music issue of San Diego City Beat. I have struggled to articulate my precise issue with the yearly San Diego City Beat local music issue. I think it has improved noticeably under Seth Combs and there is a sharpness of viewpoint that feels authentic, in my opinion.
Here's one thing I want to point out: Avoid writing where the intended audience is comprised of failed amateur musicians. Let me tell you something about failed amateur musicians: They are a bitter bunch of hate filled asshole. By "failed" I mean the ones who have foregone other life opportunities (careers, families) in lieu of working a shitty job in the hopes that they will one day "succeed" and become a professional musicians. Obviously, this isn't every local musician. There are plenty of part time musicians who have lives and families, and there are some who are wholly dedicated but realistic about their chances to "go pro."
A writer can be sure, especially in this day and age, that if he or she writes about a local musician, that those musicians and four or five of his or her friends will be the only one who gives a shit. And unless the writing is unvarnished praise, they are going to be cry babies about it, because they are local musicians, and they take themselves too seriously, and if they were intelligent or self conscious they wouldn't submit their "demo" to a "local demo review" because they would realize that they don't want to hear negative feedback.
To say to the writer "You should be nice to the local bands" misses the point. Only a local musician could say that. Do you think people who don't play in local bands (or aren't married to a local musician) want the writers to "be nice?" No sir, they do not, because a lot of those bands are terrible, and they are stupid because they submit music that isn't good. By not good I mean:
1. poor recording
2. lack of originality in concept
3. poor song writing
I don't think we live in a place and time where there is tons of undiscovered acts, waiting to be found. The fact is, it is quite easy to get people to listen to your music, but you need to have either a catchy song, a polished sound and/or prior music industry experience to make it go anywhere. Also, not being a mentally ill drug addict helps.
I think it's funny that Seth Combs introduction leads with Troy Johnson getting the Grand Ole Party demo at the Buffalo Exchange in Hillcrest:
One of my favorite stories was when former music editor Troy Johnson, fashionista that he is, showed up at Buffalo Exchange one year and was greeted by a diminutive shopgirl who’d just moved here from San Francisco with her band. She slipped him their demo and within a few days, he was raving about it on FM 94/9 and in the local music issue.
That band, Grand Ole Party, was on the cover of the local music issue the next year. And while they’ve since split, it’s still a revealing tale of what this issue is all about. Some of these discoveries blew our minds. Some made us wanna blow our heads off. But we know that there’s gold in the hills of submissions that come in every year.Hey, I can't be harshing on a little glory hounding. Good for San Diego City Beat! That SXSW showcase with Transfer and Nervous Wreckords looks awesome. And:
DEAR LOCAL MUSICIANS:
WHEN PEOPLE CRITICIZE YOUR MUSIC- THEY ARE DOING YOU A FAVOR IT'S CALLED "BEING HONEST" AND MAYBE IF MORE PEOPLE AROUND YOU WERE LIKE THAT YOU WOULDNT BE SO PISSED OFF.
Posted by catdirt at 7:34 AM
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I'm down with the "we just discovered diy" london/brighton scene. Bands like Fair Ohs, Spectrals, la la vasquez, pens, graffitti island, lovvers (who are playing bar pink in sd tonight btw.)
I just pre ordered the new Spectrals/Fair Oh's split 7" on Tough Love Records. Also, grab the Captured Tracks 7" on Insound. I feel like that record got lost in the whole Captured tracks putting out five records every two months shuffle.
So: Spectrals- my pick from the last batch of uk based diy projects.
Posted by catdirt at 4:46 PM
|Synchronicity Space w/Jeans Wilder||Los Angeles, California|
|whistlestop bar w/jeans wilder||San Diego, California|
|TBA||San Francisco, California|
|The Wail/Basement Show||Portland, Oregon|
|805 14th ave w/jeans wilder||Olympia, Washington|
|The Josephine w/gape attack, jeans wilder||Seattle, Washington|
WHO IS DIRTY BEACHES????
DEAR READERS... DONT MISS THIS BAND!!!!
Posted by catdirt at 7:16 AM
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
COFFEE HOUSE INDIE.
Honestly if you can imagine a record selling at the front counter of a Starbucks. Well... that's probably just about as far as you can go. A lot of the indie blog nation alt rock has a bleed over into what has to be considered "adult contemporary." But I say: GO FOR IT! Cover a Christopher Cross song. If something charts in adult contemporary, it might as well be a top 40 hit. The cross over is over 50 percent I bet. It's like the giant corporations, via their commercials and partnerships, are primary customers for bands putting out records today.
I would say the possibility of securing a substantial amount for "placement" represents a far clearer possibility for most "RISING" bands then making money from record sales.
Just to be clear I don't see this as a negative. I like sitting in my living room and reading a book, and listening to this record: it makes me feel like I'm at my local coffee shop, only without the people. Plus, it sounds perfect on vinyl. This is obviously a sophisticated group, even though the music is made to sound simple.
It is certainly a pleasure to see a revitalized Sub Pop. As I look back through the recent discography of Sub Pop I am struck by some wrong turns. CSS? Certainly records I own, but are they a "sub pop" artist- I would argue no. Also- Go! Team- Proof of Youth- the second Go Team Record. I think it's a mistake for the bigger indies to go for this foreign artists. It's too much like what the major labels try to do.
Sub Pop didn't rise to prominence by releasing Brazilian dance-rock. I'm writing this of a fan of dance-rock- it's just not Sub Pop. If you want to imagine the physical locations where a Sub Pop record/cd would sell, you don't think of places where CSS and Go! Team are on the menu, so to speak.
The idea that there aren't closer bands for Sub Pop to put out is, of course, ludicrous. American acts are far more likely to generate the necessary excitement among American buyers.
Posted by catdirt at 4:11 PM
I sat down with label owner Andres Santo Domingo and label head Keith Abrahamsson to get the latest and check out their new pad. (BLACKBOOK)
For those of you who don't know who Lauren Davis is, she is a socialite that turned into a Fashion Editor or better said Contributing Fashion Editor for Vogue US. Her husband is billionaire Andrés Santo Domingo . (SOME GOSSIP BLOG)
Julio Mario Santo Domingo (born 1924) is a Colombian businessman and patriarch of the wealthy Santo Domingo family originally fromBarranquilla, Colombia. He is the son of (Julio) Mario Santo Domingo and Beatriz Pumarejo. He controls more than 100 companies in the diversified portfolio of the "Santo Domingo Group." He is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the wealthiest men in the world, and the second wealthiest in Colombia, with a fortune of $4 billion US dollars.
Posted by catdirt at 12:34 PM
Monday, March 08, 2010
Yet another amazing book you can buy on Amazon for 20 cents. Incredible. The title of Civilization Before Green and Rome sounds generic and obvious, but books written about this time period tend to be about one specific culture- comparative studies are few and far between. Also, contemporary advances in the different cultures are spread out through multiple languages and fields of inquiry(turkish archeology anyone?) All of which goes to say that the bang for your buck here is outstanding. Saggs leaves behind the specialist jargon while taking account of the finding made by specialists. Thus, he can tell you about recent (1980s) translations of Hittite legal documents, without writing 200 pages on the subject.
I enjoy reading about civilization before Greece and Rome. These civilizations- they were totally forgotten. Not just by the West, but by the people from THOSE AREAS. We're talking about a civilization that lasted THREE THOUSAND YEARS. Forgotten until the 20th century. It's breathtaking. I like to imagine our civilization the same way- being viewed three thousand years on as a curiosity by people who don't understand anything about us. Crumbling into the sands of history: An epic fate.
Considering the differences between people "then" vs. "now" gives you a better idea of what "now" actually means. Acquiring familiarity with people and how they thought and behaved in different time period generates insight on commonalities and differences between human beings. One of the dangers of the internet is that the user becomes fully immersed in the now. Not just in the sense that people always live in the here and now, but people are just super obssessed with right now.
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