Media ingestion

July 1, 2011 by rafegodfrey
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I’m kinda late to the party on this one, but I figured I may as well join the rest of the nerds and make available to you a list of media I plan to ingest this summer.

Please bear in mind the following: I just kinda follow my nose when looking for stuff that interests me. It may just now be coming out or, more often, it’s something that’s been out for a while that I’m just now making my way into. Translated, this means that, due to a combination of laziness and snobbishness (and likely some other factors), I don’t really follow (or even look at) book lists, or often go to see movies in local theaters. I operate on a combination of instinct, curiosity (and I’m curious about a lot) and peer referral. So if you’re wondering why I seem super-excited about some book or movie that came out years (or decades or centuries) ago, there you have it.

I’m just now finishing up Derrick Jensen’s book “Endgame, Volume I: The Problem of Civilization,” and it’s pretty incredible.  Basically, Jensen argues that civilization (in particular, industrial civilization and the global economy) is built completely on violence and oppression, and is ruining both the planet and our ability to survive on it indefinitely — and that we would, in fact, be better off without it. It’s a dense book, but it’s been a joy to read (Jensen is one of those rare writers who can seamlessly blend hard facts with personal narrative), extremely well-researched (400+ citations and a 20-page bibliography), and I’m very much looking forward to getting into “Endgame, Volume II: Resistance.”

I may have another stab at Stephen Runciman’s three-volume “History of the Crusades,” although its incredibly dry nature may well defeat me yet again (this’ll be my second time trying to get into it).

Also, promised a friend I’d read “Neuromancer,” by William Gibson. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about it, and it’s been a while since I’ve cracked open some straight-up sci-fi, so that should be an easy one to enjoy.

As far as films go, I recently saw half of “Rockers,” the 1978 movie about a drummer in Kingston, Jamaica who buys a motorbike so that he can sell records, but the bike gets stolen, and…well, there’s not much of a plot, but man is the music fantastic. Pretty much every “golden-age” reggae group you can think of makes an appearance, and this fictional piece seems to do a much better job at capturing the vibe and feel of late ’70s Jamaica (or at least, so I imagine) than any documentary I’ve seen. I stopped it midway through because the music is so wonderful that I decided to wait until I get my good speakers shipped back here from Chicago before I finish it…

I’m also very much looking forward to seeing “Until the Light Takes Us,” a documentary that “chronicles the history, ideology and aesthetic of Norwegian black metal — a musical subculture infamous as much for a series of murders and church arsons as it is for its unique musical and visual aesthetics,” in the words of IMDB. I’m a big fan of some black metal (the bands Emperor and Ulver, in particular), and I’ve read “Lords of Chaos,” which I thought was an excellent work of music journalism, so I’ll be interested to see what angle this film takes.

I’m perhaps most excited to finally (since Netflix now has it) see “Into Great Silence,” a documentary by German filmmaker Philip Groning, who traveled to the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the Carthusian Order of Catholic monks, high in the French Alps. Carthusian monks take a vow of complete silence, and so this is a movie with no spoken dialogue and no score. “Gröning, sans crew or artificial lighting, lived in the monks’ quarters for six months filming their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions.” Sounds wildly interesting, at least to me! (On a funny side note, Groning first wrote to the abbot at the Grande Chartreuse in 1984, asking his permission to come and make the film; the abbot wrote him back sixteen years later and said, “OK, we’re ready.” Guess the monastic life does indeed lend itself to slow, deliberate action!)

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4 Responses to “Media ingestion”

  1. joshworkNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve heard good things about “Neuromancer” too, though I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    I have heard similar praises for “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson from the same people, enough that I went out, bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Like “Neuromancer,” it’s an early cyberpunk novel, about a freelance hacker (aptly named Hiro Protagonist) who also delivers pizzas and carries around a samurai sword. I’ve still got the copy lying around here somewhere, if you ever want to borrow it.

  2. rafegodfreyNo Gravatar says:

    Man, that sounds great.

  3. CWLNo Gravatar says:

    Until the Light Takes Us is the best documentary in which a murderer discusses corn flakes ever. Varg Vikernes is disconcertingly charming. PS if you like Ulver, you will enjoy the soundtrack. It is equal parts early Ulver-ish raw black and later Ulver-ish ambient material.

  4. rafegodfreyNo Gravatar says:

    CWL, sounds like I’m in for a treat! I thought “Kveldssanger,” Ulver’s entirely acoustic record, also was excellent, so hopefully some stuff like that will make an appearance; I’m sure the soundtrack won’t disappoint.

    Having read the lyrics written by Vikernes for the band Zyklon, and having read a few interviews and comments in “Lords of Chaos,” he struck me as an intelligent and otherwise well-meaning guy who, as a young man, let peer pressure hold way too much sway over him. That, combined with acting in the heat of the moment, led him to commit a heinous crime and land himself in jail for a good long while.

    At least one good thing came of the situation: after Vikernes was convicted, Emperor enlisted the services of Trym, who, I gotta say, is leagues beyond Vikernes as a drummer (though to be fair, Trym is leagues beyond most drummers).

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