January 28, 2011

Nabokov, the butterfly expert.


January 25, 2011

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Money Jungle (1962).

Getting ready for my first day back to work with some coffee, some small oranges, and Ellington's Money Jungle. "Fleurette Africaine" is especially amazing.

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January 23, 2011

Picked up a few things from the Xidan bookstore the other day. They're all books I've read before but haven't read in a while:

Beowulf, trans. Michael Alexander (Penguin Epics, 2006)
Hergé, The Black Island (Little, Brown, 1966)
Albert Camus, The Outsider, trans. Joseph Laredo (Penguin Classics, 2000)
Thomas Mallory, Le Morte D'Arthur (Norton Critical, 2004)
Jean Toomer, Cane (1923; repr. Norton Critical, 1988)



January 22, 2011



January 21, 2011

Michel Gondry, The Green Hornet (2011).

The fight between Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou, 周杰伦) plays out like an op-ed for the New York Times this week discussing the balance of power between China and America, with China having all of the obvious advantages, but also with the colonialist fantasy that somehow America (ie, Reid) has the "real" unforeseen upper hand: here Kato, therefore China, can't swim, thus ending the struggle as Reid throws Kato an inflatable toy lobster to save him from drowning.



January 20, 2011

It's not every day you say, "Yeah, it's sarcoidosis!" But given that the other possible diagnoses for my inflammed chest lymph nodes were TB and cancer, I'll take what I can get at the moment.

Bronchoscopy is Hell on Earth for about 40 minutes. My doctors apparently skipped the give-the-patient-a-sedative step. But otherwise, things went as smoothly as could be, and as the big C was eliminated (TB had already been eliminated from a simple skin test days earlier), I'd say it was worth time standing still while I actually felt the insides of my lungs in a sort of inside-out sort of way.

I have nothing but praise for the doctors in the Respiratory Ward at Chaoyang Hospital.

I also have no qualms with the fact that 1 week in the hospital, a bronchoscopy, a biopsy, CT scans, X-rays, and numerous consultations with various doctors in various departments ran the ginormous sum of 7100 元. That's about $1078 US for the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

In contrast, the average hospital stay in Canada in 2008 cost about $7000 Canadian ($7016 US or 46,312元). I couldn't find an average for America, but plan to watch Roger Moore's Sicko in the very near future.
PS. I've watched Sicko, and every American with health care should watch this movie. (Jan. 23, 2011)


January 19, 2011

Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (Hill and Wang, 1975).

"It can't be helped: boredom is not simple. We do not escape boredom (with a work, a text) with a gesture of impatience or rejection. Just as pleasure of the text supposes a whole indirect production, so boredom cannot presume it is entitled to any spontaneity: there is no sincere boredom: if the prattle-text bores me personally, it is because in reality I do not like the demand. But what if I did like it (if I had some maternal appetite)? Boredom is not far from bliss: it is bliss seen from the shores of pleasure (25-6)."



January 16, 2011

Banksy, Enter Through the Gift Shop (2010).

The "authenticity" of this Banksy documentary seems to be in doubt, but even if it's a hoax, it documents a few of the major players in the street art-to-gallery darling evolution that came about in the last decade. Whether or not Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) is "authentic" doesn't seem to matter much, as he is still putting on shows and selling on the market.

If Banksy, Shepard Fairey, et alia really felt MBW somehow hadn't "played by the rules", then making a full-length doco to give Guetta even more brand awareness and subversive outsider credibility would seem like the worst move possible. However, Banksy making a doco that asks just what "credible, authentic" art is, well that just seems right in keeping with his body of work.



January 11, 2011

"Is it that your dream is unattainable, or is it that you have the wrong dream?"

--Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here (2010)



January 6, 2011

1. "Poetry is the Great Memory, every word a live metaphor." (Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art, 36).

2. As my Latin and Hebrew are getting rusty, I've just re-purchased both the Hebrew Bible (in Hebrew, obviously) and the Vulgate Bible.

3. Re-reading Leaves of Grass.

4. WZ is back in Beijing. Tonight we are going to a Ukrainian restaurant that hires former Soviet Army performers to sing old Soviet songs, usually accompanied by an accordion. The Chinese old-timers know these songs from their youth and sing along. It's actually quite special and nostalgic.