Bobby George

Journal

January Delights

Robert Frank, The Americans.

Robert Frank, The Americans.

 

As part of that New Year's resolution mindset, I promised myself I'd do a better job of documenting "things I read", "things I listen to" and "things I watch". 

I'd probably add exhibits as a category, if we were able to travel more frequently. Who knows, maybe museums will make more of an appearance as time and adventure affords.

In the meantime, I've compiled a list for January. I have mixed emotions. The lists look strangely empty and, at the same time, a bit overwhelming.

I'm absolutely stunned by how many films we watched in January, albeit a long and cold month. I'm equally interested to see how this pattern evolves month-by-month or over the year.

Throughout the lists, I provide short commentary on the things that stuck out to me the most.

Pictured above is a photo from Robert Frank, in his collection, "The Americans". What strikes me now, in looking at the book, is how the introduction, by Jack Kerouac, fails to withstand the timeliness of these photos.

 
Fred Moten

Fred Moten

 

Books

My main takeaway from January is the frenzied excitement of discovering the work of Fred Moten.

Picking up The Undercommons, felt like uncovering a volcanic voice that had been rumbling beneath our culture for quite some time. 

I'd highly recommend that you read it. There's a free, digital version online. Click here.

 

“The contents of the book and the substance of the argument emerged in the process of writing…the rest emerged in the process of research and the interactions of the collaboration. In some respects, the process was like a relay system. One began writing where the other left off and then at the next obstacle passed it back.” -Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

 
 

There are so many collaborative undertones to this beautifully written text - not only between the authors, but also, with a deliberative and provocative reach-out to the readers - that one is left dazzled.

This collectively proclaimed speculative practice of actively 'trying to elaborate a different mode of living together with others', seems timely and pertinent, an outgrowth of necessity and happenstance. 

The Undercommons provides the vocabulary and context for rethinking community in a tantalizing and strikingly original way. For example, here's Stefano: 

"I feel that it's necessary for us to try to elaborate some other forms that don't take us through those political steps, that don't require becoming self-determining enough to have a voice and have interests - and to acknowledge that people don't need to have interests to be with each other. You don't have to start by saying, "I'm so-and-so, this is what I like to do." I mean, people don't have to relate to each other through fucking dating sites. You don't have to elaborate yourself as an individual to be with other people - and in fact it's a barrier to being with other people, as far as I can see."

Here are the other encounters I made:

  • Art as Accident - Paul Virilio

  • The Americans - Robert Frank

  • The Undercommons - Stefan Harney and Fred Moten

  • The Art of Screen Time - Anya Kamenetz (Book Review)

  • The Minor Gesture - Erin Manning

  • Black and Blur - Fred Moten

  • The Commotion of Birds - John Ashbery

  • The Little Edges - Fred Moten

  • The Service Porch - Fred Moten

  • An Eames Anthology - Eames

  • Now You See It and Other Essays on Design - Michael Beirut

 
 

Music 

I have no real commentary on my "new listens", apart from to exclaim: I can't stop listening to the work of Nils Frahm. Singlehandedly, his latest album, "All Melody", has probably prevented me from exploring other albums. I primarily listen to Spotify, so feel free to listen along.

Lastly, this New York Times spotlight of The National is staggeringly simplistic and enchantingly touching.

Here are the other albums:

  • The Shins - The Worm’s Heart
  • Bahamas - Earth Tones

  • Niels Frahm - All Melody

  • Langhorne Slim - Lost at Last Vol. 1

  • Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness

 
A scene from the Sacred Killing of the Deer

A scene from the Sacred Killing of the Deer

 

Movies

As I mentioned in the opening bit, putting together a list of what I watched this month was a real eye-opener.

Viewing films became a habit of mine in graduate school. When I was writing my original PhD dissertation, which heavily involved the work of Orson Welles, in particular, Citizen Kane and F is for Fake, I devoured everything.

Ever since that initial research, I find myself completely intoxicated by what the cinema affords: how it experiments, innovates and often fails miserably at both. It feels like there's so much to learn, so quickly, as opposed to the lessons of a novel, which seemingly take forever.

In any case, the film that's stuck with us most, the one we can't stop thinking about and talking about, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, is the Sacred Killing of the Deer. It's inexplicably brilliant: sardonic, melancholic, and yet, it radiates a certain inescapable beauty and uncertainty. 

For what it's worth, here's the rest of the list:

  1. Rebel in the Rye

  2. Valerian

  3. American Made

  4. The Vault

  5. Fun Mom Dinner

  6. In No Great Hurry

  7. Hickock

  8. Insidious

  9. Stratton

  10. The Foreigner

  11. Battle of the sexes

  12. Overdrive

  13. Victoria and Abdul

  14. Birth of the dragon

  15. Logan’s Lucky

  16. Flight

  17. Resident Evil

  18. An Inconvenient Sequel

  19. Drive

  20. My next guest needs no introduction

  21. The Post

  22. Ghost House

  23. Den of thieves

  24. Snowman

  25. Jigsaw 7

  26. Thank you for your Service

  27. The Lime House Golem

  28. The Shape of Water

  29. The Sacred Killing of the Deer

  30. The Final Year

  31. Geostorm

Yes, we watched that many films this month.

Bobby George