Tag Archives: Thomas Pynchon

Koyaanisqatsi ☕ d. Godfrey Reggio, 1982

There’s no proselytizing to be found in Koyaanisqatsi; what I half-expected going in was an eco-nut jeremiad about the evils of industrialized civilization.  What I experienced was something much more akin to Shklovsky’s defamiliarization effect: a sustained, artistic effort to re-align my perception of modern life, if only momentarily, in order to induce me to reflect critically on my place in it. In order to portray a “life out of balance,” filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and his collaborators needed to find a style that would shock the audience without losing it, and the result is a very tight montage of nature in continuity from what some might call “pristine” wilderness to the garbage-strewn streets of the urban metropolis.  What the film evoked for me was a sense of someone who wanted to show me something very important, something beautiful, something terrifying, but this person found he could not stand far enough back to take it all in.  Even with its flaws, the impact was sublime. Continue reading

Summer 2011 Reading List — Episode I: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

“A screaming thing comes across the sky. It’s a V-2 rocket carrying twelve thousand pounds of symbolism, and it’s coming down on your poor, deluded, postmodern head.”
Book-a-Minute Classics (ultra-condensed by Glenn Davis)

There was no update last weekend because I spent a great big chunk of the weekend either spending time with family and friends or reading Gravity’s Rainbow for the first time.  It is the first book on the 2011 Summer Reading list, which my wife has already blogged about several times.  She began the summer with The Once and Future King.  I chose to begin with Thomas Pynchon primarily because I anticipated that his would be the most difficult book of the bunch to read, and I wanted to plow through it while I was at the height of self-motivation.  As Ellen has already noted, we (she, my little sister, and I) each picked two books, with no particular order set in which we would read them as a group.  Our rationale for selecting each one was more or less arbitrary.  The top criterion, of course, was that the book appealed to us.  Another key criterion was that it should be a book that we might find challenging in some way, and that would therefore benefit from group discussion a little more than something more disposable.  For Gravity’s Rainbow in particular, though, I had a few more personal reasons. Continue reading


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