Articles Archive for April 2013

Reviews »

April 30th, 2013 | 3 Comments | Category: Reviews
Tales Rabbits Tell: Dominic Pettman’s New Book

Welsh naturalist Ronald M. Lockley spent a large chunk of his life on the rabbit-riddled island of Skokholm just southwest of Wales. When he found he could do better writing about rabbits than catching and breeding them, he wrote The Private Life of the Rabbit (Macmillan, 1964). The book, which is a detailed account of all rabbit activities and proclivities, has become the manual on rabbit life. It informed Richard Adams’ novel, Watership Down (Rex Collings, 1972), which is the rabbit adventure tale, about the ways and mores of leporid life. Fiver, the runt-rabbit guide embodies the spirit animal …

Reviews »

April 26th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Category: Reviews
How Soon is Now? The Perpetual Present

When I was growing up, the year 2000 was the temporal touchstone everyone used to mark the advances of modern life. Oh, by then we’d be doing so many technologically enabled things: Cars would fly and run on garbage, computers would run everything, school wouldn’t exist. We were all looking forward, and Y2K gave us a point on the horizon to measure it all by. When it came and went without incident, we were left with what we had in the present. In Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Current, 2013), Douglas Rushkoff argues …

Interviews »

April 25th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Category: Interviews
Mouth of the Architect: New Day Rising

When it comes to my musical interests, I find myself very prone to phases. Someone will ask me what’s good, and I’ll always have to qualify that I’m in the middle of some phase or another. I can spend months listening to nothing but prog rock (e.g., Yes, Rush, The Mars Volta, etc.), weeks researching post-punk (e.g., Joy Division, Talking Heads, etc.), post-rock (e.g., Mogwai, Jesu, God is an Astronaut, etc.), or a year digging the depths of black metal (e.g., Wolves in the Throne Room, Fall of Efrafa, etc.). …

Reviews »

April 14th, 2013 | 3 Comments | Category: Reviews
Building Stories: The Edifice Complex

The house I live in is warped. Its floors undulate as if built on unstable earth or designed by drunken architects. Pipes protrude at odd angles, capped at even odder points. Dutifully obeying gravity and the laws of physics, kitchen drawers and medicine-cabinet doors chronically hang open. I often wonder if the house slouched into this shape or if it was just built this way.
Peter Gabriel’s 1986 hit, “In Your Eyes,” was originally a song about buildings. It was called “Sagrada Familia,” and the idea stemmed from two people who …

Events, Reviews, Videos »

April 13th, 2013 | One Comment | Category: Events, Reviews, Videos
Shane Carruth’s <i>Upstream Color</i>

After years of trying to play the Hollywood game, Shane Carruth is finally back with a new film. That news on its own is enough to send cinema nerds scrambling for seats. Upstream Color, which Brian Rafferty at WIRED aptly calls, “beautifully baffling,” and about which Steven Shaviro tweeted, “wrenching, nearly impalpable. Left me dazzled, tongue-tied. Sort of the Martian riposte to Terence Malick? I don’t even..,” is definitely worth the wait. Carruth, who previously dazzled us with the self-produced, garage sci-fi thriller, Primer (2004), spent the years since trying to get a script …

Reviews »

April 11th, 2013 | 3 Comments | Category: Reviews
Remix Redux: Transformative Appropriation

Scholars, researchers, and journalists have had a tumultuous relationship with Hip-hop in general and the cultural practice of remixing specifically (McLeod, 2002). Some, seemingly refusing to contend with Hip-hop at all, trace the practice back to the collages of the Dadaists, the détournements of the Situationists, or the cut-ups of Burroughs and Gysin. Regardless, there’s no denying that Hip-hop brought sampling, scratching, and manipulating previously recorded sounds to a global audience. Along with allusion, quotation, and interpolation, sampling is now standard among the tools of the modern media maker (McLeod & …

Essays »

April 06th, 2013 | Comments Off on The Mythology and Missteps of Dune | Category: Essays
The Mythology and Missteps of <em>Dune</em>

“A beginning is a very delicate time,” opens the narrative of David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Herbert says of the novel’s beginnings, “It began with a concept: to do a long novel about the messianic convulsions which periodically inflict themselves on human societies. I had this idea that superheros [sic] were disastrous for humans” (quoted in O’Reilly, 1981). The concept and its subsequent story, which took Herbert eight years to execute, won the Hugo Award, the first Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the hearts and minds of millions. Chronicler of …

Reviews »

April 04th, 2013 | One Comment | Category: Reviews
Enjoy the Silence: Jonathan Sterne’s Sound Studies

Though considered the absence of sound, an entity defined by lack, silence is its own swollen signifier. We often find it awkward in social situations, public forums, on the radio. Anywhere we expect the sound of a voice, silence is suspect. “Uncomfortable silences,” Mia Wallace complains in Pulp Fiction (1994), “Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?” We fill every space with sound. But, as the sultan of silence, John Cage (1991), taught us, “[S]ilence is not acoustic. It is a change of mind, a turning around” (p. …