Thursday, 19 January 2012

Michel Magne, Kindle Burning, The Artist & Inappropriate Laughter

Right. Think. Come on, dammit!
Trouble is, I'm distracted by Michel Magne playing 'Planetes Et Foret', from his 1978 album 'Elements No.1: La Terre'. The track is a strange fusion of grand(iose) piano awash with, and at the same time being strafed by, synths. It's a strange album altogether, being a blend of Indo-New Age late-Prog bordering on the bland but remaining onside through subtle arrangements and unpredictable electro hits. I shoulda been a professional music critic, eh? Maybe not.

But I wanted to write about something else, and music snared me, as it does if it's good. Now that the album's finished, perhaps I can. Perhaps I cant...

Tim Footman wrote recently that he'd acquired a Kindle. I ribbed him about it. You may have been given one for Xmas. Should anyone present one as a gift to me, I'd accept politely, feign gratitude, and see if it burns. Not that I'd ever get one as a present because LJ knows me better; she knows how often I struggle home with a bag full of that old stuff, paper, printed pages bound up in the art, good or bad, of a designer.
Design is one of the reasons books beat Kindle - the most obvious one. After all, how can a Kindle compete with this. It can't, and doesn't try. Instead, it relies on the medium being the message, a message which says 'This is modern, ergo, so are you'. To be Modern, as in consuming every popular gadget made, is to display a willingness to partake in Modern Life, which in turn demonstrates that you are not an old Luddite living in the rear-view mirror world.
Kindle-reading suggests to me the kind of person who not only loves gadgets, but didn't give much thought to the aesthetics of book design. After all, most popular literature does not come bound in great art. Most of it is crudely designed, or to put it another way, designed in a simple fashion because the main  purpose is to tell the reader the title and author. To those for whom 'airport novels' aren't just for holidays, the Kindle makes a kind of sense. All it does is carry the words.
Tim's a smart cookie, though, and I'm sure he'll be reading Baudrillard on his.

Watching 'The Artist' last night, we found ourselves in front of four inappropriate laughers (or idiots, as I prefer to call them) who obviously had IEED (Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder). As you may have noticed, it's not uncommon in cinemas. Luckily, the film was so good as to remain unspoiled. If they do not technically have IEED, they definitely have an inability to understand what they're watching, which again, is common amongst cinema-goers, and one of the reasons I stopped attending years ago. Mobile phones, talking, and generally idiotic behaviour have long plagued film-lovers, which begs the question: what are those arseholes doing there in the first place? To which I can answer: they are the prime audience for films made with idiots in mind, naturally. Which is not to say that all action/entertainment-based films are idiotic, but that they allow for numbskull viewers by battering them with noise, employing rapid edits and, of course, lacking intellectual or aesthetic depth.
The laughers were primed early by the comic dog and light-hearted nature of the film, but their poor minds were unable to cope with the contrasting moods and emotional subtlety that followed. The best example being when Valentin finds Miller in his dressing room caressing herself with the sleeve of his jacket. A scene that was momentarily comic quickly shifts, along with the actors' expressions, to something more poignant, almost tragic, and is matched by Ludovic Bource's superb soundtrack. But even as the orchestra mirrored the emotional content of the scene, the laughers kept laughing. Duh.



  1. I also have a Kindle, plus the Kindle app on my iPad, both of which I love. I totally dig what you are saying about the importance of book design, yet when it comes down to it, it's the words what really matter, innit? I find as I get older that the weight (in all it's guises) of physical product is just so much less important/appealing. I often don't *want* to have to find more space for *things*. Like Martin Blank says about his 'nada' egg white omelette: "I don't want to get into a battle of semantics, I just want the protein, dammit."

  2. Storage space matters, of course. What matters most about my pulp collection, for instance, is the physical nature of each book; the design, and in some cases, beautiful decay. Kindle is the equivalent of an audio zip file to some extent, although many of my most treasured files are virtually impossible (and mega expensive) to buy. Would you swap your carefully designed 45s & LPs for zip files? Maybe. Either way, it's about the feel, smell, look of a book, and the fact that I stare at a screen enough every day and don't wish to do so for even longer. Each to their own, eh?


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