01 February 2007

Barney Truhlar Fife

Last night at the Bloor Cinema: Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9, with Barney and Björk. Mesmerizing, beautiful, repulsive. As I said to D. afterward, "Glad it was made, regret that I had to watch it." Though that's not true. It just sounded like a good thing to say. Its seafaring ways and its human/whale blurring reminded me of The Incredible Mr. Limpet, with Don Knotts, where Knott falls into the sea, becomes a cartoon fish, falls in love with another cartoon fish, and has to decide between land and sea. Me and Mark Laba loved that movie when we were kids on Pannahill. Anyway, watch this: Matthew Barney/Barney Fife/Don Knotts.

Woke up this morning, and before leaving bed, read a book that my shelving earthquake had shoved to the surface: Richard Truhlar's Utensile Paradise. It would be good to read a book of poems every day before leaving bed. Anyway, this book was published in 1987 by Mercury's caterpillar, Aya Press. And I hadn't read it since then. It brought so much back to me. It's a brief book, with just seven extended poems. I find the linear poems a bit vague and ponderous, but the three prose poems are wonderfully focussed investigations. What interests me so much about Truhlar is not only his obsessive precision, but that he's obviously strongly influenced by the later fiction of Samuel Beckett, and simultaneously by British new wave sci-fi writers like Brian Aldiss and J.G. Ballard, perhaps even Michael Moorcock.

Like Drawing Restraint 9, Richard is preoccupied by repetition, human gesture, intimate human relations, human/environment blurring. And the X-acto knife, nut-wrench, and fork on the cover of Richard's book resonates well, too, with Barney's film.

Here's the first stanza/paragraph of the opening poem, "Some( )else":

How the doors close silently, silently in a room, in a house, sitting silently alone, sitting and watching the doors close, sitting and watching her friends leave her.

Here are the first three from the book's final poem, "Thanksgiving" (let's ignore for now the dangling modifier in stanza 2):

On a map, red dots are appearing and disappearing.

Slicing open the scrotum with a surgical instrument, the testes look like giblets, bright pink, surrounded by small yellow iridescent seeds about to hatch, this is the way the operation proceeds, says someone who is a specialist, others look on. There is the sound of a frozen turkey's orifice being pried apart.

We travel on buses and subways, know our routes by rote.

Over and out.


At February 01, 2007 6:57 pm , Blogger melmoth said...

Hey Stuart - thanks for the kind words, re: my work.

When I was a tot of about 8 years old I loved to watch on tv the amazing surreal Ernie Kovacs show (sponsored by Dutch Masters cigars, that Ernie liked to smoke right there on my tv screen!) and Soupey Sales.

I'll always remember this crazy recurring but varied video clip of a chimpanzee on a tricycle driving around manically until he crashed into a fire hydrant (lol lol I did).

tv when I grew up was really new, creative and took risks (Kovacs, Milton Berle, the Twilight Zone, the Outer Limits, etc.)- none of the crap they put on today.

At February 02, 2007 8:27 am , Blogger Mike Blouin said...

Limpet- Like it or Lump it.

I like it.


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