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Book Review

January 31, 2010

 

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

If you haven’t found this book yet, you should go out and get it!

This book is already considered a cult classic. It will draw you to it in a spooky way. It is a very inspirational book for me when I am creating dark and mysterious artwork. There is a whole Flickr Group dedicated to the feel of this book a great soundtrack by the writer’s sister Poe.

The layout is very unconventional, the book started out as a bunch of notes and ideas scribbled on paper. The pages have been kept true to the original notes. Sometimes a page will have one paragraph, one word or have you spinning the book around in a circle to read the spiraling text.

Excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly:

Danielewski’s eccentric and sometimes brilliant debut novel is really two novels, hooked together by the Nabokovian trick of running one narrative in footnotes to the other. One-the horror story-is a tour-de-force. Zampano, a blind Angelino recluse, dies, leaving behind the notes to a manuscript that’s an account of a film called The Navidson Report. In the Report, Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Will Navidson and his girlfriend move with their two children to a house in an unnamed Virginia town in an attempt to save their relationship. One day, Will discovers that the interior of the house measures more than its exterior. More ominously, a closet appears, then a hallway. Out of this intellectual paradox, Danielewski constructs a viscerally frightening experience. Will contacts a number of people, including explorer Holloway Roberts, who mounts an expedition with his two-man crew. They discover a vast stairway and countless halls. The whole structure occasionally groans, and the space reconfigures, driving Holloway into a murderous frenzy. The story of the house is stitched together from disparate accounts, until the experience becomes somewhat like stumbling into Borges’s Library of Babel. This potentially cumbersome device actually enhances the horror of the tale, rather than distracting from it. Less successful, however, is the second story unfolding in footnotes, that of the manuscript’s editor, (and the novel’s narrator), Johnny Truant. Johnny, who discovered Zampano’s body and took his papers, works in a tattoo parlor. He tracks down and beds most of the women who assisted Zampano in preparing his manuscript. But soon Johnny is crippled by panic attacks, bringing him close to psychosis. In the Truant sections, Danielewski attempts an Infinite Jest-like feat of ventriloquism, but where Wallace is a master of voices, Danielewski is not. His strength is parodying a certain academic tone and harnessing that to pop culture tropes. Nevertheless, the novel is a surreal palimpsest of terror and erudition, surely destined for cult status.

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Manifesto of Surrealism

January 16, 2010

The first Surrealist manifesto was written by the French writer André Breton and released to the public in 1924. The document defines Surrealism as:

Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

Quotes from the Author

  • “I could spend my whole life prying loose the secrets of the insane. These people are honest to a fault, and their naiveté has no peer but my own.”
  • “We are still living under the reign of logic: this, of course, is what I have been driving at. But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest.”
  • “Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.”
  • “Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying therein the profound M with which the word Memory begins.”
  • “Surrealism does not allow those who devote themselves to it to forsake it whenever they like. There is every reason to believe that it acts on the mind very much as drugs do; like drugs, it creates a certain state of need and can push man to frightful revolts.”
  • “In this realm as in any other, I believe in the pure Surrealist joy of the man who, forewarned that all others before him have failed, refuses to admit defeat, sets off from whatever point he chooses, along any other path save a reasonable one, and arrives wherever he can.”
  • “It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.”

This is a very interesting read.  PDF file available for download below.

Surrealist-Manifesto

Tribute to a Pet

January 9, 2010

Tribute to a Pet. I have been getting some requests for Pet Tribute art. A good way to memorialize your pet is to have a custom piece done in the style of an old portrait. Options for these can be on printed canvas with a very ornate frame to hang in your living area. This is one that I did for my beloved Basset Hound named Bailey.

Strange Vintage Book

January 4, 2010

 

 

Der Struwwelpeter (1845) is a popular German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way. The title of the first story provides the title of the whole book. Literally translated, Struwwel-Peter means Shaggy-Peter. One of the short stories contained within Der Struwwelpeter, “Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” or “The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb” is the loose basis for the song “scissor Man” by the British band XTC. The story involves a little boy whose punishment for sucking his thumbs is getting them cut off by the tailor. The song was more popularly covered by Primus. Many versions of this book are still available at Amazon.com.

 

Marvelous Marvin’s Mechanical Museum

January 3, 2010

 Marvin’s is a Surrealist’s dream! Vintage carnival machines that show medical oddities, wonderous appartitions and even torture. The machines were showcased in carnivals in the early 1900’s. This museum is sandwiched between halves of a shopping mall north of Detroit in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Inside he’s packed dense masses of historical and modern arcade machines, sideshow wonders, fortune tellers, automatons, and curiosities. Marvin is a 60-something year old pharmacist, and Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a hobby that went out of control. Music by Igby Iris.

Welcome to Surreal Phenomenon

December 20, 2009

 

 Welcome to Surreal Phenomenon! A place to explore your senses and let your imagination run away with you…….