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Alex Carnevale
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Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in alex carnevale (154)

Thursday
Oct162014

In Which Aldous Huxley Takes A Trip With His First Wife

Around the World

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Just tired and busy and amazed and amused and charmed and horrified. - Maria Huxley, in a letter

In 1913 Aldous Huxley began to lose his sight. His eyes clouded over, his vision was "steadily and quite rapidly failing. I was wondering quite apprehensively what on earth I should do." After seeing an oculist, it was decided that a milder climate might help him, so Aldous Huxley and his wife Maria Nys went to Italy. Their son Matthew spent the first four years of his life in Florence and Rome.

Matthew was an extremely large and difficult child. Aldous and Maria were a bit taken aback by who they had created; Matthew Huxley would later become a prominent epidemologist. The child was a picky eater and stuck to a vegetarian diet, causing Aldous to remark, "he realizes that meat is dead animals."

Matthew had no desire to read, which made him the polar opposite of his father. The entire family was practically grief stricken at the young boy's non-literary habits; only Aldous was able to be patient with him. "Too early a passion for reading distracts from the powers of observation," he told everyone.


The whole family liked Italy, but Aldous was the only one who admired it, more in theory than in practice. Florence never suited him; it was more a place where culture had been rather than a city where it was. He chose Rome as the young family's landing spot. "After a third rate provincial town," he concluded, "colonized by English sodomites and middle-aged lesbians, a genuine metropolis will be lively." They could not stay in Italy, however, as fascism was in the air. They left Matthew in Belgium with his grandmother and took a boat to Bombay.

Aldous despised the architecture of Lahore, and loathed Kashmir worse. They kept incredibly active, fortified by a gnawing fear and the weight they burned off from their time in Florence. At Srinagar they visited the lunatic asylum.

Every place that they visited, Aldous asked question after question, ostensibly as research for a series of articles that helped pay for the journey. He also did it when he felt he did not have something himself to say.

An attempt to travel second class did not go well - a holy man spit his mucus all over their car - so they paid the extra rupees for first class, money they knew they should not be spending. Maria could barely eat the food. "India is depressing as no other country I have ever known," Aldous wrote. "One breathes in it, not air, but dust and hopelessness."

Aldous was most put off by the beliefs of the people he met. "A little less spirituality," he wrote, "and the Indians would now be free - free from foreign dominion and from the tyranny of their own prejudices and traditions. There would be less dirt and more food. There would be fewer Maharajas with Rolls Royces and more schools."


He was not impressed at all by the Taj Mahal, and told everyone so. "These four thin tapering towers," he wrote in Jesting Pilate, "are among the ugliest structures ever erected by human hands." Whatever one thinks of the Taj Mahal, it seems a greater dissatisfaction with the world and his place in it may have been the cause of this observation.

Things got better as soon as they left Calcutta for Burma. Dutch ships took them to the Philippines. From there they landed in Japan, taking the train to Kyoto and departing via Yokohama. Aldous watched Maria's eating closely, preventing her from having too much caviar, the only food she felt comfortable consuming at sea.

Japan was almost as nauseating to Aldous as India, but for different reasons. Kyoto was "such a collection of the cheap and shoddy, of the quasi-genuine and the imitation solid, of the vulgar and the tawdry." The industrial city did not suit Aldous' taste at all:

Little wooden shacks succeeds little wooden shack interminably, mile after mile; and the recession of the straight untidy roads is emphasised by the long lines of posts, the sagging electric wires that flank each street, like the trees of an avenue. All the cowboys in the world could live in Kyoto, all the Forty-Niners. Street leads into identical street, district merges indistinguishably into district. In this dreary ocean of log-cabins almost the only White Houses are the hotels.

with D.H. Lawrence

San Francisco was next, and from there Maria and Aldous took the Daylight Limited train to Los Angeles. They did not stay long in any one American city; Hollywood was "altogether too Antipodean to be lived in." (Aldous would spend the majority of the rest of his life in Southern California.)

When they returned to England from New York, Maria went to see Matthew while Aldous stayed in England. It had been only the two of them for so long.


While they were apart, Aldous wrote Maria long letters. They prefigure a latent unhappiness that would lead him to adultery, but also the connection that would allow the marriage to survive his mistakes until Maria died of breast cancer in 1955.

I think myself it's rather nice to be busy and practical on the outside - and daydreams, as you call it, inside. The things one cares about are all inside, like seeds on the ground in winter. But one has to attend to the things one only half cares about. And so life passes away.

Luckily, the inside thing corresponds with the inside thing in just a few people. I think it is so with us. We don't fit in very well outside - but the inside corresponds, which is most important.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Bowls (Gavin Russo's Rework)" - Caribou (mp3)

"Odessa (Junior Boys mix)" - Caribou (mp3)

Thursday
Oct022014

In Which We Translate John Ashbery From The Original

Positively the Last

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Collected French Translations
by John Ashbery
editors Rosanne Wasserman & Eugene Richie

Once or twice a year I get an e-mail asking me what I admire about John Ashbery.

Max Jacob was a prose poet who died in a concentration camp. He abdicated his Judaism, which meant that no Jew would claim him. He resented his homosexuality, which meant that no gay would. And he was a gay Jew, which meant the Catholicism he chose after being visited on a rainy night in 1909 by Jesus Christ would never bring up his name. He is the sort of figure who disappears from history because he has no people.

In his other French translations, collected for the first time in a volume edited by Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie, John Ashbery fields a dutiful fidelity to the text. With Max Jacob something seems different, off  the surrealist poet and his scribe are equally reflective. There is a sympathy here. When two lenses mirror each other, you get something like this:


Surrealism as a whole was filled with junksters and cretins. Jacob was just another unhappy young man in a place and time that attracted poets like "the cushions of the night commode." Ashbery stood out among his trendy friends with his studiousness and capacity for self-awareness. He could see his friends for what they were as well as what they weren't; a rare gift in any collective.

As a pre-teen, Ashbery kept his private writings in French so that his parents could not read them. For his sixteenth birthday, they gave him a French dictionary, so it seems Mom and Dad were out to lunch.

Any translator takes on work for money alone, and Ashbery's versions of prose poems by André Breton and Paul Éluard are intensely restrained, and even resonate as semi-critical at times: translation as light parody. There is a similar lack of an expansive quality in his replications of Rimbaud, who seems childish and simple in Ashbery's grasp. Illuminations was a lot worse than I remember it.

Reading this stuff always pushes me back to Ashbery's poetry in English. Prose iterations were never his forte, and his novel with James Schuyler, A Nest of Ninnies, is a complete mess. The form of the line that he mastered in long and short form was always his calling.

There is an occasional feeling when reading the translated verse of Ashbery's friend Pierre Martory that one gets in Ashbery all the time: that of existence beyond the poem. In Ashbery, the world is always present as a functioning, breathing abstraction that drives all his transparent creativity. Coming back to other poets after that is such a dreadful disappointment.


Ashbery has never not chosen the right verb, and because action is somewhat rare here, the mere sounding of a bell or echo of the same is enough to rattle the cages.

In his brilliant book of poetics, Advice to a Young Poet, Max Jacob writes that "in poetry the precise value of the word only has value when the precision is exaggerated." Jacob is making a surrealist joke, but it is lost on us now. The thrill of chaos for its own sake died during the first World War. "Art is a game," Jacob continues. "Too bad for anyone who makes it a duty."

Reading Ashbery's work for hire, you do wish he had maybe taken his job a bit less diligently. Same for Lydia Davis with Proust. They both felt they owed something to the masters they translated, but think of what new masterpieces we would have if they had reworked things to their own satisfaction. Something like this, perhaps:

In a way this kind of writing brushes away all other efforts. Sentiment absorbs cynicism. The man's songs exude arrogance in everything except the way they announce themselves. I wonder what they thought, when they first read Hamlet, pretty much that everything else was shit? Who would bother writing after that?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. Experience our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Spotless Mind" - Jhene Aiko (mp3)

"To Love & Die" - Jhene Aiko ft. Cocaine 80s (mp3)


Monday
Sep222014

In Which We All Seem To Need The Help Of Someone Else

mental illness what not

Man and Woman

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Camille Claudel was only 18 when she met the greatest sculptor who ever lived. Auguste Rodin was 24 years her elder, and it was the first time she had ever been to Paris.

As a means of attracting students, Rodin visited a group of young artists at the rue Notre Dame des Champs. At the time, he could barely make his rent, and often had to beg his contracted students to pay their bills. Under Rodin's instruction Camille excelled as both a model and an artist. He was especially attracted to her limbs; casts of hands and feet were often the first things he showed his apprentices. He began consulting his new muse about every aspect of his work. The two would go on to collaborate on a number of projects that would bear Rodin's name alone.

By 1885 Rodin was completely obsessed with his young assistant: her feminine form, her unfamiliar accent, the mere scent of her. Initially, their affair was kept quiet, as Rodin continued his 20-year relationship with a woman who he also sculpted, Rose Beuret. Several biographies of Rodin exclude Camille altogether; one calls her "la belle artiste." She still lived with her parents, and her lack of accessibility was a major part of her charm for the older man.

the only babrer irir

Rodin was a help and a hindrance in Camille's quest to finding herself as a young woman. In a questionnaire offered in a playful journal titled "An Album of Confessions to Record Thoughts, Feelings, Etc", she wrote the following:

Your favorite virtue I don't have any, they are all boring.

Your favorite qualities in a man To obey his wife

Your favorite qualities in a woman To make her husband fret

Your favorite occupation To do nothing

Your chief characteristic Caprice and inconstancy

Your idea of happiness To marry general Boulanger

Your idea of misery To be the mother of many children

Your favorite color and flower The most changing color and the flower which does not change

If not yourself, who would you be? A hackney horse in Paris

Your favorite poet One who does not write verses

Your favorite painters and composers Myself

Your favorite heroes in real life Pranzini or Truppman

Your favorite heroines in real life Louise Michel

Your favorite heroes in fiction Richard III

Your favorite heroines in fiction Lady Macbeth

Your favorite food and drink De la cuisine de Merlatti (love and fresh water)

Your favorite names Abdonide, Josephyr, Alphee, Boulang

Your pet aversion Maids, hackney drivers, and models

What characters in history do you most dislike? They are all disagreeable.

What is your present state of mind? It is too difficult to tell.

For what faults have you most tolerance? I tolerate all my faults but not at all other people's

Your favorite motto. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Camille Claudel

The first time Camille left their cozy arrangement in Paris was a vacation to the Isle of Wight with her best friend. Free of her life in Paris and her intrusive family, she was on her own for the first time. She told her friends, "I have never had so much fun in my entire life."

Left to his own devices, Rodin was lovesick and upset, and he did not find his girlfriend's letters at all reassuring. He told her, "Don't let me be hurt like this by waiting too long." Their principal disagreement was over other women - Rodin's obsession with the female gender was all consuming. His friend Octave Mirbeau once said of him that "he could do anything, even a crime, for a woman." Once at a dinner with Monet he stared so forcefully at his host's daughters that they all left the table.

as only she can

Unfortunately for Rodin, Camille decided to postpone her return to present one of her sculptures in Nottingham. She wrote him a savage letter that began, "You can believe I am not very happy here; it seems that I am so far away from you. There is always something missing tormenting me." This kind of behavior naturally only intensified Rodin's desire for her. In one of his typical lovesick letters, he wrote,

My poor head is very sick, and I can't get up any more this morning. Last night, I wandered (for hours) in our favorite places without finding you, how sweet death would be and how long is my agony. Why didn't you wait for me at the atelier? Where are you going? To what suffering have I been destined? During moments of amnesia, I suffer less, but today even the relentless pain remains. Camille my beloved in spite of everything, in spite of the madness which I feel impending and which will be your doing, if this continues. Why don't you believe me?

I abandon my Salon and sculpture. If I could go anywhere, to a country where I would forget, but there isn't any. Frankly, there are times when I believe I will forget you. But, in an instant, I feel your terrible power. Have pity, cruel girl. I can't go on, I can't spend another day without seeing you. Otherwise the atrocious madness. It is over, I don't work any more, malevolent goddess, and yet I love furiously.

My Camille be assured that I feel love for no other woman, and that my soul belongs to you.

I can't convince you and my arguments are powerless. You don't believe my suffering. I weep and you question it. I have not laughed in so long. I don't sing anymore everything is dull and indifferent to me. I am already a dead man and I don't understand the trouble I went through for things which are now indifferent to me. Let me see you every day; it will be a generous action and maybe I will get better, because you alone can save me through your kindness.

Today of course she would immediately post that on tumblr.

Mere expressions of love alone would not be enough to win Camille over. She was not involved enough to give herself over to a womanizer without some assurances. Eventually, Rodin was moved to draw up the following bizarre contract.

In the future and starting from today 12 October 1886, I will have for a student only Mademoiselle Camille Claudel and I will protect her alone through all the means I have at my disposal through my friends who will be hers especially through my influential friends.

I will accept no other students so that no other rival talent could be produced by chance, although I suppose that one rarely meets artists as naturally gifted.

At the exhibition, I will do everything I can for the placement and the newspapers.

Under no pretext will I go to Mme.... to whom I will not teach sculpture anymore. After the exhibition in May we will go to Italy and and will live there communally for at least six months of an indissouble liasion after which Mademoiselle Camille will be my wife. I will be very happy to offer a marble figurine if Mademoiselle Camille wishes to accept it within four or five months.

From now until May I will have no other woman otherwise the conditions of this contract are broken.

If my Chilean commission comes through, we will go to Chile instead of Italy.

I will take none of the models I have known.

We will have a photograph taken by Carjat in the outfit worn by Mademoiselle Camille at the Academie, day clothes and possibly evening clothes.

Mademoiselle Camille will stay in Paris until May.

Mademoiselle Camille promises to welcome me to her atelier four times a month until May.

Rodin

After the contract was signed, the momentum of the relationship shifted. Having agreed to her master's wishes, he possessed all the power. Camille deeply feared Rodin taking other women into his bed, especially the models that posed for him. Things were further complicated by the fact that Beuret, the mother of Rodin's son, found out about his concubine and began to loathe Camille. In response, he moved his mistress into an apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

The affair slowly fell apart after that. The last straw was Claudel's miscarriage; paranoid about the promises her lover had broken, the next decade found her destroying her own artwork and tearing down the presumably yellow wallpaper of her apartment. Although doctors would argue she did not belong there, at her brother's request she would spend the last thirty years of her life in an asylum five miles from Avignon.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

I JUST DDDD

"I'm A Mother" - Perfume Genius (mp3)

"Fool" - Perfume Genius (mp3)

dreams can come trrue