On Lem's Pericalypsis

perfectVacuumIn the foreword of that joke book that is Perfect Vacuum, where its author, the Polish essayist Stanislaw Lem, reviews a series of nonexistent literary works (they reside only in the universe of his boundless imagination), the prologue writer tells us that, with this, Lem tries to give life to — or perhaps get rid of some of his overabundant ideas, considering that he has much more literary projects than biological lifespan to accomplish them. Thus, by the resource of ‘reviewing’ a few novels that, attributed to equally fictitious authors, he would’ve written himself were his life to last longer, he at least can offer to us the thought arguments or plots, along with the possible, suggested controversy or debate the hypotetical lecturers of the nonexistent books might have come up with. By the way, and for icing the cake, by the end of the foreword we are hinted to suspect that this, too — the foreword itself — is, in turn, Lem’s own craft, and not another person’s. Quite a feat of literary juggling.
Perfect Vacuum is an excellent work; a display of dialectic dexterity, intelligence, logic, and fantasy in equal measure with imagination, all of which at some passages has made me swoon.
And because I have so much liked it, I’m quoting here four of such paragraphs; not necessarily the best, but in any case remarkable ones, most of all considering the decade (the 70’s) they were written, which should suffice to give us an idea of Lem’s amazing clearvoyance and prophetic dowry. All four quotes belong to Perycalipsis, one of the book ‘reviews’ featured in the volume. Continue reading “On Lem's Pericalypsis”

The wrestler

wrestler1If one decade ago I had been told, in light of Sin City and other films of the sort, that I’d ever be moved by Mickey Rourke on the screen, I would’ve not believed it. But welcome be the news: at this age (his, but also mine) it’s comforting to see that the autumn of life can still be very productive — when not terrific.
 
But it’s not always like that, of course; and such is the case of the main character of The wrestler, Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a decaying professional pushing sixty who, in the twilight of his career goes over the rings of the State performing in third class fights. When the many blows he’s taken along perhaps too many years in such job start passing him a serious bill, he tries to put some order in his life — only to find that it’s not so easy to make do for all his past mistakes. Continue reading “The wrestler”

I don’t love you anymore

Of all the memorable movie scenes, this is one of my very favourites: so straightforward, so descriptive, so harsh and life-like, so telling of women’s feelings…
It belongs to the film Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004. Very recommended). Dan and Alice have been arguing, and he leaves her hotel room in anger; but when he’s about to catch the elevator, he suddenly regrets and comes back to the room; back to Alice. But… unfortunately it’s too late. Wretched Dan! It’s simply too late:
— I don’t love you any more –she tells him, her eyes full of sadness, but determined, resolved, firm.
— Since when? –he asks. He is still unexperienced and has not gone through this before; so he doesn’t quite understand the full scope of her statement.
— Since now. It’s over. You can go.
Just like that. And Alice is completely serious. She means it. Oh, yes!, she does. In the lapse of a single minute she has gone from love to not-love. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing he can do or say, make a fool of himself, now or later, for his years to come, to make her change back her mind. Thus young Dan learns tonight this little feature about women’s hearts, getting a wound that will never fully heal; while Alice, sweet Alice, will carry on her own way not ever thinking of Dan again; smiling; without looking back a single time…

Such is life, and such are women, indeed; for, what man in his thirties -leave aside his forties- has not gone through some I don’t love you any more or other? There are way too many Alices out there ready to perform on us this funny trick, and their passionate loves of a while ago, Continue reading “I don’t love you anymore”

Tarkovski revisited

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I was only a teenager when — by suggestion of a friend under the intelectual fever that, in the early 80’s, stroke some middle-class sectors in Spain — I went to an unlikely cineclub in a not so advisable district of Madrid, rather distant from home, for watching a so-called “independent” movie titled Stalker, supposedly of the science-fiction genre and directed by some exotic and unknown (for us) Russian filmmaker called Tarkovski.
Needless to say that, used as I was to the livelier -when not frantic- action pace of USAmerican or European films that (then exactly like today — nothing has changed in this respect) almost exclusively filled our billboards and TV channels, I found it desperatingly slow, mostly boring and virtually incomprehensible. Besides, since I was expecting a “proper” sci-fi work, I was rather disappointed.
However, there was something indefinably interesting about it that outstood; not just the fact that it was different from any other movie I had watched before, but something else that I could not quite grasp; and despite my uneducated taste of those times and my little knowledge of the world — let alone the Russian soul, I had the feeling that it contained some message worth apprehending, and that some kind of art was involved worth being understood. Continue reading “Tarkovski revisited”

17 moments of spring

seventeen-moments-of-springThere are so many TV series out there, one can’t watch them all; not even just the ‘best’ ones (supposing ‘best’ makes any sense when it comes to tastes). Unlike films, series are very much time consuming, and often addictive (actually, for the consumerism cultures we’re totally immerse in, such addictiveness is the ultimate goal of producers, and it is much preferred over quality), and unless you’re as sickly overcritical as I am, or have thrice my free time, you’ll be simply overflowed with the offer and just pick whichever serial is made the easiest for you to watch, or the ones more aggressively distributed and publicized.
And this is how, hadn’t you come across this post, you would miss one of the most and true unforgettable TV series ever: 17 moments of spring (Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny); an excellent twelve-chapter Soviet production from the 70’s directed by Tatyana Lioznova that relates, in a WWII historical background,  the vicissitudes of fictional character Colonel Maksim Maksimovich Isayev, a Soviet undercover agent infiltrated as an officer into Hitler’s SD under the name of Max Stirlitz. The plot covers seventeen moments spread throughout February and March 1945 (not really spring, but well), narrating how Stirlitz struggles to carry out a mission he’s received from Moscow: to ascertain whether some high-rank German officers are trying to secretly negotiate a separate peace deal with the allies in the Western front (that would allow the Germans to concentrate their forces in the East) and, in case affirmative, to try to foil any such agreement. Continue reading “17 moments of spring”