Archive for the ‘Mary Shelley’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO-My LIfe in the Bush of Ghosts [Remix website] (1981, 2006).

I’m stealing the bulk of these comments from a Pitchfork review of the album reissue because I have never actually listened to this album which I’ve known about for decades.

When Eno and Byrne released My Life in 1981 it seemed like a quirky side project.  But now, Nonesuch has repackaged it as a near-masterpiece, a milestone of sampled music, and a peace summit in the continual West-meets-rest struggle. So we’re supposed to see Bush of Ghosts as a tick on the timeline of important transgressive records.  Nonesuch made an interesting move that could help Bush of Ghosts make history all over again: they launched a “remix” website, at www.bush-of-ghosts.com, where any of us can download multitracked versions of two songs, load them up in the editor of our choice, and under a Creative Commons license, do whatever we want with them.

The only thing is, at the time this review was written, the site was not up yet.  And as I write this in 2019, there’s nothing on the site except for a post from 2014 about Virgin Media and Sky TV.  Alas.

[READ: May 1, 2019] “The Ecstasy of Influence”

Back in the day I was a vocal proponent of free speech.  It was my Cause and I was very Concerned about it.

It’s now some thirty years later and I don’t really have a Cause anymore.  It’s not that I care less about free speech, but I do care less about the Idea of free speech.

Had I read this article in the 1990s, I would have framed it.  Right now I’m just very glad that people are still keeping the torch alive.

Lethem begins this essay about plagiarism by discussing a novel in which a travelling salesman is blown away by the beauty of a preteen girl named Lolita  That story, Lolita, was written in 1916 by Heinz von Lichberg.  Lichberg later became a journalist for the Nazis and his fiction faded into history.  But Vladimir Nabokov lived in Berlin until 1937.  Was this unconscious borrowing or was it “higher cribbing.”

The original is evidently not very good and none of the admirable parts of Nabokov’s story are present in the original.

Or Bob Dylan.  He appropriated lines in many of his songs.  He borrowed liberally from films, paintings and books.  Perhaps that is why Dylan has never refused a request for a sample. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 22, 2015] The Case of the Missing Moonstone

wollensI was immediately attracted to this book because of the title of the series.  What an intriguing idea.  When we started listening to it, I was even more excited because of how Stratford has taken reality and tinkered with it to make this intriguing mystery.

The preface explains exactly what Stratford is up to:

This is a made-up story about two very real girls: Ada Byron, who has been called the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author. Ada and Mary didn’t really know one another, nor did they have a detective agency together.  Mary and Ada were eighteen years apart in age, not three, as they are in the world of Wollstonecraft.
Setting that aside, the characters themselves are as true to history as we are able to tell.  At the end of the book, there are notes that reveal more about what happened to each of them in real life, so that you can enjoy the history as much as I hope you’ll enjoy the story.  Because the history bit is brilliant.

The plot is a mystery, of course, but it takes a long time to actually get to the mystery (long into the second of three audio discs).  Because the beginning of the book does an excellent job of establishing character and setting.  It even feels like it may have been written in the time period in which it is set–the prose is kind of leisurely and very British (or at least that is how it is read by Nicola Barber, whose voice is simply perfect for this story).  So even though there was no actual mystery I really enjoyed these opening chapters.

As the story opens we meet young Ada.  She is obviously brilliant–reading books at a young age, creating fascinating science experiments (she is trying to imagine how fast a sock would have to fly for it to hurt someone and imagines inventing a sock cannon) and hanging out in the gondola of a hot-air balloon (which is tethered to her house).  But she has no real connection to the world and doesn’t even know the names of her maids and servants (thinking the woman who just left to get married was called Miss Coverlet).  In fact there are some hilarious malaprops later in the book. Her father (Lord Byron) is long gone and her mother is away.  So her mother has hired a tutor to look after Ada. (more…)

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