The Cartoon Utopia
by Ron Rege.
-This book took me a long time to read. It's difficult, but it's also a comics masterpiece. Seeing it in terms of form and content is the key. I admit that I can get cranky and midwestern about this kind of subject matter and the difficult forms these comics take, but in the end I came around and can see the crazy experience of enlightenment shining through, the kind of thing that calls for this kind of presentation. It can be frustrating as the book jumps from weird thing to weird thing, your mind working overtime: "is dis a system?" "Huh?" That's the point, in a sense. It's like this...no--it's like this... How to explain something unexplainable, how to give form to a whole full bodied experience of being a half-crazy human being with ideas about peace and harmlessness and how one thing connects to the next? It's one thing to write this stuff, it's a whole other level to try and draw it in comics form. Ron is forced to stretch the comics language to communicate this overwhelming "material." Every aspect of comics warps or breaks, trying to hold on, readability, panel border, panel logic, etc. Utopia means "no place" and "the perfect world." You try drawing a map to it! RR is trying to really get some tricky stuff down on paper, and so the comics are tricky to read. What an accomplishment.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
Saturday, August 03, 2013
The Liberation of Tolstoy
by Ivan Bunin (ed. Thomas Gaiton Marullo and Vladimir T. Khmelkov)
-Got this on the library sale table and read it off and on to fall asleep. It's basically only for the diehard--I didn't enjoy it and kept reading only because it put me to sleep easily with its lack of structure and jumping from one thing to the next. The obsessive endnotes by the editors are longer than the actual book (!) which is an impressionistic "spiritual" biography of Tolstoy by Bunin (the first Russian to win the Nobel for literature). Both the notes and the actual book jump around Tolstoy's life, quoting him all the time about this and that, and generally I thought the whole thing was confusing and Tolstoy comes across like an emotional spaz and half a flake with a crazy family life and a crazy celebrity life. I guess it's great how he stands up to the church and the authorities. He seems like he fought with his own massive ego all his life and did what he could to try to help people and was a genius. He tries to be a good pig farmer at one point, but then starves the pigs basically to death so they wouldn't squeal so much. A lot of the book deals with the end of his life, where he's dying but his wife is driving him so insane that he sneaks out of the house so he can go hide somewhere and die in peace! She fakes a suicide attempt to try to get him to come back! Tolstoy got into Buddhism too, I guess, along with the rest. I didn't know that.