Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 27, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Jul 21
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wolfpartyjoe said: 9 and 23?

9. Favourite historical film

That’s a tough one, actually. For a start, I’m not much a film buff, although I have recently realised I will watch anything from the 1970s, particularly with the involvement of Scorsese, De Niro, New York, poorly paved streets, etc. But when it comes to history, I think I prefer engaging with it on the grand, or at least political/’intellectual’, scale that doesn’t really translate into cinematic representation very easily. Unless it’s a character study posed in an historical epoch I like, I suppose - but I don’t even read much historical fiction, as opposed to fiction written in (or near to) historical periods. As a depiction of social history, I rather liked Jimmy’s Hall this year, although it’s probably good rather than great as a film. Really, I’d have to include TV drama series: CarnivaleBand of Brothers, and Mad Men. Or for a film based on a really good book, the 1967 version of Ulysses

23. Favourite historical song

Certainly in terms of how often the chorus gets stuck in my head, the Clash’s ‘Spanish Bombs’, although untangling the references can get pretty complicated

history film
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Jul 19
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Because excess information is “pushed” at us rather than something we have to seek out, we are always being reminded that there is more to know than we can assimilate, and that what we know is a partial representation, a construct. Like a despairing dissertation writer, we cannot help but know that we can’t assimilate all the knowledge it’s possible to collect. Each new piece of information raises further questions, or invites more research to properly contextualize it.

No Life Stories - The New Inquiry

Really interesting Rob Horning piece about data surveillance, population control, the construction of the self, truth and probability (and profit). Although this line is actually a plot point from The Matrix: Reloaded*

"A margin of noncompliance has already been factored in and may in fact be integral to the containment of the broader social dynamics being modeled at the population level."

(*you know, the scene with all the tv screens, and the long expository speech - that I couldn’t really follow when I saw it first, but just happened to be watching a few nights ago)

internet film the matrix
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Sep 23
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imagefuturist said: Hi. great quote. have you seen Pat Collins documentary about Tim Robinson? Its a fine film. vimeo.com/3562844…if you can find it, check it out.

Cool, thanks, I’ll keep an eye out for it. I really enjoyed his other film Silence, and this seems like it covers similar themes as well. In fact I wonder if this quote might not actually have been from Tim Robinson?

interstate808 said: That book is right at the top of my list right now, dying to read his whole trilogy of Connemara books.

I saw the trilogy all in one volume in Hodges Figgis a while ago (before I knew I was coming to Galway). To be honest I’m not sure I really like his writing style - it seems rather verbose, but that may just be because I’m tired and reading a lot of other heavy stuff - so I chiefly bought it for the map and the ‘gazetteer’ with all the info on place-names and geography. That said, I am generally quite up for philosophical musings on space and time.

tim robinson galway irish books film
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Jun 30
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sixty heads ready to burst open like futile pomegranates under a hail of shrapnel

Victor Serge, Conquered City (1975)

1. I saw Scanners for the first time last night. The exploding-head scene was familiar from a myriad of clip shows, but the finale was both new to me and genuinely impressive.

2. I’m about halfway through reading this other Serge novel, and its also peppered with these transcendent images which simultaneously pull you out of what you’re reading and push you further into the reality of what he’s talking about (in this case, the Russian Civil War).

victor serge books film
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Apr 05
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I often notice when it’s very still here, there’s a sort of velvety texture to the stillness, and it’s made up of subliminal sounds coming in from great distances | the waves are never absolutely still, there’s waves breaking at different times on all these little coasts… the sound is reaching us here with various delays and attenuations… and producing a sort of generalised hushing sound. And I was thinking this is almost like as if you were listening to the sound of the past… not really of history, which has its definite sort of structures to it, but all the bits of the past that don’t get into history, all the voices that are forgotten, never been heard, never expressed themselves… all telling their own story, and these stories in a way all cancelling each other out, to a sort of voiceless confusion

unnamed speaker, Silence

(at least I didn’t recognise the voice, which was off-camera, and it didn’t sound like any of the other people who did appear in the film - which may sound strange but the director is on record as saying there are little tricks like that to, if not confuse viewers, then make them think about what they’re seeing and hearing)

This - endless, echoing sound - is a really powerful romantic idea: it’s in the opening of Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever (in the sound of the Big Bang echoing around the universe), it’s in the story of the Listening Monks in Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music (also an excellent broad satire of rock’n’roll) and also obliquely, as I recently rediscovered, in Tolkien’s creation myth for the world of Middle Earth (where the Music of the Ainur becomes the template for the entirety of history). I think, though, that the simultaneous existence and negation of voices in it is an even more powerful addition.

sound Perfecting Sound Forever tolkien silence irish film
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Silence (2012)

This is a really good film. I like the arc it has between contemplation and conversation, in that it almost seems like a different movie by the end. There’s a good interview with the director here and also a special audio version (‘remix’, if you will) of the film played here.

irish film
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Apr 02
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How Irish scenery looks like in a film, and how it might look like when you’re there…

Top, from Silence (2012) and below, a photograph I took last October. I only saw the film last night - obviously the swirled rock folds of Mullaghmore in Co. Clare are quite irresistible visually. In the film the time of year is stated as May, which is the time to see the Burren, and when one is most likely - though not assured - of having clement weather. It looked slightly unreal to me in the film, as my memory of it didn’t include that much greenness - instead the browns and reds of wet and windswept hills.

It’s amazing how much difference the seasons make, assuming either picture to be a ‘true’ representation of colour (mine least of all, although it fits with my memory). I wish I’d been able to make more of the glistening wet rock on the far hillside, however, but as the raindrops on the lens indicate it wasn’t really the best spot for leisurely photography, or to wait for changing light. 

(In the film, an excellent ‘docudrama’ about a sound recordist searching for places in Ireland free from man-made noise, the only interruption shown is a solitary car passing on a distant road. Though if you descend the hill and come back by its western side, you pass by the Father Ted house on the far side of the valley, the site of some raucous goings-on)

irish film photography silence
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Apr 01
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Die Hard 1916

this is pretty good - by @DangerFarm, via Not The RTÉ Guide

irish comedy film history
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Mar 04
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Vanishing Point (1971)
But which direction do we take, maaan? #existentialism

Vanishing Point (1971)

But which direction do we take, maaan? #existentialism

(Source: unaempanadaporfavor)

film 70s
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Vanishing Point (1971) trailer 

Caught this on Film4 a couple of nights ago, and loved it. The trailer predictably makes it out as a more action-packed movie than it really is (according to Wiki, it didn’t do very well on its initial US release, but received a lot of acclaim in Europe, and was brought back as a double feature with The French Connection). It’s still a ‘carsploitation’ film, as I’ve seen it memorably tagged, but most of the crashes are there in the trailer: the rest of the film is considerably moodier. And it has a great soundtrack (more on which perhaps later).

What caught my attention was the opening scene, which reminded me very strongly of  the characteristic openings of Breaking Bad episodes. In Vanishing Point, the film begins where it ends - sort of - with two earthmovers rolling along the ground to form a roadblock in a Western town (later revealed to be Cisco, Utah). The camera is a low-angle shot, and initially there is no sound other than the rumbling machinery and caterpillar tracks, while silent townspeople stand around watching intently yet dispassionately. Operating in that same kind of desert or semi-desert landscape of Breaking Bad, the film seems equally content to observe people at its unhurried pace: for a movie that appears to be all about speed, it’s also about distance, and thus time. 

It’s also “notable for its scenic film locations across the American Southwest and its social commentary on the post-Woodstock mood in the United States”, although it’s less ‘social commentary’ than conveying a mood somewhere between liberation, apathy and despair. Rather like a less articulate Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (less articulate in that the ‘last American hero’ is moody and mostly mute, although Cleavon Little’s ‘Supersoul’ DJ offers a verbal soundtrack) or the road happenings of Easy Rider, before it all comes crashing down. There’s a strong thread of existentialism (as pretty much every ‘cult movie’ blurb of it states), but hey, that was the time, you know?

The greater tragedy is probably that there was a terrible-sounding TV remake in 1997 starring Viggo Mortensen. It replaced “the lead character’s ambivalent image with a simpler and more palatable, wholesome lead character and motivations, in particular eliminating all references to drug use, rebellion or sexuality, all of which were hallmarks of the 1971 film”, and worse, gave him “a more clear and socially accepted background and reason to drive fast”. (In the remake, he’s driving to his pregnant wife. Which in a way is my problem with Breaking Bad, that its main protagonist’s motivation is a deeply conservative one of “providing for his family”, although to be fair the structure of the show is set up so that it displays the unintended consequences of economic gain. We can’t all be existentialist heroes.) 

film 70s vanishing point breaking bad
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