Showing posts from June, 2015

Istanbul (book)

How do you write a book to convey to someone the essence of an entire city? Especially a city as historically and culturally complex as Istanbul. Moreover, is it possible to do so with any kind of objectivity when one’s personal experiences of a place shape one’s impression of it. Istanbul is by no means a travel guide but it definitely succeeds in giving the “feel” of the city.  Orhan Pamuk does a magnificent job of bringing together history, architecture, art, sociology, and his own memoire to produce that feeling. Pamuk explores various medium which Istanbul has been perceived and discussed in the west and how this dialogue affected how Istanbul intellectuals and artists see their city.  He argues that this is not a true reflection of the city but a westernised and romanticised version ; because historically there was so much pressure for Istanbul to become westernised the opinions of the west were lapped up without much criticism or self-reflection by the Istanbul intellectuals.

American Beauty (film)

American Beauty (Directed by Sam Mendes)/1999   American Beauty had such a massive impact on popular art-cinema that at times it seems a bit of a cliché. It has the weird depressed artistic kid, the self-help infatuated business people, the hyper-sexualised blonde girl, the emasculated dad, the evil corporate boss, and the repressed homophobic military man. Yet, I think the feeling of cliché that can affect the viewer of this movie is mostly the result of the influence it had on how the disaffection of modern American culture was portrayed in the television shows and movies that followed rather than due to an inherent flaw in the movie.   This is a movie about the meaninglessness of modern American life. It shows the breakdown of the family unit, where all family members are against each other in a domestic cold-war. Individuals working in companies are treated without respect and do not feel any purpose and hence motivation to perform their job well. Those that do feel passio

Molloy (book)

Molloy (Samuel Beckett)/1951 Molloy is a book of two halves: the first half is a first-person narrative told by Molloy and the second told by Malone. The book as a whole can be broadly said to outline and explore the reason and self of each character and how these things only make sense within the context of the meaning of existence as a whole. Molloy's reason is abnormal from the outset of the novel. He does things without knowing why; he constantly questions himself back and forward without reaching a conclusion as he sees no objective basis for selecting one option above the other. Molloy is driven by the purpose of finding his mother, but has no reason for doing so and no idea where she currently is. Through the character of Molloy (and later Malone), Beckett points to the absurdity of action without objective morality or purpose: that reason, after the death of God in European society, is stranded without a final goal for action. We chase goals that have no fundamen