Month: July 2014

The Verbal Harmony of Milan Kundera (Translation)

His father, Ludvik Kundera, was a musician, and Milan learned to play during his early childhood as a result of a certain infectious harmony: Ludvik had studied music with Leos Janacek, the great Czech composer, and from there came the essential concepts that would influence his later writing. For the first twenty-five years of his life, Milan Kundera was fixated on music, including a composition for quartet that he had written under the influence of one essential concept, polyphony. Analyzing the structure of both Beethoven and Janacek, he learned the intention and pace of movements in a piece of music. In his early years, he studied musical composition and musicology, and only afterwards did he settle into giving himself completely to literature. Nevertheless, you are what you are and as a musician, that never changes. Kundera would apply everything he had learned throughout his musical education to the formation of concepts he had already found in authors such as Hermann Broch and Robert Musil, but with a more complete mastery over language, the novel, time, …

Notes on Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”

“I thought there would be more to it.” This is what Mason’s mother says toward the end of the film when it becomes apparent that her son is no longer a child. Part-metaphor, part-criticism, it’s a subtle moment when the film acknowledges itself through the irony of such a literal interpretation, a reference to the unfiltered experience it provides. Because the narrative can at times be plain, offering moments from childhood that are both familiar and clichéd. In many ways, “Boyhood” connects these clichés to show that they are not isolated from one another. They happen at almost every stage of life; whether it be Mason getting bullied or having his first beer; talking about sex with his father, breaking up with his first girlfriend, etc. It’s like a sequence of events that become more obvious as the story progresses. That’s not really the most important aspect of the film. Instead, what we experience is the scale and magnitude of the story. This is a technical achievement, a time capsule that provides a portrait of …

Notes on Boyhood & Its Awkward Shout Out to Migrant Workers

There are two scenes in this film that have no place in the story. In the first scene, Patricia Arquette’s character is discussing a broken pipe with a man who is trying to explain in his broken English that the pipe, which is literally in pieces, needs to be replaced. He then mentions that the pipe his colleague is standing on (which is not broken) would be a better fit. Essentially, he is trying to say, “Pipe no good. This pipe better.” I’m sorry to sound crude, but there wasn’t much discourse on the art of plumbing during this exchange, though it should have been obvious to anyone that the original pipe was busted and had to be replaced. It doesn’t take a genius to–I digress. Anyway, Patricia Arquette’s character asks if he is certain (just look at the damn pipe, lady) and seems impressed by his resolve. She tells him that he’s smart and decides to change his life by introducing the revolutionary idea of formal education. Maybe he can enroll at the local …