Sunday, January 22, 2012

Philosophical Clowns

For the first time in a while I'm reading Nietzsche's astonishing Thus Spoke Zarathustra—astonishing in so many ways, of course, but principally for its compelling aesthetic intensity, which is not unrelated to what it offers in the way of a view.

There's that passage where the buffoon leaps over a man in the crowd, causing the tightrope walker to plunge to his death. The buffoon then threatens Zarathustra, inciting him to leave lest the buffoon leap over him too.

The buffoon silences the crowd and emits a cry like the devil when he leaps.

So I thought immediately of our Pierrot project, and whether we (you, dear reader and us) might be able to think some more philosophical clowns.

Did Giraud read Nietzsche? Did Schoenberg? The answer to that last question is yes—he had at least two of Nietzsche's books on his shelf.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boulez, Le Marteau sans Maitre

It's something like the nephew of Pierrot Lunaire. I've only just started listening to it, so what I say about it won't make much sense yet. But it's a setting of poetry (by René Char) and it's a chamber piece. And it has Sprechstimme, which Schoenberg devised for Pierrot Lunaire.

The red caravan on the edge of the nail
And corpse in the basket
And plowhorses in the horseshoe
I dream my head on the point of my knife is Peru.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alex Robbins, 195 Lead Masks

Our first offering. An auspicious occasion indeed. More of Robbins's work can be seen here: ONE, TWO, THREE.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Despair of Pierrot

By James Ensor (1892). What a stunning image. Ensor has some other Pierrot and related paintings, which I shall post here.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I'm sitting here in this Viennese Café in south Davis, drinking a cup of coffee, writing various things. It seems right to acknowledge this fact here, in the Carnival Tent, since I am also listening to Berg's Passacaglia. It's a very nice Konditorei. I am a huge fan of Berg's opera Lulu, which also has a circus theme, and I'm looking for good online adaptations of it to embed here.

A poster here reads Scharzenbergplatz Mai-Okt / Kuntschau, Wien 1908. Klimt showed some extraordinary things there.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Call for Offerings

Roll up, roll up! The carnival tent is open for performers of all kinds. Graham Harman and I would like to extend to you an invitation to submit work to the Tent. But who is you anyway?

You are a composer or a musician; you are a playwright; you are a sound artist; you are a visual artist; you do design; you make movies; you do philosophy, you are a poet or a storyteller or a novelist; you are an architect; you do dance;  you do experimental media; you create games; you write software. And so on and so on.

We shall be inviting some people we know too, in person. But we wanted to extend a friendly, slightly leering, clownlike invitation to you, yes you.

Your offerings need not be original or unique to this site. Of course, we would welcome that. But if you simply want to post a link to something, that would also be good.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pierrot Lunaire on Video

I just got hold of Oliver Herrmann's movie of Boulez and Schäfer's Pierrot Lunaire on DVD. You can find a Vimeo version of this in “Pierrot Lumiere.” It's an incredibly fresh production. In particular I like very much how nonhumans come into the picture constantly: a plastic dinosaur, a corridor, a gigantic video display.