Tonight we're having guests over for dinner, for the first time in more than a year. (We still know no one here.) I've done the shopping (making a stir fried chicken basil thing, with fried basil leaves) and now prepare to settle in to my study for an afternoon's work. Basketball calls to me, but not very loudly. Very dizzy when I woke up, but it seems to have abated. Wife is home, her typical weekend grouchiness exacerbated by the worries about having people coming over later. After waking I was told to reclean the muffin pan. Muffin pan now (I hope) meets high standards of cleanliness held by wife. Cannot go forward in life without spotless, unused-looking muffin pan. This lesson I have learned once more.
Rewatched the second half of Big Lebowski last night, motivated in part by recent DVD viewing of a documentary The Little Lebowski Achievers (or some such). Film is about the birth and growth of the Lebowski cult, people who travel around the US every year to go to Lebowski festivals, dress in elaborate costumes, memorize Lebowski trivia, etc. Current thesis about Coen brothers (and my ongoing reservations about their cool, chilly, technically briliant work): they are the triumph of craft over art. They are ALL craft, no art. The distinction, I know, is not clear cut. (And Eliot, I think, argues persuasively at some point that at a certain point, extreme craft IS art.) Like Kubrick, they excel at everything except...I don't know. "Connect", in the words of my play. Mojo. Inspiration. Soul? Maybe this is why their best films are adaptations (True Grit, Miller's Crossing).... This is not the most fully fleshed-out idea, I know. Art vs. craft an ongoing obesssion of mine. Is there a distinction (yes, I think). If so, what is it? To me it is the difference between, say, the Beetles and Boston, between Bowie and David Sylvian, between the Coens and Tarkovsky (or Linklater, to pick someone more recent).
But then I consider someone like Updike or Nabokov, writers both vulnerable to similar criticisms. My feeling is that, at least in their best works, both men absolutely prove themselves to be artists, but I can see how each, in their writing, can seem similarly skewed. Maybe if my ability to appreciate techincal accomplishment in film were greater, I'd rate the Coens or Kubrick as highly as I do Updike, in literature?
Be interesting to hear the thoughts of my many millions of readers. (Except yours, Gullett. No one wants to hear those).
Ok, have to work.