Amoeblog

Giving up the Ghost: Ghost World

Posted by Charles Reece, April 15, 2012 11:57pm | Post a Comment
john barth end of the road   ghost world enid

[This essay originally appeared as part of a roundtable over at The Hooded Utilitarian.]

Reading Daniel Clowes' Ghost World again got me to thinking about John Barth’s nihilist novel, The End of the Road. The latter begins at a bus station; the former ends at a bus stop. And much like Barth’s protagonist, Jacob Horner, Enid spends the duration of the story searching for an identity, but only succeeds in finding what she’s not. Horner is a middle-aged academic type who’s managed to think himself into a hole, not seeing any potential action as better grounded than another -- sort of an infinite regress of self. Thus, he’s sitting in a bus station in a state of existential paralysis, not able to even come up with a good reason to get on a bus and leave his former (non-) life behind. The abiding gloom that pervades all of Ghost World's vignettes -- undercutting Enid’s hipper-than-thou detachment from those around her -- is a sense that she’s headed to the same destination as Horner: nowhere.

I figure there must be some consilience here, since kinukitty’s main reason for not liking Clowes’ book -- that it’s neither real nor funny -- reminds me of Barth’s prefatory defense of his story:

Jacob Horner […] embodies my conviction that one may reach such a degree of self-estrangement as to feel no coherent antecedent for the first-person-singular pronoun. […] If the reader regards [this] egregious [condition] (as embodied by the [narrator]) as merely psychopathological -- that is, as symptomatic rather than emblematic -- the [novel] make[s] no moral-dramatic sense. [p. viii]

I realize that if one has to defend something as funny, it’s never going to make it so to those not laughing. This is particularly true of existentialist humor, since it’s kind of the obverse of prat falls, namely only funny when it happens to me. So I’m going to stick to the reality of Enid’s predicament. The End of the Road is a bit abstract, where Horner goes through a series of fanciful psychotherapeutic treatments in search of a cure (the search is, of course, at the insistence of a psychiatrist). The most relevant of these is mythotherapy, which involves acting in a chosen character role with the purpose of having it stick ghost world enid beckythrough habituation -- an irrational solution to a rational psychosis. Clowes treats the identity formation of teenagers in much the same way, but with a recognizant teen who, like Horner, can’t ignore the ontological arbitrariness undergirding the whole process. Just because teens regularly slip into an adult role without much of a hitch doesn’t mean that there’s not a good deal of truth in her depicted inertia.

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Is There a 78 Revival Going On?

Posted by V.B., March 5, 2012 05:00pm | Post a Comment
To check out extensive LP label and price guides, head to the Vinyl Beat website!

One reaction to the digitization of our world has been the resurgence of vinyl and record collecting.Checker 78 vinyl little walter blues with a feeling People say it’s because a record feels real and sounds better than its CD or MP3 counterpart. Also dropping a needle on a turntable feels like a throwback to simpler times. Some people are taking it even further.

Some collectors are going to the roots and discovering 78s. BTW, these aren’t vinyls; they’re actually made out of a shellac mixture and are pretty fragile compared to vinyl. 78s have a broader tonal spectrum of 400hz to 10,000hz and they sound noticeably better than a 45, LP, CD, or MP3. There’s more music in their grooves!

However, there are some prerequisites for collecting 78s. First you need a turntable that can play them. A good portable ‘50s electric tube record player that can be bought at a garage sale for $50 - $100 will suffice. Purists will get an old wind up Victrola from the ‘20s or ‘30s that’s a real piece of furniture. Some prefer the cheap new designer players. They’ll work, but only until you get something better. The next step is to get a 78 needle if needed and to get your player in working order. Finally, you need to appreciate some of the music from before 1956, because there ain’t no Madonna 78s.

1920s 1930s 20s 30s victrola vintage vinyl 78s            1950s 50s electric tube record player turntable portable vinyl 78s


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Ghost World - Walking Amongst the Living Dead

Posted by Miss Ess, May 11, 2010 04:01pm | Post a Comment
I had completely forgotten how good a movie Ghost World is, and I also can't believe it's been almost 10 years since it first came out in 2001!

ghost world

I don't think I had seen it again since then, and watching this film again with 9 years more life experience under my belt was enlightening in a way. I kinda can't believe this film ever got made, with its explicitly outsider view of the world and brash bitterness.
ghost world steve buscemi
That said, Ghost World, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, is hilarious and accurate when it comes to commentary on our ever-more conglomerated modern world and the rough task of even attempting to remain an individual within it. Enid (Thora Birch) and her best friend Becky (Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated from high school -- free at last to blossom further into the budding creative types they already are! But is it possible to grow up and not sell out? I love Enid and Becky's dry, honest take on the people and places that surround them, and how the film portrays adolescent boredom and minutiae in all its pathetic, short-sighted and unabashedly self-assured glory.

When they meet 78 collector Seymour (fully embodied by Steve Buscemi), Enid's world opens up further. She learns about integrity and idiosyncrasy in a way that the surrounding city itself can't teach, with its hip hop jukeboxed "50's" diners and "sell up" policy-laden multiplexes...

My favorite character in the film is Enid's caftan-ensconced, spiky haired art teacher, who has aghost world ileana douglas background in performance art (of course!), played to consummate perfection by Illeana Douglas. In fact, anyone who has sat through a high school art class will no doubt twitter in recognition of and amusement with its particular players, portrayed flawlessly here.

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Ghost Blogging: Ghost World Roundtable

Posted by Charles Reece, December 27, 2009 08:48am | Post a Comment
ghost world hard back

I guess I should've posted a link to the entertaining Ghost World roundtable that I participated in over at Noah Berlatsky's Hooded Utilitarian. A fun time was had by most, if not all. It begins here.