Across the universe of the reading internet a terrifying void exists where one might find personal sites devoted to the various books and films that we consume. So as to begin to fill this lacuna …
To be a denizen of the twenty-first century is to be a consumer of diverse cultural products. My own roots in the 20th century and my intellectual formation in literary modernity privilege books and films. And I simply don’t know how to write about music … or art.
The books and films read and watched recently . . .
— Narcos: Mexico (2018–), 1.1-2. Prior to having watched this I found myself repeatedly exasperated at the number of Netflix offerings to the lore of the narco. It reminds me of that great episode of Law and Order where a character whose father had been killed by mafia complains about how we idolize and celebrate a bunch of scumbags (this actress went on to play a not insignificant role in The Sopranos).
So watching Narcos: Mexico was an expression of fatigue.
— Narcos: Mexico, 1.3-5. Yet I highly esteem the actor Diego Luna, who plays El Padrino Félix Gallardo (to whose Wikipedia page I will not link!), for his character (Cassian Andor) in the best of all of the Star Wars films, Rogue One (2016). In the beginning of Narcos, he channels the nobility of that character, but as you might imagine, it does not last.
— Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer, 15 pp. This book has sat on my shelves long enough. As you might have surmised, the W-Z box of books opened before it made its way back onto a shelf (tempted to break into Woolf or even Thomas Wolfe!).
— Chef Flynn (2018). Some genuine wonder if the excitement was about his age or his food (or both … or neither!). Only time will tell.
— Shadow of the Torturer, 25 pp. Enjoying these pages turning.
— Narcos: Mexico 1.6-7
— Shadow of the Torturer, 30 pp.
Baby Driver (2017): This movie answers the question, how do we tame the savage beast in the moments between car chase sequences? Musical overdubs sequences with something that is neither dancing nor musical performance.
— Baby Driver (2017), 90 minutes. Schlecht. Freaking stupid. So predictable. And doing such violence to some genuinely good music. This is the movie that solves the problem, how do we tame the savage beast in the moments between car chase sequences? Musical overdubs sequences with something that is neither dancing nor musical performance.
— Shadow of the Torturer, 40 pp. I suspect only I’m stupid enough to allow myself these intellectual oversights, but I generally do not assume that a book is about a torturer until I find out from the source itself. I frequently completely ignore whatever guidance a title offers about its contents.
So I am somewhat pleased to learn that this is a book that actually concerns torturers. And descriptions of torture. Not to say that I enjoy the latter. Actually, the one description was viscerally uncomfortable.
But the scene I just read presented a device not unlike what Kafka describes in “In The Penal Colony,” and there is no one who isn’t fascinated by that (well, no one worth mentioning).