Thursday, April 14, 2011

6 things to do with Stanley Kubrick's 'Napoleon'


Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon: A lot of work, very little actual movie
by Alex Godfrey

One night during the pre-production phase on A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell asked Stanley Kubrick why he was eating ice cream at the same time as his main course steak. “What’s the difference?” said Kubrick. “It’s all food. This is how Napoleon used to eat.”

Well that’s how McDowell tells it anyway. There are lots of near-mythical stories about Kubrick’s comprehensive research. That he was probably the most meticulous of film directors known to man is not open to debate, and Napoleon, the film he tried and failed to make for decades, is the best example of his attention to detail. Kubrick believed nobody had ever made a great historical film, and planned to change this with a three-hour epic, telling the story of the French emperor’s entire life.

Kubrick thought Napoleon was the most interesting man to have ever walked the Earth. He called his life “an epic poem of action”, thought his relationship with Josephine was “one of the great obsessional passions of all time”, and said, “He was one of those rare men who move history and mold the destiny of their own times and of generations to come.” Getting to work on the film in the mid-60s, after 2001 was released, he sent an assistant around the world to literally follow in Napoleon’s footsteps (”Wherever Napoleon went, I want you to go,” he told him), even getting him to bring back samples of earth from Waterloo so he could match them for the screen.

He read hundreds of books on the man and broke the information down into categories “on everything from his food tastes to the weather on the day of a specific battle”. He gathered together 15,000 location scouting photos and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery.

He would shoot the film in France and Italy, for their grand locations, and Yugoslavia, for their cheap armies. These were pre-CG days, and he arranged to borrow 40,000 Romanian infantry and 10,000 cavalry for the battles. “I wouldn’t want to fake it with fewer troops,” he said to an interviewer at the time, “because Napoleonic battles were out in the open, a vast tableau where the formations moved in an almost choreographic fashion. I want to capture this reality on film, and to do so it’s necessary to recreate all the conditions of the battle with painstaking accuracy.”

(read the entirety)


Script Review of Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon
by Scott B

The title says it all: This is the epic story of Napoleon Bonaparte's rise and fall, beginning in his childhood, following him through his education as a soldier, then examining the complex social, political and military factors that made him Emperor of France, as well as the reasons for his ultimate downfall.

Napoleon was a long-cherished labor of love for director Stanley Kubrick, who planned the film as his follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, the sheer enormity of the production caused the money-men to get cold feet about the cost of the project – despite Kubrick's proven box-office track record. The project never happened and Kubrick went on to other films.

However, six years ago, the Napoleon script resurfaced – literally, since it was found by a United Artists executive named Jeff Kleeman in a salt mine near Hutchison, Kansas, where studios have safe-kept their archived materials for decades. Kleeman was quoted, in a Talk magazine article on the discovery of the script, as saying, "The last scene of Citizen Kane had nothing on this place."

The script wasn't circulated until after Kubrick's death last year (it's unclear whether or not this was at the director's request). It has recently turned up on the Net – CLICK HERE to read the script and/or print it out for yourself.


By far the biggest strength of Kubrick's Napoleon script is the maximum clarity with which it handles this most complex subject. A story that could have been nothing but a mess of dates, places and battles is instead vividly rendered in epic terms and precise details. It's obvious that Kubrick, in his desire to tell the story, literally absorbed everything he could find about Napoleon and his era.

(read the entirety)

A short scene from the script of Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon. Made with Lego.


The greatest movie Stanley Kubrick never made
by Darryl Mason

In 1968, 40-year-old director Stanley Kubrick had the cinematic world at his feet and one big movie project germinating in his head.

He had started his career as the original independent filmmaker, at a time where it was nigh impossible to make movies outside the studios, and through the previous 15 years he had directed eight films -- some of the most acclaimed, debated and controversial ever made. Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) clearly demonstrated Kubrick's ability to use pitch-black humor and great spectacle to tell tales of the true heart of man as few filmmakers had told them before. His films had been feted by critics as cinematic masterpieces or dismissed as overblown indulgences, and although all were profitable, they were hardly box-office triumphs.

But Kubrick's latest film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, had proved to be both a critical and a box-office success. Kubrick knew he could now make almost any film he desired, and what he desired most was to bring to the screen his vision of the chaotic, war-soaked life of Napoleon. It was to be no mere Hollywood biopic; Kubrick planned to stage full-scale re-creations of the French ruler's most infamous wars, and he wanted to do it on the same battlefields that Napoleon had fought on 150 years before.

Since his youth hustling chess games in Greenwich Village, N.Y., Kubrick had harbored a deep fascination with Napoleon's life. It was, according to Kubrick, "an epic poem of action."

"He was one of those rare men who move history and mold the destiny of their own times and of generations to come," Kubrick told Joseph Gelmis in 1968 (for Gelmis' interview anthology book, The Film Director as Superstar) as he geared up for the film's production.

When 2001 picked up five Oscar nominations, including best director, Kubrick used the heat to marshal MGM into backing his new film. The studio coughed up development funds and Kubrick hired a team of researchers. He then plunged into a two-year odyssey to bring his Napoleon epic to the screen.

His first step was to view all the other films made of Napoleon's life so far. There were many, an average of three a decade from the birth of cinema up to the early 1950s. Although Kubrick found many things he liked in the massive 1956 War & Peace, made in Russia, he abhorred Abel Gance's much-hallowed Napoleon of 1927, which originally ran more than five hours and was shown in cinemas in a triple-screen presentation.

The film "has built up a reputation among film buffs over the years," Kubrick told Gelmis, "but I found it to be really terrible. As far as story and performance goes it's a very crude picture."

Kubrick then hired a renowned Napoleon scholar, Oxford University professor Felix Markham, to serve as overseeing historical advisor, and purchased the rights to Markham's own biography of the man. Though Kubrick used Markham's book as a basis for his screenplay, he mainly bought the rights as a legal base to avoid "the usual claims from the endless number of people who have written Napoleonic books."

(read the entirety)


The Cinemascope Spectacular of Books
by Tobias Grey

"It’s impossible to tell you what I’m going to do except to say that I expect to make the best movie ever made,” Stanley Kubrick wrote to an associate in October 1971. Wily chess master that he was, the director rarely resorted to bombast. But in his third attempt to make Napoleon — a film that, according to his widow, Christiane Kubrick, “swallowed [him] up” like no other — he was willing to make an exception.

The director was on a mission. He was unimpressed by every Napoleon movie ever made, from Abel Gance’s 1927 silent to Marlon Brando’s mumbly Désirée. Kubrick — who by the time of his death in 1999 had assembled one of the world’s largest archives of Napoleon-related material — hoped to offer the most comprehensive vision of the emperor’s life, covering 50 years in three hours. And he had been trying to do that since 1967.

That obsession is laid out in staggering grandeur in Taschen’s new 23-pound tome Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made — a book as epic (indeed, it nearly is a coffee table) as Kubrick’s stillborn film, with a price ($700) to match. You have to see it to believe it, which is appropriate when you consider Kubrick’s obsession. “Stanley was besotted with this story,” says Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s brother-in-law and producer during the latter part of his career. “He was a political beast and fascinated with human folly and vanity. Napoleon was the perfect study object for that.”

MGM had started preproduction on the film in 1967. At that time, Kubrick was the breakout genius behind Lolita and Dr. Strangelove, with 2001: A Space Odyssey just about to be released. The proposed budget? Reportedly, a cocky $5.2 million (equal to about $33 million today; in modern Hollywood, though, the film would undoubtedly cost well into nine figures). Kubrick had his eye on David Hemmings for Napoleon, with Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Charlotte Rampling in supporting roles. But after sinking $420,000 into the project (costumes; location scouting in Italy, France, and Romania; arranging to borrow the Romanian army to stage battle scenes), MGM backed out in 1969, after financial issues and a change in leadership (some things never change). United Artists took it on for a bit, then bailed out. Dino De Laurentiis’s Waterloo stole some of Kubrick’s thunder, then bombed, and that was that.

The book — edited by Taschen’s Alison Castle (who also put together 2005’s The Stanley Kubrick Archives) — offers a tantalizing glimpse into what might have been. The immense shell opens to reveal six smaller books, each with a different theme (costumes, locations, production) plus three small notebook-style volumes. There’s also a reproduction of Kubrick’s screenplay, the first he’s known to have written on his own. “It’s a very good script,” says Castle, “but also frustrating because he had to gloss over a lot of things. He put a huge amount of emphasis on the love story with Josephine.” Given how sexually charged their relationship is in Kubrick’s screenplay (Napoleon meets Josephine at — shades of Eyes Wide Shut — an orgy), it’s hard to picture Audrey Hepburn, the director’s choice to play her, in the role. (Hepburn turned him down.)

Harlan contends that the script was “a reader,” not a final draft, and that it would have been rewritten daily during rehearsals. “Stanley was not a great writer,” says Harlan. “He had no false pride in this area and hired writers to help him.” Perhaps, then, a central question would have been resolved. “Reading the screenplay, it is impossible to tell whether Kubrick likes Napoleon or loathes him,” says Jean Tulard, France’s leading Napoleonic historian, who contributed the essay “Napoleon in Film” to the collection. Several Kubrick biographers have written of how closely the New York–born director identified with his subject, including Full Metal Jacket co-screenwriter Michael Herr, who noted the defining traits they share: Both were largely self-educated outsiders who beat the system on their own terms, and both shared an aversion to so-called polite society. How tempting to imagine Kubrick’s empathizing with this passage from Napoleon’s memoirs: “It is very difficult because the ways of those with whom I live, and probably always shall, are as different from mine as moonlight from sunlight.”

(read the entirety)


This article from eight years ago, Mar 12, 2000, describes the storage facility where a copy of a draft of Kubrick's Napoleon script was found.
by Roxana Hegeman

The original film negative for The Wizard of Oz. A collection of New York newspapers dating to the assassination of President Lincoln. Secret U.S. government documents. Thousands of medical research biopsies encased in wax. All these -- and so much more -- are buried 645 feet beneath the Kansas prairie in a vast underground salt mine warehouse teeming with treasures and oddities from across the nation. "It's a kind of Noah's Ark -- without the animals," says Lee Spence, president of Underground Vaults & Storage, Inc.

The Hutchinson company has built a thriving business in the mined-out sections of the salt mine, where temperature and humidity stay at near ideal conditions for preserving paper and film brought here from around the world. The caverns, accessible only by a rumbling mine elevator, are safely beyond the reach of tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. These salt deposits -- formed 230 million years ago as the inland sea that once covered Kansas evaporated -- are now being wired with the latest technology to give companies around the world high-speed data access to records stashed within a prehistoric formation underneath Kansas wheat fields.

Wearing a hardhat and carting his requisite canister of oxygen, Spence steps onto the mine elevator -- actually, more of a hoist with an aboveground operator to run it -- for the minute-long ride. He flips off his flashlight for a few seconds, and blackness engulfs the lurching contraption. "See how black it can get," he says. It is clear he enjoys showing off his realm to visitors. The flashlight back on, he aims the beam at a mass of wires running alongside the hoist. These link the world below to civilization above. This is how they run the lines down to link the computers, he explains. The elevator slows to a stop at the bottom, the equivalent of 60 stories below ground. The salt bed -- discovered in 1889 while drilling for oil -- is 100 miles long by 40 miles wide, and 325 feet thick. A miner greets him. "How's the weather up there?" It is common question for those who spend their waking hours deep in the bowels of the earth. The temperature here stays at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is between 40 and 45 percent year round.

For the next 30 minutes, it is the warehouse's turn to use the elevator, and the mine's conveyor belt and rock crushing equipment are mostly quiet now as he passes them. Spence quickly reaches a doorway below the sign for Underground Vaults and steps inside. The low salt ceiling and antique mining equipment greet visitors for a few feet, before opening up to 10-foot ceilings and a friendly receptionist answering the phones. For a moment, you could almost forget you were sandwiched inside a salt formation. The rough rock walls and ceilings are painted white to keep the salt dust down. The cement floors are level. There is a lunchroom with a refrigerator and microwave for workers. And bathrooms. The storage vaults use only a few of the caverns left behind from salt mining activities. The company has available 800 acres of mined-out space, but so far has used just 12 acres of it. Another 26 acres are under development now, Spence said.

(read the entirety)


Creative Differences to resurrect Kubrick’s shelved Napoleon film
by Kevin Ritchie

Forty years after Stanley Kubrick abandoned his ambitious plan to make an historical epic about the life of Napoleon, U.S. production company Creative Differences has secured the rights from the late filmmaker’s estate and MGM to resurrect the project — in documentary form.

Produced in association with the Kubrick estate, Kubrick/Napoleon will examine why the legendary director of classic films like Lolita and A Clockwork Orange was compelled to spend three years exhaustively researching the French emperor’s life and will bring his annotated Napoleon script to life through CGI-commissioned storyboards.

An outline for the film promises “a multi-faceted look at the intertwined life of two tactical geniuses — Stanley Kubrick and Napoleon Bonaparte.”

The film will be executive produced by Jan Harlan, the producer of Kubrick films Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut; written by Alison Castle, editor of the 2009 Taschen book Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made, and directed by Creative Differences president Erik Nelson.

“This is an epic story of one of the most important world historical figures as interpreted by not just one of the greatest filmmakers, but one of the greatest minds of the 20th century,” says Nelson. “So this is not just for Kubrick fans; it’s for anybody who has any kind of interest in history, human emotion and the creative process.”

The Los Angeles-and-Washington, DC-based production company is known for its historical documentaries as well as scores of cable series including Discovery Channel’s Time Warp. The company counts the forthcoming Discovery Channel mini-series Reign of the Dinosaurs and four Werner Herzog documentaries, including Cave of Forgotten Dreams and an untitled doc feature due this fall (which Nelson cryptically describes as “Werner Herzog’s exploration of the darkness at the edge of death row à la Bruce Springsteen”) among its credits.

Creative Differences is in the midst of pre-production on Kubrick/Napoleon and has already completed key interviews with the Kubrick family. The producers are looking for additional financing and are aiming for a 2012 release.

(read the entirety)



p.s. Hey. ** Wolf, Blake's heavily good and his stuff stirs things, yeah. I vote for the evil-looking tailored suit. Why, I'm not really sure. First thought, best thought? ** Paul Curran, Having read the novel in question, I'm pretty sure you're going to like it. Are you still upswinging and feeling more like yourself? ** David Ehrenstein, That sex tour provider past of James Lipton really twirls my image of him. Once you know that's in there somewhere, he gets less weird and much weirder simultaneously. ** Pisycaca, Hi, Montse! Oh, shit, that's tight., My plane gets in at 1:45 pm. Okay, here's an idea. First, are you flying in/out of Charles De Gaulle Airport? If so, are you flying out of Terminal 1 or Terminal 2? My thought, if you're going to be at CDG, and if you want to head to the airport earlier than planned, is that we meet there, maybe where your train arrives either at T1 or T2, and get a coffee. Maybe around 2 pm-ish? Will you have a cell phone so we can communicate at the time? Anyway, let me know if that makes sense for now, and we can organize it if you think that will work and if you want to. Obviously, I really want to see you if possible. ** Colin, Hey, C. It's a goodie, Blake's book. And, on the weekend thing, it's both natural and an honor, sir. ** Steevee, A former pimp too? ** Bernard Welt, A current pimp too? ** Hyrule Dungeon, Cool. How's it going on your end? ** Killer Luka, Hm, well, it all sounds very interesting to me. I like psychologically complicated guys, you know. I mean, I wouldn't marry him or anything, if I were you. Doesn't sound like you will. ** Shannon, Hi, Shannon! I'm both really pleased that the post's timing was so on and really sorry to hear about the reason the timing worked so well. What stage are you at with organizing the essay collection? I'm continually percolating with anticipation about that, don't you know. Lots of love and sweet dreams to you, S. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Yeah, I think it's Blake most killer work yet. I did read his piece in 'Topograph', and it's wonderful. 'Topograph' is my current go-to book when my sanity requires a work break and some inspiring input. Really excellent collection, man. I love the 'Warehouse' album. It's up there with my very favorite Husker Dus. In fact, when I listen to them, I seem to press Play on that album the most now. Great Bob songs on there, and some of Grant's best too, I think. It's great to hear the optimism re: your novel. Keep me up on that, please. ** Thomas Moronic, I was hoping it was a bug dinner, or, rather, I had a heck of a time putting a mental image to that typo, and the mental work was not at all unpleasant. Big is nice too, though, don't get me wrong. What books and music? ** Casey McKinney, Hey, Casey. Yep, yep, I second all your thoughts about Blake and that book. I'd do an alert on the Miller/Observer thing, but it was in the post's links. Oh, wait. Everyone, Casey McKinney seconds my having spotlit a particular piece on Blake Butler in the post's links yesterday, so, if you want to know what our fuss is about, go back a day and find the links and click on ''Blake Butler and What Happens When a Novelist Lives on the Internet'. That should work. Yeah, take the time you need on your piece on the book. Things can get lost in the immediate pub date-specific onrush of reviews anyway. Can't wait. No, I think Chris quite likes 'Weird Little Boy'. Me too, of course. I think it hits a particular spot for sure. Love, peace too, me. ** Sypha, Just to show you how truly unversed I am in loosely categorized 'sci/fantasy/etc' type books, I've never read Robert Anton Wilson. Not a word, I don't think, other than maybe an essay or interview. 'Metatron's Arch' is a terrific title for exactly the reason you say. It definitely could use a real book attached. ** Alan, Yeah, me too, obviously, on the second quote. It jumped out, and I grabbed then foisted it. ** Ken Baumann, Ken! Did I already tell you that when I was in Italy I saw you speak Italian on TV? I was flipping through the hotel's TV channels, and there you were. I couldn't understand what was going on, of course, but you had an intense phone conversation with a girl, and then her father (?) answered the door, and you were standing there, and you said something that seemed like it was probably witty (?) and rushed away. You did other things too. And the girl you talked to on the phone looked with great intensity at a packaged condom in her hand at one point. Are Blake and Justin reading in LA? I was wondering about that. Damn, would that be nice to see. You good, man? Must be. I'm awfully excited that the mysterious Sator book is close to having its veil lifted. Are you going to be in LA in May? I'm pretty sure I'm coming for a visit then. It sure would be awfully great to see you, man. ** Misanthrope, For some reason, I really like that phrase 'that's just how I roll.' Always, whenever anyone uses it, even horrible jerky people. I wonder why that is. I guess it's the way the word roll plays out in it. It's calming or something. I don't know. 7 am? I get up at 7 am every day. It works out great usually. See what you think. Try to approach getting up at 7 am with an open mind. Did people or bums or whoever ever really carry their belongings in a bandana on a stick? Do you know? It seems really impractical like a cartoon idea. ** Dodie Bellamy, Hi, Dodie! How fantastic of you to visit! This is awesome. Blogs are strange, or, rather, I mean I read your blog all the time, of course, so I feel like I'm in regular touch with you in this way that's somewhere between, oh, getting emails from you and visiting with you in the real world but in a group or something. Hm, I can't describe it. Oh, Blake and Justin are reading there tonight? Hold on. Everyone, or everyone in/near San Francisco, Blake Butler and Justin Taylor are reading at City Lights Bookstore tonight, and that's a great double bill, need I say, so, obviously, highly recommend that you be there if you can. I don't know the reading's starting time, but you can, you know, check your local listings and all that. Incredible that Guyotat is going to read there as well. That's quite a big wow. I've seen him read twice here. His work's French is so complicated that I didn't understand a word, but the music and rhythm of the work/readings was amazing. Yeah, I've been really jonesing to read 'the buddhist'. If you don't mind, yes, please, I would absolutely love a copy. Hardcopy would be incredible, but, given the postage and all, I'd be very happy with a pdf, if that's easier. I want to do something on the blog about the book too, of course, and actually being able to read it first always helps, ha ha. Congrats on the book, Dodie, and it's great that you did it with Matthew's terrific publishing project. Anyway, so heartening to see you and have you here, Dodie. Thank you so much, and lots of love to you. ** Inthemostpeculiarway, Sure, 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' is great, for sure. The press conference where they'll announce the Cannes line up starts in a few minutes as I type this. I keep refreshing the official CFF site, but it's still a streaming image of journalists sitting in chairs waiting for the announcements and flipping through press kits and stuff. Cool about 'Somewhere's' goodness. I still haven't seen it. I read that about the supposed Jesus crucifixion nails. Yeah, right. I suppose Jesus probably was short, wasn't he. That's weird. You always think of Jesus as being like a basketball player or something. Or I guess I do when I think about him, even though, other than when I was in Italy and right now, I never think about him for even a fraction of a second, which might be the problem. Oh, Italian James Franco! I remember him. Gosh, that was a pretty interesting incident and story. Plus, you got the weird kiss and three Dunhills. That's ... really creepy about your friend's boss offering her a promotion for sex. I can't believe people even have the nerve to do that now when things like that can turn into huge media scandals even for so-called normal, unfamous people. Anyway, and the rest. That was such a big, great (to read about) day you had. My day was so unworthy of its company, but, let's see ... Yeah, this should be quick. Wrote some, blog, email, shopping (food). They're painting my hallway at the Recollets, and my room smelled strongly of paint all day, but not in 'get you high' way, and it still does. I had coffee with Oscar and Michael at the cafe in the Gare de l'Est. Nice. Talking, laughing. Michael's publishing this series of very ltd. ed. zines, Oscar's being the first, and I asked if I could do one, and he said yes, so now I need to see if I have a good enough idea for one, hm. My agent came to Paris last night, and he and texted a bunch of times yesterday about stuff we're going to do today. There was a party last night that I was invited to, but I didn't end up going because, I don't know ... I wasn't in the mood, I guess. There wasn't much else. Not much of a Day day, in other words. So, I'll spare you, and I'll try to do better today, and I'm pretty sure I will. How was yours? ** The toaster formerly known as JW, Hey! You're a toaster now? That's cool. Toasters are cool, especially now when they're starting to get that typewriter/rarity quality. No, I sure don't always know what I'm going to write before I write it. Do you? Do most people? I know its shape sometimes. Yeah, me and Douglas Cooper get confused at times. He and I joked about that the one or two times I met him. Douglas Coupland and me too, but I've never met him, so I don't know if he ever gets confused for me. I doubt it 'cos he's so super famous and I'm just a well known weirdo. Anyway, it's very nice to see you, toaster. Make it a habit, man. ** Okay, gotta go. Stuff to do. I was thinking about Kubrick's 'Napoleon', and I looked up stuff on it, and I got an idea to compile what I found out about it here, and that's most of the story. Enjoy. Bye.


tomkendall said...

Hey Dennis,

How you doing man? Just wanted to drop by and say hi. I watched the 'trailer' for 'this is how you will disappear' and it looks phenomenal.

News: Im going to peru in the summer! This means im getting a passport which means im probably going to come harass you in paris at some point.
I can't do the phd cause i didnt get the funding
Poor as ever.
Watched Lancelot du lac and The trial of Joan of arc and it's making me obsessed with shots of people's feet/walking.
Turned 29 and am fighting off on a daily basis the thought 'why haven't i done more stuff etc'...otherwise things are great, really great. Am properly in love.
Long unfinished novel is still long and unfinished but edging, always edging towards completion.
here's a bit i worked on today:
'Evelyn’s in the attic of her house, it’s forbidden for whatever reason but Evelyn comes up here occasionally to hide out, to trace her secrets with her little finger on the silted floorboards. There’s a dust angel she made several years ago shaded in and stretched out before her feet like some antic shadow. A square of granulated light frames the space where her head had lain. Evelyn looks at that featureless bulbed outline and glimpses in it’s collection of dust an atomization of her deepest self. The thought is too powerful to realise, is a brief object, an indigestible sound. Evelyn walks over the outline and towards the window. Her trainers scar the angel. Evelyn looks out the window and imagines that someone might see her in the window and ‘long’ to rescue her.
- Rescue me from what?
There is still room for thoughts like these within her even as today she senses for the first time a persistence in the sadness, a sadness in the poise of the inanimate and the tissuey stuff of life wetly scarved around it.
She looks around the stacked boxes. The angel is no longer visible, rather ‘tracked in’, walked around. She’s going to make this attic her own.
- What to do though?
Making a fort seems too childish, also if she were to be rescued she’d rather it be from something like a labyrinth. They’ve been studying Greek myths at school. The Minotaur had done something to her head that made it briefly part of her body. She starts lugging boxes around. The maze is a spiral. She sits in its centre, waits.'

I'm so excited for the marble swarm that i can't contain it. I'm really hungry for new cooper stuff. Want to finish this novel before it comes out though, just so i don't try and 'copy' it straight away haha.
This place is as amazing as ever. Wish i could hang out more. Hope you're good man


schoolboyerrors said...

Um, hi Dennis et al!
Sorry I haven't been about in ages: won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that the ceaseless monotony of work over time calcified any dynamism I may have had. Got a lot better recently though, so here I am nosing the air. Anyway, I'm going to catch up with the posts I've missed but just wanted to put my head round the door and say hi and hope you're well.

Oh, re: Pierre Guyotat. I've written stuff about Eden, Eden, Eden that you (DC/readers) might find interesting. It's called "Pierre Guyotat's Splanchnological Realism" and it's here.

Diarmuid xx

Jax said...

Oh wow – Kubrick's Napoleon, eh? The greatest film that never was, kind of thing. I'll never forgive him for the abomination that was 'Eyes Wide Shut' but I'll love him for ever for 'Killer's Kiss.'

You know, I read the blog every day but time somehow just gets away with me, Dennis, and I never get around to posting. Busy-ish here. In the lull while I wait to ehar about other stuff, I'm forging on with the gay Regency werewolf who's turning out be be like an early 19th century him-from-'Glamorama' – which is no bad thing, cos (a) it makes him fun to write and allows me to indulge my love of fashion and (b) it lets me have humorous bits. Just started chp 17 and Mr. Werewolf and the love of his life are on the boat to France, heading for a villa in Florence – watch this space for further details.

On the domestic front here, big changes are afoot. Tom taking early retirement from his college lecturing job (they're looking for people to go, and are willing to pay volunteers fairly handsomely) and we've worked out that, with his severance sum on top of our savings (ill-gotten gains from my years on the soap – okay, not that ill-gotten I suppose) we can survive the 10 years we have to, til his teacher's pension kicks in. So this is both kinda scary and kinda cool: means he can start writing again properly and means I'll have him around a lot more. He's gotta get a lawyer to look over the severance offer, but if all goes well he'll quit his job at the end of June.

You doing a 'zine sounds amazing! How did the Paris Review edits go? And what are you and your agent doing today? You DO know that, however hum-drum they may feel to you in the retelling, we all hang on every word of your account of days, right?

Like TomK (man, Peru??? Way to go!) I'm also waiting for TMS to be available. Right now, I'm reading Elmore Leonard and much as I love his style, I feel the need to be Coopered-up.

syreearmwellion said...

my all time favorite director. and i'd never heard about this. i guess it was naive to think that a.i. was as deep as his unrealized ambitions went. veeeerrry interesting. thank you.

not sure if you're familiar with chris jericho but ended up watching his retrospective on netflix the other night and came up with this. my attempt at eternal meme fame -

he was also the character i used to roleplay with back in e-fed days. i had him in his wcw persona, but worked hard at making him a heel by playing off his religious beliefs and small-town roots. the easiest way to get hate on the internet.

DavidEhrenstein said...

WOW! Today's an orgy for Kubrickians.

Had an important meeting yesterday with an editor for Phaidon publishing. I may be involved in writing several books on film in the very near future. Your name came up, Dennis. I'll be sure to let you know what's what as things develop.

DavidEhrenstein said...

"Tiger Beat" Founder Dies!

MANCY said...

Cool post today, never heard about Napoleon...
Looking forward to There is no Year, may be a while before I can tackle it though, as reading time is minimal and the stack is tall (with The Pale King being currently on top).
Interested in what you would come up with for the zine project you mentioned...

Tosh said...

Great blog today! At Book Soup we had the original Taschen edition of Kubrick's Napoleon - and we sold out at $700 (or was it $1,000).

But Taschen also just recently put out an (smaller) edition for $69.95 and it is for sure worth a look or two or to own. Incredibly obsessive! Remarkable book.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Latest FaBlog: Fait Diver -- A Puddle of Brett

david said...

Maybe it's only because I'm waiting for a pizza to arrive but this Napoleon/ Kubrick festivity seems like a really sumptuous day to me! At $700, it's amazing that Book Soup sold out of the big Taschen, which looks gorgeous.

wv istious

david said...

ow that's a nasty remark from Ellis. I watched the same performance but reacted differently. What ails BEE anyway?

allesfliesst said...

your family is really interesting, dennis. would make for a geat tv series. slogan: 'where "6 feet under" stopped, "the coopers" are just about to begin!'

i'm working on a paper about the desire to be an author and the collective reality the internet's m2m platforms have allowed this desire to organize. is that even proper grammar? hm. anyway, our well-remembered (or well-forgotten) plexus will feature prominently in this little paper. it's fun to read that stuff again.

DTG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jebus said...

Hey Dennis, I’m just now responding to your response to my contribution to “110 Sets” post. So, thanks (if you remember that far back). I am more than happy to take the consolation prize of your undying respect since I was going to buy Jerk/Through Their Tears anyway. Speaking of theater pieces involving puppet/doll youth type characters, I was wondering if you have seen the series called Molly Movie:

It seems akin to your theater pieces, and I was curious if it was in anyway an influence on your stuff or vice versa? Anyway, check it out either way.

Oscar B. said...

yayyy, I'm back. My mac is all working and visible.
What the hell is going on next to the room Malcom MacDowell is giving his speech in?

So I hear we've got plans for tomorrow yes? THat's cool.
See you tomorrow then!


Killer Luka said...

ooooo word. didn't know this existed.

dennis,'s why i told u about him cuz i thought u would be interested. i my self am very interested in psych stuff, especially having visited someone in a mental hospital everyday for 3 weeks. This schizo woman there tried to saw at her wrists with a plastic spoon when she was tackled by aides and held down, screaming. that scene affected me. I particularly find compulsive disorders interesting like OCD, anorexia, hoarding, self mutilation, vegetarianism, communism, being born Dutch and so on.
Anyway, no.. i was disaffected pretty much regardless of his hoarding as in, regret or something. Plus it was the worst sex of my life. He kissed like a self-hating octupus. Argh, I remember why i don't like this comment stuff cuz i come off as a crazy bitch. o wait, i am a crazy bitch. To quote Nicholas Cook, "She is much less crazy in person".

For the thing in london, i wanna show 'Boy with scissors' and 'boy with a grape'. what do u think?


Kiddiepunk said...

Geez, the thought of spending so much time and energy into making something that can never manage to actualize seems kinda horrifying. Of course, I guess there's nothing wrong with that per se, it's just that it's nice to be able to have the occasional win. I'm not sure who I'm talking about exactly now. This is the confessional, right?
Um... whatever?

PS: There was speculation that The Tree of Life is Malick resurrecting a project that he tried to make back in the 70s. (??) Not sure if there's any truth to that. It's interesting though, the ideas that can linger with an artist over many years and decades. It also seems that sometimes these are the exact ones that can never get made. Perhaps they are ideas that need to remain intact (unrealized) so that they can continue to feed into other ideas?

Ah, the questions...

Oscar B. said...

ah, the questions...

Kiddiepunk said...

Haha! Touche, Oscar Bieber.

steevee said...

Ellis' comment about GLEE was odd. Surely, a writer as talented as him can attack the show in a way that doesn't make him sound like a shock jock or bad comedian. He must be turning over in his figurative grave at the news that Cannes is showing 4 films by women in competition this year.

Misanthrope said...

I don't understand: did Ellis like that bit on Glee or not?

Bollo said...

hi Dennis
gotta order me some Blake Butler, i shuda ordered it ages ago when it was cheap but i was broke but its payday tonight! i think my friend is going to review it for an/the only? irish lit mag in their next issue.
not up to much reading and sitting being surrounded by lots of people, the new show is drawing the crowds.
just in case you havent had time

Bernard Welt said...

Misanthrope: Good one. I have to figure out some way to "like" your comments here.

Pisycaca said...

Hi Dennis!

Yeah, we're going to Charles De Gaulle too! So we can get there earlier and wait for you at the gate you're arriving. And then have a coffee or whatever, let's do that! I'll have my cell phone with me, do you have the same phone number you had two years ago? Mine is 0034 647 187 481. I'm so glad it seems we can get to see each other for a little while at least!

Lots of love,


Paul Curran said...

Dennis, I'm making a kind of come back. Not as quick as I'd like but getting there. Thanks! I was just reading on the bus today about a new shortened version of the Napoleon book. I love that idea of great obsessive works that have been abandoned.

TomK, too bad about the funding. But a trip to Peru sounds great. And that little piece was really cool and atmospheric.

Diarmuid/ schoolboyerrors, Hey. Good to see you. That article looks incredible. I'll be giving it a good read for sure.

Misanthrope/Bernard, like.

The toaster formerly known as JW said...

Good idea, all my earliest writing was typewritten, one of reasons why commenting here was so compulsive, courier. A vehicle. I have a handwritten essay I am thinking of as a performance, quite a lot to cope with. Reading today. Try the typewriter again soon, good plan.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Latest FaBlog: Fait Diver -- Oh Kay!

slatted light said...

Can there be a less interesting person in the world than Bret Easton Ellis in his most recent incarnations? He reminds me of a quote from Cioran: "A free man is one who has discerned the inanity of all points of view; a liberated man is one who has drawn the consequences of such discernment."

Coop: Hey pal! How's life? Great to see the highlight of BB's book the other day: it is the right hook to the one-two punch of the release of both your novels in the one year. Speaking of which, and sorry to waltz in and instantly starting asking things, but is The Marbled Swarm by any chance ready for outside eyes to early bird it? Would love to, if so. Though not a worry, if not. This zine you'll be doing sounds awesome: are you the editor for your issue or is it a case of one person does one zine each? Kiddiepunk, can you give more detail on this, because it sounds very cool? I don't know" this Kubrick Napoleon film sounds like it would have been a white elephant, maybe, but one thing is for sure: that massive book on the film is awesome, and I want it even though my interest in looking at the film in such detail is probably only 2 on a scale of 20. Dennis, I want to make a limited edition of your collected works where all the books come out like guts from an oversized model twink torso you open up by the nipples. The super-deluxe edition would also come with a silicone ass in which the anal cavity is a peep show viewfinder onto art images of scenes from your novels. I should talk to Taschen. All right, well, hope Paris is keeping you well. Best to you, dude.

schoolboyerrors said...

Been scrolling through this Napoleon stuff all afternoon... Doesn't Nietzsche say something about the grand gesture? Sounds about apt.

Cheers Paul C. Hope it lights you up. Somewhere hereabouts I've the full length article which goes deeper into Guyotat's syntactical composition and the influence of music on the rhythm of Eden, so hit me up if you want to hear more.

Tom K (artist formerly known as TPKendall?): what's the Phd project man? Research funding in the UK sucks. Though have you heard of the Alternative guide to research funding? It helps you cobble together funding from lots of different, smaller sources, not just the British research council (parish boards, county councils)... I heard some guy netted up to £40K over the course of his doctorate!

steevee said...

Have you seen the Cannes lineup? I'm most excited about TREE OF LIFE and the Lynne Ramsay film. I was hoping that the new Carlos Reygadas and Mia Hansen-Løve films would make the count, but so far, they haven't. Maybe they'll make it into one of the sections that haven't been announced yet. I haven't liked a Lars von Trier film since THE IDIOTS and thought ANTICHRIST was a new low, but I am curious about MELANCHOLIA.

Sypha said...

Maybe Bret's pissed that his last book bombed quite horribly (not surprising, as I found it quite weak and uninspired). Or that he stopped being relevant quite a long time ago. Over the last few years now I've become quite irritated with Ellis, mainly by the persona he projects in his interviews: bad enough when he started identifying himself as "conservative" a short while back (and stating that the only negative reactions towards "American Psycho" came from liberals and not the right-wing, a claim I find suspect), the sexist female director comments, and so on. I don't know if he's trying to make himself come off as dumb and vapid as the characters of his books, or if he actually has become like that. Whatever the case may be, if he thinks it makes him more interesting, he's mistaken.

Dennis, I like the word "Metatron" because on one hand it's spiritual but also sounds kind of sci-fi. I think the subtitle will be "The Revolting Science of God" or something. Maybe I can get Roger Dean to do the cover art, hee hee. Robert Anton Wilson is like a more comical version of Leary I guess. Some of it is the usual hippy/New Age mumbo jumbo (which I find endearing anyway), but he at least had a sense of humor and didn't seem to take himself too seriously. I was really into Wilson's work around 2002-2003 and read quite a lot of it.

Andrew said...

For two days I've been unable to wrap my mind around why a bar would be named Numbers. But, I have been inspired to launch a chain of trendy restaurants called Numerology.
Word verification: unmen

the Dreadful Flying Glove said...

Hey folks,

Really sorry I couldn't get it together on the Blake Butler Day on Wednesday. I started reading it before leaving for school, and then went to dress and had to deal with one of the strangely beautiful 6"-diameter-and-almost-two-dimensional spiders which are the S.A. equivalent of house spiders. That's a major operation and entanglement with an old phobia, and then it was time to leave. Blake's a honey to look at and his manifesto/set of instructions conveys a The Minutemen-like charge of purpose. Great stuff.

Jax, gay Regency werewolf, sign me up right now.

Hey Dennis,
Wow! I had no knowledge of this film, and now I have tons. Thank you. I think my favourite bit was scoping out the salt mine data storage. I think their storage rates probably compare to London rent? I wonder if they'd let me run ADSL and install a washer/dryer. I'm guessing not.

Sleeping positions are wonderful things. Last night I konked with half of me still hanging off the air mattress. Woke up this morning, six hours later, in not the most robust state. Last night we saw Jonathan Chan, a 20yo violinist and pianist from Vancouver who plays the shit out of both. He's studying in London. He's, er, quite easy to look at too. But came out after the four minute standing ovation that followed his encore (this in a hall of about 400 people) and very sheepishly said, "Alright..." and then did the Paganini Duo for Solo Violin. I can't fucking stand Paganini. But earlier he'd done Schubert and Mendelssohn and H.W. Ernst breathtakingly. Blows your mind, being in the presence of such poise and craftiness. Everyone in audience reduced to 'giggling imbecile' state. Live music is awesome.

the Dreadful Flying Glove said...

Excuse me, "The Minutemen"? I mean, of course, MINUTEMEN, as in "Paranoid Time" rather than 'paranoid fucks'.

inthemostpeculiarway said...

This is a really cool day. I had no idea Kubrick was so fascinated with Napoleon. That's interesting.

Hey Dennis,

I liked the line up. I'm really excited about a few of them, but especially Sleeping Beauty. I really liked Julia Leigh's Disquiet but thought it would work better as a movie, so to see she that actually made one was a nice surprise. Here's a trailer, if you're interested:

Jesus is an interesting concept, I guess. I mean, I like rosaries, but that's about it, really. I think I usually end up liking old churches and statues more than religion itself, maybe because they always look slightly ominous and sad and they're supposed to be a place of peace.

Yeah, the story shocked me too. Not just because of what she said happened, but also because of how stupid it was of that guy to do it.

I alternate between liking and hating the smell of fresh paint. It's weird.

Your day wasn't bad. It sounds kind of nice. Relaxing, sort of, but not intentionally. But relaxing is still nice.

My day:


Wake up.


Read most of A Hell of A Woman. I really like it so far but it's short so I want it to last a little while longer, so I put it down. I stared at it for a while lying in the sun and thought how nice it looked, which is strange, I guess, but thinking back on it it's one of the few times recently I've looked at something in the sun that didn't have a dust mote snowstorm, so maybe that was it.

Debated on getting dressed and decided fuck it, so I just kept my too big basketball shorts and big t-shirt on and didn't bother brushing my hair. This ended up being a bad idea, because soon I ran out of cigarettes and had to make the journey to the gas station to get more, so I put on jeans and tried to make my hair look less Burtonesque and it didn't work.

Go to the gas station and am greeted by a very long line, so that sucked. I stood in line, got a text, opened it, see my half naked friend in her bathroom with her boobs squeezed together and her hair strategically messy with the text saying 'im sending more tell me which one is the best'. I heard a laugh, turned around and the laughing guy kept laughing, "yeah dude!", mock punch, close my phone. I got pretty embarrassed after that, and my phone kept vibrating with the texts I was receiving so I kept hitting ignore and the guy laughed even harder and pointed his 7/11 hot dog container at me and said "awesome," got my cigarettes, fake laugh 'ha ha yeah...', leave.

Return here. Went out to the garage to get water, and when I was out there I saw one of those hanging plant things buried in the corner. I took it out and blew dust and whatever else off it and then took it outside to try to find a spot for it, but I couldn't, so I just left it outside. Maybe I'll find a spot tomorrow.

Answered my friend's texts finally and told her which one looked best, and then talked to my other friend, who informed me that if a snake bites me (a python would be the best one, because their venom isn't as bad, I guess?) to put rubbing alcohol on the spot instead of prying it's jaws off. So that was kind of, 'well okay', but technically good to know.

Uh, what else? Sadly that was pretty much my day, but I think I watched something. I can't remember now, though. I know I listened to a storm and that was kind of strange, because usually I make it a point to go out and look at storms, but this time I didn't and now I feel weird about it. But yeah. Tomorrow will be better. How was your day, Dennis?

Misanthrope said...

Bernard, ;D oh, wait, how about :* that's a big, wet, sloppy kiss.

Alan, To answer your question from yesterday, I'd say there is such a thing as realism. I guess it depends on what you call the real. To me, it's the dirty facts of life, things like scatology, sex, pain, suffering, love, hate, to name a few. And there are writers -or I guess I should say artists- who, through their art, can make those things as real and palpable as if you're actually in their presence, living and breathing them. I'm thinking about the love between father and son in McCarthy's "The Road" or the sense of loss in "God Jr." as examples. So yeah, that's where/why I disagree.

Dennis, I read the first bit of the script and I can see where he was going with it: all the focus on the young Napoleon's obsession with cold and being cold - the exact thing that stymied his move into Russia so many years later, being wholly unprepared for the Russian winter. I bet it would've been a tight movie though epic.

Well, that' I roll. Hehehe. You know, that expression has never bothered me. I heard my nephew use it once about something really silly -and he was being so serious- that it just kind of endeared itself to me. Plus, there's that underlying sense of humor and tongue in cheek-ness in it, which can give it two meanings: 1. hey, that's how I am, beotch!; and 2. not really.

I got up at 7am. After falling to sleep at 5am. Took a nap later though. It was good being up early, just sucked that I was so tired from so little sleep.

Haha, I think the only time I've seen that depiction of hobos with the stick and bandana has been in cartoons. I wonder if it does indeed have any basis in fact. I guess we'll have to look it up. Or ask riggers. He knows all about transients. :D

Speaking of hobos, I'm really looking forward to this new movie called "Hobo with a Shotgun." So far, reviews have been favorable. It's just one of those over-the-top violent revenge type stories that I love. Hmm, maybe I should write one. Oh, wait, I already did. Blurp.

Schlix said...

cool post! very cool.
and I am going to order the Blake Butler book - I liked Scorch Atlas. Although it was kind of painful to read for me.
I just started to read a book from Brane Mozetic.
Dennis, do you know this guy? He is from slovenia and had the same publisher house as the Georg Miles Cycle in germany.

jheorgge said...

hiya dennis!

taking off my lurker's cap for a bit - hopefully for good - and wanting to ask if you ever received that disc of bresson stuff i sent to you last year? realising i never actually asked before.

things are weird but good here. i'm now running the art department of the bookshop here in edinburgh that i started working at just before xmas, meaning that i get to order in and face out all the sort of stuff i usually could only dream about a bookshop having - currently got the korine 'trash humpers' book, monographs on general idea, kippenberger, vija celmins, jacob holdt out on display - which can be pretty satisfying when you get similarly disillusioned people totally happy and stunned to see those kinds of books in a shop, as everything becomes mainstreamed (at least here in the uk).

making a lot of art at the moment too, drawings and video mainly, some painting planned, kind of exploring jokes/abjection/trash-y, junk-y-looking stuff. enjoying hell out of it just now. throwing a lot of it up on my tumblr - which is here if yr interested, would be nice to hear what you think :)

how're you doing? what's rocking yr world? i'm going nuts over blake's novel, of course, all kinds of inspiring and mind getting blown in those pages, unbelievable! also got the new gang gang dance on heavy rotation, as well as some old chris & cosey, and a lot of detroit techno/acid stuff like underground resistance, omar-s, juan atkins...dunno, feeling very dark and dancey, just in time for the warmth.

take care duder,


Calvin Brock said...

Woke up this morning, six hours later, in not the most robust state. Last night we saw Jonathan Chan, a 20yo violinist and pianist from Vancouver who plays the shit out of both. He's studying in London. moving to london

Calvin Brock said...

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