January 26th, 2009

Miscellaneous Stuff

Peter Greenaway's new film- Rembrandt's J'Accuse- argues that The Night Watch is scattered with clues that point to the complicity of its sitters (weekend soldiers and representatives of Amsterdam's mercantile elite) in the murder of their former commander. What I can't work out is whether this represents serious, art-historical research or is Greenaway taking the piss out of the likes of The Da Vinci Code. Either way, it's good fun. Martin Freeman- Tim from the Office- gets to play Rembrandt- a barmy piece of casting that makes me want to dance and sing.

I've been re-reading Michael Newton's Destiny of Souls. Newton is a hypnotherapist who has devoted himself to investigating what happens to us between incarnations. Think of him as the Swedenbord de nos jours. Everything I write about spirituality or religion has Newton somewhere at the back of it - so be warned.

BBC 4 is running a new series on the history of American folk music. I'd heard of Blind Lemon Jefferson and the Carter family. I hadn't heard of Dock Boggs. These musicians- black and white- emerged from the plantations and the mills and the mines in the 1920s- when the record companies were crazy for product- and were then pretty much wiped out by the Great Depression. Dock Boggs went back to the hills. Lemon Jefferson froze to death or was murdered. We heard snatches of the music- raw, scratchy, keening, for real. Jimmy Rogers is revered as the father of country music, but in his own time he was a folkie- because Country music didn't exist until he "invented" it. Actually, it was the marketing men who invented all these categories- blues, hillbilly, bluegrass, country. As far as the musicians were concerned they just made music- and the influences went everywhichaway- across the artificial borders of genre and race. Note to self: Got to find out more about Dock Boggs.