"More than anything, the paradoxical logic by which Berger unfolds his scenes connects him to Kafka. Too many contemporary writers kowtow to Kafka in mummery: ostentatiously dreamlike settings, Shadows and Fog-ian Eastern European atmosphere or diction. Berger engages with Kafka's influence at a more native and universal level, by grasping the way Kafka reconstructed fictional time and causality to align it with his emotional and philosophical reservations about human life. Berger's tone, like Kafka's, never oversells paranoia or despair, and the results are, actually, never dreamlike. Instead, Berger locates that part of our waking life that unfolds in the manner of Zeno's Paradox, where it is possible only to [...]
"By using a common four-letter term for sexual intercourse, he went on, Lawrence was trying to remove the stain of profanity from plain English words. 'We have no word in English for this act which is not either a long abstraction or an evasive euphemism, and we are constantly running away from it, or dissolving into dots,' Professor Hoggart said." —Richard Hoggart is pretty much the father of cultural studies, so I don't know if my primary emphasis in his obituary would have been his testimony in the Lady Chatterly case, but having missed the opportunity to collect the first round of obituaries a couple of weeks ago [...]
"Lorenzo Semple Jr., a playwright and screenwriter who would probably be best known for his scripts for films like 'Papillon' and 'Pretty Poison' if he hadn’t put the Zap! and the Pow! in the original episodes of the arch, goofy 1960s television show 'Batman,' died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 91."
"Alain Resnais, the French filmmaker who helped introduce literary modernism to the movies and became an international art-house star with nonlinear narrative films like “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Last Year at Marienbad,” died on Saturday in Paris. He was 91."
"Mavis Gallant, the internationally celebrated Canadian short story writer who lived and worked for most of her life in Paris, has died, according to her publisher. She was 91."
I am not even going to pretend to know much about Stuart Hall but his obituary alone shows him to have been a remarkable thinker who shaped the world in which we all live in ways many of us do not think about. The Guardian's "More on this story" suggestions are also helpful. He was 82.
An old man writes: "I don't want to belabor the point or look back with any kind of revisionist history on how wonderful it all was, because a lot of it was frankly terrible and, even with all the annoyances and vexations we're forced to confront each day as everyone figures out how to negotiate this strange new world with its ever-shifting boundaries and notions of what is acceptable, we are still considerably better off in these times than we were back then, but there was something special about living in an age where you had three main sources of televised entertainment and if you missed an episode of [...]
Political analyst John Maginnis, whose The Last Hayride and Cross to Bear are not only two of the greatest books written about Louisiana politics, but are also pretty high on the list of greatest books about Southern politics, and merit appearances on the list of greatest books about American politics in general, has died. Maginnis was 66.
"The author Sue Townsend, whose most popular character Adrian Mole defined a generation, has died at the age of 68. She was best known for the fictional diaries of Adrian Mole, who began confiding his deepest desires and ambitions in the Seceret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4 in 1982. His teenage years were recounted in the Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and further novels dealt with married life and middle age. Townsend died on Thursday evening after a stroke." —This is also good.
"Maggie Estep, a novelist and spoken-word poet who helped popularize slam poetry on MTV, HBO and PBS in the 1990s, died on Wednesday in Albany. She was 50."
"Shirley Temple Black, who as the most popular child movie star of all time lifted a filmgoing nation’s spirits during the Depression and then grew up to be a diplomat, has died. [...]
"Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation, who gave three-dimensional nuance to a wide range of sidekicks, villains and leading men on screen and embraced some of the theater’s most burdensome roles on Broadway, died on Sunday at an apartment in Greenwich Village he was renting as an office. He was 46."
"Actor Bob Hoskins, who was best known for roles in The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died of pneumonia
"Tony Benn was one of the most mesmerising and divisive figures in the mainstream of postwar British politics. An establishment insider who became a rebellious leftwing outsider, a cabinet minister turned street protester and reviled prophet of capitalism's demise, he nonetheless managed in old age to become something of a national treasure. 'It's because I'm harmless now,' he would explain."
"Garrick Utley, a former anchor for NBC News who for many years was one of a rare breed in television news reporting, a full-time foreign correspondent, died on Thursday night at his home in Manhattan. He was 74."
"If television is a cool medium, it's only since Sid Caesar left it. An immense, bear-like monster who generated more energy than any three TVA projects, Caesar did the best comedy on television, ever…. His endless energy was a war on the static, the complacent and the passively stupid. When Sid Caesar was stupid, he was actively stupid. Usually when someone makes a movie about The Creation, they cast an august presence like John Gielgud or someone to play the voice of God. But there is no doubt that there was one person born to play Him, and it was Sid Caesar. He hurled and slapped his little universe [...]