Convergences: What We See When We Remember Keyholes in Covers

I'm very much looking forward to reading Peter Mendelsund's What We See When We Read. Mendelsund is a terrific book designer, so his thoughts on what happens to our brain on books -- what we visualize -- should be fun. (Here's an excerpt that touches on Anna Karenina.) I was also surprised when I saw the cover for his book:

Because here's the first thing it reminded of:

About which you can read here or here

The keyhole motif is not that uncommon -- here's what Google Images pulls up when you do the search -- but to the question, What do you see when you look at the cover for What We See When We Read? The answer is: A former ballerina's book-length memoir about a particular sexual act.

Convergences: The Punctuation-Mark Exploits of Jack Pendarvis and Stephen King

I love Stephen King, and I love Jack Pendarvis, and the odds of finding anything in common between the two should be zilch. They're both huge fans of crime literature and crime movies -- they're notorious and encyclopedic in their appetite for undersung directors and authors in the genre -- but other than that their sensibilities seem pretty far apart. One does his own special brand of horror and works best when going long, the other writes short and funny. That said, they both do wonderful things with punctuation-mark abuse.

King's Mr. Mercedes features a creep whose messages are stuffed with character-revealing unnecessary !'s & "s:

And Pendarvis is the reigning champ of same:

King wants to creep you out, Pendarvis wants to you register the humor, but both do a pretty sweet job of assigning a kind of moral weight to the uses and abuses of punctuation, and to a certain clueless disjointed quality that comes with it. 

Convergences: Maria de Zayas, Spain's 17th century exploitation filmmaker

Reading Thomas Pavel's Lives of the Novel right now, and this bit summarizing one of the tales in Maria de Zayas's 1647 Disenchantments of Love make me think that her stories could have been filmed by fellow Spaniard Jess Franco a couple of centuries later:

In "Too Late Undeceived," Don Martin sleeps with an unknown lady, falls desperately in love, and later finds and marries her. But a female slave falsely informs him that his wife has had an affair with her cousin. Don Martin burns the cousin alive and locks his wife in a kennel, forcing her to drink from the dead man's skull and eat only scraps from his table. As a reward, the slave becomes Don Martin's mistress, but two years later, gravely ill, she admits that she lied. Don Martin stabs his mistress to death and rushes to free his wife, who has just died of a broken heart. The man goes mad. (75)

You'll find the same mix of sex and revenge and bloody retribution in pretty much any Jess Franco movie. One of my favorites is 1971's She Killed in Ecstasy, which YouTube summarizes thusly:

A young doctor kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. His wife then seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to his death by luring each member of the committee into compromising situations and then killing them one by one.

Hell, here's the whole movie:

Convergences: Scooby and the Narcos, Archie and the Undead

Scooby and Archie are both taken to some pretty dark places -- the first is a totally imaginary scenario (in a novel that also gives you Homes Simpson in a noir called D.O.H.), the second an actual thing you can pick up. Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge provides an imaginary Scooby Doo set-up that actually sounds just a smidgen less dark than what the Archie folks are going to do to Archie in a five-issue run.

Scooby Goes Latin! (1990), from Pynchon's Bleeding Edge:
"Hi, mom." She wants to enfold him forever. Instead lets him recap the plot for her. Shaggy, somehow allowed to drive the van, has become confused and made some navigational errors, landing the adventurous quintet eventually in Medellín, Colombia, home at the time to a notorious cocaine cartel, where they stumble onto a scheme by a rogue DEA agent to gain control of the cartel by pretending to be the ghost -- what else -- of an assassinated drug kingpin. With the help of a pack of local street urchins, however, Scooby and his pals foil the plan.

The cartoon comes back on, the villain is brought to justice. "And I would've gotten away with it, too," he complains, "if it hadn't been for those Medellín kids!"

From this NPR story on Afterlife with Archie:
Reggie Mantle runs over Jughead's fluffy pup Hot Dog. (Of course Reggie started it!) Jughead takes Hot Dog to Sabrina the teen witch, who using the Necronomicon and channeling Pet Sematary, brings him back to life. (And messes it up, 'cause that's what she does!) Hot Dog bites Jughead, who ends up consuming victims at the Halloween Dance. (He is always hungry!)

Convergences: Poets & Geologists & Driving & Mermaids.

John McPhee tells you not to hitch a ride with geologists. Martin Amis tell you who not to hitch a ride with poets. Montaigne says, Who needs a car when you have a tail?

McPhee's Annals of the Former World:
Geologists on the whole are inconsistent drivers. When a roadcut presents itself, they tend to lurch and weave. To them, a roadcut is a portal, a fragment of a regional story, a proscenium arch that leads their imaginations into the earth and through the surrounding terrane. (...)
"If I'm going to drive safely, I can't do geology."

Amis's The Information:
Poets can't, don't, shouldn't drive. (British poets can't or don't drive. American poets drive, but shouldn't.)

Horace, by way of Montaigne:
Poets can create monsters at will; say a fair maid with the tail of a fish, that is, a mermaid.

HBO: Stacking TVs On Top of Other TVs Since 1998

Enough people have said enough things about the parallels between Sex and the City and Girls, Shoshana included. One thing's for sure: If you are a hotshot fictional New York artist, and you're in either show, you will totally have a thing for stacking TVs on top of other TVs:

Girls ("Bad Friend," 2/27/13)

Girls ("Bad Friend," 2/27/13)

Sex and the City ("Models and Mortals," 6/14/98)

Sex and the City ("Models and Mortals," 6/14/98)
HBO: It's not TV. It's TVs on top of other TVs.

Bonus: Actual art installation involving TVs stacked on top of other TVs. David Welch's Totem Goals (more at The Morning News):

Montaigne and the Tauntaun

Montaigne on the historical precedent for the apparently-scientifically-improbable Star Wars bit where Han Solo stuffs Luke Skywalker into the Tauntaun: The army that Bajazet had sent into Russia was overwhelmed with so dreadful a tempest of snow, that to shelter and preserve themselves from the cold, many killed and embowelled their horses, to creep into their bellies and enjoy the benefit of that vital heat. (From On War Horses in The Complete Essays.)

Craigslist, Montaigne-style

Montaigne's dad points out the need for Craigslist several centuries before it finally came around:

My late father, a man that had no other advantages than experience and his own natural parts, was nevertheless of a very clear judgment, formerly told me that he once had thoughts of endeavouring to introduce this practice; that there might be in every city a certain place assigned to which such as stood in need of anything might repair, and have their business entered by an officer appointed for that purpose. As for example: I want a chapman to buy my pearls; I want one that has pearls to sell; such a one wants company to go to Paris; such a one seeks a servant of such a quality; such a one a master; such a one such an artificer; some inquiring for one thing, some for another, every one according to what he wants. And doubtless, these mutual advertisements would be of no contemptible advantage to the public correspondence and intelligence: for there are evermore conditions that hunt after one another, and for want of knowing one another's occasions leave men in very great necessity.