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Page vs Screen: The Pleasure Garden (1925) 

You know when you have this grand idea, this huge research project, for years, and you finally set out to start it. You set up a timeline. Start talking about it. Start doing research, and then _________________________________________ nothing. the book doesn't exist, it existed at some point, and there is documentation that the director read the novel, but biographies of the author don't always list a publicationd date, and no copy is to be found anywhere. I was sure a few films wouldn't have novels or stories, but to not be able to find the first novel had not crossed my mind. Therefore, we will proceed without it.


The Pleasure Garden

The Pages Behind the Artists: Billy Liar (Bowie 2 of 100) 

Waterhouse, Keith. Billy Liar. London: Michael Joseph. 1959


Billy Liar is a nonsensical slice of life demonstrating the indecision surrounding the expectations and responsibilities encountered by the youth of the lower middles class. It lays open the bleak hopelessness of lateral movement and the tedious repetition of cultural and political history.

I do not know at what part in Bowie's life he encountered this book, but I cant help but wonder if, as a youth and then as an advertising agent, this book echoed his feelings on the hollowness of that existence and the need to create or "art" that our comicly inclined, hyperly imaginative "hero" so aptly demonstrated. It is a very thin line that separates escapism and artistic manifestation.


Bonus review


Doggett, Peter. The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s. New York: Harper Collins, 2012


An in depth analysis of every track written, recorded or produced by David Bowie during the 1970s, Handled in chronological order, each track is discussed musically, specifically structure, influences and style, and contextually. With almost 200 hundred songs, the variety of emotion and societal commentary expressed is staggering. The relevance of his songs, 40 years later, speaks to his understanding of the human condition and the highs and lows universally experienced. Of particular interest were some unfinished projects that were absorbed into later albums, especially an unfinished show based on 1984. 

The inclusion of several short essays on the importance and influence of his albums adds layers of appreciation for Bowie's work, and compounds the relevance it has in today's world.

The Pages Behind the Artists: The Brutality of Fact (Bowie 1 of 100) 

Sylvester, David. The Brutality of Fact: Interviews With francis bacon. London: Thames & Hudson. 1987


A collection of 9 interviews compiled from tapes, videos, and transcripts covering a span of 24 years (1962 - 1986). Topics include methods and styles, but also the value, role and importance of the artist. While doing basic research on the book, I found two interviews of David Bowie dating from the early 90's, when he was more involved with the art world than the music world.

The two points that these interviews brought to my attention were that Davie Bowie was not actually a fan of Bacon, and that he observed a mid life crisis at the age that I am now. Now onto Bacon.

I had never heard of Francis Bacon the artist before seeing this list of books. My exposure to art, music and literature tends to the classic and is predominately of a survey level ending with the early 1900's. In researching his work, I ahve determined that I m not a fan of the figurative style, however, I found many insights within these interviews, and higlighted many passages and took numerous margin notes.

A few statements for you to ponder:


  • But when you're outside a tradition, as every artist is today, one can only want to record one's own feelings about certain situations as closely to one's own nervous systems as one possible can. (page 43)
  • Because poeple tend to be offended by facts, or what used to be called truth. (page 48)
  • Isn't it that one wants a thing to be as factual as possible and at the same time as deeply suggestive or deeply unlocking of areas of sensation other than simple illustration of the object that you set out to do? Isn't that what all art is about. (page 56)
  • But, although I may use what's called the tecquniques that have been handed down. I'm trying to make out of them something that is radically different to what those tecquniques have made before. (page 107)
  • -to make the thing unlike yet miraculously like. It's taken many forms, this idea of transforming the material very radically in order to make it more like itself. In one way or another it's a very common aim in art. (page 126)
  • ...the excitement and the possibilities are in the working and obviously can only come in working. ( page 156)
  • ...we're so saturated with all the arts, through all the means of reproducing them and seeing them and everything, that the saturation point has come so strongly that one just longs for new images and new ways by which reality can be created. (page 179)

and finally

  • And then too, to be a painter now, I think that you have to know, even if only in a rudimentary way, the history of art from pre-historic times right up to today. (page 199)

Admittedly, the context and longer forms of these quotes might mean more, but this handful spoke to me in the context of burlesque and tyring to live as an artist in this day and age.

In regards to Bowie and this book. I wish that the list he compiled in 2013 had included notations in regard to when he read them or how he came upon them. It would be interesting to have a frame of reference made of his music and art, and to possibly see the influence these books had on him as an artist. I can not assume that this book is associated with his period of painting, but because my research directed me that way, I will address it that way.

The idea that someone many of us hold as exceptionally talented and inspiring could suffer from a mid-life crisis, is breathtaking. This concept brings him closer, gives us hope and gives us permission to doubt. But it also demands that we address the crisis and find the new roads that we need to follow to return us to the path we desire. As a middle aged dancer, I have a sense of mortality for my artistic output, but I also have a well of ideas that have not been tapped, looking for a spring to pour forth from. In my time, I have seen burlesque shift from a rock-n-roll DIY mentality to a classic resurgence to a pop-culture mirror and occasionally a mouthpiece change and acceptance. Not everyone has shifted with the scene, some have shifted so far that we are all playing catch-up, and others have followed and then returned to their roots. In this age of the internet and social media, the shift does not remove the prior forms, and we can see the shift not happening uniformally across the geographic regions. My doubt involves a move through regions into a different but similar culture that is shifting at a different rate. Do I need to find a new point of action within the shift, can I continue from my current point, or can I jump to an alternative scale and use this move as a complete recalibration and return to my original inspirations outside of the context and start the shift and growth patterns again. I foresee some ideas that were passed on in the past, seeing fruition in this new paradigm. Bacon's thoughts on art and it's value, and where he comes to art from are thought provoking, and it makes me feel confident in myself and the future to examine these thoughts, and imagine that Bowie found them at the same age, when handling similar personal issues.

Page vs Screen: oh, the suspense...... 

This is the start of a new project/series. It has been in the back of my mind for years, maybe decades, and it is time.

Premise: I find literature to be so much "more" than it's cinematic counterparts, and for my personal taste, Alfred Hitchcock has the been the director that has provided the most striking resemblance to that "more." My preferences lean towards mystery and suspense, but not horror. I have other examples that I will get to, such as Val Lewton's Cat People (1942)The Uninvited (1944), and Portrait of Jennie (1948), but Hitchcock has such a broad and recognizable body of work, that it seemes a logical place to start.

In order of release, I will examine each of his still existing films at the rate of at least 1 a month. I will start each analysis by reading the original printed source material, then watching the movie. When no novel or story is available, the process will go faster. Then, as an artist whose mediums are primarily fabric, motion, and the naked human form, I will endeavor to also recreate a costume and possibly a burlesque piece for each film. This will also force me to document my work, which is not something I do well. A this progresses, I hope to add an auditory aspect, either thru a podcast or my panel show, The Naked Show (and Tell), and eventually, collaborate with other performers to produce a theatrical retrospective, in the burlesque style, of his works.

Shall we begin.....