Dostoevsky's "Demons" Dethpakt - The Beginning

DDDP Day -1, Page 0
My interfriends and I like to fancy ourselves literary types, so on occasion we challenge one another to read a classic, "difficult" work of literature. Last time around, about six months ago, it was Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I opted out of that particular dethpakt since I had A: already read the book and B: just begun reading Pynchon's later novel Mason & Dixon. If I recall correctly, the GRDP, as it was known, saw a completion rate under 50%.

"What will we read next?" came the query several days ago. Things were suggested, James Joyce rejected. Then Ellen, our resident Library Scientist, submitted Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Demons for consideration and lo, agreements were made. The pakt begins November 1.

The basic rules are: read the book or die in the attempt, and write about your progress somewhere on the interblog. The idea is to finish within a month, but as there is no system of enforcement beyond ridicule and no prize to be had other than satisfaction and cultural stimulation (and perhaps some feelings of superiority), well, just read the thing. If you want. Or don't. Or DIE.

I'll be posting regular updates on my progress-thus-far and thoughts about the book here in this very space. These and other dethpakters' musings are being aggregated at dethpakt.bangmoney.org for convenience and posterity.

DDDP Day 0, pgs. vii-xxvii
On my commute today I thought I'd get somewhat acquainted with the book by reading the foreword and translator's note. The edition I'm reading is the Vintage Classics pressing from 1995, translated by husband and wife team Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which is widely considered to be the authoritative version.

In the foreword Pevear provides a rough outline of the novel, summarizes the themes involved, draws brief sketches of the main characters and ruminates on the meaning of the title (which had originally been translated as The Possessed... in fact, the Wikipedia entry for Demons is still filed under this title). Pevear explains that the eponymous demons are the "foreign ideas" of liberalism, socialism, nihilism, anarchism, existentialism, etc., that have possessed the revolutionary characters in the novel and driven them to commit terrible deeds against themselves and others. Dostoevsky, Pevear elucidates, was, by the time he wrote this novel, very much committed to the Slavophil way of thinking; that of respect for God (in the guise of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Mother Russia. This, despite (or because of) Dostoevsky's mock-execution and decade-long imprisonment at the will of the Tsar due to revolutionary activity in the 1840s.

Pevear seems himself convinced that these demons are responsible for many of the horrors of the twentieth century, laying, for example, the atrocities of Stalin at the feet of Communist ideology rather than the despotism of Stalin's regime (perhaps the two are inseparable in his mind... one wonders if he blames the current atrocities in Iraq on Capitalism, or the current regime in Washington, D.C.). Whether these are his actual opinions or merely his defense of Dostoevsky is not clear to me at this time. As someone with sympathy to the "radical left" mode of thought I'm curious to see what I think of Dostoevsky's take on the virulence of these particular memes.

Onward, my droogs.


doodily ding dong DETHKLOK

So guess what? Brendon Small (along with Mike Keneally, Bryan Beller & Gene Hoglan) is TAKING DETHKLOK ON TOUR.
Unfortunately for me they're not playing New York. But here's where they are playing:

10/29 Albuquerque (UNM)
10/31 Las Vegas (UNLV)
11/1 Los Angeles (UCLA)
11/2 Berkeley, CA (UC Berkeley)
11/5 Fort Collins, CO (CSU)
11/7 Minneapolis (U Minneapolis)
11/8 Vermillion, SD (USD)
11/11 Boulder, CO (UC Boulder)
11/13 Carbondale, IL
11/14 Madison, WI (UW)
11/17 Lawrence, KS (KU)
11/18 Chicago (Northwestern)

It looks like all of these shows are free (gratis) "students only" gigs at various universities. But here's hoping there's more to come. Further info (a little) on the Adult Swim Presents site and Mike Keneally's website.


the days are just packed

When Halloween falls on a Wednesday, the Saturday beforehand is generally pressed into service as Party Day and, of course, everyone you probably know is hosting something different since all time is quickly becoming a simultaneity. So what's going on down in New York?

Well, first of all, there's a non-Halloween event those of you who are into this "music" thing should check out: the Laura Thomas Band is playing at the slick new venue R Bar on Thursday the 25th at 9PM. In addition to LTB, your $10 buys you the rock stylings of four other bands, and the show kicks off at 7. Lee Sobel of Lo-Fi Entertainment is handling the booking at R Bar these days, so you can be pretty sure you'll have a grand ol' time.

Saturday night hosts two parties in particular that I feel moved to hype at you.

Midnight Kitchen is throwing their benefit for the Surfrider Foundation, the Psycho Beach Blowout, at Southpaw in Brooklyn. The theme is rockabilly surf-horror burlesque, and advance tickets ($15) buy you admission to an unbeatable lineup of entertainment featuring Detroit Cobras, Sasquatch and the Sickabillys, The Tarantinos and modern burlesque legend Angie Pontani! Wear a costume, unless you're too cool for that kind of thing. For my part, I'm providing the video backdrops for the event so you'd better believe I'll be there.

Deli Magazine, Tekserve and the excellent Bella Noir are hosting a Halloween party at The Delancey. They've got four bands lined up, in addition to themselves (Morning Theft, Seasick, Champollion and Femme Generation[all the way from TEH CANADIA]), as well as DJ Nora K. Wear a costume, they've got $3 PBRs all night (free from 11 to midnight), and it's $7 to get in.



get back

Well! I survived the trip to Portland, and it was an excellent time. Thanks to the denizens of the Saluthaus for their extreme hospitality, and ditto to Ariel Marsh and Peter.

Jeff and I shot a bunch of great footage for the documentary, which, it appears, may now have the working title of Everything, Kansas. I'm really happy with how things are shaping up, and the overall themes are really coming out in the interviews. Next up is a trip down to Virginia for Thanksgiving to continue the process.

Seize Them!'s show at The Underscore last week went fairly well... other than poor René being forced to crawl his car into the city for 2.5 hours due to a rainstorm and then the both of us forgetting his cymbal bag at home. Thankfully, the band who played before us was kind enough to lend their cymbals for our show. 50% of the other bands scheduled to play cancelled, and there was very nearly zero audience other than the bartender, the sound guy, two dudes from the earlier band and a couple of our die-hard hangers-on. Tough room. But we played it. The show is available for free download, as usual, from seizethem.com. Click the picture to take you directly to the relevant part of the site:
Next up, Seize Them! rocks The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg on Nov. 7 along with Don Red and The Affected Affections.
Additionally, I've created a profile on ReverbNation for Seize Them!, so you can enjoy even more ST! presence by checking us out here.

I've submitted the paperwork to New York State to create High Water Media, LLC, which will be the business entity overseeing most of my creative output from here on out. A long life to High Water Media! Check in with the blog over there for occasional updates on what High Water is up to.



According to Steve Hyden of The Onion, our current cover-song-of-choice, CCR's "Ramble Tamble", is The Most Rockin' Song of All Time. Who knew we had such good taste?

Oh right... we did.

You can, of course, hear several versions of it if you download our free shows from seizethem.com.

Greetings, by the way, from lovely Portland, OR, where Jeff and I are continuing work on our documentary film project.