The Lyric Inspired Kurt Cobain Reading List

This past weekend marks the 20th year since Kurt Cobain’s untimely and unfortunate death. Nirvana is a band that I have always loved and I’m disappointed that I can’t just jet set to Paris to see the current exhibition of Cobain’s final photo shoot. So, for the moment, you’ll have to put up with my Nirvana inspired post today (but it has to do with books, I swear!). Sure, Cobain had shrieking lyrics and mumbled lines, but that doesn’t stop Nirvana from being wicked awesome.

kurt cobain

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I’m so tired I can’t sleep/I’m a liar and a thief (Pennyroyal Tea)
  • The Double by José Saramago  I’m not the only one, Aaah/I’m not the only one, Aaah (Rape Me) 
  • The Myth of Icarus – In the sun, in the sun I feel as one/In the sun (All Apologies) –
  •  The Crucible by Arthur Miller – If she floats then she is not/A witch like we had thought/A down payment on another one (Serve the Servants)
  • The Children of Men by P.D. James – With the lights out, it’s less dangerous/Here we are now, entertain us/I feel stupid and contagious/Here we are now, entertain us (Smells Like Teen Spirit)
  • The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling  Underneath the bridge/Tap has sprung a leak/And the animals I’ve trapped/All become my pets (Something in the Way)
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Take your time, hurry up/The choice is yours, don’t be late (Come As You Are)
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk –  I’m so happy/’Cause today I found my friends/They’re in my head (Lithium)
  • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell – Is there another reason for your stain?/Could you believe who we knew stress or strain?/Here is another word that rhymes with shame (Blew)

B SIDE: Because Cobain was such a fan of the Pixies and influenced by them, they shall be included on this list as well.

  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathYour head’ll collapse/If there’s nothing in it/And then you’ll ask yourself/Where is my mind? (Where Is My Mind)
  • The Lover by Marguerite Duras – You’re looking like/You’ve got some sun/Your blistered lips/Have got a kiss (Bone Machine)

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**Top images from Wikipedia.


The Jim Moriarty Mixtape Playlist

While re-watching the previous episodes of Sherlock in anticipation of the new season this past Sunday, I noticed that über-villain and super criminal Jim Moriarty often listens to his headphones, leading me to ponder his ultimate mixtape playlist…

  1. The Thieving Magpie by Gioachino Rossini. What else is there to listen to while you are breaking in to steal the Crown Jewels filmed with a cinematic wink to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange?
  2. Testify by Rage Against the Machine. Actually, I think pretty much any RATM song suits the “consulting criminal,” but this just seems a perfect match. Runners up: Killing in the NameBulls on Parade from the aptly named album Evil Empire.
  3. Send Me an Angel by Real Life. For all those cozy moments when Moriarty tells Sherlock that, unlike him, he is on the side of the angels.
  4. Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon. Mutilating old ladies and warnings of potential evisceration warm this international criminal’s heart.
  5. Antenna by Kraftwerk. Richard Brook, or is it Reichenbach? All those zeros and ones, and the elusive all-mighty computer algorithm that controls everything. German plus computers obviously equals Kraftwerk.
  6. Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. The song that Moriarty is listening to on his headphones right before that infamous rooftop scene.
  7. Fever by Peggy Lee. Partly, because I imagine him listening to this at the end of a day full of dastardly deeds and also, for any of you fans of the second option to how Sherlock faked his own death in the first episode of season 3.
  8. Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Moriarty mocks Sherlock’s playing of this solo violin Bach piece.
  9. Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen. It’s always been Moriarty’s endgame for Sherlock to kill himself and what better song to make that psychotic Irishman flash his sly smirk.
  10. Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash. Because he doesn’t let getting thrown in the tank get him down.
  11. Money by The Sonics. “Give me money/that’s what I want”. Simple lyrics tell it all. Power, money, and attention.
  12. I am the Walrus by The Beatles. Just because, really.

The Gaze of Orpheus

Yesterday afternoon, I was invited by a very talented friend to the first part in a series of three concert-lectures she is putting on. The entire arch of the project deals with the Orphic myth and how it has influenced music and composers (my friend is studying to be a conductor). Her research was thorough and inventive, and the music performed was stellar (Haydn, Monteverdi, etc.). Besides the enjoyment I had from the music, I am always keen on anything to do with Classical Greece (full disclosure: I studied Classical Greek Civilization & Mythology in college). Before I continue, if you are unfamiliar with Orpheus, may I suggest taking a look at this quick snippet.

She mentioned that she will explore more about the “gaze of Orpheus” in her second concert-lecture. This had me thinking about Maurice Blanchot (as one does on a chilly Sunday afternoon). Even though her project is of course directed towards music, I strongly recommended Blanchot’s essay, The Gaze of Orpheus. Many people find Blanchot to be difficult and obtuse–I admit to being perplexed at times–but he is definitely worth a read to anyone interested in literature, language, art, life, death, etc. He is so fascinated with the idea of Orpheus, that he even wrote an experimental novel called Thomas the Obscure.

In The Gaze of Orpheus, Blanchot discusses Orpheus’ descent from the world of the living to Hades so he may retrieve his dead love, Eurydice. He compares this excursion to that of “the artist,” as well as examining the creative process.

Even though he is a challenge, I highly recommend Blanchot. I won’t get into it with this post, but for the past couple of years, I have been extremely interested with space in literature: both the physical space within the novel and also, the way the reader, author, and character(s) react to space. Which brings me to Blanchot’s The Space of Literature. Read it!