Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Challenge Of Choice - Best Lists Of 2005

The plethora of best-of lists that appear every year seem to wash over oneself, giving little distinction and creative impetus worth appreciating, either through their sameness, or due to their contents being mostly over-played in the year. This is most applicable to best-of movie lists, whether or not one has seen the film in question.

The publicity machine of mass media sends out waves of information and noise, that after a while become indistinguishable. Cultural differences are lost in the new global commons. It becomes difficult to choose.

Stylus Magazine's Top 50 Albums is different in many respects, including an album that blends music and noise from the interzone between AM stations (Tod Dockstader – Aerial 1), another from a country icon who hasn't released an album in 20 years (Bobby Bare - The Moon Was Blue), and much newness, from The Russian Futurists to the very good Spoon. Kate Bush makes an appearance, as does Sufjan Stevens. Insights are to be had in the crisp comments for each entry, such as this one,
Music these days is all derived. It’s always coming from influences here and there, with traces or hints or aspects of this, that and, quite possibly the other thing too.


Coming to film, one finds an inordinate obsession with films from Hollywood, a naivete that extends even to aficionados like Roger Ebert or the Boston Film Society critics. The other side of the pond offers more well-rounded lists, such as the Telegraph's, which included Howl's Moving Castle and the Guardian's list with Downfall and The Consequences Of Love. Despite these variances, there was still a depressing sameness about these lists. Missing were Indian excellences like Black and Paheli, and the Korean "Blue Swallow". I must, however, mention the more than eclectic New York Times' movie list from A O Scott

Books are somewhat easier to choose from, and given the richness of fine writing this year, as in most, there is a lot of good stuff.A grandiose claim was made by Sir V S Naipaul that "Fiction is Dead", as noted by Salon, and disproved by their own list, which includes Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go", "On Beauty" and "The Assassin's Gate". Amazon's editors provide a rather effective best-of list of books.

Gregory Maguire comments on how we are bound together by our books, a good thought in these tense times.
The literature of childhood — including the fairy tales, the parables of history, the hero tales and legends, the cautionary lore and the folk beliefs — increasingly serves as that rarest of constructs: a set of references recognizable to us all.
This is either a wry comment on the Flatness of the World, or another example of naivete, overlooking regional originality.

Blogcritics prepareed various best-of-2005 lists, too - with much variation across the spectrum

I had a good creative year, personally, although I am looking forward avidly to 2006, and much newness, myself. Incidentally, this appears to be the 450th post on this blog, from the control panel.

Feliz Navidad!

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader