Still playing Ashen though I am nearing the end as far as I can tell. Unlike the Souls game it does have clear "missions" to accomplish and a map that marks out those missions, so everything is not so obscure and cryptic. Though I'm also wearying of the long dungeons that you have to get through at a few points in the game, where there are no places in the middle to save. Though, at least, the boss fights have proven much easier to deal with (I think so far I've done all of them in the first or second try). I might be at the point, so close to the end really, where I just want to give up on it.
Finished up Hong Sang-Soo's The Day After earlier, the third movie of his I've seen (and apparently all three were out the same year!). This was probably the least interesting. It had its moments, in particular with Min-Hee Kim his seemingly regular lead actress (and, at the time at least, partner). Something about her expressions and quick changes of mood are really interesting to watch. For most of this movie she seems to be seen in profile, in conversation across a table from the male lead, often her head is lowered or she's looking away, but then late in the movie she is shown full on as she is riding home in a taxi. It starts snowing, and she opens that window and leans her head back and a bit to the side looking out into the night time snow. In a way it's the climax of the movie, a moment of grace in what is otherwise a rather uncomfortable day for the character.
The movie plays around with time a bit, but is less confusing narratively than On the Beach At Night Alone. The story is mostly about a publisher, who Min-Hee's character starts working for (her first day at work). He was having an affair with his previous employee (another younger woman) and his wife found out. At times, the story cuts from the publisher and Min-Hee to the publisher and the girlfriend, effectively skipping back in time. It's a little confusing at first, but draws out some differences/similarities to the ongoing events.
Last night I finished up the book I was reading, Absence of Clutter: Minimal Writing as Art and Literature by Paul Stephens. Stephens analyzes a bunch of different examples and types of minimal writing, mostly poetry and word/image art (and where one draws the line between the two (and that that line is unclear) is I think part of the point). In this case minimal means very minimal, there's a whole chapter on one word poems. And most of the work would be considered smaller than a sentence. I really appreciate the way a lot of the work is a blend of word and image or the useage of words in ways that are more visual than the average poem. Susan Howe, whose latest I am reading, falls into that visual poetry category (at least much of her work), but would not be considered minimal.
Two of the poets he focuses chapters on, who are less visual, are Robert Grenier and Aram Saroyan. Grenier's Sentences was (is) a bunch of notecards with very short text typed on them. There's an online version. A few of Saroyan's works are available at ubuweb.
Last night we also watched Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint a documentary from last year about the Swedish painter who is now considered the first western abstract painter. The movie was beautiful and had tons of great images of her work, though it did feel like it downplayed the spiritualist aspect of her life and work. My reading about her previously seemed to indicate that was a large part of where her work came from, but the film kind of sidestepped any discussion of the relationship between the two. It was much more focused on correcting the record, to argue for her place as the first abstract painter, a move that overturns long held (taught) art history. A lot of the work was really amazing and had a wider range than what I had previously seen.
As I watching it, I recalled a movie I had recently seen that had reference af Klint's work, and it's only now in looking it up that I see it was Assayas' Personal Shopper, where the protagonist considers herself a medium and learns about the painter's work during the narrative.