Manny Farber, According to Chuck Eddy


The tributes to Manny Farber continue rolling in. Most illuminating so far are those written by the critics still waving Farber’s flag, among them Voice‘s J. Hoberman. Earlier this week, Hoberman couched a confession in his remembrance:

Although he wrote like a champ, Farber was far from literary and is, I’m told, very difficult to translate. He described lowbrow action flicks as if he were discussing a canvas by Franz Kline and referenced comic strip artists in the context of avant-garde filmmakers like Marguerite Duras. My mantra when I began reviewing for the Voice was WWMD—like, what would Manny do? And, in a sense, it still is.

Now, over Rhapsody’s Play blog, Chuck Eddy posts a sly love letter to Farber’s 1962 Film Culture essay “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art.” The nostalgia’s good

“White elephant art these days means Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Hüsker Dü, PiL, Big Audio Dynamite: over-the-hill bastards going through the motions for the bucks and the sucks. Ignoramuses disguised as experts lap up the alleged manna, then give Tom Scholz sh*t.” — Chuck Eddy, review of Boston’s Third Stage, Village Voice, November 26, 1988.

but the punchline’s better:

“I’ve been hiding in your walls and plotting with your mouse. I’m hungry, and I’m gonna eat your house.” — Woodbox Gang, “Termite Song,” 2008.

Highly recommended.