What Webster doesn't tell you is that he was in bath at the time and when he noticed the water displace when he put his leg in he had a revelation on how to measure volume. He then cried out "Eureka! Eureka!" and promptly ran out of the bathhouse still nude and still yelling.

Eureka! was the name of a series of cartoons aired on PBS during the 80's. Each episode was 15 minutes long, and discussed various topics. The characters were these funny looking skinny people who talked in a sort of nasally voice(reminiscent of the teacher from The Peanuts television shows). Their appearance was similar to Hagar's sidekick from the Hagar the Horrible comic strip. Not only did they have lanky bodies, but they also had long noses. One topic that I recall was basic machines. They discussed levers, pulleys, screws and such. I wish this show was still on the air, because it was high-quality merchandise.

"Eureka" has been on the state seal of California since 1849, and is also the name of a city in that state. The word was probably intended to refer to the discovery of gold in California. In 1957, attempts were made to establish "In God We Trust" as the state motto, but "Eureka" was made the official state motto in 1963.

Jim O’Rourke’s musical career has been an interesting one to follow. From his days partnering with David Grubbs in Gastr del Sol to his highly experimental and minimalist works like Happy Days and Disengage, O’Rourke has shown himself to be a multi-talented musician. After Bad Timing came out, which echoes John Fahey—rumors began circulating that O’Rourke was going to release a pop album. And that’s why you can still find his pop albums in the experimental section of your local record store. Eureka was released on March 2, 1999.

Eureka opens up with Prelude to 100 or 220/Women Of The World which repeats the phrase “Women of the world, take over cause if you don’t the world will come to an end” with a backdrop of slowly powertooled guitar, and choruses from the speakers left and right, tinny cornets punctuating the rhythm, until it keeps growing, until one realizes.. is he serious? He has to be serious. But it’s ironic, how can he be serious? But he is serious.

Jim O’Rourke is often chided because of his apparent lack of compassion for the human race. It just turns out, in my evaluation that he is sick of the fake layers of personal communication that pollute the brainwaves and stop personal growth. He sings in Ghostship in a Storm:

Nothing makes me want to disappear
As when someone opens their mouth….
I’m not there like a ghostship in a storm.

Movie on the Way Down slowly transfers the listener to a self-examination.

There’s that word again… pride
Do you pride yourself on being alive?
Do you feel pride when you’re alone?
Does the mirror say, good day today?
Does your family make you feel pride?
Do their pictures keep you warm?
Is your smile so easily worn? Worn away.
Do you feel proud?

From here, the album twists to Through the Night Softly which builds into a somewhat-similar to the Saturday Night Live band segment, tenor saxophone waxing poetic over oohs and ahhs of the world and a piano slowly punctuating a sentence that never starts. It’s all for real, not just being covered up or created for its own aspect. Jim O’Rourke is an artist who truly understands postmodernity, and not the same way the majority of those perceiving it define it. He transcends the concept into being.

Please Patronize our Sponsors is a piano and flute piece with some of the best subtle jazz drumming I’ve heard. The music is a drip from a tongue, and further deepens the instrumental interludes we’ve been in for awhile. Mid-way through the song there is this moment of rapt attention, with strings. It feels like a high school graduation or gala, where all your friends are watching you, laughing, drinking and having a good time. There are moments and places where this all makes sense. Where it all clicks together, and we’ve only got a few moments to grab onto it. And if I can sneak a sentence in here and there, stabbing like a rubber knife, then I’ve done my part.

Jim O’Rourke next examines Burt Bacharach’s Something Big. “Like a grain of sand that wants to be a rolling stone. I want to be the man I’m not and other things I really haven’t got and that’s a lot.” The cover placed in the middle of the album here, fully decorated with female background vocals, in some ways points towards the real meat of the first song. This is the only appearance of a female on the album, and as I will investigate in his next major album, Insignificance O’Rourke has many thoughts about women worth investigating. But the thing with O’Rourke, is you never know whether these are his thoughts, or just thoughts he is having. I understand that very well. I rarely can tell the difference in my own judgments.

Eureka is my favorite song on the album. It comes in quiet, with many progressive sounds, deeply edited by a computer, but still organic. Real. The lyrics are really what get me:

Hello, hello can you hear me?
Are your skies clear and sunny down there?
Even in this rain, a breath reaches me here.
Here, on this phone.
A quarter, a dayroom for me.
And as things, stay the same I’m quickly running out of change.
You’re thinking on your feet
While you’re sitting there on your ass
Fresh cream in your sugar
No stains of sweat on your back
There’s no need
There’s an employee
To make up for all of your slack
A seed don’t make a tree
Without a servant that waters the grass.

From here we slowly move through synths until the final piece, a short song in the tradition of Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman:

I’m going to a place where the women have nothing on
But the radio, turned up to ten
Too loud for me to think
I’m hoping if I blink
I don’t wake up here….

Dah! Dahdhah! Dah-da-dah! Dah-da-dah! Dah-da-da-duh-dah!

One of life’s greatest sins is natural when it begins
Goodbye mouth canyon
You weren’t very much to see
But I only came to leave…

The cover to the album depicts a naked, chubby Japanese man, shoving a stuffed rabbit onto his crotch, painted in colorful and peaceful hues. Inside the album there is a picture of such beauty I hang it above my kitchen sink. A beautiful day, with green grass and a blue sky. In the sky is Bruce Lee’s face and arm, in a hand-chop motion, looking serious. On the ground, a naked short-legged man stands, his butt to the artist’s lens. Nun-chucks lay on the ground by his feet, and a bicycle overturned in front of him. He’s in the middle of a field, looking up to Bruce Lee. This defines the album to me. The artist of the paintings is Mimiyo Tomozawa.

I highly recommend this. It is among the very best albums I’ve heard.

when i first came here
an ignorant hick
a boy
when you invited me over
opened up your great alluvial basin

when i drove past the agricultural pest control checkpoint
with its dumpster full of contraband grapefruit
from hellholes like texas
when you showed me virga over the mojave
rain that evaporates before it hits the ground
i'd never seen that before, i'd always wanted to
the very coolest of all precipitation
exotic and impossible to my virginian eyes
and there it was
right through the windshield
over joshua trees and exposed plutonic massifs
like figure 12-a from
Introduction to Meteorology
When i came here an ungolden ignorant hillbilly
a boy
when you gave me speed
everything moving faster
you gave me concrete like
the fifteen the ten the five
the one oh one
the one ten the two
the la river
rio hondo california aqueduct
all american canal
you gave me LAX SFO BUR SAC
and the blue line metrolink
amtrak caltrain bart
speed speed speed
casual movement
like a pot set to boil
logistics hubs full of containers
red green blue
corrugated steel
planetary breadboxes
labeled with
hyundai and super heavy
And Jesus! the words
sigalert taquiera
marine layer tremblor
number 4 lane botanica
jacked up guero
cross collateralized
mitzah farkakte
wind wave interval
value added gang related
officer involved satay
pollo loco in and out
multilevel structure
seismic retrofit
reposado ramp closed for repair
p5 interceed for us
our blessed virgin
queen of angels
warrior queen
Golden. They don't make golden back east
the sky santa ana jet stream pacific clear
the sky filled with golden airplanes
The towers golden and the hills golden
They don't make the people golden
they don't run the the whole fucking state
as a volunteer organization
this america inside america
They don't make *me* golden back east
But you do, my eureka
you are golden enough
to make a whiteboy golden
to make an ignorant hillbilly golden
make him a full grown human being
unstunted unbowed
tall and

After all that you've done
for me
as personal as fedex
how can I leave you?

I can leave you because you made me possible.
Cali, you gave and gave and gave
golden and generous and endless
your heart too large to break
when i leave you
your leading export:

A film about recovery and resensualization. Written and directed by Shinji Aoyama, who was supposedly inspired by Jim O'Rourke's Eureka and Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. Although I've never seen Tokyo Story, I've been told it leaves you deeply emotionally affected, but you cannot say how or why. This film is like that.

The story follows the three survivors of a bus hijacking - Makoto, the driver, and two school age passengers, siblings Kozue and Naoki - and their journey to recover from this trauma. After many seemingly directionless scenes, the film becomes a road movie. Makoto buys a bus and drives across Japan with the children and their college student cousin, Akihiko. The cousin provides the only real window into the other three characters, who are all incredibly opaque.

The immediately striking thing about this film is its running time of 3½ hours. This is not like The Seven Samurai, which flies by despite its length. This is a very slow, mesmerising film. Add to this the extremely terse dialogue, and you have a film that is not for everyone. Even the opening bus hijacking, the only real action in the film, is shot in a remarkably restrained manner.

Eureka is shot in black and white, and is full of beautiful long takes. The shot where we see the Akihiko chasing Naoki after he ran off to avoid doing schoolwork is astonishing. This should not be confused with the showy long take masturbation found in some films. Here, you'd hardly notice the lack of edits.

The children remain mute for most of the film, and I fully expected their vocal recovery to be a sickeningly sentimental indicator of their emotional recovery, yet when Kozue began to speak it was so subtle I almost missed it. The only real cheese is the final shot, in which the film fades into color, destroying the dreamlike atmosphere.

If you liked this, you'll probably like the Brazilian film Central Station.

Eu*re"ka (?). [Gr. I have found, perfect indicative of to find.]

The exclamation attributed to Archimedes, who is said to have cried out "Eureka! eureka!" (I have found it! I have found it!), upon suddenly discovering a method of finding out how much the gold of King Hiero's crown had been alloyed. Hence, an expression of triumph concerning a discovery.


© Webster 1913.

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