Official Review: Nothing is More by Dolly Gray Landon

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nooregano
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Official Review: Nothing is More by Dolly Gray Landon

Post by nooregano » 21 Apr 2019, 15:11

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Nothing is More" by Dolly Gray Landon.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Art thou stamin-ambitious enough to take on this head-spinning, ob-skeweringly verbose, indeco-rustically Shakespearean play? Or is it that your love for chaos in word-er is trumped by your clever-sion to matters of dire-onical importance, such as philo-soliloquizing on the nature of braggart-istic expression? Nothing is More by Dolly Gray Landon (a pseudonym and anagram of the author’s real name, Gary Lloyd Noland) is the script for a six-hour play, a satirical black comedy written in doggerel verse. This pun-filled linguistic labyrinth pokes fun at the elitism of the art world and academia while still gracefully tackling large and complex themes in philosophy and aesthetics.

The story is set in a fictional Pimpleton State Luniversity in New Jersey, where six opinionated people with vastly differing perspectives on what constitutes “art” butt heads and form alliances over philosophical arguments. Five of these characters are students in the Luniversity-specific postdoctoral “stool” program, striving for the lucrative “Modigger Prize.” Their areas of research are hyper-specialised and absurdly obscure, including topics such as Pimaeval Linguistics, Feline Transgender Studies, and Astromusicology. The star of the show is a bombastic artist named Phangbang Bonation, a “submicrominimalist,” whose artistic movement of “Nadaism” has revolutionised the art world. Nadaism consists of doing and producing nothing, “nada,” and is touted as not only a legitimate but a prodigiously revolutionary form of self-expression. Two other “stool” candidates, Purvel and Pelvin—disgusted by this fraud being committed on the artistic and academic world—form an elaborate scheme to expose Bonation as the scammer they believe him to be and to make sure that Nadaism becomes simply an unfortunate blip in the trajectory of art history. To complete this six-act story, add a corrupt Beverly Lovebucks (President of the Luniversity and career politician), two distinctly impressionable women whose affections Bonation has captured, a chorus, a musical score, and miscellaneous cats. Do Pelvin and Purvel succeed in their efforts to save art? What dark secrets lie in the Pandora’s box of the art world? What happens when their own theories are put to the test?

In the beginning of the play, I was unsure of what “level of irony” the script was on. I shall explain this further. Some of the wordplay seemed corny and forced (for example: badministrators, unsnobjectively, dustbinstitutionalized, run-of-the-nil, fartistic, greater than the scum of its parts). The characters also seemed wildly caricatured, with Phangbang Bonation in particular exhibiting obscene and unsophisticated behaviour that was so over the top that it was more confusing to read than funny. There was also a lot of overtly derogatory sexual content. For these reasons, I was not sure whether the author intended that the satire be unsubtle, whether this lack of subtlety was part of the satire, or whether this tension between subtlety and lack thereof was another intended element of the satire. The story started off seeming as though the author was just relentlessly and remorsefully vilifying academia and the art world, dragging it down and dismissing it as silly without offering any possibility of redemption. However, as the plot twisted on and loose strings tied up, the author created a beautifully nuanced unfolding of events. Different aspects of previously unidimensional characters were exposed to create more balanced and less unequivocal philosophical explorations. Some profound questions were provoked apropos the meanings of beauty, originality, destruction, and creation. The narrative had a merciless logical incisiveness to it, but less readily visible was the gentle ethical questioning behind it that tied the whole piece together. During the course of reading the script, the rating I wanted to give the book was constantly fluctuating in my mind, finally settling on a solid 4 out of 4 stars after initially wanting to rate it 2 stars.

The author has an incredible grasp of language and wielded it masterfully, filling the script with deft puns and word mashups. Even the descriptions (parts of the piece that don’t have to actually be performed) have clever wordplay. The juxtaposition of Shakespearean language and blatant, sleazy vulgarity set the stage for clever and entertaining contrasts. The author was very thorough in laying out a comprehensive and well-structured plan for the six acts, including detailed stage setups, colour schemes, costumes, and body language. The musical scores also seem to be very complex pieces.

Funnily enough, it was difficult to identify typos because I was unsure whether a word was spelled wrong or whether it was wordplay so skilful I just didn’t understand it. The editing was quite professional, and I only caught a couple of errors. However, one non-grammatical confusion I had was why Pimpleton was sometimes the “Luniversity” and sometimes the “adversity.”

One potential issue is that a lot—if not most—of the linguistic details might get lost during the actual performance of the play. This applies especially to small words that aren’t in otherwise particularly interesting sentences, such as saying “snuffice” instead of “suffice.” Another potential issue is that the entire script is a string of twisted-up words, heavy philosophical concepts, and multiple levels of meaning. Somebody who isn’t exceptionally abstract in thought or invested in art philosophy might become bored or fail to hang on to the multiple threads of theory, especially if it is being watched and not read. There is a lot to be processed in terms of theoretical material, and I believe the audience might not get enough time to digest all the concepts it if they watch it live.

I wish I knew what kind of audience the author was looking to target. From what I’ve seen, this piece most probably has an extremely niche audience. I loved this play only because I am heavily into art history and I enjoy clever wordplay. I would have also probably not have enjoyed this play as much if I had watched it instead of reading it. I would only recommend Nothing is More to people who have some background in the philosophy of aesthetics and enjoy following numerous metaphysical threads at once. I would also recommend this only to audiences over eighteen due to the graphic content.

******
Nothing is More
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Post by Amanda Deck » 23 Apr 2019, 15:40

Though I've discussed the philosophy of aesthetics with a couple of artist friends and a history buff, I wouldn't be in that niche audience. I'd be interested in the investigation of philosophical concepts simply by virtue of their being philosophical concepts. As for the art aspect in general, I'm a total philistine.
Besides, the word play may be clever, but I'm more the sort to say, "If you have something to say, just say it!"
Do you think you would enjoy the play more now that you've read the book? I can imagine that working (better) for me. Sometimes, being surprised is the best, other times, not so much.

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Post by kandscreeley » 23 Apr 2019, 15:53

Well, I'm definitely not the audience for this book. I don't think I'd make it past the first page. I can understand why you were never sure if something was an error or done on purpose. I'm glad you finally decided that you enjoyed this one, but I am definitely passing.
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Post by gen_g » 24 Apr 2019, 01:52

Wow, at first glance, it seems like there's a lot of purple prose. Still, I'm glad that it wasn't the case in the end. I'm not sure if I will check this out, but thanks for the review!

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Post by Lunastella » 24 Apr 2019, 06:48

The concept of this book appeals to me because I was heavily invested in the literature academia and art scene for a long time and I know how many criticizable issues this topic can raise. However, I'm a bit hesitant to pick up the book because English isn't my first language and I don't know how much of a struggle would I face with so much wordplay.
Thank you for your creative and analytical review!

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Post by Amanda Deck » 24 Apr 2019, 23:45

One thing I wonder is if there is a standard of beauty that (apparently) transcends culture. I know plump women are/were beautiful in some countries/times when enough to eat was impressive; male muscles either sexually attractive and manly/a sign of lower working class; tans meant you worked out in the fields/had plenty of leisure time; always changing. But symmetry for example, is that one that still transcends all of that?

I assume landscapes don't work that way because a waterfall on one side of a painting isn't to be 'balanced' with something equal in size on the other. In manicured gardens, things are balanced though not necessarily exactly symmetrical. I've always read that humans prefer symmetrical human faces and figures, but what about in music and other art?

And is there anything besides symmetry that's been noticed as innately appealing to human sensibilities?

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Post by Kajori50 » 25 Apr 2019, 04:18

I loved this play only because I am heavily into art history and I enjoy clever wordplay. I would have also probably not have enjoyed this play as much if I had watched it instead of reading it.
After reading your review, I believe I would have a similar take. I think the concept is amazing, but it's intricacies may get lost during performance.

Thank you for the lovely review.

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 26 Apr 2019, 07:23

Thank you for detailed review. I admire the philosophical touch and the grandeur you have added to this review. Well-done!
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Post by Cotwani » 27 Apr 2019, 01:51

I think, to answer your opening remarks, I strive for Nadaism!
Well, you have done an amazing job in capturing what the script is about, but I am definitely not in the target audience. I agree with you, even the target audience would miss out on a lot, if they watched, rather than read, the play.

Great review!
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Post by Shrabastee » 27 Apr 2019, 03:46

I have no words to express what I felt after reading your review,unless I amalgamate two words to coin a new one. I have not ever read any book like this,and probably won't ever dare to,because I will simply be lost. It is admirable how you not only read,analysed, and reviewed it,but put a clear and thorough picture to the audience. Thanks for the great review,Noor!

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Post by nooregano » 05 May 2019, 04:22

Amanda Deck wrote: ↑
23 Apr 2019, 15:40
Though I've discussed the philosophy of aesthetics with a couple of artist friends and a history buff, I wouldn't be in that niche audience. I'd be interested in the investigation of philosophical concepts simply by virtue of their being philosophical concepts. As for the art aspect in general, I'm a total philistine.
Besides, the word play may be clever, but I'm more the sort to say, "If you have something to say, just say it!"
Do you think you would enjoy the play more now that you've read the book? I can imagine that working (better) for me. Sometimes, being surprised is the best, other times, not so much.
I totally understand being interested in philosophical concepts just because they're philosophical concepts! I'm the same. To be honest, if somebody told me the philosophising was going to be about a niche topic I knew nothing about, I don't know how much I would care. If I didn't know about art history and ended up reading this book, I'd kind of fill in the blanks (whether they're right or not doesn't bother me) and enjoy the made-up philosophising I was doing in my head.

Yes, maybe I'd enjoy the play more if I had read the book beforehand. The only thing is that the play is six hours long, so I may not enjoy the play in general, haha.

Thanks for stopping by, Amanda!
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Post by nooregano » 05 May 2019, 04:25

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
23 Apr 2019, 15:53
Well, I'm definitely not the audience for this book. I don't think I'd make it past the first page. I can understand why you were never sure if something was an error or done on purpose. I'm glad you finally decided that you enjoyed this one, but I am definitely passing.
Yeah, you might not enjoy this book, then! Thanks for stopping by, kandscreeley! I really appreciate it! :D
"I speak only one language, and it is not my own." - Jacques Derrida

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Post by nooregano » 05 May 2019, 04:29

Amanda Deck wrote: ↑
24 Apr 2019, 23:45
One thing I wonder is if there is a standard of beauty that (apparently) transcends culture. I know plump women are/were beautiful in some countries/times when enough to eat was impressive; male muscles either sexually attractive and manly/a sign of lower working class; tans meant you worked out in the fields/had plenty of leisure time; always changing. But symmetry for example, is that one that still transcends all of that?

I assume landscapes don't work that way because a waterfall on one side of a painting isn't to be 'balanced' with something equal in size on the other. In manicured gardens, things are balanced though not necessarily exactly symmetrical. I've always read that humans prefer symmetrical human faces and figures, but what about in music and other art?

And is there anything besides symmetry that's been noticed as innately appealing to human sensibilities?
I think about this too, and I really don't know. What I tend to think is that beauty is something that inherently transcends logic. Logic can maybe try and pick up on patterns of what we find beautiful, or try to define it, but I don't know if logic and beauty are compatible? Or are they two sides of the sam coin - not the same thing - but never to part, never to meet?
"I speak only one language, and it is not my own." - Jacques Derrida

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Post by nooregano » 05 May 2019, 04:30

Kajori50 wrote: ↑
25 Apr 2019, 04:18
I loved this play only because I am heavily into art history and I enjoy clever wordplay. I would have also probably not have enjoyed this play as much if I had watched it instead of reading it.
After reading your review, I believe I would have a similar take. I think the concept is amazing, but it's intricacies may get lost during performance.

Thank you for the lovely review.
Yes, I agree! :D Thank you for stopping by, Kajori. I really appreciate it! :D
"I speak only one language, and it is not my own." - Jacques Derrida

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Post by nooregano » 05 May 2019, 04:32

Sahani Nimandra wrote: ↑
26 Apr 2019, 07:23
Thank you for detailed review. I admire the philosophical touch and the grandeur you have added to this review. Well-done!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Sahani, and thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it!
"I speak only one language, and it is not my own." - Jacques Derrida

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