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Now Reading Thread

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by derbeder, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. speed

    speed Member

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    Wow, thats like my favorite book. In my opinion, the best modernist book ever written. If you like it, pick up Kotik Lateav and his Dramatic Symphony, and then read A Silver Dove. All have been translated into english. The rest of his works werent.

    Truly I am in awe of how Petersburg was written. So perfectly planned and executed, yet alive and full of humor. The symbolism behind ever single sentence, is just amazing. And his use of descriptions, math and geometry--I could go on.

    I am really interested in how you like it.
     
  2. Justin S.

    Justin S. Member

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    I believe the only two posters who showed such an interest were Cythraul and derbeder, and neither post here any more. I've studied my fair share, but lack interest.

    It's pretty clear that the majority of posters don't have a background in philosophy, let alone formal logic. So, unfortunately, its just layman BS and the continent around here! :lol:
     
  3. Justin S.

    Justin S. Member

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    My presentation and paper for a seminar on the Russian avante-garde is focused on Bely and the novel, so I'm sure I'll post something on it in the near future.
     
  4. Demiurge

    Demiurge This user has no title

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    Right. I'm a bit of a logic nut. Interested in modal logics(esp quantified), relevant logics and paradoxes of the material conditional, many valued logics(including fuzzy), limitative metatheorems in logic and arithmetic, intuitionistic logic, higher order logic, Turing machines, etc.
     
  5. Murphy

    Murphy New Metal Member

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    ...studying French full time and Swedish full time really steals all my time, but since the French have started to replace my English I thought it best to counteract it in the ways that I can, writing on forums being one.

    That rather much depends on what you mean by "digresses". The whaleology (or what he calls it) will surge from time to time. It can be annoying, but for me it was all worth it. Heck, "The Symphony" by itself makes it all worth it.



    Due to aforementioned reasons I don't have much time to read these days, but I have at least managed to smile myself through Endgame and re-found this old jewish joke, remade wonderfully by Beckett:

    "Raconteur's voice.)
    An Englishman, needing a pair of striped trousers in a hurry for the New Year festivities, goes to his tailor who takes his measurements.
    (Tailor's voice.)
    "That's the lot, come back in four days, I'll have it ready." Good. Four days later.
    (Tailor's voice.)
    "So sorry, come back in a week, I've made a mess of the seat." Good, that's all right, a neat seat can be very ticklish. A week later.
    (Tailor's voice.)
    "Frightfully sorry, come back in ten days, I've made a hash of the crotch." Good, can't be helped, a snug crotch is always a teaser. Ten days later.
    (Tailor's voice.)
    "Dreadfully sorry, come back in a fortnight, I've made a balls of the fly." Good, at a pinch, a smart fly is a stiff proposition.
    (Pause. Normal voice.)
    I never told it worse.
    (Pause. Gloomy.)
    I tell this story worse and worse.
    (Pause. Raconteur's voice.)
    Well, to make it short, the bluebells are blowing and he ballockses the buttonholes.
    (Customer's voice.)
    "God damn you to hell, Sir, no, it's indecent, there are limits! In six days, do you hear me, six days, God made the world. Yes Sir, no less Sir, the WORLD! And you are not bloody well capable of making me a pair of trousers in three months!"
    (Tailor's voice, scandalized.)
    "But my dear Sir, my dear Sir, look—
    (disdainful gesture, disgustedly)
    —at the world—
    (Pause.)
    and look—
    (loving gesture, proudly)
    —at my TROUSERS!"

    The whole piece can be found here: http://samuel-beckett.net/endgame.html for anyone with an hour left to kill.

    Will hopefully come back with more substantial posts soon.
     
  6. speed

    speed Member

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    I love Beckett. The last great innovator or modernist!!

    I recently read In Cold Blood by Capote, Henderson the Rain King by Bellow, and Pedro Parama by Juan Rulfo. This Rulfo book is very interesting a tour de force in terms of form. There's past and present tense, spoken by living and dead characters, who we discover (or one finally gets) are living or dead later in the book. It has that biblical sparseness and tone of prose present in Faulkner and Melville and McCarthy, which I dont care for, but actually works rather well here.

    Any authors people upon rediscovering, think are not that great? Or vice versa? Any authors one dismissed, but now upon reading more of their works, or reconsideration, think are quite good?

    I have to say, I truly appreciate Capote's non-fiction, fictionalized In Cold Blood and fictionalized non-fiction stories. They;re masterfully done. I still dont care for his fiction, as I find it overly sentimental. DeLillo and Rushdie however, do nothing for me anymore; and if anything, I see as pretentious, bite-off-more-they-can-chew writers, who over-write.
     
  7. Murphy

    Murphy New Metal Member

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    Great question speed. You'll get a speedy answer (heh). I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding DeLillo, he is a mediocre writer at best that I once much esteemed. How I could read White Noise without a feeling of disgust is beyond me now. The prose is simply awful. Americanistic at its worst. And the way he supposedly uncovers the consumerist mind and its surroundings is scarcely worthy a student of social antropology. And then the Hitlerstudies! This book haven't aged well at all.

    "In the mass and variety of our purchases, in the sheer plenitude those crowded bags suggested, the weight and size and number, the familiar package designs and vivid lettering, the giant sizes, the family bargain packs with Day-Glo sale stickers, in the sense of replenishment we felt, the sense of well-being, the security and contentment these products brought to some snug home in our souls—it seemed we had achieved a fullness of being that is not known to people who need less, expect less, who plan their lives around lonely walks in the evening."

    Thanks for that Mr Delillo, you gave us shit like Fight Club.
     
  8. kmik

    kmik Member

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    Finally someone who agrees that DeLillo sucks! I don't understand why he gets any credit. He has such "internetish" style, so obviously "typed". I read recently an article called A Reader's Manifesto which attacks American prose style, and it was mostly right on the mark (except for McCarthy who, I think, is a good writer, although I've only read "No Country") The only contemporary writer I truly adore is Jose Saramago, although his books could use some editing

    I'm ashamed to say I started Molloy and I couldn't finish it. There were some very funny sections but it's extremely difficult to comprehend this book. There's nothing to visualize, no plot so to speak, seemingly no development, only more and more absurd claims. =\
     
  9. speed

    speed Member

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    I have to say though, like Murphy, I really loved White Npise when I first read it. Now...a bit older, and better read, well, I find it poorly written, but still funny. This began when I read Falling Man a few months ago. I couldnt believe how pathetic it was. Rushdie's last few novels have been atrociously bad.
     
  10. MURAI

    MURAI -

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    Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright - Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture (2001)

    A very worthwhile textbook I say.
     
  11. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq.

    This is a devastating book.
     
  12. speed

    speed Member

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    Saramago's books are highly intriguing in form, but I think unjustly praised. His books are about big general ideas: society, the ennui of politics, etc. And the form he uses of non-punctuated run on sentence cum paragraph cum entire novel, allows him to explore these general ideas in a highly symbolic manner (as in Seeing and Blindness, the two novels Ive read). Yet, to me, the form allows him to get off with very superficial observations, stick thin characters, and poor dialogue and plot. So, the form or prose of his writing essentially becomes the symbolism of these big ideas and issues, whereas the content itself (the actual probing of these ideas, characters, society, etc) is missing or obfuscated by the prose. And while I think the form and prose is interesting, it only holds up for a short period of time, and then loses its power and effectiveness. Hence, I think reviewers and the so called literary establisment get excited about a writer tackling these huge issues in such a unique style, but fail to notice the unique style is all there is.

    Ah, my library system down here sucks. I may have to purchase a book.
     
  13. kmik

    kmik Member

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    A matter of stylistic preference; I don't think Saramago's style is symbolic in any way. Many people talk of how the absence of naming is supposed to somehow represent blindness: if you think about it for a moment, it's stupid. You would have expected such a book to lack visual descriptions and focus on sounds and objects that cannot be identified, because a blind person would actually easily distinguish between different people according to their voice.

    With that said, his prose style flows very effortlessly and its free of pedantry and unnecessary details. Remember that Saramago's narrator is cynical and does not represent the author in any way. In my book that was borrowed from the library many lines were marked as if to highlight the smart aphorisms we should supposedly find in a book, but many of them are comical in context. This style, which I always think parodies the Bible in a way, is present more clearly in his earlier works. I don't think Blindness has poor plot or characters; it is a logical continuation of Kafka, except it moves the catastrophe to a social scale. Blindness is highly effective in portraying a social disorder and is clearly more concerned with the loss of individuality in this process. Think of it as the literary portrayal of something like the Milligram experiment; the plot is very tight for this kind of scale, and many things happen which are surprising at first but afterwards it is realized that it could not have been otherwise.

    Still, I've not read Seeing, but Blindness, while entertaining, is not as good as The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and the first book (don't know how it's called in English). There's another one of his I've read, All the Names, which is also Kafkaesque but was not very interesting ot me.


    PS Ill post here much less for some time and only at weekends if at all
     
  14. speed

    speed Member

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    I wrote like a paragraph analogy with Kafka originally, but it was lost in the void of UM posting. Anyway, I agree, his style is Kafkaesque; and instead of the style kind of reflecting the individual character's perception the world, its the other way around: a crazy world is seen through kafkaesque prose through the eyes of yes, a very cynical narrator. And therein lies I think the problem. The prose and style is very well done, it just loses a realness and feeling, and seems put on and artificial as does the characterization, and so on (well, I already discussed it). I havent read anything else by him, but Seeing and Blindness though.

    Anyway, I've read a number of things lately, some highlights: Themes and Variations by A. Huxley (quite thought-inducing, but I think hard to find); The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, and finally Nostromo by Conrad. I must say, it is a superb book. I didnt like Lord Jim or HEart of Darkness when I read them in school years ago, but I think I need to re-read them as Nostromo is genius.

    I truly think reading for anything but pleasure and personal interest, is a mistake. Forcing people to read literature (and of the teachers choosing) I think only compels one to dislike literature later. The only literature I ended up liking because of school (high school, or college), was a handful of modern plays and Shakespeare, because of a top-rate high school literature teacher. I still remember suffering through some terrible books, with terrible teaching methods and theory. Especially American literature: Hawthorne, Hemingway, Bradbury, Harper Lee...the list goes on, and I disliked each and every book immensely. And I can only sympathize with anyone in college who gets stuck with some prof who forces them to read and listen to their interpretations on The Wasteland, or insert multi-cultural woman/ethnic minor literature here.
     
  15. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    A book of some of H.P. Lovecrafts short stories. And reading Black Boy for English.
     
  16. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    I'm currently on the second book of R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy:

    The Warrior Prophet

    Furthermore, I'm hoping to get the following books read this summer:
    The Thousandfold Thought (last book in Bakker's trilogy)
    Mysteries (Knut Hamsen)
    The Poe Shadow (Matthew Pearl)
    The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
     
  17. kmik

    kmik Member

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    Hemingway's novels suck, but his short stories are genius. The Snows of Kilimanjaro is my favorite short story ever. His style had a bad influence on literature, though (easy to imitate)
     

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