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What are we reading?

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jenkins

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Reply #1605 on: October 20, 2019, 04:25:41 AM


it's like, oh shit. this brings it. just immensely intelligent and having so much literary fun. itís styled after for example Tristram Shandy and Tom Jones. a playful narrative with wild diversions. juicy, deft prose


WorldForgot

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Reply #1606 on: November 19, 2019, 01:56:26 PM
After Didion I read Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita and White by Bret Easton Ellis.

Tropic of Orange is an ensemble piece that takes place over the course of a week, but really it's clear which characters are giving the novel its momentum. So I could see how it'd be easy to put this book down when the focus shifts to the sideline. Where it excels is in the "certain realism" that Pasolini championed: you can believe all of this could happen, even when it pushes the boundaries of our reality. Like its lucha match between SUPERNAFTA and EL GRAN MOJADO, or the epidemic of poisonous oranges that threatens all of LA, we're reminded of how strange our personal routines are, how often they've been informed by infrastructure set up decades before us -- and that it could all disintegrate and leave us bare, sifting through modernity for sensations that feel true.

White is part memoir, part essay collection. Drenk and eward have written about it in BEE'z thread. This book is a relief, an escape from the spectrum of extremes that frame our political and cultural discourse. Itself citing Didion, decades of film, and BEE'z battles with addiction, one gets the sense for how sterilized American culture has become -- and that, regrettably, en masse, the zeitgeist cries out for a pacifier or pitchforks, and no nuance in between.


jenkins

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Reply #1607 on: November 19, 2019, 02:19:54 PM
you do recommend Tropic of Orange or you donít?

BEE speaks in generalities that relate to pop culture because he wants to be more famous. Ben Lerner was talking about the state of literature being in a post-Ashbery state, responding to that tremendous voice. basically the zeitgeist has been trash since the 70s and the underground is always fertile


WorldForgot

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Reply #1608 on: November 19, 2019, 02:30:04 PM
In the book he's hyper aware of his own bubble and the bubbles other Americans may be locking their attitudes within -- he frames the 70s in a vein that I found is similar to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'z, that the country was once "innocent" about how provocative we were allowed to be, in public and through mainstream art, and now it's all policed through mass media news outlets and social media.

Tropic of Orange was lyrical. I recommend anyone looking for an ensemble to piece to at least try it out. If you dont click with its rhythm after two or three character-chapters, it probably won't gel.


jenkins

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Reply #1609 on: November 19, 2019, 02:40:46 PM
lyrical, nice, nice. i feel happy with how the situation went, glad to hear

if one doesnít let oneself become bothered by mainstream in the first place, one doesnít feel bothered by its so-called policing. itís all hot air to me


jenkins

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Reply #1610 on: November 30, 2019, 08:37:38 PM


it's from The Topeka School which i'm back into after letting Lydia Davis sidetrack me


Drenk

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Reply #1611 on: December 10, 2019, 08:36:45 PM
Despite being already familiar with DeLillo, I was powerfully mesmerized by the intense strangeness of The Names, even if I read slowly, reading pages as if I had missed the meaning of the words. It's elusive in the best way: a linguistic and international thriller...


Ascension.


jenkins

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Reply #1612 on: December 25, 2019, 03:14:32 PM


how fortunate for me that i stumbled upon this by chance in an auckland bookstore. reading it today i'd compare it to the movie A Special Day, these types of stories mean a lot to me, when two people meet and understand each other in a blue atmosphere


WorldForgot

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Reply #1613 on: January 08, 2020, 06:28:20 PM
Teenage bloodbath: the 2010s in review

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The most interesting images in the new Star Wars films are the ones in which they literally ruin the original trilogy. There’s one in 2015’s The Force Awakens: the collapsed shell of a Star Destroyer, huge in the desert, jammed into the world at the wrong angle. There’s one in the most recent film, The Rise of Skywalker: the Death Star itself, its colossal eye fractured, splattered with seaweed on a savage moon. (2017’s The Last Jedi didn’t have any of these shots, which might be why it’s the worst of the three.)[1] What’s strange is that these images show us something completely different to the films themselves. They mark a recognition of linear time and death: something was here, and now it’s gone; here is the index of its absence. But the films themselves are spastically cyclical. The plot of The Force Awakens is exactly the same as the plot of the 1977 original. The Empire isn’t really in ruins, it’s just been rebranded. Nothing grows, nothing dies, nothing changes. The latest film pushes this even further. Even the mild innovations of the sequels were too much; nobody cared about the new crop of villains, so now it’s Palpatine again. Philip K Dick predicted this. ‘The Empire never ended.’

There’s a sort of Mark Fisher-ish point to be made here. In the modernist 20th century, culture produced novelty: new galaxies, new empires, new images and affects. Now, in the era of neoliberalism, it’s all repetition and pastiche; the best we can do is repeat ourselves. Disney is churning out soulless live-action remakes of its old cartoons at a frightening, industrial rate. These aren’t for children: they’re for people who used to be children, and aren’t any more, but never actually grew up. People who want to remember their childhoods, but this time with lots of CGI. Sappy idiots. Meanwhile, every other major blockbuster is either a sequel or a franchise. Pop music copies the forms of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Literature recoils into tedious 19th century realism. All we can do is rearrange the rubble of the past.

The most dramatic example of this isn’t actually Star Wars, which is a bad film, but last year’s The Irishman, which is a good film. This isn’t a question of subject-matter, whatever Scorsese himself might think. There aren’t that many subjects that really matter. American pop culture is capable of telling stories about five different types of people: cowboys, criminals, cops, capes, and couples. Star Wars is about cowboys. The Irishman is about criminals. But The Irishman is a good film because it’s not just a collection of intellectual properties, it’s about people. Again, Scorsese doesn’t really understand his own work: he seems to really think it’s about giving outward visual expression to the inner life of a realistically drawn character. ‘Human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.’ He thinks it’s still possible to create decent bourgeois art. But in fact, his real achievement is to turn up the volume on the raging nothingness of subjectivity. De Niro’s character isn’t a fully realised human being; he’s a fleshy instrument who obeys without really knowing why. ‘I deliver steak. I could deliver you steak.’ At the end of the film, he won’t say what really happened to Hoffa, even though every reason to keep his silence died a long time ago. He simply isn’t there, and this is precisely why he’s such a compelling figure. Scorsese’s previous film, Silence, was about the sense – advanced by theologians since Eriugena[3] – of God as a vast, all-powerful nothingness. ‘Am I praying to nothing? Nothing, because you are not there?’ This isn’t Andrew Garfield’s character losing his Christianity, but fully encountering it. The great revelation of Christ is an empty tomb. The absence of God is a religious experience, and the death of God is the condition of faith. And Foucault promised that the death of God would be followed by the death of Man.


jenkins

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Reply #1614 on: January 09, 2020, 01:38:47 PM
^i love the fire in it. does this same writer have an article expressing his desire for art? does he in fact mention this topic in the article linked to?







WorldForgot

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Reply #1615 on: February 07, 2020, 06:57:15 PM
Not Knowing by Donald Barthelme

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Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art. However much the writers might long to be, in his work, simple, honest, and straightforward, these virtues are no longer available to him. He discovers that in being simple, honest, and straightforward nothing much happens: he speaks the speakable, whereas what we are looking for is the as-yet unspeakable, the as-yet unspoken.
[...]
Style is not much a matter of choice. One does not sit down to write and think: Is this poem going to be a Queen Anne poem, a Biedermeier poem, a Vienna Secession poem, or a Chinese Chippendale poem? Rather it is both a response to constraint and a seizing of opportunity. Very often a constraint is an opportunity. It would seem impossible to write Don Quixote once again, yet Borges has done so with great style, improving on the original (as he is not slow to tell us) while remaining faithful to it, faithful as a tick on a dogís belly. I donít mean that whim does not intrude. Why do I avoid, as much as possible, using the semicolon? Let me be plain: the semicolon is ugly, ugly as a tick on a dogís belly. I pinch them out of my prose. The great German writer Arno Schmidt, punctuation-drunk, averages eleven to a page.

Style is of course how. And the degree to which how has become whatósince, say, Flaubertóis a question that mean of conscience wax worth about, and should. If I say of my friend that on this issue his marbles are a little flat on one side, this doesnít mean that I do not love my friend. He, on the other hand, considers that I am ridden by strange imperatives, and that the little piece I gave to the world last week, while nice enough in its own way, would have been vastly better had not my deplorable aesthetics cause me to score it for banjulele, cross between a banjo and a uke. Bless Babel.


jenkins

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Reply #1616 on: February 07, 2020, 07:58:09 PM
one may notice how high the bar is in literature


jenkins

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Reply #1617 on: March 05, 2020, 02:27:41 AM


husband of Maggie Nelson, talked about in The Argonauts

basically he talks about so many of my favorite topics






jenkins

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Reply #1618 on: March 05, 2020, 07:01:43 PM
in terms of literary nonfiction he's as good as Maggie but in a different way. it's definitely the kind of thing that opens my ideas about writing when i read it



WorldForgot

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Reply #1619 on: March 20, 2020, 10:51:17 AM
The Literary Prize for the Refusal of Prizes by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Newly shortlisted for the Sartre Prize is Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who turned down a fifty-thousand-euro poetry award offered by the Hungarian division of PEN. The award is funded in part by the repressive Hungarian government. Ferlinghetti politely suggested that they use the prize money to set up a fund for “the publication of Hungarian authors whose writings support total freedom of speech.”

I couldn’t help thinking how cool it would have been if Mo Yan had used some of his Nobel Prize money to set up a fund for the publication of Chinese authors whose writings support total freedom of speech. But this seems unlikely.

Sartre’s reason for refusal was consistent with his refusal to join the Legion of Honor and other such organizations and characteristic of the gnarly and countersuggestible existentialist. He said, “It isn’t the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize winner. A writer must refuse to let himself be turned into an institution.” He was, of course, already an institution, but he valued his personal autonomy. (How he reconciled that value with Maoism is not clear to me.) He didn’t let institutions own him, but he did join uprisings and was arrested for civil disobedience in the street demos supporting the strikes of May 1968. President de Gaulle quickly pardoned him, with the magnificently Gallic observation that “you don’t arrest Voltaire.”