24 October 2008

22 October 2008

Book Survey

I have been delaying this post for a few days now as I tried to finish Clockers. The delay was so long, in fact, that I can no longer remember who tagged me. If I tag the person that tagged me, then don't whine and answer it again - as I am sure some answers have changed.

Last Book Bought - The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. I am not sure what I read to make me buy this, but I know I read something. It will either be too campy or there will be some brilliant insights. The author is a Constitutional law professor at Yale Law, so I suspect the latter. It is about a trip Freud and Jung make together to America (sounds campy) and then get involved in solving a murder (sounds doubly campy).

Book read more than once - On Deconstruction by Jonathan Culler. And not just for graduate school. Despite being written in 1982 the book is still timely and accurate in its descriptions of movments in theory. The year I was working at Cornell I audited a class by him and I feel as many must feel towards Obama, a sense of being star-struck.

Book that changed the way I see the world - Geneology of Morals by Nietzche or East of Eden by Steinbeck. I like to think Steinbeck made me cynical and Nietzche gave me the intellectual ability to understand and expand my cynicism. I remember my first summer after college going on and on to some high school friends about Nietzche, also learning about how being smart can be an aphrodiasic for some women.

Fiction or nonfiction - Fiction, if only because good fiction has glimpses of theory and human nature within it, but good nonfiction need not have the same quality.

Beautiful writing or a gripping plot - Writing. A good writer will keep me entertained. Yet a bad writer will lose a compelling script. Sadly I think of myself as a capable plot developer and not an engaging writer.

Most memorable character - Mr Norrell from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Clarke did an outstanding job making this man capable in his trade and yet at the same time so overcome with insecurities that he was capable of self-destruction. It was a real treat making my way through this large tome.

Book on the nightstand - The above mentioned Rubenfeld book

Last book read - Clockers by Richard Price. I picked it up because so many other writers talk about it as a quality read and they were so right. I am not a fan of the police novels and while I cringe placing this book within that genre it was a treat to read.

21 October 2008

Brief Thoughts

Thirlwell, Adam. (2008). Amerikas. The Believer, 6(8), 3-17.

"The reason why style in a novel is translatable is because it is inextricable from composition. And it is through the composition itself, through a style, that a novel becomes true to life." (8)
I am not a fan of this solution to the problem (can and how does style in the novel translate?). Thirlwell flattens the term style to be nearly meaningless. He also has escaped the actual problem prompting this piece: Nabakov's dilemma of translating the rhyme and 'blossom' of Pushkin in Eugene Onegin.

Of course the translation has a style. Nabakov did not lament the loss of style in the translation. Nabakov lamented the loss of Pushkin's style in the translation. Here we come to what I find is the real problem at work: how does the translator reproduce her reading in the reader? Nabakov wanted to share the joys of the novel with others, not necessarily the novel itself. The difference may seem slight but it gets to the heart of the problem.

The reason Thirlwell concludes, correctly, that there is not a definitive text is because we are not really concerned with the text. The text is a mediation. What we, writers, readers and humans, are concerned with is communication and crossing the gap of mediation.

09 October 2008

Music Playlist: "Into the Great Wide Open" Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

I have been thinking of making an After Work playlist for quite some time now. Until I can find the bits of notes I have lying around the office I will inaugurate the list with a (should be) familiar track by an American classic.

The song is about trying to escape work but how industry has already moved into the creative fields. Immaterial labor is the subject of the implied criticism of this tune. It seems to be at first about the wide-eyed optimism of a stupid boy, but a closer listen reveals that the boy cannot help his stupidity: he is told that this is the way out. A revisiting of Tom Petty is now on my list of things to do.

Bailout Sadness

I am sad. Not as most people are: I am excited to be living through a time that might be historical. It is that very quality which makes most nervous, but not me.

What makes me sad is that the obvious solution to the bailout, turning the risky mortgages into secure mortgages, is finally being discussed by one of the two presidential candidates. Sadly it is the very one candidate I do not want saying it. It should be the Democrat that is calling for a mechanism to stop people from being kicked out of their homes. The next president will have near complete autonomy over how to distribute the bailout funds and it is McCain that is finally seizing upon that as reason for preference. I will still lobby for Obama because his Supreme Court justices will still be of more significance, but I am saddened by Obama's willingness to follow Paulson into this morass.