Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pynchon Watch Y2K9: Here we go again

There's new details about Inherent Vice. Like, you know, the fact that Inherent Vice is the new Thomas Pynchon book I started anticipating two months ago and will not stop anticipating until August 2009, when I am able to buy it, and wrap my grubby little paws around all 400+ pages of it. Just enough time to re-read The Crying of Lot 49. And maybe V. Okay, maybe both.
"Joe the Plumber Signs Publishing Deal"--proving that, even after the recent breath-of-fresh-air election results, the world's still fundamentally bat-shit bozo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, and I knew I was reminded of something by the thought of Kafka in translation: Maud Newton pointed out a while back a bit by translator Breon Mitchell about translating the opening line of The Trial, which, for me, pretty much casts the entire affair of translation in a sharp light. Neither a good one nor a bad one.

(I've been meaning, and forgetting, to pick up that translation ever since reading that quote. Perhaps, now, soon.)
The folks at Schocken Books were kind enough to send me a copy of Mark Harman's new translation of Franz Kafka's Amerika: The Missing Person. Which I'm reading a bit of now. And enjoying. It's part of the Kafka I've never read before, so I can't comment on the quality of the translation or the difference between this translation and those that preceded it. But I can comment on the fact that it's interesting, trying to read Kafka, and trying to react to Kafka, without resorting to the reaction of, "Hey, that's Kafka." Interesting in that, I may have only now come to believe, I've got no real idea what Kafka's up to. Ever. It's too easy to accept the weirdness of him without questioning it--if it really is that weird, or "dreamlike," as one blurb states, or why it's that way, whatever way it actually is. Heaven knows, that strangeness, that sought-after Kafkaesqueness, that's how I came around to The Trial my first couple times through it. You know, you read Kafka because, he's Kafka. What else do you need, you know? Well, now I don't know, and I'm curious about it.

Long way of saying I'm trying to be a bit critical, a bit analytical. At least of my own reaction to the text, if not as much to the text itself as one or some might like. But. So. Maybe more so than usual, we'll see.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"How quickly history passes these days."

- from Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'd like you to know I've read none of 2666. Sue me.

However, as part of a growing interested in kicking around at least a little more translated literature than is typical for me (or, some might say, for America), I have just finished Bragi Ólafsson's The Pets, which I agree with the Complete Review was an "enjoyable entertainment," though certainly not an unflawed one. Spoiler alert!: there's a difference between stopping a story and finishing a story, an art to the endless ending, a fine line between intriguing and annoying. Still: a good read, more than a palate cleanser, not quite a complete course. Were more of his books to appear in English, I'd likely pick them up.

Plus: one of the best covers of the year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Unintentionally hilarious headline of the week

"Only Two Percent of Bloggers Can Make a Living"

(And the other ninety-eight percent are too young to get their work permits?)


Monday, November 10, 2008

"We don’t yet understand how to model a complex conversation in the web’s two-dimensional environment and we’re hoping this experiment will help us learn some of what we need to do to make this sort of collaboration as successful as possible."

Nice! (Via.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's not that pictures have equivalent values in words. It's that they're unique currencies, nonexchangeable. Compare the word "red" with the sight of red. One red or another. Any red. Context.

Yet it's hard to read The Horse's Mouth without wanting to make imagery. The words are terrific, evocative. And me, I paint, a little. Nowadays. Play with paint, at least. Push it into lines and shapes, complex or simple. I suppose I'm glad aspects of my life are colluding this way, distracting from some things in pursuit of others.

And have I mentioned, how the humor in the book is spot-on; Cary's got genius-level comedic delivery. Light of heart, light of touch. And...well, it's a stretch, but in an effort to sell five copies of this book, I'll toss this off-hand comment out there: it occasionally reminds me of The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishihuro. The witless artist, caught on the way to the masterpiece than never quite masters, seems stuck in pieces. Well.

(More watercolor fragments flickrwards.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Spaghetti Cat Was On Desperate Housewives"

I rest my case.
A merry band of bloggers are considering taking on The Recognitions by William Gaddis in the coming months. Though there may or may not be alcohol involved this time through, I am curious to see (and, perhaps, partake in) what comes of it, and of the potential for old conversations to be revisited by new conversationalists.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"The fact is, I was sick of that god-damned picture."

"It was the finest picture I ever saw," said Nosy, getting angry with me. "You m-mustn't s-say such things."

"I never knew how I hated it," I said, "till now. I've disliked all my pictures, but I never hated one so much as the Fall."

"Mr. J-Jimson," said Nosy. "No p-please--it's not a joke." The poor boy was in agony. I was blaspheming against his faith.

"But what I do like," I said, "is starting new ones." And the very notion made me feel full of smiles. The vision of the nice smooth canvas in front of me, say the Ruffiano, newly primed in white, and then the first strokes of the brush. How lovely the stuff is when you've just put it down. While it's still all alive and before it dies and sinks and fades. Paint. Lovely paint. Why, I could rub my nose in it or lick it up for breakfast. I mean, of course, paint that doesn't mean anything except itself. The spiritual substance. The pure innocent song of some damn fool angel that doesn't know even the name of God.

- from The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary

Blah blah blah, I really like this book, etc etc etc, I think you might like it as well, so on and so forth, it's really keen stuff.

("The spiritual substance. The pure innocent song of some damn fool angel that doesn't know even the name of God," in-deed. Language. Lovely language.)