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Thread: In which I review every book I've ever read

  1. #26
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting lovejuice (view post)
    you forgot to mention the most inane part. the man is afraid machines are going to take over the world. what kind of nut-case doctors put an electode in such a brain?
    Ha. I'd forgotten that. It's been at least 15 years since I read it, I think.

    do you also have some problems with chomskian linguistic theory, since I think this is pretty much what it is? (I've never read Chomsky's linguistic book though, but that's the impression I got from reading Pinkus.) because i do.
    Yeah, I have the same problem with Chomksian linguistics in general: he says that he's talking about concrete, innate physical systems in the brain, but his actual theories are only models of usage. In order to make any connection with the brain, he'd require a mapping from his symbolic systems to those of cognitive science, and finally, to the actual processes in the brain. The underlying argument seems to be that if we assume that an innate system S1 exists in the brain, and an isomorphic mapping f:S1->S2 exists that maps the system in the brain onto the system S2 that models language usage, then the first system and the map together induce the model of usage. Hence, from Chomsky's assumptions, we can say that there is a model of usage, and that is the level on which his axiomatic linguistic theories operate. Conversely, we can say that if no such model of usage exists (i.e. if no such model can accurately model all human usage), then Chomsky's assumptions are wrong. Historically, this was basically Chomsky's path in his criticism of Behaviorist linguistics. However, the success of a model of usage really says nothing at all about the innate processes in the brain, if any, or the map between them and the model of usage (in particular, what are the uniqueness properties of this map?). At this point, the system S1 and the map f are not merely black boxes, but operationally meaningless; they have not been discovered or formulated, and they play no role in Chomsky's actual theory, only in his justification of using the theory.

    Sorry, I'm tired and frazzled. Not sure if this makes sense.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  2. #27
    neurotic subjectivist B-side's Avatar
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    Melville, you magnificent bastard.
    Last 5 Viewed
    Riddick (David Twohy | 2013 | USA/UK)
    Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz | 2012 | Chile/France)*
    Pain & Gain (Michael Bay | 2013 | USA)*
    You're Next (Adam Wingard | 2011 | USA)
    Little Odessa (James Gray | 1994 | USA)*

    *recommended *highly recommended

    “It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult. It's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” -- Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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  3. #28
    dissolved into molecules lovejuice's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Brightside (view post)
    Melville, you magnificent bastard.
    you are wrong. he's a magnificent bastard/doctor of philosophy.
    "Over analysis is like the oil of the Match-Cut machine." KK2.0

  4. #29
    neurotic subjectivist B-side's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting lovejuice (view post)
    you are wrong. he's a magnificent bastard/doctor of philosophy.
    That last bit is part of why he's so magnificent.
    Last 5 Viewed
    Riddick (David Twohy | 2013 | USA/UK)
    Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz | 2012 | Chile/France)*
    Pain & Gain (Michael Bay | 2013 | USA)*
    You're Next (Adam Wingard | 2011 | USA)
    Little Odessa (James Gray | 1994 | USA)*

    *recommended *highly recommended

    “It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult. It's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” -- Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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  5. #30
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Brightside (view post)
    Melville, you magnificent bastard.
    Awesome. Finally I've earned an appellation worth having.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  6. #31
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    52. The Conference of the Birds (Farid Ud-Din Attar, 1177)
    Genre: religious mystic poetry
    Rating: 8

    Sufism, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a brand of Islamic mysticism with a wealth of tremendous religious poetry. The Conference of the Birds, written in the 12th century by Farid Ud-Din Attar, is one such great Sufi poem. It tells a story of the birds of the world gathering together to go on a journey to meet God, led by a bird called a hoopoe. Within this broad allegorical structure, the poem consists mostly of subsidiary allegories, in the form of parables the hoopoe tells in response to the other birds’ question about the Way (to God).

    For me, the whole thing was pretty informative, since I didn’t know much about Sufism before (despite reading a couple Sufi poems). What I learned is that Sufism is all about eradicating the Self, which Attar repeatedly calls the ultimate religious idol; as with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and probably other religions, the Self is portrayed as an illusion that pulls people away from a true, eternal unity (in this case, God). Given the meaning of Islam (Submission), I guess this view of the Self isn’t too surprising. But what makes the whole thing interesting is the idealization of rabid, passionate love as a means of attaining enlightenment. The idea is that in such obsessive love one’s focus is entirely outward, making one forget one’s Self; if this love goes unreciprocated, then one is left in a state of bewildered emptiness (which should be familiar to anybody who’s suffered a bad breakup), which makes it possible for one to embrace the true unity of all things; if the love is reciprocated, then the lovers achieve unity…allowing them to accept the unity of everything else, I suppose. Attar also presents the self-immolation of a moth and the ravings of madmen as ideal ways of life.

    Besides being informative and philosophically interesting, the poem is very lively and entertaining. The combination of allegory and rhyming couplets occasionally reminded me of Dr. Seuss—in a good way.

    Quote:
    'A lover', said the hoopoe, now their guide,
    'Is one in whom all thoughts of self have died;
    Those who renounce the self deserve that name;
    Righteous or sinful, they are all the same!
    Your heart is thwarted by the self's control;
    Destroy its hold on you and reach your goal.
    Give up this hindrance, give up mortal sight,
    For only then can you approach the light.
    If you are told: "Renounce our Faith," obey!
    The self and Faith must both be tossed away;
    Blasphemers call such action blasphemy—
    Tell them that love exceeds mere piety.
    Love has no time for blasphemy or faith,
    Nor lovers for the self, that feeble wraith.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  7. #32
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    53. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel García Márquez, 1985)
    Genre: South American ode to romance-of-the-everyday
    Rating: 5.5

    I was somewhat surprised by the general tone of the book. Given its title and reputation, I thought it would be a lot more…romantic, or something. Instead, it seemed almost like an attack on melodramatic romance. Florentino’s 50-year ‘obsession’ with Fermina doesn’t really seem all that impressive or romantic. The book keeps saying that he’s madly in love with her, but it never evokes or describes this love. He seems to maintain his ‘love’ for her just as a matter of course, and it seems pretty mundane by the time Dr. Urbino dies. At one point the narrator says that Florentino had been in a ‘private hell’ for 50 years, but I’d just read 200 pages describing those 50 years, and they seemed anything but hellish. Sure, his continual ‘love’ affairs all end with him longing for Fermina, but that hardly strikes me as being a private hell. Perhaps it would seem hellish if his longing was perpetually evoked by the text, but the text seems to specifically avoid such an evocation. The longing is repeatedly mentioned, but never described; instead, the love affairs are described, which belies the purported longing. Similarly, Florentino’s love letters are repeatedly mentioned, but they are never shown to the reader. It’s as if the author specifically wants us to see Florentino’s love as empty and illusory.

    Compare this with the opening chapter about Dr. Urbino. He supposedly doesn’t love Fermina as passionately as Florentino does: the later chapters repeatedly say that he favours stability over passion, that he doesn’t initially love Fermina at all, that his love consists mostly of familiarity, and so on. And yet he comes off as far more romantic in that first chapter than Florentino does in the rest of the book. His last words to Fermina are “Only God knows how much I loved you”; he says “It is a pity to still find a suicide that is not for love.” Even his love for his parrot seems more passionate than any of Florentino’s loves. Everything he does seems imbued with a little passion: even the tremendous success of his opera house “never reached the extremes Dr. Urbino had hoped for, which was to see Italianizers and Wagnerians confronting each other with sticks and canes during intermissions” (by far my favourite line in the book). The language itself seems more romantic in this opening chapter than in any that follow; sentences repeatedly start in the banal and end with a melodramatic flourish, just as Urbino’s seemingly mundane concerns lead to true passions. In the later chapters, the language seems to level everything– sure, it’s still fairly flowery, but there are no flourishes, making everything equally important… and more importantly, making everything equally unimportant.

    And this seems to be a central idea: Florentino’s ‘love’ for Fermina is so single-minded and unvarying that it exists to the exclusion of all else. Thus, life itself is robbed of the romance (“the ordinary magic of everyday life,” as USA Today calls it on the inside front cover) that Dr. Urbino experiences in it. With that romantic context removed, even Florentino’s single-minded love becomes banal. So, after his initial bout of choleric love in the second chapter (the only time his love is really evoked), we get three chapters of banalities. Stuff happens, but what happens isn’t terribly important; the events aren’t even described in any particular order, because even the passage of time is just so terribly banal. Even Dr. Urbino and Fermina’s relationship is made banal in these sections, though not to the extent of Florentino’s affairs. Finally, after Dr. Urbino’s death, temporality returns, as Florentino reenters the world. But by then he realizes that he can only win Fermina’s love in the same way that Dr. Urbino did: with a solid foundation of routine. Thus, even his choleric love has been killed, and he has literally caused the death of those most taken by it (his young lover America and the pigeon girl). And, unfortunately, by leveling the world into banalities with his ‘obsession,’ he’s also destroyed the romance of life that Dr. Urbino had. So, his never-ending romantic riverboat journey is on a lifeless river, under the flag of a cholera that he no longer even suffers from. “Desperate to infect [ot]her[s] with his own madness,” he’s killed the world, and divested himself of that madness of which he was so proud.

    I could be misinterpreting the whole thing. It could be that Florentino’s mad love is actually meant to be a good thing, that the river has been killed simply by banal ‘progress’, and the love that Florentino and Fermina find actually injects some life back into it, symbolized by the lone manatee. But it seems to me that the lone manatee symbolizes the life that ‘stable’ romance injects back into the river that was destroyed by mad romance. Admittedly, my reading is pretty simplistic, and it’s no doubt contradicted by any number of things in the text. But, in any case, the one thing I’m sure of is that America is the only sympathetic character in the whole book. She was the only one who actually experienced the hell that Florentino thought he did. Curse his oily hide!

    Quote: It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of unrequited love.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  8. #33
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    54. Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare, 1597)
    Genre: Elizabethan romantic drama
    Rating: 6

    I only just read Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for the first time. I didn’t much care for it. The characters seemed ciphers; the love story, undeveloped. The fact that Romeo was madly in love with a different girl mere moments before swooning over Juliet kind of makes the romance unbelievable and weightless. However, I think there was a lot of interesting thematic stuff related to how love interacts with society.

    It seems to me that the play divides society into three broad groups: the titular individuals, the lovers; the everyday society of the two feuding families; and the kind of abstract remainder, all the other people in the city, with its social superstructure of church and state, represented by the friar and the prince. The lovers and the families share the same destructive tendency toward rashness and ill-temperance, and in that sense, the lovers’ actions are in line with their social milieu. The social superstructure condemns their rashness, but lets it slide (as the prince says in the end, he winkingly let the feud continue).

    But outside of this broad similarity, Shakespeare explicitly stands the lovers in contradistinction to the families. Most obviously, the lovers bridge the divide created by the feud. Romantic love takes one outside of everyday social structures, by singling out a single Other, orienting one’s being toward that Other, and pushing society to the background. And in so doing, it allows the lovers to bypass their families’ feud. But it doesn’t just unite the lovers outside of society in the neverland of romance: When the romance is working, it serves to pacify. At least two characters note that Romeo’s love “feminizes” him, in the sense that it pacifies him. In this pacified state of love, Romeo is brought out of the limiting confines of the feuding families and into the broader order of the community. When a member of the enemy family demands to fight him, he at first refuses; partly, he does so because he’s all aswoon with love and has no interest in operating within a ridiculous feud, but he also cites the prince’s condemnation of the feud—that is, he is operating in the larger collective structure, rather than in the insular, destructive structure of the families. Furthermore, the social superstructure actively attempts to lift the lovers out of the confines of their families, as the friar explicitly aids them in getting married and in escaping. So love is explicitly categorized as an overcoming of everyday social barriers and a movement toward larger collectivity. That’s essentially stated right in the prologue, but I thought I would add some words to it.

    As I mentioned, this effect of love is due to a kind of pacification—or feminization. And in some sense, the bloody-minded feud, the arrogant division between the two social groups, and the controlling nature of Juliet’s father can all be read as faults of excess masculinity; the lovers’ love, which ultimately ends the feud, is a feminine subversion of that patriarchal order. Maybe it’s also worth noting the historical role of marriage in overcoming provincialism, uniting tribes, etc. All of this reminds me of the early view of sex, presented in The Epic of Gilgamesh, as a pacifying, socializing force rather than something unruly and outside of proper society. In a more complicated existential setting, it also reminds me of the picture of love in It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Yet this effect of love occurs only when the romance is working. Once it all goes to pot, the love itself becomes destructive, because it is no longer pacifying but frenzying. When going to Juliet’s tomb, Romeo no longer says that he is feminized: instead, he says that he is made wild. Love brought the lovers outside the realm of their everyday social bonds, but that process is unstable. Given the right set of circumstances, it can move them into the broader collective, acting as individuals on a larger stage, rather than as mere representatives of family, confined by upbringing and inborn social bonds. But given a slightly different set of circumstances, the removal of the social bonds leads to wildness, frenzy, violence heedless of any norms. And thence, everybody ends up dead.

    I don’t think Shakespeare is presenting this as a universal structure, nor am I sure of how clear cut it is. And perhaps I’m trying too hard to match the play with Kierkegaard’s dual analyses of love in Either/Or. But it’s interesting nonetheless. The other aspect of the play that I found interesting was the degree of internal commentary, with various characters commenting on the nature of Romeo & Juliet’s love; e.g., the friar early on says that Romeo loves “by rote”, just falling madly for one girl after the next. There’s some nice interplay between this and the structure I described above.

    Quote:
    Do not swear at all;
    Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
    Which is the god of my idolatry
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  9. #34
    neurotic subjectivist B-side's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    Awesome. Finally I've earned an appellation worth having.
    I had to look up "appellation". This is what you do to me.
    Last 5 Viewed
    Riddick (David Twohy | 2013 | USA/UK)
    Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz | 2012 | Chile/France)*
    Pain & Gain (Michael Bay | 2013 | USA)*
    You're Next (Adam Wingard | 2011 | USA)
    Little Odessa (James Gray | 1994 | USA)*

    *recommended *highly recommended

    “It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult. It's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” -- Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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  10. #35
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    55. Solaris (Stanislaw Lem, 1961)
    Genre: sci-fi
    Rating: 8

    This is a great book, likely the best sci-fi I’ve read other than Dune. Lem’s prose is painfully pedestrian, consisting largely of flat dialogue and tedious, “this-and-this-and-then-this” descriptions—but that weakness is overcome by the strength of the book’s central metaphors, which are beautiful and compelling.

    First among these is the living, conscious sea on the planet Solaris. Like the great, white whale of Moby Dick, it stands as a metaphor for the unknown, a playing ground for humanity’s quest for meaning and understanding amidst impenetrable mystery. And like the white whale, it is assigned multiple meanings within that unifying theme. It is a symbol of the single consciousness itself, proceeding with apparent design but according to ultimately inexplicable inner workings; it is Otherness on a vast scale, the ineffableness of another’s mind; most prominently, it is God in the limit of his traditional assignation of a being whose existence is its essence: pure operation, pure movement, something that cannot but do as it does, that cannot but be a creator. With its mysterious, unified consciousness and its ripples of vague creation, which soon vanish as burst bubbles, it also invokes the Buddhist view of existence as a great sea, the ripples on the surface of which form our individual consciousnesses and the material existence of which we are conscious, with these ripples being part of the whole but having the illusion of distinctness. However, despite the richness of this central metaphor, I don’t think Lem quite gives it the depth and grandeur it deserves, instead bogging it down with menial descriptions of the phenomena on the sea.

    The second central metaphor, and the one which I thought more original and far more poignant, is the ex-lover that the sea creates from the protagonist’s memory. She had killed herself after the protagonist left her. She is the weight of memory, the weight of regret, the embodiment of a moment that one cannot escape, a moment that defines everything in its wake. She is the longed-for return to the past, the revival of memory, the wish to dislodge it from its impossible distance and make it tangible, alive, present. And she is the essence of a person in love: she cannot exist without her loved one; her being is constituted as being-for-him. Lem makes this tragic relationship effectively sad. He evokes the protagonist’s regret, his overpowering wish to be with her and to right his wrong; and, too, he evokes her despair at the tenuous nature of her existence, an existence borne only in his eyes. Also, I like that their situation immediately riddles their relationship with distances, petty lies and illusions. Even the impossible return to the past, to that illusory wellspring, the trace of memory, is filled with heartrending disappointment, with the same flaws that brought ruin to their original relationship. But that only makes the protagonist’s yearn for it even more poignant.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t help compare it to better treatments of the same themes. Its exploration of humanity’s relationship to the unknown pales next to the scope and nuance of Melville. And Lem is no Tarkovsky: the film adaptation improves enormously both on the book’s artistry and on its exploration of love, self-hood, and memory. However, it’s nonetheless a great book.

    Quote: I hoped for nothing. And yet I lived in expectation. Since she had gone, that was all that remained. I did not know what achievements, what mockery, even what tortures awaited me. I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  11. #36
    nightmare investigator monolith94's Avatar
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    Read The Book of the New Sun for some scifi that I think you'd enjoy.
    "Modern weapons can defend freedom, civilization, and life only by annihilating them. Security in military language means the ability to do away with the Earth."
    -Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

  12. #37
    Editor Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Very cool thread.

    Have you read any of:

    Blood Meridian
    Confederacy of Dunces
    Tintin
    Any Raymond Chandler
    Ice
    Watership Down
    Any Pynchon
    Any Robbe-Grillet

    ?

  13. #38
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting monolith94 (view post)
    Read The Book of the New Sun for some scifi that I think you'd enjoy.
    I'll add it to the Bester-Ballard-Sturgeon-Valis-and-Russian-guys-that-Qrazy-recommended list of sci-fi to check out.

    Quote Quoting Spaceman Spiff (view post)
    Very cool thread.

    Have you read any of:

    Blood Meridian
    Confederacy of Dunces
    Tintin
    Any Raymond Chandler
    Ice
    Watership Down
    Any Pynchon
    Any Robbe-Grillet

    ?
    Yes
    No
    No
    The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye
    Never heard of it
    Yes
    Gravity's Rainbow
    No
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  14. #39
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    56. Sculpting in Time (Tarkovsky, 1986)
    Genre: film theory
    Rating: 6.5

    Tarkovsky is my favourite film director. Yet his view of cinema is way too dogmatic: it must present the artist's direct experience of the world, and anything else it can do debases that basic requirement. And the distinctions he draws between film and the other arts, based on his dogmatic definition of cinema, are way too strict.

    His view of editing is especially problematic. He says that it does not provide rhythm, that the rhythm is inherent in the flow of time in each shot. This seems, as they say, counterfactual, and he never provides enough specifics to make clear how rhythm is contained within each shot. He also says that the notion of montage necessarily reduces films to a play of concepts, rather than directly conveying the artist's experience of time. This seems to me to undervalue the importance of concepts in our experience, and it also seems like an unnecessary consequence of juxtapositions: why must the impact juxtapositions rely on concepts?

    He also seems to contradict himself quite frequently. So the whole book is quite problematic. However, it is worth reading: its poetic descriptions of what cinema (as Tarkovsky envisions it) can accomplish, how it can reveal and extract the power, feeling, and wealth of meaning of a moment as it unfolds in time, are startlingly perceptive and compelling.

    Quote: In any case it is perfectly clear that the goal for all art—unless of course it is aimed at the ‘consumer’, like a salable commodity—is to explain to the artist himself and to those around him what man lives for, what is the meaning of his existence.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  15. #40
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    57. The Blithedale Romance (Hawthorne, 1852)
    Genre: the downfall of utopias
    Rating: 9

    Hawthorne tells the story of a New England commune. As one would expect, it is at first filled with high social ideals and grand utopian hopes. But it gradually disintegrates—not due to external pressures, avarice, or the limitations of socialist economics, but due to the force of personal relationships and histories. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is that it reifies this disintegration by shifting its own narrative into gothic melodrama. Mysterious histories and hidden relationships between the characters are revealed. These relationships are realistic enough: it's nothing very out of the ordinary that disrupts utopian social models, but real, concrete human affairs. But the novel casts these relationships in the gothic moods and tones they deserve: the humanity of the affairs, what allows them to so constrict and disrupt the utopian ideal, consists of what we inject into them, the melodrama of which we make them, the intensity of our feelings as we live them, and the ways in which we relate to them as stories.

    Quote: "It is a genuine tragedy, is it not?"
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  16. #41
    i am the great went ledfloyd's Avatar
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    i really loved love in the time of cholera when i read it. it's been several years though so i can't really provide a solid argument.

  17. #42
    nightmare investigator monolith94's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    I'll add it to the Bester-Ballard-Sturgeon-Valis-and-Russian-guys-that-Qrazy-recommended list of sci-fi to check out.
    Valis and Bester are great. I've still got to get around to Ballard and Sturgeon, I'm thinking first Sturgeon, then Ballard.
    "Modern weapons can defend freedom, civilization, and life only by annihilating them. Security in military language means the ability to do away with the Earth."
    -Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

  18. #43
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Sturgeon and Ballard are so vastly different in theme and style, that it's sometimes amazing to think that were, relatively, working in the same genre (at least for a part of their respective careers). In one hand you have Ballard's clinical, sterile, cold, and emotionally detached examinations of urban culture and the impact of technology on humanity, and in the other hand you have Sturgeon's warm, emotionally fueled and heart-felt studies of humanity's soul and our relationships with one another.

  19. #44
    Too much responsibility Kurosawa Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spaceman Spiff (view post)
    Very cool thread.

    Have you read any of:

    Confederacy of Dunces
    Any Pynchon
    Confederacy is one of my favorite books, and the only Pynchon I've tackled thus far is The Crying of Lot 49, which was fantastic as well.

  20. #45
    Editor Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    You haven't read any Tintin, Melville? What kind of childhood did you have?

    Oh, and Ice (Anna Kavan) sounds amazing by the way. Just picked it up, and can't wait to read it.

  21. #46
    nightmare investigator monolith94's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Daniel Davis (view post)
    Sturgeon and Ballard are so vastly different in theme and style, that it's sometimes amazing to think that were, relatively, working in the same genre (at least for a part of their respective careers). In one hand you have Ballard's clinical, sterile, cold, and emotionally detached examinations of urban culture and the impact of technology on humanity, and in the other hand you have Sturgeon's warm, emotionally fueled and heart-felt studies of humanity's soul and our relationships with one another.
    Yeah, from that description I definitely feel as though I'll tend to like Sturgeon more.
    "Modern weapons can defend freedom, civilization, and life only by annihilating them. Security in military language means the ability to do away with the Earth."
    -Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

  22. #47
    dissolved into molecules lovejuice's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    57. The Blithedale Romance (Hawthorne, 1852)
    Genre: the downfall of utopias
    Rating: 9
    as you know i love this book.
    "Over analysis is like the oil of the Match-Cut machine." KK2.0

  23. #48
    Whole Sick Crew Benny Profane's Avatar
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    How many pages is The Blithedale Romance? I see some editions on Amazon ranging from 124 to 428 pages.
    Now reading: The Master Switch by Tim Wu

  24. #49
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting monolith94 (view post)
    Yeah, from that description I definitely feel as though I'll tend to like Sturgeon more.
    I can see you totally digging Ballard as well.

    You could even say that Ballard was more about humanity's increasing isolationism at the hands of modern urban living and technology, as in Concrete Island, and a number of short stories, while Sturgeon focused on the need for human beings to grow closer to one another, as is evident in the idea of the homo gestalt in More than Human, the hive mind in The Cosmic Rape, and even the expression of sexual love in Godbody. Although I would argue that the authors both focused on similar problems, but Ballard on the negative consequences of humanity's actions, while Sturgeon focused on the positive qualities of human relationship.

  25. #50
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spaceman Spiff (view post)
    You haven't read any Tintin, Melville? What kind of childhood did you have?
    I'd never even heard of it before my late teens. I didn't think it was that commonly read outside Europe.

    Quote Quoting Benny Profane (view post)
    How many pages is The Blithedale Romance? I see some editions on Amazon ranging from 124 to 428 pages.
    My copy is about 250 pages.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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