Sunday, November 30, 2014

we are Groot

THIS IS MY NEW FAVOURITE FUCKING MOVIE NOW. JUST SO YOU KNOW. I don't think I have laughed that hard in months. My face actually hurts.

(And the repetition of "Take my hand"! Oh, my GOD. I was totally unspoiled for that ((husband sitting next to me had already seen it twice)) and gasped and said out loud "OH FUCK YOU, MOVIE" and burst into tears. Awesome.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

As a philosophical form, the fragment reflects the conditions of modernity. In Friedrich Schlegel's view, the hyper-reflexive expressive registers of irony and humor are particularly suited to voice the modern mindset, and are, as such, intrinsically linked to the fragment (such a view is also present in Novalis's writings, though underemphasized in comparison with Friedrich Schlegel). Novalis's turn to the fragment has a different philosophical motivation. The fragment questions the idea that philosophical system-building, be it of a deductive or a teleological kind, is fit to capture the nature of reality. Like Blüthenstaub—though the title was added when Friedrich Schlegel was editing Novalis's text for publication—the fragment emerges as an intellectual seed or pollen that is meant to foster critical and independent reflection rather than presenting a system of self-contained theorizing.

- via

still thinking on that book, like just waking from a dream

But all this happened a long time ago, nearly forty years ago; I do not know if it happens now, even in imaginary countries.

- Ursula K. Le Guin

(Altho was also thinking glumly that if Fitzgerald had had the misfortune to be born in the land of the rich and the home of the broke, without council housing and universal health care, we might never have had one word of her works. But that seems unworthy of the book, and her, and Novalis. The blue flower blooms where its seed falls....?)

Die blaue Blume

Could they play and sing? Naturally they could. How else can the needy pass their time, except with music? Outside the lodgings, in the warm dusk which filled the Schaufelgasse, they began with little airs, little popular songs, then a trio. When the Mandelsloh came down the three flights of stairs, with her purse in her hand, and asked them, 'For whom do you play?'  they replied, 'For Philosophy.'
Have been trying not to cry for the last half of this damn book -- which I knew would break my heart before I even picked it up, and I did so anyway. I was soldiering on, and right fucking there, crackle, CRUNCH. Sob.

This fucking book! It's like a song by Schubert, a phrase out of Mozart, a Prinzregententorte, Dürer's Young Hare.  -- Du! Dein Mutter ist tot! -- Hopp, hopp! Hopp, hopp! Hopp, hopp!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Leverage - S1 E10 "The Juror #6 Job"

GRANDMOTHER: (showing pictures): And this is Emily. She's the eldest, and her sister Anne. And little Charlotte, she's the baby of the family.

MOI: //screams //rewinds immediately //dies laughing

Villain of the piece is also named, wait for it....Earnshaw.

I love my show.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

- Genesis 4:8-10 (KJV)

Monday, November 24, 2014

I heard the news choppers and knew there was no true bill

Although of course I'd been expecting it already, like everyone else. That doesn't matter. It's still unbearable. That poor young murdered man. That baby.


today I have

peeled, chopped carrots
chopped asparagus
chopped B sprouts
chopped rainbow chard
peeled, sliced butternut squash

1/2 orange
green beans
rice (thinking simple chicken dish)]

to-be prepped (these will keep longer):
purple kale
red chard
sweet potatoes
acorn squash
onions conviction after about 2 years of E-Z Lern 2 Cook holds that most of cooking is 1) chopping stuff 2) heating stuff what you just chopped

in which Joe Romm has my heart (sorry, T)

Interstellar may be the greatest silent movie ever made. It is a stunningly gorgeous but annoyingly noisy, second-rate sci-fi movie with Icarus-like aspirations of greatness, an intentionally-confusing film with hints of climate change.

....First off, thank goodness this anti-inspirational movie isn’t (clearly) about human-caused climate change, given that a main theme, as expressed by its genius NASA scientist (played by Michael Caine) appears to be:
“We are not meant to save the world. We are meant to leave it.”
And if you find it hard to believe that any modern eco-parable could have such a ludicrously defeatist theme, here’s the trailer:

Christopher Nolan himself admitted of that line, “Obviously, if that’s taken literally it would not be particularly positive.” Duh?

....As the Washington Post notes, the movie ”never explains the source of the blight and the dust storms that plague Earth’s remaining residents.” This Nolan-esque-ambiguity appears to be intentional, based on this recent interview:
Reuters: In “Interstellar,” Earth faces a severe environmental disaster brought on by the grounds drying up. Did you want to address climate change?
Nolan: Not consciously. The honest answer is we live in the same world, my brother and I. We work on the script, we live in the same world as everyone else so we’re sort of affected by the same things, worried about the same things, but we try not to be didactic in the writing, we try not to give any particular message or sense of things.
Yes, why make a big-budget movie about an eco-collapse that looks a lot like worst-case projections for global warming and then bother to give viewers “any particular message or sense of things”?

Nolan responded to media and viewer complaints that there were “parts where the music totally obliterates the dialogue” by explaining that was intentional! What about Michael Caine’s deathbed scene where it’s hard to tell if he is in fact admitting the whole notion that his efforts were aimed at saving humans on Earth was a lie? That was also meant to be intentionally confusing!

George Monbiot writes in the U.K. Guardian: “Movies about abandoning Earth reflect the political defeatism of our age: that adapting to climate breakdown is preferable to stopping it.” Grist notes in its take-down of the multiple absurdities of the movie, “I can’t believe that intergalactic space travel was the best route to food security.”
That’s especially true since — “plot” spoiler — it’s fair to say that humans from the future are not going build a wormhole near Saturn for us to flee Earth to another galaxy. In the U.K. Guardian piece “How Interstellar made Michael Caine think again about climate change,” the actor himself says:
If Earth screws up, I think we all go. How many people can go through a black hole in a rocket? It’s not a bus.
Interstellar — the climate solution for the one percent.
- ClimateProgress

strandbooks posted this on Tumblr and it actually sort of fucking gutted me

But that's OK because my book is about the killing power of nostalgia! :D :D :D

new non-P&V translation of Anna Karenina

  • A major new translation of Tolstoy's enduring classic, by acclaimed translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett.
  • Based on the best Russian text, the translation preserves Tolstoy's style in a highly accurate version in which precision of meaning and emotional accuracy are conveyed in fluent and natural English.
  • Rosamund Bartlett has won praise for her translations of Chekhov and her biography of Tolstoy (Profile, 2010), her sensitivity to the Russian language enhanced by meticulous research into specialist terminology.
  • Bartlett's introduction and notes are informed by her intimate knowledge of Tolstoy's life, the contexts in which he wrote, and insight into his literary artistry and achievements.
  • Includes a note on the translation, select bibliography, chronology of Tolstoy's life, list of characters and guide to pronunciation.


in which Beatrice is wise, wise, wise

For the most part, my late thirties are treating me exceedingly well. So of course my brain frequently turns to bemoaning all the time I wasted (and still do waste, alas) on perfectionism, because there's no better way to waste your time than to spend it beating yourself up for the time you already wasted. That's some high-level ouroboros-ing; don't try it at home. Seriously, don't.

 But that's perfectionism for you. People who are not plagued by perfectionism think that it means doing everything perfectly, which it doesn't. That friend or relative you have who does everything perfectly is, I guarantee you, not a perfectionist. Perfectionism means that you abandon writing projects halfway through because you can't get that one scene (or even that one sentence) right on the first three tries; that you sit there night after night journaling about how random undignified human moments make you permanently unlovable; that you sabotage good relationships because a known outcome which is a disaster is still safer, in your mind, than an unknown outcome which could be amazing.

....Perfection, most of the time, means not doing anything. Which is why I'm working really hard on not wasting any more of my time on it. In my personal life, anyway: the irony is that in my computer-oriented-role at work I say, all the time, "Perfect is the enemy of good," and mean it. I can forgive software its limitations, but not myself mine. Maybe try to think of myself as charmingly buggy?

- Burning My Study

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Penelope Fitzgerald, Hermione Lee

I absolutely LOVED Hermione Lee's biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, and it also made me want to immediately go back and read all of Fitzgerald's work with all the new thoughts I now have about her in mind, which I think is really the best thing I can say to recommend it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

this is what actually got me out of bed today

'....I wonder if my UK copy of Foxglove Summer is here yet?'


I highlighted (yes it is on the Paperwhite, I have no room for big hardbacks and can't hold them up anymore anyway) 'A short-lived Somerville magazine, Lysistrata, edited by Robert Graves's daughter Sally in 1934' --

-- and then squinted and thought 'No, that's not right....there was Jenny, Catherine and Lucia. Sally was the niece?' But I wasn't sure, so I checked. Yes, niece!

 I WAS SORT OF HORRIFIED and then wondered how pathetic it was I knew the names of Graves's daughters offhand and nobody ever cares about this stuff but me anyway

And look, you can buy the magazine online! How about that. Or browse Sally's bibliography (she went on to become an anthropologist).

most awesome thing I have read all week

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. Maybe I think that if I (or the person who is me, but whose body I am not currently occupying) write this down, I will draw some logical conclusion. I will identify the root cause of this current round of anxiety, and I will suddenly recognise the street I live on, and be able to go to the supermarket without being afraid of the fact that we are hurtling through space, and stand in the bookshop and feel calm and easy. Maybe I think that someone else might read this and go me too! your anxiety is not the most insane anxiety! and I can put my socks on and we can go for a walk in the park and no one will turn into an antelope.

Last week, at my regular counselling session, I told my psychologist I was beginning to feel like A Girl Who Is Separate From But Also Experiences Anxiety. It was wonderful. I was thinking about all the things I could do with my life if I didn’t have anxiety, and I could suddenly see each thing discretely. I could see that I might go on a book tour and feel anxious, but that they were not the same thing. I could imagine being a person who had anxiety, but wasn’t an anxious person. I felt newly purposeful, motivated, insightful but pragmatic.

And now this week I feel like a turnip.

- Anna Spargo-Ryan

'zombies will always be there, stacked up like cordwood in the closet, a standard tool ready-to-hand for any creator with no better ideas'

(Written about games, but it works equally well for writing, movies, anything creative. Look, I liked zombies too, WAY BACK WHEN. But they are DONE.)

(also, I finally saw Shaun of the Dead and y'all are tripping balls, that was *horrible*)

The zombie apocalypse is the weakest apocalypse. The threat of apocalypse is an actual non-fictional thing. There’s climate change, peak oil, peak water, near-earth objects, toxin accumulation, supercalderas, plus there are still enough nukes lying around to end civilisation several times over. On a less global scale, there’s economic collapse, conquest, genocide, colonialism, poverty, homelessness. Postapocalyptic fiction has potential to get us to think about this: but the zombie apocalypse has become a formulaic, often escapist fantasy that avoids the genuinely uncomfortable in favour of squick and headshots. Triffids would be better at this point.

Zombies are the othered enemy. We have a culture that cheerfully divides human beings into those whose deaths must be treated as deeply, individually serious, and those whose deaths can be written off as regrettable but basically inconsequential or necessary. Zombies serve that motive. In particular, the central threat of modern zombies is: a faceless, innumerable mass of mindless, violent, contagious people bent on tearing society apart. That is… just the tiniest itty bit problematic.

Zombies are not actually all that scary if you de-stress the Mindless Inhuman Horde element. Largely this is because we know how they work by this point. (I suspect this has a lot to do with their popularity: they’re homeopathic horror. ‘Oh no, the disgusting mortality of the human body!’ ‘Can we fix it with violence?’ ‘Yes. Yes, we can.’) There are a number of scary things buried in there, but most of them have been bled dry by overuse. Boring territory is safe territory, and vice versa.

- Sam Kabo Ashwell

Nanu, Nano

Q: So how's that writing-a-novel-in-thirty-days thing going?


On top of all my OTHER personal issues re avoidance, procrastination, anxiety, perfectionism, blah, blahblah sing along you know the words, I got two nasty shocks during the actual writing month. One was the loss of the Dems in the Senate -- I knew it was coming for days, it wasn't a surprise, but it was still really fucking depressing. For one thing I think there's now a really good chance of a Republican president in 2016, and God help us all then, especially since this household consists of TWO AGING DISABLED CHRONICALLY ILL MOSTLY-UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE, with cats. (My husband can get programming work, some years, but it's all contract stuff, which means no security, no benefits, and much lower pay.) Seeing as how last time he was unemployed it lasted over a year, and the Republicans want to set fire to the comfy safety hammock of UI, food stamps, utilities grants, and other programs that clearly do nothing but enable leeches, I can't help but feel our future looks particularly bleak. Fuck the whole "I'll never get to do all the stuff I intended to do in my twenties!" gig, now it's more like "How do we keep our apartment and the lights on and the cats fed and...."

The other, bigger, thing was that when I drowned my laptop in coffee, like Prospero but with half-and-half, I lost all my notes, drafts and every writing-related thing. I didn't panic about it at first because I thought I'd had most of it backed up on a flash drive (no, it was not on Dropbox, and I don't have an external HD) but that turned out to be corrupted (the virtual Mob got to it? I don't know).  I know some people who can chirpily exclaim "This is good! I can toss aside all those preconceived notions and start FRESH!" not one of them, to put it mildly. This loss was so bad I haven't even really written about it anywhere. That's how you know things are really bad with me, I shut up.

I dunno, maybe I'll start again next month, or in January. November just does not seem to work out for me. We'll see. Trying to ensure basic survival (T's job ends soon) sort of comes first.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

and then I slept ALL DAMN DAY

after going to bed at 10 (and waking up around 8). What the shit, do I have Stealth CFS or something? And was barely awake enough to cook a really simple dinner. And now I'll probably go back to bed at 10 again, because now I'm getting a headache. WTF is this....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

talk about sobering

By mid-2012 nineteen states had approved new legislation restricting voting, including seven of the nine battleground states in the general election. The total number of electoral votes potentially affected, 212, was more than three-quarters of the 270 electoral votes required to win the presidency.

....For years political operatives have understood that Democrats win by addition and Republicans by subtraction. Now the GOP....was poised to subtract roughly five million votes from an American election.

- The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, Jonathan Alter

Saturday, November 15, 2014

 'Oh, darling,' said Julia, resting her hands on Patrick's shoulders, 'are you your own worst enemy?'

'I certainly hope so,' said Patrick. 'I dread to think what would happen if somebody else turned out to be better at it than me.'

- Edward St. Aubyn, Mother's Milk

Friday, November 14, 2014

and then my friends BOUGHT ME a LAPTOP

let me just fucking repeat that:
my friends  
bought me  

so I could write and listen to music and have my ebooks and yes post silly fun stuff to Tumblr again and not feel utterly cut off from them and the rest of the world (for various reasons, I don't have a phone)

 I don't even fucking know what to say. I want to say something like 'I'll never complain about anything again' except sadly, that would not be true (heh) and that's not how my friends want me to feel anyway, but goddamn if that doesn't feel utterly true right now. I am just. WOW.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –

From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –

Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –

- Emily Dickinson

Monday, November 10, 2014

from 'Collected Poems of Ted Hughes'

from 'Notes of a Native Son'

It began to seem that one would have to hold in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one's own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one's strength. This fight begins, however, in the heart and it now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair.

- James Baldwin

'recalled to life'

(A man is freed after forty-seven years in the Bastille.) This city, so beautifully peopled with living beings, it is for him a necropolis; no one knows him; he knows no one; he weeps and longs for his cachot.

 Crushed by grief, he goes to find the Minister whose generous compassion has made him a present of that liberty which so weighs upon him. He bows and says: Let me be taken back to the prison from which you have drawn me. Who can survive his parents, his friends, an entire generation? Who can learn the universal death of his own people without longing for the tomb? All these deaths which, for other men, arrive separately and little by little, have struck me at once. Separated from society, I lived with myself. Here I can live with neither myself nor new men for whom my despair is but a dream. It is not death which is terrible, it is to die the last of all.

....He scarcely wants to communicate with that new race whom he has not seen born; in the middle of town he makes himself a retreat no less solitary than the cachot which he had lived in half a century; and the grief of encountering no one who can say to him, we saw each other of old, speeds him to his grave.
- from Mercier's Le Tableau de Paris, quoted in the Notes to the Penguin edition of A Tale of Two Cities

Compare this with the ending of Oscar Wilde's bitter post-prison fable, "The Doer of Good":
And when He had passed out of the city He saw seated by the roadside a young man who was weeping.

And He went towards him and touched the long locks of his hair and said to him, 'Why are you weeping?'

And the young man looked up, and recognised Him and made answer, 'But I was dead once and you raised me from the dead. What else should I do but weep?'
I think the thing depressing me most right now isn't actually the lost programs (Calibre, iTunes, Spotify are probably the ones I use most frequently) or files (about four thousand ebooks, in various formats, probably 10MB of music, maybe six years' worth of pictures) but not being able to listen to music, really. Music is my boyfriend really my strongest antidepressant, and without it I just....wilt.

Because it's not just the lost music files or iTunes or the Spotify and desktop clients (yes I am a dinosaur) and not being able to stream from YouTube and 8tracks. I quit buying CDs really I don't know how long ago, in a vain attempt to save storage space because hey, it's all online. When I was really broke I ripped a goodly number of CDs and then sold them (yeah that worked out well). "Well! I do have CDs," I thought, and then realized....I don't even have a CD player anymore. Not a standalone, this-works-without-anything-ripped-off/dreamed-up-by-Steve-Jobs-or-Bill-Gates CD player. So without a reliable laptop now there's just....silence, mostly.

(And I've always thought of myself as a speed bump on the information highway. If web 2.0 has me in its clutches this bad, IT HAS DEVOURED US ALL.)
Tried turning on drowned laptop, now dried-out (did everything but use a hairdryer and put it in bathtub full of rice, I have neither). It won't even turn on. It's just dead.

MEANWHILE, T is letting me use his (equally old and cheap, we both got them on special at Office Depot at the same time) laptop but then it started doing this:  


with increasing volume and scariness. Also occasionally it just goes dark (not BSOD; just, it's off) for no reason. No, we can't afford to fix that one, either.

I don't even fucking know. I'LL GET A LOT OF READING DONE I GUESS (yeah yeah this is a 'good excuse' for not doing Nano, but I'm one of those people who needs a keyboard to write, even tho the IBM Selectric II destroyed my hands at an early age; pen and paper is just way too fucking slow) (and if I could get showered dressed and out to the library every day, you know, that would mean I wasn't fucking depressed all the time)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

from Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal

I have been reading Mr. Kafka and I feel his problem of getting grace. But I see it doesn’t have to be that way for the Catholic who can go to Communion every day. The Msgr. today said it was the business of reason, not emotion—the love of God. The emotion would be a help. I realized last time that it would be a selfish one. Oh dear God, the reason is very empty. I suppose mine is also lazy. But I want to get near You. Yet it seems almost a sin to suggest such a thing even. Perhaps Communion doesn’t give the nearness I mean. The nearness I mean comes after death perhaps. It is what we are struggling for and if I found it either I would be dead or I would have seen it for a second and life would be intolerable.

- via


People heard it loud and clear when the baby boomers crossed over to midlife – you couldn’t avoid it. Radio talk show hosts probed into the transition, newspapers described boomer women coping with crow’s feet and men reclaiming their vitality in tribal drum circles. For the generation born after – in the ‘60s and ‘70s, raised by television like no previous generation and with the divorce rate skyrocketing during their childhood years — there is no media watch broadcasting their new trajectory. Few have even noticed that this small, notoriously rebellious clan – those born roughly between 1965 and 1980, which means about 46 million Xers versus 80 million boomers — has entered middle age. It’s a transition that, until now, has been captured, mulled over and ridiculed for each generation for more than a half-century. But not this time.

The problem is, with adulthoods repeatedly shipwrecked by economic disasters, Xers might have neglected to track the crossing over. Susan Gregory Thomas, author of the resonant memoir ”In Spite of Everything,” says that many Xers “are always living in a state of triage, always in a survivalist mode. We’re not thinking long-term.”


(And yet the article ends with: "It's time to rise up and get angry!" It's hard to make your angry voiec heard when you've been going to food banks after being unemployed for two years. Or even to get angry, because, as the article starts, you're just trying to survive.)

(Also: see all those damn articles about how tragic it is that thirty-one-year olds now have to move back home, OHNOES) (some of us have no homes to move back to, by now)

'rage seduces us all' addition to the emphasis on individual catharsis, the culture of unchecked rage that sometimes wracks us is also an artefact of patriarchy itself and its lust for competitive, often violent contest. Much ink has been spilled on the masculinism that infects activist discourse, leading to delightfully snarky epithets like “Manarchism,” but we ignore the fact that white cis men are not the only people perpetuating this; it’s a culture, it does not dwell only in those with a perceived “essence.” We often unthinkingly accept and venerate the modalities and methods that patriarchy most favours; rage fuelled, unempathetic, us-versus-them politics is an ideal fit with the political hellscape of modern, neo-liberal patriarchy. It is a world that prizes the atomised particular over the powerful but compromising collective.

Your rage fuels the profits of every major website on the internet; be it Facebook, Twitter, Fox Nation, the New York Times’ comment sections, blog comments, Reddit, Tumblr, or Slashdot, your rage gets others angry, committing them to call-and-response threads hundreds of comments deep, which keeps them coming back to threads obsessively, which generates pageviews, ad impressions, and more revenue for the interested parties.

....Rage seduces us all, no matter what our background, and its siren song will always be in the language that most appeals to us as individuals, regardless of our politics.

- Katherine Cross

Friday, November 7, 2014

and while I'm reading about the French Revolution....

( -- Why am I reading about the French Revolution? Fuck, I have no idea. My brain is driving, I am just along on its ride. I think I thought Scarlet Pimpernel would be fun, and it just sort of....ballooned from there. I think.)

....oh hey, The Gods Are Athirst got lots of raves, the guy won the Nobel, Orwell liked him (Orwell is so often my touchstone), he was on the side of the angels in l'affaire Dreyfus, why not. Plus his work is free on Gutenberg! The best price of all.
Évariste Gamelin, painter, pupil of David, member of the Section du Pont-Neuf, formerly Section Henri IV, had betaken himself at an early hour in the morning to the old church of the Barnabites, which for three years, since 21st May 1790, had served as meeting-place for the General Assembly of the Section. The church stood in a narrow, gloomy square, not far from the gates of the Palais de Justice. On the façade, which consisted of two of the Classical orders superimposed and was decorated with inverted brackets and flaming urns, blackened by the weather and disfigured by the hand of man, the religious emblems had been battered to pieces, while above the doorway had been inscribed in black letters the Republican catchword of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death."*


//splashes out for Penguin Classics edition on Kindle at Amazon //which takes like TWENTY FUCKING MINUTES to find

I may have gotten in actual flamewars about how nasty people (i.e. men) were about Constance Garnett and her translations back in the day on Badreads, but oh, my God, Mrs Wilfrid Jackson, whoever you are, I am sorry, just, NO. Not right now. Not with a dead laptop and Republican Senate and when the only foods that don't make me run immediately to the bathroom are oatmeal and apples.

*You want l'origine? (ahaha OMG look at that fake SJC French) Sure, why not:

Évariste Gamelin, peintre, élève de David, membre de la section du Pont-Neuf, précédemment section Henri IV, s'était rendu de bon matin à l'ancienne église des Barnabites, qui depuis trois ans, depuis le 21 mai 1790, servait de siège à l'assemblée générale de la section. Cette église s'élevait sur une place étroite et sombre, près de la grille du Palais. Sur la façade, composée de deux ordres classiques, ornée de consoles renversées et de pots à feu, attristée par le temps, offensée par les hommes, les emblèmes religieux avaient été martelés et l'on avait inscrit en lettres noires au-dessus de la porte la devise républicaine: "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité ou la Mort."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mercury is retrograding from INSIDE THE HOUSE

BIRTHDAY: //occurs
LAPTOP: //breaks after being drowned in coffee
REPUBLICANS: //take back Senate
CHRONIC PANCREATITIS: //flares like a star going nova


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

in the e-queue

The World is a Room and Other Stories, Yehuda Amichai
I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth, Margaret Atwood
I'm Starved for You, Margaret Atwood
At Last, Edward St. Aubyn
All the Truth is Out: The Week Politics went Tabloid, Matt Bai
Bathing the Lion, Jonathan Carroll
What It Takes: The Way to the White House, Richard Ben Cramer
Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, Kathryn Harrison
The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, Tove Jansson
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (bought a hard copy of this a while back and have just given up wrangling it with RSI-damaged wrists and elbows)
The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit
A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit
Savage Dreams: A Journey, Rebecca Solnit
The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography (New York Review Books Classics), A.J.A. Symons


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

what I'm reading

To appeal to her, was made hopeless by her having no sense of pity, even for herself. If she had been laid low in the streets, in any of the many encounters in which she had been engaged, she would not have pitied herself; nor, if she had been ordered to the axe to-morrow, would she have gone to it with any softer feeling than a fierce desire to change places with the man who sent her there.

Such a heart Madame Defarge carried under her rough robe. Carelessly worn, it was a becoming robe enough, in a certain weird way, and her dark hair looked rich under her coarse red cap. Lying hidden in her bosom, was a loaded pistol. Lying hidden at her waist, was a sharpened dagger. Thus accoutred, and walking with the confident tread of such a character, and with the supple freedom of a woman who had habitually walked in her girlhood, bare-foot and bare-legged, on the brown sea-sand, Madame Defarge took her way along the streets.

- A Tale of Two Cities
//gets to rainstorm-under-the-plane-tree bit

//has developed terrible crush on Sydney Carton

I DO NOT HAVE A BAD BOY THI -- no, it's just really not even worth denying anymore, is it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

what I do while on a Tumblr diet (Hugo's Ninety-Three)

Everyone compares A Tale of Two Cities to Les Miserables (....why?) but of course Hugo's actual novel of the Revolution is Ninety-Three. I have the Bantam (abridged?) paperback of that around here, SOMEWHERE. SIGH. I can't read French (WOE; because I went to St. John's, where we learned to dispute about how translation is impossible instead) so I am trying to figure out which translation I want.

Dans les derniers jours de mai 1793, un des bataillons parisiens amenés en Bretagne par Santerre fouillait le redoutable bois de la Saudraie en Astillé. On n'était pas plus de trois cents, car le bataillon était décimé par cette rude guerre. C'était l'époque où, après l'Argonne, Jemmapes et Valmy, du premier bataillon de Paris, qui était de six cents volontaires, il restait vingt-sept hommes, du deuxième trente-trois, et du troisième cinquante-sept. Temps des luttes épiques.

In the latter part of May, 1793, one of the Paris battalions sent into Brittany by Santerre, searched the much dreaded forest of La Saudraie, in Astille. There were only about three hundred men in the reconnoitring party, for the battalion had been well-nigh annihilated in the fierce conflicts in which it had engaged.
It was after the battles of Argonne, Jemmapes, and Valmy, and of the First Paris Regiment, which consisted originally of six hundred volunteers, only twenty-seven men remained, of the Second Regiment only thirty-three, of the Third only fifty-seven. It was unquestionably a time of epic strife.
(I can't tell who translated this, I think it's the "Jefferson version" of the complete works.)

In the last days of May, 1793, one of the Paris regiments thrown into Brittany by Santerre reconnoitred the dreaded wood of La Saudraie in Astille. There were not more than three hundred men, for the battalion had been well-nigh swept off by this fierce war. It was the period when, after Argonne, Jemmapes, and Valmy, of the first regiment of Paris, which had numbered six hundred volunteers, there remained twenty-seven men; of the second, thirty-three and of the third, fifty-seven. It was a time of epic conflict.
(Frank Lee Benedict version. This is the ONLY version available in English on the Kindle. I bought it grudgingly, because it was $2.)

During the last of May, 1793, one of the Parisian battalions led into Brittany by Santerre was scouring the terrible woods of La Saudraie in Astille. The battalion had only three hundred men left, for it had been decimated by the cruel war. It was at the time when after Argonne, Jemmapes, and Valmly, there remained of the first battalion of Paris, originally numbering six hundred volunteers, twenty-seven men; of the second battalion, thirty-three men; and of the third, fifty-seven. It was a time of epic conflicts.
(I think this is Helen Dole's version. At least she doesn't go for "well-nigh.")

A number of people praised James Hogarth's translation, but ALL you can find excerpted online from him is Toilers of the Sea, and while I'm sure some Amazon seller is offering his edition, their site is so hopelessly jumbled, and I recently had such a poor experience with a third-party seller, I went to Powell's instead. I love Powell's but every time I search for something there, I turn up snake eyes. No exception this time. I don't know if it's my rotten luck or their rotten search engine or both.  Elliott Bay had Les Mis and not much else. Ditto the local downtown Ignoble Barn. ("You want Toilers of the Sea? No? You sure? You sure you're sure?") I went for because at least they let me see the damn cover WHILE I was ordering it. "Ninety-three, by Victor Hugo; Translator-James Hogarth; Published by Kennedy & Boyd (2008-09-29); ISBN 10: 190499993X / ISBN 13: 9781904999935; seller, ExtremelyReliable (Richmond, TX, U.S.A.)." That sounds right. Fine, ExtremelyReliable in TX, U.S.A., you have my business, despite your reallyterrible DBA name.

what Tale of Two Cities is like on period brain

RICHARD MAXWELL: //goes on and on at great length about how Dickens complained at having to 'condense' this novel for weekly installments instead of monthly

IRONY: //throws herself on a chaise lounge, sobs, eats bonbons

MAXWELL: Also, this novel is not historically accurate!

MOI: you don't say

MAXWELL: 'This admirable but problematic study (The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom) offers a rich trove of Bastille-lore; however, having discovered that certain motifs and images have a life of their own, the authors seem occasionally close to supposing that there was no Bastille, only a closed set of literary conventions and political polemics about it.'

MOI: damn you Derrida

DICKENS: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.'

MOI: ....hunh, that is....not what pop culture always makes it sound like.


MOI: Also, funny!

DICKENS: 'It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set aside to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But, that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently....'

HARDY: Hey, that's MY thing --

MOI: 'Bespattered'?

DICKENS: //defensively It was the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine!

 RICHARD MAXWELL: Now, if you read Carlyle's French Revolution --


DICKENS: 'A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life's end. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them?'

MOI: Aww yeah. //settles in

And a final word from that encyclopedia of our times:

'The opposite of resurrection is of course death.[citation needed]'

(I admit I was torn between this and 'As is common in English literature, good and evil are symbolised by light and darkness.[citation needed]')

Reese Witherspoon on Cheryl Strayed's 'Wild'

“We save ourselves,” Ms. Witherspoon said. “Every woman knows it. Every man knows it. You look up. Nobody’s coming to the rescue. It’s a universal story. But it’s revolutionary in the way that a woman is allowed to tell it.”


Sunday, November 2, 2014

books read in November 2014

Fiction is in red.  
(Have also decided at this late date to add years of publication, a la Captive Reader, who makes me feel like an illiterate slug.)

163. Lost for Words, Edward St Aubyn (2014) (not as good as On the Edge)
164. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy (1905)
165. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1895)
166. All the Truth is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, Matt Bai (2014) (fairly disappointing) (also why the hell is Richard Ben Cramer so worshipped by this guy? And other writers? I tried reading What It Takes and the style was UNBEARABLE, it was like Early-Middle Norman Mailer but without the boorish 'charm')
167. The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House, Chuck Todd (2014) (MY GOD, that was horribly written. Really terrible, amazingly so)
168. Small Victories, Anne Lamott (2014) (more substantive than her last two or three books, but that's because it's mostly reprints)
169. The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, Jonathan Alter (2013)
170. Revival, Stephen King (2014) (pretty good! rather literary)
171. Film After Film: Or, What Became of Twenty-first Century Cinema?, J. Hoberman (2012) (worthwhile, in the end, altho someone needs to rip the word "indexicality" right out of his vocabulary) 
172. Penelope Fitzgerald, Hermione Lee (2013) (beautiful, stunning, graceful) 
173. Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch (2014) (fairly limp -- looking forward to SOME plot resolution in the next one....?) 
174. Flesh and Blood, Patricia Cornwell (2014)
175. Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane (2010)
176. The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald (1995) (superb. Sheer fucking genius. Not one word wasted)
177. A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Michelle Moran (2014)

all 2014 booklist posts

Saturday, November 1, 2014

have officially changed the title of My Book....

....from Ecstasy to Cure for Pain. It was originally named after the Lou Reed song (I saw him perform it live at Bumbershoot in 2001, and got the idea not long after that) but as many, many people pointed out, readers will apparently think it's a book about X, not junkies. And I don't think a single person in the book takes X, which is an entirely different scene.  Was so pleased at "new" title (have loved that Morphine song ever since about 1994) think I shall knock off for the day, like James Joyce. The NaNo site informs me that at this rate, I shall finish by June 18th, 2060. I find this a fine goal.