What are you reading right now?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:11 am

Black Letters, Atlas Press: "contains what we at Atlas consider to be some of the best in German writing, rather than an attempt to package present trends or works judged by their sales potential [...] hopefully the reader will be slowly convinced that there are not only curious connections between many of the writers in this anthology - in works separated by decades and even centuries - but also a "tradition," albeit one which is difficult to describe. (One, it should be emphasized, which is created retrospectively, with the authors often unaware of their part: as Borges noted in his essay "Kafka and his precursors," the lineaments of a tradition only become clear with time.) Like the surrealists, who created their own precursors, bringing to prominence hitherto neglected authors (Lautreamont, Jarry etc.), this book is an attempt to do something similar for German writing - what we have called "enthused" writing in the subtitle." Fun.

Also a collection of Goethe, Tales of Transformation, City Lights Books. But I haven't even opened it yet. Goethe, cooling his heels.

T-Bone Slim, Juice is Stranger than Friction, Kerr publishing: Like reading t-bone's blog as he comments on the spirit of the times reflected in the news of the day. Really hot stuff.

Also was flipping through one of Penelope Rosemont's books, I forget the name. I like her style.

Filmsy stuff:

Making Movies, Sydney Lumet. Comes highly recommended.

In the Blink of an Eye, a perspective on film editing, Walter Murch. A must read.

The Struggle for the Film, Hans Richter. Think about film in a different way, not the same old, tiresome way.

What else. Radio Benjamin. Translated from radio transcripts of recordings that no longer exist. "From '27 to '33, he wrote and presented something in the region of eighty broadcasts... kids shows, plays, readings, book reviews, fiction." I love this stuff. Got one just like it from the Marx Brothers radio shows. The recordings of those no longer exist, either. Wartime, you know. Studios reused their magnetic tape.

Ritual Humor in Highland Chiapas, Victoria Reifler Bricker: Exactly what it sounds like. Community approved social and religious blasphemy parties.

Castle of Otranto, Walpole - Vathek, Beckford - The Vampyre, Polidori: My gothic junk food.

Anything else? Esther Leslie's Walter Benjamin. Anything by Esther is worth the time. Her book about Eisenstein and Disney was a good one. Another one I forget the name of. Also Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry.

Way of Tarot, Alejandro Jodorowsky: Not a big tarot fan, to put it nicely. But come on, this is Jodorowsky.

But the best book right now is The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, Henry Corbin. Can't put it down, yet I want to take it slow. hm. Sounds like I'm in love.

Read Cities of the Red Night, Place of Dead Roads and Western Lands again recently. Cities is probably the best, but Place of Dead Roads is still my favorite.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:44 pm

Yeah, I've been meandering through WSB's great final trilogy since last Summer. Was surprised to crack Western Lands and realize I'd checked that out of the library at age 11 -- like finding a new room in an old house.

I was into psychedelic culture way too early, and found out about Gysin's Third Mind and cut-ups. Older friends insisted that Burroughs composed all his later work through such means, and I believed it when I was young. Years later, I find that impossible to believe. Nova Express, maybe, but definitely not these three. They are a warped ride, but not a sentence is out of place. Many of the ideas there may be happy accidents, but none of the execution is.

Per Jodorowsky, I put off checking out his comic book work for probably a decade, but it is spectacular stuff. I found liked the Metabarons material even more than the Incal stuff. He's obviously still working through his Frank Herbert visions but often manages to transcend, or at least equal, his influences.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:23 am

Yeah, Brion Gysin let the mice in over here, too.

I think when they first got into the cut ups, they went crazy experimenting, maybe overdid it a bit. As is normal with a new toy. By the time of Cities, the technique has matured. Cut up happens for a reason in the later books, only in contexts where it makes sense in relation to the characters and story. He's in full command of all his literary powers at this point. Using chance, not relying on it.

A lot of ideas from his older books reappear in their mature form in there, too. Cites, Place of Dead Roads and Western Lands were written over a ten year period from the early-to-mid seventies, I think. Long process. There's a book of his called the 'Book of Breeething,' that kind of serves as a companion piece. Fun little book with pictures. He mentions it in Cities, it's a fictional book, in the book. Worth checking out if you can find it. Actually, you can probably just find it on line, I imagine. I don't know, I'm not looking.

Another good one is Burroughs' Last Words. Can't remember if that's the exact title. Journal entries from the year before he died. Puts a lot of things in perspective, in his work and beyond. I get the feeling that they really thought they were on the front line of the intergalactic war in Paris, running around doing their electronic revolution voodoo. And maybe they were. But they lost the war. Or did they? Burroughs seems to think so.

I started reading at Place of Dead Roads this time. At the end, I got it in my head that the Kim we're reading is an impostor. Kim takes on the identity of Jerry, to the point where he's referred to as Jerry in the book for a bit. Undercover time travel ops, Johnson Intelligence. Time travel done really well in these books I think, better than most sci fi treatments of the concept. Before getting back to the shootout at the beginning he makes a few comments, about a guy that jumped out of the hindenburg and disappeared, things like that. After that Kim is back, not Jerry anymore. But this Kim says he has to go 'settle the score' with Mike Chase. Kim would never say that. He would say "settle the account."

So I had to read Western Lands again. Turns out... well, it isn't as simple as that, and it ends up not really mattering. But it was fun playing Sherlock Holmes for a while, I thought I was onto something big.

Went back and read Cities after, looking for clues, dusting for fingerprints. Nothing. Great book though, his best, I think. Although I read the last seventy-five pages by flipping through, reading about four words per page. Interesting, the words that jump into your eyes, almost like someone is trying to send you messages.

Haven't checked out the Jodorowsky comic books, I've been meaning to for years, same thing. I read that you were not impressed with Frank Herbert. I have a funny relationship with him. I actually see him and Burroughs as very similar, although polar opposites. Herbert is just so straight, Burroughs is sooo gay. They're both very much against things that the other stands for, right down to literary fundamentals of structure and function. I like letting them fight it out in my head.

I was reading some interview with Burroughs, when he was asked about sci fi, I found it interesting he mentioned that he likes Dune. I know he read a lot of sci fi, could've dropped a lot of other names, he didn't have to bring it up. I think that's probably Gysin's influence, though.

Burroughs clone theory is a lot like Herbert's. Techniques can be used so that the memories of the first life are recalled by the clone. I'm sure they're not the only two that came up with that of course, but there are a few other ideas of Burroughs' that I found Herbert-like. Although they're not coming to me off the top of my head. Little things.

edited to add: Ah Pook Was Here is another short story that provides metacontext for the Cities trilogy.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:54 am

Herbert is one of the best political science authors I've ever read. The extent of his creation, even if it was mostly repurposing the bedouin, is incredible. I was only unimpressed with his actual exposition and narration -- staid.

Have you investigated the awkwardly translated wonder of Liu Cixin?

Discussed on RI: viewtopic.php?t=39263&p=576419
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:55 pm

I remember breezing through that thread, but not following through with my swing. It's catching me this time, think I'll give it another go. And hey, thanks again.

Herbert's exposition and narrative, I think that's that thing about structure and function he stands for. Traditionalist, out of date. Boring, to put it country simple. He's stuck in the literary past, like he was going for setting concepts from the far future in the style of the ancient classics. Wouldn't be surprised if he considered writing Dune in Latin.

I know there's a romantic in me that is a sucker for his scene setups, the sensually descriptive, mildly poetic turns of phrase. Moonlight frosted like icing on mesas, flint smell of sand, body odors in seitch, crinkling touch of the activated shield on the skin. Thunderous, frightening sound of the all-female army chanting the mysterious word 'siaynoc' echoing off the walls of festival city, making Nuremburg look like baby games. I love it, cannot lie. Such a sucker.

The thing I like most may be a personal conceit. I'm a few years into my own long process of writing my big idea, heavy on the dialogue, and my inner editor is merciless. Now, when I read Herbert's dialogue scenes, I think that I can almost see the five previous drafts hidden between the lines, like ghosts of dialogue never spoken hanging in the air. Just my imagination, probably.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Freitag » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:54 am

I know this forum is mostly about bashing Trump, but if you're in the mood for some good old-fashioned conspiracy theory, check out the book Octopus by Guy Lawson. It's about a hedge fund manager who got drawn into the conspiratorial fantasy world of Robert Booth Nichols, investing his clients' money in Nichols' wild schemes. I bought the book mostly for the financial angle, because I enjoy financial intrigue, but was shocked at how many conspiracy theories the book touched on. Remember when, years ago, two Japanese men showed up in Switzerland with over a hundred billion dollars in U.S. treasury bonds? I distinctly remember that story flashing across the conspirosphere. Well it's mentioned in the book, along with tons of other stuff. Nichols, for example, is suspected of killing Danny Casolaro. The hedge fund manager initially met Nichols while searching for a copy of the legendary PROMIS software. Etc. Anyway it's a very well-written book in addition to the interesting subject matter. It was quite a pleasant surprise.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:06 am

That looks like fun, I'll check it out.

Is this still a Trump-bashing site? There's like a half dozen posters that either can't or won't grow out of it, but the rest seem to have a better grasp on the world. I never bash Trump, personally. I just don't see the point.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Freitag » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:12 pm

Well, hopefully everyone has moved on from the election by now. Anyway have you, dada, or anyone else here read The Last Circle? It was mentioned in the Octopus book and I think I'm gonna read it next.
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