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Book review
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This book was pretty good. It captured my interest because apparently the character of Asa is supposed to be derived from an author's portrait of the poet Jon Silkin, and I like his poems. That aspect was a bit of a letdown, we don't get substantial insight into the artistic processes of the man through this emblem. In the beginning and near the end, where we spend the most time with that character, he just seems to be portrayed as a dishevelled painter who is struggling in his innovations and has a certain rustic charm about him. It's a more general hunger artist portrait, maybe a little more despairing. Shouldn't let poets fool you, but the rich imagery of his poems isn't so present in the descriptors of Asa's pictures. In the end it's extensively described as a fragmentary, Pissaro-esque (I guess) style in which the only vivid depictions are acute architectural features like chimneys or posts as if to suggest the focus converges around them. That seemed really odd. The architectures of Silkin's poems are often not very narrative and are instead very visual and do adhere to these kind of flight-of-fancy fragments which are enjoyable as the reader's imagination, but I'm not sure whether this particular connection is cohesive.

The homecoming does capture some of the ruminating calm that comes with returning to a town you've spent most of your life in where you may be welcomed and "The air has its own smell about it" isn't that far from the truth. You tend to discriminate it more. The book doesn't really suffer from a lack of a sense of urgency because it is in no way that sort of book. A sort of book in which the characters need extensive biographies because the subtle narrative threads are key. We don't learn enough about Asa I don't think, that's the only thing that bothers me. Certainly the most interesting character but is completely divorced from the daliance in the lake district or anyting that happened past Temple Meads outside of one letter.

A more casual melodrama. A melodrama either has to be casual or about a Russian aristocrat who never gets out of bed for me to engage with it successfully.

18/05/2020 | 15:14 | Comments | Permlink
I mentioned I left my gamedev team project in my other shoe

10/05/2020 | 03:44 | Comments | Permlink
I used to be so adverse to swearing and I'm rather ashamed that it's not something I am still adverse to.

You shouldn't care about that shit. Everyone's always on about how shit everything is that's just the way things go if everyone accepted that life would be more shit if there was no shit to deal with things would be less shit.

Fuck the shit censors.
10/05/2020 | 03:22 | Comments | Permlink
Chevalier les Grieux I don't like this guy. To his name he has all of the commodities and actionable fiscal aid of you average nobleman which he frequently requests and then disposes of going by an oftentimes cruel and stupid endeavour to win the heart of a cruel and stupid person.

This is another book about some nobleman who doesn't act on all his civic duties. I think I like Oblomov much better than this prick though, as he argues for what he believes, stays level-headed and lives frugally. Also, when Tarantyev signs off most of Oblomov's money in a smallprint IOU: it was clear Tarantyev was a coniving two-faced courtyard droll lacking a moral compass and trying to get his foot in the door in the Oblomovka properties. He hates the back-handedness and bitter gossip that occurs amongst his class and how they never count themselves fortunate. I learnt something from that and even believed in what he had to say. We are also never requested sympathy for Oblomov. It's a satire after all! Chevalier Les Grieux's misadventures, however, are written with a completely straight face. He's just some melodramatic milksop with no sense of humour.

He's this sort of flimsy prince's son who's written simulataneously as a soft-hearted aristocratic type which contrasts sharply with the weird chaotic energy he has throughout the book, doing stuff like going all the way to Paris and then at an outcast colony in the Mississipi to someone who clearly doesn't care for their life. He generallizes based on these experiences too, "This woman ruined my life. Maybe all of them will" but I liked that about him because it was slightly naiive. What I don't understand is that on one of his escape attempts he's sound in his motion to kill a guard,and then he diverts his guilt to his father, claiming that he wouldn't have gone through with it if not for his confinement. At this point I realized no one in their right mind would kill someone just to get out of a family intervention. I think the notion if supposed to be that Manon's lunacy is infectious. To some extent she's this woman who really loves the Chevalier but can't settle because she's scared of her role in antiquity of a romantic relationship.

I think the main reason I'm not so fond of it is perhaps you never understand why the two are on such good terms.

'"Here we have a son very much more generous than his father", I said. "Now, honestly, doesn't this offer tempt you just a little?'

Bless your profligate cotton socks. You just went to Paris and having established yourself gambled all your money away instead of taking up any post or position. Why the hell would your father be on good terms with you at this point?

Whatever, screw it. I'm bitter about the book. Some of the operas based on it are good though. Reading melodramatic trite like this makes me wish I could find a Kvarms. That's the antidote to this that springs to mind.

08/05/2020 | 12:20 | Comments | Permlink
I have very little context for Dostoyevsky's contemporaries. I was at an Oxfam near Berkeley Square, Bristol trading in some books and looking for some new ones to read and came across an old Everyman red hardback which they don't seem to produce anymore. My first instinct was to buy it without reading the synopsis as I have a fondness for simple hardback designs regardless of the contents but Ernest Rhys' introduction clarified a few things that made the book seem to stand on its own. As the case often is with redistributions of 19th century literature, however, it did spoil at least a fragment of the ending.

Goncharov was a contemporary of Dostoyesky and Turgenev who was responsible for a number of slightly Dickensian novels featuring almost superlative expressions of 19th century Russian character archetypes such as the "Superfluous Man", of which Oblomov is held in the highest regard and ended up defining the former archetype. It is no wonder that the book is venerated so often. No ammount of bitterness could set you apart from some sympathy for the main character of the novel. Even if it's clear from the outset that Ilya Ilytch has doomed himself, the sentiment of his displacement from working life and the wealth of interpersonal commitments is a saddening but resonant expression about the paradigm of those involved. Later on, via interactions with Stolz, the impression becomes clearer and it seems that Ilya Ilytch takes the extreme conclusions of an introvert and applies them to society as a sort of economic conglomerate:

"Everything: the everlasting running to and fro, the constant play of petty passions-of greed especially-the gossip, the backbiting, the mutual affronts, the way they look one up and down and trip up one another. Listening to their talk is enough to turn one silly. At first sight they look so intelligent, such dignity in their faces, but all you hear from them is: 'So and so has received this; so and so has obtained a contract.' 'Mercy on us, what for?' someone will shout."

Oblomov believes that the intermediate potential of his friends denigrates the potential of a societal whole. The bartering of a nobleman is essential but inevitable, and participating quickly renders this potential as an inane effort to fool and barter with the other participants. In this form charity is rarely taken as such but as a foolish way of losing your lot. Oblomov is disgusted by this impressionistic image of his community and takes no part in it. Stolz is reallistically the only pushback against this central tenement to a "Byronic hero" philosophy, but it is often an effective one. Taking Stolz's mode of being as a model, an alternative is going in for conscious examination of the potential for irony or good humour in any given exchange and not taking people as an irreversible duality of usury and comeuppance. In this way, the novel can be taken as an exploration of our integration into a group of people as either a mediator or an ideallist.

Some span of pages at the front of the book (70-134) is dedicated to the root of Oblomov's envisionment of a conservative pertinence to property and the instatement of great or maybe even extortionate periods of relaxation. We get a glimpse of this through Oblomov's upbringing contrasted with Stolz, which is delivered to us in the form of Oblomov's dream and then a brief synopsis for Stolz's part. We learn that it was scarcely tempered with discipline and that he had an inexhastible source of energy.

"She, too, succumbed to the epidemic that rages at Oblomovka. At first she was quite brisk, did not let the child go far from her, scolded him for running about; then, feeling the symptoms of the infection, she begged him not to go out of the gate, not tease the goat, not to climb the dovecote or the balcony. She settled down somewhere in the shade."

Slightly more so than Stolz, Oblomov seems to inherit the idea that suggesting a noble thought is sufficient for its inheritance. When Oblomov tries to adopt a new mode of being, it is these sort of noble thoughts which are conveyed to him. They expire after the emotive connection to the will is done away with.

23/04/2020 | 14:23 | Comments | Permlink
An excellent anthology of "reel-of-life" stories. This would be in the early phases of cinema, with the notion of a home movie almost unforseeable, but aside from my preference for a more literal metaphor the stories are imbued with a faulty morality in places that would make sense in the context of a small group of people's private world by proxy of some form of dysfunction. My other forenote is that Fallada is keen that the supporting actor is always Wrede, the same person with a different complexion each time. On the other hand, maybe it's just a very common name in Germany. In this blogpost I was going to share my reading notes on a handful of the stories.

Watering Can () The time of day for a man with hyperaggressive and childish prospects. "What a joy to be there for that, and while she's eating her bread and milk; then kisses her bedtime, big wavey-wavey, little wavey-wavey" Fallada can be implicated in reforming a very casual language more expressly than Queneau can at the expense of seeming a little region-specific. Einenkel's positive imagination, wrapped in the velvet sheen of a financial occupation, renders his happiness as a small and volatile bubble. Like most of the stories in the book the circumstances surrounding the characters are unfortunate and even damning, but in some sense it's natural to be temporarily dispossessed in this way. It's an emphatic minutiae with a dramatic framing device.

The Lucky Beggar (1932) "Everyone thinks that. You're pushing forty, you'll never get another job as long as you live... Think about it, you cost almost twice as much to employ as a nineteen-year-old." A man recently let go from his job past the typical age of redundancy encounters a beggar with wishing-well water in his collection dish. The tragedy of an immobile, functionally useless financial asset mandating the optic-oriented evaluations made by the employers in this man's industry is that it can prevent so much of how the problem is communicable to those in vagrant circumstances, most often not out of a lack of conscientiousness. I like this description of the beggar in the story. "Sometimes, when he goes for a walk, he runs into the big, raw-boned beggar. Herr Mocke walks past him, looking staight ahead. Perhaps the fellow spoiled everything with his absurd demand of one mark, who knows in the world." There's a bit of bitterness to it. Always an inflection of character based on the perspective of an exchange thrown in to the casual language which makes for some excellent coloring. In the residence of the novel a mark is a decadent ammount of money to be able to spend, and in many of the stories money becomes a steep breadline beyond which is the constant threat of famine and death.

This is an excellent book I think. Fallada's "Alone in Berlin" seems more essential for a strange sense of utter bleakness that turns the book into a superlative description of the problems with censorship in WW2 Berlin, but the subtlety themes discussed in this book at times would defeat the ability of most inferior writers. Sometimes it can seem to go against the grain of the objectivity, tabloid-reportage approach that is meant to characterize Fallada's body of work, but his prescription of the motives is more often than not in service of believable character studies which could definitely be drawn from life.

15/03/2020 | 17:16 | Comments | Permlink
Michael Houllebecq novels are notably divisive, a quality usually dependent upon whether or not the influence of Baudelaire and the depiction of decadence inside his novels only runs skin-deep in the eyes of the viewer. In my mind, it's easy to assert that houllebecq tells of the hyper-privilleged, information-age decadence that affects most of the first world in the 21st century and that they clearly have a role and function within our age to help us inform others of these things and to reveal an evil future that could mirror our own. This is a personal evaluation and there is probably a case to be made for the alternative.

The protagonist of serotonin (c.2019), a life scientist, suffers from severe depressive symptoms and is put on drugs that block endocrine receptors and testosterone. He has serial relationships with women and fails to empathize with many other people.

The novel is so aptly written and information-dense that the end collides with the start in some inexpressible sprint. This may have been due to the timeframe of my first reading of the book (3 days) but aside from the trappings of the main character there is nothing that the story dwells on. Most of the novel subsists off of passages of labrouste's hollow fulfillments and wants that replenish themselves immediately. His interaction with an unnamed, chestnut-haired girl is crosshaired in the middle of daily errands and is unfulfillable. When he invests himself in becoming a connosieur of alchohol the fleeting carnal pleasure of drinking alchohol as a substitute for his loss of libido is also unfulfillable. A central tenement to the decadent idea is that most if not all of the restrained physical pleasures available to us in life are no longer barred from us and that any form of gratification will become instant, overwhelming and inevitable. The stress of decadence is to continue to live given you are dulled from all forms of gratification, to continue to provide for others who are afflicted with the same outcome, and necessarily prevent clairvoyance of the future given the point of view that all systematic objectives of a self-aware animal have been fulfilled.

Houllebecq also seems to assert that the persistance of carnal fulfillment can't pathologically regulate passive consumption. Labrouste is a fan of rock music, particularly english rock band "deep purple" and jimi hendrix, as a form of passive consumption. it's something alien to the context in which labrouste is trapped.
09/01/2020 | 22:15 | Comments | Permlink
After giving it some thought I've taken the incentive to create a more eclectic flavor of arts podcast focusing on welsh art. The wales arts review podcast is great and this one will probably live in its shadow but several people have already expressed an interest in a close-knit series of conversations with other welsh artists, often people I know fairly well.

In any case I began by interviewing welsh assemblist artist mark mawer. We talk about some basic artistic interests and prospects in a laid-back fashion. my voice is pretty naff but luckily i don't talk much and let mawer talk. We discuss the previous shows that mark has done, "Flight Paths" (c. 2019) and "possible narratives" (c. something) and an upcoming work he is developing with maria stadnicka and another integral person I can't remember the name of. We also discuss the fluxus movement and abstract film at length. Thank you very much mark for agreeing to this out of the blue interview!

Mark also gave me a limited edition print of this poem, which evoked George Szirtes' tributes to Anselm Kiefer

Music used: Toupie Dans Le Ciel by Francois Bayle, Umwalzung by Henning Christiansen.
4/01/2020 | 02:26 | Comments | Permlink
Last year, I made a resolution to read a book a day. I very quickly lost the necessary stamina to comprehend and dissect the narrative throughline of some of the books i'd chosen to read, and I wasn't able to analyse the author's intent at all. Using bruteforce reading as a means to jumpstart the consciousness and recall of reading material became an evidently bad idea in no time at all. I abandoned this to read books at a more leisurely pace where I would be able to allow the ambient relevance of books to assert itself, which was also a bad idea because I ended up reading much less than I should. Now that I have a blog and I'm at a loss for what sort of content to put on it I've decided to take up an organized reading schedule that perhaps isn't at such a break-neck speed and subsequently offer two pewter-encrusted cashews to the existing wealth of material on a given book every week. That's the concept, anyway.

i'm starting with william godwin's second major work of fiction, "St Leon" (c.1799). It's a chiefly philosophical novel about dishonor in an aristocratic class, alchemy and the importance of frugality.

My synopsis is as follows:the main character Reginald has failed to live up to his family's legacy as an aristocratic class. His upbringing is aptly described in about a page and a half as "the very utmost limits perhaps of human affection". The legacy is conceded by reginald not because he hasn't chosen to conscribe to the army as his father did under the reign of louis the twelfth, but for the ensuing carelessness with money. Godwin apprehends the dishonorable nature of the practice of gambling and the incapacity to minimallize superfluous assets within a framework which declares that the "right of the strong" to more wealth, pre-apprehended decadent pleasures as a result of excess isn't necessarily a myth but cannot be consistently enforced. Godwin was also a radical political philosopher, and in this case reginald's pledge to secrecy and the enforcement to sever family ties was almost certainly a plot element influenced by two recent works of a widespread influence: Abbe Barruel's "memoirs, illustrating the history of Jacobinism" (c. 1797-1798) and John Robinson's proofs of a conspiracy (c. 1797) which underlaid the least fictive apprehension of the secret organization known as the illuminati, a secret society originating from the university of Ingolstadt, as a catalyst for the french revolution.

Following conscription in the military, knighted by the subsequently captured king francis i and returns home at the age of twenty into a life of spendthrifting and excess, after which his inheritance has all but disappeared. comes upon the secret to eternal youth while incarcerated when offered the elixir of life by a stranger.

William Godwin was also the husband of Mary Shelley / wollstonecraft who was an outstanding figurehead of first-wave feminism, something that attempted to rectify the role of intellect in the arts and sciences across gender boundaries without integralising an incremental demograpic accountability for wrongdoings committed by members of the same demographic and in this case the gendered demographic.

Implementing the extensive philosophical ponderance of the novel seemed to take a frontseat to the characterization of reginald, which can sometimes uncharacteristically ideallize his relationship towards other characters in particular marguerrite, the woman reginald courts, and the ammount of trust she invests into reginald's political displacement.

09/01/2020 | 22:15 | Comments | Permlink