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Saturday, 20 March 2010

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John Emerson

Much to my surprise, I'd read four of Yglesias's books and three more of his authors. Your list tends toward "get off my lawn", which of course is where you want to be. Poor Yglesias.

SEK

I was surprised by how much fiction was on Yglesias's list, actually, given what he wrote about Infinite Jest as the last big, important novel he'll ever feel obliged to read. I'm not surprised, however, that so much appears on mine: for all my talk of historicism, I'm really all about the stories and the most unique and/or powerful ways to tell them.

John Emerson

He used to go on about Lermentov. I wonder what happened with that.

SEK

Let me guess: he likes it because it's a bona fide Russian novel that's only 80 pages long? I like Yglesias as far as it goes, but I'm going to have be a snob on this front, I think.

John Emerson

He may have read it in actual Russian.

Adam Roberts

Not one professional cricketer? For shame, Kaufman, for shame.

Ahistoricality

While this is a useful exercise, of sorts, ultimately the complaint is, as you start out by noticing, pretty damn stupid.

I was surprised by the number of bloggers I read who noted Chilton's death. I'd never heard of him, and very little of what I read (noting, of course, that writing about music, especially music you love, rarely conveys the actual experience) suggested that I'd really enjoy his stuff. But at some point I'll have to check out a few of the linked tracks and see, at least for some basic cultural literacy.

Jason R

Just pre-produce your obits like the newspapers do. That way you will only have to update the particulars of time and place but you'll have covered the bulk of their bodies of work. Maybe even guess their date of demise and post-mark your blog entries accordingly. Sure its a little macabre undertaking but a great writing exercise.

Matthew Yglesias

He used to go on about Lermentov. I wonder what happened with that.

I heard that a good new translation came out recently, I'm eager to check it out.

Let me guess: he likes it because it's a bona fide Russian novel that's only 80 pages long? I like Yglesias as far as it goes, but I'm going to have be a snob on this front, I think.

That's kind of a jerky thing to say. I've read what I think is a healthy dose of long-ass Russian novels (Anna Karenina, Crime & Punishment, Brothers Karamazov, War & Peace, etc.) but a lot of reasonably literate people haven't heard of Lermontov so I like to take opportunities to talk him up.

SEK

He may have read it in actual Russian.

Still only 80 pages, but point taken.

Not one professional cricketer? For shame, Kaufman, for shame.

See, that's what I mean: I didn't even have any baseball players on the list. Exceptions are already abounding, but basically, whenever an '86 Met dies, I'm going to be heartbroken.

I'd never heard of him, and very little of what I read (noting, of course, that writing about music, especially music you love, rarely conveys the actual experience) suggested that I'd really enjoy his stuff.

Ahistoricality: most of the posts I've read have focused on the first two albums, but it's really Third/Sister Lovers that's influential. Check out his haunting, drugged vocals on "Holocaust," or the odd instrumentation on "Kangaroo," or how Chilton lurched through pop on "O Dana" or "Stroke it Noel." The songs are falling apart as they're being played, but they're breaking compellingly, with a conviction that authentically sound like compositions written by a broken man with impeccable pop sensibilities.

Just pre-produce your obits like the newspapers do. That way you will only have to update the particulars of time and place but you'll have covered the bulk of their bodies of work. Maybe even guess their date of demise and post-mark your blog entries accordingly. Sure its a little macabre undertaking but a great writing exercise.

Jason, I need to dig up that old New Yorker article on the Times' curator of obits, because it's 1) awesome, and 2) the description of what is and isn't notable pre-dates Wikipedia and its standards, but I don't remember how and want to.

Jake

So... does Noam Chomsky still move you SEK?

SEK

Matt, I didn't mean it in a jerky way, only a lit-snob one, by referring to what you wrote here:

Adding new possible ways to entertain ourselves naturally starts to squeeze out the viability of some old ways. And maybe the long novel is among the squeezed. Which seems in some ways regrettable (which I take it is part of the point of Infinite Jest) but at the same time to really be a feature of the world.

Forms that are getting squeezed from the world aren't, perforce, going to be influential.

SEK

does Noam Chomsky still move you SEK?

Not so much, Jake. I can't deny how powerful Manufacturing Consent was to me as a media-critical youth, but it was forever bumped from its pedestal by Robert McChesney's Rich Media, Poor Democracy, and the same can be said for most of Chomsky's political work. As an undergraduate linguistics major, I'm one of the few people who's read his political work and thinks Syntactic Structure and Cartesian Linguistics are crucial elements of any intellectual history of the 20th century. I'm less sanguine, though, about his attacks on what he considers postmodernism, for the obvious reasons. (Which reminds me: I need to add Jameson to that list above, as he was the first living theorist whose works I barreled through.)

Jake

Sorry if I seem like I'm being nosy but what political writers do you read from these days? (I feel like I've been stuck in an awful blog/news rut lately.)

NickS

I have to say, the name on those lists that particularly surprises me is "Neal Stephenson." But he makes me cranky, so I am not neutral in that case.

SeanH

My problem with Neal Stephenson isn't that I don't like him, it's that I spent so many hours reading his books before I realised that he wasn't nearly as good as I'd originally thought.

SEK

Jake:

In all honesty, most of my political reading isn't in books these days, but long-form journalism and academic articles, so it's a toss up between The Nation, The Economist, New Left Review, etc. My "serious non-fiction book" reading either concerns 1) academic works on comics or 2) secondary literature about late-19th Century American fiction, so I don't forget what I'll need should I ever go on the market as the Americanist I am (instead of the visual rhetoric scholar I'm becoming).

Sean and Nick:

I mean the early, bouncy stuff. Seriously, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age were heady, inventive literary thrillers that changed how I thought about our relation to technology; Cryptonomicon made me realize that it's possible for infodumps to be elegant, a realization I'd later regret once I determined that Stephenson hadn't shared it, just lucked out. (I'm not sure about Anathem, which I started but had to put down shortly after it was published.)

Tom

That Tom Waits post better be good - I'm already brought down just thinking about that.

SEK

That Tom Waits post better be good - I'm already brought down just thinking about that.

Crap. Then again, I suppose there are other uses for animated gif of sad flowers that play midi versions of "The Briar and the Rose."

Martin Wisse

I can't deny how powerful Manufacturing Consent was to me as a media-critical youth, but it was forever bumped from its pedestal by Robert McChesney's Rich Media, Poor Democracy.

Do tell?

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