Sunday, January 29, 2017

When you get right down to it, who really cares?

   It’s easy to live with someone who buoys you up; then it’s easy to buoy them up too. But it’s disconcerting when they fall into a terrible mood, into the mood that you’ve always thought of as your domain; when they say openly that for them, too, everything’s already ended, that nothing can really begin. Then you find yourself clambering to the other side of life, as it were, without support, wishing you could live for the both of you.

  • Frenet, Journal

    The 'Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival' is apparently underway, today through the 24th; there is an official "Facebook' page, but that appears to be about it (and, no, I won't link to that -- Facebook ? seriously ?). 
       In the Myanmar Times Nandar Aung previewed it, in  Nobel Myanmar Literary Festival on the way -- noting that among the plans:
As part of the festival, organisers will collect the 100 most-read local books over the past 100 years and make a list for interested readers.
       Count me interested; I hope they make it widely available (i.e. not just on the 'Facebook')

       In The Nation Faizan Javed reports on Poor places for rich literature -- wondering:
However, the big question is that why we can't sell these precious pieces of literature properly. [...] With the growing influence of Internet and trend of social media, the habit of book-reading is simply vanishing, and these books have found a permanent place on footpaths only...


There is nothing more marvelous or madder than real life.

Charles Lloyd Delivers A Bob Dylan Inaugural Message

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has made a cover version of Bob Dylan’s protest song “Masters Of War.” Lloyd and Blue Note Records timed the release of the single—a track from the album I ... read more

Proclamation 9570 of January 20, 2017 National Day of Patriotic Devotion – A Presidential Document by the Executive Office of the President on 01/24/2017
A Proclamation – “A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.

Once you realize just how much horror is possible, and the fact settles into your brain, you’re a different person from everyone else. It stays inside you. Like a wound that won’t heal. I used to wonder how my friends could go to school and play ping-pong and go on dates. We need to scream, we need to stop the evil. I was obsessed. Wherever I looked I saw evil. In everything...
This new piece smells, well, of sex and drugs and rock and roll. It also feels like an exceptionally personal play, for Tom Stoppard appears to be imagining what his life might have been like had he returned to his native Czechoslovakia after the Second World War, rather than beginning a new life in England. (...) Rock music thus becomes a symbol of both personal and political freedom and its attendant but exhilarating dangers ...

       Rock 'n' Roll covers the period from the Prague Spring of 1968 through the Velvet Revolution and the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. It also moves between Cambridge and Prague, and the quick shift of scenes and time is appropriately marked by 'smash cuts', the play hopping rather than gliding forward.
       Jan, the main Czech figure, complains in 1987:
"There are no stories in Czechoslovakia. We have an arrangement with ourselves not to disturb the appearances. We aim for inertia. We mass-produce banality. We've had no history since '68, only pseudo-history"

Joseph Conrad, in an author’s note to his novel The Secret Agent, depicted how the idea of a central female character, Winnie Verloc, took root from a handful of remarks he happened to overhear. Her fictional fate led to a host of additional characters, complete with local colour, political background, and so on. Whenever a new productive phase set in, Kafka’s dynamic was the exact opposite of Conrad’s accretion method. As he had on the night of September 23, 1912, Kafka began to tap a reservoir that was already full. The diaries reveal that the conflicts, metaphors, gestures, and details were all there. In many cases, the images had already taken on linguistic shape. Kafka did not work from a welter of emotions but instead focused on the amassed material that his emotions brought out – hence the unparalleled, provocative plethora of references and links between the visual and linguistic elements in his texts. Everything seems to correspond to everything.
– Reiner Stach, Kafka: The Decisive Years (tr. Frisch)

The power and meaning of Samizdat silence 

Freud’s founding circle had 13 members. Only one was gentile. Almost all of their patients were Jewish as well. How to explain the Jewish predilection for psychoanalysis?... Psychiatry of Chosen People

Over the years, Bohumil Hrabal‘s Too Loud a Solitude has had its fans. Peter Orner is one of them. Writing in “Night Train to Split” in Guernica (an excerpt from his new book Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live (Catapult):


“The first time I finished Too Loud a Solitude, I was up in Letná Park, and I remember leaping off the bench and running around in circles, holding the book above my head and shouting because I believed I’d experienced some religious illumination. A brief, ninety-eight-page, lightning strike of a novel, the book is about a man named Haňťa who has been crushing paper beneath a street in Prague for the last thirty-five years. People throw paper and books, books by the barrelful, down Haňťa’s hole in the pavement. Before he crushes them, Haňťa reads. The book of Ecclesiastes, the Talmud, Goethe, Schiller, Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant’s Theory of the Heavens. Kant, who argues that the heavens are not humane, nor is life above or below.”


.At 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 6, at the Bechtel Conference Center, the Another Look book club will discuss Czech author Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, a dystopian novella on the indestructibility of the written word.
Too Loud a Solitude is an elegy for literacy. It is also about how worship of unfettered technological progress invariably results in a trouncing of the human spirit. And it is about how only individual human memory has the unique power to redeem us,” Orner writes (read the whole thing here)
Hrabal’s novella was published in a samizdat edition in Prague in 1976, and later published more widely after Communist rule ended in 1989. Its aging narrator runs a hydraulic press that crushes books and paper into bales. He rescues the best volumes for himself, and over time his thoughts and feelings merge with the treasures from the past – Hegel and the Talmud, Lao-Tze and Kant. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Hrabal’s is a cry of expiring humanism, and Too Loud a Solitude is a book to salvage from the deadly indifference that is more effective in killing the letter than the most sophisticated compacting machine.” You can read the New York Times review  here.

… Another Look spotlights Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude on Feb. 6: “a 98-page, lightning strike of a novel” | The Book Haven

The culture that is Dutch first all-avocado restaurant to open in Amsterdam  

Ben Pike reveals how his father’s demons impacted on his life 

Future of Technology  

Found: A 2,000-Year-Old, 22-Pound, Still-Edible Hunk of Bog Butter Atlas Obscura 

The best-read story of 2016? Take a bow, Nate Silver