Thursday, October 6, 2011

Missing: Borrowed Book

... typical.

Why is it I can track of all of my books but the few times I borrow a book from someone, I either manage to set it on fire (accidentally, of course,) or lose it?  I have torn my apartment apart looking for a book I borrowed from a friend and for the life of me, I can't find it.

I need help.

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: Anthropomorphic Taxidermy (2011)

This isn't strictly "literary," but I think it's interesting that she approaches taxidermy as another way to tell stories.  I was also far less grossed out by it than I would have expected.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Dog Ears

This week's Dog Ears feature a bunch of astronomers doing more than a little research on Frankenstein, as well as a peek at the odds for tomorrow's big announcement:

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: Calamity Song (2011)


Apparently this video is a tribute to David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.  Interesting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Round Three in The Centurions of High Culture Vs. Intellectual Nursing Homes


A friend pointed me towards the intellectual slap fest taking place between Joseph Epstein of The Wall Street Journal and Benjamin Reiss, one of the authors of Cambridge History of the American Novel and writer at Slate.  Epstein charges that the book embodies all that is wrong with studying literature today--it's no longer about the novel, it's about the novel's place in history and the different schools of criticism.  He writes, "All that the book's editors left out is why it is important or even pleasurable to read novels and how it is that some novels turn out to be vastly better than others. But, then, this is a work of literary history, not of literary criticism."  (Ooooh burn!)

On the one hand, I agree with much of what Epstein is saying.  It's no longer enough to read and enjoy The Great Gatsby.  Now one must read it, dissect it, understand where it fits into Fitzgerald's biography, and understand where it fits into the American historical tapestry in a variety of contexts (socio-economic, race, gender, etc.).  The problem, though, is Epstein comes off as slightly stuffy (no big surprise from a writer at The Wall Street Journal, though, let's be honest).  For example (emphasis mine):
"'The Cambridge History of the American Novel' could only have come into the world after the death of the once-crucial distinction between high and low culture, a distinction that, until 40 or so years ago, dominated the criticism of literature and all the other arts. Under the rule of this distinction, critics felt it their job to close the gates on inferior artistic products. The distinction started to break down once the works of contemporary authors began to be taught in universities."
Oh, hell no!  Not contemporary authors!  Who wants to read that shit?  If it's not Milton, I don't want to read it!  Epstein terms this "intelllectual nursing homes," where ideas that are rejected by other displines go to die.

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: A Light History of the English Language

I remember watching this in high school, and although it's pretty interesting, it's definitely not 100% accurate.  Still, not a bad way to get some history of the English language in.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: People Who Became Nouns (2011)

THIS IS AWESOME!!!

Check out NPR for the full story.

Where Do You Like To Do It?

My personal favorite places include:

At a coffee shop
Pros:  Coffee, of course.  Plus there's a natural energy to help when you're trying to plow through things like, oh, I don't know-- Joyce.
Cons: Uncomfortable chairs (sometimes), noisy patrons (often), preponderance of hipsters (always).
At the park
Pros: You can get your vitamin D when you've been trapped inside since May because you live in Houston and the weather's been like God's punishing the whole city for something someone somewhere did.  (If I find that someone, by the way, I'm kicking his ass.)
Cons: You're an easy target for the homeless and crazies, both of whom seem naturally drawn to public places like the park. 
In the bath
Pros: Warm (or boil-a-lobster if you're me) water, and the addition of a glass of wine makes it cliche-perfect.
Cons: Tendency towards getting pruny if you read more than one chapter.  Oh, and whatever you do, don't drop your book.
In bed
Pros: Easy to put book down and go straight to sleep
Cons: Really only applicable right before bed or a nap.... unless you often get into bed in the middle of the day and you want to precede it with a little light reading.  (Speaking of which, did I ever tell you about the time that I went to buy a mattress and the mattress guy was trying to sell me on the Tempurpedic and told me that the memory foam mattresses aren't good for "recreational activity." When I asked him to clarify with an icy "Excuse me?" he blushed and stammered that he was referring to reading and watching TV.  Uh huh.)
On the couch
Pros: Convenient
Cons: Boring.

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: "Dave McKean - Sonnet 138" (2006)

McKean's pretty talented, but the video's pretty creepy, as well.

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