things of little relevance

siesta siesta
February 21, 2010, 8:21 pm
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Picture from Booker club: The Old Devils

Confession: I have not read this blog post. A friend directed me to the post’s hilarious accompanying photo. Just note that the three men are at a bar, it is daylight out, they’ve certainly had a few rounds. Kingsley Amis, in the middle, is being interviewed. Meanwhile, his friend, on his right, has dozed off. Oops.

On an unrelated note, if I am meta about my blog in a blog post and no one reads it…

February 18, 2010, 10:25 pm
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I wonder if Robbie Williams got the idea for peeling off his skin from the part in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles when the Mongols peel off this Japanese intelligence officer’s skin.

(Fun factoid: while I was in London last summer, I wowed a bunch of people at a random bar by knowing all the lyrics and most of Robbie Williams’ moves in the music video. Needless to say, I was a lot of beers in, though probably not enough to justify my behaviour.)

Goodreads indeed…
February 16, 2010, 9:48 pm
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the everyday poet
February 12, 2010, 10:33 am
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Yesterday in Global Realism, my professor pointed out that in 2666, the motif of stars is emblematic of the poetry available in everyday life:

“All this light is dead,” said Inbeborg. “All this light was emitted thousands and millions of years ago. It’s the past do you see? When these stars cast their light, we didn’t exist, life on Earth didn’t exist, even Earth didn’t exist. This light was cast a long time ago. It’s the past, we’re surrounded by the past, everything that no longer exists or exists only in memory or guesswork is there now, above us, shining on the mountains and the snow and we can’t do anything to stop it.”

As soon as my professor mentioned the potential to discover poetry in the mundanity of everyday life, it immediately reminded me of Wallace Stevens who was an insurance salesman by day, poet by night. So here, Wallace Stevens, Armchair Visionary:

Stevens proved that to be a great poet, no great experience is necessary. You needn’t go off to war like Byron or take to the road like Kerouac to have yourself an adventure. If your mind is expansive enough, you needn’t even leave your chair. “Merely in living as and where we live” the air is already “swarming / with metaphysical changes,” as he wrote in “Esthetique du Mal”, a long poem featured in the collection.

This is unrelated, but I really like this quote from Christine Amanpour: “There’s the last book I read, and then there’s the last book I want to tell you I read.” (via Ian, I knew twitter would come in handy somehow!)

February 10, 2010, 9:32 am
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Justin E.H. Smith (his blog is so fantastic!) defends the use of “seminal” in academic discourse:

One might reply that de facto ‘seminal’ has come to connote male animal seed, and thus that when applied to ideas it connotes male ideas (whatever those might be). On this line of thinking, whatever the term may have originally connoted in Latin does not matter, and it is futile to insist on a strict, etymologically based understanding of the term, since actual use determines meaning, and so on. But it seems to me that this very line of thinking brings to light a deeper problem than the one addressed by a cosmetic correction of language: that in our way of thinking, and not only in our way of speaking, generative force, whether of ideas or of offspring, is associated with the male, that it is males who carry the seeds of things. The solution to this problem, however, is not to stop using the word ‘seed’ and its associated adjectives, of which ‘seminal’ is one, but rather to seek to revive the full range of possible connotations of these words, to insist that what is seminal is not just the ejaculations, verbal or fluid, of the male of the species. Rather than reducing the number of entries in the lexicon, we should be seeking to increase the number of meanings listed under each entry, especially those with such a rich historical life, and such a basic and deep connection to human experience of the natural world, as ‘semen’.

I still prefer ‘man’ to ‘human beings,’ if only because the former is more precise. I never realized ‘seminal’ had such a overt sexist connotation. Regardless, I’ve always liked the word and will continue to use it.