x_los: (The Books One)
I'm starting to worry that my favorite Dickens novel is going to be David Copperfield after all. It's superior to Tale of Two Cities, obviously, and to the mawkish and over-read Christmas Carol--I was fine with that. But now I think it might be superior, from a narrative construction standpoint, to Bleak House, even with DC's awful LOTR films-style embarrassment of conclusion. I also have doubts about Our Mutual Friend and Hard Times, halfway through both. The last three have strong individual elements, but there are things I dislike about them, or find poorly handled, and I don't remember having as severe problems with Copperfield. Perhaps there's a different in reading vs. being read to, because Our Mutual and Bleak House I'm coming to as audio books, and I've seen a miniseries of Our Mutual already, whereas I knew v. v. little about Copperfield before reading it (as a paper book).

I need to properly review BH and The Pursuit of Love before I forget them...

re: RL!BDSM and 50 Shades: could be better written, but good points
watching genre shows: the cycle
Gujarat: Narendra Modi in company of Bollywood vamps in new posters
“5,000 Hours of Painstaking Research”
Edith Wharton and the problem of sympathy
Lady Gaga Bought Some Of Daphne Guinness’s Old Clothes
This Is What We Talk About When We Talk About Jezebel’s New Discussion System
How to Freeze Rhubarb
Adele Is Pregnant, You Guys! Adele Is Pregnant!
Women’s Ten Biggest Complaints About Men’s Ten Biggest Complaints About Women
Leicestershire battered by storms and torrential rain
x_los: (Enterprise!Sherlock)

WARNING: I finished this at 3am and I'm sure it's rambling and mad, but will edit later. When less... headed to bed.

**EDIT** Cleaned it up a little now, so all shitiness is my own.

On Horatio Hornblower (the Hornblower series), Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek), the Fifth Doctor (Doctor Who) and Kerr Avon (Blakes 7). )
x_los: (Four by Toulouse-Lautrec)
I am loving Bleak House and half way through and making with the tears and shit but god YET ANOTHER WOMAN is like OH ESTHER I LOVE YOU--is Bleak House a porn? Because it seems like everyone's just here to deliver pizza or whatever, and suddenly, for no reason all. over. the main. female. Debbie Does Dallas was more believable/less obsessed with everyone being into Debbie/the Cheerleaders. I'm listening to it on audio and I just want a BOW CHIKKA BOW WOOOOOOW when the ACTUAL 'sexy french maid who used to be in love with your mom!! until your mom ditched her for a hot younger woman' rolls in to be like OH ESTHER--YOU DO IT FOR ME.

Eugh--this job, with this ap that took FOR FUCKING EVER (it was like, 5 essay questions, 2 forms, a special for-them cv with like 1000 words extra and a cover letter, all edited by Katy, and then by the QM job lady who was nice enough to look over them, then me again, then Katy again), closed today. I turned my ap in on time, and like two hours later--"sorry, we already filled this vacancy." Dude, like, take your ad down when you fill that shit. Don't waste my time. Also--why select someone before your official closing day? You clearly didn't fill it like an hour ago. Whatevs. Waste of tiiiiime. Also why the fuck is that like, acceptable to ask someone to do for a basic admin position? Or even helpful for you to know as an employer? But the academic admin positions are /all like that/, and not copy and pastable, for the most part, really--not without serious rewriting, anyway.

Also migraine.

The Bachelorette is Racist Against Interesting People
Queen Latifah and the Case for Not Coming Out
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is
The Dictator: Rape Jokes Are The New Rape Jokes
Plots from the unaired 8th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation: "TNG Season 8 ‏ @TNG_S8
Worf is trapped in a holodeck version of The Odyssey. Data & Geordi throw an epic party, have to hide the evidence before Picard gets home."

"TNG Season 8 ‏ @TNG_S8
Wesley's dino experiment mistakenly mixes with Riker's beard DNA, creating the sexy-but-dangerous Velociriker. Troi's mom tries to marry it."--totally true plot of a star trek episode

"TNG Season 8 ‏ @TNG_S8
Wes gets trapped in a bunker with an obnoxious child king. Riker wakes up on Risa with a lower back tattoo and no memory of his last 3 days."--and that

China Mieville: Punchable?
Matthew Norman: Blame the Greeks. They invented democracy
America’s Finest Educators Dance Bomb Their Students
Tig Notaro - Taylor Dayne
x_los: (Alice)
* Essay on Noncon: decent clarifications/explanations/pondering as to how and why it might work for people! Not really SHOCKING content?
* What publishers really mean in their rejection letters
* Not Pretty: "Edith Wharton was born 150 years ago. Jonathan Franzen’s piece on the occasion in the New Yorker got VICTORIA PATTERSON mad."
* conditioning, specifically, the manner and frequency with which mothers talk to their daughters about math
* Scroogle gone
* Maybe possible review forum: http://www.theedge.abelgratis.co.uk/order.htm
* Some not very useful tips on broadening my paid book reviewer horizons
* Looked through Tor.com to find out what they reviewed, style and length--could do more
* Looked over Guardian: found contact address, tweeted GuardianJobs about remit/specs, could look more at their reviews
* Found LRB sub-guidelines after long search. Obviously not for RIGHT NOW, but you know, eventually.
* Meta-Fandom's Delicious: different from, but related to, the meta-grinder project
* Stuff about Vector/BSFA (does it pay for reviews? Unclear, maybe no): http://www.matrix-online.net/bsfa/website/community/default.aspx?g=posts&t=301
x_los: (Default)
Two Things. Meh.

Via [livejournal.com profile] black_rider: The Right To Be Forgotten: internet privacy law vs. freedom of information

Some painfully stupid reporting about the book "The Lifespan of a Fact" here and here. I was REALLY taken aback by vitriolic whinging regarding the compelling, calculated book. I had to have a long rant to Katy about it. The outrage about the destabilization of objectivity/static truth and the attempts to defend these discourses feel shockingly naive.

Essays are not necessarily journalism, and to treat them as such, especially when they are not explicitly announced and marketed as such, is limiting. Is dangerous. Fact and fictionality are not absolutes, but poles with a lot of space for negotiation in between. The assumption that anything essayistic is Journalism is recent, not necessary or necessarily valuable, and should be troubled. The assumption that Journalism is above factual distortions and tricks is laughable, especially given that D'Agata is preceded by writers like Joan Didion, famous for her unframed inditement, for showing you the truth exactly as she wanted you to know it, expertly, and delivering you to a moral conclusion via her selection and control of facts.

Which reinforces what should be obvious: this is nothing new. Post-modern criticism and gonzo journalism both have critiqued the absolutism and hidden agendas implicit in claims to Pure Truth in writing. When you approach any writing, your critical facility should be engaged, weighing the veracity of what's being said, analyzing source, view-point, methodology and content. It's probably significant that this is Americans freaking out, because that's the country where it hasn't occurred to people that news media outlets, as capitalist institutions with individual business cultures, have inherent institutional biases (and I don't mean that 'left wing bias' bullshit a la Fox). There's no American 'the Guardian is not for Torries' understanding, save for maybe a glint of dawning realization that Fox isn't 'Fair and Balanced'. As someone who's written for papers and news-magazines, even in a slender capacity, I know that there are a million gradations of true, and there's plenty to discuss regarding the role of memory and forgetting in reportage. So do these reporters, and the stench of defensiveness rises from them in thick, awful waves.

The supposedly 'true' write up of the death of a boy that excluded D'Agata's evocation of place and circumstance (socio-politics mixed with, emerging from, quotidian tidbits) is not necessarily the more true reading of these events, despite having fewer factual errors. If poetic delivery helps things resonate for us and helps us think about them, that is not valueless. The distortions are not artistic whore's paint, they are actively carving a path for the reader, through apathy and forgetfulness, to meaning.

You can disagree with D'Agata and say that the formal demands of the truth, like structure in poetry, should be observed as a matter of taste, or that the good faith effort of the writer to give truth is necessary in creating a contract with the reader. You can talk notions of trust. What you can't do is defensively and hysterically go off at the very notion that no worlds--NO WORDS AT ALL, EVER--come from a mythical truth-fountain--that artistry and points of view are always already in our perception of the world, that we live in and through narratives. Indeed, the inclusion of the Fact Checker as writer mandates this discussion.

Further I find it irritating that everyone's taken a book about the permeability of the boundary between the truth and fiction in 'nonfiction' writing at 100% face value, and both conflated the writers with the characters (everyone presented in memoir is a character, can never hope to be the individuals in question, any more than the signifier can BE the signified) and assumed the dialogue and the time-spans are absolutely face-value true.

This is the point where I go from shocked to shaking-pissed.

...really? Really? Did you just /miss/ the entire fucking project of the book? OF COURSE THIS IS PERFORMATIVE, FFS. DID THE ENTIRE NOTION OF THE GREEK PHILOSOPHICAL DIALOGUE AND THAT OF THE HEGELIAN DIALECTIC JUST GO RIGHT OVER YOU IN SCHOOL? DID THEY MAKE A SORT OF 'WHOOSH' SOUND? It never occurred to anyone that these view-points and presentations might have been--gaaaaaaaasp--dramatized?! God, the NYTimes, the NYRB, AND respected bloggers? Fucking sad. God dammit, can no one fucking do lit crit competently? Disgraceful. I am actually shocked and horrified that people are this dumb.

What's most enraging is the Scalzi blog's comments, in which SF people show up to:

a) lick the cock of BS technoscience discourses of pure truth that Derrida is somewhere loling about, as he has been for the past, idk, several decades, and
b) gatekeep standards of factuality and legitimacy which they themselves have every reason to feel suuuuper defensive about/excluded by, like they're 19th century English plebs and Disraeli has just offered them the opportunity to buy into the conservatism that will oppress the living shit out of them, and rather than question the underlying oppressive logistics in play, the genre!plebs are fucking LOVING an opportunity to get in on the ass-bottom of the greasy poll.

Sometimes I hate 'my people'. Kind of a lot.

So yeah: The 'journalistic nonfiction' vision of the essayistic is impoverished compared to D'Agata's project. There's a possibility for real interrogation of that project, but the existing criticisms fail to seriously engage the book and feel like dispatches from sickly world where gonzo journalism/post-modernism/critical theory/intelligent thought never happened.
x_los: (Not My Real Dad)
* I'm interested in broadening my reading for Purposes. What are your favorite UK-published (loosely defined) fantasy novels of 2011? #research

* Does anyone know a dead-simple website design program that I can use for free? Bearing in mind that I know like BASIC html mark up and how to navigate like, Web 2.0 interfaces, and nothing more. I could look up how to code some more simple shit, but that /cannot/ be the best means of going about this, and I doubt the result would look v. pro. I'd like to put together something totally unfancy for my former employers, with a main page with a photo, a header, and a links bar, an 'About the Staff' page (4ish photos), an 'About the Practice' page (maybe one photo), and some contact info, with a box in the page that can people can use to send him an email. I can probably read up on how to do that last once I know what program I can work with. If he wants more, I'll go from there. The thing just needs to be decently professional in appearance, built in something I can obtain for free (though I'm aware domain-name space won't be free--that's another thing I'll have to learn about) and for the site to accomplish these relatively simple tasks.

Once that's properly up, I can build him a FB page, a Linked-In profile, and a Twitter to correct his increasingly weird complete lack of web presence, then hand it over to his young receptionist or his young law-clerk to actually maintain.
x_los: (The Books One)
Today I:

- dealt with the contractors/trowing the cat in my room and out of their way
- dishes
- laundry
- tidying br
- tidying kitchen
- shopping for Katy's mini supper party
- made sour cream and cheese mashes potatoes
- made mushroom gravy with home-made lamb stock
- made roast vegetable casserole thing
- made chicken cordon bleu (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chicken-cordon-bleu-i/detail.aspx)
- made dark chocolate loaf cake (http://www.food.com/recipe/dense-chocolate-loaf-cake-nigella-lawson-137303)
- recorded long podcast interview w/ Jon
- helped give party
- cleaned kitchen again
- emailed Cambridge Interfolio letters, at last
- updated housing spreadsheet
- started on readings for my PhD genre writing seminar on classic detective novels (http://letsenhance.blogspot.com/) on Monday
- got Phillippa's availability
- emailed all strong potential room candidates to set up viewings
- took out cat waste
- did a little bit of shalka stuff


- read book
- do book review
- do reading for Let's Enhance!
- job aps
- clean up and mail Elodie my notes on her dissertation
- crack on w/ own ep


Nov. 16th, 2011 05:25 pm
x_los: (Default)
Here are some things I thought about Rebecca AGES ago, courtesy of Zaf.

In Gaskell's North and South the Moral Conflict is such a nonentity that I don't know HOW to enter into it with the heroine. The unnamed heroine of Rebecca might have a kind of similar nonentity/Mary Sue problem, or perhaps I'm not getting her from my position of modernity. The thing about Rebecca that's sad is even though Nameless is so essentially decent, there's NOTHING to like about her. I know I'd find her dull.

Zaf interestingly suggested that she didn't know whether the reader was *supposed* to like Nameless: "She's supposed to be Nothing to you." If so, that's an interesting problematization of the gothic novel heroine being the audience's object of interest/stand-in. If Nameless is still working as a blank stand in (her name is never given because it is yours?) it could take the Gothic conceit of crises of the dissolving self and make your loathing for her a kind of self-hatred, which is an attack on the integral self.

Desire in Rebecca is REALLY interesting. Nameless makes such deliberate calls to public school life? 'I adored him like I was a first year and he was my prefect and I had a crush' or 'I don't expect you to love me, I want to be your boy'. There's this entire construction of Rebecca as Woman and worthy of romantic love, and herself as adolescent and boyish and deserving of Sex: but Sex that isn't even sex just sort of the power-divided rituals of 'fagging', in the 'initiation process' sense (not the bundle of sticks/dude you're such a ___).

This dynamic is, however, so eclipsed by Rebecca-and-desire. Rebecca is CONFUSING from a feminist perspective. Is she self-directed or is she just a scoiopath? Because I have NO idea if she's not just. fucking. crazy. There's also the matter of her lesbian connection with Danny, the head of household, the housekeeper who still keeps her room /perfect/. This is stranger than all Rebecca's other desirous entanglements, especially, as Zaf put it, because of their extreme age difference/familial relationship. 'I've been here since she was a bride' give you a certain understanding of their relationship, and then 'I had the charge of her since she was a girl' remediates that understanding, then the thing between them morphs again, becoming that incredibly sexual description of Rebecca with her hair out on the pillow, in bed.

Technically the book's ancestral relationship is between Rebecca and her cousin, but they're English and a bit period, and given the eerie power of her mother/obsessive lover relationship with the housekeeper, it seems almost negligible.

Rebecca and Namelesses' husband, Max, is stranger still. He claims to have NEVER felt for Rebecca, to have always had doubt, yet he married her? It's good that its VAGUE what Rebecca gets up to, because that makes her a more sinister figure. It makes it creepier. Actually saying 'she has promiscuous sex' doesn't do much for a modern reader--it's very 'Oh. Um. Okay? And? We're supposed to be okay with shooting her about it?'

Zaf feels Max picked Nameless as his second wife because he can abuse her, citing that he shows at most apathy for her, even after he professes to love her. "He sort of treats her like a dog, and she welcomes it when he kicks." She sees a narrative of covert emotional abuse, in response to being abused by Rebecca. "He wants the opposite. Someone he can control."

I read it somewhat differently. I think he's definitely in search of a Child, but that when Max says he loves Nameless--maybe he's just too detached, too traumatized, to give that due weight.

I guess his paternal relationship with Nameless creepily parallels the maternal Danny/Rebecca thing, for me--the sexual/parent figure. All the narrator's 'I wanted to be a woman, I wanted to be his wife, his mother' sort of makes the rebecca relationship she's alluding to FEEL like abusive incest that Max has been exposed to. This, btw, is sounding really like the Shirley Jackson article last night--interesting reverberations within the Female Gothic).

Its interesting that NO ONE in the novel fucking has parents, and, as Zaf pointed out, there are no children. As Nameless's female employer points out in the very Jane Austen beginning, this wouldn't be possible if Narrator had parents. Nameless only has the aunt who got her this position. We know she's without siblings, friends or parents--I find it a little incomprehensible that you COULD be so cut off from the world. In a modern Western setting---it's almost no longer possible, and so I feel at sea trying to enter into her lack of Context. I mean we're of the facebook generation. You can't escape everyone you've ever met. You can be parted from them geographically, but you can never be entirely without people. The only *child* is the one Rebecca threatens Max with, as an heir. Max and Bea have no parents--only vaguely alluded to

I LIKE Manderley's destruction because that's the sacrifice Max DIDN'T make circa Rebecca, and should have made. As Zaf says, it's very cleansing by fire. Which I always think is an interesting phrase, because fire is SO dirty. ?ike how is this a theme in literature? There's nothing filthier than a fire-stripped building. Perhaps as Ana suggests in legal/financial terms fire is a convenient means of removing things, but when I was sifting through a burned building site in hs I kept going 'this is not cleansing--LITERATURE HAS LIED TO MEEE, augh I smell of ashessss.' And it GETS done so dramatically--it accomplishes that work.

After Danny lights the estate on fire and walks away with her bags, I almost feel she *should* be dead. I like that there's the possibility she isn't, but death would SEAL her story. She has nothing but Rebecca, and Rebecca lingers on here. When her ghost has been burned out, Danny's gotta die.

Zaf mentioned that it's interesting that the 'evil' person doesn't die, but punishes the 'good' people, who stay punished, and presumably suffers no consequences. I'd add that Danny's fucked up inside forever. Max and Narrator are exiles (living on the run off his riches in a parody of a certain type of love-story), and like it's Brax in Gallifrey, not allowed to THINK of the Thing, but they have, idk, personhood? And Danny doesn't anymore. "She's sort of had everything taken from her. If we assume that Rebecca was bad, it doesn't necessarily mean that Danny was."

Zaf then wondered if we shouldn't view Danny as the 'good' person. I mulled it over. She's the one who grieves--which is valid, the one who loved and kept loving in the face of Rebecca's apathy, and then her absence. "And having Nameless as a narrator--we must assume that she is unreliable. At least sometimes," Zaf pointed out. But ultimately I think there's no morally coming back for Danny from Jump Off This Balcony, Nameless, You Know You Wanna.
x_los: (The Books One)
- Bit sorry to have commented on the Guardian time story and the Kate Bush album when, in the end, I like neither. Sad as that's a subject and an artist I'm typically fond of.

- Found out today our cat is 15 in human terms, if one believes 'cat years' as a relative indicator of development. Katy and I were a but surprised that 'one year old' was SO DAMN OLD. Get a *job*, Sasa, jesus.

- This Ikea Hackers DIY makeover of Ikea products site seems cool, and I want to check it out more: http://www.ikeahackers.net/

- If you have access to JSTOR or something like it, think about reading "House Mothers and Haunted Daughters: Shirley Jackson and Female Gothic" by Roberta Rubenstein. It's an interesting retrospective on Shirley Jackson's career and life, the Female Gothic genre, psychoanalysis, mothers and daughters, and the uses and significance of food and home in her writing and life. I found it striking and resonant. The paper's prose style is a bit uneasy at first, but strong once it reaches We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Anna downloaded it and gave it to Katy, who gave it to me. V. good of them. It's made me want to read Haunting the House of Fiction: Feminist Perspectives on Ghost Stories by American Women, ed. Carpenter and Wendy K. Kolmar, which it sites. Good notes, too. Several quotes very resonant in them, re: eating disorders, object-relations psychoanalysis. This struck me for the beauty of 'love safely and hate safely': "As Thomas Ogden outlines Klein's position on this primitive mechanism of emotional division, "Splitting allows the infant, child, or adult to love safely and hate safely by establishing discontinuity between loved and feared aspects of self and object," in The Matrix of the Mind: Object Relations and the Psychoanalytic Dialogue."

This description of the Female Gothic seemed, oddly, particularly resonant for the Radiosonic Workshop Shalka audios:

"More specifically, Jackson's later narratives contain distinct elements of the type of Gothic narrative that has been termed "Female Gothic." Claire Kahane identifies the characteristics of traditional Gothic narratives, including "an imprisoning structure" within which the protagonist, "typically a young woman whose mother has died, is compelled to seek out the center of a mystery, while vague and usually sexual threats to her person from some powerful male figure hover on the periphery of her consciousness" (p. 334). Kahane notes that critical approaches to Gothic narratives characteristically emphasize an underlying oedipal or incestuous struggle between a powerless daughter and an erotically powerful father or other male figure (p. 335). She proposes, instead, that the central feature of Female Gothic is not an oedipal conflict but, implicitly, a preoedipal one, embodied in the daughter's search for/ fear of "the spectral presence of a dead-undead mother, archaic and all-encompassing, a ghost signifying the problematics of femininity which the heroine must confront" (p. 336). Thus, in these narratives authored by women and focusing on female protagonists, traditional elements of the Gothic genre are elaborated in particular ways, notably through the central character's troubled identification with her good/bad/dead/mad mother, whom she ambivalently seeks to kill/merge with; and her imprisonment in a house that, mirroring her disturbed imaginings, expresses her ambivalent experience of entrapment and longing for protection."

We spend a fair amount of time making the TARDIS a space of imprisonment and safety, an unheimlich home, confining and freeing, in this series. There's worry about the disintegration of the self and the body and the personality for our TL protagonists, the mysterious Forces on the Phone (no spoilers) exerting a 'bad father' sort of control over them. There's threats that aren't deliberately dealt with, hovering over the narrative. There's a deliberate problematizing of existential senses of inside vs. outside.

TAKE THE FOLLOWING WITH A GRAIN OF SALT because I am always a bit ambivalent about psychoanalytic literary theory: Does the way that Slash treats male characters as psychologically female enable this? In an object-relations way, you COULD talk about D/M as simultaneously a post-Oedipal conflict and rivalry, a man's eroticized worshipful admiration for and wish to be rivaled (with a possibility of being bested) by another man, and as a pre-Oedipal relation, with the distinction between Who They Are being a contested subject, and a tension between liberty and being subsumed in one another, with either option posing risks to their autonomous selfhood. I *think*, though I might be wrong, that a traditionalist would say most men aren't eligible for a pre-Oedipal reading, thus the 'slash men are actually women' Joanna Russ and others postulated (She did it, I believe, in 'Another Addict Raves About K/S') here would play out in the narrative with some interesting psychological/character conclusions.
x_los: (Russian Church)
H'okay, so there was too much food. There was... way too much food. Well. I can freeze the bread and one of the boxes of tzimmes? x_x

In the end went with the baked fish with the cream sauce. Katy didn't love it, so shan't make it again, though I thought it was pretty nice, with its butter-basting, cream and crunch bread-crumb crust. I also braised the last of the old celery we needed to use or toss with it, and that went well.

The tzimmes, as per usual, promised a QUICK carrot cooking time and then even after I gave them another HALF HOUR, carrots: still too crunchy, fruit component: over-stewed. Ah well. Still nice. Have discovered I like a sweet rather than a sweet and savory version of this, though. Will omit the salt and pepper next time and let people add that individually, if they liked. Last year I had this as a nice breakfast a lot (there were leftovers aplenty), and was looking forward to doing so again, maybe with a lashing of cream, but this batch seems perhaps too savory for that.

Roasted two HUGE sweet potatoes, one sweet (brown sugar, unsalted butter, option of marshmellow fluff) and one savory (salted butter, paprika, salt and pepper).

In the end made apple cobbler from the Guardian's Ultimate Recipe. Not quite as ultimate as I'd been led to believe--not a perfect fruit to topping ration. Next time more fruit. I cut the caster sugar and substituted honey for a RH twist, and it worked very well, texturally and taste-wise!

I also made butterscotch apples from Leon: Baking. Unfortunately there's a step where, having made this hard-sauce toffee, you have to rest the pan in ice-water to halt the cooking process QUICKLY. In my nervous rush to not fail what's basically candy-making, a tricky business, I sloshed a little cold water into the pan. I thought I's scooped it all out, but I must not have done it right, because the caramel/butterscotch would NOT adhere thickly to the apples, and fuck did I try. I thought the wateryness might be gross, but the toping was too delicious to chuck, actually, and really the basin I used to cool the pot in was clean, I was just being overly precious in worrying about it. The molten butterscotch was boiling hot, it's not like any badness could have come in without having been incinerated, AND I scooped out the little water that infiltrated. Bah. Anyway, so the apples sort of have to be SMASHED into the hard sauce stuff, but are otherwise fine.

Will make earl grey applesauce another time. Also Peter brought WAY too much cider--have to find a stew or something that uses that. x_x

I got a HUGE migraine after finishing, had to take pills and lie down. Is it weird that I really enjoy Sue Perkins in The Great British Bake-off and the old nan who's part honeybadger in that she don't care, she just bakes what she wants?

I emailed my maybe-advisor a revised proposal last night after he told me at our meeting Monday that he'd like to see a few specific changes. Now too nervous to send out this proposal OR the other one to anyone else, because I have to see whether he thinks I've done this right. So I guess tomorrow's narrowing down Ox and Cam people, and job aps. Joy. I really just want to read the rest of Bleak House and Hard Times, the AWESOMELY CHEAP (seriously, 2 pounds and 5 pounds respectively, the latter with a TON of good supplementary academic materials) Dickens books I had to buy Monday at the UCL campus Waterstones when caught out without my power cord.

And I haven't wanted to say anything about this for fear of jinxing it, but it looks very much like Katy officially has the downstairs room as a tenant, and we have an absolute-for-sure subleaser. This should ease some of her tension about being an illegal tenant, eliminate the threat of someone moving in and giving us away, and do the subleaser a favor. Also enable us to get the cat. Huzzah! Still, my fingers are crossed against some last-minute catastrophe because I am paranoid, and I won't be happy until the lease goes through on Monday, even though our mad bat of a landlady has signed off and the deposit's being made tomorrow (from the subleaser to Katy to Mrs. Mad-Battums).

Still, this potential near-miss will hopefully teach me to be more careful in future.
x_los: (Avatar)
The relatively weak Tiger Beatdown feminist critique of George R.R. Martin just made me want to read Song of Ice and Fire, but I can't find it! May have to read Swann's Way instead. #gradstudentproblems (Dunking a madeline in the blood that had pooled in the cracked-open skull of a Lamb Man, I thought of my childhood riding with the khalasar...)
x_los: (The Books One)
I wanted to decoupage our downstairs bathroom in MAPS!!, which I went all the way to Dagenham/BACK IN FUCKING TIME to the 1980s to get, but they turned out to be a bit crap. Le sigh. Can still use them for art projects/to line drawers and cupboards in interesting fashion. If you're in the UK and want some, I now have TONS. So Katy wants to decoupage our downstairs bathroom in an old falling apart Hornblower book, now, which I initially resisted because I get Too Jewish about book destruction, for reals. Also that bathroom already lacks light, and too much black ink+black floor=we stay in there too long-->we become cave trolls? But I am not insensible to the attractiveness of this: http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/decoupaged_wall

Also we painted our Cath Kidston!living room white (replacing Nicotine Snot Cream), and then we accidentally painted our upstairs bathroom police-box blue. With lacquer red wood and accents, and a good deal of white, true, but omg, how did we not fucking see it? We were just like 'la di dah, this blue looks really comforting for some reason, laaaaaa...' I blame the TARDIS bar in Brooklyn's Who!toilet.

Thus this conversation:

me: Baby, you know Minard? http://cartographia.wordpress.com/category/charles-joseph-minard/

Katy: i did not, but yes - sure

me: if we do the hornblower bathroom, we should frame the really famous diagram of Napoleon's defeat
which would be funny
because it's two kinds of wordy graphic art about Napoleon's defeat IN ONE TOILET!!
also the upstairs is france/red white and blue
and the bathrooms are competing for your patronage
but the England bathroom is just /better/

Katy: i thought we could have a framed 'pull to open' sign upstairs actually

me: !!
I love it?

theladyofconte: ha

But should it be inside against the walls or ON THE DOOR?! Decisions!!
x_los: (The Books One)
My review of Valente's Deathless was published earlier this week, and you can read it here (http://www.strangehorizons.com/reviews/2011/07/deathless_by_ca.shtml), if that kind of thing is your bag.

Tab Closing

Jun. 6th, 2011 11:14 am
x_los: (The Books One)
Turkish Mint Lemonade, a drink I one had and loved in Spain, and want to make: http://www.grouprecipes.com/28086/turkish-mint-lemonade.html

Ripping Yarns, a seemingly-lovely young adult and children's antiquarian bookstore in London I'd like to visit: http://www.rippingyarns.co.uk/
x_los: (The Books One)
...and I wanted to save it to check out later, because some of the titles looked interesting.

Which book would you like to select as a group read for the Social Change & Activism Goodreads Group for June/July 2011?


The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks
Marriage Confidential: Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules by Pamela Haag
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn
The Unfinished Revolution: Reshaping Family, Work, and Gender in America by Kathleen Gerson
Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence by Judith Lewis Herman
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty
Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions by Maria Lugones
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria E. Anzaldúa
x_los: (Default)
If you like good speculative fiction reading, might I point you to the excellent work [livejournal.com profile] rachel_swirsky is doing in order to be an informed Hugo Awards nominator? I am impressed by the sheer amount of reading it takes to be current in this subject, and am enjoying some of the recommended stories a lot. So far I've been particularly drawn to:

"FLYING IN THE FACE OF GOD by Nina Allen – Nina Allen's affecting story of alienation, a beautiful and intelligent examination of what it means to be left behind. The story is masterful; it's told from the perspective of a woman who is making a documentary about the biological reprogramming her best friend, Rachel, is undergoing so that she can embark on a no-return mission into space. The relationship between them grows strained as Rachel becomes increasingly less human."

It's lovely, and a bit lesbian and a lot interesting (and WAY passes its Bechdel test). And it's UK based, which seems somewhat rare in sci-fi--to have an identifiably and strongly culturally-located, unapologetically Not American cast


The Life Cycles of Software Objects, by Ted Chiang. More about that from io9 here.

Where these are available free on line (I had 'for free' there and then thought of my girlfriend snapping and killing me for crimes against English), she's linked to them, making this a great resource if you'd like to learn more and don't have the money/geographic ability to troop down and pick up hard copies of each. GO OVER AND CHECK OUT HER LATEST POSTS!
x_los: (Default)
* So I have a paper due the 17th of Jan, and my prof finally deigns to meet with me and luuuuuuuurves my topic: v. good. Then he's like 'you can knock out Copperfield and reread some Milne, a Frost poem, and Proust's Swan's Way, three articles of Benjamin, some Laplanche, some Freud, and then write 6,000 words in like, three weeks, right?'

* Gulp.


* I thought we were homies.

* :(

* BUT I TOTALLY CAN, MAYBE. I could scale down and /not/ reread the Proust, which would be bad because then I'm overloaded on texts-originally-in-English, but good because I'd /have/ to deal with the Proust being read in translation, and guys, I have /no idea/ how to reckon with that, short of like, re-reading a /different/ version of Swan's way against the one I have. Which--maybe.

* My schedule is:

1. Complete Copperfield within the next days (currently at 265 of 882 (not including the footnotes and biographical material I'll want to glance over for that). Makes notes /as I go/.
2. Plan a day for re-reading Milne and reading the Frost. Make notes.
3. Plan a day for finishing the Laplanche and the Freud. Make notes.
4. Make notes on the Benjammin.
5. BY JANUARY SEVENTH be working on writing, leaving ten solid days to write and revise the 5,000-6,000 word piece. The word limit is not much, but I want it to go through the Prof and at least two betas/revisions. It should get a Distinction.

* Cambridge PhD aps are ideally due the 15th of Jan, but CAN be accepted late.

* ...guess what's getting turned in late. Priorities, Cam-bitches.
x_los: (The Books One)
Man, it's been so long since I had to read a depressing Holocaust novel! What is it now, a whole week? Jeepers, time to bring it back! It's the motherfucking leitmotif, y'all.

Okay, so Lost in Translation is about a girl whose /parents/ survived the aforementioned, and thus the book's not as blargh as If This Is A Man, which I had severe teaching-issues with.*

Eva Hoffman is a Polish-born immigrant writing a memoir about her coming of age in America, and it's a testament to her skill as a writer that the book's not Immigrant Suffer Porn. If you went through a writing program/have seen the American bestseller list, you know what I mean. It's Frank McCourt's sixth Poor-and-Irish, Amy Tan's endless renditions of My Mother is Asian, and the 57th short story you've read this semester which seeks to debunk an overly-sanguine, old-fashioned narrative of immigration which has by now been so thoroughly unseated that the process of debunking it has itself become predictable, comfortable and smug. 'It's harsh to be an immigrant--OR DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?!?!'

It trades a bit in that market, but it's classier about it. The prose is uniformly /very/ good.

My issue with it is the structure. Hoffman opts for disjointed fragments, presumably out of discomfort with the too-neat archetypal immigrant narrative, with its smooth formula of struggle-and-success. This, however, keeps me from feeling as connected as I should to her as a narrator. I cannot tell whether the boy she's going out with in this section is the boy she was considering marrying a paragraph ago--these little vignettes provide color without continuity of feeling.

And that's a fine gesture of po-mo distrust in The Narrative--and this /is/, after all, nonfiction rather than a novel, which is an important gradient my class often fails to comment on--but it does keep me from investing in the story/narrator. The conceptual/emotional matter, while intriguing, gets a bit derailed at times by this. The vague chronology of periods of her life gives some form of scaffolding, but in lieu of a time-frame I feel we should have some thematic organizing transitions, or that she should think harder about what she gains vs. loses out of this more atypical structure. Do anything you want to, structurally, experimentally, but have some good reasons.

The ending, because it's a chunky grouping of revelations, feels a bit too faux-profound? Too 'my story ends here, complications wrapped up, in its way/to the extent they can be' for a novel about the impossibility of wrapping up/the on-going project of the immigrant self, the eternal internal revolution. And it seems, structurally, as though her complications are resolved rather conveniently near the time she's writing--not because of the writing, or any obvious provocation, just gradually, coalescing at the life-stage that an American-born writer might feel a settling into comfortable middle-age (and I wonder if that's not unconnected to her sense of having arrived).

Some interesting ideas I'll carry along, despite some twitchy craft issues that kept it from flowering into a truly astounding book.

* In class we approached it as a novel rather than as non-fiction, and furthermore as a Descent Into Hell closely modeled on Dante. We'd spent some time on Dante as a Christian writer (vs. Virgil and Homer), and the fact that Levi would have a fundamentally different relationship to Hell, as someone raised in a Jewish theological tradition, was not touched on. Idk, I felt the entire thing was about as poorly handled as I'd thought it was going to be. Legit teaching issues with the reduction of the Holocaust to the safe, teachable, conveniently-packaged and safely-in-the-past Disney Genocide that happened to innocent white people, which we use to demonstrate the unembodied Evil of Man, which whitewashes the of subjectivity of the victims and functions as a means of not becoming involved/morally implicated in modern, potentially-ongoing genocidal action ('never again' vs. What Rwanda/Killing Fields/Armenians/never-taught-tragedies?): I haz them.


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