Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jungian Slip 1459

Skimming a quote from an article on Cioran at wood s lot, haste mistook an "e" as "ata", thus: "Masking ourselves in our dreams we database our desires...." Perhaps the brain recalling that obsessive list-making was considered a possible sign of schizophrenia, mayhap the most appropriate response to that article's subject. Or maybe just a garbled mental transmission from Professor Hehindeed, busily downloading himself.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Reading: The Night Of The Generals

This 1962 novel by Hans Helmut Kirst was recommended to me as a good mystery. Not really, but it is a good read. I never saw the movie, but I can see it could be made into a good one. A German General in World War II brutally kills a prostitute; two years later he kills another in Paris; in the mid-1950s he kills another in Germany. We never really get to understand why he does this -- imagine what Dostoevsky could have done with that character. It winds up with a kind of "Hollywood cop-out" ending, after first a German, then a French policeman obsess with finding him and seeing him punished. Enjoyable tale, with a lot of scathing portraits of German military bureaucrats for fun along the way.

Reading: Escape From Hell

This is Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's sequel to Inferno. I seldom read SF any more (I stuffed myself with it in my youth), and almost never touch fantasy, but having read the original I was curious what they would do with this. Color me unimpressed, but I am not the target market here.

Following Dante's example, they use this as a chance to imagine people they don't like suffering, which must be the most "fun" part of writing this sort of thing. [Imagine who you would show in your own version -- Cheney being waterboarded could be just the beginning.] Sadly, they use this authorial power here for cheap shots against their own pet peeves, such as opponents of DDT. If they can't win the political argument in public, okay, they'll just put straw men in hell. How Paulistic of them.

The story is even more jumbled psychologically and theologically than was their first book on this, but it reads quickly and easily. A passable time-killer, but it ain't no Mote.

Reading: Seventeen Years And 2,132 Books

Way back in 1992 I started listing books I'd read in a blank-paper book. More recently I've also put the list in a computer database. As of today the total is 2,132. Some of those were graphic novels or collections of comics, some were art books, some were trivial humor or very light mysteries, some were sports, but there was also a lot of worthwhile stuff there. I'm going to start listing some of them here (and new ones as they are read and added to the list), with a comment or two if the spirit moves me.

If nothing else, it will help me remember what I've read: looking back I can already see several titles which I have no doubt that I did read, but frankly don't recall. The first four books listed were Michael Seidel's Streak: Joe Dimaggio And The Summer of '41, Susan Jacoby's Wild Justice: The Evolution Of Revenge, Robert K. Logan's The Alphabet Effect: The Impact Of The Phonetic Alphabet on The Developoment Of Western Civilization, and Colin Renfrew's Archaelogy And Language: The Puzzle Of Indo-European Origins.

Seventeen years ago I read all of these. If I picked them up again today (those were all library books - who can afford to buy this many titles nowadays?), I'm sure I'd nod in memory at the content. But now I just draw a blank. Maybe they just weren't all that memorable, because there are certainly many others I've read in these two decades that I recall very well, and would even without this list.