Tuesday, March 28, 2006


There was a plan. One of the benefits from my holiday was being afforded the chance to write many of the thoughts that cling throughout the day. I had thought of reading the epic poem London by Johnson today. Earlier this a.m. I thought it would be more prudent to devote effort to charting my impressions of the two introductions to the Burton. I have also decided that despite its supreme nerd connotations, I will be buying a small notebook to absorb my reactions to the text in as chronological a manner as possible. I will leave this as such.

Monday, March 27, 2006


One of the lit/cultural blogs that I visit infrequently is hosted by Russian expat living in Toronto, I beleive she is an actual expat anyway, perhaps she is second-generation, i don't really know. She has an interesting taste in literature but such is overwhelmed by predilection for death metal and remarkably conservative values especially towards the third world. For example she described the islamic protestors in France last autumn as a succession of Jihadist potsmokers and should be dealt with as looters and vandals, not demonstrators. She recently posted a rebuttal to a critique of Night Watch, the russian vampire film that we saw earlier this month. I commented on her blog about the film, her critique of the reviewer and other films that I thought might be of interest, I also drew emphasis to "anti-Chechen" images in the film. She replied to a certain length and bid that Russian culture would benefit from more such images. I had to chuckle.

I also read a fellow whom I imagine to be attending an Ivy League school in some post-grad capacity (I also suspect he has a goatee and wears a cravat) and he reads both Brown and Burton on his bus commute which is only ten minutes each way, but 100 minutes culimatively a week, he asserts, that he can enjoy such literary treasures and not stare at homeless people soliciting on corners from out the buswindows.


It is never a good sign that when posting about how fatigued one has become, one misspells the title. It has been a good day back in the troes of vocational movement, I have reached page 18 of the Burton but remain undecided as how to how I will comment on such, whether here, samizdat or a capricious admixture.


Ouch. I was plagued again by ceaseless, restless bed-wandering, a soujourn which I beleive indicates a return to health. I acknowledged the nature of the road around midnight and picked up Autumn of the Phantoms by Yasmina Khadra. N had picked up this slim volume the other day and i read it in two hours. Built along the specifications of the hard-boiled whodunnit, it is a lament for the ongoing civil war in Algeria and its melancholy chief inspector Brahim Llob. Its mood is bleak and there isn't ana ctual case to be solved, but it is worth anyone's time attempting a quick insight into the turbulent seas of present day Algiers.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


We went to my parents and while there I felt the cruel return of fever. I did read more of the boswell, finding pleasure in Johnson's meeting with Richardson. Back at home, I think might recline for a while and finish the Jackson Introduction to the Burton.


Johnson has just published London, his evocative paen to that sprawling city and the Boswell takes an epistolary turn, perhaps feeling uncomfortable with ascertaining the tone and fibre of this relative lull, Boswell reprints entire letters to demonstrate aesthetic frustration (both his and Johnson's).

As to Burton, I read William Gass' introduction and I found it glib, unsuitable, in fact. Conversely, Holbrook Jackson has been a delight in his examination of both Burton and the Melancholy, the dearth of biographical hard data but the easy surmise that Burton's life was a bookish one. These are Sunday morning joys and for such I am thankful.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Inevitable Collapse

My thesis contains disparate elements, all of which appear to contradict the others. I went out briefly yesterday to rent films from Wild and Wooly and grab a quick beer at the public house. I was feeling out of sorts and elected to return home. Not long thereafter, I was besieged by muscle aches and fever. Hours later I had recovered slightly and completed the Prieto in one swoop despite its use of Borgesian double it was well worth my time, though the pages came slowly.

That said, I began Boswell with nothing short of zest and wound up reading 50 pages and found it brilliant. I do tend tot hink Boswell is being directed per his curiosity as I am not sure what happened when Dr Johnson married his bride, 21 years old and apparently obese. Boswell ignores and pecuniary motivation and testimony of one witness who claims that Johnson was in lover with the his wife's daughter. Alas, we shall eschew the sordid and hope to recover.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Any Old Letters

I read rather deep into the otherwise gale-stricken night, the opacity of which was navigated albeit with more faith than verve. I think Prieto may be asserting that in an impermanent world, letters reflect a momentary handle, a reprieve amidst the flux and that such can't beging to reflect reality especially within the collision of two people already/always in flux. If this sounds Heideggerian . . .

Thursday, March 23, 2006


An enjoyable interlude has ensued. Thinking about astro doubles, Borges and the roughly two thousand pages of prose I have planned for the next (what, two, three) months) I am thinking of travel, of Delueze (he postulated on nomadic thought, yet never travelled and then took his own life) and that I had planned earlier to read the Boswell in Serbia. I think I may attempt Proust now, when travelling back. I was going to write Tihana yesterday and tell her that I through for the time being with settling for good literature and wanted to raise my ambitions accordingly. Alas, I only told my wife who was moaning from influenza.

My frown towards Nocturnal Butterflies has been mitigated in the last hour. There is much to appreciate in the text, the epistolary angle anyway. I recall years ago (12?)that I bought a biography of Henry Miller for Joel and he responded sometime later that he was not destined to be a writer, not at least in the rigorous passionate sense, because to be such, for historical example, one would need to compose lengthy letters. I smile when I consider the reams of text that he has since deposited in my inbox and on the besmirched soil of samizdat.

Page 100

Fearing an infective intrusion, I have huddled about this day, enjoying Bird, Blakey and Oliver Nelson, all the while burrowed under blankets and have read sixty pages of the Prieto. His efforts to Nabokov, while often successful, become tiresome. His blending of three time frames in the course of a single page was masterful, though ultimately the lost love (named V. a coy gesture, perhaps, to Vera Nabokov?) lacks the salient. We shall see.

Jose Manuel Prieto

It is good for man not to touch a woman
-- St Paul, 1st Letter to the Corinthians
It is difficult to distinguish where the feminine ends and nature begins.
--Antonio Carlos Jobim

I didn't delve as deep into the novel as i imagined last night, only about forty pages and the thematics appear to harbor along smuggling in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse and the dearch for the perfect love letter. I remain blank as to eventual intersections of the concepts but I did dream about Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Our trip to Cincinnati yielded sixty dollars worth of books including Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire, which I am reading now.

Tickling God's ass with a feather, I believe that I will then pursue Boswell's Life of Johnson afterwards, a sagacious segue to the Burton.

Satire and the Wrath

Less than a minute ago I took the "What Dostoevsky Protagonist Are You" quiz online: apparently I am Raskolnikov.

Two hours ago I completed The Possessed after a stimulating 400 pages in two day marathon. Such heights achieved, dear Fyodor! I don't regard the novel as being disproportionately critical of Nihilists, Socialists or revolutionary movements in general. I sought these aspects as being on par with D's skewering of the gentry, local government and the emancipated peasantry.

By far Stravogin's confession to Tikhon is the most electric prose of the novel, I had to smirk at Stravogin's assertion that monks would make the best police interrogators. Certainly that section in all desperation appears to verify Bakhtin's idea of the polyphonic novel, the idea that it isn't the confession itself but the shared experience of Tikhon's responses that solidify the section and afford it weight beyond the didactic.

I remain on holiday and my wife has the flu: more reading and posting assured of surfacing.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Drinking red wine as if there were no tomorrow and exploring opprtunities to buy novels by Anthony Powell, how convenient that his name was pronounced 'pool.' It is a strange life. I suppose I should formulating strategies for Monday;s surge through downtown bookstores, the first time, I gather, since Joel and I made way in the summer of 1995. Hrabal, Powell and Goytisolo head the list, Burton will at last be stricken and I suppose that Colin MacInnes, hero of the lates Believer, will warrant esteemable effort on Martes.

More Dostoevsky

Another fine day, laden with sun and pipesmoked evenings spent with Fydor. There is much to ponder on the role of the duel in Russian novels. I just happened a memory of reading Lermontove in the summer sun at the Great lawn. It sounds so prohibitive, no? What was later to become samizdat was originally the Dionysians and its second (and last) selection was The Idiot: I played the title role and was the sole reader, fast forward to 2006, thats 13 years later for ye amateurs, to the unchanged present.

As much as the Burton beckons, I am only taking the Possessed to Ohio.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stravogin and Stupid Micks

I posted last night about my fatigue, my joy of reading Dostoevsky and my soaring impatience with performing the necessary, most notably income taxes. It isn't that I mind paying such it is the focus of the form and all else related that drives me batty. Alas today is a new day, neatly commodified by Guinness and Hallmark. Its a good day for self-loathing, eh?

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I am weary. It has been along day of longer questions, I faced no domestic duties like the fear-choked IED of a toiltet last night. I read 35 pages today and thoroughly enjoyed a likely turning of corner, Stravogin alerts his peers (and the reader) that their cover has been blown and it is question of time before liquidation is prosecuted, either by the gendermes or the nihilists: its all moot.

I have finished our taxes after nearly finishing them a week back. I was going to view Ugetsu and read ther est of the Believer but i think I'll allow my thoughts, shredding like sodden newsprint, to suffer asleep. Finishing touches on the Cincy trip tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Weight of What We Want

Dostoevsky has slowed, nearly to a trickle, time has become a mist and terms have yet to be defined. The believer arrived yesterday and I bought Bookforum recently. My thoughts linger and my plans remain indefinite. I am planning on reading the latest from Julian Barnes. It also appears likely that Anatomy of Melancholy by Burton will be a group read, one that I am anxious to invade.

Nocturnally I am also aloft. Barzun echoes the affect that Montaigne's Essays are the ideal bedside book, I would contend that Barzun's own massive tome is deserving of such accolade. I just finished his chapter on the "Eutopians" as he deftly proceeds from Rabelais to Montaigne to Shakespeare. Joel has been quick to praise barzun for his careful, terse descriptions, his arcing continuity, his massage of concepts in such an assured swath.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Continuing with The Possessed, the striking scene in Cormac's Outer Dark detailing swine and strovers, apparently is Biblical, Luke to be exact. So goes it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sartre'd Out

Much as my spirits sunk on Saturday only to find relief as I hear of serial family disasters (yes, my sister - again, my brother is divorcing, yes - again etc) such traction was shortlived as I lapsed into headcold, suddenly, Jean-Paul's ruminations on the Self-Taught Man the shrieking significance of Being was the prescribed elixir, gradually then suddenly, to ape Papa, I reached for Dostoevsky. I have read the major novels, save one. This is my third attempt, the last being during the winter of 98 amidst an ill-timed visit from the bio-mom.

Three days in, my curiosity appears convinced that it is a different translation, the Garrett being the culprit the last time. Such innuendo is always convoluted, especially given that I read movable Feast around that time and I think such (Ernest Eternal Recurrence) dampened my opinion of such. Who knows?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Beesting Pudding

I finished the Farah yesterday afternoon. He placed his best foot forward, being an Aristophenes for Somalia, waiting ten years, absorbing the disparate kinetics of that burnt land, allowing such to gestate as exile and form. . .well, into something approaching melodrama. It was disturbing that tribal conflicts, the failure of the NGOs and "responsible" nations to remedy and act in beneficient manner, how all of this was resolved in a maudlin story about kidnapping, organ transplant/trade and graft from abroad. I began my rereading of Nausea last night. i need such. I am at a loss. I had thought it was fatigue. Sleep-deprivation tends to sour my mood. My sinuses are also congested and I have a certain bile towards mezzo-lettres if you will. I am hoping the Sarte will affect such. Perhaps I am coming to grips with my angst, albeit in a backdoor manner. This has seldom been a segue for confession. Perhaps misdirected grief issues and outright anger at human stupidity have dripped onto the welcome mat. I am listening to Ives and struggling at the very limits.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rousseau to the Gallows

Theory is good but it doesn't prevent things from existing -- Charcot

The past few days have a yielded an opportunity to offer my meager means to assist my wife's sister with her dissertation which concerns the Czech thinker S. Klima and his relations to both Decadence and gender studies. It has been an interesting escapade and I fear I am only troubling poor Tihana but it has been interesting to peruse Barzun and Fowlie and question the continuity from Baudelaire to Celine; this interrogation has unearthed thought on Lautreamont, which I have buttressed further with some pondering on Huysmans and Kharims and that delicious admixture of Freud and Bolshevism.


So the story goes, the French philosophwas on his deathbed and Satan appeared to make a recruiting pitch, enormously pleased with his propganda potential with the author of Candide tweaking the wires. He made his plea promising great reign in the underwolrd and all such rot. Voltaire thought for a moment and then politely declined, looking around the room and pondering his fate, he said, "I don't think this is the time to start making enemies."