18 May 2007

Autobiographical calendar of reading

[i did one of these for joyce]

if i compiled a personal 'canon'
the primary criterion would be
how often, day to day
i'm reminded of an artist's work

(so i'm including
influential performers
along with authors)



by my 'canon' standard (above)
Schulz is certainly in the top 20
for his portrait of childhood in the early strips
is surely unequalled

(pogo left little impact)

New Yorker cartoons

Chas Addams and Saul Steinberg especially

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

early 1960s

Walter R. Brooks' Freddy the Pig-Detective

i read all these
and tried to write my first fan letter in verse:
i like freddy/ i think he's steady
i like jinx/ i think he... stinks?

Phantom Tollbooth

Andy Griffith

stamp collecting

Beatles/ Richard Lester/ John Lennon

In His Own Write, Help, and Hard Day's Night especially [Lester fan]

Hardy Boys


their manuals and catalogs
along with Edmund Scientific
were an enduring influence

world almanacs

devoured them

coin collecting

Martin Gardner's mathematical recreations

a very positive influence
monthly in Scientific American
and collected in books

James Bond

Ian Fleming's sexual kinks
in smuggled paperbacks

baseball stats

i spent the summer of '65
graphing baseball stats

Mad magazine

rather too lowbrow

Minivac 601

a programmable 6-relay computer
designed by Claude Shannon

later 1960s

Lewis Carroll

via Martin Gardner

Yes I Can by Sammy Davis Jr

one of the first grownup books
i remember reading

Freud's Interpretation of Dreams

easy to interpret
an older girl's dream:
her friends were sliding down a log
into a pond
but she was scared of splinters



a lifelong fascination

Asimov's Intelligent Man's Guide to Science

Ray Bradbury

rare literary scifi


a logic game i played alone
aided by a programmed textbook on logic

Estes model rockets

not very successfully

Super-8 moviemaking

Ulysses, Ellmann

my sister introduced me to a constrant stream
of hip lit borrowed from the public library

Catch 22

surprisingly enduring

Tin Drum

Barbarella (movie)

Autobiography of a Yogi

via the Sgt Pepper's cover

Donald E Westlake

comic crime novels, soon outgrown

Sondheim crosswords, Springbok jigsaws

the composer, in the late 60s
created elegant weekly crosswords
in the british style
for New York magazine

Vonnegut, Brautigan, Castaneda

60s inevitables

Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In, Music Scene w/David Steinberg (tv)

Dick Cavett (tv)

Christopher Cerf's "World's Largest Cheese"

brainy silliness i adored [Az]

"One Million" by Hendrik Hertzberg

bold visualisation experiment
200 pages each with 5000 dots [Az]

Finnegans Wake, Norman O Brown

Firesign Theatre

meets the 'canon' criterion

Luscher Color Test

inexplicably fascinating
slow to outgrow


started c1967 when my sister
ordered a computerised horoscope
finally outgrew in 1974

at best provided random noise
i could project personality theories onto

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones


early 1970s

Incredible String Band

their lyrics easily make my canon [fan]

Wallace Stevens

Rider-Waite tarot

Psychology Today magazine

challenged me to my life's work

Arthur Koestler

Act of Creation, Ghost in the Machine
provocative multidisciplinary thinking

Samuelson's Economics

computer simulation

Jay Forrester, Bucky Fuller's World Game, Antioch College seminar

Janov, Perls, Ouspensky, Gaskin, Wilhelm Reich

fringe psych/ occultism

a course at antioch
called 'science and experience: east and west'
introduced me to various fringe schools

American Heritage Dictionary

with proto-indo-european roots!

Joyce Carol Oates

soon outgrown


gradually outgrown

Durant's "Story of Philosophy"

Robert Altman (movies)

probably canonical


the ultimate koan
there is no path [fan]

Whole Earth Catalog (WEC)

portal to much good obscure reading

Bucky Fuller

especially "Intuition"
(anticipating my theory of whitespace)

Pinter's "Homecoming"

American Film Theater series

Skinner's "Walden Two"

John McPhee's early nonfiction

G Spencer Brown (GSB)

Laws of Form
and Only Two Can Play This Game
via WEC [fan]


with Joyce, the topmost in my canon


slowly partly outgrown [fan]

Robert Stone


William Blake

especially his marginal annotations [fan]
in Erdman's edition [Az]
probably via GSB

AN Whitehead

outgrown stylish obscurantism (Process and Reality)

JL Austin

philosophy done right

Michael Polanyi's "Personal Knowledge"

also Stephen Toulmin

later 1970s

Scott Joplin's Bethena

a ragtime novel

Joseph McElroy


Iris Murdoch


Renata Adler

her first is neglected genius [Az]

Robert Pirsig

Tom Wolfe's Painted Word (etc)


Robertson Davies' Deptford trilogy

Vance Bourjaily

readable but unfashionable

Mary McCarthy

Peter Dickinson

wonderful mysteries and kids' books [fan]

le Carre


Walker Percy

especially Love in the Ruins

Joni Mitchell

definitely canon [fan]

Wright Morris

James Purdy

Thomas McGuane

Joyce Maynard

Barbara Pym

Stephen Gaskin's books and sermons

Blanche McCrary Boyd

[Az] [fan]

Selfish Gene; Sociobiology


Jaynes' Origin of Consciousness

faded if not outgrown

Mark Vonnegut's Eden Express

firsthand drug psychosis [Az]


not the astrophysics
but the chronologies (now outgrown)

Kleist's "On The Marionette Theatre"


early 1980s

White Goddess, Robert Graves

Mary Beth Edelson (art)

goddess-installation in Buffalo 1980

Operators and Things

via WEC i think [Az]

Man's Place in Nature by CF Hockett


Robert Anton Wilson, Colin Wilson

unrelated literary twins

William Wharton


Elmore Leonard

topnotch crime escapism

Steve Wozniak, Bill Budge (code)

i learned my bad programming habits
from Woz's brilliant
Apple ][ machine language monitor

my good habits from Budge's tutorials in ?Softcell

Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake

useful but outgrown

Feynman's QED

SCTV, Monty Python (belatedly)

especially catherine o'hara

WXRT w/Bobby Skafish

Steppenwolf's Say Goodnight, Gracie (tv)

[IMDb] good luck finding it

[part two]