27 June 2007

A key to "Ravelstein"

"Teaching, as Ravelstein understood teaching, was tricky work. You
couldn't afford to let the facts become generally known." p.59
I picked up Bellow's "Ravelstein" ($1 at DollarTree) because I'd heard Wolfowitz is in it. Some of the other identities were a little harder to trace:

"Abe Ravelstein" is Allan Bloom
"Chick" is Saul Bellow
"Vela" is Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea Bellow [pix]
"Rosamund" is Janis Freedman-Bellow
"Radu Grielescu" is Mircea Eliade [cite]
"Rakhmiel Kogon" is Edward Shills [cite]
"Felix Davarr" is Leo Strauss
"Nikki" is Michael Z Wu [cite]
"Phil Gorman" is Paul Wolfowitz
"Prof. Glyph" is John U. Nef [cite]
"Prof. Battle" is Paul Wheatley [cite]
"Mr Flood" is Jonathan Kleinbard [cite]
"Morris Herbst" is Werner Dannhauser [cite]
"Dr Abern" is Nicholas Davidson? [cite]

unidentified: Crazy Marford, Ruby Tyson, Dr Schley, Kerrigan, Kurbanski/Les Atouts, Sam Pargiter, Trimble, Smith, Durkin, Dr Bakst

real names: Paul Nitze, Alexandre Kojeve, Gus Alex, Nae Ionescu

If nothing else it's making me (re)read Allan Bloom with new attention.

[Bloom's pupils including Wolfowitz] "imitated his manners and tried to walk and talk as he did-- freely, wildly, pungently... They could be trusted with classified information, the state secrets they naturally would not pass on to their teacher." (pp.58-59)

Quote, 'Ravelstein' to 'Chick': "Do you expect to be tapped one of these days and be told that you have now become an elder of Zion?" (p.127)


26 June 2007

The canonical Wallace Stevens

"You know then that it is not the reason / That makes us happy or unhappy" Of Mere Being (1954)

"Every time the bucks went clattering / Over Oklahoma" Earthy Anecdote

"I know noble accents / And lucid, inescapable rhythms" Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

"I set my traps / in the midst of dreams" Anecdote of the Prince of Peacocks

"Ah! douce campagna of that thing!" The Well Dressed Man With A Beard

"When this yokel comes maundering, / Whetting his hacker" The Plot Against The Giant

"What is all this? / I know how furiously your heart is beating" Gray Room

"...bid him whip / In kitchen cups concupiscent curds" The Emperor of Ice-Cream

"The world is ugly, / And the people are sad" Gubbinal

"It made the slovenly wilderness / Surround that hill" Anecdote of the Jar

"He felt a subtle quiver, / That was not heavenly love, / Or pity" Cy est Pourtraicte, Madame Ste Ursule, et les Unze Mille Vierges

"Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, / And the green freedom of a cockatoo" Sunday Morning (long)

"It was at that time, that the silence was largest / And longest, the night was roundest, / The fragrance of the autumn warmest, / Closest and strongest" On the Road Home

"The houses are haunted / By white night-gowns" Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

"Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan / Of tan with henna hackles, halt!" Bantams in Pine-woods

"But that things go round and again go round / Has rather a classical sound" The Pleasures of Merely Circulating

"The house was quiet and the world was calm. / The reader became the book" The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm

"What syllable are you seeking, / Vocalissimus" To The Roaring Wind

"...comes flinging / Forms, flames, and the flakes of flames" Nomad Exquisite

"Beauty is momentary in the mind — / The fitful tracing of a portal; / But in the flesh it is immortal" Peter Quince at the Clavier

"Out of the tomb we bring Badroulbadour" The Worms at Heaven's Gate

"Bonnie and Josie, / Dressed in calico" Life Is Motion

"The beams of the huge night / Converged upon its image, / Until the wind blew" Valley Candle

Some canon-worthy titles (not the poems, just the titles):
The Bird with Coppery, Keen Claws
The Man Whose Pharynx was Bad
Le Monocle de mon Oncle
No Possum, No Sop, No Taters
The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain
Sea Surface Full of Clouds
United Dames of America


25 June 2007

Action hypertext and the beehive paradigm

while compiling my neologisms list
i occasionally came across ideas
that had completely faded from my thinking

one of which
'action hypertext'
i'm happy to resuscitate

the w3c paradigm for the semantic web
is approximately beehive-like
every webpage a hierarchy of containers
to be filled in by worker-drones
presumed to know in advance
exactly what they want to say
and how it fits into the rest of the web/site

but action hypertext is the opposite of this
each author an indeterminate jackson-pollock splatterer

each new webpage starting from scratch
with no clear idea where it's coming from
or where it's going
freeform blocks of text
with freeform styles of separation between them

textblocks accumulating
more or less intentionally
in the course of never-finished web exploration

visits to un/familiar sites
search patterns un/successful
articles read skimmed skipped bookmarked
links saved shared discussed updated

so each of these web-actions
can be seen as an item in an ongoing stream
that should be archived
and re-traceable

and all the usual choices
for dealing with the results of these web-actions:

forget it, shred it
save it, share it, debate it
add it to your to-read list
subscribe to its feed
set a tickler-alarm for it
announce it to the world
link it from related pages of your own
etc etc etc

all these usual choices
should be offered in a standard
that action-authors habitually consider
when dismissing any action-result


18 June 2007

01-30 June 2007 links

What Jack Handey looks like (Seattle w/popup)
Google's own list of 'refinement labels' for search (GgCoop-arcane)
Nice gallery of 50-or-so digerati (Biz2-50pg-arcanish)
GoogleMaps directions now support drag-n-drop (Blgscpd-short)
Follow-your-bliss 2.0 (Dilbert)
Montage of filmclips counting down numbers from 100 (yTube-10min via Fim)
Google eBooks (custom search) (GgCoop)
Meth now comes in fruit flavors (local via dTongue)
Custom search-engine for best-books/canons (GgCoop)
GoogleWeb not just blue links anymore (Blgscpd-friv)
Now the visible confirmation of what I knew by instinct / But had never seen: that only strange things could be beautiful (NYer-longish)
Genuine aphrodisiac in pharmco pipeline (sfGate via Fim)
Birdseye-frame-samples views of famous movies (1pg-phat via Fim)
NyT never learns lessons of 1997 Asian financial crash (dBaker)
How much peyote is too much? (NYer toon)
Unsolved mysteries of Rubik's Cube (short via dTongue)
Chomsky vs Mamet (mWeiss)
Suze Rotolo to finally kiss-n-tell... next year (Az via Steve)
Short update on game AI (Boston w/popup via Herself)
New leaks on AmericanTaliban jwLindh torture (Harpers)
Yet another custom Joyce search-engine experiment (GgCoop-looks-promising)
'puddle' = clothes piled for quick donning (dTongue)
'nebulite' = any unidentified rock/mineral (dTongue)
Three Joseph McElroy essays/story (site w/PDFs) [fan]
Foxman/Lobby update (jPost w/pic)
Some useful search tricks (Blgscpd)
Homemade 'digital' DaftPunk video (yTube-4min via eAard Fim)
Rightous NPR show on creativity (esp) in music (ArtOfTheSong w/m3u's)
Only six news outlets mention name of Charleston firetrap's owner (GgN)
'collector of injustice' = (criminal profile) (dTongue)
'precariat' = proles w/precarious jobs (dTongue)
'monday jetlag' = still wants to sleep late (dTongue)
'box office' = cockpit for feminists (dTongue)
That's j-as-in-jeans, o-as-in-oedipus... (alphabet via dTongue)
'Barger Canon' tops 100 items (RWx w/new links)
USA 'detains' Iranian diplomats in Iraq (Harpers w/link)
Spore mysteriously delayed (why doesn't this game excite me?) (short via Fim)
AynRand praises smoking (quote-short)
Less-known iPhone features (Onion-friv)
New GetYrWarsOn (mnftiu-2pg?)
GgNArchive timeline clusters ten IsraelLobby stories since 1980 (GgN-archive)
Short faq on Hamas/Fatah/Gaza/etc (Harpers)
New Hersh on Abu Ghraib (NYer-looong)
GgN: hamas fatah +democratically.elected 200 hits -democratically.elected 20k hits
'chook tractor' = let the chickens plow (dTongue)
New 'Sicko' at GgV (GgV-2hr via Waxy) updated
Canon 2.0 (repurposed-Blogger)
Cut it out, we're white (oDinny)
Hawt chyx who can kick yr ass... at chess (1pg-phat via iJunk)
Tufte profile (NyMag via Fim)
Ribbon-magnets we'd like to see ($8)
News outlets recently mentioning 'Israel Lobby' (GgN-83hits)
'take a zero' = miss a day of metered project (dTongue)
Recursive islands-with-lakes-with-islands (1pg-friv w/pix via Fim)
Stats on recycling's effectiveness (Econ via vBoat)
Where did you learn that phrase?! (oDinny)
New solar power plant in Nevada (pic via Sam)
Little US coverage of USS Liberty 40th anniversary (GgNews-53hits)
USA vs world GDPs (map via StrangeMaps)
New NYRB (toc)
Staples staples (oDinny)
Writing-software real authors use (NyT w/popup via Fim)
Kevin MacDonald's critical articles on Judaism (links via Xym)
Unexploited excrable pun: W = 'Pere wBu' (no hits)
Visualising world diets (Time-16pg via iSthtcs)
Old 'Realist' magazines scanned (site via Xym)
World peace map (via Sam)
Don't-miss animated worldmap of human origins (Flash via tHow)
Soy idolo (spanish)
Killer robots deployed on Gaza border (dNews-no-pix via rGossip)
(Not enough) Jewish soul-searching on Iraq (mWeiss)
West Bank map (FT via Xym)
To better serve our customers construction will be going on for the rest of your lives (oDinny)
That includes annoying little girls with dark brown, curly hair (oDinny)
Crystal skulls, new and less new (blog w/pix via Fim)
Funny Dilbert (Sunday)
New improved Dublin Core, now with added a.i. (varcane via catBlog)
TB-vector conspiracy theorising (Xym-1) (Xym-2)
Documentary on Wiles' solution of Fermat theorem (GgV-45min via iGreed)
Neologisms-list on steroids (RWx-99terms)
Freaky robot toddler (Jp-short w/pic via rGossip)
Was 1976 Entebbe rescue staged? (BBC via Xym)
Profile of UTex lit archives (NYer-loong)
They don't have your ghetto-ass name on a key chain (oDinny)
Do I look like I like to laugh? (oDinny)
Tell me something I don't know (oDvrwhr)
The P. Diddy of 19th century German philosophy (oDvrwhr)
Crazy guy looking at reflection in store window... (oDvrwhr)
'spoon' = person too scary for knife or fork (dTongue)
'redshirt' = small child held back a year (dTongue)
Zappa quote on 'artifact children' (uDict)
Semi-arcane experiments in visual comparison (15pg via iSthtcs)


Strangeness in canon-synching

since no organism has perfect understanding
the most important part of spreadsheet synching
is the accommodation of anomalies

messages theat defy existing conventions
exceptions to aristotle
jumping out of the normal rules of the game

to ignore them could be suicide

so evolution must have made provision
for responding without thinking

comprehansion =0
importance = ?infinity

so harold bloom makes 'strangeness'
his primary criterion of canonicity
(or better
enduring rereadable irreducible

there are more things under heaven
stranger than we can imagine

now in the early 21st century
this fringe attracts the transgressive
taboo kinky sex
insane drug psychosis
occult magick mystical
violence sadism intimidation
extrasensory extraterrestrial

david lynch, x-files


The Barger Canon

i distrust all best-books lists
because it's impossible to be completely honest
under the pressure of peers' sneers
in rejecting consensus classics
and admitting guilty pleasures

but i invented a countertechnique
for sorting favorites
where you imagine that any pair of authors
have each released a new work
touted as comparable to your favorite
among their earlier works

which would you try first?

by this test
escapist pleasures bubble up
while remorse-lit plummets

but i wouldn't call this a canon
just a reading list

for a ranked canon
you need to believe your omissions are justified

and you need to ask which of the two
candidate authors
you'd recommend others read first
assuming they're eager to
have their eyelids pried open

weighing payoff vs effort

(the remarkable range of overlaps with bloom
are marked "(bloom)"
while effective escapism
ie payoff much greater than effort
is graded "(escape+++)"

the year i discovered each work
is also now noted "(2006)"

and known etexts are linked)

  1. israel shahak (1999) [fan]

    "jewish history, jewish religion" [etext]
    and "jewish fundamentalism in israel" [etext]

    if these accurately reflect the hebrew press
    the gentile world is
    perishing of gullibility

  2. william blake (bloom, 1974)

    start here
    [full etext]

  3. wallace stevens (bloom, 1970)

    just 23 short poems [links]

  4. "zen flesh, zen bones" (1970)

  5. barbara o'brien's "operators & things" (escape, 1981)

  6. pynchon's "crying of lot 49" (bloom, escape, 1974) [etext]

  7. robert stone's "dog soldiers" (bloom, escape+, 1974) [fan]

  8. krishnamurti (1972) [fan]

    the "commentaries on living" especially

  9. "laws of form" by g. spencer brown (1974) [fan]

  10. ulysses, finnegans wake, ellmann, annotations (bloom, 1968)

    browse first, then lean on my pages

  11. roget's thesaurus (1965)

  12. gravity's rainbow (bloom, 1974)

  13. iris murdoch "a word child" (escape+, 1977) [fan]

  14. nabokov's "strong opinions" (1974) [fan] [etexts]

  15. robert stone's "a flag for sunrise" (bloom, escape, 1993) [fan]

  16. nabokov's "lolita" (bloom, 1974) [etext]

  17. iris murdoch "the black prince" (escape+, 1977) [fan]

  18. early 'peanuts' by charles schulz (escape++, 1959)

  19. walker percy's "love in the ruins" (escape, 1974)

  20. mortimer adler's syntopicon (1986)

  21. mcelroy's "ancient history" (1976) [fan]

  22. le carre's karla trilogy (escape++, 1979) [fan]

  23. ralph pape "say goodnight, gracie" (play) (1982)

  24. renata adler 'speedboat' (1976)

  25. nabokov's "pale fire" (bloom, 1974)

  26. dawkins' "selfish gene" (1976)

  27. polti's "36 dramatic situations" (1986) [outline]

  28. harold brodkey's "stories in an almost classical mode" (bloom, 1988) [fan]

  29. blanche mccrary boyd's collected fiction (escape, 1977) [fan]

  30. patrick o'brian's aubrey-maturin series (escape++, 2000)

  31. kingsley amis "lucky jim" (escape+, 1977)

  32. christopher cerf's "world's largest cheese" (1969)

  33. feynman's QED (1985)

  34. le carre's "looking glass war" (escape, 1976)

  35. pynchon's "against the day" (2006)

  36. graham greene's "the comedians" (escape, 2005)

  37. joseph heller "catch-22" (escape++, 1967) [page images]

  38. bill james's harpur and iles series (escape+, 2004)

  39. cf hockett "man's place in nature" (1976)

  40. gribbin's "schrodinger's kittens" (2004)

  41. jl austin (1975)

  42. robert anton wilson's historical illuminatus trilogy (escape+, 1991)

  43. pirsig's "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" (1975)

  44. jim harrison's "sundog" (escape+, 2004)

  45. lynda j barry's comics (1983) [recent]

  46. "the ape within us" by frans de waal (2007)

  47. joyce's "stephen hero" (2001) [annotated etext]

  48. peter bowen's gabriel du pre series (2004)

  49. dickey's "deliverance" (escape+, 1971)

  50. stone's "children of light" (1986)

  51. martin amis "other people" (1990)

  52. murdoch's "the sea, the sea" (escape+, 1978)

  53. tom wolfe's "bonfire of the vanities" and "a man in full" (escape+, 1987/1998) [fan]

  54. castaneda's "teachings of don juan" and "separate reality" (1971)

  55. robertson davies's "deptford trilogy" (bloom, escape+, 1977)

  56. jeff dorchen "ugly's first world" (play) (1991)

  57. peter dickinson "tulku" (&ccccc) (escape++, 1979) [fan]

  58. stone's "outerbridge reach" (escape, 1992)

  59. melville's "moby dick" (bloom, 1982) [etexts]

  60. tolstoy's "anna karenin" (bloom, 1975) [etexts]

  61. colin wilson's early fiction (escape+, 1988)

  62. william wharton "dad" (&c) (escape, 1982) [fan]

  63. philip pullman's "his dark materials" trilogy (escape+, 2002) [fan]

  64. tolstoy's war and peace (bloom, 1975)

  65. robert bly "little book of the human shadow" (1990)

  66. finkelstein's "bible unearthed" (2001)

  67. doctorow's "ragtime" (escape++, 1975)

  68. graham greene "a burnt-out case" (1985)

  69. martin amis "london fields" (&c) (escape, 1989)

  70. jd salinger's works (bloom, 1968) [etexts]

  71. walker percy "the moviegoer" (bloom, escape+, 1974)

  72. kingsley amis "stanley and the women" (escape, 2007)

  73. "the 100th boyfriend" by daly and skeels [Az] (1992)

  74. peter redgrove's "black goddess and the unseen real" (1989)

  75. fink "social philosophy" (2006)

  76. gospel of thomas (2001) [etexts]

  77. le carre "a perfect spy" (&c) (escape+, 1999)

  78. grass's "tin drum" (bloom, escape, 1967)

  79. michael gruber/ robert k tanenbaum's karp-ciampi series (&c) (escape++, 2004) [fan]

  80. thomas harris "red dragon" (escape++, 2007)

  81. colin harrison "afterburn" (escape+, 2007)

  82. carl hiaasen's "stormy weather" (escape+++, 2006)

  83. ruth rendell's "a judgment in stone" (&c) (escape+, 2007)

  84. murdoch's "nuns and soldiers" (&ccc) (escape, 1980)

  85. flaubert's mrs bovary (bloom, 1988)

  86. grif stockley's fiction (escape, 2006)

  87. jeffery deaver's fiction (escape+++, 1998)

  88. stone's "damascus gate" (1998)

  89. mcelroy's "lookout cartridge" (1975)

  90. ward just's fiction [fan]

  91. pinter's "homecoming" (bloom, 1973)

  92. conrad's "nostromo" (bloom, 2004) [etext]

  93. gibson's "pattern recognition" (escape+, 2003)

  94. thomas mcguane's fiction (escape+)

  95. graves' "white goddess" (1981)

  96. minette walters' "acid row" (escape+, 2004)

  97. joseph wambaugh "golden orange" and "black marble" (escape, 2007)

  98. michael connelly "the closers" (&ccc) (escape++, 2006)

  99. scott turow's fiction (escape)

  100. julian jaynes "origin of consciousness" (1977)

  101. nicholson baker "the mezzanine" (escape, 2004)

  102. dan brown "da vinci code", "angels and demons" (escape+++, 2004)

  103. elmore leonard "stick" (&ccc) (escape+++)

  104. thomas perry's jane whitehead series (escape++)

  105. george v higgins's fiction

  106. vance bourjaily's "now playing at canterbury" (&c) (1977)

  107. patricia highsmith's "a suspension of mercy" (&c) (2006)

  108. brodkey "first love and other stories" (1988)

  109. greg iles's fiction (escape+, 2007)

  110. berger's "little big man" (&c) (escape+)

  111. franzen's "the corrections" (2002)

  112. eric ambler's "the levanter" (&c) (escape+, 2006)

  113. james purdy's fiction

  114. maupin's "tales of the city" series (escape+, 1994)

  115. joyce maynard's fiction (escape+)

  116. mary mccarthy's fiction

  117. madison smartt bell's fiction

  118. wright morris's fiction (bloom)

  119. barbara pym's fiction

  120. graves "i, claudius"

  121. vonnegut (bloom, escape+, 1968)

  • Skinner's "Walden Two"
  • Tufte's "Envisioning Information"
  • Alexander's "A Pattern Language"
  • EO Wilson's "Sociobiology"
  • Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science"
  • Stephen Gaskin's talks and sermons
  • Joni Mitchell's lyrics
  • Wade's "Before the Dawn"
  • Dawkins' "Ancestors' Tale"
  • Penrose's "Emperor's New Mind"
  • Sinuhe
  • Amarna letters
  • Kleist essay
  • lynn kostoff "a choice of nightmares"

08 June 2007

A current of pleasure he'd never thought of looking for

john casey frames his
1989 national book award winner
'spartina' as the struggle of a
poor unhappy but ethical rhode island local
(dick pierce)
to purloin the secret of happiness from
the happy but unethical wealthy tourists
disgnated early in the book
as the 'players' (unethical)
vs the non-players

his mata-hari accomplice
is a welthy tomboy
who's attempting to jump ships
from tourist to local
(inspired partly by her admiration for pierce)
by playfully taking the job of game warden

early in their affair casey writes
"He watched her laugh get the better of her,
and he felt a current of pleasure
he'd never thought of looking for."

on one level this metaphor
echoes pierce's expertise in finding fish
by understanding sea currents

but at a higher level it echoes
the highest task of the novelist:
to reveal unexpected currents of human motivation

in the synchronising-spreadsheets metaphor
this is the highest level

pierce is trying to reverse-engineer
the hidden formula
that makes players happy

while casey offers all readers
a chance to synchronise
to that same formula
via pierce's process of search