Friday, May 16, 2014

Miscellanea litteraria (neu bearbeitet)

The following  link to essays which may broadly be described as literary (I include both cinematic and televisual criticism under that head).

It was natural that Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown should eventually meet…

Though a widely-traveled man of eclectic culture, he was very, very American.   Henry James, T.S. Elliot -- Europe can have ‘em.  Langston we keep.
The book began as a schlock paperback, but is one of the pulps which got taken seriously by the French, and get reissued in pretigious editions  -- this one from Vintage, with its signature generous trim-size, impeccable font and layout, and paper so creamy you could spread it on a croissant.   It’s a crime novel, seemingly of the subtype Evil Texas Lawman Takes the Law into his Own Horny Hands -- but turns out to be a genre-bender.

The greatly overrated Appalachian poet J. Francis Shade  cribbed extensively, shamelessly, from St. Augustine’s unpublished works.  We won’t detail his many “borrowings” (larcenies, would be more like it);  we merely wish to set the record straight.

And so we rest, le miel sur le lèvres, in an eternal posture of disappointment, as the story freezes to a close.   It is, at the end, a chat, an elegant but empty exercise;  a jack-in-the-box with no jack in it.

For a mini-movie
of madness and salvation,
click here:


Il y avait déjà bien des années  que, de Kronstadt,  tout ce qui n’étaît pas le théâtre et le drame de l’abbattage, n’existait plus pour moi …

Dachdecker stürzen ab  und gehn entzwei,
Und an den Küsten -- liest man -- steigt die Flut.

Par définition, le private eye (détective privé) est un homme solitaire.  It vit, il poursuit  sa solitude.  Tant mariage que progéniture  lui est interdit.

Gratuit !
Lisez le conte entier

الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام 

For a cool dude
and a hot dame,
check this out:

Our purpose here is broadly  to defend the very idea of using symbols, and indeed the intellectual integrity of an admittedly threadbare image, simply by pointing out that such reduction to the palpable  is no mental vice unique to religion, but may be found even within -- nay, not science merely, to show that would be child's-play:  but even within that most abstract and impalpable exercise in mental extension, mathematics.

For a selection of individual detective stories,
available for your Nook or Kindle,
visit this site:

Hör zu, Maria, zärtliche Vorschläge … (On Supplication)

Repetition alone does not suffice.  Witness Pamela, who over and over (and over  (and over))  again and again, vents forth the same sentiments in much the same terms.  Yet her we never sense as much more than a wisp amid petticoats.

The “Lorne” here, a.k.a.  “The Host”, is a denizen of the Buffyverse -- specifically the Angel Archipelago thereof.   He is an Empathy Demon by trade, and he is green.  Very, very green.  (As someone well observed, it’s not easy being green.)

The technical term for such displaced stress metri causâ  is “wrenched accent”.

It is a stylistic characteristic of the philosophic genre, that its reported combattants are generally abstract and shadowy, unnamed figures.  Not Gould vs Dawkins, or Quine vs Chomsky, but: the Realist; the Representationalist; the Phenomenalist, each with his separate agenda; curiously dispassionate partisans, like players in a masque.

I finally forced myself all the way through Ulysses.   Its reputation among the exquisite literati stands much higher than that of its youthful slender cousin,  but I am here to tell you that anyone who tells you it is a breeze to read, is talking through his hat.   Beyond that lies only the cold northern slope of that nec plus ultra of ultima Thule -- Finnegan.

I was alone with Holmes in his upstairs lodgings, one dreary February late-afternoon, which  in shading into evening, turned but from a wan  to a gloomier grey …

©God, 3000 BC.  All Rights Reserved for the movie version, 
 y compris en URSS

A brainy novel is not necessarily any good …

To understand the Rootabaga Poems,  it helps to know a considerable number of hoboes;  but sometimes a knowledge of basic QED comes in handy as well.

Es war eben nur kurz nach meiner Habilitation, als ich noch mich als Privatdozent an der Universität Wien tätig machte, da kam es zu mir im Labor  eine mir bisher unbekannte junge Dame …

Our Mutual Friend, the last finished novel of Charles Dickens, does not lie at the center of most readers’ affections;  yet connoisseurs there are, who wóuld award the palm to that late work.   And one of the most memorable minor characters therein -- as minor as might be, since (if memory serves) he utters not a word at any time -- is the discreetly appearing and vanishing figure of the Analytical Chemist.

The departure from normal dramatic narrative conventions  goes deeper.  As with Gibson’s “The Passion”,  “Zero Dark Thirty” is less a movie in the conventional sense, than a ritual re-enactment, like a medieval Mystery Play.

“Mr Pinch opened his eyes wider, and looked at the fire harder than he had done yet.”
Whatever can this mean?

Dickens deftly sketches eye-service, and two-facedness of character, via subtle shifts in the narrative point of view, particularly in the depiction of physical gestures.   By leaving the interpretation to the reader, he skewers his character with a very thin blade.

From time to time I am seized by a hankering for a whodunit, or (in a different mood) a thriller.   Such a yen is as elemental and sensuous as that for a milkshake or hamburger.

When he was good,
he was very very good …

I am a man of sixty winters;  she, when she put the final pen-nib upon paper,  was a lass of barely fifty.  Yet I attend to her lessons, intently; as who should sit  at the foot of Socrates.

In a lengthy novel, more admired than read, Robert Musil depicts the initially spring-fevered, ultimately autumnal society of Vienna under the Hapsburgs …

Mister Pecksniff  and Ted Cruz -- separated at birth?

Importance of the corpus delicti:   If the body is missing, the alleged victim is alive, either kidnapped, or participating in some scam.

Apparently he was assigned a discontinued number previously used by a high-priced call-girl.  Instead of simply asking the phone company for a new number stat, he is intrigued, and is drawn in deeper, and deeper, beyond his depth …

There is a natural affinity between the figures of Sigmund Freud and Sherlock Holmes.  The movie “The Seven Percent Solution” had the good idea of bringing them together to work on a case.

In the default view of the series, in which The Village is evil, that is because, far from any therapeutic intent, those that run The Village have an evil axe to grind.  Only -- bear in mind the Alternate Ending of “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari”, reproduced in “Shutter (Shelter) Island”, and experimentally apply it.   This could actually work, at quite an abstract level  barely comprehensible in the week-to-week views that we see through the eyes of The Prisoner -- or should we call him, The Patient …

While our colleagues have been frittering away their energies on the vagaries of this and that contingent development in the visible world, we ourselves have, pursuant to a billion-euro grant from the IMF (Office of Unexplained Anomalies) undertaken to found an entirely new field:  Ekapsychic Adaptationism, or Supernatural Selection.  

My brother and I have each reached our 60s:  a threshold that our father never glimpsed, as he died swiftly upon reaching 55.  And so it is the time to reminisce -- the moreso as, just offstage, the Reaper sits, meditatively whetting his scythe.

The reading (or staging) that I suggest, confronts this question in a way that has nothing whatever to do with political correctness:  that of not playing down, but playing up Shylock’s Jewish faith and ancestry, playing it up to its full and mighty stature, whose long shadow has ever lain across the world.

It is my personal view that both Freud and Holmes are semi-fictional characters.

Der Detektiv -- Private Eye, versteht sich -- ist ein Mann ohne Eigenschaften.   Das Ziel seiner Forschungen  bestimmt er nicht selbst:  das ist ihm eben von aussen gegeben.

Thus Henry James has no doubt rendered many lessons about human behavior, but only about such humans as have long suffered from constipation ….

Subsequently, the evil pet-store-owner tracks him down (unclear how) and confronts him;  but Herr Doktor Dolittle counter-confronts him, in a variation of P.G.Wodehouse's line for Bertie Wooster, "I know all about Eulalie."  The intel being of course supplied by his animal-friends ...

I am at present engaged in gnawing away at a novel that everyone praises but few actually read, at least not all the way through.  It is Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (vol. I: 1930; vol. II: 1932) by Robert Musil, better known to  algolagniacs  as the author of Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß

Some little-known and rarely-anthologized Elizabethan gems  are on loan to us from a seldom-frequented underground chamber of the Vatican library, and are published here for the first time …

O mistress mine...

By dipping into the considerable funds that have been slowly accumulated in the Dr J Retirement Yacht Fund (and which we intend to spend  as ever we d*mn well please, yaught or naught),  we were enabled to acquire, at considerable expense, a scrap of foolscap …

Goldstein followed up this beautiful debut  with something less good, and with a dreadful title, The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind;  then with something very much less good, The Dark Sister;  and then a collection of short stories, Strange Attractors,  that  in places  descends to the level of a Harlequin romance:  "His eyes were large and liquid and luminous – too luminous.  His nose is of an exquisite Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations” …

No-one ever accused Italian of being unsuitable for singing, and the song sounds fine;  only if you have heard the French original, do you notice what has been sacrificed:  the stark irreducible enten/eller contrast of the Oui and the Non.

I have just finished reading the prolific master’s comparatively little-known but quite wonderful comic novel, Money for Nothing (1928).
Someday  I may have something intelligent to say about this wordsmith magician who pulls rabbit after rabbit out of his fathomless hat,
but for now, the following observation must suffice ….

Japanese, which is syllable-timed, lends itself gracefully to the haiku form.
English, by contrast, is stress-timed, the syllable-count being not even wholly determinate ….

In the ideal Mobystich Acquisition Device, there exists but a single monostich;  yet by Symmetry Breaking, this gets framed differently on different days.   These are, you might say, contextually conditioned mobyphones deriving from a single basic monosticheme.

The strength of the American television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (whose fluff-headed-sounding title was largely ironic) was the esprit de corps of the “Scoobie gang”, the band of oddly-assorted intrepid defenders  that grouped itself around the titular heroine.   The weakness was the lack of anything comparable on the opposing side ….

I first met Waugh’s work in college, reading several of his early novels.  “Wickedly funny”, as the jacket-copy accurately described them.  Emphasis on the “wicked”;  it was by no means apparent, from these japes, that the fellow might be “religious” -- whatever that might mean.  (I was myself, at the time, wholly unchurched.)

Of desirelessness (technically:  anhedonia), I almost dare not speak …

Like the haiku, the monostich is Minimalist in inspiration;  but whereas a haiku practically has to be about water-lilies or something, given the restrictions of form, a monostich is more wide-ranging.  (Also, haikus are essentially syllable-timed, and don’t make sense in a stress-timed language like English.)

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