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Old 09-12-2008   #31
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Re: Book Recommendations




Karl Kraus (1874-1936), flamboyant satirist of turn-of-the-century Viennese society and culture, is but slowly gaining recognition in the English-speaking world. A contemporary of Freud, Schnitzler, Wittgenstein, Canetti, Schonberg, and Kokoschka, Kraus was most influential as an editor, publisher, and writer of the polemic journal Die Fackel (1899-1936). Drawing both on published texts and unpublished materials, Timms presents a fascinating portrait of Kraus as a complex and paradoxical figure within the broad cultural context of his times. Timms's book is a significant contribution to the study of early 20th-century European culture as well as to Kraus scholarship and thus should appeal to generalist and specialist alike. Recommended. Ulrike S. Rettig, German Dept., Wellesley Coll., Mass.

Karl_Kraus Karl_Kraus

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 09-12-2008   #32
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Re: Book Recommendations




The central character in this book, Ulrich, a modern man, wonders what to do with his life (fortunately a private income gives him various choices!). He gets drawn into elaborate and seemingly endless preparations for an event suitable to mark the 70th anniversary of the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Before long he finds himself drawn into a world of committees and their members, and this provides Musil with the opportunity to reflect (at great length) on meaning in a meaningless world.

Musil's characters are human in every sense. In addition to their commitment to their "work" (celebrating the great anniversary), they have relationships of varying depth and quality, and as they are drawn into their work, they are attracted or repelled by one another, with inevitable consequences. Musil delights in showing the hidden motives in human relationships and satirises the tendency of the most high-minded people to spiritualise basic human conflicts: extra-marital affairs have a tragic and heroic gloss put on them enabling the lovers to see themselves as participating in a high-minded tragedy rather than the usual philanderings of those who are less-exalted.

Musil digresses at length on philosophical matters and most readers will need to skim through some of the hundreds of pages where the main characters get lost in their train of thought. And of course, in the back of the readers mind is the thought that all the preparation will be brought to nought by the onset of the First World War. However, an underlying sense of humour pervades this book and there are a number of more comic characters who's antics bring light relief to what is on the whole an extremely dense narrative.



The_Man_Without_Qualities The_Man_Without_Qualities

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 09-12-2008   #33
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Re: Book Recommendations

Those of you who have posted in the “Horror Philosophy” thread might be interested in this fascinating post-structuralist study:



In her opening paragraph, Kristeva writes: “There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. A certainty protects it from the shameful—a certainty of which it is proud holds on to it. But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm, that leap is drawn toward an elsewhere as tempting as it is condemned. Unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself.”
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Old 09-14-2008   #34
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Re: Book Recommendations



Too unorthodox to be conservative, too systematic to be postmodern, Guerrilla Metaphysics is a unique attempt to describe the carpentry of things. At once systematic and offbeat, technical and poetic, it is a startling new vision of phenomenology's motto: To the things themselves!

Instead of the occasional cause that makes God responsible for all events, Guerrilla Metaphysics seeks the vicarious cause that links human beings, tools, rivers, mountains, plastic, and clowns. Professor Harman argues for a radical shift in the phenomenological attitude to objects, and explains how phenomenology can be reunified with the physical world that it wanted to bracket from view.

In Part Two Harman takes a fresh approach to metaphor and comedy, showing how even physical causation has the structure of allure. In the final Part, he offers a new account of causation, which is shown to be not only vicarious but also asymmetrical and buffered.

“This vigorously conceived and vividly written work has a mission: to effect an objective turn in philosophy, to direct attention from its present preoccupation with the subjective and linguistic aspects of human beings to the ‘carnival of the world’. . . . full of wonderful insights presented in reader-friendly language. A red-blooded book of solid learning applied to original reflection!”

—Eva Brann, author of The World of the Imagination

“Suppose that intentionality, the favorite vector of phenomenology, was subverted in such a way that instead of linking humans to objects, it became the way objects relate to one another. Then you would have a metaphysics that would give another meaning to the slogan ‘To the things themselves!’ This fully deserves the title of guerrilla warfare, though Harman, instead of wearing Che Guevara’s beret, has adopted William James’s splendid style to bring us back to the buzzing, blooming world.”

—Bruno Latour, author of We Have Never Been Modern

Graham Harman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo. He supported himself through part of graduate school as a Chicago sportswriter, in which capacity he interviewed such figures as Sammy Sosa and Bobby Knight. He is the author of Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects and translator of Gudrun Krämer’s History of Palestine.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 09-15-2008   #35
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Re: Book Recommendations




Quentin Meillassoux, a former student of Alain Badiou, is considered to be one of the most talented and exciting new voices in contemporary French philosophy.Quentin Meillassoux's remarkable debut makes a strikingly original contribution to contemporary French philosophy and is set to have a significant impact on the future of Continental philosophy. Written in a style that marries great clarity of expression with argumentative rigour, "After Finitude" provides bold readings of the history of philosophy and sets out a devastating critique of the unavowed fideism at the heart of post-Kantian philosophy.Meillassoux introduces a startlingly novel philosophical alternative to the forced choice between dogmatism and critique. "After Finitude" proposes a new alliance between philosophy and science and calls for an unequivocal halt to the creeping return of religiosity in contemporary philosophical discourse.The exceptional lucidity and the centrality of argument in Meillassoux's writing should appeal to Analytic as well as Continental philosophers, while his critique of fideism will be of interest to anyone preoccupied by the relation between philosophy, theology and religion.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 09-15-2008   #36
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Re: Book Recommendations

Quote Originally Posted by Cyril Tourneur View Post
Read it. It's part one, btw, from 1986. The second part was only published in 2005. I read that, too, a few months ago.
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Old 09-15-2008   #37
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Re: Book Recommendations



Written after Hamsun's return from an ill-fated tour of America, Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. Set in fin-de-siecle Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis. While he vainly tries to maintain an outer shell of respectability, his mental and physical decay are recounted in detail. His ordeal, enhanced by his inability or unwillingness to pursue a professional career, which he deems unfit for someone of his abilities, is pictured in a series of encounters which Hamsun himself described as 'a series of analyses.' In many ways, the protagonist of the novel displays traits reminiscent of Raskolnikov, whose creator, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was one of Hamsun's main influences. The influence of naturalist authors such as Emile Zola is apparent in the novel, as is his rejection of the realist tradition.

Hunger encompasses two of Hamsun's literary and ideological leitmotifs:

* His insistence that the intricacies of the human mind ought to be the main object of modern literature. Hamsun's own literary program, to describe 'the whisper of the blood and the pleading of the bone marrow', is thoroughly manifest in Hunger.
* His depreciation of modern, urban civilization. In the famous opening lines of the novel, he ambiguously describes Kristiania as 'this wondrous city that no one leaves before it has made its marks upon him.' The latter is counterbalanced in other of Hamsun's works such as Mysteries (Mysteries) (1892) and Growth of the Soil (Markens Grøde), which earned him the Nobel prize in literature but also a reputation for being a proto-National Socialist Blut und Boden author


Although his clothing, prospects, and health fail, he guards his dignity (often comically) and pencil stubs. The narrator wanders through the streets of the city – "that strange city no one escapes from until it has left its mark on him..." Eventually his high-minded articles – now and then purchased by newspapers – become incomprehensible even to his own fevered thoughts. There is nothing sentimental in his fasting – it is his own more or less nihilistic choice. He sells articles to the local paper, and meets a young woman, who is frightened of his impetuosity. '"Well, I never!" I blurted out. "Just you wait and see!" And I flung my arms lustily around her shoulders. Was the girl out of her mind? Did she take me for a complete greenhorn? Haw-haw, wouldn't I, though, by the living... None should say about me that I was backward on that score. What a little devil! If it was juts a matter of pushing on, then..." Losing his hair in clumps and unable to keep down his hard-won meals, the narrator finally gets a job as a deckhand on a Russian ship bound for England. "He fasts. But not in the way a Christian would fast," wrote Paul Auster in his introduction to Hunger. "He is not denying earthly life in anticipation of heavenly life; he is simply refusing to live the life he has been given." The Hunger expressed similar modernist tendencies as Edvard Munch's famous painting The Cry (1893), which did not derive from nature but from introspection, rejecting the notion of objective reality. As a type the young writer can be seen a predecessor to Charles Chaplin's famous screen character, the invincible vagabond.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 09-15-2008   #38
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Re: Book Recommendations

This is a book about the "apocalyptic folk" scene in England, which I personally really enjoy

David Keenan, "England's hidden Reverse.A Secret History Of The Esoteric Underground"



by Jim Haynes
originally published in The Wire, 234: August 2003

"It was a nihilistic little group of people. Yet we've all developed and changed and our creativity has been long-lived when it could have gone the other way and everybody could have committed suicide." John Balance offered this synopsis for the intertwining paths of Current 93, Nurse With Wound, his own group Coil and a handful of other post-Industrialists at the centre of David Keenan's timely first book England's Hidden Reverse. No one is better qualified to get their stories down before they finally dissolve into half-remembered tales and drug polluted hearsay than prolific Wire writer Keenan, who has already profiled its main protagonists in the magazine. His book essentially picks up where Wreckers Of Civilization, Simon Ford's monolithic account of Coum Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle left off, with its main protagonists one way or another inheriting the transgressive agency through which TG reinvested the gruesome, sidereal, oblique or arcane undercurrents of English society as a means of questioning its social contracts with its subjects. While he's not central to Keenan's story, P-Orridge emerges as an insightful foil to Current 93, Coil, and to a lesser extent Nurse With Wound.

Current 93's history is a complex affair, and their creator David Tibet is the most beguiling character here. Aided by Tibet's near photographic memory, not to mention his predilection for blurring the lines between metaphysical planes, Keenan traces C93's amazing story back to his dreamlike childhood in Malaysia, unhappy times at an English boarding school, and his gradual introduction into the occult, apocalyptic and apocryphal theologies at the core of C93's work. By the time he had moved to London from Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1980, Tibet already had it in mind to form an extreme electronics outfit that added occult esoterica to the aggression of TG and Whitehouse. Such a desire was partially sated when he landed a role in early Psychic TV, the group formed by P-Orridge and Sleazy Peter Christopherson when TG terminated their mission. Keenan's narrative deftly recounts Tibet's passionate involvement and growing frustration with P-Orridge. The first to jump the PTV ship, Tibet unleashed Current 93 as a torrent of nightmarish, apocalyptic sound collages. Keenan cites Love, Tiny Tim and Shirley Collins as crucial to C93's later reinvention as a vehicle for spartan folk minstrels, but his litany of Tibet's non-musical sources is just as compelling. Artists like Louis Wain, composer William Lawes, decadent author Count Stenbock, horror writer Thomas Ligotti and Noddy all figure in Tibet's vision of Christianity, manifest in grand imagery of suffering, passion and beauty.

Longtime C93 associate Steven Stapleton's began his own concern, Nurse With Wound, several years earlier as an attempt to make "cold, sterile music". Yet Keenan argues that his back catalogue of Surrealist experiments, ur-rock mantras, plunderphonic splutterings and generally form-destroying musics reveals an obtuse autobiography of a man obsessed with the creative process. Coming across as ruggedly individual and eccentric, Stapleton defines his work rather simply: "When it comes to creativity, whether I'm building a wall, mixing cement, making a sculpture, painting a picture, or making music, it's all the same. The same energy goes into it, the same creativity goes into it, and there's no room for anybody else." Keenan respectfully differs, mapping a counter argument through Stapleton's numerous source inspirations - for starters, the infamous Nurse With Wound list of favourite groups published with the first NWW record - collaborations with Tibet, Whitehouse's William Bennett, gypsy violinist Aranos and others, and relationships.

Though they were enthusiastic users in their early years, chemical abuse for Tibet and Stapleton diminished considerably with age. That's not the case with Coil's Balance and Christopherson. As a schoolboy collector of TG records, Balance had harboured a long-standing crush on Sleazy, and the pair became lovers when they were both in Psychic TV. Like Tibet, their eventual disillusionment with P-Orridge caused them to leave and concentrate on Coil. From the off, Coil drew energy from the works of William S Burroughs and English occult sex magician Austin Osman Spare, and London's gay underground. Drugs were the key to Coil's rituals, through which they attempted to shatter norms of perception, unravelling the fabric of society with their abject transubstantiations, carnivalesque apocalypses and triumphant, regenerative musics. Frustratingly, Coil's story periodically stalls when they reprise attempts to better their third official album, Love's Secret Domain, with its followup, Backwards. In the frequently heightened states they used to work in, the unknown forces they saw conspiring against them must have felt mighty real. Just so, Balance's growing addictions. Documenting the ravages of chemical use on recent Coil, Keenan is almost apologetic in his enthusiasm for their post-LSD albums, the still unfinished Backwards notwithstanding, which explore psychotropic ambience and Prog-laden electronics, as opposed to the sample-heavy vertigo of LSD or Horse Rotovator.

Punctuating his concise prose with dry wit while paying due critical attention to detail, Keenan's biography is a superb document that effortlessly unravels the intricacies of his main protagonists and their countless accomplices' relationships to post industrial England. For Current 93, Coil and Nurse With Wound, Keenan argues, Englishness, or rather the perversion and reversal of Englishness as a social construct, is necessary to their production.

Love Love Love
Rise! Rise! Rise!
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Old 09-17-2008   #39
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Re: Book Recommendations





Proverbs for Paranoids:
1. You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.
2. The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master.
3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
4. You hide, they seek.
5. Paranoids are not paranoid because they're paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, ####ing idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.
-- Collected from Gravity's Rainbow, V237, 241, 251, 262, & 292




Kekulé dreams the Great Serpent holding its own tail in its mouth, the dreaming Serpent which surrounds the World. But the meanness, the cynicism with which this dream is to be used. The Serpent that announces, "The World is a closed thing, cyclical, resonant, eternally-returning," is to be delivered into a system whose only aim is to violate the Cycle. Taking and not giving back, demanding that "productivity" and "earnings" keep on increasing with time, the System removing from the rest of the World these vast quantities of energy to keep its own tiny desperate fraction showing a profit: and not only most of humanity -- most of the World, animal, vegetable, and mineral, is laid waste in the process. The System may or may not understand that it's only buying time. And that time is an artificial resource to being with, of no value to anyone or anything but the System, which must sooner or later crash to its death, when its addiction to energy has become more than the rest of the World can supply, dragging with it innocent souls all along the chain of life.
--Gravity's Rainbow, V412





Gravity's Rainbow is an epic postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.

The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the "Schwarzgerät", which will be installed in a rocket with the serial number "00000".

Frequently digressive, the novel subverts many of the traditional elements of plot and character development, traverses detailed, specialist knowledge drawn from a wide range of disciplines, and has earned a reputation as a "difficult" book.

In 1974, the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction supported Gravity's Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. However, the other eleven members of the board overturned this decision, branding the book "unreadable, turgid, overwritten, and obscene." The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity's Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two reader's guides and several online concordances, and is frequently cited as Pynchon's magnum opus.

Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Structure and chronology

Gravity's Rainbow is composed of four parts, each of these composed of a number of episodes whose divisions are marked by a graphical depiction of a series of squares. It has been suggested that these represent sprocket holes as in a reel of film, although they may also bear some relation to the engineer's graph paper on which the first draft of the novel was written. One of the book's editors has been quoted as saying that the squares relate to censored correspondence sent between soldiers and their loved ones during the war. When family and friends received edited letters, the removed sections would be cut out in squared or rectangular sections. The squares that start each of the four parts would therefore be indicative of what is not written, or what is removed by an external editor or censor.The number of episodes in each part carries with it a numerological significance which is in keeping with the use of numerology and Tarot symbolism throughout the novel.

"Part 1: Beyond the Zero" consists of 21 episodes, which corresponds exactly to the number of cards in the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck if the Fool card is not counted or assigned a null value, hence the name of this part; "Beyond the Zero". The events of this part occur primarily during the Christmas Advent season of 1944 from December 18–26. The epigraph is a quotation from a pamphlet written by Wernher von Braun and first published in 1962: "Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death."

"Part 2: Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering" (French for "A Furlough at the Hermann Goering Casino") contains 8 episodes, a number that evokes the mathematical symbol of infinity and makes repeated appearances throughout the narrative. The events of this section span the five months from Christmas 1944 through to Whitsunday the following year; May 20, 1945. The epigraph is attributed to Merian C. Cooper, speaking to Fay Wray prior to her starring role in King Kong, as recounted by Wray in the September 21, 1969 issue of the New York Times: "You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood."

"Part 3: In the Zone" comprises 32 episodes, a number some speculate is related to the gravitational acceleration of 32 feet per second per second and also bearing significance to the Kabbalistic tradition. The action of Part 3 is set during the summer of 1945 with some analepses to the time period of Part 2 with most events taking place between May 18 and August 6; the day of the first atomic bomb attack and also the Feast of the Transfiguration. The epigraph is taken from The Wizard of Oz, spoken by Dorothy as she arrives in Oz and shows her disorientation with the new environment: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more..."

"Part 4: The Counterforce" is made up of 12 episodes, this number being most commonly associated with the 12 Apostles and the total number of zodiacal signs. The plot of this part begins shortly after August 6, 1945 and covers the period up to September 14th of that same year; the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, with extended analepsis to Easter/April Fool's weekend of 1945 and culminating in a prolepsis to 1970. The simple epigraphical quotation, "What?" is attributed to Richard M. Nixon, and was added after the galleys of the novel had been printed to insinuate the President's involvement in the unfolding Watergate scandal.

The novel's title is a reference to the parabolic trajectory of a V-2 rocket (the 'rainbow-shaped' path described by the missile as it moves under the influence of gravity, subsequent to its engine's deactivation); it is also thought to refer to the 'shape' of the plot, which many critics, such as Weisenburger have found to be cyclical, like the true shape of a rainbow, which is often believed to be just an arc. This follows in the literary tradition of Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Melville's The Confidence-Man.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure

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Old 09-17-2008   #40
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Re: Book Recommendations

Thank you, Tobias. There is some discussion of Thomas Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow in this thread which I started many moons ago:

THE CRYING OF LOT 49 by Thomas Pynchon - THOMAS LIGOTTI ONLINE

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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