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Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 12:46PM
Sawfish wrote, "I'll bet some of this is public domain, and I can likely download it. Otherwise, I'll look for ebook versions at the library."

Yep -- I've indicated sources for some public domain items. However, in my experience, reading the Pevear & Volokhonsky translations has enhanced my experience of Dostoevsky. I'd read Demons before (as The Possessed), and Brothers Karamazov and Crime & Punishment in other translations. I much prefer the P&V. For Tolstoy, if the Aylmer Maude translations are available in the public domain, those might do fine instead of P&V. Indeed, I think their translations of Tolstoy have come in for some criticism from one credible source (as well as getting a lot of praise). You should be able to get used copies of any of these from abebooks.com or the like at decent prices.

By the way, Vodolazkin's The Aviator was really good too, though I'd say start with Laurus.

I liked the Strugatsky brothers' sf Roadside Picnic and mean to read it again one of these days.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 23 Jan 21 | 12:50PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 12:48PM
For me, "insufficient data" -- as I often have to admit to the missus -- to say much about French and German literature -- French especially.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 01:20PM
I don't feel I have enough to be definitive, either, and yet...

In a way, it's like the "beauty thread" a few days ago: it is something I definitely feel, but grapple with the attributes.

It's difficult for me to let something go if I intuitively get a sense of a seemingly unmistakable characteristic. For the beauty debate, I could *feel* that your direction and ultimate intent, as far as I got it, had validity, but I become obsessed with characterizing things in detail (a foul materialist, you see), at their constituent parts, and I was really getting nowhere on "beauty"--even though I felt *something* that might be termed "beauty" certainly exists.

Now the same for this "cultural traits" stuff but it's much less slippery because it's possible to grab a handhold on the general topic because I think its constituent parts are clearer.

For example, in modern French fiction, very often there is a sort of searching for the individual's philosophic place in the universe, and this seldom included the idea of a theological framework; it can come off as a sort of moral malaise that is inevitable--and the voice knows this. This quest is fairly consistent in the modern French writers I've read, and so much alike that I want to extrapolate for sake of any initial default position (so as to clearly identify it for testing) that it does indeed exist and is a fairly common concern in modern French cultural thought.

Now compare this to modern Irish fiction. I don't see the quest in the same way, at all, and I believe that much more of Irish writing is informed by a cultural adhesion to their perceived nation/race--their "Irishness" informs their idea of who/what they are, and hence how they think.

I read once where the idea is that the French are symbolic parricides--with regicide being a sort of national parricide--they know it deeply, and it is reflected not as guilt, but as independence from a father figure--but now lacking a central mooring. Recognized authority is missing, and indeed, not even possible.

Really, they come off as a bunch of Hamlets, not that he was a parricide, but in the way they morosely seek their place in the universe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 01:57PM
What you're saying about French and Irish contemporary fiction sounds plausible to me, but my opinion would be worth almost nothing.

You said, Sawfish, "For the beauty debate, I could *feel* that your direction and ultimate intent, as far as I got it, had validity, but I become obsessed with characterizing things in detail (a foul materialist, you see), at their constituent parts" -- I read that and wondered if scrutiny for "constituent parts" is something that doesn't work with the beautiful. Putting it oversimply, is the beautiful something that must be contemplated as a whole -- however imperfect and partial our awareness of it -- before we focus on parts? If I examine the parts first, will I ever attain to an apprehension of the beautiful? Now I think, given the imperfection of one's attention, sensibility, etc. that one will often begin with a partial and imperfect awareness of the whole, but that's not the same thing as trying to build up logically from parts to whole.

That, by the way, might relate to my conviction that, often, a literary work must be reread before one can say one has rightly read it. Conversely, there are works of literary craft that can be fun to read but that have little to offer in a second reading unless enough time has passed that one has forgotten a lot. I'd cite Stephen King's 11/22/63 as an example of this. I like that book, for the most part, but when I read it the second time (after a lapse of several years), I didn't have the sense that there was much there that I hadn't got the first time. The things I liked the first time, I still liked, and things I didn't, ditto. But the first time I read the Dostoevsky novels that I mentioned earlier today, they were less engaging than on subsequent readings.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 02:08PM
I bought the first two Calvin & Hobbes albums, and enjoyed them a lot. I also used to read and collect all of the Fawcett or Coronet pocket books with Peanuts (Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends). Obviously they are related and closely comparable, both very well drawn. Calvin & Hobbes perhaps more technically conspicuous. But I think I prefer Peanuts. The humour is warmer and has more subtle psychological depth.

But I would not associate either of them with Beauty. Elegance of line, perhaps, extreme skill and sureness of drawing hand, humour and sharp insight. But too stylized, mannered, and flat, to have anything of beauty. I think Beauty requires more complexity, and a certain animated asymmetry inside the harmonious proportions, to make it come alive, like in Nature.

The Far Side by Gary Larson is another great one, suitable for those who appreciate the weird. It always reminds me of Lovecraft. I have only seen a small part, but my single favorite frame shows a couple on the beach, the man sitting down by the sea, and his fat trash wife standing a bit further up, back to him, looking after other people and more mundane things. Meanwhile a fish in a small bowl with wheels rolls up from the sea, circles the man to observe him, and drives back down again, before he can collect his wits to call on his wife. One can imagine her reaction, when he later starts telling, and reassuring her.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 02:14PM
More on the Russian topic -- take a look at Russian Folk Tales, illustrated by Ivan Bilibin, translated by Robert Chandler (Shambhala/ Random House 1980), if you can.

In case I'd be introducing someone to new things --

Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" is a lovely tone poem/symphonic fantasy
Tchaikovsky's Serenade Melancolique
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, orchestrated by Ravel
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

Not be be missed!

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 02:20PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What you're saying about French and Irish
> contemporary fiction sounds plausible to me, but
> my opinion would be worth almost nothing.

Well, we differ, but so what? :^)

>
> You said, Sawfish, "For the beauty debate, I could
> *feel* that your direction and ultimate intent, as
> far as I got it, had validity, but I become
> obsessed with characterizing things in detail (a
> foul materialist, you see), at their constituent
> parts" -- I read that and wondered if scrutiny for
> "constituent parts" is something that doesn't work
> with the beautiful. Putting it oversimply, is the
> beautiful something that must be contemplated as a
> whole -- however imperfect and partial our
> awareness of it -- before we focus on parts? If I
> examine the parts first, will I ever attain to an
> apprehension of the beautiful? Now I think, given
> the imperfection of one's attention, sensibility,
> etc. that one will often begin with a partial and
> imperfect awareness of the whole, but that's not
> the same thing as trying to build up logically
> from parts to whole.

Nope, that's backwards from how I'd do it.

I would perceive something as beautiful, then address the attributes that *might* account for why I found it beautiful.

Without something like that, it would be very hard, if not impossible, to discuss objects of beauty unless all parties discussing a "beautiful" object had seen it or otherwise directly experienced it.

Otherwise, if party A says a certain Titian painting is beautiful, but party B has never seen it, to accept it as beautiful, or even that it *might* be beautiful, requires a gigantic leap of faith by party B in favor of party A.

Many, myself included, are not prepared to take that leap.

>
> That, by the way, might relate to my conviction
> that, often, a literary work must be reread before
> one can say one has rightly read it. Conversely,
> there are works of literary craft that can be fun
> to read but that have little to offer in a second
> reading unless enough time has passed that one has
> forgotten a lot.

Agreed.

There are many works I've read in excess of 10 times. The Tin Drum probably 3 times; Journey to the End of the Night 3 times; Catch-22 possibly 15 times. Some earlier Vonnegut; much of Hemingway multiple times, except for when he slid over to being too maudlin.

Etc.

> I'd cite Stephen King's 11/22/63
> as an example of this. I like that book, for the
> most part, but when I read it the second time
> (after a lapse of several years), I didn't have
> the sense that there was much there that I hadn't
> got the first time. The things I liked the first
> time, I still liked, and things I didn't, ditto.
> But the first time I read the Dostoevsky novels
> that I mentioned earlier today, they were less
> engaging than on subsequent readings.

Good point.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 23 Jan 21 | 02:30PM by Sawfish.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 02:27PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I bought the first two Calvin & Hobbes albums, and
> enjoyed them a lot. I also used to read and
> collect all of the Fawcett or Coronet pocket books
> with Peanuts (Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends).
> Obviously they are related and closely comparable,
> both very well drawn. Calvin & Hobbes perhaps more
> technically conspicuous. But I think I prefer
> Peanuts. The humour is warmer and has more subtle
> psychological depth.

What? You didn't like when Calvin and his little girl neighbor were playing doctor and she complained to him (the doctor) of an injured fingeranil and he replied:

"You need a pre-frontal lobotomy.

"I'll get a saw..."

;^)

>
> But I would not associate either of them with
> Beauty. Elegance of line, perhaps, extreme skill
> and sureness of drawing hand, humour and sharp
> insight. But too stylized, mannered, and flat, to
> have anything of beauty. I think Beauty requires
> more complexity,

Possible, for sure.

Do the Cubists appeal?

> and a certain animated asymmetry
> inside the harmonious proportions, to make it come
> alive, like in Nature.
>
> The Far Side by Gary Larson is another great one,
> suitable for those who appreciate the weird. It
> always reminds me of Lovecraft. I have only seen a
> small part, but my single favorite frame shows a
> couple on the beach, the man sitting down by the
> sea, and his fat trash wife standing a bit further
> up, back to him, looking after other people and
> more mundane things. Meanwhile a fish in a small
> bowl with wheels rolls up from the sea, circles
> the man to observe him, and drives back down
> again, before he can collect his wits to call on
> his wife. One can imagine her reaction, when he
> later starts telling, and reassuring her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 03:06PM
I wonder how much of the French mindset is due to WWII? (Vichy France, etc).

The Irish have an almost unhealthy preoccupation with ‘Irishness’, maybe because they share a common language with two much larger and more dominant cultures (ie, the UK and the US) leading to inevitable - and constant - comparisons.

Stephen King's 11/22/63. I actually think the earlier part of this book - the bit about the local butcher who the mc knew would end up killing his family - was a lot more interesting than the main act. Plus the basic concept would have worked just as well as a short story.

Roadside Picnic is the only work by the Strugatsky brothers that I read! There’s another work by them that’s popular and that I only heard of recently - Hard to be a God.

Has anybody read The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem?

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 03:27PM
Sawfish wrote, "if party A says a certain Titian painting is beautiful, but party B has never seen it, to accept it as beautiful, or even that it *might* be beautiful, requires a gigantic leap of faith by party B in favor of party A."

Not if B already has reason to believe that A possesses knowledge and taste. For example, I've been tracking down and reading things that C. S. Lewis enjoyed (e.g. from mentions in his published letters), and this has led me to many literary works I might not have tried, or tried so soon, or even have ever heard of, and that I have enjoyed a lot. In fact, I write a column about Lewis's reading for the New York C. S. Lewis Society, which has had over 50 entries -- and that column was started after several articles on Lewis's reading that had several works per article. A good example is Margaret Kennedy's comic novel The Feast. I'm confident in saying that, apart from Lewis's praise in a letter, I might never have heard of it otherwise, or ever had reason to try it. Well, I got it from a library and loved it, and then bought a used copy in dustwrapper, knowing I will want to read it again. I realize that I'm straying a bit from the topic of the Beautiful, specifically, here. So I'll take something from the pictorial arts instead. I already loved Samuel Palmer's early and late art. I read that he was an admirer of Claude Lorrain, so I looked into his painting, & liked that much as well. I approached the latter already expecting to appreciate it.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 03:54PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish wrote, "if party A says a certain Titian
> painting is beautiful, but party B has never seen
> it, to accept it as beautiful, or even that it
> *might* be beautiful, requires a gigantic leap of
> faith by party B in favor of party A."
>
> Not if B already has reason to believe that A
> possesses knowledge and taste.

No, to me this surrenders judgement to an external arbiter of taste. I don't by default do that.

At most, if I have had personal experience of an individual and they have impressed me with a combination of valid and understated knowledge and personal integrity, at most I'd think that what they said has a better than even chance of being something I *might* agree with.

Frankly, I would expect everyone I deal with to do the same with me and my stated positions: maybe I've got it right, but best to double check.

> For example, I've
> been tracking down and reading things that C. S.
> Lewis enjoyed (e.g. from mentions in his published
> letters), and this has led me to many literary
> works I might not have tried, or tried so soon, or
> even have ever heard of, and that I have enjoyed a
> lot. In fact, I write a column about Lewis's
> reading for the New York C. S. Lewis Society,
> which has had over 50 entries -- and that column
> was started after several articles on Lewis's
> reading that had several works per article. A
> good example is Margaret Kennedy's comic novel The
> Feast. I'm confident in saying that, apart from
> Lewis's praise in a letter, I might never have
> heard of it otherwise, or ever had reason to try
> it. Well, I got it from a library and loved it,

First, expressing praising a novel is *far* from ascribing beauty to an object.

However, it was important to actually experience the novel before you concurred, right?

That's essentially what I'm saying: no judgement without personal experience of it.

Now, further consideration: did Lewis say "why" he thought highly of it, or was did he just express admiration for it, but with no further qualifications or information? If the former, he gave you concrete reason why it might be worthy; if the latter, you are relying on his judgement, alone.


> and then bought a used copy in dustwrapper,
> knowing I will want to read it again. I realize
> that I'm straying a bit from the topic of the
> Beautiful, specifically, here. So I'll take
> something from the pictorial arts instead. I
> already loved Samuel Palmer's early and late art.
> I read that he was an admirer of Claude Lorrain,
> so I looked into his painting, & liked that much
> as well. I approached the latter already
> expecting to appreciate it.

Your list of referrals on Russian lit are something like this, Dale. You are a qualified student of the same stuff I enjoy, and I expect that these will be worthwhile--much better than selecting someone at random from the Indianapolis phone directory (thanks, David Letterman!) and asking them for recommendations.

But gosh, we're different in so many ways that I doubt that I'll like even 50% of the stuff you recommended.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 03:59PM
I'm not saying much more than this:

1.If I have reason already to think that A possesses knowledge and taste, I am likely to consider the work of art or literature, and
2.if I don't like it, I may figure the problem is likely to be with me; that I am too narrow in my tastes, etc. However,
3.I don't automatically assume that A is infallible.

I owe an enormous debt to people, mostly writers, who have led me to books, music, art that I might not otherwise have known of or that I might somehow have thought was "not for me" for no good reason. At my present age, in my mid-60s, indebtedness to such people is one of the chief facts of my life of which I am aware.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2021 05:23PM
Makes sense, Dale.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 January, 2021 07:26AM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I liked some of the other records from that
> company better;

I like Mark of the Mole a lot. God in Three Persons is another masterpiece, but very, very creepy. Later in their career The Residents made some more "normal sounding" records, for example the jazzy, funky Tweedles!, that musically evolve around the subject theme of a would-be clown who ruins his own career because he is so sexually obsessed, being completely controlled by his penis. Great music, but also very creepy.


> the first Residents album was unmelodic beyond endurance to this listener, other
> than one track with characteristic reverb-tinged
> vocal repetition ("you care for France and we care
> for You").

I don't recognize that line. Was it from Meet the Residents?

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 January, 2021 07:34AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Has anybody read The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem?


I have it on pdf, but have not read it. I have only read his Solaris, one of the best science fiction books ever, tremendously bizarre weird phenomena on display in it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 Jan 21 | 07:47AM by Knygatin.

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