Wednesday, April 27, 2005

passing on the stick

the kind glueboot has passed these questions onto me. as i ponder about the manifestos that i have declared i will pen (see below), here the questions and answers:

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Erm, haven't read Fahrenheit 451, but I'll go with Glueboot and assume this is a question about what books should be saved if that one is to be burned... I want to be The Complete Works of Franz Kafka. Or at least his collected short stories, if it's too much to be a set of multiple volumes. I would not be the collected works of Carl Jung, however, as I couldn't stand being ridiculed that much.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes, many. When I was young, Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. More recently... Cincinnatus C. from Nabakov's Invitation to a Beheading. I know that at some point I clutched the book to my chest and declared that the existence of that character and his fictional experiences was one of the few possible points of salvation in my world. (Though I can't remember exactly what circumstance led me to pronounce such a thing... I was probably just drunk and alone with overdue work, fearing the world as I do sometimes while in that pepped-up state of mind.) I fell for Tess of the d'Urbervilles at some point, too - who couldn't? The tragedy! But also, the coincidence of my reading this book with my discovering such historical phenomena as 'the industrial revolution','social Darwinism', 'class struggle'...

There are others in this category, but repression is blocking their easy recall.

3. The last book you bought is:

Collected works of Kleist, along with some tiny and cheap copies of Kant, Schiller, et al.'s Was ist Aufklärrung? and E. T. A. Hoffman's Der Sandman. Before that, it was Zizek's The Puppet and the Dwarf. Not sure if I should count in this category the books that I have loved and held onto despite their being library books, so resulting in $240 end-of-year library fines... I've paid for something there, though I don't have the physical bodies of the books sitting on my shelves forever more.

4. The last book you read:

Alain Badiou's Ethics. It made me evangelise! I haven't evangelised about philosophy since I first read Nietzsche. Or Jameson on post-Marxism and Hegel (everything looked dialectic for a good four months)... Actually, I didn't shut up about Barthes' "Myth Today" in Mythologies for a while either... And Benjamin's "Theses on the Philosophy of History" was brought into every second conversation at the end of last year, too... Hmm. Must find means of refuting this thesis that I evangelise about every piece of philosophy that I read.

5. What are you currently reading?

About twenty books that I will never finish. These include Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, Borges' The Aleph, Proust's The Way By Swann's, The Letters of St Paul (thanks Badiou), Hegel's The Encyclopedia Logic...

6. Five books you would take to a desert island.

Collected stories of Franz Kafka. I love Kafka. I can't fathom him completely, I can't reduce his stories to any summary or explanation or philosophy, but I am happier for the existence of his work.

The Bible. It's the only way I could make myself read the whole thing. With enough time on my hands I would eventually ride over all its opacities and highs and lows. [Come to think of it, isn't having the Bible on hand and learning about divine providence what saved Robinson Crusoe in the end?]

I feel I'd need some Hegel - something grand with strange-seeming rambles and detours that I could ponder on for many years, as I ate coconuts and pined for company. I'd probably go with Phenomenology of Spirit, the Science of Logic being far too torturous.

As for the last two... Firstly, I'd want a giant work of fiction - I'd go with the Iliad or The Odyssey, probably, ahead of Ulysses or In Search of Lost Time... On a desert island, I think I'd want to read about heroic deeds rather than tissues of memory... Not too sure on this one. I'd say that I'd get back to you on my ultimate decision once I've read all four, but I think it may be the case that I will actually need to be stranded on a desert island in order to get through them all any time soon. [Note how I am largely selecting works that I haven't read but want to and should, as if prolonged time on a desert island is being factored into a career plan...]

Finally, I'd want one other large, idiosyncratic work. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason? Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason? Perhaps something like that. Or maybe The Koran, so that I could do a 'compare and contrast' with the Bible. Maybe the epic of Gilgamesh would fit the bill - again, grand stories from times long past seem like the thing to read when it is only you and the vastness of the sky and the sea... Though I do like Glueboot's suggestion that Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus may be useful, if days are to be passed building nomadic war machines from sand and palm fronds. Ultimately though, the last one would more likely be 1001 Designs for Building Rafts with only Coconuts and Sand. (Though that last answer's cheating a bit, isn't it? Like designating your last of 3 hypothetical wishes to be for "more wishes"...)

7. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

To the Symposiasts firstly, to Mel and then Adam Kotsko at The Weblog. Why? Because I'm interested in what they have to say, primarily - obviously.

4 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

Too slow, Joe! (I mean, Catherine.) I really hope I was not a disappointment to you.

5:04 pm  
Blogger Catherine said...

I feel embarrassed and ashamed.

10:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. daniel dae kim is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.

12:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Hebrew Bible scholar, an atheist, a feminist, and with an almost complete doctorate in philosophy (and I mean Philosophy), I have to say:

Wow. You know how to drop names and titles like a....I was going to say "pro," but instead I'll say "future academic."

Otherwise, learn the languages of the Bibles (Classical Hebrew and Koine Greek). It makes the reading so much more interesting

12:47 am  

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