Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Path dependence

Today marks six months since I started working full-time again. I had the luxury of a few years of part-time work, which permitted me to broaden and deepen my reading, among other things, such as starting this blog; but time constraints have led this effort to turn into more of a reading diary than I had intended, not that I had any specific intention to begin with, nor ongoingly for that matter, outside of dealing with things literary, one way or another. More on this anon.

It's not the first time my work-life has been affected by an Act of Congress (I know, every time there's one, somebody gets screwed, but I've no complaint). I'd thought I'd left such dependencies behind, after a prior 'career' (in the sense of accreted on-the-job specialized knowledge) on rail rate regulation fizzled along with the ICC (hostile takeover by DOT), and I relocated from DC (ultimate company town, both divisions headquartered there) to NYC, with computer programming picked up on the way (along with a maths baccalaureate) my ticket. Consultancy led to a new career (I s'pose it's lasted long enough to lose the quotes) in which the programming was eventually set aside to redeploy analytical skills in the service of a function largely mandated, once again, by regulatory requirements. As with all my prior jobs, the only choice involved on my part was to take, and to make the most of (NB: not poundwise, but neither pennyfoolish), opportunities that were presented (as they were clearly superior to any alternatives I might have pursued, but didn't anyway -- and those making these opportunities available felt, accurately, that the return would exceed the risk) -- the exception being choosing to work part-time (following a stretch of working no-time, doing grad-level homestudy in maths, which, however quixotic, proved useful), which, alas, is no longer possible (or probable, almost surely). But, as chance would have it, so would I -- I once traced my work-life through the dictionary entries for 'volatility', starting with dispersion through media, my first 'real' job being in Pharma R&D, as a lab-tech, in "Dissolution Testing", on downers (no, really; yeah, a capsule summary). Now, it's a mismeasure of risk. So, the 'Stochastic' in the blogname is not gratuitous, nor merely an allusion to the Sortes Virgilianae. It's an optimization technique, an adaptive process. Pragmatic serendipity.

And so with my reading. All over the map. I'm surprised how much has been in translation, and how little American, but it seems to me that major literary innovation over the past half-century is likely to originate elsewhere. And for all the concern about the market for translations (and more generally for literary fiction), there's never been so much available. As in published. In book form. (Thanks esp. to Dalkey -- earned the right to complain [via].) Not counting all the efforts to make public domain texts available in the most public domain of all, them thar internets, starting with granddaddy Gutenberg, but extending to individual efforts, such as Risa Bear, Jack Lynch or Ray Davis. Nor to mention all the guidance provided for navigating the Liternets, and the books themselves. The scarcity is time, the opportunity cost the books not read. So it's time to bring this rumination to a close; got to get up for work tomorrow; at least I'll be able to read on the train.


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