Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Ain't what she used to be

The New York Times is effectively closing down its chatrooms, including bookchats (except a vestigial Book-of-the-Month), though the evisceration has been long in the unmaking. Started in '99 (I joined the party a year later), these were consistently undermined by the lack of any coherent strategy for the paper's internet presence and by a cavalier disregard for its participants, as topic deletion on short notice sans archiving (odd ephemeralism for a periodical that styles itself 'of record') became established as one of the few norms. What got me in was a long-standing Nabokov discussion group, which had also attracted the attention of NABOKV-L and the likes of Kurt Johnson (Nabokov's Blues) and Brian Boyd (biography, also Nabokov's Pale Fire), both of whom cited these chats in Nabokov Studies #6. That chat evanesced despite continuing interest (recent BotM selections have included Pale Fire and, currently, Lolita); the departure of a Borges forum followed many months later, and so then did I, for the most part, a couple of years ago. As with most such on-line discussions, the cliques and trolls took their toll, but unlike, say, The Guardian or The Atlantic (both of which still maintain WebX chat even as they emphasize other online approaches, and which permitted users to initiate discussion groups), NYT malignly neglected the core community that gathered around its service. Of course blogging has since taken discussion elsewhere, but for the Times that is just another venue in which to display ineptitude. Instant obsolescence could not be planned better, or in a more timely fashion.

All this by way of prelude/excuse to dredge up an old posting there from LatAmLit (where, among others, Roa Bastos and Saramago [inherited from defunct EuroLit discussion], drew me back in for a time), on Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Three Trapped Tigers:

So what to say about T^3? Synaesthetic, in all senses of the words. The whole, through the ears of a photographer, screen/tested by a writer, philosophized by an actor. (Not to mention, which singer makes the big time, good, or goodlooking.) Synthetic/aesthetic, a syncresis of influences, reflecting Havana (and justifying comparison to Ulysses at that level); and sin aesthetic, playing havoc with orthography, disfiguring double entendre bookkeeping (and winking, traduttore traditore, but one of the former, Suzanne Jill Levine, has done Borges & Bioy Casares before, not to mention Puig, and Havana slang is hardly lunfardo), Sternean turns (and having reread Carroll's Alice books helped). Great ride! (21.5.2005)

Cabrera Infante selected his epigraph from Alice: "And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle is like after it is blown out." And so it goes, down the rabbit memory hole ... (cf)


Anonymous mr. waggish said...

I feel about T^3 the way you feel about The Tunnel! I'm surprised you aren't offended by his egregious ostentation. For synaesthesia, I prefer Donoso's Obscene Bird of Night. And some friends of mine are urging Arguedas on me.

29/3/07 15:56  
Blogger nnyhav said...

Thanks for the pointers (your 1/03 Donoso cite googleranks second only to Amazon, and I'll keep the second-order rec in mind) but my surprise at your disappointment with T^3 is also second-order to my surprise at mine with The Tunnel, which made it all the more disappointing.

29/3/07 23:01  

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