Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


mo' uses of literature

An unwelcome intrusion upon our premises has come to its inexorable conclusion, due to an overbearing taste for literary matter.

In addition to an overflow of reading material, the cellar had harbored a number of crickets; these began to diminish as autumn ended, which we put down to seasonal effects, until a couple of weeks ago, when I went downstairs to find the dustcovers and bindings of many books in shreds. It was then clear that, the supply of crickets exhausted, our heretofore undetected house mouse had turned to literary nourishment. Disdaining paperbacks, he had sampled a number of works, finding some not so much to his taste (Steven Pinker, John Allen Paulos, Teachout's The Skeptic, Doug Adams, Kharms, Saramago, Eco, Grushin, and some old Latin & German primers), and others worthy of deeper attention (books on the Civil War and Lorenzo the Magnificent, Robbe-Grillet/Magritte's The Fair Captive, Urban's The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes) -- but his tastes were betrayed by those tomes he absolutely devoured, cover to cover:
Faulkner, Light In August
Koestler, Darkness at Noon (a penchant for Everyman's evident here so far)
Martin Gardner, The Night is Large
Burgess, Earthly Powers
Nabokov, King, Queen, Knave
Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan
Christine Stansell, American Moderns
Lyndall Gordon, A Private Life of Henry James
Sholom Aleichem, Tevye's Daughter
Over all, not one for translations. His library privileges have now been revoked, along with residency.

Meanwhile, books that have been keeping me occupied:
Robert Walser, The Assistant (trans SBernofsky) not to my tastes
Gabriel Josipovici, Goldberg: Variations yum! I must find more of GJ
Claude Simon, The Flanders Road (trans RHoward) ... and more of CS (via RH).
Currently in Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (trans GPontiero), going slowly, moreso than ordinary, as it seems to be a rereading from many years ago, though it being an oft-told tale, I could be mistaken.


Exploits & Opinions

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the seizure of the 27 equivalent books of Dr. Faustroll, and so I seized upon Exact Change's rendering of Jarry's neo-scientific novel, even thoughsorry, no longer available at the Pataphysics Research Lab. In short:

Doctor Faustroll is dunned for back rent by the bailiff Panmuphle, who inventories and seizes his library of "twenty-seven equivalent books." (BOOK ONE)
The elements of pataphysics are briefly set down and illustrated by an experiment in relativity and surface tension. (BOOK TWO)
Doctor Faustroll escapes the law in a skiff or sieve which travels on both land and water. He is accompanied by the baboon, Bosse-de-Nage, as navigator, and by Panmuphle, tamed by drink and chained to his seat, as oarsman and narrator until the next to last book. Their peregrinations carry them to fourteen lands or islands, whose topography and inhabitants are so described as to convey Jarry's comments on fourteen friends (or enemies) in the world of the arts - among them, Aubrey Beardsley, Léon Bloy, Gauguin, Gustave Kahn, Mallarmé, Henri de Régnier, and Marcel Schwob. (BOOK THREE)
After further navigations, discussions, and a great banquet, Faustroll discourses on death and starts a holo­caust in which Bosse-de-Nage perishes - provisionally. His monosyllabic and all-sufficing language ("Ha ha") is carefully analyzed. (BOOK FOUR)
After a coprological aside on the "legless cripple" who represents Pierre Loti, Faustroll puts Henri Rousseau in charge of a "painting machine" to "embellish" the aca­demic canvases hanging in the Luxembourg Museum. (BOOK FIVE)
While Faustroll has an erotic adventure, the painting machine under the Lucretian name of Clinamen executes thirteen paintings, each described in a short prose poem. (BOOK SIX)
Faustroll dies by drowning after sinking the skiff to avoid collision, and his body, like a tight scroll unfurled by the water, reveals the future in its spirals. (BOOK SEVEN)
The final book, entitled "Ethernity," resumes the treatise on pataphysics begun in BOOK TWO. Two tele­pathic letters from Faustroll to Lord Kelvin regarding the latter's experiments in measurement, matter, and light, are followed by a crowning pataphysical discourse on the "surface" and nature of God. In accurate geometrical theorems He is demonstrated to be "the tangential point between zero and infinity." (BOOK EIGHT)

'Pataphysics is teh Science ...

(... also leading to rediscovering Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal, via influence ...)



The imposed storylines of authoritariantive versions:

Dezső Kosztolányi, Anna Édes (trans George Szirtes): Reactionary bourgeois narcissism, in which only the murderer is innocent (even the author is implicated in the end). [review]

Roberto Bolaño, Nazi Literature in the Americas (trans Chris Andrews): Postulating a full-fledged movement, borrowing detail from literary actualities. As Amulet is embedded in The Savage Detectives (or, the former an elaboration of a section of the latter), so Distant Star is in Nazi Literature in the Americas. A bibliography of invented works includes Poe's "Philosophy of Furniture", from which interior description is directly lifted. [review; excerpts: The Mendiluce Clan, The Many Masks of Max Mirebalais, The Fabulous Schiaffino Boys, and in the same neighborhood but not in the book, "Álvaro Rousselot's Journey"]

Imre Kertész, Detective Story (trans Tim Wilkinson): A tables-turned fable, special police investigation. [review]

Hermann Broch, The Spell (trans H.F.Broch de Rothermann): A stranger comes to town, as once did an Austrian watercolorist-housepainter. Written thrice, the version published 25 years after Broch's death followed the first (1940) with elaboration from the first rewrite only in the purple patch of the narrator's first love. [summareview]

Ricardo Piglia, The Absent City (trans Sergio Waisman): Story machine escapes between the interstices of state machinations. [brieview]