Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Rounding out the year ...

Although I no longer have something to say about every bit'o'lit read, I would be remiss were I not to say something about stand-outs among recent reading, not that I have a lot to say, these things speak for themselves, and that's saying something ...

As I mentioned on the Nab listserv, I heartily recommend George Economou's Ananios of Kleitor; my six-word synopsic is classicist palefirean excursion flauting scholyrical sapphistication , but I'll let Tim Whitmarsh do most of the talking, since he put me on to it:
What it actually is, however, is harder to define: perhaps equal parts academic parody, postmodern romance and prose poem, a kind of ancient-world equivalent of Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Some sequences are uproariously funny, but others are provocative, moving or horrifying. It draws to the surface the absurdity, myopia and arrogance of academic prose and the awful conjunctures of history and scholarship; but it is also an affectionate and humane tribute to the power of poetry to lend new meanings to new readers’ lives across the ages. A wonderful book.
This being the sort of thing I like, a lot, I did, in fact, even more. (Not more than or as much as Pale Fire, but still ... available in US PoD through B&N.)

I was also wowed by Mircea Eliade's The Old Man and the Bureaucrats (Mary Park Stevenson), which lives up to its backcover blurb: "a satire of the Romanian Communist police state [that] has been called A Thousand and One Nights as if written by Kafka." Well, not quite, unless Borges served as an intermediary; it manages to be discursive within a more confined space.

More recently, Andreï Makine's Dreams of my Russian Summers (Geoffrey Strachan) provided the impetus to resume reading Proust (chronologically situated between Lermontov and Nabokov [who englished him], as Makine observes he himself is alphabetically), which had been nipped in the budding grove ...


passage time

Attention conservation notice: long-now-clockwatching at ten past

S00N the calendar turns on another decade, one that prefers to remain nameless, no consensus on what it ought to be called, not for lack of trying (early on, on Usenet, I suggested the Annies, in recognition of a certain blank-eyed little orphan and of those New Year's glasses we're well rid of; in retrospect, Oh-ohs captures the accidents that happened to be waiting, while Dubblows suggests itself to those of a more partisan persuasion, and Dreadnoughts to the belligerent; I expect the coming decade will be dubbed the Tweens). Now, I'm not one to be particularly observant of calendar conventions, unless it's to calculate bond yields (I even wrote code to generate OECD holidays, back in the day), but this time round it needs some squaring with how the years unfolded, as what I took for constants became variable.

In the workaday world, I've noted my millenial turn from computer programming to risk consultancy, not so much a reinvention as a retriangulation (maths, finance, and technology being my golden triangle, I merely moved the last to the short side). Being a strict interdisciplinarian, I don't define myself by the rôle assumed, nor in terms of or enumeration of faculties. As I once put it, I'm good with words and numbers; there's safety in numbers—but a facility with words has also held me in good stead, both in annotating my own work and in scriptdoctoring others', adding another dimension (a golden tetrahedron?). But the lure (or allure) of writing for its own sake is mitigated by the scant livelihood it affords to all but a few of the pros (and fewer in verse), its value taken as subsidiary to other endeavors. In finance, I have worked with and written for quants, programmers, traders, researchers and risk managers, and had a go at each (through circumstance, not conscious pursuit), but found my comparative advantage (and autonomy) was at the nexus of these different rôles. (Farther back along these lines, earlier careering here.)

Nonetheless, the itch to write persists, and the blog a place to put my scratchings. This has been the decade of the weblog, a malleable medium with extensive cross-referencing to absorb an oversupply of writing. While I got my own in rather late, I've been following along from the beginning. In all its diversity, it will persist, unlike the chatroom/listserv paradigms whose day has passed, fun though it was while it lasted, or the new-new forms of sociomedia and instatextin', fun I've avoided for the most part (nor for me the bandwidening A/V accretions; the word is paramount). Chat and blog helped develop my literary interests, prompting deep-delving into translations of Latin American and Eastern European authors among others; most of my writing here has been in the service of my reading. Still, the scribbling often takes unforeseen directions, even within a single post (this one, for instance). So, too, life: I find myself on the threshold of a new order, novel arrangements of unfamiliar character, so please excuse the paucity of postings as I pause to get my bearings.

Meanwhile, 'tis that season once again:
Wishing All A Meretricious & A Preposterous New Year ...