Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



So I've been at this thing off and on, lately more off than on, for ten years. In that span I've read nearly a thousand books, and for a long time recorded first impressions here for my own benefit but stopped when it became more hindrance than help (last year's monologging just displaced litchatboard dialogging since resumed). I've cast a wide net, and in particular got caught up with Latin American (esp Argentinean) and Eastern European literature (as translations have burgeoned), and filled many gaps in my poetry reading while creating some in The Bookshelf of Good Intentions. Not that I'll ever be well-read, not that that is the object; study is its own reward, with a bonus of better understanding (not to say knowledge), and of not knowing where it may lead, as the field may deepen but never narrows, as literature creates its own context even as it operates within a larger one, moreso than other arts. (Something similar pertains in mathematics.)

So what is it that I study? And why the slant towards foreign literature? Yes, there's history, and culture, but that's more ground than figure for me. What piques my interest is two-fold: the art of representation through language (which is rich enough to carry over in literary translation), and the situation of the individual apprehending his/her culture or society, whether at large or in detail (not only the author but also the intended reader). Between the two, without immersion in either the language or cultural/societal matrix, I take away (or better: incorporate, assimilate) more than I'd be able to otherwise: the different forms empathy takes, perspectives askew from those I'm familiar or comfortable with, just f'rinstance. I may not always get it, but I always get something out of it. And it's those little somethings I've tried to share here, and by formulating those somethings to draw more out of them for myself.

There are plenty of reasons for reading (or blogging), and plenty of ways to do it; I'm not saying that my rationale, or method, is better than others (even if I'm pretty good at rationalization and methodization), just that it works for me. For that matter, my idea of study differs from most, self-directed, more serendipitous than systematic; in this I've followed not so much a calling as resonances (and have described myself as a strict interdisciplinarian). Despite which, I've been able to lay claim to expertise in some areas (eg APL programming, financial markets: made for a nondeadening way to make a living) and to something beyond lay knowledge in many others.

Enough of explaining myself (even if only to myself). This being a bloggiversary ... I've catalogued past work before, on Nabokov and others; I'll add to the list homages to imitations of riffs on Frost, Dickinson, WCWilliams & Lewis Carroll ... and poems and prose I have no one to blame for but myself. And a bit of lit crit on spec, blue-skying on Tlön.