Monday, February 28, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Well, look at that. I missed the one year anniversary of this blog. I knew it was coming up, but...yeah. Shit happens.

In my first post, on February 23, 2010, I was still struggling coming up with a name for the site. For some reason I was stuck on "Hello Kafka!". So I posted a Kafka quote:

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we'd be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.

How appropriate.

Looking forward to another year. Doing this gives me an outlet, allowing me to stay sane. Despite how insane my ramblings may appear. Thank you for reading.

Internet Lovelies

 Doodle from Sylvia Plath's diary -- picture via this tumblr.

I meant for this to post way earlier in the month. But apparently it didn't? I'm not sure -- I'm dazed and confused and have missed an entire week of books and internet. Been MIA lately due to a death in the family. So there's been a lot of crying and binge-eating of Cheetos. Please bear with me.

I worry that the phrase "costume drama" has a sexist origin - used by male critics as a perjorative term about screen adaptations of mainly female writers : George Elliot, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë. To charge Austen or Elliot as being writers concerned only with the surface - what people are wearing - seems an extraordinary injustice to visionaries of our inner life. It also seems to diminish anything that is set before now, and it would appear to me to be an arrogance of the present to assume that anything set in the past is by default less interesting or more surface than the present.
Tom Hooper, on his film The King's Speech, Link

Congrats to Hooper, btw, for winning Best Director and Best Picture in last night's Oscars. Justin Bieber's fans are pretty upset.

Kids used to have a whole lot of spare time, middle-class kids anyhow. Outside of school and if they weren’t into a sport, most of their time was spare, and they figured out more or less successfully what to do with it. I had whole spare summers when I was a teenager. Three spare months. No stated occupation whatsoever. Much of after-school was spare time too. I read, I wrote, I hung out with Jean and Shirley, I moseyed around having thoughts and feelings, oh, lord, deep thoughts, deep feelings. . . . I hope some kids still have time like that. The ones I know seem to be on a treadmill of programming, rushing on without pause to the next event on their schedule, the soccer practice the playdate the whatever. I hope they find interstices and wriggle into them. Sometimes I notice that a teenager in the family group is present in body — smiling, polite, apparently attentive — but absent. I think, I hope she has found an interstice, made herself some spare time, wriggled into it and is alone there, deep down there, thinking, feeling.
Ursula LeGuin, Link

I'm sorry President Obama told you guys to win the future--that was bullshit. Please just survive the moment.
Jim Behrle, Link

I want to write love poems about people in coffee shops and at bookstores. Dear Cutie with the Middlemarch and the Latte, it would be nice to make out with you, etc.
Jim Behrle, Link

You need the arts—literature, music, film—as a universal language that allows people to see beyond the walls that separate us. To stop thinking of each other as different religions, or different cultures, or different ethnicities, or nationalities, and start thinking of each other as human beings. As people with the same aspirations, and the same dreams, the same conflicts and the same issues. It’s only through that recognition of same-ness that you really do change people’s minds.


the truth is that there is a kid in Los Angeles right now that has more in common with a kid in Indonesia because they like the same music and the same movies, than either of them have in common with their own communities. So the very concept of society has shifted. This is one thing that I never get tired of talking about, that from the dawn of humanity the definition of society and community was geographically defined. Community means, who is around me; who’s next to me? That’s my community. Until twenty years ago. From when we started walking upright to about twenty years ago, that’s what society meant. And it doesn’t mean that anymore.
Interview with Reza Aslan @ Guernica, Link

[A guy I knew] died of an asthma attack for want of an inhaler, but that’s the insurance industry for you. As far as I’m concerned, pay-to-play access to medicine constitutes class warfare; his death was a war crime.
Interview with Justin Taylor @ The Rumpus, Link

The reason the scaremongers and the vitriolic were so quick to be blamed is because people recognized how hate-filled our public debate has become. When you rally hate and disgust in other people, for the sake of viewership or political advancement, it’s difficult to control the results.
Jessa Crispin, Link

...women are not a genre, or their own special medium, even if some critics treat them like they are.
Jessa Crispin, Link

Critics can’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings with writing so caustic it goes down the mental hatch like battery acid. They must be assertive, authoritative, outspoken and downright ballsy -- all traits traditionally associated with men. That’s not to say plenty of women don’t have what it takes, but an assertiveness double standard exists. A man who is self-assured and outspoken is often considered strong and simply doing what a man’s got to do, but a woman of the same ilk is bitchy, demanding, and pushy. Where a man is tough, a woman has a lot of nerve... I’ve wondered if there are fewer female critics in prominent publications not because we aren’t out there, but in part because the combination of ambition, intelligence, and audacity does not always work in a woman’s favor.
Alizah Salario, Link

However repugnant you might find the attitudes you find among your community of origin, it’s the only one you’ll ever have, and you’ll always crave the acceptance of those whose acceptance you craved early in life. A hallmark of the kind of adult maturity to which I aspire is the acceptance of these kinds of difficult things, and a cultivation of a way of being in the world that allows them to exist in tension without undoing any chance at happiness. I wish for friends as dear as I once imagined my old friends held me. I wish, too, for a way to reconcile with old friends I’ve lost. I can see a future ahead that is full of contradictions and uglinesses, but also good relationships, comings-to-understandings, newfound pathways to decency. I want to believe these things are possible and then work to make them possible. In the words of the narrator of Andrew Hudgins’s Heat Lightning in a Time of Drought: “I wish my soul were larger than it is.” Maybe it can be.
Kyle Minor, Link

And from "The Body", by performance poet Sonya Renee:
The body is not meant to be prayed for, it is meant to be prayed to.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eeeee Eee Eeee, 11/100

Let me begin by sharing the summary of Tao Lin's Eeeee Eee Eeee from the back cover:

Confused yet intelligent animals attempt to interact with confused yet intelligent humans, resulting in the death of Elijah Wood, Salman Rushdie, and Wong Kar-Wai; the destruction of a Domino's Pizza delivery car in Orlando; and a vegan dinner at a sushi restaurant in Manhattan attended by a dolphin, a bear, a moose, an alien, three humans, and the President of the United States of America, who lectures on the arbitrary nature of consciousness, truth, and the universe before getting drunk and playing poker.

Well, yes, that is what happens.

Certainly Tao Lin isn't for everyone. But I love his writing. I have a feeling if I ever sat down to write, something like this book is probably what would come out. Not as well written. Not even as coherent. But similar. Perhaps.

Eeeee Eee Eeee (named after the sound dolphins make), is a mixture of the absurd and the philosophical. And it's hysterically funny. It's on different wavelength than Lin's Richard Yates.

Here are some passages.

What was Andrew doing the entire time in college? Everyone was constantly busy and partying, or attempting suicide. Andrew was always telling people he'd just slept fourteen hours.

They go to Wal-Mart. They look for something to use against the little sisters. Can't find anything. They stay at Wal-Mart over two hours. In the car Andrew has a videotape, Gosford Park.

"You son of a bitch," Steve says.

"Did you see this?"

"You son of a bitch," Steve says again.

Steve on a killing rampage; mass grave in the side yard. "It won every award," Andrew says. "Because the director is a hundred years old or something. It's the Jhumpa Lahiri of movies."

"Irony is so privileged," Mark said. "It's what happens when you don't need to do anything to survive--it's when the things you do have nothing to do with survival and you spend forty million dollars to make Steve Zissou and the Atomic Submarine or whatever it's called."

He sometimes felt that life was something that had already risen, and all this, the Jackson Pollack of spring, summer, and fall, the vague refrigeration and tinfoiled sky of wintertime, was just a falling, really, originward, in a kind of correction, as if by spiritual gravity, towards the wiser consciousness--or consciousnessless, maybe; could gravity trick itself like that?--of death. It was a kind of movement both very slow and very fast; there was both too much and not enough time to think.

Was this for real? Andrew had forgotten how to be happy! He suspected that it involved unwarranted feelings of fondness for other people, too much self-esteem, a sort of long-term delusion that manifested as charisma, and a blocking out of certain things, like lonely people, depressed people, desperate people, homeless people, people you've hurt, people you like who don't like you, politics, the nature of being and existence, the continent of Africa, the meat industry, McDonald's, MTV, Hollywood, and most or all of human history, especially anything having to do with the Western Hemisphere between 1400 and 1900, plus or minus 200 years--

How can you be angry at someone else's assumption or context that was as arbitrarily chosen or adopted as your own? If you unsarcastically feel anger at anything except everything it means your context does not include the information that assumptions have been made and contexts have been created;...any unsarcastic thought or action is a horrible distortion...There are assumptions and contexts and we go around pretending and playing games by overlapping our assumptions and contexts with others until there is no more time left.

Andrew is afraid of his neighbors. The gate has a secret pass code. Sara has a secret pass code. She should. Andrew would stand there for years trying combinations. He wouldn’t keep track or develop a strategy but just continue trying different combinations and then Kafka would rise from the grave and write a novel about him.

Breakfast of Champions, 10/100

Oh, Vonnegut. You're wonderful.

Breakfast of Champions is written as someone trying to explain life on Earth to an alien. The result is hilarious and poignant satire, working as social commentary, which points out the conditions of our world that most of us accept (or have accepted) without thinking twice. Slavery. Racism. War.

He makes ordinary things seem extraordinary, and extraordinary things ordinary. And I mean extraordinary as in big, huge and complicated ideas or problems. Everything is put on the same level. Nothing is sacred.

Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling. I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done.

As a result, we're given random details about every single character's life, whether it's relevant to the plot or not. What little plot there is. And I love this style of writing. This is a novel of characters -- and the man who created them, the narrator, the author, the Creator of the Universe.

Also, there are doodles. So bonus points.

(on the Star Spangled Banner)
...a lot of citizens were so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made. It might have comforted them some if their anthem and their motto had mentioned fairness or brotherhood or hope or happiness, had somehow welcomed them to the society and its real estate.

What is the purpose of life?

To be
the eyes
and ears
and consciense
of the Creator of the Universe
you fool.

They rode in silence for awhile, and then the driver made another good point. He said he knew that his truck was turning the atmosphere into poison gas, and that the planet was being turned into pavement so his truck could go anywhere. "So I'm committing suicide," he said....

"My brother is even worse," the driver went on. "He works in a factory that makes chemicals for killing plants and trees in Vietnam." Vietnam was a country where America was trying to make people stop being communists by dropping things on them from airplanes. The chemicals he mentioned were intended to kill all the foliage, so it would be harder for communists to hide from airplanes.

"Don't worry about it,' said Trout.

"In the long run, he's committing suicide," said the driver. "Seems like the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way."

There in the cocktail lounge, peering through my leaks at a world of my own invention, I mouthed this word: schizophrenia.

The sound and appearance of the word had fascinated me for many years. It sounded and looked to me like a human being sneezing in a blizzard of soap flakes.

I did not and do not know for certain that I have that disease. This much I knew and know: I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fight Club, 9/100

The picture above is from the ending of the film adaptation of Fight Club, and it happens to be one of my favorite film endings of all time. Turns out I love the end of the novel just as much, despite it being so different.

I, like pretty much everyone out there, was introduced to Chuck Palahniuk's novel after seeing David Fincher's film. And don't worry, there won't be any spoilers here for those who don't know the twist in the story. Although, it's 2011 so you should probably get on the ball and watch it already. It's a classic. From the year 1999.

Actually, due to how well the film was made, and how much it drew from the book, I was a little disappointed reading it at first. If only because all the wonderful lines I was reading I had already heard spoken from the mouths of Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. The style of the writing and the direction of the film are also so remarkably similar, it felt like I was reading the screenplay. And I'm not being critical of the novel. I just wish I had read it before seeing the film so I could appreciate it more fully.

But the ending...that's where I saw the biggest difference. One is optimistic, the other a little more pessimistic and open to interpretation. But just as good. So, if you've seen the film and don't know if you should read the book, there ya go. Read it for the end. It's a short novel anyway, so go for it.

I've heard a lot of words thrown around describing the story. That's it's nihilistic. That it's about the emasculation of men by a consumerist society. And sure, it contains those things. But that's not what the story is about. Tyler Durden, the conveyor of all these ideas, is the antagonist after all.

So what is it about? Just look at the picture above. It's about reconnection.
It's about a having a life with substance, and not just filler.

Oh, not my refrigerator. I'd collected shelves full of different mustards, some stone-ground, some English pub style. There were fourteen different flavors of fat-free salad dressing, and seven kinds of capers.

I know, I know, a house full of condiments and no real food.

I like this quote because of how accurately it describes my own fridge. Having 3 different types of teriyaki sauce is normal, right? (Please recall that Tyler's refrigerator was filled with bags of human fat and frozen body parts. If your fridge reflects your life, then Palahniuk isn't recommending Tyler's either).

It's about identity; an identity that's defined by what you do and who you're with, not by the things you own, or how much IKEA furniture fits in your condo.

You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled.

Identity becomes such a major theme in the novel. The narrator isn't named. The members of Fight Club and Project Mayhem are unnamed until death. ("His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson.") The narrator uses fake names in his support groups. And then, of course, the twist. And that's the last time I'm using that word, because I'm starting to feel like M. Night Shyamalan.

But over and over I see people claiming the novel is about the state of declined masculinity in America. That it's about the feminization of men. Some claim it to be anti-feminist. Some that it's pro-feminist:

It's a man's movie, supposedly, so why did I think it was the best feminist statement of the 90s? Maybe because it was time to watch a man learn what women have always known: That living a life defined by home furnishings, fashion, commercialized domesticity and constant messages about how your body should look can literally drive you batty.

And despite how much I love the above quote, it still doesn't get to the root of the novel. It's still determined to pit men against women. But it's beyond that. It's about HUMAN identity.

Palahniuk himself claims he is a romantic and that all his novels are romantic comedies. Sure, there's a lot of cynicism, irony, and nihilism in his writing. But so says Palahniuk:

You have to unfold a world of unrest, disgust, un-wellness before you can have an epiphany of well-being.

And that's what the story is about. Everything in the novel and the film work towards creating "one perfect moment" -- an epiphany of well-being.

I've met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, "Why?"
Why did I cause so much pain?
Didn't I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness?
Can't I see how we're all manifestations of love?
I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God's got this all wrong.
We are not special.
We are not crap or trash, either.
We just are.
We just are, and what happens just happens.
And God says, "No, that's not right."
Yeah. well. Whatever. You can't teach God anything.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Numbers Don't Lie

There's been a ruckus in the literary world over recent VIDA statistics, showing the disparity between how many women are published or reviewed in publications versus men. The numbers are quite shocking, and sure enough, do not lie.

I know there are many factors to consider, and it's not all point-blank sexism on the part of the editors. But all the same, it's hard to imagine that these numbers accurately reflect the number of female authors vs male authors that are submitting their work... or just plain exist. Or for that matter, the bias of the publications' readers to read the work of one gender over another.

I was curious to see if I tended to read women authors over men (or vice-versa), so I did a tally of what books I've read 2009 to present. Expecting a fair, 50/50 split, I was not disappointed. Out of 55 books, 26 were by female authors, and 29 by men. So it was a 47/53 split. Not too bad. (Although, since I'm simultaneously reading Bret Easton Ellis, Vonnegut and Palahniuk at the moment, I'm about to butch things up considerably).

The author's gender is just something I never really consider when picking out a book. Although it can have some effect on my interpretation while reading. Ever get all the way through a novel and find out the author isn't the gender you were expecting? For the longest time I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman. Whoops! For shame. And I'm sure there have been some confused George Eliot readers out there.

But George Eliot's name brings up a good point -- that was her pen name. It still sticks today, even though the Brontes are no longer known as Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell. And J.K. Rowling? Her publisher decided to use the gender-neutral pen name for fear boys wouldn't read a female author. And that fear isn't anything new. I remember in middle and high school (granted the schools I went to were shitty), every single piece of literature assigned to us was by a male author. Call of the Wild, Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451, Oedipus Rex, Othello... All of which, I'm guessing, were part of some last ditch attempt to get boys interested in reading. Which is all well and good, but who is to say they wouldn't have equally loved To Kill a Mockingbird? The Haunting of Hill House? The Earthsea Series? Meanwhile, us girls were just expected to accept and deal with the constant sausage party of Melville, Hemingway, and Twain. Thank god for my library card.

The point is, I don't believe in the age-old notion that men can't/won't/don't read work by women authors. And even if it's partially, or immediately true, not publishing female authors or hiding their gender isn't helping anything. It perpetuates the problem. After all, if there are only male or apparently gender-neutral authors being published, then that's all your readership CAN read. It will be what they're USED to reading. And then that will be all they WILL read.

Help yourselves out, publishers. You're out to make a quick buck now, but it will backfire. Look towards the future and you can make a fortune. (There's a whole other half of the population out there! Who knew!?)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, 8/100

Started reading Young-Ha Kim's I Have the Right to Destroy Myself in the bathtub last night. The novel opens with a discussion of Jacques-Louis David's "The Death of Marat." So...that was unsettling.

The novel (more like novella, clocking in at only 119 pages) is about a nameless narrator who helps people commit suicide. It's uncertain whether he is supernatural, like an angel or demon, or just a regular Joe with strange motives. Either way, HE'S really interesting, and I wish the whole story focused on him. Instead we're pushed into a strange story involving two brothers sleeping with the same woman. The characters aren't believable, and have quirks for the sake of having quirks.

The writing is wonderful. Too bad Kim never hooks the reader with any type of convincing plot or character development. Expanded, it could have had a lot more going for it. I felt like what I read was a summary of a better, fully-realized novel.

So, meh. But here are some passages.

People who don't know how to summarize have no dignity. Neither do people who needlessly drag on their messy lives. They who don't know the beauty of simplification, of pruning away the unnecessary, die without ever comprehending the true meaning of life.

Fear often wears the clothing of hatred. If you are going to learn how to ride a bike, you have to turn the handles the direction you're falling, and pedal hard.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jurassic Park, 7/100

Of course, I had John Williams' score resounding in my head the entire time I was reading it.

I also had this essay from Bookslut floating in my brain. It generally argues that the novel is a conservative, right-wing attack against new science. More specifically, against Pleistocene Rewilding. I found the idea pretty far-fetched, and wanted to see for myself.

And I still find it far-fetched. After all, so much of the book seems to be arguing for more government regulation of scientific corporations. The man we're supposed to hate, John Hammond, the proprietor of the park, does everything he can to avoid the restrictions of government. Oh, he's a cute, fluffy billionaire at first, what with his seemingly noble intentions, until you realize he's batshit crazy.

...the original genetic engineering companies, like Genentech and Cetus, were all started to make pharmaceuticals. New drugs for mankind. Noble, noble purpose. Unfortunately, drugs face all kinds of barriers. FDA testing alone takes five to eight years--if you're lucky. Even worse, there are forces at work in the marketplace. Suppose you make a miracle drug for cancer or heart disease....Suppose you now want to charge a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars a dose... But do you really think that the government will let you do that?...From a business standpoint, that makes helping mankind a very risky business. Personally, I would never help mankind.

Quoth the cute and fluffy old man.

I've always found it interesting that in one of the most popular videogame and film franchises of the past 15 years, Resident Evil (aka Biohazard), the main antagonist is none other than a pharmaceutical corporation. Not a single villain, no King Koopa, no Dr. Robotnik.

Meanwhile, the mathematician and pseudo-philosopher, Malcolm (who will always and forever be Jeff Goldblum in my head), turns out to be the prophet, correctly predicting the ultimate demise of the park. He spends the whole novel railing FOR government regulation and accountability in corporations. Yes, specifically scientific corporations, but big business just the same. Doesn't sound very right-wing to me.

"You know what's wrong with scientific power?" Malcolm said. "It's a form of inherited wealth. And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are. It never fails."

But I found Jurassic Park to be so much less about politics, and more about the continuous fear of misused biological technology and power that has fueled thrillers and horror stories since Frankenstein.

I don't know how many times I've heard mentioned that the moral behind Shelley's classic is that humanity "shouldn't play God." But it's hardly a religious argument. Instead, the fear is of someone being "God" who wasn't meant to. If God is to be interpreted as an individual with ultimate power, but also the moral capacity to use it correctly, then the fear of "playing God" is the fear of humanity having power, but not an equal power to check it.

The fear is not just of new biological technology. It's of what the consequences could be if only a handful of people are allowed to wield the power that technology allows. Specifically if the entire goal of those few people is to make as much money as possible.

BUT. I'm getting way off topic. Anyway.


Dinosaurs are awesome. Jurassic Park was fun to read. When I was little I would always close my eyes at the part in the film when the T-Rex ate the goat. But not when she ate the people.

In the book, I was sad when the baby raptor was killed. But not when the raptors killed the people. Fun fact!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, 6/100

Finished Perfume by Patrick Suskind, translated from the German by John Woods.

I was first introduced to this story via the film adaptation a few years ago. I loved it, despite the creepy finger-smelling baby in the beginning (see the trailer below. CREEPY.), so I was excited to see the novel was on the Guardian's list.

I usually don't care for reading the novel AFTER seeing the film. I prefer the reverse. But despite already knowing what happens in the end (SPOILER ALERT: there's an orgy!), the book was still mesmerizing and unputdownable.

There isn't a single likeable character. Suskind reveals all the worst aspects of humanity. Everyone Suskind depicts are depraved, dumb, selfish, and apparently smell like cat shit and cheese. Lovely. And yet, we still can't sympathize with their murderer. After all, he's killing 12-year old girls so he can smell them. Yikes!

In fact, maybe I shouldn't have started reading American Psycho alongside this book. I'm slowly losing my faith in humanity.

Regardless, it's a luscious novel, filled with interesting and realistic, albeit unlikeable, characters. Not really a quoteable book...perhaps due to it being a translation, the writing gets the job done of telling the story, but not much else. The story is the masterpiece, not the writing. But here's a section I liked, just for fun:

He did not need light to see by. Even before, when he was traveling by day, he had often closed his eyes for hours on end and merely followed his nose*. The gaudy landscape, the dazzling abrupt definition of sight hurt his eyes. He was delighted only by moonlight. Moonlight knew no colors and traced the contours of the terrain only very softly. It covred the land with a dirty gray, strangling life all night long. This world molded in lead, where nothing moved but the wind that fell sometimes like a shadow over the gray forests, and where nothing lived but the scent of the naked earth, was the only world that he accepted, for it was much like the world of his soul.

*Fun Fact: I almost used a picture of Toucan Sam at the top, but decided to be classy.

But apparently the novel has inspired quite a few musicians. So, Youtube time! All of these songs were directly inspired by the book.

Warning: the Rammstein video is...well, it's a Rammstein video. So what do you expect? If you suspected a guy in a dress turning into a dozen white wolves, then you're correct.

Happy smelling!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Canticle for Leibowitz, 5/100

"You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

You would think that a novel which concludes with monks flying through space to avoid a nuclear holocaust would be more interesting.

And I know I'm in the minority here for not caring for this novel. I realize it's beloved, and even has dissertations and college classes dedicated to it. But I have little patience for a lack of subtlety in literature.

Yes, yes, with the nuclear war, the theme of cyclical history, the Biblical fall of man...I think there were fewer garden of Eden allusions in Paradise Lost. By the end I wanted to scream "Yes. YES. For the love of God, I GET IT."

Hey! Look, it's another snake. Oh, and more buzzards. And here's that hobo dressed in a rucksack that's been wandering in and out of the plot for 1200 years (literally). I wonder if his appearance means anything? YES. YES IT DOES. But don't hit me over the head with it. A Darren Aronofsky film is more subtle than this book.

Also, I understand the irony/symbolism in the end when the monk kicks dirt off his sandals to board the starship he's apparently going to pilot to Alpha Centauri. But it's also fucking ridiculous. If I knew how to fly a starship I wouldn't be wearing sandals.

I keep picturing Friar Tuck flying the Millennium Falcon.

But I digress. It still had some interesting quotes. Although perhaps you'll catch my drift when you read them.

So it was that, after the Deluge, the Fallout, the plagues, the madness, the confusion of tongues, the rage, there began the bloodletting of the Simplification, when remnants of mankind had torn other remnants limb from limb, killing rulers, scientists, leaders, technicians, teachers, and whatever persons the leaders of the maddened mobs said deserved death for having helped to make the Earth what it had become. Nothing had been so hateful in the sight of these mobs as the man of learning, at first because they had served the princes, but then later because they refused to join in the bloodletting and tried to oppose the mobs, calling the crowds "bloodthirsty simpletons."

Joyfully the mobs accepted the name, took up the cry: Simpletons! Yes, yes! I'm a simpleton! Are you a simpleton? We'll build a town and we'll name it Simple Town, because by then all the smart bastards that caused all this, they'll be Dead! Simpletons! Let's go! This ought to show'em! Anybody here not a simpleton? Get the bastards, if there is!


I dunno. I thought calculis was pretty tough. And I finished my taxes in 15 minutes. It's totally possaible.

When you tire of living, change itself seems evil, does it not? for then any change at all disturbs the deathlike peace of the life-weary.

What did the world weigh? It weighs, but it is not weighed. Sometimes its scales are crooked. It weighs life and labor in the balance against silver and gold. That'll never balance. But fast and ruthless, it keeps on weighing. It spills a lot of life that way, and sometimes a little gold.

For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof; your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods. The old father of lies was clever at telling half-truths: How shall you "know" good and evil, until you have sampled a little? Taste and be as Gods. But neither infinite power nor infinite wisdom could bestow godhood upon men. For that there would have to be infinite love as well.

Generation, regeneration, again, again, as in a ritual, with blood-stained vestments and nail-torn hands, children of Merlin, chasing a gleam. Children, too, of Eve, forever building Edens--and kicking them apart in berserk fury because somehow it isn't the same. (AGH! AGH! AGH!--an idiot screams his mindless anguish amid the rubble. But quickly! let it be inundated by the choir, chanting Alleluias at ninety decibels.)

AGH! AGH! AGH!--a book blogger screams her mindless anguish amid a pile of unread books. But quickly! Conan is coming on! Turn that shit up to ninety decibels!