Mono no aware

Tuesday, 7 March 2017 14:35
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
Hello. Herein, a potpourri of petals.

Attempts at preserving the transient come in many forms. Some people take photographs. Some make jam. My instinctive preference is to write things down.

The other day, mine eye landed upon something so ideally symbolic of DECADENCE that I had to record the encounter in my Büchlein.

Decadent object )

People, phones… What am I carping for? Is it really any worse than troops of Victorians sketching everything in sight? As for loathing textspeak ’n’ sexting, just take a look at the postcard section of your local antiques market. Often these ephemeral curiosities feature saucy cartoons, portraits of Noted Beauties, photos of underdressed actresses or athletes. The messages are frequently cryptic love notes and tryst set-ups, and can be signed in secret ways - initials, pet-names (‘Your Sweetheart Always’), or just ‘from You-Know-Who’.

The throwaway stuff that seems not to matter, or that actively irritates us, generally turns out to be the most interesting and useful to historians. Aren’t you glad that people wrote on walls in Pompeii? And yet, you’d probably be cross if some present-day autographer tagged the front of your house. Graffiti: an interesting area to ponder. For example, how do you feel about government-approved areas set aside for street art? Can anything that is placed there have the same sensibility and significance as art that is made guerilla-fashion/wherever the maker wants/illegally? And again, what about transience? Once an item of street art has arrived upon a surface, are we to guard and preserve it, or is it fair game for rival artists, municipal street cleaners, vandals?

How long must something survive ‘against the odds’ before it becomes precious heritage?

*

Will there one day be a way to ‘collect’ digital ephemera? Captured in some kind of storage media, equivalent to an album? Or will we fish for it virtually, dipping a notional jar into long-forgotten isolated internet ponds whose connexion to the larger ocean long since silted up?

The way digital information looks is highly dependent on the software we are using. Will it be someone’s job some day to recreate ancient lost fonts? Simulate antiquated browsers?

My curiosity about this is brought about partly by current reading-matter.

Photo of two books: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Hadrian the Seventh by Fr. Rolfe

Snippets )

AND FINALLY, here’s a notebook with a macabre history - and, well, yes, it’s another joyous local news headline: ‘Wallpaper which killed Napoleon Bonaparte on sale in Exeter.’

Don’t get too excited, folks. We are not talking rolls of the stuff on special offer at Homebase. It’s simply that a local auction house is offering for sale a scrapbook cover, which is alleged to have been made from Napoleon’s famously-arsenical bedroom wallpaper.

After Hitler’s phone and Napoleon’s wallpaper, whatever can be next?! My prediction shall be… Bismarck’s moustache-trimmings. Watch this space, collectors.

*

Ooh, finally-finally, I have pretty much always referred to Wikipedia as ‘Vicipaedia’, but it wasn’t until the other day that I learned that the Latin language edition of Wikipedia is really truly actually called Vicipaedia! Accidental-correct-guess-success, baby. Yeah.
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
I’m such a contrarian. This is 2017, the world is screaming, laughing, spinning outta control, and yet now, most inappropriately, I seem to have fallen back in love with life.

I think I knew I was going to be ok when I opened one of David’s Christmas presents to me: a book about British galls. I spent most of Christmas Day reading it and getting excited about Spring, when we can go on a proper gall hunt together.

Rightful Inhabitants )
*

The culture has mined a new depth of decadence: you can now buy bottles of molten iceberg water from Harrods, £80 a pop.

Had it been available to him, our old pal Des Esseintes would probably have ordered in gallons of this stuff, probably for the purpose of bathing in it, followed by an acute and prolonged attack of guilt. Guilt, I think, is the most expensive luxury of all - for those with any residue of good taste. For those for whom ‘taste’ is just a thing Coca Cola has, a brazen lack of guilt is preferred: think of those shameless big game hunters who pose for grinning selfies next to dead elephants.

Yes, guilt is an emotional tax that some of us pay in return for doing wretched things. Some people, however, are temperamentally tax-evasive.

*

Yesterday the David and I went record-shopping and I bought one! I got this:

klaus_schulze_x

“X” by Klaus Schulze. This is one of my favourites. Mostly because of its side-length piece called ‘Ludwig II. von Bayern’.

Glorious Anachronistic Muddle )

*

Some current reading matter - a curious thing indeed:



Tenebrae by Ernest G. Henham.

Jealousy! Murder! Arachnophobia! )

Vulgar in Velvet

Thursday, 3 March 2016 15:29
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
It’s World Book Day! We did a roaring trade in the bookshop this morning - there never seems to be any rhyme or reason behind foot traffic/sales in there, but maybe people were aware of the occasion and had book-buying in mind.

Vampires, Velvet and Vulgarity )
songofcopper: (pensées mauves)
I am very glad to be able to tell you that I have recently discovered TWO writers who make me excited about reading. I’m such a picky little thing, it’s not easy to please me when it comes to cultural artefacts. I won’t say my standards are high, but they are exacting. Things have to feel right, hit the right spot. In no area of my life do I like to bother with things that don’t feel right or hit the right spot… if you don’t quite want to make love to it, you may as well abstain entirely, innit. (Self-sufficiency, too, is a canny move. You never appreciate how good someone else is - or how bad they are - if you are not truly conversant with your own capacity! True of writing, music, cooking and… all manner of other very necessary indulgences.)

Anyway (yes, please do change the subject, horrid creature), today at the bookshop I bought a book that I had been mulling over ever since I saw it on the shelf. I was alone on the shop floor today, so I started reading it, and once I did that, I knew it would have to come home with me. It is called ‘The Hawkline Monster - A Gothic Western’ and its author is Richard Brautigan. It’s a short book (I read the whole thing in the shop, between customers), odd, funny, technically brilliant and really a thing of joy. If I had to describe it (and convention suggests that I should), I’d ask you to imagine a fusion of David Lynch and Edward Gorey. It has that same exact glorious combination of the matter-of-fact and literal with the surreal and fantastic. When I saw the tagline ‘A Gothic Western’ I thought of [livejournal.com profile] in_thy_bounty (even more so when I saw the picture of Brautigan posing nonchalantly in a black hat!). And yes, the book’s ease in mingling down-to-earth, turn-of-the-20th-century Americana with hallucinatory weirdness (and that all achieved with a beautifully observational turn of phrase), would appear to be something you might enjoy. I’m also going to recommend it to [livejournal.com profile] breakon87 (this fellow Brautigan is tagged as a ‘post beat writer’, and the story has fantastical elements), [livejournal.com profile] aerodrome1 (it’s whimsical but elegant, sensual and nonchalant) and [livejournal.com profile] decemberthirty (it’s unusual, clever, sparse and feels deeply rooted in American culture).

My other discovery is David Stacton. (I would hazard a guess he too might be of interest to [livejournal.com profile] decemberthirty.) I’m reading his ‘Remember Me’ at the moment - one or two glorious chapters at a time, savoured in bed with breakfast. This novel is about Ludwig II of Bavaria, someone who definitely fascinates me. I usually keep well away from historical novels, even literary ones, but this is a quite remarkable entering-into-the-spirit of that legendary moonstruck tragic prince. I like very much that it’s written in the third person, in a slightly detached, certainly analytical, but very sympathetic way. In his introduction Stacton reveals his own devout fellow-feeling with Ludwig, and this emerges tangibly in the writing. I must admit to a certain fellow-feeling with Ludwig myself, and somehow this book (and its writer) seems to be one of those that ‘understands you back’ as you read it. Stacton is renowned for being an ‘epigrammatic’ writer, and his prose certainly is chock full of phrasey phrases. I really like that (I’m all about the phrasey phrase in my own writing, fer damn sure); it occasionally threatens to get a bit much, but in this book it works, almost as if Mr Stacton is having to defend himself from the rawness of his own emotion by imparting distance stylistically. The narrative voice becomes a character in itself then - or rather, the writer is very present in the writing. I like to feel that when I’m reading; I don’t read for the plot, you see, and perhaps not even for the characters. What I most desire from a writer is to feel not-alone, from the writing’s revealing of a kindred mind out there in the world somewhere.

Both Richard Brautigan and David Stacton died young. Brautigan struggled all his life with alcoholism and depression (living out the tendency for adults to perpetuate the trauma they suffered as children - his own youth was blighted by alcoholic, abusive men, failing at (step-)fatherhood); he eventually committed suicide. Stacton, weakened by cancer and its drastic non-cure (as well as a formidable tobacco habit) dropped dead of what looks to have been sheer bodily exhaustion. Each was idiosyncratic, stubborn, inimitable; each is now an immortal, complete with respective cult.

Idols tend to be oblivious to their worshippers, but the worshippers get something important out of it - something priceless. Very Important Lesson: live as much as you can, while you can, and make what you and you alone were born to make. It may not bring you any advantage during your short life (except the granting of your will), and people may say you wasted your time, or that you were eccentric and not much else. But if you can operate at this level of sincerity, somebody somewhere - today, tomorrow, next century - will be fortified and succoured by what you have made. Being you, at risk to your reputation, and pouring that intensely into what you (only you) can make: this will help someone along the line. Being not-you, nourishing convention, and suppressing your creativity: this will make you dead-while-alive, and will not lessen your sadness… nor will it help your spiritual descendants.

In short: reading is great, especially when it cheers up your thought-injured little brain!! ;-)

Cravattitude

Thursday, 26 March 2015 18:47
songofcopper: (Poste Dalferinin)
Something about today required a dash of vivid red. (I think it’s because I’m very tired: wan, weary and wilting. I really must force myself to go to bed at the proper time, though this is inconvenient to the natural flow of interesting conversation.) Anyway, red certainly does fill in the blank of one’s personality when it is AWOL owing to mental and spiritual fatigue.

BeforeTheGlass
“Would you buy a secondhand book from this person?”

Within: Crimson Silk, Cosy Coffins, Pens In Profusion, Notebooks For Idiots )
songofcopper: (Dalí)
…down at the Roxymoron Casino, presumably.

Slogans, slogans, slogans. You know me: I hate slogans (though I adore Mottoes, Axiomata, Aphorisms!). Who comes up with these things? ‘Please Gamble Responsibly’… that one wants filing next to ‘Please Die Quietly’.

Anyway, the other day I learned via Facebook that North Korea has recently issued a whopping 310 new patriotic slogans. Most have the sinister, hysterical quality that one expects from narcissist parents (which, I suppose, is a befitting label, considering the exploits of the Kim Dynasty).

Some, however, are just… plain… surprising.

Let’s Science Our Vegetables Unstintingly! )

Today I have dipped a toe into the seething, turbid waters of eBay, in search of Cheap Chinese Fountain Pens. Apparently, these can be surprisingly good for the hilariously-low price; I guess I’ll find out how true that is once the ones I’ve ordered arrive. The thing is, you see, I have fallen in love with bottled ink: and I seem to want to pair each hue I acquire with its own pen. (I’m clearly exactly as bad as those pseuds who buy the myriad differently-shaped wine glasses to match their wines! …Well, to be honest, I tend to drink wine - if I drink it at all - out of one of those tumblers that used to be a mustard-pot, but you get the general idea.) The other day I ordered three new bottles of ink in captivating shades, so of course fresh pens must follow. Luckily, I found my old Waterman pen, with accompanying converter, so one new colour will find its billet therein, but the others shall be housed in cheap ’n’ cheerful lodgings.

Sins, Aesthetick )

Today’s post brought me a couple of good things: a silver pendant depicting Hermes-Mercury (a thing of beauty!) and a good, cheap secondhand copy of ‘The Secret Service’ by Wendy Walker, which I have been wanting to acquire ever since I read its description.

A Mauve Decade )

Derangements

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 21:09
songofcopper: (neg)
The other morning I awakened from dreaming about a band called Satan’s Elbow. I can’t remember what sort of music they played (metal?), or any other details, except for that name. Upon consulting the Gull of Goo, I find that there doesn’t seem to be such a band in existence, but there is a detective novel by John Dickson Carr entitled ‘The House at Satan’s Elbow’ (some sort of Scooby Doo-esque locked room mystery with fake ghosts, by the look of it).

Satan and Sebastian )

Wretchedly Corvine )

Lunacy and Quackery )
songofcopper: (fiction)
I did a thing the other day. I joined the city's library. The place is newly refurbished and open again at last, complete with all the added incentives that the municipal authorities seem to feel we need these days in order to entice us to borrow books - to whit: café, computer terminals, wifi, self-service issue and return points, and something called a 'fab lab'. (Apparently, amongst other contraptions, it features a 3D printer for public hire; I predict embarrassment of the 'no, sir, ma'am, you can't print that here' variety. What'll it be first - guns, or Intimate Stress-Relief Aids for the Frustrated Misanthrope?! No - I have it - e-readers! Surely that's got to be against library policy.)

Librarians, Librarianing )
songofcopper: (Tea is the drink of great detectives! :-)
So, I finished reading David Madsen's 'Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf'. Very entertaining, a good read, especially if you like rattlingly-bizarre historical fiction. I sort of feel it was a little disjointed, in a way - you would get a bit of grotesque sexually-explicit stuff, then a slab of history, then a gulping draught of Gnostic philosophy, then a bit more sex, and so on and so forth. Sometimes, the sex and the history were combined - or the sex and the Gnosticism. Not sure it worked as a whole entity, though the parts (and weren't there a lot of parts - my word!) were very good indeed. I like this man's writing style, and he is able to make you care for his characters - even the really disgusting ones. I must admit, though, that I am hard to please when it comes to historical fiction. Remember when I was super-disappointed by 'Richard Blake' and his oh-so-very-almost Aelric, the character who couldn't quite? (I still think fondly on Aelric, you know. Ah, what might have been!!) Well, this book does what those books didn't dare to, which is quite a relief all round! ;-)

Anyway, I liked it enough to immediately grab a copy of Mr Madsen's second novel - 'Confessions of a Flesh-Eater'. Having read (well, devoured, appropriately enough) the entire thing in record time, I am moved to say that this is the best book I've read in a while - or at least, the one I have most enjoyed, which is the only thing that really counts. Here we have a tale that is gorgeously, unctuously, exorbitantly horrid - deliciously so. A midnight feast composed of secrets and secretions! Our protagonist and narrator is the chef, the soi-disant genius, the amoral murderer, the gilded narcissist, the one, the only, Orlando Crispe. We follow his career, from the earliest stirrings of his longing for flesh - to consume it, to be one with it, to absorb it, as he puts it - via his culinary training (conventional and extra-curricular), his murders, his cannibalism, all the way to his prison cell. Along the way he shares his favourite recipes, some of which will make you reappraise Heston Blumenthal's most involute offerings as veritably vanilla. He also lays out his philosophy - 'Absorptionism' - which is, I suppose, the x-rated, anthropophagic version of the Circle of Life.

It's a funny book, too, which doesn't always go well with sensuality on this scale, but here it works magnificently. I particularly like the way Mr Madsen uses cliché - for example, he can introduce a character who is a Neo-Nazi sado-masochist, the very idea of which is quite groan-inducing, and have you not only laughing at the poor fellow but sympathising with him as well (him and his favourite stitched leather strap - because your straight-backed Aryan seeker after chastisement must have one of these!). There are no straightforwardly admirable or likeable characters in the entire thing; all of them are delightfully dreadful. And yet you can't really hate any of them - not even Orlando. He's so… he's so… earnest, I think is the word. And handsome: a trait he uses to his advantage at every opportunity. At last, the blond amoral anti-hero who could!

In some ways I am forced to compare this book with 'The Debt to Pleasure' by John Lanchester, another book I loved (and reviewed here), featuring another narcissistic, amoral gourmet as narrator. I think I like 'Confessions' more, however. There's something about this book that I'm having trouble pinning down here - it's certainly a wonderfully entertaining, elegantly gross affair, but there's more to it than that. Perhaps it's only that it has reminded me, yet again, of the sheer power of language. The sheer sensual potency of words. I want there to be more books like this - books that have savour, that are like food, that are intense and addictive, nourishing and fattening and mouthwatering. There must be more of them out there. Where do they lurk?! Tell me!! (I'm thinking some of 'em may well be hanging out at Dedalus Books, Mr Madsen's estimable publishers. Incidentally, I note whilst browsing their website that somebody has bought the film rights to 'Confessions of a Flesh-Eater'. I'm… flabbergasted. This is one of those books where, as you read, you are thinking, "They could never make a film of this!" I slightly hope they never try, because it could only ever be a bowdlerised disappointment or an icky-sticky spurt of not-quite-pornography.)

Yes, I have to say I am not fond of dry prose. (You could probably tell that from my own mode of expression!!) On the other hand, I don't like it to be slack and sloppy either. Well-marshalled, disciplined, but beaucoup de jus is how I want it, thank you. In an ideal world that goes for my dinner, too, though I'd rather not eat people unless I absolutely have to. Dang - there I go again, bein' all parochial 'n' petit-bourgeois 'n' moral… sorry, dear Maestro Orlando…!

…On which note, it's well past the time for a palate-cleansing cup of tea. I think you should have one, too. (Being Didactic Again!)
songofcopper: (Miaow! =^.^=)
[Title Refers: Today at the shop I noticed a cardboard box whose original use was to contain fruit. It had a slogan printed upon it: "Melons with Purpose"! Now, there's a mottoe to conjure with!! Personally, I tend to feel that in life, and certainly in the bodice area, one may be given peaches, pomegranates or melons. I myself have been blessed with pomegranates, but to no great utility. Not that I mind pointlessness; it is, after all, a symptom of civility. In the words of Frank Zappa's Mr Green Genes: "Deliciousness, Nutritiousness, Worthlessness". ;-P]

Remember when young Cosmé indulged his fancy for the princely life during the Northern Renaissance? How deftly Hans Baldung Grien captured a look of doe-eyed sweetness upon the pampered one's fair face?

Well, now. Just for the sake of appearances, our very vain anachronautick wanderer needs must try on a more warlike pose now and again. Public relations demand a statement of martial intent. And so: enter Lucas Cranach the Elder.

cosme_lucas_cranach_elder_joachim_II_wiki
This style of armour has an intriguing hourglass formation. Plenty of room for pomegranates in there!!

For Maximum Effect, Co-ordinate your Palstave with your Halberd )

Meanwhile, back in the 21st Century, Cosmé is still in Renaissance Creature mode. That is to say, in black velvet and my reddest shoes I have been a decoration upon the day, the weather of my fashion gathering like a storm in the horizonless sky of denim that does infest the heavens. ;-P

DSCF3178
Der Schwarze Prinz mit Rote Schuhe )
songofcopper: (pendigestatory interludicule ^_^)
Oh, well, yes, it is Raining. It has Been Raining, it Is Raining, and it Shall Be Raining - evermore, world without end, amen? Oh I do hope not!!

If nothing else, it makes me wildly grateful to be living at the top of a hill, and also that I am not much the going-out type. I'm quite content to lounge about in precious pyjamas, drinking tea and reading.

I've been saving up my impressions of some recent(ish) reading matter, and here, for want of anything more momentous to tell you, is the sum total of all that page-flipping. I hope it may divert and inform.

From the Club of Queer Trades to the Book of Clothes )

Queen of Clubs

Thursday, 21 November 2013 18:38
songofcopper: (fred)
Sometimes, Cosmé hides, trying on Normal Person Clothes just to blend in. (Let's face it, charm is keenest felt when it is a rarity! Let us not give of our benison too freely, lest it be misprised for something cheap or commonplace!) However, today is not one of those times. Today is a Princelie Daye.

Fate undoubtedly agreed with me on the point. This morning, on the train, a cluster of boys from the College were… not playing cards, as such - playing with cards. How they giggled, as they flung them at each other! (It is reassuring to find that seventeen-year-old boys can still giggle and lark about like this. What a shame if they were all po-faced little cynics!) A playing card, I conjectured, might make a useful weapon if aimed with devastating accuracy and coated in something corrosive. If it got you on the neck, or the eye…

"Can one die of a paper cut at high velocity?" I wondered aloud. (If only there had been an indiscreet Ninja present to answer my question!)

A minute or two later, one of the boys happened to throw his fistful of chances with more flamboyance than precision. A card landed in my lap, from several yards away. I picked it up with a flourish and scrutinised this unexpected messenger. It was a court card - the Queen of Clubs.

"How very appropriate," said David.

"Indeed," said I; "I shall keep it, as a souvenir."

The boys didn't seem to notice or care that they had lost a card to my acquisitive fingers. I suppose this means that I have already influenced the outcome of their next game of Gin Rummy - if they ever bother to play it.

(Just now I am looking at the Wikipedia page on cartomancy. Apparently, the Queen of Clubs signifies "A woman over 18, with medium or dark brown hair, with brown, blue or hazel eyes. Usually a business woman or social butterfly." As with all fortune-telling, this is both wildly vague and mildly specific; it does and does not refer to me, in several aspects. In fact, there appears to be no card that points very definitely at Cosmé - how cramped the imaginations of seers must be!)

When I reached the bookshop, I saw that the window was filled with books on Medieval History. Appropriate again! For there I was, attired in a splendid pair of black velvet knee breeches (I finally found just the kind I wanted, from a seller of vintage clothes on Etsy), my dear time-travelling shirt and a bargainsome scarlet velvet shirt found in a charity shop. The buckled shoes completed the picture.

DSCF3100

Rouge, Noir, Argent )
songofcopper: (Sparks - Big Beat)
[*Really, Dirtbert, not a coyly-implied Human Triskele. Soap well thy mind, pray!] …Amanuensis, dearest! I Am One…! That is to say, I have lately fulfilled a long-held ambition - been paid to type up a manuscript for an author. My author is an eccentric, voluble Welsh fellow who comes into the shop fairly often. He is a mine of stories, and quite the namedropper. Now he is composing his Memoirs of a Welsh Childhood, and on learning that I am an accomplished typist (and liking me as being the Right Sort of Fellow), engaged me on the spot to take care of the tippy-typing. We agreed a price for my labours, he wrote me out a cheque and off I went with the manuscript in its purple folder. Today I returned the purple folder, along with a blue one containing a crisp and lovely typescript, and a memory stick containing All the Wordses.

Commas, Cash and the Suburban Dilettante )
songofcopper: (pendigestatory interludicule ^_^)
How is it possible?! I appear to have mislaid twelve pounds. No, not legal tender, dear heart; I am talking about flesh - mine, not a freezerful of viands. This is mysterious, for I am not (have never been) banting. (Isn't that a lovely, quaint word? Much more gentil than 'slimming' or 'dieting'.)

Chrysalidic Flux )

Lordy heck, it seems there's another television serial about the Borgias! - thus providing at least one answer to the riddle: How is a Borgia like an Omnibus? My early impressions of this version (it's a big pan-European co-production) are that they seem somewhat more keen to give a nod to actual history than t'other lot (for whom it really is just Fucking, Fighting, and Upholstery Fabric) but at the same time, they have gone in for quite a lot of Conjectural Character Development.

A job lot of scarlet velour )

That reminds me, I still hate hysterical navels historical novels (mostly). I decided to try and read one of these 'Railway Detective' books that have become really popular. Mostly because I love stories set on or around trains (this is always great in a film, too - several Hitchcock films, the Railway Children, that surprisingly-good recentish thriller where the guy has to relive the train journey over and over to solve the bomb plot...). I was thinking, Victorian murder mystery with steam trains - that's got to be hard to do wrong, if you're knowledgeable about the period, and it could be so great.

"Are you serious?" said Dirk. )

The other day I bought a book in the bookshop - I had to, really; it lived up so wonderfully to its title.

It's a humorously-written fictional diary.

It's called 'Diary of a Misplaced Philosopher'.

I found it - and how can I not smile as I write this? - misplaced, in the Philosophy section.

From Academe to Jurisprudence... )

I saw a sign the other day (another one!), outside a funeral director's showroom, that would undoubtedly have made it into the pages of Joseph North's diary - 'WANTED: CASUAL PALL BEARER', it said.

Slope off my shoulders, slide into the sod! )
songofcopper: (Prince Stash Klossowski de Rola)
"Eyeless in Gaza? Why, I'd rather be Bra-less in Giza."

I'm still hunting for the right place to use that line.

I'm assuming, as I write this, that you understand about Lines. You know me, I love a Phrasey Phrase, though I try not to offend against good taste by using them in actual conversation. Perfectly justified in fiction, though. Ah, well: its time will come.

What are some others...? How about "That's not dating: that's babysitting." (This could refer as much to mental age as lifespan-to-date. Let's face it, there are some people who will always need adult supervision.)

"Justin Scarfe... do you think that's his stripper name?" - well, this one is Real. I was served by a gentleman (I mean in a shop, dear, or it may have been an airport) whose nametag was thusly inscribed. I don't recall what he looked like, which is probably just as well; there are some people you just don't want to imagine naked. (From your point of view, I daresay I'm one of 'em!)

From Paris Eat-a-mole to Winsome Slade )

I have had plenty of time to muse on such matters during the last few days. The thing is, you see, I (foolish, impetuous creature that I am) ordered a new coffee table. (Yes, I know... such extravagance ill befits etc. etc.) There is a certain kind of reckless masochism in willingly entwining one's fate (and that of blameless items of furniture) with that of the Devil's minions on earth, otherwise known as City-Link Couriers. I feel I have completed a small preliminary level of Purgatory: The Video Game in welcoming this new coffee table into my life. Ah me; Sacrifice!!

Hell is staffed by couriers, ask anyone )

Never mind: there have been some consolations, swift and unfussy in their arrival at Your Correspondent's door. My faithful librarian, Mr Fluffy here, displays our current reading matter:

bookes
Mr Fluffy and Literature - ideal companions!

Books: the cure for most frustrations )

A Reckless Eater

Saturday, 24 August 2013 16:44
songofcopper: (full head & shoulders)
Reading can be very much like eating. (Here we go again...!) Appetite is involved; nourishment, of course. And that ebb and flow of available attention, of capacity for decoding, that dictates the choice between gastronomic outcomes: a plateful of convenient stodge that can be hoovered up from a recumbent position whilst bathing the eyeballs in some correspondingly viscid televisual accompaniment - or, painfully elegant dainties, requiring that special muddling of science and sensuality, precision and passion, wherein the ostensibly-nonchalant placement of one element in relation to its neighbours vividly implies obsession. The latter case ought always to unfold in hushed solemnity. There should always be language to learn - uncertainty, ignorance, pencil outlines to ink in. And ideally, there should be a novice or ingénue who comes to that place, wide-eyed, perhaps wearing a small, tasteful covering of extremely new clothes, to be initiated by a mature, twinkly, rather condescending person who thrills one with his (I'm afraid it's inevitably 'his') breadth of knowledge on the one hand, and his downright awfulness on the other. (The awfulness is as necessary in such interactions as things like fish sauce and asafoetida are in cookery - it sets off the blander components with its rousing piquancy.)

And yet... it tends to work best when the novice is not really a novice - real innocence is rather useless in practice, it is best when put on like a gossamer garment over a sturdy foundation of knowing.

In any case, the dining-table (as, on occasion, the library table) is an altar of carnality in all senses of the word, and you can even quote me on that if you wish.

The small serving of fruited flummery above will suffice to introduce the topic at hand, like to an amuse-bouche (what worrying things those are - I always feel they owe their composition more to thrift and tidiness than a sincere desire to charm the diner's palate - their true antecedent being the vol-au-vent, perhaps, more than the canapé...but heigh-ho).

In short: I have been reading, or rather re-reading, 'The Debt to Pleasure' by John Lanchester.

"There is an erotics of dislike..." )

fabulam mirabile

Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:04
songofcopper: (Sparks - Big Beat)
WARNING: unless you want your book-shopping-list to get LONG, don't visit the compulsively-intriguing 'Writers No-one Reads' on tumblr. The obscure, the overlooked and the just plain odd are all there, and it's tantalising. Already I want to find out more about...

...Athanasius Kircher, whose approach to science was part-prescient, part-fraudulent, part-fantastic - he is to Natural Philosophy what John Mandeville is to Geography!

...Gyula Krúdy, whose whimsical and romantic stories resurrect the bones of sweetest savouriest memory - his Sindbad, 300-year-old revenant-amorist, might be a happier, cleverer alternative to our dreary modern-day corpse-romances (a livelier strain of undead!).

...Wendy Walker, whose literary-espionage-fiction blends the anachronistic and the metaphysic - Jules Verne meets Franz Kafka?!

There are many others, but these stood out to me particularly. Then yesterday I passed some time before my train by wandering through Waterstones booksellers. They have a couple of tables devoted to Strange and Interesting Things from Other Lands. I've often looked but never bought (everything is expensively-imported). But perhaps I shall some day. Having seen all manner of interesting things on 'Writers No-one Reads', I learned to recognise the distinctive binding of the New York Review of Books' publishing arm. They seem to specialise in translating weird things into English. There on the table, dressed in their livery, I saw a book by...

...Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, his 'The Letter Killers', whose blurb says it all:



"The Letter Killers Club is a secret society of self-described “conceivers” who, to preserve the purity of their conceptions, will commit nothing to paper. (What, after all, is your run-of-the-mill scribbler of stories if not an accomplished corruptor of conceptions?) The logic of the club is strict and uncompromising. Every Saturday, members meet in a firelit room filled with empty black bookshelves where they strive to top one another by developing ever unlikelier, ever more perfect conceptions: a rehearsal of Hamlet hijacked by an actor who vanishes with the role; the double life of a merry medieval cleric derailed by a costume change; a machine-run world that imprisons men’s minds while conscripting their bodies; a dead Roman scribe stranded this side of the River Acheron. But in this book set in an ominous Soviet Moscow of the 1920s, the members of the club are strangely mistrustful of one another, while all are under the spell of its despotic President, and there is no telling, in the end, just how lethal the purely conceptual—or, for that matter, letters—may be."




As a lifelong Ideas Person and Intermittent Scribbler this appeals to me severely! (The concept about imprisoned minds and conscripted bodies does sound a bit 'Matrix'-like - I wonder if any of the others have escaped the novel?)

Also reclining there, an epistolary novel (the diary kind) from the pen of...

...'Viscount' (self-styled!) Emilio Lascano Tegui, whose 'On Elegance While Sleeping' is described as "deliciously macabre... part 'Maldoror' and part 'Dorian Gray'". As the author himself puts it: "I write out of pure voluptuousness. And so, like a courtesan, I'll take my sweet time, and begin by kicking off my shoe."

I can only approve - of a self-styled Viscount, and of shoelessness as a prelude to... heh... writing, or being writable-about. I now find that Lascano Tegui has had a mention on 'Writers No-one Reads'; I have my eye in, it seems, for spotting what is to their taste!

Discoveries are fun! I hope I shall get to read and enjoy some of these - if I do I'll be sure to pass on my impressions.

Words, words, words. ^_^

Salvador Volatile

Tuesday, 2 April 2013 15:06
songofcopper: (Dalí)
Today I finished reading Norman Douglas's 'South Wind', and I am very sorry indeed to say goodbye to it! It is definitely one of those stories I wish I could have written, and there are not too many of those. The place (the isle of Nepenthe, which is sort of Capri in disguise) and the people, too, will stay with me. Mr Keith, you can show me your cannas (the scented or the unscented ones) any time, you dear man. :-) (Mr Keith could not, I think, join the ranks of 'fictional characters the Emy could marry' - really there is only Professor Fen, or perhaps Charlie Mortdecai - but he goes straight to the top of the list marked 'Potential Wicked Uncles'.)

The natural sequel to this would be 'Vestal Fire' by Compton Mackenzie - published ten years later, treating on more expatriate adventures on that shore. I do very much want to read that, but not yet, I think. Here I will perhaps invoke a prandial metaphor - "time for a palate-cleanser, a sorbet" - but you know what, 'South Wind' is a sorbet, a dainty delicacy. Ah me, yes, 'herbaceous in character' (that phrase again - I seem to want to say it daily!).

Well, anyway, what I mean is, you can't follow a sorbet with more sorbet, so I'm thinking it is time for something carnivorous. Funeral Baked Meats - om nom nom! ;-) Now, it is hard for me to enjoy anything without finding it slightly ridiculous, and when someone manages to be floridly carnivorous they had better be ridiculous too, or really, what's the point? With the above in mind, I've plotted out a route straight into a Black Forest filled with Venus Flytraps. (Yeehaw, have at it, Dr Freud!!)

Libertines taking Liberties in Libraries )

Leaves

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 15:35
songofcopper: (magritte)
Here is a humungous reading-related questionnaire espied chez [livejournal.com profile] aerodrome1.

Turn the page... )

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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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