the mortal enemy of videogames

yeah sorry I have a bee in my bonnet

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nothing to apologize for :)

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Yeah! Ishiguro’s great. What did you dig about Never Let Me Go?

Personally, I went on a big Ishiguro kick a few years ago, reading four of his novels in a row, and while I thought Never Let Me Go was pretty and convincingly written, it was my least favourite of the four. Still a great novel, for sure, but to me, less impressive than The Buried Giant, less of an emotional gut punch than The Remains of the Day, and less surprising than When We Were Orphans.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you liked Never Let Me Go, maybe give those ones a look as well!

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I have to admit, I sometimes feel out of depth with discussing books on here and feel I have not much of substance to add. But that means I can harvest the discussions for book recommendations which haven’t led me astray so far, so I’m very grateful.

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I think yeso articulated quite well what I felt reading Nabokov. there’s just an overwhelming (and for me, repulsive) sense of “aren’t I clever?” coming from the narrator at all times.

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I think that when I ended up reading Nabokov I understood why someone like Dostoevsky would seem very repulsive to him. Dostoevsky seems much more clunky in comparison, maybe because of the translation, but in general his style was like rough, broad lines versus Nabokov’s more “refined” slender language. I didn’t interrogate Pale Fire in the way Nabokov may have intended, I more so enjoyed the composition of his sentences, I still remember some passages from Pale Fire actually, despite not remembering what the book was actually about.

On that topic, I’ll admit I’m one of the people who actually sat down to read Pale Fire after hearing the some lines from it in Blade Runner 2049.

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I think everyone has a different tolerance level when it comes to that stuff, and probably a different idea of the merits of being clever in general. Like I mentioned above, I agree with yeso regarding Pale Fire, although I like some of Nabokov’s other books (and Speak, Memory is sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read). I think him disliking Dostoevsky makes a lot of sense, considering the way each of them treat literature.

When it comes to other “clever” writers, I find myself similarly ambivalent: it works in certain of their novels, and not others. I like Gravity’s Rainbow, but find the rest of Pynchon a little grating in its silliness (maybe because I read Gravity’s Rainbow first, before realizing that was his style in all his books). I think Infinite Jest, while you could certainly say that the footnotes are a little gimmicky, has a strong emotional core to it. Yeah, the near-future satire bits are a bit hokey, but I felt all the deep looks into each character’s relationship to addiction is compelling, and the clinical nature of the footnotes contrasts well with that.

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in the spirit of vulnerability, i’ll admit sometimes a good bout with yeso has me feeling like this.

but i’m honestly a bit surprised to hear you say that—i think your observations are always worth hearing and i assure you they’re appreciated. this goes for everyone as a general rule, of course, but i’m being for real.

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That being said, Infinite Jest, despite having homeless perspective characters, definitely takes a bourgeois view of addiction – i.e. as something that happens to people who are bored. (That’s unfairly simplistic, but I think people will get what I mean.) An interesting comparison is Philip K Dick’s A Scanner Darkly which is a much more grounded view of the addict lifestyle with far less stylistic elegance.

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re: nabokov disliking big dos—there’s a lot of posturing and probably irony involved when he infamously compared him to tolstoy. he was being cheeky, but he was also speaking with the baggage of being an emigre writer on the curtails of the revolution. probably not worth seriously analyzing.

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that’s much appreciated. imposter syndrome and all that.

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Heck yeah. I do want to check out his other books too.

I think I enjoyed Never Let Me Go because it captured being a child at school so incredibly well. The horrifying premise of the book initially being spoon fed slowly and cryptically put me into an emotional state close to that of a child learning about the world at large. Over time it changes this state, to that of a teenager trying to understand love and relationships. Then with a large amount of whiplash, which might be important to this change in emotions, it manages to put me into the emotional state of being hospitalized and eventually in palliative care, realizing there is no escape to mortality. The characters are desperate to find a way out, seeking a powerful figure in their eyes to save them. That interaction felt a lot like a play on meeting god, and then god doesn’t even know. I enjoyed the ending, in that no matter the length of our life, everyone may feel wanting at the end.

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yeah that’s well said—the parts where he tries to capture the other in IJ are very embarrassing and easily the worst parts of the book. at the same time, i think the book would be worse if he actively tried to incorporate more of that perspective at the expense of the bourgeoisie stuff. i guess you need at least a little bit of that solipsism.

what you said about the emotional core is also well said. IJ and its relatives are messy and imperfect, but hey if that ain’t literature.

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I’ve long been interested in the Desert Fathers and may be reading that as well for a very specific project.
You’ve also sold me on Vollmann’s climate change books.

As for all the philosophy talk, I’m jsut too much of a dummy for all that folderol. Can’t make sense of any of it or why they’re abstracting problems to such a degree that they become essentially meaningless.

And Pale Fire is great! I love it!

Never Let Me Go is one of my favorite reads. I even really like the movie adaptation (which I watched and liked so much that I immediately bought and read the book). I think it’s the second best Ishiguro, though some would probably put it lower. I wrote a primer, of sorts, on Ishiguro.

I’m not sure if I’m doing the new quoting correctly but time will tell once I hit enter on this reply, but I agree with @whatsarobot that The Buried Giant and The Remains of the Day are often considered among his best. I hate When We Were Orphans though!

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My username seems to have reverted to some long ago version but I am still me, I assure you.

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what if Kingdom Hearts went to Pale Fire world?

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hello regular edward. Mods are fielding name change requests here: Name change requests

that’s because I have a bad habit of doing this

you’re definitely not

and fwiw, I read Nabokov’s lecture on Dostoyevsky in order to pin down the precise analysis and I was surprised to see how imaginatively limited it is. This means you can tell your family that you’re smarter than vladimir nabokov.

Note - the website messes up the formatting: The transition from the editor’s introductory remarks to Nabokov’s voice happens partway into the 2nd paragraph

Some critical problems (in addition to implicit snobbishness) are his inability to think in a religiously devout framework. Why should Dostoyevsky be measured against the kind of atheistic, strictly aesthetic conception of
“divinity” Nabokov describes when he’s an actual believer in what he regards as a literally true religion?

He’s also, imo, too fixated on Dostoyevsky’s assumed moral valuation of his characters vs what the work itself may transmit to the reader. Does anyone think Raskolnikov is sympathetic and his motives sensible?

His criticism of “sentimentality”. I’d be curious to know if Nabokov applied this thinking to American Naturalists and proletarian novels like Theodore Dreiser or Pietro di Donatto: is their working out of their own inarguably brutal, cruel upbringings and the further struggles of their own lives “sentimentality”? Why the long prefatory about Dostoyevsky’s troubled life and political confusions if these are unaccounted for in his work? Is this just an FYI for cornell english majors that he was a slob? Also, I think what he’s calling “sentimentality” I would call melodrama, and I don’t think he understands it’s potential functions. For example:

…we are not disgusted or horrified by the bloody ending of the three greatest plays ever written: The hanging of Cordelia, the death of Hamlet, the suicide of Othello give us a shudder, but a shudder with a strong element of delight in it.

I’m surprised to see these three events grouped together. Anyone who experiences these plays as melodrama would not see them as the same. The death of Cordelia is one of the saddest passages I can think of in all of literature. Hamlet’s death is confused and ironic and dark. Othello is tragic. To consider these as “bloody” events elides quite a lot.

This delight does not derive from the fact that we are glad to see those people perish, but merely our enjoyment of Shakespeare’s overwhelming genius.

Total misunderstanding. Reading isn’t grading homework for most people, I think lol

So I think he’s at least consistent in hewing to these beliefs in his own writing (for the worse, imo). yes he has avoided “sentimentality” but what’s left is scrupulous “good-taste” and a null set beyond. Just commonplace, rigid, incurious, self-serving thinking here. What he’s arguing for, it seems to me, is a standard of virtue that’s just as idiosyncratic and of questionable value and consistency as any, only he’s using (either strategically concealed or obliviously unrecognized) bourgeoise chauvinism to enforce this view. great craftsman of the english language though. Borges was a snob socially, but at least his criticism was generous, and I could be mistaken, but did Nabokov ever write anything like “El Sur”?

Anyway, by way of a rejoinder, I took a crack at translating Roberto Art’s preface to Los Lanzallamas because I think it’s fun and also kind of anticipates this line of attack, at least in the social realm. I preserved his syntactical eccentricities and factual error about James Joyce’s nationality


Words from the author

Summary

The Flamethrowers completes the novel The Seven Madmen.

I’m grateful to have had the willpower, in quite unfavorable conditions, to finish off a work that demanded loneliness and seclusion. I always wrote in loud newsrooms, accosted by the demands of a daily column.

I say this to encourage novices to the craft, who are always interested in the technical procedures of the novelist. When you have something to say, you can write anywhere. On a roll of butcher paper or in some room in hell. God or the devil by your side, dictating ineffable words to you.

Proudly I affirm that writing, for me, constitutes a luxury. I’m not blessed, as other writers are, with a stipend, spare time, or a sedate government job. To earn a living by writing is painful and tough. Especially if, when working, you let yourself think about all the people out there preoccupied with distracting you to the point of a nervous breakdown.

Moving on to another thing: they say I write badly. It’s possible. In any case, I’d have no trouble citing a large number of people who write well and are read only by select members of their families.

In order to have style, comfort is needed, income, a cushy life. But, in general, the people who enjoy such advantages avoid ever being disturbed by literature. Or consider it an excellent means of distinguishing themselves in the salons of society.

I’m ardently attracted to beauty. How often I’ve wanted to work on a novel that, like Flaubert’s, would be composed of panoramic canvases…! Now today, in the noisy midst of ever-crumbling social housing, it’s impossible to think of embroidery. Style requires time, and if I took my comrades’ advice, what would happen to me is what happens to some of them: I’d write a book every ten years, so I could then take a ten-year vacation on account of having taken ten years to write a hundred sensible, decent pages.

Next, some people are scandalized by the crudeness with which I express certain situations that are perfectly natural in sexual relations. Yet these same society columns have talked to me about James Joyce, their eyes rolled up to the whites. This arose from the spiritual ecstasy caused by a certain character in “Ulysses”: a gentleman who, in a toilet, inhales through his nose from the excrement he has defecated a minute before, the aroma, more or less, of his breakfast. But James Joyce is English. James Joyce hasn’t been translated into Spanish, and it’s a display of good taste to talk about him. The day that James Joyce is available to everyone in paperback, the society columns will invent a new idol who’s read by just a half dozen initiates.

In truth, one doesn’t know what to make of the public. If they’re actually idiots, or if they take seriously the broad comedy they act out every hour day and night. In any case, as a primary rule I’ve resolved not to send a single work of mine to the literary criticism section. What would be the point? So that a commanding gentlemen between the interruptions of a couple of phone calls will write to the satisfaction of upstanding citizens:

“Mr. Roberto Arlt persists in holding to a realism of crummy taste, etc., etc.”

No, no, and no.

Those times are passed. Through the impudence of work, the future is ours. We will make our own literature, not by endlessly conversing about literature, but by writing, in proud isolation, books that capture the violence of a left hook to the jaw. Yes, one book after another, and “let the eunuchs snort.”

Our triumph will come. We’ve earned it by the sweat of ink and the grinding of teeth, in front of the “Underwood”†, which we beat with tired hands, hour after hour, hour after hour. Sometimes your head falls off from fatigue, but… while I write these lines, I’m thinking of my next novel. It will be titled “The Hexed Love” and will appear in August of 1932.

Let the future speak.

† - Underwood = typewriter manufacturer

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nabokov….you’re done sis

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the egghead finally met his match: a video game forum

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This is one of the aspects of Borges I most admire, and try to emulate whenever I write any form of criticism. Borges seemed to approach established classics, hokey mystery novels, and popular 1930s movies with equal respect, reckoning with them as they are, trying to elucidate what is potentially interesting about each work he wrote about. This is not to say that he only wrote praise, but you never get the feeling that he is sneering or turning up his nose.

When I was younger, I thought it was kind of funny that Nabokov published a whole lecture series about how much he despised Don Quixote, but now I wonder what was the point? (I read it, but don’t remember too much about it.) The faults and follies of Don Quixote are pretty apparent to any modern reader. I feel like the time and effort could’ve been better spent exploring a book he found actually meaningful.

Anyway, everyone should read Borges’ non-fiction work. It’s just as imaginative and delightful as his fiction.

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