the mortal enemy of videogames

Just a collection of random thoughts based on the fruitful discussion here:

First, I will also come out as not being smart enough to be here. I just take whatever position Yeso advocates for since he seems to know more than me

Achilles wasn’t bottoming in that tent for 10 years for your disapproval

Lying on my stomach, kicking my feet up, giggling, maybe I have a lollipop in the other hand.

I read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous in one sitting on the Acela Express, tearing through those 250 pages in a little over two hours. That’s probably the most in the zone I can recall being while reading, so maybe that’s my spot

Some sickos read in the sauna at the gym and it’s like… Why would you want to sweat all over your book? Just flash some hog like everyone else or get out!

Are you an iPad or Kindle or Nook person? I have some books on my laptop (only really whip the iPad out for trips) and I have major beef with whoever does the book app. They recently updated it so instead of numbering every individual page they now number sets of two pages as one - i.e. a 500 page book is now 250 according to them. I know this really shouldn’t affect my reading experience but I absolutely hate it

My next read!

First time I encountered this IRL was in high school. We were reading Macbeth and one of the girls in my class made a mention of something being reflective of Macbeth’s id/ego/superego. Another girl in the class got really mad at that and was talking about how that’s not a fair reading of the text because Freud was born centuries after Shakespeare (although like, I’m pretty sure every person on earth who has ever had a thought probably knows they have an impulsive/emotional side and a more rational one so I don’t get why that one girl got so miffed about it)

Also Kenneth Lonergan’s excellent Margaret has this scene (based on a real conversation in one of Lonergan’s high school classes) that I’ve always found pretty interesting

I only skimmed the Nabokov discussion. The only thing I have to contribute is that I’ve always really liked this dark joke in Lolita:

When Humbert and Lolita drive past a bad accident with a bloody car in a ditch and one of the driver’s shoes flung from the vehicle, Lolita says "That was the exact type of moccasin I was trying to describe to that jerk in the store.”

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okay bestie why not me tho…

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Begrudgingly I have to admit that the motherfuckers that Amazon purchased to develop the Kindle Paperwhite know what they’re doing, generally. E-ink is an absolute must for reading books, imo.

But, I also find the way it communicates page count or place in the book or percentage of the way through the book one is to be often incomprehensible.

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ugh so true bestie :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :heart:


Also, re: not feeling smart enough

I’ve seriously upped the amount of reading that I’ve done in the past ~5 years or so, went from maybe a handful a year to closer to one a week! Super proud of that accomplishment

However, I really thought that by reading a lot more that I’d be… better? Sometimes I just pick up a book and have a real hard time following. It’s not even that I dislike the book or bounce off it, but just a hard time even getting the plot. I’m trying to parse what exactly it is that makes it so hard for me to pay attention - why sometimes I can be totally in the zone (esp on a plane) and bang out books with no issues and then I pick up another book and I can’t do more than 20 pages. The self-critical aspect of myself wants to say that I’m not smart enough but my current instance of this is having trouble paying attention to Sense and Sensibility which I don’t think is particularly more difficult than Pride and Prejudice which I really enjoyed and didn’t give me trouble. Super postmodern stuff (I don’t even really know what I mean by this but just roll with it) scares me because I kinda just know that I’m gonna have a hard time following Gravity’s Rainbow or whatever. It might just be impatience/lack of focus. I found 1Q84 pretty easy to follow for the first 2/3rds but kinda started giving up towards the end because the whole thing started to feel like a slog. It honestly all might just be mood-dependent

Anyway, I don’t know if anyone else has similar troubles or suggestions for how I can get more out of my reading

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I really need to get back to this. I was so excited to add a woman’s translation to my Homer collection back when it was published. I was enjoying it through the first several Books, but like so many books I’ve gotten post-university it just fell out of my brain. Far more often than I like, I start a book and then forget I started it or can’t stay focused enough to finish it

This regularly vexes me since I was both a literature and classics major, but I can’t seem to read regularly without the little pockets of “me time” created by the structure of a school/work day, neither of which I’ve had for over a decade now

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I have complicated feelings about how e-readers display reading progress. I had a Kindle for a couple of years then recently switched to a Boox Nova Air (I think that’s the name) which allows me to add different e-reader programs.

The progress bar or the thing that displays X out of Y pages read felt like having a speed-run timer when playing a game, and the pressure of not making enough progress in a book became a concern. While it made me read more, it felt like it was under pressure and that’s not the vibe I’m going for if im just trying to have a good time with the book. So now I read books without the HUD.

That being said, when I read books on my e-reader i almost never know how to estimate how long it will take me to read, and it has lead to me feel like I’m halfway through a book when I’m really in the last couple of pages. So that’s an unexpected side effect.

I think the flipside of this is to finish books out of a sense of responsibility to get closure. I read 1Q84 that way, in fact I think halfway through it turned into a hate-read if I’m being honest, but I still finished it and idk if I should have? I don’t think this is an answer to your question but I would say I would rather be able to drop a book halfway without guilt than force myself to like one (or finish it while hating it). Or maybe there’s something to gain in reading books one doesn’t like if you are trying to understand the craft a bit more.

As a side note, I shouldn’t have begun my Murakami journey with 1Q84, though I remember being a bit uncomfortable reading the Tengo - FukaEri stuff. I’ve heard he doesn’t get much better in that regard, but I’m willing to try again.

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Me and Mrs. @wickedcestus would agree that no, you shouldn’t have

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@Gaagaagiins @MoH

I think The Foundation Pit is a good suggestion. The book already has a bear in it who’s kind of like a cartoon bear like yogi, except that he hunts kulaks

Haven’t read The Leopard but I did enjoy the movie, and I could see this working well as kingdom hearts stage

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Yup! I began really hating it once I got to part 3. I love my copy of the book though - I didn’t want to carry a massive tome around with me and so I bought the box set that individually bounds each part

Yea, absolutely not! I started with Norwegian Wood which I like as a starting point. Some people may caution against it because it’s maybe the least “Murakami” of his works. I’d say that 1Q84 on the other hand is maybe the most “Murakami” to the point of self-parody:

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About the notion of “not being smart enough” being discussed here. I hope people are comfortable talking about whatever book they feel like talking about, and also are comfortable interjecting in the conversation whenever. No need to be up to speed on whatever the topic du jour appears to be.

And to echo what others have said: knowing about and being able to talk about books doesn’t signal intelligence. It’s just a matter of being the habit of reading and being habituated to talking about books. I mean I can talk about baseball too but that doesn’t make me smart. Same thing basically imo

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Like if people here bring up weird French literary critics, that’s like baseball fans getting into SABERmetrics and VORP

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Not sure why baseball fans are measuring things against Fate/stay night, but good for them.

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murakami is good. for anyone on the fence i’d recommend his earlier novels where it’s mostly just dudes hanging out. also some of his short stories are the best in the business. i agree he writes about women and sex so clinically it can seem grotesque.

@Hunter i used to go hardcore with reading–i would take really copious notes on separate sheets, make vocabulary lists, write little reviews in a notebook…there’s something to be said about getting so into something, but it wasn’t very sustainable (or fun) for me.

now i kinda just breeze through things. i dog ear pages with interesting passages, maybe write down sentences, sometimes even take a picture of a page with my phone. i remember things a lot less, especially plot, but i wouldn’t say i’m reading “worse” or whatever. i still get an intense appreciation out of the things i like. maybe i sound a little up my own ass here, but i think remembering things that happen and following along aren’t necessarily the best markers of art appreciation.

case in point: i forget which book he mentions it in, but gerald murnane talks about how he doesn’t watch movies because he literally cannot understand how the plots work. like he leaves each movie incredibly confused to the point he irritates his companions. and that dude is a genius imo! i think lasting images, feelings, and the connections you make in your own mind are the best things to can take with you.

and if the post modern stuff seems intimidating or sloggish then fuck it. most of it is. kinda to @yeso’s point, but i don’t know if reading is inherently a better use of time than anything else. in fact, sometimes i think the opposite. would neitzche’s overman spend their time reading books? doubtful.

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There are a number of things to address here—which books do you jell with, which do you not—but it sounds first of all like you’re being too hard on yourself. Gravity’s Rainbow is notoriously and somewhat uniquely opaque; there is however plenty of stuff to dig into in that and other big contemporaneous books that doesn’t involve comprehending the plot. Different books are tough to follow for different people, don’t worry about it. Full disclosure I recently had to put down The Age of Innocence because I couldn’t keep all the high society gossip straight

Reading criticism is one good way to work through thinking about something when you’re not taking a class on it, and reading academic criticism too—in the case of the latter it’s often an exercise in figuring out just what idea the scholar is putting forward; filtering out the cruft can be its own reward in terms of thinking differently about a text.

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looking back, when i would go hardcore and read stuff like gravity’s rainbow, the recognitions, ulysses, etc., i think it’s because i felt like i had something to prove. and maybe a small and woefully misguided part of me thought it’d help me impress girls.

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there’s a thread on resetera rn where a guy just wrote his first ever poem and he wants feedback before sharing with his girlfriend, and they’re trying to talk him out of using the phrase “my stunning Latina princess”. Let the man express himself

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wonder if this the same guy who plays his switch 4-8 weeks per month

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I doubt many of us are concerned with trying (and failing) to affect a transvaluation of values upon the masses. Not to mention the Nietzschean dismissal of reading as bookish glosses over Nietzsche’s own fixation on the content of experience, which he felt contemporary philosophy had ignored.

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and he was right!

As the guy who accidentally initiated the dumb-dumb vs. nerdlinger discourse happening here, I’ll state two fairly contradictory maxims that I have come to use in my appreciation of, not just books, but pretty much any artistic appreciation or entertainment medium.

The first statement is that I think it’s fine and good to let your emotions and desires and instincts guide how you engage with things for entertainment or enrichment. Maybe I’m somewhat French in this sense but life is too short to approach your hobbies like a chore or an accomplishment, or, at least, to view them as such at the expense of enjoyment, more often than not, out of some belief that enjoyment can only be achieved via accomplishment. Intellectual appreciation of something is not the best or most important way to appreciate art or entertainment, emotional and sensual appreciation still count for a lot, or perhaps even more obscure forms of appreciation of art and entertainment (kinetic? moral? shock/physical?)

Perhaps another part of the problem too is that when dweebs are engaged in discussion about art and entertainment (present company not even remotely included), it is hard not to interpret all forms of verbally expressed appreciation as intellectual appreciation, just by virtue of there not really always being a whole lot of interesting ways to describe appreciation that isn’t intellectual. Like, just saying “that movie made me so sad” does not encapsulate the intensity of a sincere emotional response to something, saying “the fight scenes were so cool” does communicate anything about the thrill of watching bodies move and interact in extreme ways, “I got so scared at that one part” does no justice to the actual sensation of the heady mix of psychological and physiological responses to terror and the morbid “can’t look away” pull that horror is designed to elicit.

To really understand what it is that makes the difference for you between Sense and Sensibility & Pride and Prejudice I’d probably have to know a lot more about both of those books as well as a lot more about you as a person, but perhaps it’s not just the style and level of reading comprehension that makes the difference here. Give yourself some credit and consider the fact that maybe there are just differences in character dynamics and relationships and tensions that mean one is enjoyable for you to read and another isn’t. Really, you couldn’t have given a more perfect example to illustrate my point here, so, thanks for that. Would you perhaps enjoy them more equally if you knew more about social, class, and gender dynamics of Regency Era England or the subtle differences in modern and period English and were knowledgeable about contemporaneous trends in literature? I mean, maybe, but that’s clearly not the only thing that is appealing in those books, otherwise Austen probably wouldn’t be an authour whose works I bet you have a good chance of being able to find at an airport.

The contradictory statement is then that, maybe it’s fine to repeatedly fail at something, or to read a book and just not fuckin’ get it. It can be a humbling experience, sometimes, if you know that it’s more of an issue with comprehension rather than lack of interest. If you can get a thrill out of experiencing something at 10% of a perfect level of “appreciation,” then you’re infinitely better off than the snob (again present company pristinely not included here) who looks down on others for not being able to comprehend something more than they do, or think that they do.

Sometimes it’s just as much fun to let a weird experience wash over you regardless of how much you glean from it or not. For myself I’ve gotten a lot better differentiating between knowing when something is beyond my comprehension but cool vs. when something is just not interesting to me because it’s just operating on a different level. And there’s still even value in throwing yourself at the latter kind of thing, too. An experience of note in the former I am pretty sure I even got from a recommendation from this forum was when I read The Third Policeman by Brian O’Nolan (or maybe I found it because I googled “Irish science fiction” one day expecting to find some real shit, I can’t remember). A lot of it went over my head but that was kind of the point, too–it is an absurdist work after all. An example of the latter kind of experience was when I watched Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which I thought was sooooooooooooo boring, but I also don’t hold it against myself. I can just accept that it is communicating what it’s communicating on a level or in a artistic language I don’t get a lot of engagement in interacting with. That being said that movie does have a scene where (spoiler alert for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives): a woman has sex with a fish, which made the otherwise boring experience for me more than worth it. I’m strictly being facetiously self deprecating when I say that even a dumb-dumb like me got some appreciation out of watching that movie even if I had to grasp at straws to find it.

In conclusion, when I was a kid and I was less able to regulate my emotions, I used to wail and gnash my teeth at parts of videogames that I would get stuck on or repeatedly get roadblocked by. I mean, nothing major, I’ve never broken a controller, but if I got overly frustrated I’d probably audibly groan or something like that. My mom would always ask me questions along the lines of, like, why even bother doing this if you’re not having fun? Surely as a kid I’d just complain more at a provocation like that but perhaps deep down I knew she had a point. In other words this question prepared me many years later for Dark Souls. It’s good to read books or watch movies or play games that challenge us, which is what we’re doing during at least some time within our lives, as children, when technically every book is a new challenge. However to find entertainment or engagement or value or appreciation in challenge is only worthwhile if what you want or what you enjoy is a challenge. There’s no inherent worth to challenging oneself in the appreciation of art or entertainment, it’s all purely what we make of approaching something challenging. And, if it was possible for anyone to only read books that were always challenging to them, those weirdos would probably be clamoring for every second book to be just an endless chain of successive Super Finnegan’s Wake II Turbo books of infinitely expanding complexity and obscurity and abstraction. There’s just probably a real upper limit to what our cute little monkey brains are capable of comprehending and finding enjoyment in grappling or imagining, and it’s probably a lot lower than the sort of people who unironically categorize themselves as “sigma males” would want it to be.

tl;dr - we can have little a hedonism, as a treat

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