the mortal enemy of videogames

i like this take

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I think I need to look at better critical writing about this book. Now reading through an essay arguing in favor of mccarthy’s treatment of violence as being incisive and honest because men being violent is this primal truth of humanity, then on the next page griping about Lonesome Dove for having too much women stuff in it (it’s in this book The modern American novel of violence : Shaw, Patrick W : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive), and women historically are not violent. Well interesting to bring up the topic of women regarding the inescapable pull of humanity toward violent atrocity as right there is half the human population who is statistically not violent lol. Which points to why I think this is a goofily Conservative novel: it’s fighting only on completely self-selected and favorable terrain, so idk how convincing the cosmic aspirations can be. Part of why Moby-Dick is convincing (and to some, boring) is that unlike BM which is a solipsistic narrative, hyperfocused on specificity and rigidly under the authors dictation, MD is full of wider context (science shit about whales, detail about whaling procedures, about the relations between diverse people, metaphysical arguments, etc etc); isnt it kind of a trick to situate your portentious and “gnostic” book in a sui generis time and place, but then dodge accounting for any of that due to I guess dogmatic stylistic procedures. Ridiculous to me that something with the socio-historical specificity of scalp-hunters in the mid 19th century american southwest is some echo of unknowably ancient and innate ritual violence (no, the fact of millenia-old evidence of scalping provided in one of the inscriptions doesn’t “make me think” what was perhaps intended (hey there are only so many ways to mutilate with paleolithic tools, is my reflection)). Anyway, maybe some of this is more down to outsize and poorly-reasoned claims from critics and not completely fair to the novel itself, which can focus on whatever it wants and doesnt need to answer every possible angle about the wider subject matter. I think the book does lend itself to being “impressive” to those liable to be impressed.

I also dont think the writing is always good at the sentence level. The “archaic” words just get goofy sometimes. About and old lady: “Dry old crone, half naked, her paps like wrinkled aubergines hanging under the shawl she wore.” hey this crone has paps like a aubergine. This is some ren faire shit sometimes. Plus the spanish is a little silly, especially the part with the latina fortune teller shouting about “La carta de guerra, de venganza” come on. The Beetle Leg was able to do the occult western thing without resorting to this

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I finished reading Turgenev’s On The Eve yesterday. It fell pretty flat for me, especially when contrasted with his next novel, Fathers and Sons. In both books, the actual plot is fairly generic, but the hook is in the characters and their connection to the social issues of the day. Fathers and Sons features a nihilistic “modern man” and contrasts him with the older generation, while also providing a similarly-aged foil who tries to follow in his ideological footsteps but can’t quite take the leap. There’s a whole love triangle thing in the middle, but the real meat is in the way everybody has to respond/react to the nihilist’s presence and demeanor.

On The Eve similarly introduces two young men of different temperaments who are in love with the same girl, but basically abandons them midway through in favour of a Bulgarian nationalist in what seems like an attempt to comment on Slavic revolutionaries, but there’s no comment; he just falls in love with a Russian girl, they share a few hackneyed scenes, and then they run off together. The two characters from the beginning – an artist type and a professor type – just hang around in the background with nothing to do, popping their heads in occasionally to repeat what they said at the beginning, but there’s no development to their arguments or characters.

In the end, it was a bit of a disappointment. Really felt like a book that never quite found its purpose. Right to the last page, it felt like he wasn’t quite sure what book he wanted to write, and it even ends with a lazy epilogue explaining “what the characters are up to now,” which was, of the two characters at the beginning… one became a professor and the other an artist. Like, what’s the point of telling me that? That was obviously the tropes they were filling, and also they haven’t done anything for the whole book!

I can see why the Russian public at the time may have found it juicy and exciting, but I’m left feeling like there wasn’t much to it.

When I read another Turgenev, it will likely be Diary of a Superfluous Man, the origin of the “superfluous man” trope in Russian literature. As this trope includes some of my favourite characters from Russian fiction, (Stepan Trofimovich from Demons, and Oblomov from Oblomov) it feels right that I should head straight to the source.

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i have a bit of mishima fever right now, so i read the biography mishima by erstwhile mishima translator john nathan. here was my favorite passage:

On his thirtieth birthday, January 14, 1955, Mishima invited two friends to his house for drinks, the critic Takeo Okuno and a young student of Japanese literature named Viglielmo, and told them that he was now too old to die beautifully, that suicide after thirty would be “as unseemly as Dazai’s.” He then rather horrified his friends by showing them a name card on which he had written his name with different characters pronounced Yu-ki-o Mi-shi-ma but meaning “mysterious devil-tail devil-bewitched-by-death.” “It’s eerie when you write it this way,” Mishima guffawed. Then abruptly somber, “This is the real way to write my name.” According to Okuno, an uncomfortable moment of silence followed.

i like this anecdote because you see the beauty, tragedy, irony, humor, and pity that i feel is emblematic of mishima’s life. i’ve always held the view that his suicide wasn’t a “real” coup and that his politics weren’t so much sincere as they were poetic, and while this book made my position more confident in many ways, it also made such questions insignificant. i’m not quite sure how to express it without sounding like a lunatic myself, but there’s a certain sweep to mishima’s life that gives me that same sense of aesthetic appreciation and profound sadness i experience when reading something like the temple of the golden pavilion, like he allowed you to sense the real quivering beneath the shell of the unreal.

coming back down to earth, i also think there’s something to the notion that mishima had schizophrenia. even when laid out in a biography, his life took turns so radical it can be hard to explain. he’d be staging kabuki productions, designing costumes, staring in gangster movies, doing press, writing operas, forming paramilitary groups, confronting student protests, taking up kendo, going on trips to stockholm and new york, throwing lavish parties, and attending to his family all while writing what i’d consider masterpieces of world literature. just a really singular figure with superhuman will. a failed and tortured nietzschian overman. i could go on!

up next for me is a body made of glass, a memoir/history of hypochondria. doesn’t seem like the type of thing i’d usually read, but as a lifelong sufferer of hypochondria who is going through yet another bout, it felt timely.

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back when i was in college (i must have been around 19 or 20), i read through most of mccarthy’s books. they were pretty impressive to me at the time due to the language, especially blood meridian. the last book of his i read was child of god which is basically about a dude dragging a corpse around and i remember thinking maybe the content of the books was actually a little goofy, posturing, and >:-P . i lost interest after that and now it seems his books largely didn’t make much of an impression on me since i can’t remember much of them, even the much lauded suttree. despite that, i always had a soft spot for blood meridian and thought it was the one truly worthwhile book out of the bunch.

you’re making me rethink that a bit, but it also makes me want to reread it to confirm. my best memories of the book say it does succeed in carrying power that extends beyond “socio-historical specificity” and into the archetypal. it’s about violence and genocide in the american west but it’s also about cosmic evil because violence and genocide are cosmicly evil. again, these are my memories of the book.

the language is still good and frankly top-class for an american writer. there’s a sentence in that book about a coyote whose heart is hanging inside his ribcage like a chandelier that’s pretty sublime, as is a sentence about an indian arcing an infant over his head before smashing its skull on a rock.

all that said, i would sooner reread moby-dick than blood meridian so i may just have to live in ignorance.

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as a lover of plot-less literature i’ve had turgenev’s sketches from a hunters album on my list for quite some time. coincidentally, i was looking at this book today, diary of a disappointed man, which seems like the irl version of the superfluous man.

sorry for triple posting–i swear i’m not trying to juice the numbers on this thread

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I feel bad I dont know anything about Alice Munro. However I can change that of course

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At present, reading a book about sharks: Emperors of the Deep by William McKeever. I’ve been kinda-sorta trying to read through all my physical books before I buy more (and before I start reading through the philosophy “might read” pile I have). The writing isn’t always top-notch but I kind of like that it has a heavy lean toward pointing out just how destructive humans are to sharks and how skewed our perception of them has become as a result of media influences. There is also a lot of page real estate dedicated to interesting biological facts and studies about sharks, which is great.

Still technically reading Kometen kommer also, just on pause for now.

Up next? No clue. Maybe Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells. I enjoyed Murderbot right away and love how contained these books are.

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…woah.
the last couple of seconds absolutely sucked the wind out of me and I felt myself turn pale.

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she’s good.

if anyone is interested in what the worst people on earth are reading

hate to admit it but this is legit

Recently, Mr. Greene began feeding lists of his favorite books into ChatGPT and asking for new recommendations. At one point, the chatbot recommended “The Book of Disquiet*,”* a posthumously published autobiography from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. A friend, who knew his tastes well, had recommended that he read the same book.

Although it does imply that having an irl friend is perhaps a simpler way to arrive at the same outcome

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yeah i mean the amazon book recommendation algorithm is always pretty impressive to me

Started reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 after @Gaagaagiins referenced it in a thread recently. I knew nothing about the book or author going in. Unlike a lot of science fiction, the characters aren’t totally obnoxious, but they also aren’t particularly engaging. Most of the interest comes from the author describing technological innovations, terraforming, space travel, etc. What the characters are actually doing moment to moment seems to be mostly irrelevant, and sometimes in the space of a few pages I forget why we’ve travelled to this particular planet and not some other one.

It’s driving me crazy that characters in the book only reference artists/philosophers that existed prior to the year ~1960. This book is set in the year 2312 (hence the title 2312) and all anyone wants to talk about is Aristotle, Beethoven, Renaissance painters, etc. It’s like, okay, maybe some weirdoes will still be listening to Beethoven, but you have to imagine that there would also be other music in between? This isn’t just one guy but also an AI who supposedly would have other more current points of reference. A character also references lyrics from a song by The freakin’ Doors. There’s a ton of stuff like that. I wouldn’t really mind if they also threw in made-up people or something, even just as random names for giggles. Maybe that would be annoying though, now that I think about it. There are few authors I would trust inventing futuristic philosophers/artistic movements, and I don’t think any of them write hard science fiction. I’m only about a third of the way through though so maybe there’s some really good reason for this and I’m going to end up looking like an idiot.

Anyway, as usual when I read science fiction, I generally enjoy reading the book, but then get annoyed afterwards when I think about it; and likely I will lose steam about halfway through when I completely stop caring about anyone in the story.

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Finished The American by Henry James only to discover he later revised the book (along with other early writings) in a collected New York Editions imprint. I read the Library of America edition which presented the original text, the editors being of the opinion that the text as originally written by a young Henry James is more interesting as a historical document (I agree with their reasoning, I think, but would be curious to see a side-by-side comparison of particular passages).

What are examples of famous novels whose best known edition is a significant revision of an earlier publication? Are collected volumes of serialized work often significantly different from how they first appeared in print? And what is the most different any two versions of a given published novel have been?

For the record, I’ve never read 2312. I’ve only read (and very much enjoyed) Stanley-Robinson’s Mars trilogy, which is more like an alternate/speculative near future story set in the early 21st century, with primary characters who I suppose were, I suppose, were basically supposed to be I think Gen X-ers who were on the other side of being middle aged in 2026 basically, rather than it being set in a not-so-near speculative 24th century. I can’t remember if those books had a similar problem with regards to being very culturally grounded in the 20th century, in a way that based on your description sounds corny and anachronistic to me. But, at least with the Mars trilogy it would make a little more sense for them to be talking about The Doors, even if to my recollection they seemed still more like boomers a bit out of time.

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Questions too mortally opposed to videogames to be submitted to the dirtbag

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Interesting. You mentioned Mercury so I just googled “Kim Stanley Robinson mercury” and 2312 came up because the main character is born there. There’s a very large difference between writing about the 21st (or even 22nd) century and the 24th. Obviously certain works/people are relatively timeless but most everything else becomes relevant mostly only to historians and certain enthusiasts after a few centuries.

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For serialized works, I’ve definitely heard of chapters being added/deleted or heavily edited for the final version. Conrad’s Nostromo comes to my mind as an example . I read Dostoevsky’s The Double in an edition that was side-by-side with a later revision and I just found it distracting, although I didn’t love the book too much either way. That was similarly an early book of his that he returned to later.

Personally I don’t much like the concept of doing that; it’s best to leave your young books as a young person’s book. It’s generally more interesting that way. If you want to explore the themes again you can do it in a slightly different way. The only real reason I can think to do it is if the book was heavily censored or the time just wasn’t right for certain ideas you wanted to put in. But even then I’m dubious of the value, especially if the book has been well-read in its original incarnation.

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the most notorious example I can think of is Aiden’s revision of his early work, which made it substantially worse is the consensus view I think. Speaking of SF, there’s been an extensive practice of punching up shorter works or stitching together and revising serialized works. SFE: Fixup

What happened with this? I didn’t know there were post-publication changes.

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Maybe Leaves Of Grass is another example