One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Is Great Lit? Is It Really Marcel Knausgaard?

Certainly democracy is the great leveller. Reading anything is better than reading nothing. If it's point-and-shoot or apes reality TV, how can it be great art? For the few people with "strong opinions" about such things (I suppose I'm one of them), the world is drowning in kitsch.

And yet: the times they are a changin...


Peeting essentials: a good cup of coffee and maple scone (in lieu of madeleines and tea); some reading apparatus (paper or Kindle); something good to read (Kafka's Trial will do). Before I get started, I look at a message from Amazon (something I rarely do, as they're usually just pushing more of what I've recently chosen myself--in this case Thomas Bernhard--or something I have little interest in). Knausgaard (a name I've never heard of) is linked to Bernhard (and, after a series of clicks and glimpses: to Proust).


I'll reserve judgment (for now) and let the pot simmer. Maybe eventually I'll sample more (what I read didn't come close to the poetry of Proust).

Anyway, here's one naysayer I kicked up:

And here's William Deresiewicz's article which Sandberg's blog references:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dickinson House

Dickinson House -- a pitch for a friend. Sounds like a great idea and a labor of love. Check it out:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to Kafka

Finished The Loser (will probably hit TB up again real soon) and have returned to Kafka: The Trial. Though certainly school has taken a toll on reading and writing. Drib-drab. Here-there.

Lots of good biographical info in the Afterword (Mark M. Anderson) of The Loser, but I've chosen this bit because I found it quite telling and near the mark:

Bernhard later noted that it was his grandfather who instilled in him a fierce intellectual independence, warning him, for instance, not to take school seriously or to believe his teachers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I suppose it says something. Just not sure what.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

From Thomas Bernhard's "The Loser"

Beer-truck drivers have fascinated me since my earliest childhood, so too that day. I was fascinated by the way they unloaded the beer kegs and rolled them through the lobby, then tapped the first one for the innkeeper and sat down with her at the next table. As a child I had wanted to become a beer-truck driver, admired beer-truck drivers, I thought, couldn't look often enough at beer-truck drivers. Sitting at the next table and watching the beer-truck drivers I again fell prey to this sentiment from my childhood, but I didn't dwell on it for long, instead I got up and left the Dichtel Mill for Traich, not without having told the innkeeper that I would be back toward evening or even earlier, depending, and that I was counting on an evening meal. While going out I heard the beer-truck drivers ask the innkeeper who I was and since I have sharper ears than anybody I also heard her whisper my name and add that I was a friend of Wertheimer's, the fool who'd killed himself in Switzerland.

String Theory


Briar Bunny in Camouflage

Wasn't as friendly this morning and was in front of the new Rite Aid. I understand privacy, especially around breakfast time.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Via Negativa

Apophatic Theology (from Ancient Greek: ἀπόφασις, from ἀπόφημι – apophēmi, "to deny")—also known as negative theology, via negativa or via negationis[1] (Latin for "negative way" or "by way of denial")—is a theology that attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.[2] It stands in contrast with cataphatic theology.

A startling example can be found with theologian John Scotus Erigena (9th century): "We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being."

In brief, negative theology is an attempt to clarify religious experience and language about the Divine Good through discernment, gaining knowledge of what God is not (apophasis), rather than by describing what God is. The apophatic tradition is often, though not always, allied with the approach of mysticism, which focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or the conditioned role-playing and learned defensive behavior of the outer man.

Sun and Sand 2014

Was waiting for this. Not as impressive as some years (maybe there's more to come). Didn't catch the theme (maybe there wasn't one).








Sunday, August 10, 2014

From Thomas Bernhard's "The Loser"

Re Thomas Bernhard's "ovular logic": still enjoying it. Only now it'll have to be in smaller bites: Summer is over (too soon).


Excerpt #1:
The trip from Vienna to Chur took thirteen hours, Austrian trains are a disaster, their dining cars, assuming there is one, serve only the worst food. A glass of mineral water set in front of me, I planned to reread after twenty years Musil's The Confusions of Young Torless, which however I didn't manage, I no longer tolerate stories, I read a page and can't read further.

Excerpt #2:
The mind, wherever it makes its claims felt, is finished off and locked up and of course immediately branded as mindless, he said, I thought while looking up at the restaurant ceiling. But everything we say is nonsense, he said, I thought, no matter what we say it is nonsense and our entire life is a single piece of nonsense. I understood that early on, I'd barely started to think for myself and I already understood that, we speak only nonsense, everything we say is nonsense, but everything thing that is said to us is also nonsense, like everything that is said at all, in this world only nonsense has been said until now and, he said, only nonsense has actually and naturally been written, the writings we possess are only nonsense because they can only be nonsense, as history proves, he said, I thought.

Excerpt #3:
Glenn, whom even today people assume to have had the weakest constitution, was an athletic type. Hunched over his Steinway, he looked like a cripple, that's how the entire musical world knows him, but this entire musical world is prey to a total misconception, I thought. Glenn is portrayed everywhere as a cripple and a weakling, as the transcendent artist his fans can accept only with his infirmity and the hypersensitivity that goes along with this infirmity, but actually he was an athletic type, much stronger than Wertheimer and me put together, we realized that at once when he went out to chop down an ash tree with is own hands, an ash tree in front of his window, which, as he put it, obstructed his playing.


Inspector A: None of this is going to show up very well in the record, Mr. K. My men say you even tried to stop them from putting this down [points to notebook].

Josef K.: Well, I tried to stop one of them from making a fool of himself. [pointing] Yes, yes: ovular.

Inspector A:  What’s that?

Josef K.: Ov-u-lar.

Inspector A:  There’s no such word.

Out of the Closet 2

Out of the Closet 1

Briar Bunny Lives in Seal Beach

On the east side of the 405. I'd say within hopping distance from Marie Callender's. He/she (I've never asked) was out browsing for breakfast when I walked by.


Had a Hit from Mauritius

Rarely catch such things, but for some reason "Mauritius" jumped out. Hope they found what they were looking, if they were looking, but even a random hit from Mauritius is significant.


Mauritius (Listeni/məˈrɪʃəs/; French: Maurice), officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues (560 kilometres (350 mi) east), the islands of Agalega and the archipelago of Saint Brandon. The islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and Réunion 170 km (110 mi) south west, form part of the Mascarene Islands. The area of the country is 2040 km2. The capital and largest city is Port Louis.

Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago from the United Kingdom and Tromelin island from France. The United Kingdom excised the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritian territory prior to its independence in 1965, the UK gradually depopulated its indigenous population and leased the biggest island Diego Garcia to the United States who establish a military base on it.

The island of Mauritius was visited during the medieval period by the Arabs and then by the Portuguese, who named it Dina Arobi and Cirne, respectively. The island was uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony in 1638, with the Dutch naming the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and, five years later, the island became a French colony and was renamed Isle de France. The British took control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. The country remained under British rule until it became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1968, following the adoption of a new constitution. The country became a republic in 1992 and remains in the Commonwealth.

The people of Mauritius are multiethnic and multicultural. Most Mauritians are multilingual, Mauritian Creole, English, French, and Asian languages are used. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is particularly known as the only home of the Dodo, which, along with several avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.

[From Wikipedia:]

Monday, August 4, 2014

Belmont Pier

Had a few loose ends to tie up this morning (San Pedro), then stopped at the pier to walk. I was a little surprised at the shabbiness of the pier (ok, that's to some degree what fishing piers look like), the riff-raff (ok, a good place to hang out if you're homeless), and crumbling concrete (hope some city engineer has his eyes on that).

Tried to focus on the beauty.





Novalis (1772 - 1801)

Novalis (German: [noˈvaːlɪs]) was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (May 2, 1772 – March 25, 1801), a poet, author, and philosopher of early German Romanticism.


Novalis, who had great knowledge in science, law, philosophy, politics and political economy, started writing quite early. He left an astonishing abundance of notes on these fields of knowledge and his early work shows that he was very educated and well read. His later works are closely connected to his studies and his profession. Novalis collected everything that he had learned, reflected upon it and drew connections in the sense of an encyclopaedic overview on art, religion and science. These notes from the years 1798 and 1799 are called Das allgemeine Brouillon, and are now available in English under the title Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia. Together with Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis developed the fragment as a literary form of art. The core of Hardenberg’s literary works is the quest for the connection of science and poetry, and the result was supposed to be a "progressive universal poesy” (fragment no. 116 of the Athenaum journal). Novalis was convinced that philosophy and the higher-ranking poetry have to be continually related to each other.

The fact that the romantic fragment is an appropriate form for a depiction of "progressive universal poesy”, can be seen especially from the success of this new genre in its later reception.

Novalis' whole works are based upon an idea of education: "We are on a mission: we are called upon to educate the earth." It has to be made clear that everything is in a continual process. It is the same with humanity, which forever strives towards and tries to recreate a new Golden Age – a paradisical Age of harmony between man and nature that was assumed to have existed in earlier times. This Age was recounted by Plato, Plotinus, and Franz Hemsterhuis – the latter being an extremely important figure for the German Romantics.

This idea of a romantic universal poesy can be seen clearly in the romantic triad. This theoretical structure always shows its recipient that the described moment is exactly the moment (kairos) in which the future is decided. These frequently mentioned critical points correspond with the artist’s feeling for the present, which Novalis shares with many other contemporaries of his time. Thus a triadic structure can be found in most of his works. This means that there are three corresponding structural elements which are written differently concerning the content and the form.

Hardenberg’s intensive study of the works of Jakob Böhme, from 1800, had a clear influence on his own writing.

A mystical world view, a high standard of education, and the frequently perceptible pietistic influences are combined in Novalis' attempt to reach a new concept of Christianity, faith, and God. He forever endeavours to align these with his own view of transcendental philosophy, which acquired the mysterious name "Magical idealism". Magical idealism draws heavily from the critical or transcendental idealism of Kant and Fichte, and incorporates the artistic element central to Early German Romanticism. The subject must strive to conform the external, natural world to its own will and genius; hence the term "magical".[1] David Krell calls magical idealism "thaumaturgic idealism."[2] This view can even be discerned in more religious works such as the Spiritual Songs (published 1802), which soon became incorporated into Lutheran hymn-books.

Novalis influenced, among others, the novelist and theologian George MacDonald, who translated his Hymns to the Night in 1897. More recently, Novalis, as well as the Early Romantic (Frühromantik) movement as a whole, has been recognized as constituting a separate philosophical school, as opposed to simply a literary movement. Recognition of the distinctness of Fruhromantik philosophy is owed in large part, in the English speaking world at least, to the writer Frederick Beiser.

[From Wikipedia:]

I'm No Philosopher...

Excerpt from Correction:

I'm no philosopher, he'd always said. He had a preference for old clothes, early rising, and washing in cold water. He placed Novalis above everything. Nature, not yet polluted by human beings, hence his early rising. A minimal breakfast, thick socks his sister had knitted from raw, untreated wool, and one of Novalis's ideas. Time was to him only a means toward the constant study of time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Klimt Portrait of Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein


"Gustav Klimt 055" by Gustav Klimt - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.