what have you been reading this week?
this week, i’ve read:
1. michael stewart’s a brief encyclopedia of modern magic: a beautiful, magical little thing. cutting words, drawing serious blood. the first of many appearances we’ll be seeing of michael stewart, a name to remember & cite.
2. baruch spinoza’s ethics: dense, intense logic, a necessity for readers, writers, & people. the influence his philosophy has had on my thinking writing etc is invaluable. i took 20+ pages of hand-written notes. i probably could have taken more, had i more patience.
3. kate greenstreet’s the last 4 things: i’ll write a full post about this later, but greenstreet’s poetry is brutal. for instance: “Dear friend, I can believe in the influence of Mars as fully as I can in the aorta. It’s all invisible, in a normal day–though felt, as rhythm or excitement or pressure. You have the plate you can’t drink from. And that one’s missing an arm. And making art, too, is a kind of disappearing. A bucket with holes, on purpose.” i usually don’t read like understand poetry. greenstreet’s collection defies any of that. her words go through you, pausing here and there to grab flesh and crack bone, or at least, that’s what she’s done to me.
4. marcel proust’s swann’s way: i usually read very quickly, but proust demands a patient & tender reading. i had a conversation with matt kirkpatrick about this, & i’ll post more on proust soon, but why talk about joyce etc, when there is proust? where’s the proust love? this is THE book, the book if i could have no other book but one, this one, where i would want to both hide and die and be resurrected. (to be fair, i haven’t finished this book. this does not dilute my impressions in the least though!)
5. max weber’s the protestant work ethic & the spirit of capitalism: i’ve been recently rather obsessed with the concept of guilt. that’s why i read this. good read. quick enough. i learned some shit. why not?
6. joshua cohen’s aleph-bet: an alphabet for the perplexed: cohen is one smart guy & a real fucking writer. this book, part essay part fictional exploration, showcases his encyclopedic knowledge in stunningly numbing prose. what continues to impress me about cohen is how broadly & variantly he masters different forms & styles. there is nothing predictable in him. each book he produces is equally fresh & unexpected. his books are a forceful inspiration.
7. brandon scott gorrell’s during my nervous breakdown i want to have a biographer present: i want to take this book seriously, but i have a hard time doing it. still, i laughed, a lot. his terse sentences, which i hesitate to call verse, are caught in self-referentiality and self-effacement. when we take all those exteriorities down, what is in this text smacks is the malaise & ennui of our generation: a generation of gmail chats & facebook, internet & virtual non-existence because our existence is almost exclusively virtual. after reading this book, i wanted to go out & be surrounded by people, real people, who have real conversations. instead, i decided to post a blog on Big Other. i’m doing this at a cafe though: does that make it any better?