Friday, August 28, 2009

Jakob von Gunten

A hundred years ago (that would be 1909), Robert Walser published Jakob von Gunten. I think it's turning out to be one of my favorite books. Here are some sentences from it that I like (spoken by the title character, a teenage boy):

"Kraus has principles, he sits firmly in the saddle, he rides satisfaction, and that is a horse which people should not mount if they want to do some galloping. Since I have been at the Benjamenta Institute I have already contrived to become a mystery to myself."

"She showed me her charming garter and I caressed it with my lips. Ah, how silly one is. She kept standing up and fetching new things to drink. And so quickly. It was just that she wanted to earn a nice little sum of money from the silly boy. I know this perfectly well, but it was precisely this that I liked—her thinking me silly. Such a peculiar vice: to be secretly pleased to be allowed to observe that one is being slightly robbed."

"If there were no commandments, no duties in the world, I would die, starve, be crippled by boredom. I only have to be spurred on, compelled, regimented. It suits me entirely. Ultimately it is I who decides, only I. I provoke the frowning law to anger a little, afterwards I make the effort to pacify it."

I would quote longer passages if I could, in order to really give you a good idea of how funny and lovable this guy is, and of how his mind flows and flits from one thing to another. You should probably just drop everything you're doing right now and find a copy. I will undoubtedly be quoting more of it here as I go along.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So I don't know if you're one of those silly people who avoids certain things because those things are "too popular to be good", but let me tell you, I am one of those silly people.

Can you see where I'm going with this? Like maybe I'm going to tell you about how I just last week discovered for myself the mega hit show Lost? Cuz if that's what you're thinking, you're right.

I was stunned to realize that the show started in '04! I knew I was late to the party, but man, that was, like, five years ago!

Anyway, if you are one of those silly-like-me people aforementioned, I know what you're thinking when you look at that picture at left (or above, depending on how this formatting turns out). You're thinking, those people look like models! Especially that guy in front. How can these people be interesting? How can any worthwhile televisual experience revolve around such pretty people? (Apologies if this isn't what you're thinking. Maybe (is it possible?) you're not as shallow as I am.) Just trust me when I tell you that I haven't fallen so head-over-heels for a group of actors (I find it hard to distinguish between actors and characters, and so don't even try anymore) since, I don't know, Six Feet Under (the best TV show I've seen).

The cast, more than any other element, is usually what keeps me interested in any show, I think. But what I also like about Lost is that it reminds me of some other favorite shows of mine: The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Six Feet Under, Carnivale....

So basically what I'm saying is, it's my bread and butter. But I'm glad I waited until now to watch it. Commercial-free streaming via Netflix or DVDs is the way to go. I just finished season 1 last night. I started season 1 on the Saturday before last. Season 2 starts for me tonight. The final season starts on ABC after the new year.

I'm itching to look up the actors' bios, but I don't want to run into spoilers, so I'm going to wait until I'm up to date with the show, which should take no more than a couple months.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why haven't I seen this??????????

Don't worry, it's in my queue now.

In other news, Jakob von Gunten is turning out to be a very lovable book. I'm only twelve pages in, but I'm sold. I kept re-reading every paragraph two or three times, and for once it had nothing to do with OCD—I did it because I wanted to, because the prose is so exactly what I've been looking for, though I didn't even quite know I was looking for it. Also interesting is how it's sort of reminding me of Infinite Jest a little bit. Like, there's a character named Schacht in both books, and both books involve teenage boys at a specialized kind of school.

Friday, August 21, 2009


just got back from dinner and drinks along the Ohio river
When all else fails, Ministry and two diet Cokes deliver.
it's like a chicken and a steak got together and made a baby.
But there will be soon a next time, and Im gonna call them often... maybe
I am way too young and inexperienced to be as jaded as I am.
we're off to camp and shotgun beers on the rifle river. bam!
Back home and just set up my desk chair
So tired and bored. Anyone out there?

(In case you missed the post two inches below this one, here's what this is from.)

The Longest Poem in the World

is here. It's made with rhyming tweets. It's neverending. Or, rather, neverbeginning.... Here's part of it:

Today and yesterday have been the most scorned days ever, I think.
Don't drink and drive. You might hit a bump and spill your drink
Madison is in the air and we are on our way.
must. not. mention. twilight. and. how. it. sucks. in. essay.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting used to all the similes in Sunflower. You just have to go along with it. Pretend the narrator's need to make similes is an OCD compulsion. That way I can relate. I'm not sure if making similes could be a real OCD compulsion, but we needn't let that stop us from pretending.

I started reading it last week, Thursday, on a bench in Battery Park City. Battery Park City is what's on the other side of the World Trade Center. It's where the Hudson meets the harbor. It's a nice place to walk around and read, or sit and read. Or sit or walk and not read. Also nice is that you have a wide open view of the western sky, so you have plenty of heads-up when rain clouds appear. (When walking around in Midtown, for example, you're more likely to be caught by surprise. I think the tall buildings are why the umbrella business is such a lucrative one around here.)

Does anybody know what PJ Harvey's situation is? I mean, is she seeing anyone? I hope not, seeing as how she's my future girlfriend....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Autobiographical post

How hot did it get today? Mid-90s. I wandered around after ____ trying to decide where to ___. Wishing my ____ worked. I should get on that. Meanwhile I have ______ about every other day, and on every other day I have ________, occasionally ____ or _____. It's not the first time I've wandered around for an hour through _______ in 90+ heat. I think the heat is what causes the wandering. I ended up at a nice _____ on ___ Avenue. The ________ was chopped very finely. I always appreciate that. Good ______ too. But I need to find a new _____ to ___. Maybe I'll try _________ for the first time in this apartment.

Decided to put off _______ until tomorrow. Monday is a bad day to __ _______ (too crowded). And the only article I don't have clean is pants, and it's easy to get away with _______ _________ _____.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What do we think of this sentence:

"Perhaps it is the wild geese passing high overhead, following their obscure paths, obeying a mysterious command to cross night's vast gulf like wandering souls conversing in otherworldly tongues."

What do we think of the simile? The adjective-noun pattern that happens 7 times?

(Bonus if you know or can guess who wrote it...)

What about this paragraph:

"Eveline sat by her window until dawn. She watched the trees soak up the light. Dawn poured over the city like farm-fresh milk. The dwarf shrubs emerged from the gloaming like schoolchildren with snow on their hats after the long walk to the schoolhouse. A solemn cypress in its black and white robe loomed like a melancholy gambler returning home at dawn."

Why does everything have to be like something?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009