Books

You are currently browsing the archive for the Books category.

Ok, now this is really something that makes you definitely scratch your head, I mean, this is amazing stuff in that if you thought of talking pointlessly in very fashionable manner then Husserlian thinking is the answer for you.

Who is Husserl anyways? just click away but don’t blame me later if you just shake your head in utter confusion.

It’s rather hilarious actually, so far I have read only 12 pages of Inlet to Husserlian Phenomenology by H. W. Fawkner and already I had a few cracks at it. This is what I so far have come to in this 50 page document that was sent to me via email in conjunction with my D level course at the English institution:

1.- There are a lot of hyphenated compounds to explain single variable concepts or meaning carrying units, in essence, as far as I can visualize this theory, what the meaning of these compounds give, to use an example, is best represented by the very hyphen that seems to unite this tripartite item.

2.- I haven’t figured out yet how to apply this course of events that Husserlian theory intends to describe so I won’t bother you with interpretations that might be false but in essence much goes out to discuss a certain middle ground between two acts, such as the utterance the tree.

you, the interlocutor says the tree ———> the hearer hears you, the tree but Husserlian theory is not concerned about the interpretation of tree in the hearer nor the utterer, it is concerned with the ’——->’.

Yeap …I haven’t either even figured out if I got it right but my hunch says that it is going along those lines

Let me put it another way, the document uses the analogy of offside from sports. If you are a sports fan you might understand that technical term which I have at least heard in some soccer games although I have been at a loss as to its significance until now. Ok, I confess am no sports buff, but hey! am still ok right? Anyways, since you are into sports then you know the object is to win, if you loose, well then a series of events unfold that carry dire consequences at times, and here is where I can find a suitable explanation and real comparison to what Husserl is trying to say, and again, I confess that I might be wrong, but you know that expression ‘it’s not important to win, what matters is how you play the game’? Well, it is my belief that Husserlian thinking goes along those lines ….jejejeje but seriously folks, I mean it.

On the cover of the book, you can tell he’s flirting. There he is, on the front cover, staring at you, sideways, coquettish almost, with his blurred hands in a pose that exudes calmness and a defiant attitude, just Chicano enough to fool you to believe that it is what you are seeing, a real tromp d’oiel. Near his Indian looking face there is the word Brown. You know it’s subliminal, he’s toying with raza, you know brown is for us like red is for indians. He is actually not even that brown as the cover of the book presents him.

I feel he wants to get closer to his xente, there are too many words in his recent book that have those extras that english doesn’t have and that Spanish abounds with, little accents and other orthographic niceties, I mean why in the world would he otherwise employ the diaeresis in naïve? Or accent other words? Then there is the word “discovery”, yes, in quotations, you know that has been a darling word in raza speech for years.

I’m not done withya yet Richardito …

Yet more exciting information at hand from the Lexicography dept:

Dictionaries: Collins English Dictionary Fourth Edition updated 2000 according to the blurb: 21st Century Edition

The New Britannica-Webster Dictionary and Reference Guide 1981

The query at hand: Compare the macrostructure of the two dictionaries:

“A dictionary’s macrostructure refers to what constitutes an entry in a dictionary and how the entries are arranged.” Lexicography: An Introduction – Howard Jackson (2002)

I took a common prefix: im- for the investigation of this quest.

The Britannica-Webster refers me to seek in- in the dictionary. So I did and at first we get a definition of the prefix. Then, a three small column of a list of words beginning with in-. In fact, the prefix in- enjoys a set of entries in the dictionary at hand, and every sense of it has a full headword status. Aside the above-mentioned list, which has 69 words that have a correlation to in-, there is a plethora of words with the prefix in- in alphabetical order. Words that have morphological bending are treated in the same headword but the dictionary only provides the abbreviated suffix of said morphis.

Collins, on the other hand does not redirect me but instead tells me that im- is a variant of in- ¹ and in-² with superscript indicating sense status. Although there is no redirection indicated, I believe one is to assume that if we are to look for the ‘real’ definition of im- we are to understand by the word variant, that this prefix is nothing more than another form of in- hence I ought to look in the direction of said prefix. So I did. In- has two full headword status in the dictionary and thereafter a host of words with that prefix are shown although intermingled with other words that have no relation to the prefix in question. So that while you can find inappropriate in the list following the definition of the prefix, you will also find a definition for inasmuch as. Words that have a morphological bending are shown in boldface type along the whole spelled word and not just the suffix. So that if you look for inarticulate, you will also find within that same headword, inarticulately and inarticulateness.

While our current reference book for this course indicates that words that enjoy full headword status in a dictionary are more easily accessible, it is of the opinion of this student that it really does not make much difference whether a word has full headword status or not.

The reason for this statement is because it is in the understanding of the student that the approach to words is according to the next of kin method, and as we scan the headword in question, scanning is done in a vertical manner.

When we find that which approaches our search we scurrily take a quick glance to the next headword to seek for a potential similarity but in the event that said word is not there our eyes takes a horizontal turn and down the headword that most resembles that which we seek until we find it.

Vertical descension take that! You downward spiral, your days are over! jejejeje, over dramatized it a little, didn’t I???

Rolling in laughter yet?

Further jolly good fun from the folks at the lexicography Dept.

The dictionaries chosen at will:

Collins English Dictionary Fourth Edition updated 2000. According to the blurb: 21st Century Edition and The New Britannica-Webster Dictionary and Reference Guide 1981

The query at hand: Compare the prefaces of said dictionaries:

The dictionaries in question do not have a section called preface in their books, but according to the etymology of the word from the Britannica-Webster its origins are : [Middle French, from Latin prefatio “foreword”, from praefari “to say beforehand” from prae– “pre-” + “fari” “to say”] and according to Collins preface comes from [C14: from medieval Latin praefatia, from Latin praefatio a saying beforehand, from praefari to utter in advance from prae– before + “fari” to say] hence I will use the Foreword, indicated in both dictionaries, to mean ‘preface’.

Collins seems to address its audience with much more in mind to say since there are far more wordy compared to Britannica-Webster who has less than a half page dedicated to their foreword. Collins has one and a half pages addressed to its readers. The information presented in the Britannica-Webster is placed smack in the middle with three short paragraphs and the one presented in Collins has one full page of information in two column rows and a second page half full also in a two column row formation.

Britannica-Webster has a near childish approach to its reader, and the emphasis on the didactical aspects are way over done. More oft than not it sounded like a blurb, highlighting much of the contents and what it had. It is a mere self-laudatory foreword to the dictionary as if the selling pitch has to continue to convince the reader that said dictionary is a sound investment. A few recommendations as to what to do first with the dictionary were dished out by the Editors. Collins also has the tendency to hype up its foreword by lauding its efforts in bringing about said dictionary, much of the information, if you bypass the sales pitch that seems to permeate every other labor that was done in an effort to bring the dictionary about, is handy and I guess that credit must be given were credit is due.

Bloody good review if you ask me!

Having fun yet?

I was recently told to compare the microstructure of two dictionaries in my very exciting lexicography class which makes me question WHY is it that I like lexicography so much, specially etymology.

The dictionaries chosen at will:

Collins English Dictionary Fourth Edition updated 2000. According to the blurb: 21st Century Edition

and The New Britannica-Webster Dictionary and Reference Guide 1981

The query: Compare the microstructure of the two dictionaries:

I took the entry: rest

The results:

Collins:

· This word has a superscript number for the headword to the right of the word. The dictionary indicates that all homographs are so treated.

· Word class is marked by italized abbreviation and if a word has more than one part of speech it is separated from others by a lozenge

· Pronunciation transcription according to the IPA is provided

· Senses are numbered and if there is more than one sense within the same number an alphabetical order is attached to the number.

· Fixed noun phrases are given full headword status

· Etymology comes at the last of the definition of the word which is indicated by bold brackets [ ] and according to the Guide to the Use of the Dictionary, ‘ The Etymologies show the history of the word both in English … and in its pre-English source languages.’

Britannica-Webster

· This word has a superscript number for the headword to the left of the word. The dictionary indicates in its section titled Using The Dictionary that ‘The order of homographs is historical.’

· Pronunciation transcription is provided right after the boldface entry word is shown.

· Word class is marked by italized abbreviation. If the word has another part of speech it is given a separate entry.

· Following the word, pronunciation and word class, the Britannica-Webster offers synonym paragraphs because according to the dictionary ‘[they] help the reader discriminate among a number of similar and often confused words.’

· Senses are numbered and if there is more than one sense within the same number an alphabetical order is attached although the number does not follow and the alphabetical letter stands alone. Every definition in the Britannica-Webster is set off by a boldface colon whether or not there is a number before it. When a meaning has multiple variations, the meanings are given according to their historical status with the oldest recorded meaning having first status and newest ones last status.

· What Collins refers to as idioms the Britannica-Webster refers to as run-on entries and they do not have headword status in this dictionary, nor much by way of distinguishing them either, they are ‘ … the last element of many entries.’

· Etymology is in square brackets following the definition. In the etymology, the entry’s history is in italics and its definition in quotations marks.

Exhilarated yet?

Linguistics is one of those fields that have no real use for those of us who are natives to the language in question since much of it is already ingrained. It only becomes a useful tool when studying a foreign tongue. Reading Patrick White has given me the opportunity to put into use these tools in a new different way. Had it not been for those studies I think I would not have enjoyed Patrick White’s autobiography Flaws in the Glass as much.

In it you’ll find the usual British English with many instances of articles or conjunction elicitation. At times the nominalization is eye-catching in its use in Australian English such as fossicking and acquaintanceship, I mean, how do you fossick and since when did an acquaintance become a process? As far as I know how to use ‘acquaintance’ it is more of a stage rather than a continuous process.

There is a fondness for compounds too in the first 40 to 60 pages, almost as if the language didn’t, couldn’t do with single words and wasn’t enough to describe the environment. We have examples such as, double-youlker, biscuit-colored, not-so-successful, stage-struck, tea-trays, pansy-shaped, bomb-scarred, green-to-yellow tones and many many more, almost, as I suspect, as a manipulative technique on the part of the writer to emphasize his roots to the land. It is as if there is a need to stretch the language to the maximum; as if it is incessant to unify words to explain a whole.

Furthermore, you’ll find in the text that nouns enjoy some of the most wonderful modifiers like the following ones I loved so much that I underlined them and kept them for myself: the odd recce, those ochreus houses, a packet of foolscap, grubby at the edges, an etiolated beauty, the maker’s fretsaw and smiling treacly smiles. Possessive noun modifiers also gave a new twist to the tongue such as: a welter of adenoidal sighs … nosegay of pink oxalis. Some of the biggest noun modifiers ever brought uncountless giggles to my face, just take a peek at this:

It is also why an unlikely relationship between an Orthodox Greek and a lapsed Anglican egotist agnostic pantheist occultist existentialist would-be though failed Christian Australian has lasted forty years. p.102 (my italics) or

Language is indeed what makes this text so fresh and new despite the fact that it has been on the shelves a long time, I was rather thrilled in finding so many new words and phrasal verbs that I have never seen before, it refreshed my language. New phrasal verbs such as junk up and bawl out and even a few idioms like odd and sods sparked a curiosity that I hadn’t seen in ages.

I also increased my vocabulary immensely with new words that my CD ROM Macmillan (American) English dictionary lacked a definition for such as, saltpetre, planchette, latticed, caryatid, pinchbeck, gunyah, tittuping, thick fug, flibbertigibbets, archimandrites, sabras, a revenant, doxie and a slew of other vocabulary that the book indicates with an asterisks as if the language wasn’t foreign enough already.

Although there is a knack to hold in high esteem the mother country, the UK, the local language is used to de-colonize the mentality as the list of words above indicate, there is a preference for the local and new as opposed to the old and known.

Just as well because I somehow have an underlying belief that he uses/manipulates language to suit his aim, purpose, to convey his roots. There is a sense that he enjoys language so much that even when he breaks off from a relationship like the one with Sir William Dobell when they were ‘…belting out obscenities as hard as [they] could.’ He says, ‘I believe the chandelier tinkled a bit …’ this is giving language more power than one would expect.

On another plane, Patrick White, born in London, raised in Australia, is one of those expats who are more citizens of the world than the country they profess to belong to. Like Robert Graves, he just went through a minefield unscathed while serving in the army during WWII where he became a well-traveled man and during much of his stints abroad he picked up on the romantification that writers tend to exploit once in a foreign land. I often wondered as to the significance of geography in autobiographies and pondered what do we want to rub in or what kind of statements are we making when we do so? I mulled this as I went along reading getting the sense that the writer wanted to pull us into a glitzy glamor that we are suppose to know of and thereby cause some sort of envy.

Much of the autobiography is a retelling of uneventful nights made pleasurable by the uncanny eye of the narrator. He has dexterity to describe psychological states, like when he describes Baron Charles de Menasce smile, he says the following: ‘Round the corners of his mouth clung that faint webbing which cynicism leaves on those too tender to have faith in others and, worse still themselves.’

Homosexuality plays a significant role in identification but it is not the whole of the story here, while it is part of the telling, it is a part as much as in any other person when he or she says they are Catholic. There is much self-retrospection or reflexive thinking going on here as far as autobiographical interests go, so that at times you’ll read that what he is reliving all this, to tell you, the reader, he’ll say he is doing nothing more than ‘recycle shit’ yet for the same token you’ll here that what he is doing is ‘painting this self-portrait’. More oft than not, one gets the sense that more things are being said than what it is written.

Patrick White focuses much in the habits of others which begs the question, what does he want to say by making note of the habits of others? From my point of view, I think we have a case, if not an inkling, of an author wanting us to get closer to him.

The issue of influence is also a recurrent one, which necessarily raises the question: Why give a historical account of others and their fate in an autobiography? Worse yet, inevitable, as a writer, one becomes aware of one’s place, which is nearly God-like since one is retelling the fate of others as one sees fit, and according to one’s agenda. I say this because the juxtaposition with the fate of others, to that of ones own, can be used to justify ones being and is very much present in this autobiography. At times Flaws of Glass just plainly resorts to vignette biography to justify ones judgment of others. I find theses vignette biographies interesting though because they serve to reinforce how the author thought and gives great insight into the ontological and epistemological value system of the subject.

All in all this autobiography gives much into the account of the writer in question, the only flaw I saw was that of relying so much on the lives of others but in the end I guess we are all nothing but the product of our surroundings.

Vera Brittan recounts her fight for her independent self as an uphill battle. We get this, as it seems that she is engaged in a Sisyphus task in order for her to accomplish her education.

Our hero is put to test her belief; the devil is society, her milieu.

I find it amazing how Beauty for these Victorian writers seems to be the highest ideal of all. Edmund Gosse, for example, became offended because zealots in the Christian community destroyed pieces of art in museums. Vera Brittan, p.48, says that ‘…my sexual curiosity was always a bad second to my literary ambition.’ And war is ‘…an infuriating personal interruption …’ to her studies.

The appreciation of a literary education is on a higher pedestal, and a higher social class. There is no higher aspiration than to acquire a profound knowledge of the arts, letters and conversation. Social life is at best a nuisance, an obstacle to that end. Although fine coterie is desired.

Spanish philosopher and novelist writer Miguel de Unamuno comes to mind at times when one is reading this autobiography. He comes to mind so much because this autobiography has what he terms ‘intrahistoria’ that is, the story of the common people, away from the shakers and movers of power.

World events were just in the way for her, hindering progress, her way for an upper education. There is much time spent brooding over how these significant events like war, Edward the seventh’s postponed coronation or the death of the Queen played little importance in the life of Brittan in the early chapters of the novel. (p.98,110)

Our pity is for her, the invocation of pity according to Aristolean principles that leads to catharsis?

This histrionics idea bothers me more and more. I suppose she is bound to histrionics (hysteria?) but only, I believe, in her life, the hurdles she encounters on way to meet her goals. I would prefer to name those acts as acts of indignity. She is indignant at how others react to her femininity, gender. How she developed this acute sense of independence is not told I believe, but her impulse, metered by her patience and temperament, is in the end met. One thing disturbs me here though, inasmuch as men are granted the belief that they are ‘predestined’ for X why isn’t this same belief granted to females? Robert Graves after all did the same, although he expressed it in the name of valour, is this a minimizing of the female voice once again?

Wherein lies the feminine here? In the way her indignant voice comes out? In the display of shock at the behaviour of her surrounding ‘barbarian’ society which fails to include women? I believe this is so since she is battling a society bent in turning down her best desires. She asserts herself as a woman through many emotional perils.

Since last monday Jean Paul Marat has been in my head. In particular the painting Jaque Louis David did of him titled Marat Assasiné . I first came across him through a book by Peter Weiss that I must of surely found in a second hand bookshop back in the states. I must of liked the cover, it had the painting mentioned above, and then became enthralled by it because I do remember that I read it right away. The title of the book? The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade– more commonly known as Marat/Sade. ( More pictures ) I loved it and ever since there there are two quotes which have lasted within ever since:

Act one, Conversation Concerning Life and Death:

Marat: The important thing
is to pull yourself up by your own hair
to turn yourself inside out
and see the whole world with fresh eyes.

and

Act one, Continuation of the Conversation between Marat and Sade:

Marat: I never believed the pen alone
could destroy institutions.

Well, that’s what has been haunting me since monday the 13th.

Went out for a stroll and decided to take a book with me, so I took David Lodge along. I started reading Consciousness and the Novel (2002) in the beginning of the term. I found it in the New Books section of Stockholms Library. Of eleven essays, two I totally skipped, of which the remaining 9 others were succulent pieces. He definitely treats the subject well, that is, how conciousness exists in novel characters.

He has an eye for criticism, for example, I was very much amused and amazed at a critique he made regarding an essay on E M Forsters novel Howards End, titled Forster’s Flawed Masterpiece. He says: “Some of the purple passages towards the end of the novel sound like George Meredith on a bad day …” I mean, to make that kind of critique you really must be well versed in literature. And he sure sounds like he is. He is one of those novelists that also sidejob as scholars, like Richard Holmes. He has good, delicious essays on Evelyn Waugh, Kierkegaard, a nice discourse on Philip Roth’s geriatric sexual habits. A topic I only seen touched on by a swedish writer, Theodor Kallifatides in Seven Hours in Paradaise ( De sju timmarna i paradiset ). Dickens came along as well, and this essay covered mostly things of a nearly biographical nature. Although very informative stuff about his sexual life and the near lack of conciousness in of some Dickens characters.

Went out for a stroll and decided to take a book with me, so I took David Lodge along. I started reading Consciousness and the Novel (2002) in the beginning of the term. I found it in the New Books section of Stockholm’s Library. Of eleven essays, two I totally skipped, of which the remaining 9 others were succulent pieces. He definitely treats the subject well, that is, how consciousness exists in novel characters.

He has an eye for criticism, for example, I was very much amused and amazed at a critique he made regarding an essay on E M Forsters novel Howards End, titled Forster’s Flawed Masterpiece. He says: “Some of the purple passages towards the end of the novel sound like George Meredith on a bad day …” I mean, to make that kind of critique you really must be well versed in literature. And he sure sounds like he is. He is one of those novelists that also side job as scholars, like Richard Holmes. He has good, delicious essays on Evelyn Waugh, Kierkegaard, a nice discourse on Philip Roth’s geriatric sexual habits. A topic I only seen touched on by a Swedish writer, Theodor Kallifatides in Seven Hours in Paradaise ( De sju timmarna i paradiset ). Dickens came along as well, and this essay covered mostly things of a nearly biographical nature. Although very informative stuff about his sexual life and the near lack of consciousness in of some Dickens characters.

I’ve read thus far in this term several auto/biograpies/memoirs from the Victorian period, Edmund Gosse, Robert Graves, Strachey, Eminent Victorians: Florence Nightingale, Oliphant, Autobiography. Ed. Elizabeth Jay, and Virgina Woolf, “The Art of Biography”, “Sketch of the Past”. Its strikes me as curious how all more or less come from the same middle class background and how much importance they attach to their acquaintences. Its filled with what we nowadays call name dropping. Their relations with the upper echelons seem to make them who they are regardless of their chores in life, they belong to one and the same innercircle. The name they bare sets them aside from blokes, say, like me. Therein lies the difference, as far as I can see between Brits and Americans, while I haven’t read any memorable autobiographies, biographies or memoirs of Americans I know the value system in the States are different, because I know that what is valued in the US is the ability to exceed above your deficiencies, society will reward this. About the only thing worst frowned upon in America is the Nouveau Richie. This class is seriously out in a limb there but they seem to love a story of the poor farmer who made it to the top.

He talks about being a puritan and a Catholic at the same time, and while he has puritan behavior he is a catholic. The real mother and father of the likes of him, an orphan whose real mother shuns. Brown is understandably a book about the many myths that permeate his persona and the beliefs that hold the fabric of the beings we are, we do not know, concludes in his conclusionless book, whence cometh we. He lauds the mestizaje, the Chicano, and reunites himself thereby, his own way to the only community where he matters, the Chicano Community.

Why otherwise would he run over a snake in a so an American truck? To assert himself? and why did he describe the mexican man with the snake hanging around his neck? “don’t tread on me” is the legend most Americans like when there are times of trouble. He ran over one, didn’t care; another mexican, just like him picked it up and placed around his neck, laughing, joking about it, as a trophy, a cohort, a partner in crime. They smashed it, both, and American legend, they mulled the snake and both went back to gloat about it, showing little remorse, he didn’t even look. He is a defiant Chicano in his middle age.

One of the things that most amazed me, is that after he tells us that his father was an orphan he still buys the mythical myth that all Mexicans descend from some sort of Spaniard and indigenous racial intermix. It is a near blind belief in that which he denies he is, “my mexican father” he tells us, and then proceeds to pack the cultural luggage that permeates the fabric of mexican culture, this, despite the fact that he will deny, in your face that he hasn’t any cultura. He lacks a sense of belonging and takes by association that which he all along has questioned, his mexicanness.

As I read this book I often wondered how whites read this book, there is so much in that book, that lacking the appropiate cultural baggage, one is surely to miss gaps tantamount to the Grand Canyon.

Since last monday Jean Paul Marat has been in my head. In particular the painting Jaque Louis David did of him titled Marat Assasiné . I first came across him through a book by Peter Weiss that I must of surely found in a second hand bookshop back in the states. I must of liked the cover, it had the painting mentioned above, and then became enthralled by it because I do remember that I read it right away. The title of the book? The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade– more commonly known as Marat/Sade. ( More pictures ) I loved it and ever since there there are two quotes which have lasted within ever since:

Act one, Conversation Concerning Life and Death:

Marat: The important thing
is to pull yourself up by your own hair
to turn yourself inside out
and see the whole world with fresh eyes.

and

Act one, Continuation of the Conversation between Marat and Sade:

Marat: I never believed the pen alone
could destroy institutions.

Well, that’s what has been haunting me since last monday.

After incubation I came to more conclusions regarding this text. I realized there is a certain conflict here, she seldoms questions the validity of her emotions yet distrust to a degree as to how to proceed and record, as asuch, said emotions. She has trouble putting it in ink. The fear of going astray is always latent for she chastises other autobiographies for falling short of their aims, she complains that they often leave in the background the very person that they are supposed to be speaking of. She falls into that trap to, and I guess that she tried to circumvent it, this with a minor victory.

I would even venture so far as to say that VW is resistent to the whole idea of writing a Bio. I mean what gives impulse to write this Bio? Alas, it turns out to be just a mere side project for her.

Well, apart that I was proud that I could read the text in 4 hours I derived no more pleasure out of that than that. There a few instances were I found great delight in reading her, and that was when she got into a sort of attrition with her father in a boat, opinions were dished and Victoria took it for what it was. However, at other times I got the sense that she was like a drink that slowly intoxicates. In retrospect, I came to think that much of biographies at times resort to what we nowadays refer to as name dropping, at least that’s the case for this victorian period in which somehow I ended up in.

I have admired Virgina Woolf for a long time now, to the point of having gone to a theater play named Who’s of afraid of Virgina woolf? back in the early 90’s in San Diego, California, without understanding a iota of it and only going there because of the significance of the event. And then there is that line somewhere, I forget where, that has ever since haunted me, ” …you have to read a book twice, at least, to fully understand it …” something I never managed to do fully. Modern fiction was of course one of those text that parts water but at any rate, A Sketch of the Past was to my opinion at times very dull and at times only a few bubbles of joy did pop up now and then.

« Older entries § Newer entries »