January 15th, 2011


Delicious LiveJournal Links for 1-15-2011

  • "Since Dhalgren’s publishing history still elicits minimal interest, let me try to straighten some of it out. Fred, you came to see us in our three-room second-floor Paddington Street flat in London, twice, once when we weren’t in and our upstairs neighbor was baby-sitting for not-quite-year-old Iva; then you came back, a second time, when Marilyn and I were both there. That’s when I told you about Dhalgren—and probably exaggerated the number of times and places it had been submitted. ... Undoubtedly this is the story I told Fred the evening he dropped in unexpectedly to say hello (along with the tale of Iva’s befuddled citizenship problems), as we sat chatting for an hour or so with my infant daughter’s blue- quilted baby basket on the rug between our feet, in front of the electric fire. Fred can be wonderfully warm hearted, and I think he took to the young expatriate couple ... That’s the actual story. But I can see the places misunderstandings might have crept in."
    (tags: sf)
  • Hamilton got more votes than any other UUP / UCUNF candidate at 2005 election - has now joined the Alliance Party!
  • The coming partitions must be performed with a combination of scalpel and ax, soft and hard power. Above all, the world must recognize that these partitions are inevitable. Our reflex is to fear changes on the map out of concern for violence or having to learn the names of new countries. But in an age when any group can acquire the tools of violent resistance, the only alternative to self-determination is perpetual conflict. 
    (tags: politics)
  • A long piece, with fascinating diversion into Bill Cash's revolutionary theory of the British constitution.
    (tags: eu ukpolitics)
  • "What is a Glock, and what is it designed to be used for? It’s a rapid-fire weapon that can accommodate a 30-bullet clip, and it has only one real use. It’s of very little value for hunting or for Grandma to keep under her pillow to repel burglars. What it is good for is the killing of groups of human beings by a single shooter, and for nothing else. For that reason, it was outlawed by federal statute until 2004, when that law expired and our Congress, cowardly as it always is when it comes to offending the National Rifle Association, failed to renew it." Most of us foreigners are baffled when we hear discussion of a 'gun control debate' in the USA. To the unbiased observer, it is clear that the debate is over, and the wrong side won.
    (tags: usa guns)

January Books 9) Titus Alone

I'm afraid I was simply not convinced by Titus Alone. In fact, I was bored and confused by it. Titus, having run away from his home, finds himself in the neighbouring industrialised countryside (where people have never actually heard of Gormenghast, despite its absolute domination of its own hinterland). He becomes the object of obsession - in particular of the two women, Juno, with whom he has a love affair, and Cheeta, who rejects him and then develops a bizarrely elaborate plan to humiliate him by throwing a party at which various aspects of Gormenghast are satirically brought to life, but also of the self-appointed guardians from the Under-River. The imagery was intense, and I suppose it is in some way a spiritual and allegorical journey for Titus growing up, but in the end he ends back exactly where he started, and it did not work for me.

Also fails the Bechdel Test. I had hopes that the mysterious Black Rose would have a conversation with Juno, but she died before waking up.

January Books 10) The Undiscovered Chekhov

This is a collection of 50 short stories by Anton Chekhov, dating from the 1881-1886 period before he hit the big time, none of them apparently published in English before 1999. I have not read any Chekhov (I tried one of the plays as a teenager, but bounced off the dramatis personæ) so this was fairly new territory. The stories are all very short - the total length of the book is only 234 pages; even so they are interesting enough, reflecting contemporary Russian urban lifestyles, especially if you happen to be a young doctor. A number of them take interesting narrative forms - telegrams, diary entries, dreams. Most of them are meant to be funny, but some of the humour has definitely faded over the centuries. An introduction to a Great Writer previously unknown to me, which has done me no harm at all.

None of the stories passes the Bechdel test; I think I spotted two occasions where a female character addressed a group of people including another female character, but in both cases talking about a man.