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I'm pretty bad at remembering the names of things and people, especially things that I like and would recommend. This is a list of things that I know I'm going to want to talk about at some point, but will probably need a reminder of. It's also generally a good memory exercise to write and get some concrete thoughts attached to whatever you're trying to remember. Also, writing is fun. Yay!

2020-04-20 : Why Read the Classics?, Calvino

2020-03-02 : Translators of The Thousand and One Nights, Borges

2020-03-02 : How to Read Nancy, Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik

"These are the damned of childhood, forever roaming the earth with arched backs and wet faces."

2020-02-24 : Let games run free, Zoë Sparks

2020-02-22 : Why do corporations speak the way they do?, Molly Young

2020-02-12 : Don't Kill Your Darlings, Stephen Wright


I was already not in the habit of deleting things I like, but if you need a thorough argument against the cliche, I'm not sure there's much more to be said than what's right here.

2020-02-11 : 南蛮人日記, Melissa Boiko

I'm sad this blog is probably on permanent hiatus. The level of Japanese here is a bit beyond me, and more academic than I'm ready for, but there's some really insightful, super-fun stuff here. I've linked to a short piece about one particular pun in the game Ghost Trick because it blew my mind. Everything I love about Japanese is in that one joke, really

2020-02-10 : The Web We Have to Save, Hossein Derakhshan

Articles like this are crystal evidence of why I wanted to make a neocities site in the first place; the best summary of the article I can give is that it made me disgusted at the site I was forced to read it on. Raw text and hyperlinks are more pure than material design tuned by psychologists to keep readers scrolling and clicking and engaging with the medium more than the message. Anyway

This reminds me I really want to learn Farsi... might need to check if any of the blogs are still up

2020-01-31 : The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino

Well, I actually finished this one a few days ago, but I wasn't sure what to say about it. Writing about books is hard lol

It was a nice little story, and that's all I wanted out of it. The gimmick here is that the Baron is up in the trees, living his whole life without ever coming down. And it really is a gimmick; there's more to the book than just this, but I think you can tell just from looking at it that the idea came first, and the book second. Everything grew out of the daydream plot-fragment of how different life would be if plain ground was off limits. It's a silly idea, and the book isn't dead-set on making a serious point out of it, which in the end really works to its benefit. The book is in on the joke. Anyway I'm only finishing writing this paragraph two days after I started so I think I'm going to just call it on trying to say anything else about this book

2020-01-26 : The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky

I feel obligated to write a little bit about this one for a couple reasons. The petty one: I spent a lot of time reading this, and all of that time was on a phone screen. At the font size I used, excluding introductions, afterwords, and publishing material, the book was 2285 pages. Somewhere after the 50th page in a session, looking at a tiny rectangular box, thumbing the edge of the screen just to have some tactile feedback, I began to see some of the unspoken advantages of print books. I don't think a book is a sacred object, but it is a sentimental one; when I think about books I've read, there is always a background image of the physical book itself, what kind of condition it was in, how it felt in my hands. I can take it on good authority that most books are trash and are hardly worth the paper they're printed on. Good books in principle aren't any different; but they get a piece of my soul in them after I've used them, and that's when a physical book becomes worth something to me. I get this with books I've read digitally, too, but now that unconscious physical memory is of a phone or a computer screen, and there is no characteristic font or weight to the printing. I just checked another book I've got on my list for the near future: Anna Karenina is 2553 pages. I think I'll find a print copy.

(Side note: What's up with essays by other people at the front of books? I haven't read it yet, I don't want to hear your thoughts on it. I'm going to skip it every time. Even on a reread I'm here for the book itself. Was this the only way people could get their criticism of classics published?)

The second reason I have to talk about this book is how different it felt to read compared to the other classics I've gone through. When I read Great Expectations 4 years ago in my AP Literature class, in my senior year of high school, it was a world-changing experience. The previous year Catch-22 had snapped something heavy in my brain, and made me realize good writing could be about nothing at all; going into Great Expectations, I was in the perfect place to have my mind blown by actual Good Writing. There is some crazy nonsense going on in that book, like all serial novels I've read, but there is some truly clever use of English communicating that crazy nonsense, and I loved it. That was also the first year where I was encouraged by a teacher to make an argument against the symbolic interpretation of literature. If Catch-22 opened the spout, that broke open the floodgates. And now having read Karamazov, I'm thinking about entirely different questions than I was then.

Over and over again, so many times that I started keeping a list by halfway through, the impression I got while reading Karamazov was "Haven't I seen this idea before?" On its whole the Brothers Karamazov is The Most Influential Novel Ever Written, probably. I think there's a good case for it. The first hint for me was, in Ivan's discussion of religion with Alexei, essentially a word-for-word outline of Those Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula K. LeGuin. I won't list everything I considered directly inspired by an element of this book, because I think a few of the ideas are a bit incidental, but this wasn't the last time I found exact wordings of specific ideas that set off alarm bells in my head. Here I'm noting that Karamazov surprised me with this element, but really I'm more surprised that this isn't a more common occurrence in other classics. I didn't know half of what I know now when I was reading Great Expectations, but the ideas of that book seem to have been given a big "As Seen in Great Expectations!" label, so whenever they're brought up later, it's canonized, explicitly referential. This point was what really sold me on wanting to read more Russian literature. If Anna Karenina, or Notes from Underground ends up being like this, I'll have a lot to think about. Anyway, I still think I'll want to find a print copy first.

2020-01-03 : No Fuse - Naniwa Express

There's just something about stuff on the internet that sets off in me an obsessive-compulsive desire to Have Everything, no matter the cost. Usually this cost is opportunity: I jumped through a hoop or two to get a download of this album not capped at 50 kb/s from an Estonian file sharing site that offered me an upgrade to 100 kb/s for making a free account. Even more frustrating was the album's presence on Spotify, but grayed out with no indication of why it was being denied to me. Well, I have it on my computer now, and in the interest of not losing it forever in the mess of my external hard drive's organization I'm making a note of it here. It's pretty good j-fusion, though nothing that could generate a massive inexplicable wave of Youtube-recommendation fueled popularity. Feels mostly like an excuse to take guitar and sax and synth solos, and that's a-ok with me

2019-12-16 : The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

I don't actually like this at all, but a friend recently literally said the exact words "They spend so much on this stuff, they know what they're doing". Jesus Christ dude. Anyway probably nothing new here for most people

2019-12-14 : Is the Foucauldian Conception of Disciplinary Power still at Work in Contemporary forms of Imprisonment?, Craig W. J. Minogue

Paper on applicability of ideas in Foucault's Discipline and Punish written by someone who was actually in prison. Putting this here out of general interest and a particular point: the author uses full names in his references because of the last-name-only style being dehumanizing in his prison experience. Makes me think about what the unintentional effects of this particular academic tradition are.

2019-12-14 : Sigma Harmonics review, Brian Crimmins

Fun review that I want to reread after playing this game for myself. It has resisted attempts at fan translation before because of some vertical text formatting that can't be worked around, so I'm interested in trying this as a translation project at some point.