what are you reading right now?

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Postby Kenny » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:29 am

Just finished The Sheltering Sky. I liked it a lot more this time around. I'm not sure what made me want to read it again, I bought it a few months ago to reread actually but it sat on the shelf till it came up the last couple pages itt.

I really like Bowle's sense of place/mood. Definitely want to read more by him
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Postby Gooey Bechamel » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:07 am

Just finished Peace. I definitely want to reread it sometime. It took me a while to find my groove with it, but once I did I couldn't put it down.

Starting up The Path of Daggers. It's been two years since I read Crown of Swords, but it doesn't seem too terribly important.

Counterbalancing it with Dead Souls. I read the first chapter last night and I can confidently say I'm going to love it.
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Postby chowder julius » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:14 am

just finished
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currently reading
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i started the leavers and couldn't get into it as i'd hoped. i think i just don't like books with contemporary/familiar settings
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Postby cooly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:46 am

surprised to see you posting about woman in the dunes. the book + the film feel so misogynistic to me, basically like if the myth of sisyphus also involved a woman sitting on top of the boulder nagging him constantly. how did you feel about it?
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Postby chowder julius » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:17 am

i'm not sure why it's surprising? it's clearly problematic from a contemporary pov but i think in its time and place it's not so egregious. i liked it fine. i struggle to critique this for one because the book and myself are so far apart contextually that i'm not sure how useful my perspective could even be, and secondly the novel is so profoundly allegorical that it feels like missing the point to criticize character development
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Postby deadbass » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:15 pm

The Woman in the Dunes has stuck with me over the years like few books have, but I've never really settled on what exactly it's trying to say.
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Postby dmitry » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:39 pm

argh i hate long books, even if they're easy and/or joyful to read. there are so many books out there so if i get to state where i'm reading a few long books at a time and thus have no out for weeks and weeks it makes me go antsy as hell
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Postby dmitry » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:40 pm

woman in the dunes is one of my moms favorite books. not sure how japanese writers made it to soviet russia
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Postby chowder julius » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:18 pm

dmitry wrote:argh i hate long books, even if they're easy and/or joyful to read. there are so many books out there so if i get to state where i'm reading a few long books at a time and thus have no out for weeks and weeks it makes me go antsy as hell

yeah this is why i'm prioritizing quick reads recently. i want to actually finish a book and not keep tapping out halfway thru something i love but can't seem to get into a rhythm with
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Postby Dead_Wizard » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:26 pm

Slizkine's "House of Government" is wonderful so far. I'm not usually reading lengthy histories, but he does such a compelling job of building on his thesis of the Millenarian roots of Bolshevism.
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Postby cooly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:01 pm

chowder julius wrote:i'm not sure why it's surprising? it's clearly problematic from a contemporary pov but i think in its time and place it's not so egregious. i liked it fine. i struggle to critique this for one because the book and myself are so far apart contextually that i'm not sure how useful my perspective could even be, and secondly the novel is so profoundly allegorical that it feels like missing the point to criticize character development


i didn't mean to say anything negative about you in saying that it was surprising to me. i think i disagree about the problems with the book, and that could be obscuring what i found surprising. i feel like the misogyny is integral to the allegory; the woman just stands for women (who are furniture in the prison of male life that men eventually have to accept and have sex with.) i don't think the issue is really about character development to me. i also think the book is unusual in its representation of women compared to popular (at least in the west) japanese literature of that period (tanizaki and kawabata come to mind.)

but yeah you can read whatever you want obviously. i just meant to say that i was curious what you thought of the book bc i have particularly strong feelings about aspects of the book, and i thought you might share those.
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Postby deadbass » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:26 pm

I think the woman stands for the Buddhist interpretation of living - accepting the mundanity of existence, living life to a strict routine. She's more emblematic of this strange village, which as a whole stands in for Buddhist ideas and props (it resembles a giant Zen garden), rather than womanhood. The man represents a more western philosophical standpoint, curious about the world (EDIT: this is a pretty gross statement, sorry) (he's a scientist or something if I remember), and eager to get out of this (literal) prison of domesticity. Greek myth is often evoked in Japanese literature as a symbol for all of Western thought, and Sisyphus is at least hinted at here, if not overtly?? (I can't remember). So sure, there's some problematic elements in her depiction, or even in pinning her onto this passive, mindful way of life on her, given the era and her gender, but I think Abe going for something a bit more subtle.

That all gets pushed to the limit in the rape scene, which was pretty graphic as I remember (I remember reading it on the bus and kind of making sure no one was looking over my shoulder at the time), and is kind of the final conflict of these two ideologies.
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Postby cooly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:11 pm

i don't disagree that some of those ideas are present in the book, but i don't think that's what the woman is really doing. it's obvious that there is a struggle between the protagonist's individualism and the communalist village (although i'm not convinced these are best understood in east vs west terms, like i don't think "curious about the world" is an essentially western trait. he's a teacher, not a scientist, but i'm not sure this is that important.)

i guess i would ask on your reading why the woman needs to be a character at all. the village already stands for everything the woman stands for on your view, right? do you think it's a total coincidence that the situation he's trapped becomes the standard family unit? i feel like it's pretty important that the world he's trapped in in the hole resembles ordinary life for men wrt the unceasing labor and the woman at home, and i don't think it's ungenerous to think about the role of the woman in that light.
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Postby deadbass » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:29 pm

I think without another person in the pit, he would never submit to their way of life, the ideological dialogue the novel is creating wouldn't exist (or at least it wouldn't be as compelling). I honestly shouldn't be debating this because I really don't remember enough of the book at this point to not make glaring mistakes in my justifications (as above).

I also think I'm kind of blending the movie together with the book - in the movie, you don't see the man's inner life at all, which flattens out their portrayal by extension. She and him are both kind of inscrutable actors in the film, and the weird cultish rape scene in particular makes it feel like they are simply agents controlled by large immovable forces, where gender becomes less and less a tool of the discourse.
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Postby mondays » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:35 pm

cooly wrote:i feel like it's pretty important that the world he's trapped in in the hole resembles ordinary life for men wrt the unceasing labor and the woman at home, and i don't think it's ungenerous to think about the role of the woman in that light.

the woman also works with him and was working there before he arrived.

there is some gendered stuff but i dunno, the book is an existentialist story. i don't really think it needs to be read through gender. we work, have sex, make "a home", make relationships with people because we are trapped :barney:
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Postby cooly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:52 pm

the woman lies to him and assists in his trapping. she also gets raped by him.
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Postby chowder julius » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:07 pm

idk if my feminism is broken or what but i didn't really think that rape scene was especially shocking. it was pretty brief and i guess i read it as making a half dozen other points besides rape? offering like zero perspective or insight from the woman makes it fairly easy to read over that i guess! i also didn't read the rape scene in the sheltering skyToggle Spoiler as a rape at all. hmmmmm
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Postby mondays » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:40 pm

cooly wrote:the woman lies to him and assists in his trapping. she also gets raped by him.

the rape scene is harder to defend as the result of the "trauma of being trapped" or whatever but that's how i read it :oops: i think the book's good
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Postby cooly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:52 pm

oh yea, i don't mean to argue that everyone should hate the book. i guess i was just curious on cj's thoughts on those aspects and i felt like i had to defend my reading a bit when people responded. i plan on reading more kobo abe eventually. certain aspects of the book detracted from my enjoyment of it, but yea i didn't mean to take over the thread about it.
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Postby chowder julius » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:55 pm

no it's very cool to talk about books please don't stop :D
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Postby deadbass » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:13 pm

I really really recommend The Face of Another as another Abe book. It’s really crazy and interesting and explores some pretty compelling ideas.
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Postby mudd » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:18 pm

i enjoyed the kangaroo notebook, but it's really quite different than woman in the dunes.

the later of which i read long enough ago that i can't say if i would side with cooly or not, but this reminds me of my surprise about CJ's reaction to sheltering sky.

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Postby ripersnifle » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:35 pm

been reading a bunch of Kittler for school. really enjoying it.
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Postby theta » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:49 am

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Postby Kenny » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:00 am

Taking a break from "heavy" stuff to read:

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It's actually an omnibus of the 3rd and 4th book in a series, by P.C. Hodgell which is very good. To describe the series it may sound a little generic but the writing is good and the world building is so fun that it's a page turner.

The Kencyr books, beginning with God Stalk, focus on the three peoples of the Kencyrath, Highborn (leaders), Kendar (artisans and soldiers) and Arrin-Ken (cat-like judges). They were brought together by the Three-Faced God to oppose the threat of chaos called Perimal Darkling 30,000 years before the events of the books. For eons the Kencyrath have waged a long retreat, seemingly abandoned by their god, awaiting the birth of the promised Tyr-Ridan, the three who would lead the final battle against Perimal Darkling. Three thousand years have passed since the Kencyrath retreated to Rathillien after a devastating betrayal. Much diminished, they remain outsiders to the native powers of Rathillien.


These two together bring the page count to 1000 :-S but it's fun just to have fun reading a book. The author (a woman) has complained repeatedly about the big boobed lady on the cover but it's a Baen book....
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Postby incoherent grunting » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:20 am

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Uhhhh it's.... good
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Postby dmitry » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:36 am

been goin through

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so many different sources have recommended this. it ties up a lot of what i've been thinking about, re: top-down control and complex systems, but also re: modernist urban planning and societal projects
learned so far: le courbusier is an asshole
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Postby cooly » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:46 am

dmitry would u rec that book for a leftist architect (my girlfriend) who knows a lot about city planning etc or do you think it would be too basic for her

it seems down her alley but its hard to gauge how much of it would be things she already knows
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Postby deadbass » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:51 am

dmitry wrote:learned so far: le courbusier is an asshole

le corbusier on the fall of France wrote:"Money, the Jews (who are partly responsible), Freemasonry, they will all get their just reward. These shameful fortresses will be dismantled. They dominated everything... We are in the hands of a winning invader, whose attitude could be crushing. If the conditions are truthful, Hitler could crown his life's work by a grand act: the cleaning up of Europe."
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Postby dmitry » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:02 pm

cooly wrote:dmitry would u rec that book for a leftist architect (my girlfriend) who knows a lot about city planning etc or do you think it would be too basic for her

it seems down her alley but its hard to gauge how much of it would be things she already knows


only one chapter is about high modernism in architecture, the rest is about similar top-down stuff states imposing national languages/standards/ways to farm
i guess urban designers understand this stuff better than anyone because they learned it the hard way but this thing is a must-read. he's a good writer, too
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