poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

September 10, 2009

too much information, a September lament.

Filed under: Odds & Ends,Too Much Information — poemless @ 4:49 PM
Tags: , , ,

Hope you weren’t expecting any brilliant, in-depth posts from me this week. If you were looking for that type of thing, I highly recommend Sean’s Not much to gawk about, a smackdown of the weirdness, silliness and arrogance surrounding the non-publication of the GQ article “Vladimir Putin’s Dark Rise to Power,” and Matt Taibbi’s Sick and wrong, in which he lays out the 5 point plan followed by the gov’t. to kill healthcare reform. Indeed, I recommend these articles even if you are not actively looking for such things. Indeed, by not reading these articles you are doing yourself and everyone who knows you a serious disfavor because ultimately you have a responsibility as a citizen of the world to know this stuff. Ignorant people are the problem. Be the solution.

Another problem is depressed people. Who are worse than ignorant people, really. There’s the possibility that, given the knowledge they lack, the ignorant might actually do something about it. I think people prone to ignorance are also the kind of people who always want to be doing something. It’s just a matter of pointing them in the right direction and providing them with tangible rewards. Depressed people, however, possess the knowledge that should motivate them to action, but they succumb to inertia instead. In fact, they are usually quite knowledgeable precisely because they are content to sit and read, or think. And they are depressed precisely because they are quite knowledgeable. Do you think it is any coincidence most of these people live in blue states? raises one eyebrow…

I’m counting myself among the blue this week. Blue is my default category, yes. But there are shades, and this week is a decidedly more midnight blue than an Yves Klein or hyacinth. It’s the color of the sky Vincent painted after he did away with the ear. Happens every year at this time. You might call it “seasonal depression” but that would imply it has something to do with meteorology or astrology and not the fact that my mother died on September 7th. That was 9 years ago, abut now no matter what elaborate plan I invent to celebrate, distract or cope my way through this anniversary, it never ever works. Ever. I’ve taken vacations, gone into the woods, had parties, pretended it is just a normal day in a different month, ignored it, and once even entertained the idea of a nightcap of vodka and sleeping pills. (Don’t flip out. I didn’t do it. Obviously. Do you think I’m blogging from beyond the grave?)

It would be easier if it were just one day. The 7th. Limit the drama to 24 hours and move on. But I am unable to do so because the very week that begins with death ends with my birthday. I was never a fan of birthdays to start with. I didn’t even get to savor the stupid fun of the milestone 21st birthday since I was living at the time in a country with no enforced legal drinking age. Now, when I think of my birthday, I can’t get past the feelings of selfishness and humiliation which drove me to remind my family, they in the grips of a spectacular tragedy, impaled by grief, overwhelmed with all of the high stakes event planning that accompanies a death, that … well … it was my birthday.

So, as you see, a terrible week. (more…)

Advertisements

August 13, 2009

literary dish: Kurkov, Surkov and Booking through Thursday.

Filed under: Culture: Russia — poemless @ 4:55 PM
Tags: , , ,

Page Six, for bookworms and Russia watchers.

The Good Angel of Death.

Aleks at SRB has alerted me to the fact that Andrey Kurkov’s Dobryĭ angel smerti is FINALLY out in English translation. Emphasis on “English.” The Good angel of death appears to currently be available only in Great Britain, England, or the UK. However, my library in the States has it on order, so you may want to check your library in a month or so. If your library is the kind that normally carries such things. If it isn’t, it should be. There is a library board election in your future.

For those who have not yet been introduced to the fine, fine prose of Kurkov, well, that’s just terribly tragic. You should read the novella, Death and the penguin, about a simple fellow who writes obituaries and has a penguin. The plot involves the mafia and all types of dark, thrilling intrigues, but it’s really about the relationship between this oblivious man and his observant charge, Misha the penguin. Unbearably charming and existentialist. And well written. Do not read The President’s Last Love. It is ambitious. And long. And just doesn’t work. Though it does contain a brilliant scene in which President Putin holds an international summit in a swimming pool.

If you are wondering, I generally don’t read books in Russian unless I am paid to do so. And if you are still wondering, Kurkov is Ukrainian but he writes in Russian.

From the BBC:

The new book by the Ukrainian author of ‘Death and the Penguin’ is a psychedelic Slavic romp through the deserts of Kazakhstan in search of the Ukrainian national spirit. Andrey joins us from Kiev to talk about The Good Angel of Death.

Click to listen to an interview with Andrey Kurkov here. It’s a bit after 8:00.

Close to Zero.

Word on the street is that Vladislav Surkov (first deputy Chief of Staff to Medvedev) has written a novel. This is not so surprising, given his creative temperament. He went to drama school and has written lyrics for the goth band Agata Kristi. He is credited with penning the “Sovereign Democracy” doctrine, which is the Russian policy of not letting idiots in places like America tell them how to run their country. People say he created Russia’s “managed democracy” and presides over the Putin youth cult “Nashi.” In short, if there is some complaint being lodged against Russia by the American or British press, Surkov has been accused of being the evil mastermind behind whatever it is we’re all upset about. I might be one of the few people who really admire the man. Also, he is very attractive. Whether or not he in fact is the author of this new “gangsta fiction” monograph remains a mystery. (more…)

August 12, 2009

what not to read. what not to wear. vampires!

I previously posted a diatribe about my blog being a place dedicated to the free exchange of ideas and words and about world peace and political theory and blah, blah, blah… So, if you are here for that, great! Don’t go! However, that will not be on the menu tonight. This evening’s menu is dessert only.

What not to read.

From time to time, I am prone to be intensely shallow. Maybe I am afraid of becoming too librarian. Maybe it is an evolutionary adaptation to ensure that I can navigate mundane social situations. Maybe I am trying not to become what a friend called “a literary bore.” So I watch re-runs of old Sex and the City episodes, the ones with Baryshnikov. Or I check out a book entitled, He’s just not that into you. “Oh, girl, no you did not!” Oh, yes. I did. Don’t worry – I am the one who has to live with that on my permanent Chicago Public Library record for all the NSA to know. It stings. What was I thinking?! I was thinking, the books currently on my nightstand are The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War and Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago and maybe it’s time for something silly. I was thinking, I need something I can pretend to read while I get a tan. I was thinking, the reviews of the movie were kind of good, and I really like Drew Barrymore. I do just adore her. I was thinking, “it is by the writers of Sex and the City and whe-he-ell, if they are brilliant enough to write for Baryshnikov…” I thought. Ok – I wasn’t thinking. Which was part of the point. Sometimes I need to not be thinking. So I read things like Vogue, or He’s just not that into you.

People say such things are bad for your self esteem. Whenever women do shallow shit is bad for their self-esteem. Or a sign of bad self-esteem. Or something. I am not certain, but I don’t think men are given lectures on their self-esteem when they read Playboy or watch the game on tv. Can any of the men in the house tell me if anyone has ever warned them that they cannot possibly live up to the expectations placed upon them by professional sports celebrities or Maxim, so they should walk away and go cultivate their inner gods by doing arts and crafts or something? I like the expectations placed on me by Vogue. In fact, I look around and am hardly worried that people are placing too much import on their appearance. Would you like to know what is truly bad for my self esteem? Not terrible relationship books with hot pink dust jackets. When I read crap like this, I exhale a sigh or relief upon the realization that I am already *far* better off than most people. Or the people reading it. And the people who wrote it. If you can call it writing. The whole point of that horrid little book, if it had a point and can be called a book, was that women should stop wasting time on people who belittle them because, even if they end up alone forever, and they will, it will be good for their self-confidence to ignore idiots. It was supposed to be empowering. And it was. I finished it and thought, “I should stop wasting time on crap writers who belittle women because, even if I end up a literary bore forever, and I will, it will be good for my self-confidence to ignore these idiots.” So I guess it worked, in some perverse way.

No, what really makes me question my worth is … Žižek. I know he has some brilliant point, but can’t for the life of me figure out what it is, exactly. There are people out there who claim to understand him, and I believe them. I also know that some of my problem with Zizek is that I’m removed from academia where theory has a language all its own. But it makes me feel like an idiot. I am not used to reading things and not easily comprehending them. That’s meant to be one of the very few things I can be relied upon to do: be literate. If I can’t do that – I am fucked. So fucked is how I feel when I read Zizek. And yet I don’t see any interventions in the offing to wrench the horrible habit of reading pop-philosophy from my routine, in order that I should stop feeling bad about myself and fly off into the sunset like a happy butterfly finally free of her cocoon. Nope.

What not to wear.

What the hell was I talking about? Oh, yes, dessert. Mmmm… (more…)

Blog at WordPress.com.