Monthly Archives: June 2008

Metaphors be with you.

Dave Eggers, the first author on my Summer Reading Challenge list, is really satisfying my deep admiration for exuberant writing; now no doubt (since I possess no consistent style) my own fictional forays will bear the distinction of fervid overwriting (instead of my other vein, that of the petulant self-conscious minimalist).  Usually I’m a bit arch and secretive about my admiration for blatantly po-mo fiction writers and their M.C. Escher tricks: the footnotes, the diagrams, the “wink wink I’m writing about about me writing about me writing a book blah blah blah” thing.  Eggers, though, at least in his debut memoir, is simply a good enough writer that the gimmicks feel like fascinating arabesques, not loud wallpaper meant to cover a stained wall full of nail holes.  He uses the kind of metaphors that most authors would feel a need to build up to as though he’s got better ones to spare, these are just the cannon fodder.  A modest example:

At the same time, it would also be nice to make clear the mistake Laura in casting has made, to have our cameo make clear who the real stars are, stars who far outshine this dowdy Judd person — we the brilliant ringed planets, he just a tiny, cold moon. (245)

Very nice.  He’s talking, by the bye, about the casting agent who decided not to feature him on MTV’s The Real World.  That’s profligacy of talent for you.

On the other hand, I’m reminded of a luminary in my personal pantheon, Milan Kundera, who is incredibly more parsimonious with his metaphors.  There is a place in Testaments Betrayed where he castigates the translators of Kafka for muddling Kafka’s rare, spare, hugely meaningful metaphors.  For instance, one time in The Castle, K. is having sex with a woman on the floor of a bar, and Kafka describes him in terms of a foreigner wandering blindly in an unknown country.  Brilliant.  The fate of the casual lover is at once, electrically, united with that of the exile, and in one paragraph, Kafka has dealt with some of the major themes of the modernist age.  

So my question is: which is better?  Not Kafka vs. Dave Eggers, obviously; I think that one’s pretty much settled, good as the latter is.  But who deserves more respect — the virtuoso who can drop metaphors the way Sviatoslav Richter dropped notes in his Sofia recital (i.e. they make the final product even more impressive), or the brilliantly conservative minimalist who makes every single metaphor a sort of climax within the novelistic texture?  Or are they simply two different but equally respectable modes of expression, like blues and jazz?

Your thoughts are welcomed, nay, encouraged.


The truth is … I’m not computer-man.

I saw the film Ironman, starring Robert Downey, Jr., this afternoon.  I’m generally allergic to comic book adaptations, so I was a bit nervous about this; however, the director kept the burnished bodysuits off his characters for most of the film, leaving room for Downey, Jr. to develop his character from a kind of self-parody into a duty-bound maverick genius, and for some understated sparks to fly between him and Gwyneth Paltrow — playing, oddly enough, his administrative assistant.  The bodysuits are admittedly a little goofy when seen close-up, but this is part of the genre.  If you wish to see a film in this genre, then, give it a watch.  It’s pretty cool.

In unrelated news, it’s more difficult than you might think to get information off one hard drive and onto another.  I asked the fellow at the Apple store how I might do this, considering that my old computer is defunct; he seemed to imply that it is easy.  All you need is a SATA cable!  So I went to Best Buy and enquired after one of these:

“Well, it’s not a cable.  It’s an enclosure.”

“Do you have them?”

“Yeah, but they’re like 70 dollars.”

So I tried Radio Shack, who had plenty of “enclosures” for around nine bucks, but entirely of the wrong kind.  Sounds like we’re a few centuries overdue for another Enclosure Act.  As it stands, I’ll probably have to spend $100 to get some professional to give me my precious incarcerated iTunes library back.  Blah.

Oh, and I will be getting my drug test for Fred Meyer on Monday.  Pray that I pass it (gulp) and look forward to some writings about the good old Deli.

Summer Reading Challenge

My mom is masterminding a Challenge for those of us bookishly inclined.  We are to deploy this image

of a saguaro forest, and then the books we hope to dispatch this summer.  Since I am only home for a month and a half this summer and then must return to Waco and drink up the metaphysical poets every single day, I’m keeping mine rather modest.  Here goes:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)

Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Fear and Trembling (Soren Kierkegaard)

An Anthropologist on Mars (Oliver Sacks)

The Enchantress of Florence (Salman Rushdie)

If I finish these in a timely fashion, then you’ll see more mysteriously appear out of the aether.

Earth to Interweb …

Let’s be honest: the Blog and I have a difficult history.  Having been both a dangerous Luddite and a technocrat-wannabe in my day, and everything in between, I find it hard to blame it.  My latest “blog” took a hint from my youthful passion and decided to be utterly, exclusively political, not to mention a little angry.  I got frustrated with it, but kept serving its rapacious desire for screed and soapbox.  I shall continue to do so; however, the desire for a slightly more humane outlet has seized me lately, so here you go: a site of vanities, a tribute to my favorite book of the Bible, the future locus amoenus for those of you who love to read agonizing tales of wage-slavery in delicatessens, and yes, maybe even some politicking if I feel like it.

You might also end up party to some petty philosophizing, so enter with caution.