Thursday, February 23, 2006

If on a winter's night, a babbler

Listening to: The Modern Jazz Quartet, Django

Woo hoo, that last entry went over like an anthrax-filled drum skin. Even a Z-list blogger like myself has to wonder why it is a particular post gets zero comments; was it the content, the bad writing, or have I succeeded in finally alienating even the sorriest suckers who were willing to click here to decipher that I again have nothing to say? It's been awhile since I've posted something that garnered no comments and so it seems I've descended to the nadir I've always assumed I'd sink to, where what I write has absolutely no meaning to anyone. If this the equivalence of a tree falling and no one hearing it, that's hardly monumental, even if I've lost my faith in nihilism.

The angel Mamacita blessed me with an hour or so of vital and witty conversation in a yahoo IM, trying to reassure me that this blog has value and that I'm loved or something. For those of you who have the magnificent privilege of actually knowing Mamacita, you know she means what she says and so although I was incredulous about her claims, I appreciated that her heart is pure. I knew she wasn't blowing smoke up my ass looking for a bigger buzz.

Likewise, those of you who really know Mamacita know that the converstaion will inevitably turn towards books. In one of her many wonderful acts of love (I have still not figured out why she finds me worth the trouble), she sent me a copy of Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and I had to confess I had not yet picked it up. Oh, I'm looking forward to it but I've had other things to digest and yes, I'll get to it if only because she recommends it and it's "meta-fiction" - fiction for people who read, um, fiction.

In my experience, the best "meta-fiction" novel is Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, if only for this passage (and if only so I can trascribe this passage instead of actually having to blog - an issue Mamacita can explain for you - thanks, darlin'!!!):
In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past thick barricades of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Puposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You've Read Them, Too,. Elluding these assaults, you come up beneath the tower of the fortress, where the troops are holding out:
the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,
the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,
the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,
the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easilly Justified.
Now you have been able to reduce the coutless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undetermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It's Time To Reread and the Books You've Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It's Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.

If Mamcita's correct then I'm scott free, as far as my half-assed posting; you'll not only get the passage, you'll get my intent. She's overestimated me and in that, she rated my readers more than I do, suffice it to say. I figured anyone who read me was as dirt stupid as I am. Mea Cupla, you deserve her praise but it will continue to befuddle why the hell you're reading this, once, twice, or as is your habit.

UPDATE: I finally got a comment on my last post (thanks, Shari!), which says to me that I'm not merely as wothless as I say I am, just more stupid.


Kathy said...

I love this passage. How those books do stare at you! I'm going to be borrowing this, maybe check out the book even.

Sometimes politics and world crap gets so deep and smelly that I just want to crawl under the covers and pretend that they don't exist. And everything else gets so overwhelming...I'm in that place right now, wrapping my family around me, getting joy from them and music and books and art. I don't feel that I can fight the Republicans any longer...

landismom said...

Yeah, I still get weirded out when I write a post with no comments (or that takes a long time to get comments), and I spend a lot of time thinking about what it was that made that particular post so unworthy of comment. For my own particular brand of self-deception, I've convinced myself that generally, my posts on parenting are more commented on than others, and that's because many of the people who read me are mommybloggers, where my political/organizing posts tend to be less commented on.

Then I go and post a picture of my kids and no one comments for two days, and it blows my whole theory to shreds.

And then I think, but what about all the blogs I read every day that I never comment on?

Great passage from Calvino, btw.

trusty getto said...

First a screed and then books? BOOKS? Who the heck has time for books?

Man, I wish I could find the time to read a book. I fondly recall those days, when I was in bed before 11, and I could pick up a book and read it and drift off to sleep . . . .

Sorry to have not left you a comment, really, and then to have left you a toungue-in-cheek one (not really sorry for that, btw), but dude, the screed was a bit of a conversation stopper, not exactly an opener, if you know what I mean.

I did read it :)

Mamacita said...

Overestimated? I think not, my dear. After reading this post, I think I've probably underestimated you. Everything I've said so far stands true; I just need to add a lot more cool stuff. And then some more. And so on. Besides which, I really wasn't evaluating you; I was merely describing you. And I stand by that description.

Oh, you have no idea. No. Idea.

And, I absolutely love, love, love, this description of a bookstore. It's perfection on a stick.

karen m said...

Yep, I get almost no comments on my political writings either. No matter what they're about. I get a whole lot more comments when I write about the family, which sometimes is nice and sometimes feels a little creepy, depending.

Thanks for the Calvino! He's one of those writers that makes the hair stand up on the back of your head. Or maybe that's just me.

Shari said...

You're so very welcome, Jim. I rushed to comment on this post as well, wanting to reassure you that you are not worthless, and certainly not stupid, but I'm glad to see Mamacita has beaten me to it. I have to agree with her... you have no idea. It always amazes and bewilders me to meet (even as superficially as this) people who have so much going on, but somehow can't see it.

And thank you for the passage from Calvino. I'm always on the lookout for challenging reading material, and if the brilliant nailing of the book categories we readers all use is any indication of overall writing ability, then I am all over it.

And I'm with Kathy about needing to just push the outside crap away for a while sometimes. It's possible to get overwhelmed and feel nothing will ever be right again, and that is a poisonous thought for idealistic souls.

Anne said...

Oh know I hate your writing.

I only leave comments 'cause I think you're cute. I realize my overuse of the word cute will get me fined by the word police but...after 6 kids I have a hard time stringing a complete phrase together. word verification is baqnhurl...? That's sending me off with a giggle.

Nino the Mindboggler said...

Anne, you flatter me, you make my heart pound, you make me wish for a parallel universe...

As such, I understand why the word verification was amusing to you!

vicki said...

Wait- you mean you're not in a parallel universe? All this time I thought- ah, well. Perfection on a stick, indeed. That Jane. This post puts me in mind of one Arethusa (firecrackershrimpbowtie or something- you can find her) wrote recently about the beauty of the new Penquin classics- and they do make my palms go all sweaty, it's true.

You're fine, Jim. Just fine. Believe it. I liked the list of words, too. We've had that discussion before about the inverse relationship between blog intelligence and comments.