Monday, July 20, 2009

"A nobler want of man is served by nature."

I am off to a well-deserved vacation. It's been two years since I've had a proper one. I will be reading and catching up on Infinite Jest; hopefully I will return all caught up to the IS spoiler line. It's going to be difficult because I usually prefer to read Emerson when I'm out in the woods. There may be a random post from vacation if I can get one through, but don't hold your breath.

This is what I hope to experience again on this trip:

Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough , and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, -- master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.


Back in 2 weeks.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I am quite behind. So far behind that I've had to practically drop off the Infinite Summer forums for fear of spoilers. I'm still reading diligently and loving every word; it's a time management issue that's keeping me from catching up. It also comes down to reading style. I am a very slow reader by choice. I usually imagine that I am reading the text aloud — no, I don't move my lips — to a reading circle consisting of multiple 'me's. The 'me's are different aspects of my personality and they have wonderful arguments on the text. Then, several 'me's have side conversations that I'm not privy to and only fill me in on what they've hashed out through sideways glances. It's difficult and maddening.

Oddly enough, this is how I've always read and this is the only way I seem to be able to retain anything that I have read. I enjoy reading this way, but it affords me no swiftness of pace.

There is something in Infinite Jest that I read last night; I read it over and over. There have been several of these 'Interludes' so far. Short changes of perspective that drop back into a previous scene, just for a moment, and just to let you know that the characters still exist and are still engaged. Here's one of those interludes. I hope it's not too much text to post, I'm actually going to enjoy typing this out:
The temperature had fallen with the sun. Marathe listened to the cooler evening wind roll across the incline and desert floor. Marathe could sense or feel many million floral pores begin slowly to open, hopeful of dew. The American Steeply produced small exhalations between his teeth as he examined his scratch of the arm. Only one or two remaining tips of the digitate spikes of the radial blades of the sun found crevices between the Tortolitas' peaks and probed at the roof of the sky. There were the slight and dry locationless rustlings of small living things that wish to come out at night, emerging. The sky was violet.

- DFW, IJ p. 97
It's interludal passages such as this that keep me reading. They always read as a stark poetic contrast to the preceding scene involving the same characters. The previous scene with Marathe and Steeply was odd and stuttering and dislocated. This passage is focused and beautiful. These sparse interludes are my favorite things in the book so far.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Falling behind

This weekend was totally worth falling behind.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Venus vs. Serena et cetera

et cetera:
I've decided that I need to break up the heavy Infinite Jest posts with some off-topic stuff. For my own sanity. So, you may see a few anthropology or mythology and of course tennis posts thrown in here and there. I had initially decided to post almost every day, but it's just too taxing along with reading, so look for 2-3 a week. Plus, I am trying to accomplish something a little different than maybe some of the other IS bloggers are. I'm reserving my general thoughts and discussion topics for the forums, and trying to post more substantial and polished and urbane things here. I am still working on a Dennis Gabor is the Antichrist profile — holography apparently becomes a big deal in IJ, and Gabor is just an all around interesting guy who had his hands in a lot of things (kind of like Himself). Look for that as well as Part II of the Addict's Guide to IJ next week.

Today though, I'm psyched about yet another Venus vs. Serena Wimbledon final.

They've met four times before in the finals at the All England Club, with Venus prevailing in last year's match. Between them, they've won 7 of the past 9 at Wimbledon, and Venus could become the first woman to win three in a row since Steffi Graf in '91-'93. After today's wins, Venus is 13-4 in Grand Slam semifinals with seven titles and Serena is 14-2 in Grand Slam semifinals with 10 titles.

Overall they've met 20 times with an even record of 10-10.
•Australian Open, 1998 - Venus
•Italian Open, 1998 - Venus
•Lipton Championships, 1999 - Venus
•Grand Slam Cup, 1999 - Serena
•Wimbledon, 2000 - Venus
•U.S. Open, 2001 - Venus
•Nasdaq 100 Open, 2002 - Serena
•French Open, 2002 - Serena
•Wimbledon, 2002 - Serena
•U.S. Open, 2002 - Serena
•Australian Open, 2003 - Serena
•Wimbledon, 2003 - Serena
•Nasdaq 100 Open, 2005 - Venus
•U.S. Open, 2005 - Venus
•Bangalore Open, 2008 - Serena
•Wimbledon, 2008 - Venus
•U.S. Open, 2008 - Serena
•Sony Ericsson Championships, 2008 - Venus
•Dubai Tennis Championships, 2009 - Venus
•Sony Ericsson Open, 2009 - Serena