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Archive for October 3rd, 2009

family romance in aggregate

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Odd to think that one gets back to the time of Jesus, the climax of the Roman empire, via only 100 generations of ancestors or so. Am tonight imagining a book that would imagine into, at 5 pages a throw,  each one of them, likely the male ones for simplicity’s sake (ugh) in turn. Would require huge amounts of both research and guesswork, probably more of the latter than the former. I also imagine that much of the first 450 pp would be filled with something like the “gardening” sequence in The Life and Times of Michael K, except in the northern hemisphere rather than the southern. And then (from what I guess – I don’t really know who they were) a rapid shuffle from France to Soho to Quebec to Ontario, resting there for a bit until the last 15 pages, when we visit London (captaining a Lancaster bomber for the RAF) only to return to rustbelt Ontario, a veer (via a football scholarship) to Halifax, then New Jersey, and finally after circling around the northeast for a bit a jump back over the seas to London to… do what? Solve the problematique familiale once and for all? Drink in those Soho bars where the forefathers briefly worked or didn’t? Write this book in the Starbucks on Tavistock Square, a few blocks from the British Library?

Perhaps after this, that, and the other thing, on to something like this. Would take probably a decade, no? But would have nicely epical scope. Strange to think that no one’s ever done it, really. Or has someone?

Anyway, feel free to write me at the email address at the upper right-hand side of the page with offers of massive advances so I can quit my job and do this in less than a decade.

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Posted in aggregate, novel

in and beyond the shadow of senate house

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Late notice, and I really can’t imagine that anyone who’d be in a position to attend doesn’t already read Owen’s blog, but there are two walks going on this weekend in relation to “In the Shadow of Senate House,” a series of talks and events in and around Birkbeck this fall. I’m very excited to be giving a paper later in the year in this series…

Really wish (and really should) go on these walks, but I’m afraid I’ve used up all of my dad-away-from-the-family time this week and then some, and so it’s birthday parties and puppet shows for me!

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

Posted in london

“henry bores me, with his plights & gripes”

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John Berryman’s The Dream Songs following me around in my waking life, if not the other life too. I should just lie in bed and read it. It is on a table when someone comes in – Oh, you’re reading that too! And then a moment of discomfort with a new student (what to say what to say) broken when, at my prompt about what he is most interested in at the moment, he says at the moment, I’d have to say The Dream Songs. I tell him he’ll read them for his entire life, and they’ll change with his age. Later the same day, with colleagues, I make a joke about the land-grant university system, MFA programs, and suicide…. and Berryman. I regret the joke now, even though I’m sure I seemed very, very clever at the time.

I am not sure what to make of the fact that everyone in the world seems to be reading Berryman at once. It can’t be a good sign, but neither is it the worst. One I linked to, but did not clip in, before: #14:

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

It hangs on the wall, directly outside of my office, this one. Here’s hoping that you, reader, have no Henry, or that if you do, he keeps mostly quiet and calm. Mine keeps me up, drones on through the parts when I should eat or sleep. For instance, he says tonight: Everyone around me – and even me, for once – is doing so complexly well. But the sky it all takes place against is tinged with pseudo-diabetic shock, colored grolsch and yellow. Each according to her or his abilities, and it is great, but it has jaundice, is translucent but hospitalized. That sort of thing!

(But just look at the insipid painting in the background of #14. Turner in the first stanza turns into garagesale watercolor in the third. More complexly changeable than the portrait that hangs in Dorian’s attic, and then the dog, the tail…)

I apologize that this blog, once proudly about things that mattered, has become a waking/sleeping dream journal of sorts. I keep telling you, out of guilt, that I’m writing that Other Stuff all of the time only elsewhere. And I am! A remarkably consistent democratic socialist, in more genres than ever, and then now here, only this, the uncommentable.

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 3, 2009 at 2:10 am

Posted in berryman