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Sunday, August 23, 2015

"THE DEATH OF READING" - A CALL FOR A DISCUSSION

Follow summapolitico on TwitterNOW THAT THE NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW HAS REVISITED THE MORIBUND THEME "DEATH OF THE NOVEL" WHAT OF THE FAR MORE CRUCIAL SUBJECT "THE DEATH OF READING???? OR "DEARTH" OF THE ABILITY TO??

For possible exploration of this topic at an expanded section of the NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW weeklyEnd Papers section
I recommend:
James Wood, Edward Mendelsohn
​,​
 Michael Wood, Ben Moser & one of the freshest reviewing voices, Priscilla Gilman.

I have given the matter a bit of thought
​to reading ​
at:
Reading after all combines a number of actions simultaneously,
​ ​
at lightning speed:
​ ​
recognition of individual letters, of the words, of spelling, judgment as to correctness (or not) of either, grammatical structure, tone, etc., etc.
Processing of many kinds,
overcoming of a lot of resistances,
holding some matters in abeyance.
Entering into an "as if" state that is then realized!
Reading can lead to an entrancing, reverying, can be affected by a text's breathing rhythms,
​ ​
artfulness...
​A​
esthetic judgment is operative both consciously and unconsciously.
I maintain that the NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW, at least in the instance of author Peter Handke, more likely in numerous instances of a certain order of difficulty, provides unhappy proof, in its own pages, o such expiry of the ability to read.
Let me pick five examples
from the above sundry ,
several of which are
of shoddy work by
NY Times very own reviewers,
not just of work by editors at the Review.
The instances are such that we do not even reach the point where a discussion
​ ​
might be initiated.
The reader/reviewers fail to report, reflect on whateverreading experiences they have had
​ ​
and this in an instance of an author who is experiential if any author is,
the kind of author who demands
Susan Sontag's
imprecation "Against Interpretation."
Here the five instances,
they happen to be of Handke's most important prose work.
THE REPETITION
is reviewed
by David Pryce Jones
a professional anti-communist & anti-Nazi and all around ignorant asshole who
wants the kid, Filip Kobal, the protagonist, to inveigh against Austria's belated failure to acknowledge its enthusiastic complicity with Nazism and to inveigh against Tito photos in Slovenia.
and is entirely unaware how Handke dealt with the Waldheim affair, nor of course that Handke, who writes very intimate prose, already treated, in his preferred ambiguous manner, the theme of persistent Nazism in ACROSS.
See the Guardian review instead.
How the editor of the book review allowed this piece of garbage to appear is beyond me.
Here is a book that in slow searching rhythms recounts a 16 year old search for his horticulturalist uncleand in that sense is exemplary of
​ ​
the searching dumbfounded 16 year olds that most of us are but for the minoritywho even then know they are going to be millionaires killers and nothing will stop them.
In the process of writing the book Handke learned his mother's tongue, Slovenian, and became (for me) a kind of German-Austrian-Slovenian hybrid (who was then surprised at his turning into a Serbian!) installed his grandfather as the missing father figure - psychic real achievements that require serious work,
labora verimus
and the slow being-enriched periods of the book manifest the writer's seriousness.
THE REPETITION is the book that Handke, at the end of SORROW BEYOND DREAMS, promised to write "to get back to all that once more later" or however he put it.
I happened to be in the St. Monica Mts.in 1986 when I read the book,
​ ​
shuffling through the dusty dirt road
​ ​
in the chaparral and
​ ​
exposed to the slow slow rhythm of the Ma=li-bu (loud booming) surf that rolls in from way down under, and so could respond to the extraordinarily healthy prose of a book that justly has become a cult object
​ ​
though I won't go as far as to re-walk the route that Filip took.

THE AFTERNOON OF A WRITER
is reviewed by herbert mitgang who, I gather, his fellows at The NYTimes (justly it seems) regarded a jerk
and LINDA SIMON too
has a go at
AFTERNOON
and neither of these reviewers
​ ​
know how to DESCRIBE what they allegedly read nor summarize the happening but infer that the writer must be a reprehensible person.
The New York Times' & the outside reviewer's complaints that the writer is not a nice guy,that and whether a book is warm or cold
​ ​ 
seem to be major NY Book Review
​ ​
criteria, and are beyond the pale.
Neither reviewer notices that stretches of AFTERNOON are written in dream image metaphor,
a literary first, to achieve a better response than the hackneyed might achieve.
(If you want pipelines to hackneyed prose I suggest newspapers travel sections!)
Alhough I know the author as intimately as a biographer knows a subject whose roots he has examined, I could not infer anything particularly un- or likeable about this particular "the writer": he does his morning four hours, 1000 words, goes for a walk, appears to have paid his taxes, the townsfolk seem to gossip about him, or he mishears, he's hurt, he meets a friend at an out of town pub, he lost a friend, or so he thinks, who has gone mad, we don't find out why he and whoever are no longer friends, who hasn't lost a friend who he thinks has gone off his rocker? Though the writer appear to be a bit down, at night he addresses the world from on high - imaginary. He might be destined for a soap box, or not. We can't tell: ambiguity rules the roost, concisely, in beautifully formed and well-translated sentences. Handke has created a "projection screen" and as such it ought to be described and evaluated.
If we want to find out a bit more about this "writer" we might turn to one of the several magnus opuses that Handke wrote
MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S-BAY
that among the half dozen sides of the artist protagonist features "a reader"
MYITMB is one of the great formal feats of performance 250 k words in one year one of the two 1000 page monstrums that Handke promised never to write.

But here we come to a true horror:
after several hundred years of great European aestheticians writing marvelously in the major European languages there comes
that sorry excuse for a critic,
Lee Siegel
(I sort of see him deriving from Perth Amboy)
interjects himself between
a great text & the reader
Lee Siegel may snark to his heart's delight, however the editor of
The NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
has a responsibility to its readers and to the book under review that
prohibits anything of the kind
especially in this instance where
NO-MAN'S BAY
comes with very considerable European track record of a serious reception. With NO-MAN'S BAY
- if not already with
THE REPETITION -
Handke enters the ranks of major European writers, Gottfried Keller, Eichendorf, Stifter Goethe, Flaubert, Joseph Conrad and as one of t he few innovators who has absorbed the past and contemporary innovators like Robbe-Grillet.

Is the
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
so parochial as to ignore the context, Lee Siegel's editor so lazy as to fail to double check his review?
A shame a great shame was here committed
Lee Siegel is as lucky as David Price Jones & a few others that we didn't meet in the Chihuahua desert in the late 80s when I, meeting up in Marta with the ghost of Ambrose Bierce, carried side-arms and slew his likes to feed the vultures!

​S​
ee
WILLIAM GASS
and here is my take on the book
======================

THE JUKE BOX AND OTHER ESSAYS
Birkets goes off base on the THREE ESSAYS
but not by much
and fails to realize that Handke is as interested in the PLACES where he sets his work as in the ostensible themes.
He misses that JUKE BOXES were an
escape from family during
Handke's youth,
later Handke will write the essay
ON THE SHIT HOUSE
whence he escaped his fellow students at the Tanzenberg religious boarding school, because they nauseated him: Handke has a nausea problem because he has too many nerves! EXCESS is the source of nausea perhaps of his autism. As a kid the juke box provided an escape from the family.
That sorry excuse for a critic
Margot Jefferson
is far worse than Birkets

We come to Neil Gordon's idiotic non-response to
CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS
What I mentioned previously about bullshitter Lee Siegel applies
​in spades​
 to Gordon.
It appears old friend Conroy, teaching writing at Iowa, told the idiot to head to the East Coast!
Many people feel that the last 100 page of SIERRA DEL GREDOES
is the greatest ending ever written, this still fan of the Molly Bloom section of Ulysses would have to agree that it's at least a tie between Handke & Joyce. No mention anywhere that GREDOS incorporates filmic qualities that Handke introduced with THE ABSENCE,
never reviewed in the NY Times,
neither the book nor the film, which filmic quality is yet another factor in the supporting Handke's synethezic intentions .

Aside these, I think, generally accessible experiences with Handke texts,
as reader, translator & theater goer, I also once had an extraordinary idiosyncratic experience with the Alaska section of the novel part of the three books collected in what is called
A SLOW HOMCOMING
in English
which experience would have been unlikel to occurr
were it not that, by 1980 when I had that experience with that Handke text,
a 20 year old response
to the immensity of Alaska
apparently lay ready to be pricked,
and none of the other books I had read about Alaska had elicited it.
So much then for the mysteries of reading!

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html