Archive for the literature category

Sidney Finkelstein vs Marshall McLuhan

Out of the mothballs: Sense and Nonsense of McLuhan by Sidney Finkelstein: Contents Chapter 4: “The Medium and the Deceptive Message” (extract) Chapter 6: “Hot, Cool and the Brainless Involvement” (extracts) Chapter 7: McLuhan’s Totalitarianism and Human Resilience This is ancient history, and quaint from the vantage point of today’s high tech media saturated environment. But the […]

Time travel lore (5): ‘Victory Over the Sun’

Victory Over the Sun (1913) is a notorious specimen of Russian Futurism, a multimedia avant-garde opera that makes practically no sense. Wikipedia provides the basic information: “The libretto written in zaum language was contributed by Aleksei Kruchonykh, the music was written by Mikhail Matyushin, the prologue was added by Velimir Khlebnikov, and the stage designer […]

Witold Gombrowicz confronts (Polish) provincialism (2)

Witold Gombrowicz, Diary. Volume I: 1953-56; translated by Lillian Vallee; general editor Jan Kott; introduction by Wojciech Karpinski, Afterword by Jan Kott. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988. xvi, 232 pp. In my previous post I very briefly summarized and quoted from Gombrowicz’s diary entries of 1953. I’ll now just fill in a few gaps […]

Witold Gombrowicz: Philosophy in 6 1/4 hours (2)

Witold Gombrowicz, A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes; translated by Benjamin Ivry. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 109, [1] pp. [8] Existentialism [Heidegger, Husserl, Sartre] (4 May 1969) [9] Existentialism [Kierkegaard, Descartes, Sartre] (5 May 1969) [10] Freedom in Sartre (6 May 1969) [11] The View of Others [Sartre] (7 […]

Witold Gombrowicz confronts (Polish) provincialism

Witold Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904 – July 24, 1969) is a name that must have popped up before me at one time or another, but I knew nothing about him.  My interest was recently piqued in a volume of one of my favorite philosophy series: Thinking about Provincialism in Thinking, Krzysztof Brzechczyn, Katarzyna Paprzycka (eds). […]

Existential America (6): Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, C.L.R. James

Cotkin was wise to include Black American appropriations of existentialism, as this gives me an opportunity to test my hypothesis that their perspective was different from white people’s investment in existentialism, and particularly that Wright used Kierkegaard for different purposes than his white contemporaries. Chapter 8 features Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. Sartre unwittingly and […]

Existential America (2): Richard Wright on Albert Camus

The Stranger. Translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1946. “It [The Stranger] is a neat job but devoid of passion. He makes his point with dispatch and his prose is solid and good. In America a book like this would not attract much attention, for it would be said […]

Patalogic in the Garden of Sidamo

Patalogic in the Garden of Sidamo By Ralph Dumain And the desart wild Become a garden mild. —William Blake, ‘The Little Girl Lost’, Songs of Experience Drinking coffee in a garden, sitting under a bright red sun umbrella affixed to a table, reading René Daumal’s Pataphysical Essays. This little paperback, published just last year, is […]

The Intuitionist & Irrealist Literature

Some years ago I briefly reviewed Colson Whitehead’s first novel: An Enigmatic Historical Moment in Fiction: Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist (Book Review) I just stumbled across another review: Irrealism in the U.S.A. (reviews of books by Donald Antrim, Stephen Millhauser and Colson Whitehead) by Alice Whittenburg, The Cafe Irreal If you want to learn about […]

Word Rain

Circa 1970, when I was a teenager, my imagination became captivated by surrealism. Journeying multiple times a week to the main library in downtown Buffalo, New York, I sought out various books on the avant-garde art movements, not to mention pulling volumes off the shelves in “New Books” sections that aroused my curiosity. I still […]