Monday, 2 January 2017

My Xmas Reading

Apart from the big books that sit like big faithful dogs where I left them what am I reading over the Xmas? Are reviews of the half read useful? Perhaps they are twice as useful as the normal journalist’s offering compounded from publicist’s simples and an instinct for what it is safe to like. So here, so there:

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson a simple everyday Swedish story of snow and slow cunning. Yes I see those bare faded blue rooms with a dried sunflower in a pot. Nothing much has happened after 75 pages because your tracks are covered as soon as you make them. By the snow.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. A re-reading of the tale of a Southern Gothic anthropohage. The spoon, the spoon!

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama with a David Peace recommendation on the cover ‘Simply one of the best crime novels I have ever read’. Could that be amended to ‘ …… I have ever written’? It seems in a way an impossibly slow extension of the closely observed weave of a tatami. I am at page 279 and what is emerging is evidence of a police cover up of a police cock-up. Even in Japan this terrible vista appals. I am not even half way but never mind they have left me the moon and a large piece of Xmas cake.

Carnival by James Thurber. It was disputed amongst the staff of the New Yorker magazine (they always say magazine) whether he or O’Hara, John was the most difficult to deal with. He put the irascibility into his life and sweetness into his art. A great American wit.

The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning is a dog that has woken from a dream of bones. I have found his beat and adjusted my spiritual metronome to his pulse. You must submit to everyday banality and complication of lies, plots and conflicting testimony. I shall continue to read it by sections:
True, Excellency — as his Highness says,
Though she’s not dead yet, she’s as good as stretched
Symmetrical beside the other two;
Though he’s not judged yet, he’s the same as judged,
So do the facts abound and superabound:
And nothing hinders, now, we lift the case
Out of the shade into the shine, allow
Qualified persons to pronounce at last,
Nay, edge in an authoritative word
Between this rabble’s-brabble of dolts and fools
Who make up reasonless unreasoning Rome.
“Now for the Trial!” they roar: “the Trial to test
“The truth, weigh husband and weigh wife alike
“I’ the scales of law, make one scale kick the beam!”
Law’s a machine from which, to please the mob,
Truth the divinity must needs descend
And clear things at the play’s fifth act — aha!
Hammer into their noddles who was who
And what was what. I tell the simpletons
“Could law be competent to such a feat
“’Twere done already: what begins next week
“Is end o’ the Trial, last link of a chain
“Whereof the first was forged three years ago
“When law addressed herself to set wrong right,
“And proved so slow in taking the first step
“That ever some new grievance — tort, retort,
“On one or the other side — o’ertook i’ the game,
“Retarded sentence, till this deed of death
“Is thrown in, as it were, last bale to boat
“Crammed to the edge with cargo — or passengers?
(Opening to Tertium Quid section)

Lest it be thought that I have forsaken philosophy I give you Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism by Richard King the exfoliation of his Doctoral thesis. Pegasus hobbled, quite. Anyways by page 25 I can believe what seemed obvious to me on first reading of Gaudada’s Karikas, me an anaSanskrit , that Gaudapada was mightily influenced and that Adi Shankara with the piety of lineage ignores or minimised this whilst taking positions contrary to his esteemed forbear.

Christmas makes ‘hikikomori’ of us all
- How was the Xmas
- Quiet.
(Irish Dialogue heard in the New Year and the book-end to:
- Sure, we won’t feel it to the Xmas.

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