15 votes

What are you reading these days? #22

What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk a bit about it.

Notes: I am aiming to make a list of all the books mentioned in toplevel comments in these threads, see this wiki page. If you want to help with that, that'd really be appreciated, PM me please.

Past weeks: Week #1 · Week #2 · Week #3 · Week #4 · Week #5 · Week #6 · Week #7 · Week #8 · Week #9 · Week #10 · Week #11 · Week #12 · Week #13 · Week #14 · Week #15 · Week #16 · Week #17 · Week #18 · Week #19 · Week #20 · Week #21

32 comments

  1. [6]
    eve Link
    I started reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin and... It hasnt gone well at all. In part, I'm renting it as an ebook from my library. I started it and was really pulled in but I...

    I started reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin and... It hasnt gone well at all. In part, I'm renting it as an ebook from my library. I started it and was really pulled in but I think I'll buy a physical copy of it instead of renting an ebook. Sometimes there are books where I really can't read them on my kindle. It's uncomfortable/feels weird, I'm not sure how to describe it. So I'll hopefully be able to pick up a physical copy soon!

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      nsz Link Parent
      For whatever reason I've got a copy of this but not the others in the series, is it necessary do you think, to read the previous three books?

      For whatever reason I've got a copy of this but not the others in the series, is it necessary do you think, to read the previous three books?

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        eve Link Parent
        Huh. I will be completely honest with you in that I had no clue that it was the fourth in a semi-quasi series. It seems that while the books are all related and set in the same universe, it might...

        Huh. I will be completely honest with you in that I had no clue that it was the fourth in a semi-quasi series. It seems that while the books are all related and set in the same universe, it might not be necessary to read the first three before the Left Hand of Darkness. I've seen the book recommended a lot through reddit and haven't seen anyone mention that it's part of a series! So I guess I might pick up those first aha. Though I may still stand-by that it might still be okay as a standalone book, though it looks like I'm a bad source for that information, sorry!

        Small Edit: It seems that even the author hersself says they aren't a cycle or saga so it should be okay to read them in any order, at least so it would seem!

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          muh_tilde Link Parent
          I read The Dispossessed before I knew about the Hainish Cycle. I think you could read any of the books as a stand-alone as they don't really tie together, but I also want to go back and read The...

          I read The Dispossessed before I knew about the Hainish Cycle. I think you could read any of the books as a stand-alone as they don't really tie together, but I also want to go back and read The Dispossessed again at some point in the context of the larger series. I won't be looking for connections to other hainish novels, I just think I'll look at slightly differently than I did the first time.

          3 votes
          1. eve Link Parent
            Ah, that's good to know! Thank you! I had to look it up on the wiki to be sure how it was, but it's reassuring to hear someone say it!

            Ah, that's good to know! Thank you! I had to look it up on the wiki to be sure how it was, but it's reassuring to hear someone say it!

            2 votes
        2. nsz Link Parent
          Ah awesome, well thanks for the info. I'll have to start it then. Excited, it's been a while since I read one of her books.

          Ah awesome, well thanks for the info. I'll have to start it then. Excited, it's been a while since I read one of her books.

          2 votes
  2. [3]
    kfwyre Link
    I'm halfway through The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. It's about instances where governments and economists have used "shocks" (disasters) to push free-market economics. It discusses Chile and...

    I'm halfway through The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. It's about instances where governments and economists have used "shocks" (disasters) to push free-market economics. It discusses Chile and Russia, and the section I'm currently in is focused on Iraq in the mid-2000s. I have no background in economics nor history, so I don't know enough to ingest it critically on my own, but from my lay perspective it's a pretty damning account of one of the exploitations of unchecked capitalism that I haven't seen much focus on. This book is my first real exposure to the topic, and I plan to dive in more to the topic with other sources once I'm done. If anyone has any recommendations for that, let me know!

    Prior to this, I read No Fire in the Ashes by Darnell L. Moore. The book is a blend of self-reflection and social commentary, with both aspects powerfully conveyed. Moore reflects on his own life and experiences while using those as the springboard to talk about being black and queer in America. His reflections are rich and genuine, and his conclusions are meaningful and resonant.

    And before that I read Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This one was about Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and the fraud the company committed while trying to "disrupt" the blood testing industry. The book is a good beat-by-beat rundown of how the company (dys)functioned and how they were able to keep their fraud hidden, even from many of their own employees, for so long. Recommended if you like tales of startups and malfeasance.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      thundergolfer Link Parent
      Have you read anything else by Klein? I started No Logo but grew tired of reading arguments and details that I felt had been mixed into the consciousness of the people that produce the media I...

      Have you read anything else by Klein? I started No Logo but grew tired of reading arguments and details that I felt had been mixed into the consciousness of the people that produce the media I consume. Too much déjà vu.

      Shock Doctrine probably has less of this problem as it's almost 10 years younger.

      1 vote
      1. kfwyre Link Parent
        This was my first book by Klein. It didn't feel like a rehash at all, and most of the major points and historical examples she went into were new to me. That probably says more about my own...

        This was my first book by Klein. It didn't feel like a rehash at all, and most of the major points and historical examples she went into were new to me. That probably says more about my own ignorance of history and economics, however, than it does about her particular takes on the topic.

        I will say that I also grew tired during my read, but only because the book is so long. I appreciate how much research she did and her ability to synthesize so much, but there were times where I wanted to just indiscriminately jump ahead.

        What were some of the particular issues you saw with the ideas in No Logo and media production?

  3. [3]
    spctrvl Link
    I'm a little more than half way through Revenger, by Alastair Reynolds. It's a hard sci-fi space opera, set in a technologically regressed dyson swarm with an age of sail vibe. I like it pretty...

    I'm a little more than half way through Revenger, by Alastair Reynolds. It's a hard sci-fi space opera, set in a technologically regressed dyson swarm with an age of sail vibe. I like it pretty well so far, but I think he went a little overboard in setting the theme through linguistic choices: using leagues as a measurement, and switching out common words, like instead of air it's lungstuff.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      cwagner Link Parent
      I like space opera, but the reviews for this series, and it being at least partially YA turned me off. On the other hand, I now picked up his Revelation Space series, so thanks for that :D

      I like space opera, but the reviews for this series, and it being at least partially YA turned me off. On the other hand, I now picked up his Revelation Space series, so thanks for that :D

      2 votes
      1. spctrvl Link Parent
        Revelation Space is really good, but make sure to read Chasm City as well as the mainline trilogy. Maybe even before the trilogy, it's a standalone book, and it really fleshes out the histories of...

        Revelation Space is really good, but make sure to read Chasm City as well as the mainline trilogy. Maybe even before the trilogy, it's a standalone book, and it really fleshes out the histories of Yellowstone and Sky's Edge, two of the key systems, in a way that gives you a greater appreciation of the rest of the series. I also personally think it's the best book in the setting.

        4 votes
  4. [2]
    Ephemere Link
    I'm reading Racing the Enemy, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. It's a detailed history of the political maneuvering which took place leading up to the Japanese surrender at the end of the second world war....

    I'm reading Racing the Enemy, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. It's a detailed history of the political maneuvering which took place leading up to the Japanese surrender at the end of the second world war. It's both fascinating and a little tedious, as it goes into significant depth about what everyone is thinking, both in the American, Soviet and Japanese camps.

    Just some brief observations about it:

    It certainly casts Molotov in a much better light than I usually see him in. Normally he's described as a drunken idiot, but this book makes him seem like an extremely keen and effective diplomat. Indeed, the author seems to have more respect for the Soviets than you normally see, which is at least interesting in it's novelty.

    American diplomatic cables about the Atomic bomb are pretty hilarious, insofar as they use coded language which a middle school student could see through. Presumably they were encrypted also, but still.

    I had previously heard that McArthur was instrumental towards keeping the Japanese Emperor on his throne, but according to the book there was a concerted effort within the state department to do so, on the theory that the Japanese would only actually surrender if that were a condition.

    It's really interesting how Japan had a titled aristocracy between the Meiji restoration until the postwar constitution. It's very different to read about the actions of Baron this and that, or Prince whomsoever.

    So uh, I'd give it a recommend if the subject is of interest.

    4 votes
    1. cadadr Link Parent
      It's interesting to think about a world where the inhumane nuclear attacks on Japanese cities did not happen—I don't agree and am repulsed by the argument that it was necessary and "helpful"...

      It's interesting to think about a world where the inhumane nuclear attacks on Japanese cities did not happen—I don't agree and am repulsed by the argument that it was necessary and "helpful" because it shortened the war, it was as pure an evil as Nazi genocides and Japanese atrocities—: yes, many lives would've been saved in Japan, but how would cold war have happened if the world was not terrorised by what happened there? Would we have had a big nuclear war between the two big blocs instead? Or, would these weapons be tried at proxy wars like in Vietnam? If this is correct, which we may never know, isn't it sad that we the human species require trial and error to learn even the simplest stuff, even when the required information is already discovered?

      I have this image of the WWII where an unknowing kid approaches fire, ignoring the hazard, and only learns about it when it falls face down on it and gets burns so severe they won't ever fully heal, but survives; and yet it still approaches fire where they come to be, albeit this time watching it real close, in combined awe and terror.

      2 votes
  5. iiv Link
    Sadly, I'm inbetween books, so I only have one book to talk about today. Schwindel. Gefühle. (Vertigo) by W. G. Sebald. I read in in Swedish, where it's title is a direct translation of the...

    Sadly, I'm inbetween books, so I only have one book to talk about today.

    Schwindel. Gefühle. (Vertigo) by W. G. Sebald. I read in in Swedish, where it's title is a direct translation of the original German. The difference between the German and English titles is that the second word, Gefühle, meaning "feelings" is omitted. I think it's interesting to think about how translated titles are decided, since sometimes they are very different, sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are like this.

    Anyway, Schwindel. Gefühle. is hard to pin down. It's a travelouge and a philosophical fiction, where the narrator talks about seemingly unconnected events: writer Stendhal, adventurer Casanova, writer Kafka and himself and his journey. But somehow, when you read it all together, you'll see connections between them all. And at the same time, the topic of vertigo is subtly explored. The narrator sees connections everywhere as well, though they are less tangible. He for example sees famous, since long dead, people in the places he goes to. It's very hard to characterize this book, and to explain it well, but I recommend trying it, at least if you like Sebald's other books.

    4 votes
  6. [2]
    cwagner Link
    I just finished Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. At some points, I felt that he just wanted to give an introductory course to orbital mechanics and happened to write a book around that ;) There are...

    I just finished Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. At some points, I felt that he just wanted to give an introductory course to orbital mechanics and happened to write a book around that ;) There are sometimes two pages in a row explaining things. But it's hard scifi and I learned stuff, so I was happy. A very long book, very well written with interesting characters spanning a long period (>5k years)

    As usual after hard and/or deep books, I need something lighter, so now I'm reading Sword of Mars (Starship’s Mage #7) by Glynn Stewart. As all his books (which, because of his high output, I mention quite often in these threads) it's pretty soft sci-fi. A fun, fast-paced adventure story and his largest and most famous series. There have been hints of a mystery in earlier parts and it looks like we'll finally get closer to what it is about.

    4 votes
    1. Crespyl Link Parent
      I also just finished a Stephenson book, Fall; or Dodge in Hell, which came out just recently. I quite enjoyed it, and was pleasantly surprised that he actually managed to have a pretty solid...

      I also just finished a Stephenson book, Fall; or Dodge in Hell, which came out just recently.

      I quite enjoyed it, and was pleasantly surprised that he actually managed to have a pretty solid ending (which is something he seems to struggle with in some of his other books). It was a bit odd that he managed it by more or less completely switching genres halfway through, but I found it to be a lot of fun the whole way.

      2 votes
  7. [3]
    cptcobalt Link
    2019 has been a bad year for reading for me so far. My goal is ~60 books this year...and I'm a decent bit behind. Trying to catch up this week. I'm about 20% through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt....

    2019 has been a bad year for reading for me so far. My goal is ~60 books this year...and I'm a decent bit behind. Trying to catch up this week.

    I'm about 20% through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It's a a coming of age novel about a boy who survives a terrorist bombing in a museum, but loses his mom in the same attack. I picked up the book because the movie trailer took my eye.

    I'm also about 40% through Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow. Based on the cover, I was expecting something closer to design topics, but thus far it's a more dense book that's deeper in on human psychology—it's still interesting though, and I'm keeping with it.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      EggplantEmoji Link Parent
      I read The Goldfinch several years ago and really enjoyed it. It's one of those books that's really stuck with me and I'll find myself thinking about it at random times when something reminds of...

      I read The Goldfinch several years ago and really enjoyed it. It's one of those books that's really stuck with me and I'll find myself thinking about it at random times when something reminds of it. I wasn't aware that there was a movie being made of it so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I hope you enjoy reading it as well!

      1. cptcobalt Link Parent
        I finished it! I'd like to say it was a great book, but it left me feeling a bit conflicted about it overall. I don't think Theo made a bunch of decisions that made me keep on liking him (you...

        I finished it! I'd like to say it was a great book, but it left me feeling a bit conflicted about it overall. I don't think Theo made a bunch of decisions that made me keep on liking him (you know, despite everything), so I spent a decent chunk of the book just being pretty irritated with him. By the time the book ended, however, my opinion turned around for the better. Holy hell, the writing though—Tartt absolutely nailed a lot of the baked-in commentary about art and aesthetics, and just perfectly hitting some of the banality of life.

  8. ThyMrMan Link
    What is this craziness, I'm the first one to one of these threads. Something must be slightly wrong with the universe to let this happen today. Don't feel like I read all that much in the past 2...

    What is this craziness, I'm the first one to one of these threads. Something must be slightly wrong with the universe to let this happen today. Don't feel like I read all that much in the past 2 weeks, kinda waiting for my new tablet before diving into more books every week.

    Origins by Lindsay Buroker (Heritage of Power Book 3)

    This book did what I was looking for, nothing much has changed from the previous books in the series for me. Nice to see that the romance is finally starting to develop into something now at this point. Overall, perfectly find for what I'm looking for in a fun enjoyable read.

    Unraveled by Lindsay Buroker (Heritage of Power Book 4)

    This book I unfortunately didn't enjoy as much as the previous books in the series. It just felt like an odd departure from the previous books with this series and almost a side-story that wasn't explored enough. I feel like it tried to explore the mothers story more, but I just don't care about her story and the past.

    Also annoyed that by this point, Trip still doesn't seem to be improving a ton as a character really. I would have wanted him to become a better fighter by this point, or grow a bit more. Cause he has been really static I feel as a character compared to how much growth Rysha has experienced. Overall, a decrease from the previous books though I still enjoyed it enough.

    Gold Dragon by Lindsay Buroker (Heritage of Power Book 5)

    Well this is the last book in her Heritage of Power series, and while I enjoyed it a bunch and had fun reading it. Coming to an end I just feel disappointed that more didn't happen really.

    The Characters start off with my issues with the series. The growth seemed inconsistent and lacking for Trip. While Rysha on the other hand got a bunch of growth. Trip doesn't feel like he changed all that much; over the course of the books he learned to use his powers more and accept it, accept his heritage, and be a bit more aggresive in showing what he wants. Yet after all this, I don't think that he is that much different from book 1. Rysha got a bunch of character development by the final book in becoming much more powerful and assertive. The side characters are fun and enjoyable, heck Rysha's dragon I feel has more character development than Trip in the final 2 books.

    The world is fairly interesting, though I feel it doesn't really go to deep into anything. I guess it might be expected given this is technically a side story to a previous series. But I would have liked to see more development into the nobles and such.

    Overall for this final book, it didn't feel all that final to me at all. She has ended it but left a bunch of plot points open to expansion and unended. Even main plot points involving Trip and Rysha's romance is left open ended. I guess it feels like she wanted to move onto a different story, but give this one space to return to in the future if she felt like it.

    Villains By Necessity by Eve Forward

    Now this is the type of book I absolutely love. Despite any issues if done correctly I will almost always love it. And that is the good old DnD Story. It follows a pretty standard DnD style story setup, a campaign that you could find in any DnD group. Group of of odd characters come together to complete an epic quest to save the world.

    All of said characters are rather generic, not amazingly creative or trope breaking in any way. They all fall easily into their necessary jobs and mesh well together. Which makes this story a very enjoyable read to see all the characters talk and scheme together. Each character has a job to do on their quest and own motivations which keeps them together well.

    The quest itself is the reversal of the normal quest to save the world. This quest finds are hero's saving the world from essentially the previous hero's. As the previous hero's did a slightly too good of a job and now the world is in trouble of essentially being too safe and good. So the hero's set off to undo the goodness and revert the world back to the way it was meant to be. And it comes together so very well. Very quickly I came to love how creative I found parts of the story to be, most likely they have been done in the past many times but I found it new and interesting.

    The weakest point for me was the character transitions could be a bit confusing at times. You would switch between characters in between paragraphs, and jump between them all in the course of a page. This leads into my issue with following what was occurring at times. It got a bit confusing at times that left me rereading the previous couple pages to figure out exactly what I was missing. This becomes a major issue near the end of the book. It got worse I feel, with the characters quickly shifting from place to place without much time to stop and understand what was happening. Now this could have been a writing choice supposed to make you better connect with the characters, given what was happening at times would have anyone completed confused and dazed.

    Overall though I can say 100% that I recommend this book to read. It was a great journey with some great characters. In a genre that I find easy to understand, probably helped by my love of DnD and RPGs.

    2 votes
  9. acdw Link
    I've just given up on The Wake, since it just isn't holding my interest. I'm currently reading The Outside by Ada Hoffmann (so far (first chapter), so good!), Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman...

    I've just given up on The Wake, since it just isn't holding my interest. I'm currently reading The Outside by Ada Hoffmann (so far (first chapter), so good!), Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman (came to it via the miniseries, good so far), and I've just started Akissi: Tales of Mischief by Abouet and Sapin, a comic book.

    2 votes
  10. [7]
    AFineAccount Link
    For me, it's back to the classics. I'm reading House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, which is turning out to be exactly what I need. It's a landmark postmodern title in literature; on the surface,...

    For me, it's back to the classics. I'm reading House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, which is turning out to be exactly what I need. It's a landmark postmodern title in literature; on the surface, the story is a horror tale about a house that eats people. Thematically, it's a thoughtful masterpiece about the downfall of tradition and value itself — it's about the failure of the values that we hold dear to keep us sane in the complex, contemporary world.

    It's exactly what I need because I just finished War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, by Chris Hedges. This war journalist elegantly argues that war is a necessary part of contemporary life — it's an essential commodity necessary to keep the world running. He goes on to argue that war is the only thing that gives our lives meaning in a society as commercialized and hedonistic as ours. It begs the question that if the search for meaning only ever results in pain, what's its worth? Why search for meaning in your life if it will only be found through pain?

    I don't like to think about the arguments Hedges proposed in his book, but since postmodernism is inherently about doubting the existence of truth and meaning, House of Leaves has been comforting to me. It heralded the rise of postmodernism, and so its uniquely capable of comforting people who doubt the value of meaning in their lives.

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      cadadr Link Parent
      That is an interesting stance... given especially the fact that none of the contemporary wars take place in societies "as commercialized and hedonistic as ours", i.e. rich and individualistic...

      He goes on to argue that war is the only thing that gives our lives meaning in a society as commercialized and hedonistic as ours.

      That is an interesting stance... given especially the fact that none of the contemporary wars take place in societies "as commercialized and hedonistic as ours", i.e. rich and individualistic societies with lots of freedoms, but instead they are deferred to or outright start and live in parts of world where there are resources that need to be shared. I have not read the relevant book, but just from your description of the argument it sounds completely off to me, false in a way not unlike incels or Nazis are, i.e. built on a deeply biased and destructively twisted view of the world. Then I go read the description on the linked page and my judgement of the text only becomes more negative: it sounds like a big 200-page-long misunderstanding of the dynamics of war, and maybe a laudation of and apology for it.

      So I don't think you need to feel bad about his arguments, as they seem to be built on the kind of ignorance I would have w.r.t. chemistry if I was only a cleaner in a chemistry lab.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        AFineAccount Link Parent
        I agree that much of the book comes from a very twisted viewpoint. I can also understand how Hedges would have developed those perspectives, too. He spent a lot of time covering wars, and many...

        I agree that much of the book comes from a very twisted viewpoint. I can also understand how Hedges would have developed those perspectives, too. He spent a lot of time covering wars, and many chapters usually fall into personal anecdotes about the Serbian genocide. At some points, the book feels like less a project to share his own philosophies about war, and more of a way to process some of the trauma he must have endured as a war journalist.

        At the same time though, I think it's hard to argue against the notion that most first-world societies depend on constant war in some way to function normally. The military is increasingly becoming the only way lower classes can hope to advance into higher socioeconomic positions, in my opinion. War is also becoming a political tool instead of a consequence of failed politics; it's something representatives can use to rally voters. Even first-world society's media seems increasingly fascinated by war, as stories about it find more space in both fiction and nonfiction.

        I enjoy that more thought is being given to the role war plays in modern society, but I also agree that Hedges may be taking the wrong approach and may have arrived at incorrect and potentially dangerous conclusions.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          cadadr Link Parent
          My observation is otherwise: as a person from a country with compulsory conscription, where being a soldier has really honourable and revered position, the youth has become completely, and for...

          The military is increasingly becoming the only way lower classes can hope to advance into higher socioeconomic positions, in my opinion. War is also becoming a political tool instead of a consequence of failed politics; it's something representatives can use to rally voters.

          My observation is otherwise: as a person from a country with compulsory conscription, where being a soldier has really honourable and revered position, the youth has become completely, and for many openly averse to it. And that is despite there is a salary, a decent one for university graduates. Worldwide, apart from the US and Russia, people seem to shy away from war and military on all levels of society.

          BTW I haven't read the book, if I did not make it clear. I just formed an idea about it through your comments and the Amazon description. I'm sorry if my comments are rather irrelevant.

          3 votes
          1. AFineAccount Link Parent
            It actually makes sense for youth turn away from the military internationally. This generation is awash in so many new ideas and conceptions of the roles states should play in people’s lives that...

            It actually makes sense for youth turn away from the military internationally. This generation is awash in so many new ideas and conceptions of the roles states should play in people’s lives that conscription would naturally come under question. Unfortunately, I’m speaking from a purely US perspective, and here the military is continually revered as a force for absolute good.

            With the rising costs of higher education, and the falling value of degrees, the military is seen as a good way to acquire practical, marketable skills while also paying for a four-year degree. People are joining the military for the specific purpose of going to college afterwards, since it’s the only way they can afford it. Most people here see the military as a way to start a career, which is the most valuable thing anyone can have in the country.

            2 votes
    2. [2]
      meaninglessnme Link Parent
      I am not sure this is a fair characterization of postmodernism. In Lyotard's "Postmodern Condition" while he does spend much time reflecting on the downfall of narrative notions of truth and...

      but since postmodernism is inherently about doubting the existence of truth and meaning

      I am not sure this is a fair characterization of postmodernism. In Lyotard's "Postmodern Condition" while he does spend much time reflecting on the downfall of narrative notions of truth and meaning in your current culture, overall the view is an incredulity towards meta narratives themselves, not knowledge itself.

      This amounts to saying that the prevailing meta narrative about knowledge, that it should be "produced in order to be sold, consumed in order to be valorized in a new production: with the ultimate goal of exchange," should be doubted as a crude attempt to reduce knowledge to commensurable science (a set of denotative statements), other kinds of knowledge which exist in and of itself (justice, aesthetics, know-how generally) do in fact exist.

      To dabble with meaning for just a moment, if we consider the generally accepted notion of meaning (and try not to think too hard about whether or not that accepted notion is a metanarrative), that takes meaning to be the particular use in a specific local linguistic exchange (ornery means mischievous when I use it with a friend who understands the meaning as such, and combative when used in a different context) then it does seem that meaning itself has come into question. However, the only meaning that has come into question is some attempted generalization of it that ignores the impact it has individual users. Understood as such, meaning does involve some inherent instability, but in order to be certain of its existence all we have to do is create it which we can be readily done. Perhaps, if you agree with lyotard, should be done as often as possible in order to destabilize the institutions which attempt to limit it and thereby constrain us. So long as we are discussing boundaries, we are moving them.

      2 votes
      1. AFineAccount Link Parent
        I love your insights on postmodernism. Although I haven't read the Postmodern Condition yet, it's on my list now. Most of my understanding of postmodern thought comes from secondhand cultural...

        I love your insights on postmodernism. Although I haven't read the Postmodern Condition yet, it's on my list now. Most of my understanding of postmodern thought comes from secondhand cultural critics like Zizek (I know, it doesn't help my case).

        However, House of Leaves does dabble with some of the things you wrote about. While there are kinds of knowledge which can never be reduced to denotative statements, that doesn't mean they inherently share the same meanings across individuals. Everyone intuitively 'knows' what justice is, for example, but few realize that one person's understanding of justice isn't the same as another's. And that's the vital function of meta-narratives: to transform knowledge into shared understanding. The metanarrative around justice provides what people need to understand their own personal definition of justice, and how it relates to other people's definitions of it. Metanarratives give knowledge a purpose and a place in the world, and without that level of utility, the pursuit of knowledge is self-destructive.

        Knowledge that can't be used, and can't be transformed into understanding, is madness. The pursuit of it is a race into the recesses of one's own mind, where without the guidance of meaning, one can be lost. Metanarratives provide the tools with which people can use knowledge, and therefore prevent insanity.

        To use an example from House of Leaves, the hallway that suddenly appears in Navidson's home can be thought of as a raw representation of knowledge itself. The hallway is impossibly placed, and its nature defines the rules of the reality which Navidson and his family inhabit — much in the same way knowledge of banal genocides in Yugoslavia or even the Holocaust defies the metanarratives defining human nature. In my opinion, these are kinds of events are what most contemporary notions of postmodernism find their foundation in. And when Navidson explores the hallway, or when people try to understand the Holocaust, they become lost. There is no guidance, no map or metanarrative they can use to trace back to reality or to other people. The hallway and the Holocaust innately lack definition, because they lack a narrative they can be understood in.

        In my opinion, postmodernism shouldn't cast incredulity towards metanarratives. Instead, it should be about exploring their boundaries, as you mentioned. Postmodernism should be thought of as a framework in which new narratives can be constructed to provide understanding in a world where knowledge increasingly lacks definition and people are feeling increasingly lost within it. As much as I hate to use the word, it should be thought of as a toolset where meta-metanarratives can be built, so as to provide understanding to the increasingly insane knowledge found in the world.

        1 vote
  11. Staross Link
    Just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, it was fantastic. I'll read something else next, but I'll probably come back for another Brontë after that.

    Just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, it was fantastic. I'll read something else next, but I'll probably come back for another Brontë after that.

    2 votes
  12. Jedi Link
    I'm beginning The Walking Dead Compendium 2 today, I've been meaning to start it for a while, but the issues blend too well together, so you really have to dedicate the time for a full-six issue...

    I'm beginning The Walking Dead Compendium 2 today, I've been meaning to start it for a while, but the issues blend too well together, so you really have to dedicate the time for a full-six issue run, and I've not made the time to do that yet.

    I'm also in the middle of Revival by Stephen King. I'm really liking the style of writing in this, it feels so different to the other King stories I've read.

    Since I didn't respond to the last thread, I just finished Doctor Sleep―the sequel to The Shining. Conveniently finished the same day the trailer came out. It was really good, I'm disappointed to see the hate it got on Reddit, but I enjoyed it. Of course it wasn't as good as The Shining (in my opinion, though I have seen some people disagree―insane), but all-in-all it wasn't disappointing.

    2 votes
  13. cadadr Link
    I did read Şark Dişçisi from last week, and have mixed feelings about it. First of all, it is a satirical play, but it is a bit too much, arriving right there where it becomes offensive. The play...

    I did read Şark Dişçisi from last week, and have mixed feelings about it. First of all, it is a satirical play, but it is a bit too much, arriving right there where it becomes offensive. The play is misandristic and misogynistic, with the latter being more pronounced relatively. It is a story of betrayals and extramarital relationships, and it reads like an Aristotelian comedy where we're expected to laugh because we agree to deride what the author puts before us. But what he puts before us is a search for happiness and freedom that is at odds with tradition and religion, and as one of those who are in a similar struggle for a better life and more freedom, this stuff is hard to laugh at. Still, when I take into account the big century and a half between me and Baronyan, and leave ideological divides aside, it was a fun and flowing little read, and I did enjoy that. But it left me wishing that Baronyan was a bit more open minded nevertheless.

    I'm only starting Melih Cevdet Anday's plays that I mentioned in the same comment, and it is interesting. I'm near the end of the first play in there. There is stuff in there that'd make a feminist go eww, but it also looks like the whole thing is allegorical. Up until where I arrived, it all seems like a bunch of pathetic nutheads doing dumb things at a guesthouse, but the way things are, and the other Anday play that I already know, this looks like an absurdist sketch that is a philosophical parable, not unlike say Beckett's work. But we'll see. I could not read much these last few days because Shit Happened™, but luckily were dealt with.

    After these I'll return to my linguistics readings, which I've been neglecting for a few weeks.

    1 vote