As good as The Lover. Same story retold. Equally brilliant. The Lover is like looking at a star through a telescope and The North China Lover is likeAs good as The Lover. Same story retold. Equally brilliant. The Lover is like looking at a star through a telescope and The North China Lover is like being on the surface of the star....more
Fuck! Left in random Manhattan apt, then shipped to Haiti in aunt's luggage.
Double fuck! Lost it again on the subway with hundreds of notes.
-----Fuck! Left in random Manhattan apt, then shipped to Haiti in aunt's luggage.
Double fuck! Lost it again on the subway with hundreds of notes.
Ok finished, after 6 months.
This book is a destroying and destroyed queer love poem masquerading half-assedly as theory. It is a poem with a mustache of theory. And it's pretty great for this. He sets it up as aspiring to decode a liminal site of discourse: the lover's discourse "is completely forsaken by the surrounding languages: ignored, disparaged, or derided by them."--and does this in a way that means to be understood for its universality. But then he clearly makes no bones about describing sitting by the phone in coldsweats gnawing (his own) fingers and desolate, waiting for "X" to call him. This is charming and sweet.
More importantly, the book is just incredibly brilliant, and just true. He positions the simple act of recognition, the utterance: "That is so true..." as the qualifier for an amorous image to be constitutive of the lover's "image repertoire"(as he calls it). Most all of his images qualify in this regard; they are immediately recognizable (to me at least). E.g., this illustration from the entry "Monstrous." "The lover's discourse stifles the other, who finds no place for his own language beneath this massive utterance."
The book is divided, seemingly haphazardly (alphabetically), into sections dealing with various utterances, conditions, or dispositions of the amorous image repertoire. Absence, adorable, affirmation, alteration, etc.
But really the book should be called An Unrequited Lover's Discourse, because it has *nothing* to do with the discourses or image repertoire that arise on love fulfilled. *That* discourse comes out the other end of the book as the only remaining liminal site of the "disparaged" lovers discourse. It is as though Barthes' personal loss is so palpable, so in need of codification in theory, of respect, that it elides the possibility of requitement altogether, positioning loss as the totality of love. A *romantic* position to be sure, and one not altogether out of step with *The Sorrows of Young Wether*, the major source text here (among a great many others).
But above all, really, is the simple fact that I could read a thousand pages of Barthes describing a single, unremarkable turd and be satisfied. He has a Nietzschean disposition toward cataclysm and provocation, toward paradox and the bending of incompetent languages around his meaning--he digs impertinently, surgically, for the actual in a way that would seem exclusive with such gentle taste--he is generous and lovable (unvikinglike) in a way that Nietzsche isn't (in the way that Rilke or e e cummings *are*).
Good parts from the first half:
"Meaning (destiny) electrifies my hand; I am about to tear open the other's opaque body, oblige the other (whether there is a response, a withdrawal, or mere acceptance) to enter into the interplay of meaning: I am about *to make the other speak*."
"Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a single signified, which is "I desire you," and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself); on the other hand I enwrap the other in my words, I caress, brush against, talk up this contact, I extend myself to make the commentary to which I submit the relation endure."
"To speak amorously is to expend without an end in sight, without a *crisis;*..."
"...any ethic of purity requires that we detach the gift from the hand which gives or receives it..."
"To speak of the gift is to place it in an exchange economy (of sacrifice, competition, etc.); which stands opposed to silent expenditure."
"Nature, today, is the city."
"The mechanics of amorous vassalage require a fathomless futility."...more
In certain ways it this the best graphic memoir I have ever read. The graphical form is somehow perfectly suited to the first person, and the deliriumIn certain ways it this the best graphic memoir I have ever read. The graphical form is somehow perfectly suited to the first person, and the delirium of this memoir perfectly exploits that potential. But David B. is the worst kind of megalomaniac, both honest and lonely. At one point his character declares himself the family's "genius". There are possibly 30 different depictions of the covers of other of the authors books in the pages of this one. But somehow the twisted, unsparing, phantasmagoric sparseness of the the author's universe---the penises, monsters, the Nazism, the endless skewering of endless New Age fraudulence---almost entirely compensate for this. ...more
A bad novel. Not a single drop of blood until page 69. Subtle. Who cares. A butler as representative of, and semiotic nexus for, British Imperial deniA bad novel. Not a single drop of blood until page 69. Subtle. Who cares. A butler as representative of, and semiotic nexus for, British Imperial denial, aristocratic-fascist collusion, the hypocrisy of noble liberalism. Blah. What it did accomplish, I must say, is to skewer me with the incredible emptiness of inherited loyalty, of banal profession, the incredible crushing sadness and spiritual death it is to be dignified. But I don't think it very fully meant to. These pleasant unpleasant sensations, were, if not unintentional, unenthusiastic--like every sentence of the book. It was a flaccid handshake that everyone mistook for delicacy. One wonders what kind of wretched historian can be moved to care about such things, much less write about them. One thing I'm sure of, if you smash this book really hard against Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor, you might be left with a good novel predicated on the manly art of cleaning (if they don't cancel one another out completely). ...more
While reading this, I realized i'd not finished it in high school. So damn brutally lovely. Despite that the characters collapse into each other. (ThoWhile reading this, I realized i'd not finished it in high school. So damn brutally lovely. Despite that the characters collapse into each other. (Though his perfect details keep this at bay, unlike with, say, Ayn Rand.) Lovely, despite that what plot there is becomes a pulpit. Pulpit for the bitter, tender truth. So perfectly flawed. Like dostoyevsky, like Lady Chatterly's Lover. The flaws allow the voice to be so very direct, and so facilitate a more direct consumption of the the writing, a greater closeness to the speaker, the author. And, what do we want from writing if not this? And if not this, why read? Why not solve difficult math problems or design houses, or machines. So, urgent, funny, loyal, wise, angry.
Joan Didion panned it. What has she written that was half beautiful? A Year of Magical Thinking was made of cobalt and mathematics.
Still, I agree with her (and Updike) when they wish Salinger dead. There will be a million weird new pages, though I expect that, like Celine, he's gotten crazier and harder to read over time....more