I'm not actually sure why I am giving this 5 stars. Mainly, I suppose, because it's Frankenstein. I found it to be everything great that I knew it wouI'm not actually sure why I am giving this 5 stars. Mainly, I suppose, because it's Frankenstein. I found it to be everything great that I knew it would be. In my opinion this is the most important parable anyone could tell - the need for admonitions against hate is crucial and perennial. And yet I can't help but feel this story, wonderfully told in itself, hasn't dated all that well. Couldn't it have been ... well... a third of the length? That would still have afforded plenty of gushy landscape imagery, and quite sufficient passages of Frankenstein's whinging.
Speaking of him, I've got to doubt that there has been a half-sensible reader of this book who did not find herself thinking:
I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein
- I really do prefer not to swear in reviews – but as politely as I can put it, that lowlife @$$#()!* must have turned a lot of readers from mounting the god-pedastal, or so I would love to believe. Listening to parts of this on audiobook, I was more than once moved to sympathetic tears for the fiend. Rambling as his narrative section was. (One thing Shelley didn't do too well here was differentiate her characters' voices. They sound exactly alike. Then again, she may have done that on purpose. Hm. Sorry, Shelley. Extra points for you.)
This is exactly the moral -emotional reaction intended, and I honour it. Nevertheless, as I was saying, it goes on forever. Too bad she could not have somehow resisted the style of her contemporaries – an illogical thing to wish, I know – and cut down on the floweriness. The stylistic contrast to the raw and mostly-ugly nature of the plot is chilling. That's cool - but it takes so long to read. Or it *would* if I hadn't started to merely skim most of the imagistic paragraphs by about page 20.
Altogether, by the final sentences I felt less thrills&chills related to the story itself than admiration for Mary Shelley. Because she managed to write in that really-gotta-say-it asshole Frankenstein's voice for how many pages? Far more than enough, that's how many, to convince us to join her in deepest sympathy toward the "monster." She created a "hero" indubitably more hateful to me (and i would think far less fun to write) than any in the order of Ralph & Jack, Holden Caulfield, Alex or the darling H. Humbert.
Needless to say I do not believe there is virtue in banning books; be assured my argument is hypothetical. Why would any of those characters' books be banned, and not this one? Why not Frankenstein – why unbanned the portrayal of a so-called civilized and learned man who epitomizes cruelty and ignorance, beside whom the fiend himself is innocent in an entire world of fiends? Gee - because there are no cuss words in Frankenstein, marm, that's why. What's more dangerous a social criticism than what Shelley's said over and over and over in this book? If we started to take this seriously, how much would we have to change? Appearances are deceiving. End of scanty thoughts. I revere this book. Because of it, I want to think and feel and fight more courageously for the monster in every sentient being. That is all.
This graphic novel makes for a great little trip, with touch-down in several literary worlds within a single night. That's all I needed to finish theThis graphic novel makes for a great little trip, with touch-down in several literary worlds within a single night. That's all I needed to finish the actually graphic part – don't be fooled by my start-finish dates; that's how long I spent coaxing myself to read the "Traveller's Almanac" at the end. Kept falling asleep, and at last I gave up, 'cause there's just no point in denial: I read only for the pictures. Still, there's something in these pictures for everyone. Sci-fi tones, explosions, talking tigers, a scandalous and long-awaited romance, diabolical government action. Really, there is no good reason not to pick this up "unless, of course [I quote the narrator], you are a sissy, coward, or girl." That ought to convince ya. I can't think of a good reason to award less than five stars, and my fingers itch for Volume Three.
The question on everyone's tongues, by the end of this one, is 'DID Hyde and Griffin really die?' Beats me. Between the two, I most hope that Hyde will turn out to be still alive. Hyde is intriguing. I can't like him, after what he does to Griffin. But his love for Mina isn't monstrous, it's more like that of a shy schoolboy. We are left grappling with whether the true Hyde is pure love or pure hate. It's possibly the most serious, and the most unexpected, question that Moore could bring up in the midst of the adventure: what do we have the right to do, in the name of love and vengeance?
Of course, others are also doing shocking things with only uneasy justification. The ruthlessness of Mr. Bond continues from the earlier story, and worsens if anything. How shall the nation cope with this disastrous breach of security – protecting, obviously first and foremost, its innocent citizens?
Bond: Oh yes. Yes, it's a hybrid all right. Anthrax and streptococcus, if I remember correctly. ... Mina: Bond, there must still be people in South London! Bond (unfazed): Officially, the Martians died of the common cold. Any humans died of Martians.
Does that neat, self-serving wrap-up remind you of 'real-world' politics? For a mere comic book, things look acutely familiar to me.
end of spoiler
On a lighter note, I'd like to mention my favorite panels:
#1. the fifth-to-last, where Mina kisses Quatermain in the park. A gorgeous scene, and one that's somehow foreign to the rest of the last two volumes. Even in romance, Mina is a powerful lady. The expression on Quatermain's face here is heart-wrenching, hers serene. She isn't playing hard-to-get, quite the reverse, it's just that he is so painfully grateful for her love. In short, my inner feminist approves of the way this romance was handled.
#2. partway through chapter five: who shows up to drive them to the "island" of Dr. Moreau? None other than Toad of The Wind in the Willows. I can't quite explain why, but I cracked up. I loved this whole interlude with Moreau. It meshes with some of my favorite childhood stories, the animal-oriented ones, but it's also evocative of conspiracy theory. More questions: whose side is Science on, anyway? And what happened to Prendrick? ... I think Tim should have joined the team and become Mina's fiercely protective companion. It would have been brilliant for the upcoming volume.
I feel, however, there is a minor plothole with the Moreau bit, in that this painting and its artist are referenced, but never did we see the chimera. Too bad. Oh! It could have stolen Mina from Quatermain!
Due to my apparent inability to focus on the existing story, I think I'll go lose myself in packing for university, and thinking further fanfiction-esque thoughts about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore and Neill, regardless of my overeager imagination, I really enjoy what springs onto each page from your own.
Goodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald'sGoodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald's do, Though hers are take-offs on th' originals. Even Shakespeare's verse has not endured So well that I did not find hers more fresh. The meeting of her world and the Bard's! The call to revere him, though she dares adapt, Truly I believe is answered well. Playfully done, and with true art accomplished. (I would go on, but pure awe shuts me up.) Hear me, though: you shall enjoy this play! Vibrant life's in this slim tome of drama, And I'll re-read it many a future day At home upon my couch, or – heck – in class; In Constance's dream I'll gladly lose myself – one day, if lucky, glimpse it on a stage? O, eyes wouldn't dare to hear, nor ears to speak. Hey, Anne-Marie! Do you think you could Try something with A Midsummer Night's Dream next?...more
Initial / temporary review: Three stars, or four? I'm not sure, but have decided to be generous for the time being, since there is much that I enjoyedInitial / temporary review: Three stars, or four? I'm not sure, but have decided to be generous for the time being, since there is much that I enjoyed in this play. The dialect is brilliantly transporting; I amused myself for the first Act reading aloud in a pathetic excuse for an Irish brogue – but nobody was around to hear me, so it was all good. The characters: over-realistically wrought, if you get my drift. Which means they're classic. Hopeless as people, but excellent as characters. (The Widow Quin is such an astute schemer, and I think she's the only one I could say I like. ) And the circumstances are generally hilarious. Still, toward the end I found myself wondering, if nothing was going to 'tie up,' plot-wise – which it didn't – what alternative point was being made? Basically, I was left hanging on a rather disappointed thread of What the Heck? Thus, I'm relieved that we're studying this one first in my drama course. Maybe my prof can take the heck out of the what. ...more
**spoiler alert** I don't yet know dramatic theory, and I'm not used to reading plays – aside from Shakespeare, which Pirandello most definitely is no**spoiler alert** I don't yet know dramatic theory, and I'm not used to reading plays – aside from Shakespeare, which Pirandello most definitely is not. But I don't mean that pejoratively. This was a great quick read, one of those succulent works that takes longer to digest than to devour.
What did I like about this? Off the top of my head, a great deal. I like the way we come to feel for the Characters who are pleading their case, as it were, before the stage. It feels like a life-or-death scenario for them, even though one is half-chuckling over the whole dilemma. It's so like a silly mixed-up children's story, taken to the level of serious consideration about what theatre is/does to people... how we see ourselves in life, never mind on the stage. But I'll get back to that. I like the setting/premise: we've seen a play-within-a-play, but not so often is an entire performance based around a rehearsal-within-a-play. A totally botched rehearsal, no less. It would be refreshing to watch. I liked the ending, a cliffhanger with nowhere to drop into but one's own thoughts about the play. I liked the Characters' arguments with the Manager and actors, although I didn't feel the philosophizing was very smoothly incorporated. The father didn't really come together for me; he never seemed coherent, between what he (believes he is) supposed to do versus what he preaches. Existential questions, indeed.
I like the way Pirandello didn't set up any "good" or "bad" guys, only the confusion of different people each pursuing a different sense of "truth." The father might have been constructed as a baddie, but he can't be, because his story never really happened. None of their individual stories did, and they're in agony for that. They're left trying their hardest to account for themselves, defending themselves such a profundity as might terrify the author who thought they were under his control. They have a fierce drive to realize their identity, while the actors want to realize an illusion. So I loved the father's challenge as to who is more 'real.' Pirandello, though rather awkwardly through the father's mouth, is pointing out the utter elusiveness of identity – whether you are an actor or a character.
**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS if, for some reason of your own, you do not know what happens to Faustus in the end.
Can I just note**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS if, for some reason of your own, you do not know what happens to Faustus in the end.
Can I just note that Mephistopheles is a really smooth name? I know Marlowe didn't invent it, but still.
Cool names aside, I have to say that I was expecting rather more from this play - unfairly? It is only 56 pages long, small pages at that. But whatever I hoped to find here, it wasn't delivered. Dazzling prose? Not a chance (or not much - I have admitted my overgeneralization as per review comments). I've just come off a term of Shakespeare. Marlowe's can do nothing for me after that. Riveting action? OH NO! FAUSTUS TOOK THE POPE'S WINE AND RAN AWAY!!! Steamy romance? If you count the conjuring of Helen of Troy so that wrinkly old Faust can sleep with her. Well... nah.
Skillful characterization? For the time, probably. The protagonist, so I hear, is transformed from a mere "naughty trickster" of the German folktale into a more sympathetic character, and that's true to an extent. As the play progresses, you certainly see the Doctor losing confidence in his chosen life of "sin", more and more easily twisted back by the nasty wasty fingers of Mephisto, Lucifer, etc. Poor old guy. He was relatively young and stupid when he set himself up for this which is, I guess, part of Marlowe's point. My dissatisfaction lies in the fact that his condemnation of the character seems half-hearted. He has Faustus do nothing genuinely wicked; during his recurring chances to be 'saved,' there is precious little in the language of the altercations to convince me that Faustus has any substance of character whatsoever, good or evil (as per Elizabethan definition, which are all I was looking for). It's all too rushed, and thus only pseudo-serious. So could I really care about him? It sounds cold-blooded, but I couldn't.
Dr. Faustus felt to me like a Grimm's fairy tale. It's written for adults, perhaps, but best suited to frighten kids into stiff Christian unseen-unheardness. Faustus is like a child himself, clever and bored: medicine is too easy, law is too easy, divinity is WAY too easy. So he goes looking for some fun. And he gets it. Twenty-four years of self-indulgent mischief. He never grows up. For that, he goes to Hell.
If Faustus goes to Hell, all the idiots who hired him to conjure for them damn well should, too. Talk about suspension of disbelief. If he was trying to do this, I admire Marlowe for pointing out the (willful?) ignorance of those who summon and praise Faustus for his feats. They don't see the evil in him (hmm. Neither do I). They don't try to save him. They're no better than he is.
What nags me about giving this just three stars is sensing how much more could be done with it on-stage. As I read, I imagined wonderful spooky verbal effects during passages of otherwise-flat language. Scenes like the Doctor's snitching-nibbles-from-the-Pope could be made very amusing. Alas, I am rating the book and not the performance. I look forward to studying it next term, and hopefully updating this review from a more knowledgeable vantage point....more
This graphic novel really couldn't impress me that much. The straight visual quality is good but, despite the fairytale origins this story's meant toThis graphic novel really couldn't impress me that much. The straight visual quality is good but, despite the fairytale origins this story's meant to be drawing on – an immediate attraction, to me – the majority of the graphics are sadly simplistic. The graphics are the meat of a graphic novel, right? – and no matter how good the mashed potato text is, you can't have a good meal without a juicy (soy) steak, rich and chewable to the eyes. Compared to the finer graphic novels, there seems to be a lack of revelry-in-detail here as far as the visuals go. If I were the artists, I would have wanted to embellish a lot more thoroughly with any well- or lesser-known fairytale/fable reference that For that matter, the same is true for the plot. A fake-murder whodunit with the 'chance' (thus totally predictable) creation of a man-woman detective duo, sprinkling behind them the bean-seeds of romance – sprouting, needless to say, from the male character ("Bigby" Big Bad Wolf) and, till he states it explicitly, overlooked by the powerful and businesslike female (Snow White, Director of Operations and icicle of fury if you mention 'dwarves').
What else let me down? Crappy, fails-to-be-suave-when-recycled murder mystery dialogue. The last chapter, the supposed big reveal in more ways than one, is particularly bad on this. An example:
"Then get ON with it, Mr. Wolf. TELL your story. I can't tolerate the SUSPENSE." "When the Lord Mayor of Fabletown COMMANDS, I can only OBEY. – My suspicions about he TRUE nature of this case were raised the very MOMENT I first learned of it."
And so on. Here's one of my general beefs with graphic novels: why do the authors feel the need to emphasize in the script the words that we'd know have weight in the run of the sentence, anyway? Regular novelists do it as well, to varying degrees, but do we need it in every single speech bubble of the graphic novel format? I feel as though it engenders a more childlike treatment of the reader than is usually appropriate.
Altogether, I also think Willingham could have gone much, much deeper into the world he tries to recreate. It's a fantastic idea, in my opinion: a secret community of fairytale characters, cooling their heels in New York after some mighty power has forced them out of their various kingdoms. I can't even begin to imagine all the fun you could have with that. Unfortunately, this first volume strikes me as only minimally creative, tossed-together with only the most well-known characters – did I miss anybody, though? If so, I'd be delighted for someone to correct me on this. These characters feel superficially developed, their respective myths incorporated rather too obviously (finer technique would have contributed so much more wit) ... it just feels like a waste of the idea. Not sure how else I can say it.
What I did love are the end-of-chapter page graphics. I wish I could copy-enlarge and collage these all over one of my walls. Also, I wish I could give five stars to this page alone from Chapter Four:
(Pretty blonde lady approaches a sulky-looking child)"Hi, Pinocchio. I haven't seen YOU in a while. Enjoying the party?" "No. I am most certainly NOT having a good time. I never Have a good time at this ridiculous celebration. " "Then why do you come each year?" "Because, sooner or later, that blue fairy, who turned me into a REAL boy, is going to show her face at one of these things, and I'm going to kick her pretty azure ASS." "Why? I thought you WANTED to become a real boy." "Of COURSE I did. But who KNEW I'd have to stay a boy FOREVER? The ditzy bitch interpreted my wish too LITERALLY. I'm over three centuries old and I STILL haven't gone through puberty. I want to grow up, I want my balls to drop, and I want to get LAID."
Rather a sexist portrayal of the "real boy", don't you think? Still, I have to admit that I laughed. The sequel really should a sub-plot romance between Nocchy and, say, Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. That would be adorable.
Perhaps, and again I'd love to hear other opinions on this GN - I'm looking for something in Willingham's tale that he never intended to put in it. It's a fun modern re-interpretation, the kind of story that I can see becoming a postmodern 'classic,' if the lost art of oral storytelling were to ever resurface. Such stories don't need complexity, they only need recognizable figures and a relatively engaging plot, which I'd say Fables has got. Since I have the deluxe edition anyway, I am going to read Volume II. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it more, knowing what kind of thing to expect....more
Let Us Compare Mythologies is Cohen's first book of poetry, and this is his last. I'm going to read them in that order for (what might be?) a stark cLet Us Compare Mythologies is Cohen's first book of poetry, and this is his last. I'm going to read them in that order for (what might be?) a stark comparison. Will probably go back later to the volumes that are chronologically between. ...more
I will review this – as well as one CAN review a book of poetry, which I feel is a treacherous business – after I've read Book of Longing, as soon asI will review this – as well as one CAN review a book of poetry, which I feel is a treacherous business – after I've read Book of Longing, as soon as I can bring myself to absorb more Leonard Cohen. (Right now, I'd give this at least four stars, but I'll suspend my full 'judgement' until later.) ...more
**spoiler alert** Composed of striking language and equally striking ideas, this book had me hooked by about page two. I loved the time-travel. I love**spoiler alert** Composed of striking language and equally striking ideas, this book had me hooked by about page two. I loved the time-travel. I loved the adventure. I loved the philosophical debating, and wished I was well-versed in modern philosophy to understand more of it. I loved the romance, especially (OOPS, SPOILER) the contrast between Kitty & Richard's and Susan & James's. I loved the socialism. Heck, I loved the full-blown Communism. I loved the accumulating criticism of the occult, the Church, and the government that leave thinking people with nothing to depend on besides themselves.
For me, though, the most memorable part of the intrigue is the heroes who battle through it. James, Susan, Kitty and Richard – I hope that I'll someday know more real people I appreciate and admire this much. They remind me of the best people I already know. Brave, impetuous, insightful, stubborn, witty, vulnerable, strong all in their own ways, relentlessly real through 'their own' voices, so wonderfully articulated by their creators. Steven Brust and Emma Bull have transformed the way I think about characterization. As it would appear from my rating, I see this transformed view as a positive thing. Right? Well, it's maybe bad, in that I'm not sure if it's heightened my discernment or narrowed my mind. I have a new, incontrovertible yardstick by which to measure each literary protagonists I meet and it's going to make me a hell of a lot pickier. But I also enjoy the challenge of unravelling why they're such great characters.
It's partially the merit of the format. Letters and journal entries portray not only how the characters know themselves, but how they know each other; we see how they themselves, and their relationships, transform. We understand them differently, with the strangely distanced intimacy that comes of peering into somebody's personal life. Which is enormously stimulating. Traditional prosaic chapters in third-person or even first-person can't achieve that to the same degree. (The only thing that bothers me is wonder WHEN Susan, in particular, had time to write thirty-odd page letters, sometimes more than once in a day. And was the postal service really as efficient as it appears? That's my thinking, dull & practical. But since unlimited writing time seems to be an oddity with epistolary novels in general, I won't hold it against this one.)
The main four aren't the only ones to almost dumbfound me with admiration. Engels and Mary are fantastic; in a perfect world Brust and Bull would have written a companion novel about those two .... I had thought that Thomas Cavanaugh might end up sacrificing himself to rescue Richard midway through, but luckily I was wrong, as he played an even more satisfying role later on. My heart bled for Henry, because I recognize him – I think we all do – his exuberance and his naïve belief in immortality. I treasured even the briefest sketches, like the one of Marx: "... a good-natured lion that can take your breath away even in casual conversation."
So it was not only the exceptionally intriguing plot, but deep investment in the characters that sucked me through the story. I couldn't help feeling as edgy as Kitty must have, hearing of the action but helpless to affect anything. I was convinced, near the end, that her 'visions' were going to prove wholly irrelevant, and James was fated to die. James's death seemed unbearable, and yet "right" to me, believing the prediction was a simple matter of amassing clues.That he might live seemed too good to contemplate, until it actually happened. If you expected what I did, both the lead-up to the Trotters' Club confrontation and the against-the-odds triumph of the underdogs will awe you. How silly was I? "Fate" doesn't exist in the written world unless the author declares herself God, and I should have seen from the beginning that Brust and Bull did no such thing. Their characters rule themselves, and THAT is why the characters enthral me. They are 'fated' only by the freedoms and necessities that they have chosen, and those which they choose throughout the novel. I'm not saying James "chooses" to live when he's bleeding from an arrow wound (though he does, and that has to be significant). I am, however, saying that nothing is inevitable in a world where human beings take responsibility for their lives.
We delude ourselves by scorning the failure of realism when James lives. "Literary correctness" does not have the power to claim him. Nor are any of us thrown without our permission into a quasi-Gothic universe, or one ruled by Fate, or by the conventions of literature. Such a universe, I would argue, is the one pressed on us by mysticism, politics and institutionalized religion. At the centre is James's fight against the demons of disempowering "Fate." His death would be his defeat, and the defeat of the novel's purpose.
At this point, I have two thank-yous to say. First is to Brad Simkulet, who lent this to me. He is only getting it back because I love and respect him, and because I know our conversations revolving around the book will be even more interesting after we've re-read it. I will buy a copy as soon as humanly possible.
A sheepish acknowledgment: this review is written, or at least guided in large part by my emotional response to Freedom and Necessity. I have tried to be logical, but it deserves more than "pure" logic, if there is such a thing. This book soared past my logical faculties and perched, preening, beautiful, in dim corners that don't lend themselves so easily to my critical flashlight. I count that as proof of its brilliance. I will be re-reading this – more than once, I'm certain – and I will edit/add to this review whenever I do so. Somehow the thought is strengthening, a definite literary challenge and joy that I look forward to. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the authors, for giving us this magnificent story.
(This ended up much longer than I expected it to. If you like, skip over paragraphs nine through twelve, which are less review than one-sided debate.(This ended up much longer than I expected it to. If you like, skip over paragraphs nine through twelve, which are less review than one-sided debate. I published them anyway to make provision for two-sided debates. Jump in.)
Hmmm. I don't feel right about reviewing this, considering I read it immediately after Christmas, which can no longer (if it ever did) hold deep meaning in itself for anyone except a) the bourgeoisie or b) devout Christians, who tend to be misled if well-meaning folks, brainwashed within and/or by the bourgeoisie.
(Notice I said in itself. Yeah, Xmas is now synonymous with a time of togetherness and blah blah blah, but none of that is closely related to the original point of the holiday.)
So, to continue. Hmmm. Yeah, I felt rather disconnected from this during much of the reading. Maybe I'm just not much for political philosophy. What observations can I make... the second chapter is much more fun than the first. The first sets up the purported historical basis for Marxist theory, though I found it less insightful about the past than about the future, i.e. our own present. I was impressed by Marx's statements about what we now call globalization, a dangerously seductive program if ever we've witnessed one. It's amazing to me that 160 years ago he could not only see it coming, but see the negative upshot for "barbarian" societies and for all nations, the bourgeoisie carbon-copying its own patterns all over the world.
But I think I digress. I also like his notion of the bourgeoisie God-complex: "In one word, it creates a world after its own image." (He says "in one word" continually, always following it with what appears to be well over one word. What's been lost in translation...?)
Section the Second has a good old classical exordium (establishing the reliability of the speaker) and a refutatio. I found the refutation to be convincing, and equally enjoyable is the authoritative, often jeering tone.
"The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality -- The working men have no country" (still true, in most countries). "
"But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.... the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production" (still a worthy aim, esp. if you're a feminist).
"It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us [Atlas Shrugged much?]. According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those who acquire anything, do not work" (oh, so true... variantly, since not everything in our day depends upon inheritance, we work toward the eventual CEO-dom, that happy state of making others work for and instead of us).
Section Three is a critique of socialist and communist literature. My only comment on this part of the Manifesto is about that which made me feel damn guilty and unfairly attacked both at once. This bit reminded me of a passage in Freedom and Necessity:
"... we shall begin at the beginning [says Friedrich Engels]. Our first duty is to our class, yes?' 'No,' said James, still hidden. 'Bugger our class, our nation, and the horses they rode in on.' " (p.352)
According to Marx, James would be in denial about his reasons for consorting with Chartists and Communists. Are we all being attacked here? Of course, and rightly so. He lumps together "economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind" (all bourgeoisie, of course) and says their respective efforts to address social problems are motivated by nothing more than self-interest. Talk about a question deserving lifetimes of study. I know he's right in a very, very big way. However, I cannot fully agree with Marx on this one. Of course we're self-interested; we're human beings. Wasn't self-interest the reason for the neonate bourgeoisie to overthrow the feudal lords? And for the proletariat to fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie? Apparently, the essence of history is self-interest. I believe it.
Still. Label me a soppy soft-headed sentimentalist, but I'm only speaking from my own experience. When I get involved in efforts to 'help others', I do so with the awareness that I am luckier than 99.5% of conscious beings on this planet, that that isn't fair, and that I can try to give back from where I am. I can't imagine why, when any of us could make a great deal more in provincial government jobs – I get up at 7 a.m every summer day to clean shitty cages at the animal shelter, or a friend worked with battered women, or another works herself to the bone rehabilitating abused horses, in order to keep our privileged social positions. As undeniably as greed runs in my human blood, so does compassion. So does empathy. We are not simple creatures. For many of us, at least, more than emotional gratification is at stake.
Oops. Boy, can I rant. I doubt seriously whether humanitarianism, etc as these movements currently exist will be THE solution to every-or-anything. But I don't like Marx's generalization that individuals' morality is determined by their social class of birth.
Finally I've run out of steam on this, for now. If you have issues with anything I've said, please comment. I'd positively love to hear other, likely wiser ways of understanding the Manifesto. It's a fun trip, and it does make some damn good points. This innocently small work has, indeed, endured. WORKING [HUMANS] OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!...more
I haven't had the opportunity yet to read Boon's remarkable history cover-to-cover. I've just read the first couple of chapters and browsed the rest.I haven't had the opportunity yet to read Boon's remarkable history cover-to-cover. I've just read the first couple of chapters and browsed the rest. Enjoyable but for my lack of time to savour every "shocking" (?!?) detail. But whenever possible, I am totally going to put this thing in my pipe and smoke it. ...more
I ... um ... I don't think I can give this a starred review. Rating does not compute, because it didn't feel quite like a "real" book to me. More likeI ... um ... I don't think I can give this a starred review. Rating does not compute, because it didn't feel quite like a "real" book to me. More like ... a primitive attempt to create a virtual reality experience. You see, you hear, you smell, you taste, explicitly and that's the whole point, the only reason for being there. Fun, for sure, but not to be judged exactly by my usual standards. So here goes the attempt to word my thoughts on these Amorous Exploits.
What are you in for if you read this book?
- The arousal of children and adults together. WTF? It's not sick, not abusive, not really even pedophilia. In fact it seems like mature females touching little boys and girls might have been a form of nurture and comfort in the Victorian period. If you are willing to detach yourself from the modern horror of sexually abusing children, you realize there is nothing 'morally' wrong or disgusting or hurtful about what Apollinaire is describing in the earlier chapters. I'm curious to find out the historical authenticity of such a practice. (But where on Earth would one find that out?)
- Bestiality. WTF? We're all animals ... technically ... he was stretching it a tiny bit on this one, for me. Geese aren't dildos. The dog wasn't big enough? Excuse my grammar for a sec. LOL.
- Incest. WTF? And lots of it. Both sisters and an auntie become Roger's fellow explorers. I think mummy is the only one who avoids deeper relations with him, and that's not for Roger's failure to be attracted to her. Presumably, he'll become every bit as "imaginative" as her husband, and who knows? An Oedipus-on-purpose scenario is not out of the questions. By the way, the back-cover description is inaccurate. He fucks his sister first.
And except for the peasant scene, they're all so polite and (I get the impression) sincere about it. It's kind of lovely to read how Roger woos woman after woman, his nice seductive phrases never getting stale, false or repeated. (Well, maybe repeated a bit, but they all want the same thing anyway, dammit.) There's this combination of burning desire and overarching respect; Roger never gets close to raping anyone, so far as I can gather. Almost everyone he approaches (thus, almost everyone with a vagina) is remarkably willing to comply for mutual enjoyment. This book makes no claims to realism. Oh, man. I just realized how messed-up the unities of time are in this thing. But it's all to good effect. Good thing it's a mere fifty pages, because you can't really stop once you start.
I liked reading about the experimentation of himself and his partners. They discover new levels of experience together, dominating the union only by turn. It felt - I dunno, more innocent, somehow. And holy crap, Apollinaire, if you can achieve any feel of innocence, in a work like this, maybe you deserve five stars after all.
What's funniest about this kind of book is how quickly it grows on you just speaking for myself - on me. There is the initial "Holy #$&%" moment, the muffled, half-dismayed laughter, and then the expanding sense of "Okaaay...." And then I read on and do it again.
Overall, judging by Rakehell, Apollinaire treats erotica as a genre that should be as worthy of literary reading as it's possible (again, for me) to imagine. True, there's no plot to speak of, but the imagery is actually quite lovely. Though it's eyebrow-raising stuff for the uninitiated, it's a decent introduction to smutty books. Read, laugh, learn with Roger (maybe?! oh dear, I shouldn't even post that), feel, and go with the flow. I'm not sorry I did.
"Set in the near future, eXistenZ depict a society in which gaming designers are worshipped as superstars and players can acFor those who don't know:
"Set in the near future, eXistenZ depict a society in which gaming designers are worshipped as superstars and players can actually enter inside the games.. The name of the game is eXistenZ – a technology so advanced that it uses biology to transport players into gaming experiences beyond the bounds of virtual reality. eXistenZ taps so deeply into players' fears and desires that it blurs the boundaries between reality and escapism." [from the inleaf and back cover]
Two point five stars from me, but that rounds up. I am rating this based on its quality as a stand-alone, that is, without considering that it's based on a film. eXistenZ: A Graphic Novel wears a more-or-less obscuring veil of surreality the whole way through, and while I don't consider that necessarily bad style for a graphic novel, it was rather hard to read. I managed to follow the action (not sure if I'd call it a plot, and the departure from that is admirable) only on what felt to me a basic level. Try as I did to determine what was going on, I was not always able to connect the relation of two side-by-side frames when they were split by a totally unwarned-of saccade from one scene to another. Fine in a movie; confusing in a book.
The artwork here demands mention, and adulation. Scoffield takes the graphic novel through his illustrations to a level of realism I've never encountered in a graphic novel. It's very movie-like which, I gather, is the aim. And it's undeniably gorgeous. Gorgeous, as well as appropriate. It evokes the shadowy world of 'virtual?... or... reality?' with almost chilling efficiency; we can't make out everything that's happening, and we're not sure if the characters inside the frames can, either. Again, though, I have to say that the close-ups and the extreme shading in many frames are frustrating to me. You're in a world with quite a few objects foreign to our own: bioports, Pink-fones, Game Pods and so on. There is a handy glossary of these in the beginning. But in the course of the story, I find myself needing to jump a few frames ahead to learn what exactly an earlier frame depicts, and that took away from my own enjoyment.
Altogether, this is one of those rare times when you need the movie as a starting place to enjoy the literary version. I have not seen Cronenberg's film, and I know I would have found this to be a far richer reading experience if I had. ...more