Mario Vargas Llosa's first book is dark, often times deliberately elusive, and surprising. It revolves around a group of teenage cadets, struggling toMario Vargas Llosa's first book is dark, often times deliberately elusive, and surprising. It revolves around a group of teenage cadets, struggling to survive a hellish military education, and grappling with each other as a means of coping with many misdirected emotions. They negotiate uneasy alliances and wade through institutionalized violence. Through shifts in perspective, a range of narrative techniques, and sensible but wild changes of emotion in the characters, Vargas Llosa provides us with an evocative book. It is horribly masculine in its perspective, though, even if that might not be a surprise regarding a book that revolves around a boys' military academy. There is only one truly important female character, and she is passive to the limits of what is believable. In a sense, this is a part of the culture from which this book springs. There is even a way to read it as a critique of this kind of hyper-attenuated male world, with all its violence, confusion about homoerotic desires, and dark currents of taboo. The outcome, though, is that however we read it, it doesn't provide us with a world we'd like to inhabit any longer than the pages ask us to, if for that long even. I enjoyed this novel very much, and I see its mastery, but I'm also glad to have finished it....more
"Umberto Eco is too smart to write novels." This is a refrain I've heard and helped disseminate before, and after reading The Name of the Rose, I feel"Umberto Eco is too smart to write novels." This is a refrain I've heard and helped disseminate before, and after reading The Name of the Rose, I feel more certain that it is true, though perhaps it requires a bit more precision. After all, many of the great novelists have been far too smart for this world, and yet they were able to write great fiction, so why should brains prohibit Eco?
His problem, and that of this book, is that his erudition weighs down his art. The Name of the Rose doesn't read like a murder mystery set in the context of medieval mendicant society and that world's unique set of philosophical questions, rather it reads like an exegesis of the philosophical questions of medieval mendicant society, as set in the context of a murder mystery. The characters and the happenings of the book are constantly waylaid by metaphysical meditations of the most sedentary kind. At many points while reading I stopped and thought to myself that I would not understand most of the text if I had not been studying metaphysics over the past year. And even having done so, I can't say I enjoyed much about those passages: they were neither exciting fiction nor real metaphysical reflections, being instead purposely constrained to the perspective of a narrator of "limited" intellectual capability. And so we get bogged down. It's reminiscent of the long passages in Anna Karenina where Levin ponders agrarian politics and the divisions of labor.
What gets left behind? Well there are fascinating aspects to this story, and I don't mean plot points. The politics of life in a medieval abbey are riveting, the warring strategies of church and secular lords, the veneration of books! So much is interesting to read about, and then we have a handful of rich characters dealing with a grisly murder case. This should be the perfect combination! If the book was about a third shorter, missing most of the philosophical digressions, then I think we'd have a novel of some perfection. But Eco can't help it--he must show his wit, until it comes almost to the point of strangling the story. I found it to be similar in Foucault's Pendulum, where early signs had me excited for a clever mystery, but the book as a whole left me dissatisfied, holding onto shreds of philosophical concepts rather than what feels like a book.
And I say all this as a fairly patient reader. If anything, I have an affinity for too-brainy writing. But as much as I am glad to have finally read The Name of the Rose, I'll be more likely to stick to Umberto Eco's nonfiction in the future. ...more
At first, Fear and Trembling seems exceedingly simple. Kierkegaard, through the voice of a pseudonymous author, Johannes de silentio, will treat us toAt first, Fear and Trembling seems exceedingly simple. Kierkegaard, through the voice of a pseudonymous author, Johannes de silentio, will treat us to a meditation on the nature of faith, as best exemplified in the story of Abraham. We understand quickly that Kierkegaard/de silentio feels as if the Abrahamic narrative has not been fully understood, or deeply considered enough, and, in consequence, few people understand the paradox that is faith. So the result seems as if this book will indeed be simple, if not in the depths of its analysis, at least in the form it will take: one slim book for one concept.
The form, though, is anything from simple, with sections both idiosyncratic and (seemingly) systematic at the same time, branching out in directions difficult to anticipate when one sets out without forewarning. And Kierkegaard/de silentio doesn't limit himself to the concept of faith; in approaching it, he feels comfortable reaching out to everything that borders faith and then further, so we have treatments of: ethics, aesthetics, tragedy, comedy, concealment, revelation, poetry, drama, irony, and more, even if not every one is as fully developed as another. The questions asked of each, as well, are far from simple. A short question in Kierkegaard can stand in for entire chapters written by other philosophers. Along that line, and in terms of style, it must also be said that Kierkegaard is a master, even if he writes in a style that is sure not to please all readers. It is wit, it is irony, it is acid: but it is dazzling.
My one wish, after finishing this book, is that everyone who claims to be a person "of faith," would read it. Even if one tenth of each of these new readers were to come to understand faith a bit differently, I think we might find ourselves in a better world....more
So Paul Theroux takes a trip from Paris to Japan and back, all on the railroad (with some minor air and sea deviations), seeing the world in all its sSo Paul Theroux takes a trip from Paris to Japan and back, all on the railroad (with some minor air and sea deviations), seeing the world in all its sundry chaos on the way. I couldn't have been more excited to start this book when I did, being a lover of train travel (mostly without the opportunity to express that love), and curious about all these places he had visited--Afghanistan, Siberia, Vietnam, India, Singapore, many more--that I would like to visit and still have not had the chance. So yes, I was full of happy anticipation as I sat down to read The Great Railway Bazaar, this book sure to be full of just the kinds of things I wanted to read about. Anticipation breeds disappointment, however, and I should have proceeded more warily.
Theroux has all the right ingredients as a writer: the power of observation, a sense of pace, a certain grace in his prose, a sense of style. I was surprised, though, when these didn't add up to a narrative that felt in any way fair to its subject. Thirty pages in, I found myself asking, "Where are the cultures themselves? Where is the richness? What am I learning here?" What I felt missing, throughout the book, was any kind of generosity. The Theroux-Narrator crosses the frontiers of culture, observes cooly, and mostly finds fault. Nearly everything is pitifully lacking in his eyes, nearly every person encountered is in some way inferior. His most joyous moments are when he manages to get a comfortable compartment to himself, or when he finds a cozy spot to reenact his habits from home. Is there anything inherently wrong with this? Perhaps not. But what we get from it is a book that tells so terribly little about the world it is meant to traverse. Instead, we get the image of a dissatisfied and unlikeable traveler, who lives to leave, to move on, to make an account of comforts experienced, and almost always in the negative. Of course there are traces of what I had originally hoped for, a bit of discovery: his various accounts of landscapes are worth reading, for example. Also, the travails of the constant traveller are instructive, sometimes humorous, such as his never-ending search for food in a world that seems bent on making it difficult. And anyone who has travelled even a few days will accept that some criticism is to be expected, if not needed, even, for the book to be honest.
However, there is a limit to how much we can live with one man's perpetual displeasure. This book ends up being much less about the railway bazaar itself and much more about the narrator. He describes himself scantily, but we come to know him all the same. He is the miserly, introverted dilettant who makes little fuss over what is grand and yet flourishes over his annoyances. Everything is bizarre to him, if not downright backward, and all he wishes is to get moving, right to the point where it makes him sick. It's the sensation of running, forever, from his own dissatisfaction, that's what we're left with: an unfair and disappointing catalogue, if a well-written one, of his extended flight. This may please some readers, but I had hoped for more. If I have to spend a few hundred pages crammed in a railway compartment with a fellow traveler, can't I expect him to be a little more pleasant?
(One caveat: I clearly love a good critique. The Great Railway Bazaar is not that either.)...more
This book attempts a fairly impossible task and does it fairly well: a short history of philosophy that covers the main European tradition thoroughlyThis book attempts a fairly impossible task and does it fairly well: a short history of philosophy that covers the main European tradition thoroughly while still giving proper attention to (nearly) all subdisciplines as well as world philosophies. When I say it accomplishes its task "fairly well," this doesn't mean that the book is exactly a success, but rather it is a good failure. Telling the story of philosophy is problematic, when trying to consider which writers and thinkers to include, when trying to decide how in depth to analyse their texts, and even simply the question of when and/or where to begin. To their credit, the authors, Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins, present these problems directly, and make an attempt to be transparent about how they hope to deal with them. That effort at transparency is present throughout the book, and this is something I truly appreciated about the work. The authors are not without their biases and interpretations, but they do the work to make sure those biases are exposed rather than hidden, and that mostly fair treatment is given outside the boundaries of their personal/professional tendencies.
But what is most important to know about this history? Well, honestly, if it is of any use. And it is. I don't think this book would be very useful for anyone deep in the study of philosophy, other than as something quick to glance at in order to see how a particular philosopher or text is "glossed." For someone trying to orient themselves in the field, though, trying to have a better grasp of the relationships between concepts, and seeking a general primer to how ideas have transformed (or not) over the millennia that philosophy has been practiced, this is a good resource. But it is, at its foundation, not a philosophical text. It is a historical, descriptive text that incorporates some philosophical ideas and narratives. That distinction might seem unimportant, except that I think some students of philosophy should be clear on it, in order not to incorrectly consider this text as support for a philosophical exercise. No, it would not be appropriate for that. But it definitely helped me, like, for example, I was asked to consider Duns Scot, and I had a general concept of his relationship with the scholastic philosophers who proceded him shortly. That being said, I expect that what I have learned from this text will eventually be replaced by more thorough knowledge, yet it isn't a terrible framework from which to begin....more
The description of the English edition is not very good. This is not a "journey through 20th-century philosophy," as such, but rather a collection ofThe description of the English edition is not very good. This is not a "journey through 20th-century philosophy," as such, but rather a collection of short tributes to leading French philosophers that Alain Badiou knew (to some degree) personally, in each case presented or published shortly after their deaths. It is not comprehensive; it is arguable if it even has much in the way of historicity. What it does feature is a selection of reflections on the work and contributions of fourteen remarkable thinkers, mixed with a dose of pathos and eccentricity.
The difficulty of each piece varies widely. In some essays, not much training in philosophy is necessary to follow the thread of Badiou's remarks; in others he burrows deep into what will sound like opaque jargon to non-specialists. I think there are points in which his views of the meaningful contributions of his former colleagues are very insightful, and would be helpful to anyone wanting to learn more about this generation of French philosophers. I would not recommend this, though, as a primer of any sort.
One idiosyncrasy of this volume is that in his various encomiums, Badiou has a habit of differentiating himself from the concepts of his subject near the end of every essay. Sometimes this has the tone of a clarification about his personal bias; other times it makes his prior homage seem to lose part of its sincerity. This comes across as particularly strange when he follows that immediately with some very grief-laden final dedication to mourning.
All together, I enjoyed this as a reading of these philosophers, in brief, VIA Alain Badiou. In some cases, though, it has only whet my appetite for the work of the thinkers themselves....more
After just commenting elsewhere on Goodreads about genre, I come to this book, which I finished a month ago, but have been pondering ever since, puttiAfter just commenting elsewhere on Goodreads about genre, I come to this book, which I finished a month ago, but have been pondering ever since, putting off my review. This is not historical fiction, though history courses through it like a system of rivers, and it is also not history. This book is fiction, pure though not in the sense that it lacks any factual statement, rather it is pure fiction in how it is the complete fabrication of a new world, perhaps even more fictitious on account of its uncanny resemblance to the one in which we live.
I've been searching for a way to describe not just this book, but the completely arresting experience of reading it. I happily discovered that Sven Birkerts has done so (and in the process has also included the most accurate description of how I perceive the act of collecting, handling, and consuming books...) in an essay that appeared recently in AGNI. Even though the essay is actually mostly about Birkerts' reading of Vertigo, almost everything said, excepting specific quotes and details, can stand true for The Rings of Saturn. So, for my purposes, Birkerts' essay stands in for my review. He not only describes the content of a Sebald novel better than I could hope to have done, he also perfect captures the reading experience, complete with the compulsion one feels to progress through the text.
This is one of the best books I've read. Ratings are foolish; there aren't enough stars....more
I had about a 500-word review of this novel written when my computer decided to restart of its own volition. Ugh. So let me recap what I was going toI had about a 500-word review of this novel written when my computer decided to restart of its own volition. Ugh. So let me recap what I was going to say, in brief.
Things with any version of "Celt" in the title are usually campy garbage: this is not. Historical fiction is usually just studied nostalgia: this is not. This is a vibrant, sensitive, nuanced portrait of an intriguing figure, Sir Roger Casement, offering a fair account of his life, relatively free of worship while still paying homage to his achievements. The story is remarkable, the writing is excellent. Adventurer, anti-colonialist, diplomat, humanitarian, Irish nationalist, traitor to the British crown: Casement was all of these things, and this book gives all sides of him their due. It is written with such an attention to detail and a confidence of voice that it almost steps into the realm of biography. I recommend it highly. Mario Vargas Llosa deserves accolades for this book. And Casement deserves the attention he is given....more
This book starts for me in the second section, where Martinez begins to engage/inhabit/imitate/manipulate/repurpose/appropriate/enrich/undo pre-ColumbThis book starts for me in the second section, where Martinez begins to engage/inhabit/imitate/manipulate/repurpose/appropriate/enrich/undo pre-Columbian Meso-American myth. This is not the totality of what Martinez is doing in the second and third sections of his book, but it is a major focus of the poems in how it contributes to the voice, image, and rhetorical structures. The poems are lyrical and historical, political and still personal (without being "personal politics"), and Martinez plays with open forms in a way that shows he doesn't lose sight of today's avant garde poetry as he delves into the past of Meso-America.
Where the book falters for me, particularly in the first section, is where Martinez tries to play with critical theory and political philosophy in the poems. As a lover of both contemporary poetry and political philosophy, I didn't find the interruptions of the former by the latter to be pleasing. But wait, let's be clear: this is a political act, where a Chicano poet interrupts the traditional western lyric with arguments regarding the subject, the body, and linguistics. (That is a gross simplification, but it gets at the thrust of what defines the act.) I admire the politics of it, share some of Martinez's tastes in reading material, and I can even find the artistic value of the project--not all art should be pleasing, as many examples in modern music have fortunately taught us. At the same time, without disrepect to all that I can find of value in these poems, I think they are the least successful in the book, and also where Martinez would owe the greatest debt to other poets. His most original work is where he leaves the explicit theory in the white spaces of the page, as I see it.
In any case, I will look forward to seeing more of Martinez's work in the future. Judging by some of the inventive turns he takes in this volume, I expect he will go somewhere unexpected.
A favorite poem: "Our Lady of Guadalupe's Dream and Jade Ruin." Check it....more
This book deserves another half star, if I could give it. I enjoyed Dickman's voice, one that keeps a certain consistency throughout the book, even asThis book deserves another half star, if I could give it. I enjoyed Dickman's voice, one that keeps a certain consistency throughout the book, even as individual poems or sections shift from higher to lower registers and back. Part of the continuity of the voice comes from a certain boyish imagination that brings life to the poems. Even as the speaker faces something of magnitude, like the recurring theme of a dead older brother (drawn from Dickman's life, but I prefer to speak of it here not as a lived truth but as a literary device), there is a youthful quality to the images and language play that make up the work. And, of course, in more playful moments, this youth really comes to the fore. I also liked Dickman's use of repetition, which reminded me a bit of what Richard Siken does in his book Crush, except in a way that felt much lighter and more productive, at least to me. I'll come back to this book in the future, both to reexamine that boyish imagination that I enjoyed, as well as to consider the length and space in these poems....more
This speaks volumes about the state of publishing and prize culture in American poetry today. Reading Curses and Wishes, it is hard for me to believeThis speaks volumes about the state of publishing and prize culture in American poetry today. Reading Curses and Wishes, it is hard for me to believe that it was the best manuscript submitted to the Academy of American Poets for the 2010 Walt Whitman Award. If so, the judge, Marvin Bell, should have opted not to award anyone with this prize. If there were better manuscripts, of which I am sure, I can't understand why Carl Adamshick won. This book is 51 pages of unremarkable, completely forgetable poetry. I don't want to suggest that Adamshick is talentless, or that the poems are themselves bad, but this isn't a prize-winner. It isn't something to be celebrated over other books. Frankly, it's a collection that says to me, "this poet isn't ready yet, though he may be someday." And yet his work has won a prize and distributed to members of the Academy of American Poets. One way of looking at it is to be grateful, since this only gives me more confidence in my own work, to see a book like this winning accolades. ...more
In the thesis defense meeting for my Master of Fine Arts degree, one of my committee members—an illustrious guy—told me, “time to stop reading Rilke aIn the thesis defense meeting for my Master of Fine Arts degree, one of my committee members—an illustrious guy—told me, “time to stop reading Rilke and start reading Milosz.” That was about two years ago now and I started this collection shortly thereafter. The resulting journey has been slow going. I had periods where I’d be reading fifty pages a week, and then others where I let the book rest untouched for a few months. At all points I considered its reading as a work-in-progress, until now, when I have finally read the last page of poetry, the last page of end notes.
What has happened in the interim? I think this is a question that applies both to the individual case of reading Milosz’s poetry, but also to the larger, more general act of reading the collected poems of an author. To start, I think it’s often unreasonable to imagine that we truly know a book after reading it once, but this is probably never more the case than after reading a collection of poems that is meant to cover the expanse of a career and life. Milosz, in particular, was too prolific for me to pretend that I now know his poems, not like, for example, how I know Rilke’s Duino Elegies after rereading them a few dozen times. On the other hand, it isn’t as if I don’t know the work—certainly after reading over seven hundred pages of poetry by a single writer, even after taking into consideration evolution of craft and stylistic variance, there is a manner in which I know the work. Yet, should you ask me to recall, offhand, a representative line, image, or figure? I wouldn’t, without reopening the book, be well-equiped to answer with any authority.
I believe what happens when you read the complete works of a poet, slowly, over time, is that you begin to accumulate a certain familiarity with the work/voice/substance of the poetry. I might not be able to quote many lines from memory, or delve too far into analyses about the presiding structures of the writing, not after one reading of his oeuvre, but I have a sense of how the poetry feels as it is being read. It’s not unlike the memory of the feeling of sitting in a particular chair, day after day, for hours, while studying. It’s sensory, rather than logical, and it is familiar, rather than formal. It’s the same sort of perception that distinguishes between the feeling of being in Edinburgh and the feeling of being in Seattle, without reference to visual cues, even at times when the climates feel remarkably similar. On the whole, I think this sort of familiarity accretes whenever the body of work of a poet is read steadily over time (perhaps all understandings of books, to a certain degree, work this way), but it is especially true in the case of Milosz, if by virtue of the sheer volume of poetry alone.
What did it feel like to read Milosz? At times it felt like sitting with a minor mystic, at other times it felt like listening to the elder of the tribe. I felt, nearly always, the urge towards visionary movement, contrasting with a strong desire for wisdom and rationality. At times where I felt resistant towards him, I thought of Milosz as the man-who-would-be-sage. At other times, I felt his voice to be breaking from the clouds. Moreover, there was nearly always impression that, “yes, this work is quotable,” and there were poems that were chock-full of pith. But simultaneously, there was a screen being held up, something of an attempt to shield the reader (and perhaps the author) from seeing the man behind the curtain. In a late poem, Milosz apologizes to Lowell for judging him harshly for his showy madnesses, and I got the sense that a barrier was always in place in the book so as to make real that distinction between the vibrance of the work and the demons of the man who wrote it. Even when seemingly personal details are disclosed in a self-deprecating fashion, there is a limit to how close one can get to the man himself.
I can imagine this limit being something of a manifestation of the trauma that Milosz spends most of his life trying to write. He wrote war, he wrote exile, he wrote spiritual doubt, he wrote heartache, and he wrote hamartia. I wonder if he ever suspected that all those attempts to write truth about suffering were, in the end, something of a circumnavigation that put into relief the real residue of trauma, the mostly impermeable wall between the man and the work. (I should probably clarify that I don’t think other authors are incarnate in their work, but rather that I think the specific quality of the barrier, in Milosz’s case, is what gives me this impression.) Or maybe it isn’t a barrier but a synapse, a chasm. There is probably a study to be done on moments of obvious absence, in terms of a subjective voice, but I’m not the one to do it. Whoever is, though, I might suggest they look at the Scottish poet, Sorley MacClean, for some uncanny resonances, at least concerning a poet who writes not only from the distance of being exiled from action, but exiled from the self as well.
I’ve gone a bit more in depth about my feelings than I intended, and still I haven’t gone all the way. I haven’t yet said that I felt deep ambivalence about Milosz’s late attempts at philosophy (in verse). I haven’t said that I never sat easily through his representations of women and relationships with them. I haven’t said there were times when I was ready to shake Milosz out of some bucolic fantasy, to say, “We have exalted the tree bark and the bee work and the brook babble enough already to know that you will deliver us to a maxim of some kind soon enough. Take me back to the war. And stop gesturing towards the bottle long enough to talk about how you drank!” But all that would also hide the fact that at times I had the impression of sitting cross-legged at his feet, nodding “yes, yes, yes!” to his pronouncements on the vanity of men and the mysterious lure of mortality. That makes it sound somewhat wank, but I think it’s a testament to the poet’s power that, at his best, these kinds of claims were both artful and persuasive. So sometimes sitting with Milosz felt like sitting with the Truth. (Luckily, I eventually close the book long enough to remember that I doubt anyone/anything who claims in word or gesture to represent Truth.)
So I have meandered through some of my impressions, ones that built up over the duration of two years’ intermittent reading, and in a way that, I think, represents some of the way I made my way through the collection too. Even if I turned every page and read every poem in the sequence that they are delivered to us in the format of the book, I still have the sense of choosing my path, or rather my engagement with it. That, finally, is part of what I think the value of reading a collected volume can be. And so (an inside joke), I am grateful to the thesis committee member who spurred me into Milosz’s work. I can’t say that I was happy in every line, but I can say that I have grown from the steady increase of familiarity with this oeuvre. Among other things, I came away with an idea of how some of my tendencies as a writer have been approached by one of the very best, and of how even the very best can make (in my estimation) missteps. I may never be as wise a poet as Milosz. All the better.
Oh yes, one more thing: Heaney and Hass were among the translators. Likely company in more ways than a few. ...more
I began reading this journal on the eve of a difficult break-up and was amazed at how appropriate Barthes' expressions and ruminations on grief were tI began reading this journal on the eve of a difficult break-up and was amazed at how appropriate Barthes' expressions and ruminations on grief were to me at the time. Finishing the collection months later, it is hard not to see the writings as slightly histrionic and over-wrought. To read this when happy is almost to find it unrelatable; to read it while in grief, well that is to find many degrees of resonance.
I think this journal is of value, though, even for the reader who is happily exempt from this kind of suffering. Barthes does more than catalogue his anguish for the loss of his mother--he both intones his grief and dissects how it operates, particularly in language. At times it grows repetitive, even redundant, but then this is a characterization of grief: "I miss her, I miss her..." In fact, even a reader deep in mourning should gain from reading these notes, for even as they resonate, they introduce a degree of distance that usurps the very worse of the grieving process.
And, if nothing else, it shows quite a different side to a man whose writings rarely offer enough softness to take the edge off his image as a sharp critic....more
This book dares to reproduce several wild claims: 1.) All intelligences are equal; 2.) We can learn anything that can be learned by virtue of our ownThis book dares to reproduce several wild claims: 1.) All intelligences are equal; 2.) We can learn anything that can be learned by virtue of our own faculties and without the direction of a knowing-mentor; 3.) We can teach what we do not know. Rancière does not author these claims so much as retrieve them from the teachings of a nineteenth century pedagogue and pariah: Joseph Jacotot. Yet he asserts the claims anew and with a vigor that begs attention. And attention is exactly what is demanded.
Going further, Rancière addresses the counter arguments, both those documented in history and those that can be projected by today's skeptics. Throughout the text he dismantles these counter arguments, showing them to be the critiques of those invested in the preservation of inequality. He even goes so far as to reveal the consequences of progressives who would appropriate the tenets of emancipatory education in service of a new order, one which only rearranges the ranks of difference.
This is an excellent book, and one that will mark how I continue my life as a teacher AND learner. Part of me thinks that, given the choice, I would make this book required reading for any career educator, but that would be to make a program of something that must happen naturally. All I can really do is rate it highly and spread the word. All intelligences are equal. Anything that can be learned is open to you to learn by your own will. You can teach what you do not know....more
It's always interesting to read a children's book as an adult, particularly with a mind towards the question, "What dSad, sweet, positively charming.
It's always interesting to read a children's book as an adult, particularly with a mind towards the question, "What does this book try to teach a child?" I find it rare, though, to get swept up in the story itself, to experience it as if I were a young reader. Le Petit Prince is one of those rare exceptions where I did not feel my age as I read (though it probably helps that reading in French can somewhat infantize me). I still did ask myself, periodically, what is this book teaching? What does it say about women, in particular, as the Prince's rose becomes clearly allegorical? And there are certainly critiques to be made. At the same time, the text remains charming, the characters unique, and the humor delicious even as it comes steeped in a certain sadness. I'm happy I didn't wait any longer to read it....more
This short text really takes the question of intrusion to a new depth as Jean-Luc Nancy explores the many significations of living twenty years with aThis short text really takes the question of intrusion to a new depth as Jean-Luc Nancy explores the many significations of living twenty years with a heart transplant. We might consider, at first look, that the transplanted heart is an intrusion, a foreign element introduced into the body. Nancy doesn't stop there, though, and shows that once the intrusion is made, it continues to be remade continually and in new forms. For example, he looks at the strange implications of needing to take immuno-suppressants, essentially attacking the body's naturally defenses, so those same defenses don't attack the foreign heart, but by suppressing the immune system, we introduce the threat of infection from bacteria already dormant in our bodies--an intrusion always already-present, but normally kept in check. This is just one thread of many that Nancy follows in his exploration, all of which are intriguing, harrowing, and convincing.