Saturday, December 09, 2006

catching up.....mammoth post warning

I found this at a used bookstore and felt an immediate affinity. Either it was written strictly for me or I in fact wrote it in the far future. Postmodern Revelation examines the polemics behind John's use of Sabian/pagan/astrological imagery to relate Christian truths. Astrology is consumed by this process, where it is constantly alluded to but never named. Contemporary readers would recognize imagery associated with their cultural identity, but now brought under the guise of the lord (which Chevalier constantly refers to as "the Verb"). Just fascinating. I'm now dying to read both Jung's "Answer to Job" and Chevalier's three book series on the 3-D mind, focusing on neurology. I can't imagine who I'd recommend this to, but it's now one of my prized possessions (along with "Alchemy and Mysticism, collections from the Hermetic Museum"). I give it 10 gold pentagrams up.

In Daniel Martin, Fowles exorcises some demons using the character of an English screenwriter coming to terms with his Age. When it is revealed that the major conflict between Martin and his Oxford schoolmates comes from a play where he used their personal lives as subject matter, exaggerating their faults as characterization, I have to wonder which novel Fowles does this in (knowing him, it's this one). My only qualm here is that I really couldn't give a damn about English identity, and have no way of relating to someone who grew up before the war, lamenting an age that was lost and some sort of identity crisis that followed. The politics really dragged much of the story into the muck, though there were plenty of beautiful moments, mostly recollections of Daniel Martin's youth and past loves (threesome with girls from a song-and-dance troupe). And the last 250 pgs or so jump into Egypt....also problematic. But it's at least closed with a fantastic bittersweet ending (what author can end a novel with such a damned crescendo as Fowles?) where SPOILERZ Daniel Martin begins writing the novel of his awakening, which may or me not be the book you've just been reading.

Fowles's first novel, The Collector, lacks his later scope (I wanted to say lacks the epic, but the ending is very much a beginning, implying the epic), but makes up for it with brutal tone and frantic pacing. Most of the story is told from the abductor's point of view, up until the final day, and then the story retreats to the beginning to present the captor's point of view. This build-up and cliffhangery carries an element of disappointment which ends up working in the novel's favor. By the time you reach the final days Fowles has rebooted the tension so that his ending is doubly catastrophic. Finishing is a completely harrowing experience. Do it.

What an amazing image: Lindbergh flying solo to campaign across the country, winning over the heartland with soundbytes and heroism, while secretly getting in bed with the Nazis who may have been behind his son's abduction. Aunt Evelyn dancing with Ribbentrop in the White House, young Jews traveling to the south to learn to farm (integration as slave labor),......
these concepts are for more engrossing than the actual narrative: the story of an 11 year old boy who collects stamps. The final chapters of news and radio footage are a step in the right direction. I couldn't help wishing this one was a bit more Man in the High Castle.

I adore Bret Easton Ellis novels. The only thing missing here is a chapter of track by track examinations of soft rock 80s albums, otherwise this would beat American Psycho as my favorite. A blurb on the back cover compares the story to the Shining, but Poltergeist (rated PG?!?) is more apt. So the 80s are definitely present (80s has begun to imply early 90s somehow), whether Ellis details his early success or panics over recent strings of child abductions, though the setting is technically post 9/11. Pat Bateman wanders in and out of this story as one of the demons haunting Ellis, but so does Detective Kimball, who shows up all business investigating some nearby murders, with no explanation as to how he made the jump from one fiction to this semi-autobiographical b-movie. Ellis sits across from Kimball sweating in doubt, in Bateman's position, while the two of them discuss a copycat killer aping himself after Pat Bateman. "You're not a fictional character, are you, Mr. Ellis?" Ellis never seems to recall that Kimball comes from the same novel, creating this sort of classic wormhole where nothing can be trusted (but everyone wants to believe a haunting. and every haunting requires a large supply of drugs nearby so that a nonexistant skeptical audience can deny what's going on).
Anyway, I'll end up reading through this again in about a year, I'm sure. What happened to the Glamorama movie anyway?

I was expecting four times the length and six times the detail from a book on zero's history. This, on the other hand, was a light and fun crash course. Which doesn't mean I was in the mood for it. Read it on a plane, sell it back to Mckays.

You can start to see the sort of breather I require after Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and during Conspiracy of Art. Plus I have time for leisure reading on the clock at the lab. This more condensed version of Illuminatus! is extremely enjoyable and nowhere near as frustrating (maybe that was Robert Shea's doing). Wilson has a great technique of allowing you glimpses of Joyce-light wordplay - The Tree Swifty Ate, Sir Talis - at a rapid pace before dropping the curtain to tell the reader that 368 and Aleister (Crowley) are implied. Joyce is usually hanging out drunk in the background listening to the narrator along with Einstein. It's amazing how quick Wilson can shift from hilariously absurd to genuinely frightening (not as many actual scares in this one as in Illuminatus! though). I really wish that Rainn Wilson was Robert Anton's son, but I'm pretty sure wikipedia has failed me and that one has been debunked.