Log in

No account? Create an account
[Reading the] modern(ism)/post-modern(ism)'s Journal
20 entries back

Date:2004-12-16 14:52

I'd like to hear how much of Master and Margarita people have read.

Please comment on this entry and say what page you are on and whether you have finished it. I need the energy created by people paying attention to this in order to finish the Bulgakov text.

Don't feel guilty or pressured. I'm thinking that we should aim to finish it by the end of this month.
Even if you haven't read a word yet, but plan to, that is more positive energy than just not commenting all together.

Also, I have some great suggestions for books in the future, so I think the_modern is something that people should plug into and help make lively.

We've been doing a good job with this too. I was happy that nineteen or so voted last time, let's go into next year on a high note!! We are all winners for being interested in things that are so much better than say what is on cable tv or the latest bad action movie or rock band, and together we can create a lot of positive intellectual energy.

(6witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-12-06 19:54

I am hoping to have Master and Margarita done by the end of next week- say the 19th of December.

It's only 300 pages, by the way. Let's have a great end to the year so that we can start 05 encouraged.

I have interesting books to propose for 2005, including:

- Modern Italian Literature- Calvino, Svevo, perhaps Pirnadello, hopefully
others that I don't know as well.

- A month on Joyce- I'm thinking Dubliners.

- Nobel Prize winners including VS Naipaul and the woman who won this year
that I've never heard of before.

- I had more ideas, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment- I'm very busy
teaching a 5th grade class, finishing my teaching credential, taking
second semester French, and also being enrolled in an art class- besides
it's finals time.

- and of course, as always, the modern will be open to and guided by
you suggestions and participation.

So, let's all finish the Bulgakov!!


Date:2004-11-09 08:35


I started reading The Master and Margarita last night and couldn't put it down, so if there's anybody out there still deciding whether or not to read it, give it a try!

I'm about halfway through the text and curious to see what sort of reaction/discussion it provokes. Have fun with the reading!


Date:2004-11-07 11:13

The winner for this voting period is Bulgakov's Master and Margarita.

I'd like to see if everyone can have it finished by the end of November, but if people need a few more weeks than that that would be ok too.

I really just want everyone to participate. This is a really straightforward text with a gorgeous plot strucure. There is one chapter about the condemnation of Christ by Pontius Pilate that is seemingly out of place in the text. I bring this up because the plot proceed very linearly except for this one chapter, I believe it's chapter two. I don't want people to feel like the book is going to be like a pastiche or all over the place from reading just chapter one and two. After two the plot stays very traditional and is about the uncanny metaphysical characters coming to early twentieth century Russia and their effects on the world of writers and artists of early communist society.

(3witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-10-16 18:14
Subject:Book of the Month

It's that time again! Once the book choice is decided depending on your vote, will the deadline be set and fixed. We're not on such a time crunch this time around so the voting time will only take a duration of two weeks, so please vote on your choice book. For book details, go to amazon.com for information on each book. I've relentlessly have gotten lazy and won't post the information on each book like the previous time i have since there's more texts this time around (Look on amazon.com for these books to help you decide). Thank you.

--Message from the co-maintainer, warped_chick

Poll #367778 Voting Time!

Which of these books would you prefer to read for this month's book discussion?

Paul Auster-City of Glass
Thomas Pynchon-Gravity's Rainbow
Salman Rushdie-Midnight's Children
Virginia Woolf-"Mrs. Dalloway"
Bulgakov-The Master and Margarita
Jeffrey Eugenides-Middlesex: A Novel

(1witticism | Post)

Date:2004-09-14 18:29
Subject:Next text for the_modern
Mood: blank

Poll #350235 Next text for the_modern

What do you suggest to be the next text (that meets the criteria of this community) for book discussion?


Date:2004-09-11 14:06
Subject:I apologize
Mood: busy

I apologize for not keeping on track with the book club. I have been busy with work and summer school from the last time you heard from me. It's that time again and we didn't discuss much on Pale Fire, so i just think it'd be better to proceed with voting on new books. I will later make a blank poll so that you can suggest new books for the months of September through October. Sorry I haven't been on top of things lately. And we need to enforce the deadlines more.

--Message from the co-maintainer, warped_chick

(1witticism | Post)

Date:2004-08-28 02:28
Mood: awake

Hi, I'm new.

Looking forward to reading Pale Fire.

(2witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-08-16 14:37
Subject:on ethics of war- strategic resistence

ASPEN TREE, your leaves glance white into the dark.
My mother's hair was never white.

Dandelion, so green is the Ukraine.
My yellow-haired mother did not come home.

Rain cloud, above the well do you hover?
My quiet mother weeps for everyone.

Round star, you wind the golden loop.
My mother's heart was ripped by lead.

Oaken door, who lifted you off your hinges?
My gentle mother cannot return.

paul celan, aspen tree, holocaust poet


"terrorism is war against rich people
war is terrorism against poor people"

me was told that theese dictum is too essential... reductionist..
of course it is,
you cant say that all terrorism is war against the rich.

now ask me, "were all the people killed in WTO 'sinners', were they rich..."

this is a real problematic, faced when you take a stand against multinational

capitalism, and an american centric philosophy of economy and life.

 my point is... the wto victims
they were not the victim of bin laden, they were the victim of multinational, capitalist,

colonial america..
means, to put it straight,
its george bush who killed them.

and they are not martyers of america, they are only victims,
and their death, were used by the state as a promotional advertisment... used

strategically, as 'emotional' and political violence.
which untimately was directed against the iraqies and afgans,
dropping bombs and food packets from the same airfighter.
it is to this strategic violence, that we use, a 'strategic essentialism' when saying

that terrorism is 'war against rich people'...

it is the 'survival tatics' of the oppressed, 

a tatics, not for oil or money but for existence...

 this statement-'terrorism is war against rich people' is not a universal 'truth'-

applicable to all times and all people,
its contextual, and always under the chance of 'erasure'

'would love someone to, tear up-art my argument'

(7witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-08-09 12:39

Everyone who reads this, please read the last post and

A) give your observations about the failure of this community and what we can do to make it better.


B) whether you'd be willing to join and then willing to do the reading on a new community that will be identical to this one, but will just be like a new beginning.

One thing about this one, is that it may have failed because it was started around the time that people had finals and then summer.


Date:2004-08-09 12:34

I'm thinking about how to improve this.

My inclination is to just start a modern 2.0.

The other idea is that we could scrap the whole voting thing and just have each member be responsible for choosing a book and then leading the discussion for that month.

Maybe this way people will be more engaged with it.

I feel more than a little bit responsible for the failure of the modern. I could have done the reading more or posted more when I had done the reading.

I don't know... I wanted it to work so bad.

Maybe I should tear it down and do modern 2.0 so that people will only add it as a community if they are willing to do the reading and lead discussion.

I'll even lead discussion every other month. People don't need to have an extensive knowledge of the text they choose for the month they lead. They can even choose a book that they haven't heard of before. Mostly, they will just be responsible for asking some questions about it and having people comment.

(5witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-07-31 15:50
Subject:you can contribute

friends... romans... countrywomen

i am doin a weekly column in our newspaper, from this week,
the general theme is, to put it very simbly, how foreigners(foreign media, travelogues, advertisments) see indians, our culture, our news etc...

even though the we/they distinction is problematic, for general convienience ive decided to put it this way,

the first issue would carry, a travel experience of a white woman in india... and the next one would feature a cnn advertisment that appeared in the latest issue of time magazine, asia edition.

if you ever come across anysuch news, feature, historical piece, it can be even missionary writings or colonial military records... it can be a little news item, that appears in a foreign newspaper... sometimes hate attacks, or items which have subtle colonial suggessions in the way the news or views are presented.
please let me know at..
and the name of the column is zebra...
and thanks for joge and quzling who helped me have
a gmail account...


Date:2004-07-14 12:41
Subject:I hope this is allowed:
Mood: creative

I'm looking for fellow literary people- I've just created a community centered on the works and mind of Edgar Allan Poe. I don't want to focus just on the fiction works he wrote, but also have access to several of his nonfiction works, and would like to discuss ideas Poe had, such as the equivalence of madness to genius, and his infamous "imp of the perverse". I think this could spark a lot of interesting conversation.

If there are any other avid Poe fans, like myself, please join! It was just begun today, and I'm interested to see what other people can contribute!

EDIT: (how stupid of me) forgot the link! It's madnessofpoe! Sorry


~cuervodepaz (and im_a_dark_lord)

(X-posted... sorry if you see this more than once)

PS> I couldn't find whether or not you allowed relevant communities to be advertised here- so if you don't like this,you can delete this entry. But thanks anyway!


Date:2004-07-13 12:04
Subject:New Book
Mood: chipper

It's been about two months duration of voting for the next book choice. The majority who chose to vote decided on Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire. the_modern's profile has been updated.

As of today, the next deadline to have this book read by is Saturday, July 31st. Plenty of time. Discussions will proceed after then. A big thanks to those who participated in voting in the poll.


Date:2004-07-13 11:31
Subject:New book?
Mood: curious

Just a random question-
has anyone completely finished Proust's novel? I'm still only halfway through. It's a book I've only been able to read a little bit at a time, heh. But I do love it. It's sooo beautiful.

But I had a question- what was the next book going to be?

Has anyone started reading it? Am I behind?

(3witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-06-17 16:34
Subject:idolatry, or the world through masques

the professor I had for Proust once said that if you could summarize all of Temps Perdu in one word, that word would be idolatry.

I agree with what someone else said here about how difficult it is to read about Swann's love for Odette, because she's so clearly playing him, and using him for money and other things. but I think the real purpose of that episode (or one of the real purposes) is to show how strongly people create their own realities, and how two people can see completely different parts of another person. especially after seeing Marcel's worship of the Guermantes family in the Combray section, and seeing how his idea, and the reader's idea, of Odette and the Guermantes evolves throughout the books, it seems to me that Proust's emphasis, and the purpose of all his twists and turns, is to show how endlessly complex people are. there are always different facets visible to different observers, and it's nearly impossible to create a whole, unified description of someone. Proust spends 3000 pages trying to do that for his characters, and still doesn't finish.

there's a bit much later in the books with a side character, who at first is introduced as having one profession, X, but Marcel discovers that she is also a call girl. and I think that what both Marcel and the reader are inclined to think, at first, is, why did she say she was X when she is really a call girl? as though there's some sort of fundamental identity that supersedes other identities. but the real key to this work, I think, is that there is no superseding identity, only thousands of sub-identities intertwined and overlaid, each inextricable from the next, and this fundamental unknowability is what governs human interactions.


Date:2004-06-13 00:41
Subject:Translations; the differences
Mood: doo be doo

My First Vintage International version of the text is actually a revised version of Moncrieff's original translation. The original, apparently titled the "abominable" edition by Samuel Beckett, who was a prominent critic of Proust, was "imperfect." I think mandarinsun mentioned it in reply to my last post- it was too "flowery".

So I thought I'd mention the translation of my text (revised in '89) is compiled and revised by Terence Kilmartin, who revises Moncrieff's translation, and compiles it with translations of the Pleiade edition that wasn't available to Moncrieff at the time of translation. But the idioms, according to Kilmartin, supposedly flow better now than when Moncrieff had his own way with the text. And it really does flow incredibly well.

What are the differences of the other translations, though? Mandarinsun asked me for more information about my translation, but I forgot there would be more than one when I bought the book (silly me)... so... are there going to be any major problems when we start discussing this book?

That's the trouble with linguistics. The word is not the thing- meaning translations open up this incredibly ambiguous world called "what the translator thinks it should be." Blah.

(1witticism | Post)

Date:2004-06-12 21:03
Subject:Proust is in my cup of tea
Mood: revitalized

I have recently finished my undergrad class on Studies in Tolkien, a 3 week course in which I read The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the full Silmarillion, complete with papers, presentations, and exams. What an intellectual work out, haha. But now that it's done, I've been able to pick up on my reading for pleasure. And by pleasure, I mean "Swann's Way" by Proust. But I got through the full "Overture" in two sittings.. okay, maybe 3... and I was really drawn into the narrative. My version is by Vintage International, and is translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, and it's BEAUTIFUL. I think it's reawakened some of the vigor for reading in me. At least, for the passion of the written word. I discovered how much I loved it when I took a class on literary criticim.

But anyway, I have to share my favorite parts from this overture. The images Proust sets forth, the young child, all he wants is his mother's comforting presence at night, waiting up for her that night and her staying with him through the night. That moment was incredible to me. I especially liked this particular part of the text (from the Moncrieff translation):
First PassageCollapse )
Isn't that image beautiful?

And I know this takes up lots of space (hence the cuts), but here's another favorite quote from this first "chapter" of the text. I think it's essential to the theme Proust seems to be weaving with "memory" and, of course, the "remembrance of things past":
Second PassageCollapse )

This text seems to suggest an extremely psychological work. I'm not sure if this work could be classed under literary criticism in any other critical school than psycho-analytical, which would of course suggest Sigmund Freud (and thought I don't want to ruin the beautiful imagery, his Oedipal complex could be read fairly prominent in the first passage I quoted). His concepts of the sub-conscious also seem to be brought out clearly here; in the constant parallel to certain objects or experiences being linked to certain memories, even the memories of entire towns inside a cup of tea. I think Lacanian theory, the "Lacanian Mirror" or whatever the exact term is, could be applied here as well, as there are a couple of instances where the child of this portion of the text "realizes" something and describes "growing up" a little more, a sense of emotional puberty. At least within the text itself, these experiences suggesting further development could possibly link to Lacan and his mirror, and of course, other critics as well. I'd be interested to find out if any deconstructive or post-structural break-downs of this text exist. Any comments or replies? Agree? Disagree? *sigh* I love the written word.

(3witticisms | Post)

Date:2004-06-12 07:38
Subject:Swann's Way
Mood: awake

Well, to be honest I haven't finished the book yet. But hey, I did join the community late in the month. :) Anyway, in the translation by Lydia Davis on pages 86-87 I think is a useful section for understanding how to read the novel.

"the ingeniousness of the first novelist consisted in understanding that in the apparatus of our emotions, the image being the only essential element, the simplification that would consist in purely and simply abolishing real people would be a decisisve improvement"

In this section he talks talks about how "emotion is multiplied ten fold" because it can be isolated. And I would argue that not only emotion, but almost everything is multiplied in the novel. Can we say Decadent?

Why I say that this page or so is useful in understanding how to read the text is that it may be read as a highly emotional dream, the obvious example being the tea cup and those things everyone talks about.

Perhaps I'm just saying what everyone else has said about the book a hundred times, but I thought that section was worth bringing our attention to.

(1witticism | Post)

Date:2004-06-09 10:43
Subject:New To the Group

Hi. I joined the group a few days ago because I'm preparing for comprehensive exams later this year for my PhD and Swann's Way is on my list of books (as well as the rest of Proust). I haven't posted to begin discussion because I didn't know how the discussion worked and I didn't want to rock the boat.

But no one has posted anything yet, so I guess I'll just mention the main idea/frustration I had with this book. I could never completely enjoy this book because I became aggravated with Swann's naivety (or simple unwillingness to accept reality) throughout the novel. He seems to be too naive and stupid for words; it's obvious from the beginning that Odette is using Swann and taking lying to him, but Swann either doesn't know or doesn't care and enjoys allowing himself to be tortured. Regarding Swann's rejection of reality, I believe that's what Proust was trying to point out in the work--people interpret reality in their own way. Reality is constructed both by the experience and the memory/conception of the experience. That explains the narrator's meticulous descriptions of his settings and individuals. Also, the reality of the madeleine becomes a combination of the experience the narrator has when biting into it and the events of his life that emerge upon tasting the cookie dipped into his tea.

I have other ideas regarding this and the concept of Time, but I'll hold back for now to see what others think.

(5witticisms | Post)

my journal