Insert witty title here - Tactical Ninja
Feb. 1st, 2013
09:50 am - Insert witty title here
As expected, DoomBoy had zero sympathy for my week of not lifting heavy things and general debauchery, and decided that this week we'd up the ante again. Thus, I struggled and puffed my way through our session feeling weak and pathetic, and it was only at the end that he told me I was lifting more than I ever had before. *glares at doomboy*
Today, my arms feel like noodles. I couldn't face Pretzel Class last night because I just know she'd make us do pressups, so instead I did my own stretching (now I have some clue as to how to go about it) while watching - listening to really since my head was between my knees most of the time - a documentary about Nietzsche. One day I'll be able to spell Nietzsche without having to look it up, and then I will consider myself educated.
Meanwhile, apparently he was a sad man, and the original emo. It seems strange that in his time, the idea that there is no god and existence has no externally-driven meaning could be so disturbing. Apparently Darwin was a big influence on Nietzsche. I wonder how much influence that sort of thinking had on the temperance movement that led to the prohibition of so many substances, through people's desire to separate themselves from the animals now they didn't have the Irrefutable *cough* Proof of God's Image. And why, from my 2013 perspective, did they think it was so important to separate the human from the bestial anyway? Who cares? etc.
Because I know you're dying to know.
While on holiday I read Strandloper (warning, spoilers). I was told when I was a kid that I'd probably like Alan Garner, but after a failed attempt at age 8 to read Red Shift, I had given him up as dull.
This book is anything but dull. I read it in the space of 24 hours (it's short), and found it compelling and easy to read. Others have said it's hard to read but I suspect those others didn't grow up reading James Herriot and listening to their father talk in broad Yorkshire. The dialogue, you see, is written in vernacular, and you have to imagine hearing it in your head to understand what's being said. For me, that's easy. It seems that despite their geographical separation, the vernacular of Cheshire in the early 1800s and the vernacular of 20th Century Yorkshire are close enough to make it feel almost native, and I didn't have to translate in my head while reading.
I also found it hilarious. There's this fantastic bit where a group of prisoners on a transport ship are arguing about the correct terminology for a cast sheep (bearing in mind that dialects varied between places 20 miles apart in those days because hardly anyone travelled), that made me laugh out loud. There's even a "Your Mum" joke. ;-)
But the main thing that grabbed me was the way that the author deals with huge, sweeping and difficult topics so simply and in so few words. His writing is mostly dialogue driven, which gets you inside people's heads and skips the endless exposition that would be required to tell the same story descriptively. I loved the spiritual and mythological parallels he drew and when I'd finished reading, I felt as if I'd been transported myself through a series of experiences rather than read a story. I will be thinking about that book for time to come, I suspect.
In some respects it's a bit of a "White man becomes spiritual leader to naive tribe" trope, but if such a thing is going to be written, this one is well and sensitively done - and for its time, quite brave. I doubt that there are many books that tackle aboriginal/colonial relations so sympathetically and carefully, even now. Read it, decide for yourself.
And now, for something completely different, I'm reading Palimpsest. It's almost the polar opposite in that the author likes the taste of words. That sounds wanky but if we were talking about a story as sustenance, Strandloper is one of those tiny, elegantly structured and exquisitely flavoured single-plate delicacies, whereas Palimpsest is a 9-course banquet off gold plates. Reading it feels sumptuous and a little bit naughty. The premise is a fantastical city that can be reached only through sex, and after visiting, those who have been are marked forever with a map on their flesh showing what part of the city a partner will be transported to. It follows four flawed people as they discover Palimpsest (which incidentally is an archaic term for a parchment which can be cleaned and reused), and its effect on them and their lives.
I'm only half way through and I've no idea where it's going, but I'm enjoying the ride. It might not be everyone's cup of tea - it doesn't feel like a happy book - but I'm going to recommend it anyway. It's decadent.
After this, I have Phantastes, a recommendation from dreadbeard.
Why am I doing this? Because someone linked to an article in which the writer was handwringing about how there was fantasy all up in his science fiction and how awful it was that we couldn't definitively split the genres, and how there's nothing new under the sun and WAH WAH WAH, and I thought "Bullshit." Luckily for me, this coincided with a recommendation fest for fantasy by three people whose minds I like, so I picked one from each person (it's purely coincidence that the stories are modern, mid-modern and older in vintage) and am working my way through them. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am finding that actually yes, there are new things under the sun, I just haven't read them yet. And, well, if you discount fantasy because it's not scifi, I can only say more fool you.
Huh. Today I was going to write about my experience with DMT. I guess that'll have to wait now, since I've gone on long enough already.
Tonight, Fidels. Tomorrow, sheep. Ohai normal life, there you are.
Speaking of 'there you are', have a thing: Turret Error.