Archive for the ‘ Literature ’ Category

Living Well is the Best Revenge

The New Yorker

I cannot praise this enough. I started it yesterday, and then started over today – reading it carefully – regretting my ignorance of the French Language.

Back in the Twenties, Paris was where the 20th Century was – and this was where the Murphy’s (and everyone else in the Artist Colony) were.

When they weren’t on the Riviera.

How Spain in the 20th Century is Like America in the 21st

New Yorker Magazine – The Worldly Digressions of Javier Marías

The relationship between America and Spain in the 20th Century was the worst. And one could say much the same thing about Spain and Latin America, where I now live. It acquired its basic culture from Spain and Portugal in the 16th Century – and then parted ways, and showed no interest in what was going on there.

A lot was going on there – the Spanish Civil War, in which some Americans (like Hemmingway) participated and some British, (like George Orwell) participated. But which both nations (and Latin America) carefully ignored.

I had never heard of Javier Marías – but this article brought me up to speed on him. The author, Jonathan Blitzer, does an excellent job of describing him, in action, talking away, at the Frick Museum, in NYC.

Corporate Insanity

I don’t have to tell any of you what this is – you have all been through it, and accumulated your battle scars. It is one of those things that have been pushed under the rug – until it cannot hide any more.

I am reading The Phoenix Project – a novel about a software company that has gone completely nuts. Not an uncommon situation – as I learned from working 20 years in the software industry (1980-2000).

The central character is a guy who retired from the Marine Corp, with a wife, children, a mortgage – and no money in the bank. He learned IT (Information Technology) which was not hard – and managed an IT team. He was satisfied with his job – and determined to go no higher. He had found his place in the trenches, and was not going over the top – and getting his head blown off.

Then, to his complete surprise – he found himself doing just that – and learning a new Software Development strategy – DevOps. The cast of characters is all too familiar – upper managers that knew nothing – ruthless, scheming, manipulative women – and hopelessly overworked technical experts.

Dealing with Information Overload in the Information Economy

As a Black Friday present to myself, I bought the English Grammar Boot Camp video from the Learning Company. The instructor (Anne Curzan) is on the usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary.

I looked up the American Heritage Dictionary in Wikipedia. My Heavens! Some of the most respectable people imaginable are getting in lather about grammar. And using computer searches to back them up!

This fits in with Big Data – millions of people, using millions of words, millions of time. No problem! The Computer can slice it, and dice it – anyway you want!

The problem, as always – is in making sense of all this. This means getting the many minds of the computer and our many minds in sync.

Most people freakout at the very thought of this. The idea boggles my mind too – but I tell myself “Push on, it won’t hurt very much!”

Those Who Are – and Those Who Are Not

Shirley Jackson in Love and Death

I came from a family that was not. This was not obvious at the time, we were so much like everyone around us, in the middle of  the Midwest. But now, in my old age, living in another country – I can clearly look back, and see the life that was not. That has not gone away – but become even more common.

So common that our intellectuals are not aware of it. But our novelists are. At least some of our novelists.

This review, by Joyce Carol Oates, brings out the horror of Jackson’s life. Her story was not unusual.

Most people live lives of quiet desperation. And no one finds this unusual.

The Best Biography Ever Written

This is the biography of Florence Nightingale in Eminent Victorians.

Lytton Strachey succeeds in making her a real person – instead of a plaster saint.

For $1.99, you cannot do better.

Bartleby, the Scrivener

The end of the 19th Century produced some of the world’s finest literature – in Russia, Germany, England, and America.

This book, which you can get for 99 cents in the Kindle edition – is a fine example of America’s contribution to that effort.

The writing, which uses a large vocabulary, was amazing – I could hardly stop reading it, to get some sleep – and I started again, first thing in the morning.

Herman Melville assumes you are an intelligent reader – and doesn’t let you down.