6 journalers for this copy...
at the bookcrossing zone area
I will add more about my experience with this novel, once I have finished. This will not take long, I guess. The holidays are coming up!
It made me think about my family, there were some uncanny parallels, as I guess there must be for everyone with parents in their seventies. Which will probably be the case for the majority of the bookcrossing community. This novel will keep me musing for a long time. I will read it again, too. It already has enriched my life beyond expectation. Highly recommendable, although I will not part easily with this copy. I might start a bookray.
Vanavond, tijdens de meetup. Met pijn in mijn hart. Wacht, ik maak er een ray of een ring van, in elk geval die ene waarbij het boek weer bij je terugkomt. Vanavond maak ik een lijstje, dat voeg ik later toe. Wie is eerst?
and then back to me. Olifant resigned, she has access to another copy.
Well, people seem to either really like this book or really NOT like it. I confess the first 28 pages or so are a trial. I usually make little notes to myself while reading a book, now that I've joined BookCrossing, to refer to when it comes to writing the journal entry. My first such note for this book was "Too many words; one sentence starts halfway down page 12 and continues all the way to half down page 13." I hated having to go back and reread that sentence not once or twice but maybe 3 or four times and still not getting it. But now, looking back at that sentence, I think I get it. Edith has just asked a question of her husband, Alfred, who has Parkinson's disease.
"'Al, what are you doing?'
He turned to the doorway where she'd appeared. He began a sentence: 'I am--' but when he was taken by surprise, every sentence became an adventure in the woods, as . . . ' and the sentence rambles on for almost an entire page until he finishes it, "packing my suitcase,' he heard himself say." OK, now I get it. Franzen wants us to see how lost the poor guy is; there's a term for this in music but I don't know what it is. As in Handel's 'Messiah,' when the text is "And the rough places smooth," the music demonstrates the word "rough."
A clue to Franzen's strategy is found on page 28--for anyone who makes it that far. Chip is talking to his agent about a script he's written: "My idea," Chip said, "was to have this 'hump' that the moviegoer has to get over. Putting something offputting at the beginning, it's a classic modernist strategy. There's a lot of rich suspense toward the end." . . . . "DID you get to the end yet?" Chip asked." I think I'm beginning to get it.
Apparently Franzen likes to play little tricks, little practical jokes, on his reader, or maybe they're just little in jokes between he and himself. As I write this it occurs to me he might think he's producing something like "Ulysses," with all it's references to references and internal turnings in on itself, etc., but as much as I enjoyed this book, James Joyce he's not. I suppose I need to read it again before being absolutely certain I understand what he's trying to do . . . but come on. 653 pages? Again?
I think I lost a page of notes, because the next I have after page 28 is p. 132: "fungible." I've come across several words lately that I've never heard before. Have I been away from the States and an English-speaking community for so long that there are words that have begun to be widely used and thus have become part of everyday speech, but which I am unaware of? You know, like in the what--70;s, people started using "paradigm," for lack of a better example. Very few people--certainly not your man or woman on the street--knew what it meant. And then suddenly, everyone was using it. When "fungible" occurs again on 352 I finally got out my dictionary/ The Oxford Concise classifies it as a legal term. "That can serve for, or be replaced by another answering to the same definition (of goods etc. contracted for, when an individual specimen is not meant.)" OK. Page 132" "'The collective fungible assets of my country disappeared into yours without a ripple,' Gitanas said. "A rich powerful country made the rules we Lithuanians are dying by. Why should we respect these rules?'
'This is essentially a Foucaultian question,' Chip said." Which brings up a name Franzen refers to a lot, but more of that later. Back to "fungible." Page 352: "But the world was 'fungible' only as images. Nothing got inside the head without becoming pictures.
This sentence bothered me: "To Gary, who as a boy had been allowed half an hour of TV a day and had not felt ostracized, Schachtman's theory seemed a recipe for letting a community's ost permissive parents set standards that other parents were forced to lower their own to meet." Not the content--the structure. Sure, I know what he means, but I'm not so sure it's correct. Standards that other parents were forced to lower their own to meet." I'm no grammarian, but this just doesn't feel right to me. (197) But then the question I suppose is does that matter if he's managing to communicate his meaning? Is that a Foucaultian question too?
I googled Foucault. Oh my lord. I don't have time to get or go into all of that now. [http://www.theory.org.uk/ctr-fou1.htm
The brief and oversimplified intro to Foucault
We often talk about people as if they have particular attributes as 'things' inside themselves -- they have an identity, for example, and we believe that at the heart of a person there is a fixed and true identity or character (even if we're not sure that we know quite what that is, for a particular person). We assume that people have an inner essence -- qualities beneath the surface which determine who that person really 'is'. We also say that some people have (different levels of) power which means that they are more (or less) able to achieve what they want in their relationships with others, and society as a whole.
Foucault rejected this view. For Foucault, people do not have a 'real' identity within themselves; that's just a way of talking about the self -- a discourse. An 'identity' is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction.
People do not 'have' power implicitly; rather, power is a technique or action which individuals can engage in. Power is not possessed; it is exercised. And where there is power, there is always also resistance.
That's a really boiled-down version of one or two big ideas that people take from Foucault's later works. Foucault developed different approaches for his different studies, but his work can be simplistically divided into 'early' Foucault, where he worked on the ways in which state power and discourses worked to constrain people, and 'later' Foucault (from the mid-1970s to his death from an AIDS-related illness in 1984), in which that idea of power as a 'thing' is broken down, and it is instead seen as a more fluid relation, a 'technique' which can be deployed. It is this latter part of his work which primarily concerns us here.
Since (as I explain further in 'Why Foucault?') Foucault didn't really go for making clear statements of his 'argument', even some of the basic claims above are open to other people coming along and saying "I hardly think that Foucault would have wanted you to feel that he was saying that...". But in the real world you've just got to have the courage to say "I got this from Foucault". Or just can mutter about "Foucauldian ideas" in a defensive way; you choose. Some people hide behind long words and potentially meaningless phrases when discussing French philosophers, but others feel that if you're genuinely clever you don't do that. Again: your choice.]
"Metonymies of pamperment"(247): Metonomy: "Substitution of the name of an attribute for that of the thing meant.: Hmmmm....do I detect a theme here?
At Sea [to be continued]
I am putting it on my tbr pile in the bedroom. I am not taken by the cover, but then, you can't jugde a book by its cover....
What a great gathering it was and what a fine store. Thank you Feng for your hospitality and for having the bookcrossers descend on you.
I've taken it to my flat in Aachen (Germany), but I don't know when I get to read the book, because my tbr-pile is very big.
Furhter journal entry will follow as soon as I finish the book.
WILD RELEASE NOTES: