Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hot Diggity Dog!

Happy day, happy day!  My new books just came in!  The new Dalkey Archive editions of The Recognitions and JR by William Gaddis.  I'm so excited!  Although I just recently finished reading The Recognitions recently (library copy,) I'm tempted to read it again.  Right now!  Best damn novel ever written, hands down.  But I've got too many books going right now, so it will have to wait.  Besides, I haven't read JR yet, so that will have to be my next Gaddis.

One of the books I happen to be reading now is Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson.  I have to admit, I enjoy Mr. Markson's books very, very much.  His are some of the most enjoyable reads I've ever come across.  Reader's Block and This is not a Novel were brilliant.  I practically inhaled them.  And I'm having as much fun with this one (funny, his character even mentions Gaddis and The Recognitions quite a few times in it.)  

I also happen to be reading Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.  I didn't realize it until after I started reading both, but they each have isolation as a key theme. 

Isolation.  Solitude.  Something I cherish very much.  Don't get me wrong, I love my wife and daughter.  But I also enjoy my time to myself.  Some people can't stand to be alone.  They will do anything to deflect it if they find themselves alone for more than a few minutes:  watch TV, turn on the radio, surf the net, anything to keep from being alone with their thoughts. 

But not me.  It is the only time I can think.  Really think.  And while I've never deluded myself in believing I have anything grandiose lurking in my cerebrum, still, my mind is the only thing I can perhaps ever really hope to understand.   No matter how much you think you may know someone, you never really know what's going on deep in their brain.  Hell, they're probably not aware of much of it themselves.  How could they be if all they're looking for is distraction?

Know thyself, Socrates said.  If I could just accomplish that, I would be content.  And although I'm quickly approaching the half-century mark, I feel I still have a long way to go.


  1. Isolation & Solitude ... Paradise! Preach it, Bubba!

    I remember Wittgenstein's Mistress being one of the most dense novels I've ever read. DFW called it "breathtakingly beautiful" and, in fact, wrote a very lengthy piece of criticism on it. It's one of those novels, like The Recognitions, that is more experienced than properly thoroughly understood, at least for me. Is the narrator nuts, or is she truly alone in the world? I'll be very curious to hear what you think on that sometime.

  2. I no longer believe I'm even capable of knowing myself, but you're right, of course, in that we know more about ourselves than we do about others.

  3. Good to see another Recognitions fan. JR is a great read too, even funnier. I'm going to reread Carpenter's Gothic this year and hope to reread all his novels over the next few years. I find that the more I blog about books the more I want to go back and tackle some of my early favourites (it's almost thirty years since I first read Gaddis).
    I've never read Markson but am increasingly coming across interesting mentions of him. This is why the piles of unread books on my shelves continue to grow. Who was it said that what we buy when we buy a book is the illusion that we have the time to read it. (Time to google some erudition) "We buy so many books because we think we're buying the time to read them." - Schopenhauer
    Unfortunately we won't get to read all the books, or see the lives of our children (we hope). Isn't it strange how the lack of time can lead to a sense that the time we do have is not worth much?

  4. Thanks, Seamus! I found your blog by searching profiles that had "The Recognitions" as one of their favorite books. Sad to say, there weren't very many. Still, Gaddis doesn't get the "recognition" he deserves.

    But I'm sure glad I found your blog! I can't wait until I have the time to go back and read it from beginning to end. You can write!

    Loved the quote from Schopenhauer. So true!