The Idiot

I’m reading Will, by Will Self. There is a teenage moment that is just perfect:

Simon’s a mole of a young man, with a thick pile brown hair and blinking myopic eyes. He’s an epileptic, and wears a chunky silver bracelet engraved with the rather alarming instructions that need to be followed if he succumbs to grand mal seizure. Will – by way of letting everyone know he’s reading the Russians – calls Simon Rogozhin, and asks often if, in the run-up to his attacks, he experiences the same wild epiphanies as Dostoevsky’s antihero.

The reference is to The Idiot. But the antihero Rogozhin is not the epileptic – that would be Prince Myshkin, the eponymous idiot, who is definitely not the antihero.

I’m ashamed (not enough to stop me posting this!) to report being quite thrilled to have identified this error (having just finished reading The Idiot)… but maybe it’s not what it seems?

My own recollection of reading classics as a teenager has left me with many unreliable memories of books that were beyond my life experience. Perhaps that’s what’s happening here… and i’m (still) the idiot?

The Wall

iu.jpegThis was a little harrowing to read. Not in the way that Cormac McCarthy is harrowing to read – the writing is of a completely different stripe, but on some level just as bleak.

John Lanchester has appeared here previous, and i’m a big fan of his journalistic writing. He has great way of explaining complicated issues. His prose is rather functional, direct. Sometimes things feel a little too lightweight, but maybe that levity shows how easily an abhorrent situation can be normalised.

The Wall is set in a near future Britain, a time where sea levels have risen and a ‘fortress mentality’ has taken over the land. A time when ‘The Others’ seek to gain entry, to seek sanctuary in a chaotic world.

It feels very now. It feels like a slap in the face. A glance around the next bend to reveal a car crash in progress, and not enough time to react. A time when:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

Worth reading. It was hard enough to put down that i tore through it in a couple of hours.

Susan Sontag On Photography

susan sontag_on photography_coverA series of essays that critique photography and the culture of images. A critical critique.

As someone who has taken a lot of photographs, but hasn’t really tried to understand the implications of the act of photographing, or the impact of the images themselves, it’s something akin to a slap in the face.

While i wouldn’t say it was an enjoyable read, it’s definitely thought provoking and in the end worthwhile for the new perspective.

If you ever find yourself wondering why certain photographs have the impact that they do, why people take photographs on holiday, if photography is art, if photographs are art, the relationship between image and memory, the impact of images on society, their role in society… this would be a good place to start. Just don’t expect to arrive at the end of the book with more answers than questions.

Distribution!

How exciting! Simon Schuster India are publicising the IWTFY 2007 – 2017 book:

With a bit of luck that means they’ll put a couple of copies in every bookshop in India that stocks foreign books.

The little fade in of the cover is cool. Wonder if there is anything behind that… i’ve also thought that picture was rather ‘sensual’, maybe it’s a little racy for the indian market?

Spielberg…

It’s another one of those ‘Confused Gandalf’ memes that i don’t know how to write:

Spielberg praised the couple for being there for him and wife Kate Capshaw on every step of the Shoah Foundation journey. “When there is need, they are there. Tom and Rita, a dynamic duo that in our world of superheroes, just know this — their superpower is to be human which brings to mind a quote from the poet Iain Thomas.

Here’s the quote: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

Inside Shoah Foundation’s Ambassadors for Humanity Gala With Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks

It’s really quite amazing how “the little blog that could” has grown up to be quoted by the likes of Steven Spielberg.

As usually, mostly i’m terrified of being found out.