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Necrometer
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Wed May 17, 2017 11:08 am

yeah - not really in the mood for pointless page-turner right now

I think his works are not blatantly/aggressively subversive so much as they're bucking the status quo in a way that's subtly transgressive and distinct from what a mainstream author would ever present. the bas-lag trilogy's main characters are a fat dude, a woman (OK, big whoop), and a bi guy. and there's a lot of laborer-sympathizing going on throughout. even though the narrative suffered to facilitate all the allegorical points, I did like the ultimate metaphor of the iron council, presuming I didn't botch this:
SPOILERSPOILER_SHOW
the council essentially represents the promise of proletarian revolution, and that this fantastical idea can have real-world consequences even if it's never going to come to fruition... OK, some dude wrote a whole book about mievile's works, and he reaches the same idea on the bottom of page 78 :tup: ... and yeah, that whole chapter is about iron council & revolution in case you want some long-form convincing
was your "not subversive" comment in reference to just the city & the city? because I think that's one of his more pulpy books, supposedly written with his literal mom as the intended audience
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Wed May 17, 2017 8:21 pm

All I've read is city and city and the scar, so at most those two.
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Wed May 17, 2017 10:06 pm

got it

the scar is probably the least political of the trilogy (no coincidence that it's the most fun)

I'd highly recommend perdido st station though
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Fri May 19, 2017 11:38 am

annihilation 6.66/10 this is a decent, short book. fantastical sci-fi that's basically a hybrid of Stalker, Lost, and Sphere. there's two more books in the trilogy and I just read their wikipedia pages... the ex machina guy is making this into a movie starring Natalie Portman so I thought I'd check out the source before I inevitably see the adaptation. pretty curious how well this will translate to the screen...
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Liam Spengler
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Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:54 pm

Art Since 1960 - 6
The Temptation of St. Antony - 10
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Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:01 pm

the claw of the conciliator - 9
Chad wrote:
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Liam Spengler
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Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:10 pm

Ascent of Mount Carmel - 8
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Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:00 pm

We Are What We Pretend To Be (the first and last works) - 9/10
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Liam Spengler
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Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:39 am

Dark Night of the Soul - 8
Madame Bovary - 9
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy - 7
Jesus Now (Martin) - 9
Revelations of Divine Love - 7
The Imitation of Christ - 6
Beowulf: A Verse Translation - 9
The Cement Garden - 8
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Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:04 am

2666

Hum. Where to begin. You really need to have a pretty large tolerance for continuous negativity to read this. I would say Infinite Jest and Blood Meridian would be prerequisites as it has both the scale of similiar post modern/existential/whatever bricks (it's about 900 pages) plus a pretty huge heaping of nihilistic graphic violence that isn't quite as unrelenting as Cormac's masterpiece but might be even more disgusting because of the sexuality involved. Reading this is like flying a space craft to a tiny moon of incredible beauty and fragility that might fall apart at any moment but to get there you have to pass through a black hole of total filth and despair. I ended up loving it by the end. Can I really recommend this? I don't know. Belano's prose shifts chaotically between almost textbook like dryness to dream like vagueness to gritty realism dripping in rancid body fluids and rotting flesh. Don't start this unless you're ready to invest a lot of time and emotional energy. 1-10 rating? I'm not going to do that so go hump someone else's leg mutt face before I push yours in.
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Liam Spengler
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Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:51 am

Tao Te Ching (Byrne) - 9
Piers Plowman (Donaldson) - 8
Heart of Darkness - 10
The Idea of the Holy - 9
The Sacred and the Profane - 8
Landscapes: John Berger on Art - 7
A History of Experimental Film and Video - 7
Sculpting in Time - 9
The World is Ever Changing - 9
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Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:51 am

three body problem 8/10
dark forest 5.5/10
death's end 7/10
... this is a sci-fi trilogy written about a decade ago and only recently translated to english from chinese. it's on the "hard" side of things and has some great, fun ideas. nothing too revolutionary. I'd recommend the first book, but if you're not totally in love with that, you should probably just bail on the series. it shifts from a more character-driven story to almost outline-level dumping of various sci-fi ideas with too little connective tissue or overarching themes.

embassytown 7.5/10 mieville's most sci-fi book, pretty good although I didn't really buy the conceit that drove the plot, so it felt shaky
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Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:13 pm

FVBTVS wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:01 pm
the claw of the conciliator - 9
So good.

1Q84 - 8
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Liam Spengler
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Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:00 am

The Varieties of Religious Experience - 8
The Elder Edda - 9
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness - 8
The Sickness Unto Death - 9
Faust: Part I (Wayne) - 10
Celtic Gods and Heroes - 7
Answer to Job - 9
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The True Life - 5
Meister Eckhart: Selected Writings - 8
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Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:55 am

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier - 9
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Liam Spengler
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Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:50 pm

Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill? - 7
The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness - 8
Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen - 7
Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters - 6
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Gnosticism: The Path to Inner Knowledge - 6
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Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:10 pm

Ploughing the Clouds : The Search for the Irish Soma - Peter Lamborn Wilson - 6.5

Overall it's pretty interesting, and there are myth cycles I want to explore that I had not heard of before, but loses points for bringing up some fringey nonsense and not following up. Also -1 for being a little boy diddler
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Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:46 pm

The Encounter (Martin) - 9
Jesus: The Man Who Lives - 9
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Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:02 pm

A Farewell To Arms :cry: /10

No I didn't read it in high school.
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Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:10 pm

i totally forgot to post about it because i'm bad at remembering to rate and post about books i finished but fucking book of the new sun was so insane and amazing and kinda bad at times. i wish the board was in a different state than it is and i had the energy but yeah. what the hell! its a shame the dude isn't better known or there was maybe some respectable treatment of the severian story in another probably lesser medium somewhere like tv or a movie. that seems like the only way guys like him get any shine. on to other stuff but i have the sequel/long sun/short sun etc in my horizons(to cross my desk in the near future). i'd like to read new sun again too at some point with a better understanding of what was hidden in the open

i have other dumb stuff to point out or throw out there but they'd go better in SPOILER TAGS. rip spoiler tags
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Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:29 pm

:tup:

I think tiny font is the best substitute for spoiler tags here on urthlapse, and I'm all ears for whatever you want to divulge. I'm especially curious about what you thought stood out as bad. also very interested in how the other books 'pon your desk fare, since I stopped after the main four.

I can't remember how much of this I talked with you about, but I've found that anyone who sits down and tries to academically dissect all the hints/clues/connections will always take it too far, eventually right up their own ass. I certainly didn't pick up on some of the important/blatant/solid elements, but there's no clear line between that definitely intentional stuff and the headcanon/fan-spazzing content. it's like The Shining & Room 213 - some of that stuff is definitely real (didn't they actually include an indian burial ground "theory", even though that's part of the book?) and some of it is definitely nonsense. I think Wolfe himself has been admirably mum on which is which in his work...
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Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:47 am

]you already know this is going to be a mess.. forgive me

death of little severian kinda fucked me up! he was one of the only characters that was ever introduced in the book that made immediate sense to me and didn't have to appear in order reappear time and again in order to be fully rendered. as brief as he was, he didnt ever sound like a receptacle for the authors ideas the way a ton of other characters did. the alzabo encounter was awesome. i think that entire swath of the book had a perfect stride and was the most engrossing. the island people and then the encounter with baldlanders and cacogens and all that. the encounter with the weird giant prophet two headed god(typhon?) on the mountain pass who takes him on an epcot spaceship ride. there's so much shit that really glows off the pages in uneven ways its hard to retrace all of it. i didnt know wolff was catholic initially but when i was still reading it did all seem to have a crypto catholic air to it at times. christ as a healer & concilator, severian did or didn't need that claw to do all that stuff. finding the thorns that were claws and the claw was just a thorn? smashing the temple. feast of holy katherine etc :lol: (or maybe more like catholic aestheticism that had reabsorbed gnostic mysticism ? in a space fantasy)

i was definitely disappointed with his time with the pelerines that turned into listening to the meta-myths and all that. taken in isolation, all of that stuff anywhere it came up was strong and weird as fuck and fun but ultimately drags your shit to an unholy crawl! which again reminds me of 'bad' stuff. as a series you have to be overly committed to the whole thing as a reader to get anything out of it, ultimately. you have to get to the end of 4 books to be like "holy shit". if you stopped forever anywhere along the way you'd be like "did i enjoy that? was it good?"

without wollfs particular approach to the world and its secrets i'd still say there's something bad about severian being such an unreliable unreliable narrator. its just always stretched to the limit in a way that just kinda sucks. too much relies on it. i think it has a lot to do with that the fact that i read lolita again this year and yeah sorry.. thats how you do it. relying on that much confusion and opaqueness makes the entire series wobble in a bad way in the most immediate sense. a year from now i will definitely feel differently because i think thats how my brain works. but i was noting it as i was going along. severian is a sociopath(?) but at least humbert would talk about everyone else around him in a way that was real to humbert and you could always come to understand things through humberts eyes eventually without relying on him. every character in the book had this weird gauzy aura around them that threatened to swallow them and make them meaningless all the time and then it was worsened by the actual plots double crossing and twists and reveals. its like yeah.. none of these people matter. the space between you and humbert (your relationship) is addictive, severian is just on a weird childish christ path and his psychology is retarded and juvenile. everything in the new sun having to do with women is almost laughable after a while. i mean, he definitely rapes jolenta :lol: and then she gets old and he talks shit about her :lol: which isnt even the worst crime of the series! you're just not in a good textual relationship with severian. he's an opague retard with perfect memory

voldalus was kind of a bust ( or whatever is really going on between him and the autarch :roll: )
hethor was kind of a bust

the green man was my fucking dude though
zoanthrops :tup:
that giant head god lady thing in the water
the ascians (chinamen) :lol:

but you're dead on with the shining thing. the whole thing is a deep and spiraling rorschach test for the most virginal among us. and how could it not? its extremely beautiful to read and even its most foundational elements are deliberately confusing
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Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:56 am

c'mon man. what happend at the fucking gate at the end of the first book

i mean REALLY. i'm as much of a stable genius as the next guy but the sheer number of things you'd have to take note of to remind your self to remind your self about along the way is way more than is healthy for the story you're telling

also to double back to little severian. the soldier that severian raises from the dead who then joins him along the road and severian then believes is jonas? cool! i mean.. the beckettian(sorry) potential for that relationship to develop and the number of directions that could've gone in! nope.

nope. :lol:
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Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:18 pm

Necrometer wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:29 pm
some of it is definitely nonsense.
Dr Talos seems to be the False Prophet. It is interesting that several times Severian is reminded of a stuffed fox when Dr Talos’ face appears; if the letters F-O-X are taken according to Cabala traditions they make 6,15,24, i.e. 666, the Number of the Beast. This is perhaps the means by which Dr Talos is marked in Severian’s imagination. Meanwhile, Dr Talos’ main task seems to be wandering the Urth performing his ignoble play; that is, misinforming the people about the Conciliator. For example, at the very end of the play it is Baldanders who breaks his own bonds to achieve freedom.
:wank:
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Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:10 am

that fox thing :lol:

my memory is increasingly fucked as time goes on (I'm a reliably unreliable narrator at this point) and too many of these names are borderline meaningless to me now. I think doing these four books on audio made it an even more brutal uphill battle of ontology because the foundational haze had a layer of "I'm merely hearing this" fog overlaid and now it's all pretty muddled. you're spot on about the whole thing being kind of "WTF are we doing here" in the midst of it, but worthwhile in retrospect. I hit a "fuck it, I don't think I can go on" point in the middle of the second book or so, but then I decided that I'd listen less obsessively/dedicatedly, and I pressed on and just sort of let it play out. that's not really something possible with a physical book (for me anyway), and I seldom do that with any written story. I could definitely see myself going through the whole series again, but I probably couldn't justify that over another wolfe series that's new-to-me.

I say all this as backstory for why I'm googling about Hethor, trying to remember details about him. and I come across this exchange (from 20 years ago!):
http://www.urth.net/urth/archives/v0008/0650.shtml
the geek fallout from this series is just insane

check out the "multiple severians" stuff for a laff, contributed by someone who surely just watched Primer:
http://www.wolfewiki.com/pmwiki/pmwiki. ... i.Severian

some quick notes about how it was to hear this book: triskele was pronounced almost exactly like "tricycle", which I found needlessly funny; same goes for "ball danders" and "dork-ass".

your observations about severian's reliability are spot on. I think wolfe just hopped on an obvious patch of under-explored territory in fiction. you've got shitloads of sci-fi/fantasy that says "hey what if things were waaay different" and then describes that outre world using the most stolid, clunky prose (herbert, asimov), and then elsewhere you've got fiction with a more standard setting but wildly creative and impenetrable stuff going on with the storytelling itself (e.g. lolita)... so wolfe is like "ah, let's make both sides wonky and see how that works out". it's an admirably audacious thing to try, so even when it's teetering and sprung a leak, I can't really get too mad. plus he's always got that leverage over me: the secret connections that might make it all make sense.

I guess I had more of a relationship with wolfe than with severian, which isn't necessarily a failure, but it's something I haven't really encountered before. I am not really a books guy, of course...

green man :tup:
jonas's corporeal composition :tup: times a million
and I completely feel you re: sev jr - that dude's fate was completely shocking and had me transfixed

I don't remember beseiged islanders at all :oops:

reflecting on the stuff that worked best for me, I think it was the most obvious/straightforward stuff. but the haze surrounding it had its power too. it's like movies where "nothing" happens for most of the time but then there are some amazing parts and obviously you couldn't just edit away the "nothing"...

the meta-myth detour was pretty indulgent - was wolfe trying to say "hey, here's some normal stories, just I case you were wondering if I could do that"? I actually really liked them in isolation (especially the boat-in-labyrinth (?) one - meat & potatoes). but it's like: my actual life is a pointless mess, and now for recreation I'm going to follow severian on his pointless mess of a life, and then we finally get an aside where HE gets to experience a story that actually reaffirms existence through the power of mythic order". that framework is like how I'll have erotic dreams only rarely, but a disturbingly high proportion of them center around me jerking off to porn. that's the format of dream: fantasizing and masturbating. what the fuck.
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