Monday, December 19, 2005


The resident ghost will be afk until the new year.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

From behind 1.81

[...] when in 1993 someone threw a stone into the glass house of Kafka studies and caused some confusion. It was launched by Milan Kundera, the novelist who wrote in Czech and then, after his emigration, in French, and who had the chutzpah to claim he could have written The Trial and The Castle if Kafka had not happened to get there first. In 1993, the philological outsider Kundera published an extended essay with Gallimard, Les Testaments trahis, which was translated into German the next year and started a new trial against Brod [...] This trial, however, would satisfy no procedural rules; rather, in it Kundera totally confuses the roles of prosecution and defense and never accedes to that of the judge, a position which he nevertheless claims. One could call it Kundera's Kafkaesque trial against Brod, were it not such a corny joke. [...] Kundera charges him with unforgivable indiscretions, with treason against Kafka, for having published "even that long, painful letter found in a drawer, the letter Kafka never decided to send to his father and that, thanks to Brod, anyone but its addressee could eventually read...He betrayed his friend. He acted against his friend's wishes, against the meaning and the spirit of his wishes, against the sense of shame he knew in the man." It goes without saying that Kundera cannot sustain this accusation.
Rolf Tiedemann, "Kafka Studies, The Culture Industry,
And the Concept of Shame: Improper Remarks between
Moral Philosophy and Philosophy of History" in
Cultural Critique
60 (2005): 247-48.

From behind 1.80

The case of Max Brod versus Franz Kafka has been closed for a good while, and the verdict passed in the late twenties of the past century is only vaguely remembered: a kind of acquittal on the grounds of a guilty verdict. A mediocre but highly productive writer and journalist had been stricken, as it were, with the friendship of a producer of completely incommensurable works -whose importance he recognized earlier than everyone else, but whose content he hardly understood, as his many attempts at interpretation demonstrate. Kafka must have taken diabolical pleasure in leaving his truly monstrous estate to his friend, on condition of having it destroyed after reading. But then something remarkable happened: the man who wrote novels entitled The Woman for Whom One Yearns, The Whoman Who Does Not Disappoint, or Living with a Goddess (and which read just like that) rose to the task, refused to follow the testamentary instructions and instead published in quick succession, The Trial, The Castle, and Missing, a fragment which Brod retitled Amerika - a title as justified as the German title was: Der Verschollene.
   Rolf Tiedemann, "Kafka Studies, The Culture Industry, 
And the Concept of Shame: Improper Remarks between
Moral Philosophy and Philosophy of History" in
Cultural Critique
60 (2005): 245.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Boil 1.75

5 A quota system is to be introduced on fiction set in South America. The intention is to curb the spread of package-tour baroque and heavy irony. Ah, the propinquity of cheap life and expensive principles, of religion and banditry, of surprising honour and random cruelty. Ah, the daiquiry bird which incubates its egges on the wing; ah, the fredonna tree whose roots grow at the tips of its branches, and whose fibres assist the hunchback to impregnate by telepathy the haughty wife of the hacienda owner; ah, the opera house now overgrown by jungle. Permit me to rap on the table and murmur 'Pass!' Novels set in the Arctic and the Antarctic will receive a development grant.
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot, 99.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Boil 1.74


File 1.44

If there is an amateur reader still left in the world - or anybody who just reads and runs - I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude, to split the dedication of this book four ways with my wife and children.
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters


...seine durch jahrzehntelange falsche Medikamentenbehandlung schon beinahe gaenzlich verkrueppelte, die Haelfte ihres Lebens in einem speziell fuer sie konstruierten franzoesischen Krankensessel hockende Frau, eine geborene Zryd, der jetzt, wie Wieser sagt, nichts mehr weh tue, habe Konrad im Umgang it einem Mannlicher-Karabiner angelernt, den die sonst vollkommen Wehrlose hinter ihrem Krankensessel versteckt immer in entsicherten Zustand griffbereit hatte; mit dieser Waffe hat Konrad sie in der Nacht vom vierundzwanzigsten auf den fuenfundzwanzigsten Dezember mit zwei Schuessen in den Hinterkopf (Fro), mit zwei Schuessen in die Schlaefe (Wieser), urploetzlich (Fro), am Ende der konradschen Ehehoelle (Wieser), erschossen.

File 1.43

After all, if novelists truly wanted to simulate the delta of life's possibilities, this is what they'd do. At the back of the book would be a set of sealed envelopes in various colours. Each would be clearly marked on the outside: Traditional Happy Ending; Traditional Unhappy Ending; Traditional Half-and-Half Ending; Deus ex Machina; Modernist Arbitrary Ending; End of the World Ending; Cliffhanger Ending; Dream Ending; Opaque Ending; Surrealist Ending; and so on. You would be allowed only one, and would have to destroy the envelopes you didn't select. That's what I call offering the reader a choice of endings; but you may find me quite unreasonably literal-minded.
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot, 89.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

From behind 1.79

Saturday, December 03, 2005


From behind 1.78

Friday, December 02, 2005

Boil 1.05


from the image archive of
One Man Safari
which now is the Happy Palace

Spoil 1.62

The road signs (France is the only country I know where drivers are warned about beetroot on the road; BETTERAVES, I once saw in a red warning triangle, with a picture of a car slipping out of control). Beaux-arts town halls. Wine-tasting in smelly chalk0caves by the side of the road. I could go on, but that's enough, or I'll soon be babbling about lime trees and pétanque and eating bread dipped in rough red wine. Everyone has a private list, and those of other people quickly appear vain and sentimental. I read a list the other day headed 'What I like'. It went: 'Salad, cinnamon, cheese, pimento, marzipan, the smell of new-cut hay [would you read on?] ...roses, peonies, lavender, champagne, loosely-held political convictions, Glenn Gould...' The list, which is by Roland Barthes, continues, as lists do. One item you approve, the next stirs irritation. After 'Médoc wine' and 'having change', Barthes approves of 'Bouvard et Pécuchet'. Good; fine; we'll read on. What's next? 'Walking in sandals on the lanes of sout-west France.' It's enough to make you drive all the way to south-west France and strew some beetroot on the lanes.
J. Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot, 84.

These Wars of Ours

Thus spoke Father:
'The region of Mesopotamia is the source of all cultures.
Its current state is a reflection of the general demise of humanity.'