Mon, 31 Dec 2018 14:05:19 +0000

Reading questions

As I do not have any nice ideas for something to write, I will answer those quite nice reading questions by Christina[1]. The books/works I give out here are in public domain as I mostly focus my reading on those works and decide to give myself a challenge on only focusing on those.

What is the first book you remember loving? Would give it to Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Personally, I consider it the first point in literature where the atmosphere was built by style itself. The text itself is muddy, and the character development is prime. The fact that the story can be applied to different settings and medium (i.e. Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops: The Line) just prooves its importance. And I was not much of a reader kid, but this book shifted my interest in literature to the level that I study philosophy now. Whoops.

What book/series would you like to see adapted to film? I consider that question to be flawed. I always consider setting and the story secondary, as it is always matter of narrative. And therefore a great book could be destroyed by creation of awful film, and there are cases of mediocre books getting a great adaptation. I understand this sounds a bit pretenscious, but I think it is up to a director what book should he adapt, and during the adaptation he does the translation of the medium.

Who are your favourite protagonists? Ishmael (Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick') and Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare). Ishmael is a pure subject, which becomes equal with the reader and can be used as the example of the perfect protagonist, as he allows us to understand the novel through him as a person. The fact of him having as few attributes as possible, allows us to understand the madness and the mysticism of whaling. By contrast, Titus Andronicus is an example of the subject with the task of showing a characteristic. He becomes archetype himself, of how a refusal of heroism is betrayal of the idea itself. This importance of duty, and its superimposition on the subject is an interesting example of the limits of free will.

Who are your favourite antagonists? Would give it all to the Algernon Blackwood's 'The Willows'. Probably created the basis for all super-natural (i.e. Lovecraftian) horror. The fact that we do not know its identity, and it is put in such a menal situation sets the position of the tremor and the realisation of power-lessness of human subject. Another antagonist I would give a lot is Don Juan Belvidero ('The Elixir of Life'). Is he antagonist or protagonist? Matter of definition, but this critique of approach towards the immortality is superb.

What, so far, is the best book you've read this year? Well, this year I was more focused on the short stories, so therefore the most impactful work I've read this year was Lazarus by Leonard Andreyev. Probably explains the notion of the drive as the main element of the human subject better than any work of Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan. The only thing that keeps you alive is the fact that you will die. What is the reason to live if you have already died, what is the worth of that?

Can you list three to five of your favourite authors? Why are they your favourite? Should I give the non-fiction authors? Well, I will. To start with, Plato himself. The start of philosophy, but also the fact that he is the first author we should keep on re-reading. He is the ever-lasting element of philosophy, and it is fascinating that we have all his dialogues. Proves his timelessness.

Second I would give it to - this time fiction author - Franz Kafka. A lot of his works are not yet public domain, but soon :). Frankly, I prefer his short fictions, as they show the fear of the institution and the loss of "home" that civilisations brings upon. This god-lessness of Kafkesque universe is still applicable to our own society.

My Russian favourite would be Chekhov. I feel with my interest in Chekhov in a similar way as Passolini felt about Gospels to adapt. Tolstoy (John) - too mystical, Dostoyevsky (Luke) - too sentimental, Gorky (Mark) - too vulgar. It is this middle point in which Chekhov is, it allows him to create a perfect vision of the society, where the same values apply to each individual in a different way.

What are your least favourite genres to read? I would never consider reading a book on the basis of its genre. The setting is secondary.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend? Melville's 'Bartleby the Scrievner', if you had not read it - read it now. Or you might prefer not to.

What is your favourite film adaptation of a book? Passolini's 'The Gospel According to Matthew'. I think it shows how to respect the original text and transfer it in a full way to another medium and still affect the original message. Sorry, that it is not public domain, make it. But at least the original story is public domain.

What books have you read the most times? "It will always be a fault not to read and reread and discuss Marx-which is to say also a few others-and to go beyond scholarly "reading" or "discussion.""[2]

What fictional world or novel's setting would you like to live in? The setting is secondary.

What are your favourite classic books? Illiad and Odyssey are more than enough.

What is the most recent book you didn't expect to like, yet did? I do not start books that I do not expect to enjoy. Life is too short for that.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, whom would it be? The author is dead[3].

What authors do you think more people should read? People should read more. More public domain authors, if they are not forgotten and available, they are worth reading.

  1. gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space/0/~christina/ReadingQuestions.txt
  2. Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, you can get it somewhere, or wait until it turns in public domain
  3. Roland Barthes, The Death of The Author, https://writing.upenn.edu/~taransky/Barthes.pdf

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