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Showing posts from June, 2011

Collecting Some Preliminary Thoughts on Consciousness from John Cowper Powys' Porius

Consciousness: another theme among too many to numerate that pops off the page at times in Porius.

Consider the following passages in chapter three, shortly after Porius & Rhun have encountered the emperor's wacky (was he playacting?) and wackily attired counselor, Merlinus Ambrosius (a.k.a., Myrddin's Wyllt or Emrys), and Porius reflects on their meeting:

"There was nothing mystical, far less spiritual, in what he experienced as he thus came near to this squid-consciousness. 'I must squeeze the life out of him,' he said to himself, 'while I drain his thoughts.'"

And now, keeping in mind that Merlinus was the origination of that pungent "stinkhorn fungus smell," watch how Porius even employs the sense of smell to absorb Merlinus' consciousness:

"What proved to him {to Porius} that there was no sorcery about it was the fact that all the time he was feeling it he was perfectly aware of a wafture {all boldness in post …

99 Novels: The Best in English since 1939 by Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess knew what he liked and why he liked it, which is a lot more than I can say about some of today's supposed critics so quick with clichés, but slow on real insight.  Burgess' selections are often whimsical, perhaps sentimental a few times too, as when he picks Goldfinger (1959) by Ian Fleming or Bomber (1970) by Len Deighton, for inclusion among such literary luminaries as Vladimir Nabokov and Iris Murdoch, but he admits as much, and offers sound rationale for why he'd intermingle lightweight adventure thrillers with serious literature.  I happen to like the surprising mix, and wish other critics would be just as quick to meld works of genre with literature in similar fashion, much like FM radio did in its heyday, back before the mega-conglomerates seized control of the airwaves, and you could hear the delicate sitar strumming of a Ravi Shankar one minute followed by the head bashing of Black Sabbath the next.

Before I read 99 Novels: The Best in English sinc…

Stanley Elkin "At the Academy Awards" from Pieces of Soap: Essays

Stanley Elkin wrote a great essay, "At the Academy Awards," that was originally published in the Dec. 1989 issue of Harper's, and later collected in his sole essay collection, Pieces of Soap: Essays, that I serendipitously happened upon at a library book sale a few months ago.

I meant to post the following excerpts from Elkin's excellent essay on the eve of this year's Oscars (see below), but completely forgot to.  I figure if I don't post them now, I'll probably completely forget to post them again on the eve of next year's Oscars.  So I might as well post them now, whether it's relevant to do so or not, because Stanley Elkin, in whatever context, pop culturally or not, is worth mentioning.

Elkin is one of the funniest novelists I've ever read among those novelists that hardly anybody has ever read.  In LibraryThing, the majority of his books are owned by less than 100 users each -- he was, is, and probably will remain -- under a literary read…