bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
With every shopping trip to town, every visit to online bookstores, finding the perfect space for new acquisitions is getting increasingly difficult.



This month's purchases (so far):
  • Hilary Mantel, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
  • Damien Keown, Charles Prebish, Introducing Buddhism

I'm curious. Tell me, what are the books that you've bought in 2015 so far ?

bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
I'm currently reading a quite worthwhile book about the popular culture and Zeitgeist of the interwar years in Europe and the US. Philipp Blom, Die zerissenen Jahre: 1918-1938, which, of course, can offer little more than just a general overview, but as such is engaging and rather well-researched.

The chapter dealing with Fritz Lang's Metropolis, among other artistic visions of a future society, also mentions Czech writer Karel Capek and his 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). Capek's play not only for the very first time introduces the term "robot" to describe high-functioning fictional automata. (According to Capek the word was created by his brother Josef from the Czech "robota", meaning servitude. I knew this little tidbit beforehand).

But even more fascinating, R.U.R. turns out to employ many of the concepts which decades later would find their way into both the old and the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica.  To quote from the Wiki entry on R.U.R. :

"The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people, called roboti (robots), out of synthetic organic matter. They are not exactly robots by the current definition of the term; these creatures are closer to the modern idea of cyborgs, androids or even clones, as they may be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves. They seem happy to work for humans at first, but that changes, and a hostile robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race."

[...]

Years have passed and all humans had been killed by the robot revolution except for Alquist.[...] Robots Primus and Helena develop human feelings and fall in love. Playing a hunch, Alquist threatens to dissect Primus and then Helena; each begs him to take him- or herself and spare the other. Alquist realizes that they are the new Adam and Eve, and gives charge of the world to them."


What else to say than "All of this has happened before and it will happen again." ;-)

bimo: (Fivey_sigh)

Watching an interview from the Leipzip book fair where you can see the interviewee (looking uncomfortable and somewhat distanced right from the start) getting increasingly uncooperative with each ensueing question. Not good? Right? Even worse if the interviewer happens to be a professional journalist possessing an academic degree in German literature.  (For a few years she even occupied a teaching position at the University of Milan.) So one should expect a certain amount of interesting actual discussion going on there, thoughtful questions, perhaps even honest curiosity. Right?

Among the questions asked in front of rather large audience were the following treasures:

"Did you take drugs when you wrote that?"

"Your protagonist reminds me of Parsifal. You are familiar with Parsifal, aren't you?" (Interviewee was looking puzzled, due to the Parsifal connection being somewhat far-fetched. I would have been puzzled as well. Also one should not forget to mention that both the interviewee's parents are high profile stage actors, a small biographical detail adding even more to the insult.)

Last but not least:

"What did your parents say to your book? Do they like it?"

 

*headdesk*
 

bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
More often than not, I find myself reading two different books parallel at the same time. When I'm not on holiday and thus out of my usual rhythms,  there are daytime books, nighttime books, and only very few which fall in between. The respective categories don't seem to have anything to do with a book's genre, content or narrative complexity. King's Doctor Sleep was a nighttime book, for example, but so was also Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall? Daytime. And the way I treat non-fiction books is equally erratic.

The two books I'm reading parallel at the moment, however, couldn't be more different if they tried to.

Nighttime:

Bill Bryson, One Summer in America: 1927

Popular history, strung together somewhat loosely, but all in all a quite intriguing account of the key events and the people which came to shape the collective consciousness of American citizens during the late 1920s.

Daytime:

Robert Gwisdek, Der unsichtbare Apfel (German)

Hitting bookstores (or Amazon, respectively)  on March 8th, it seemed quite unavoidable that I ended up finding this inconspicuously looking white little book on my birthday table, right? Debut novel, written by someone who, during the thirty years he has so far spent on this planet, has already been an actor, a songwriter, a dadaist performance artist. So, approach cautiously, right? Especially if you are a fan...

Eternal skeptic that I am, I opened Der unsichtbare Apfel rather hesitatingly, fearing, no almost sure that I would certainly be disappointed. Now, that I am about one hundred pages into the novel, I guess it's safe to say that I'm not. Not by any means at all. Capturing, imaginative (the more surrealist side of "imaginative"), beautiful language. Unsettling. These are the adjectives I would pick to describe it, but if I had to chose a comparison to sum up my subjective reading experience so far I would say: This one feels as if Hans Christian Andersen and Franz Kafka had collaborated to come up with a pre-dreamt version of a movie by David Lynch.

Of course, adjectives and comparisons never do anything, anyone justice. And of course, I better ought to check if my usual pair of glasses haven't been switched for a pair of rose-coloured ones... ;-)



 


bimo: (Alex_Gene_mug)
*looks around, carefully dusts off her journal, then decides to kick off the new journalling year in classic bullet point style*

What I'm currently reading:
  • Hans Fallada: Ein Mann will nach oben
  • Heirich Geiselberger, Tobias Moorstedt (Red.): Big Data, Das Neue Versprechen der Allwissenheit, Suhrkamp 2013 (a collection of academic and non-academic essays dealing with the consequences and possibilities of Big Data as a cultural, economical and political phenomenon)

What I'm currently watching on DVD:

  • Quantum Leap, selected episodes, re-watch ;)
  • The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau I (which, btw. has an incredibly Star Trek-like flair to it)
  •  

Last three movies I watched at an actual cinema:
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  •  

Last visit to a museum:
Last concert:
  • the ever amazing Käptn Peng in Oberhausen (Yes, I'm too old for this, but still so much fun. )
bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
Books just finished:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: Good grief, was Lev Grossman ever right about the amount of outstanding literary quality/literary writing that can be found in genre fiction these days.

Joyland by Stephen King: Well, what can I say except:  Once a King fan, always a King fan. Also, summertime = Stephen King time.  Qick read, very enjoyable.


Currently reading:

Kein schöner Land by Patrick Findeis: German provincial life, growing up, family ties, repression. So far extremely well written, in a vivid and powerful "no nonsense" style. The author apparently knows how to deliver his blows. Tragedy is in the air. More on this book once I've finished.




 


bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
Just briefly:

Hons and Rebels
caught my attention mostly due to a review regarding its newly published German language edition.While I'm sure to have heard of Jessica Mitford before (journalist and civil rights activist, self-proclaimed 'red sheep' in a somewhat notorious and bizarre, Hitler-supporting conservative  British upper class family), I had no idea Mitford's childhood memoir, telling the story of her own emancipation from the confinements of family and class  would turn out such stunning reading material.

bimo: (Fivey_Adric_Tardis)
Well, you know how it goes... ;)

Books I bought but have yet to read:

  • Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall
  • Sven Regener: Herr Lehman

Recent cultural events that I went to:


bimo: (Default)
Cavendish is currently reading Hemingway's "Cat in the Rain" with one of his English classes. And look what he found online: A thing of absolute beauty!



bimo: (Albert_irrelevant)
Leith Passmore, Ulrike Meinhof and the Red Army Faction: Performing Terrorism, Palgrave MacMillan, New York 2011.

Pretty fascinating and at times downright chilling analysis of Ulrike Meinhof's writings, retracing her transition from left-wing journalist into one of Germany's most high-profile terrorists of the early 1970s. As the Amazon.com book description puts it: "Leith Passmore traces Meinhof's struggle to communicate [...]. He examines for the first time the performativity of terrorist acts of language, imagery, and physical violence to reveal how Meinhof made and re-made RAF terrorism."

What seems especially noteworthy besides the highlighting of certain key aspects and tendencies in Meinhof's work, is how Passmore also provides a rather clear account of society's ongoing inability to deal with a biography like Meinhof's and its readiness to write off terrorist acts as individual cases of mental defunction. Just to give you an example from the book's introduction:

As early as 1970, Meinhof's then estranged husband Klaus Rainer Röhl publicly linked the [brain] operation with her slide into terrorism. [In the early 1960s Meinhof had undergone brain surgery, during which a widened blood vessel was treated with a silver clasp]... [Röhl] cited a severe change of personality - a sudden callousness and sexual distance - resulting from the surgery and, potentially causing Meinhof to enter the underground. Shortly after she entered prison, judge Knoblich ordered an examination of her brain based on the possibility that her illness was a contributing factor to her behaviour of the early 1970s. Debate ignited in 2002 when, decades after it had been removed from Meinhof's body and disappeared, her brain was rediscovered and examined for a second time. Both the 1997 and the 2002 examinations were undertaken to find a cause for Meinhof's terrorism in a brain defect.




bimo: (Fivey_bookish)
Currently reading John Steinbeck's East of Eden, I can't help myself but mentally refer to the novel's Cathy/Kate plotline as "The Stephen King remix", simply because Kate, as a character, feels so much like a King character, doing King-typical things -- however written from a different perspective, by a different writer with completely different intentions, focus and strengths.

Of course I know how wrong this is, for about a hundred literary reasons. But still, the popular fannish concept of the "remixed" story seems the one best suited to describe my impression.
bimo: (DRD_beware)
Having raised my head only here and there in the comments to other folks' entries lately, I thought this character meme I found at [livejournal.com profile] astrogirl2's would be just the thing to get back into the posting saddle again:

Name a character from one of my fandoms and I'll give you (a) three facts about them from my personal canon/fanon, (b) a reason he/she sucks, (c) a reason she/he is awesomecakes, (d) five things that never happened to that character or (e) five people that character never fell in love with and why. You pick the character. I pick the letter.

Oh, and I'm currently reading Feuchtwanger's The Lautensack Brothers which I am enjoying immensely for its superb, nuanced depiction of power dynamics, be it the interplay of politics, industry and art in the late Weimar Repuplic or the complex web of relations and dependencies between the characters. Feuchtwanger's rich, evocative and quite exuberant language is one of the best counter proofs to the good old "If you spot an adjective, kill it" rule that I've ever seen. Just like with Jew Suess and The Ugly Duchess, the other two Feuchtwanger novels that I have read, I am fascinated by the stylistic parallels between Feuchtwanger and some of my favourite Anglo-Saxon Modernist writers. As far as the literary representation of individual thought/consciousness goes, Feuchtwanger does what they do, and thus provides an impressive, at times quite creepy peek into the mind of his all too human, flaw-ridden and often also agenda-following characters.


As for my stance on the flagging issue
(which I would have missed completely if it hadn't been for my f-list): I'll boycott. Should I ever chose to make an artsy post about Rembrand's
Rape of Ganymede or to discuss the latest Nip/Tuck episode in all its glorious, clothes-reduced and quite graphic detail, I won't flag it. Nor will I under any circumstances flag the entries of others.
bimo: (Best_of_Timelords)
I am currently eating my way through Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos, a rather unsuspicious-looking paperback with a dark, blue-ish cover, showing you starlit skies and the sea. Five-hundred pages, Penguin Popular Science. 'The new Hawking, only better,' The Times review says, more than just a little sensationalist. What it should say, however, to provide a more accurate description is: Beware folks! This one contains physics explained for tv addicts and philosophy geeks. Practically equationless but heavy on abstract wordiness and imaginative examples.

I cannot claim to understand physics, or for that matter anything else that Greene is talking about, on more than just a mere surface level, but it's fascinating to stretch my mind like this and have the workings of space, time or Newton's bucket illustrated with examples from tv land, like Itchy and Scratchy shooting each other with pistols on a fast driving train and Apu watching their duel from the trainstation's platform.

In his introduction to the problems of quantum mechanics, Greene treats his readers to a one and a half page long X-Files vignette about Mulder and Scully arguing over a set of blinking, alien boxes.

Whee!
bimo: (Default)

Currently reading History and the Media, a compilation of essays dealing with the rendering of historical subjects for both TV and silver screen. Editor David Cannadine picked some illustrious contributors I must say, as the table of contents looks quite a bit like the 'Who is Who' of BBC historians, telly-friendly academics and history-friendly producers.

Among the featured texts is one I'd very much like to quote from, partly for personal reference, partly in vague hope that it might perhaps capture somebody else's interest as much as it captured mine:



Yes, I know, this excerpt is about as culturally conservative as it is leftist, but still... )





100% Optional Feedback Poll. To be taken about as seriously as the depiction of British Colonialism throughout all three of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies ;-)

[Poll #1008653]

bimo: (Christian_Sean_guilty)




Inflicting somewhat belated surprise parcels on 100% unsuspecting people feels cool. Being a proper, polite and well-educated fairy, I of course I tried to attach some sort of explicatory note telling why the item in question was picked. But the blasted character regulations just would not let me.

So I'll use LJ instead ;-)

Happy belated birthday, Vashtan!

Don't read before you hold the thing in your hands... )


bimo: (Albert_irrelevant)

Probably this will only amuse the handful of people who know exactly what I am speaking of ( hi [livejournal.com profile] cavendish, [livejournal.com profile] vashtan, [livejournal.com profile] hianja and [livejournal.com profile] aislingde, I'm looking at you, guys *g*).

But, good grief! I just read in the newspaper that writer Wolfgang Hohlbein (who's rather famous here in Germany for his not too brilliant, but popular fantasy novels), grew up in the very same Rhineland village as I did, then spent most of the 1980s in the tiny Rhineland city where I'm living now, and currently resides in the small town right next to the city in where I'm living now.

Inventory

Feb. 12th, 2007 09:10 am
bimo: (Best_of_Timelords)
I've started tagging my entries, hoping that the categories will allow an easier access to some of the older stuff; stories, drawings and musings. Methinks, the keyword cloud on the right with the various categories appearing in different sizes makes an interesting mind map. Never thought I had posted so many drawings over the years. Also, I've always believed my fannish attention would be more equally distributed, but apparently interest and creativity seem to focus on Doctor Who and PotC (a fact, which even the still untagged bits about AtS, Farscape and Highlander are not going to change).

Other things that sprung into my eye while categorizing old entries: I should do more book reviews and whine less about my about my own writing, as my output may be low but otherwise perfectly fine. Oh, and strangely enough I seldom talk about what I am currently watching or reading. So, for now:

Telly: Life on Mars, This Life, and really enjoying both shows. A bit uncharacteristic for my usual tastes and behavioural patterns, I'm slowly turning into a Gene fan, and am nursing strong shippy feelings for Miles/Anna.

Reading: Barry Unsworth, The Hide, which started out slow and uninteresting, but is currently picking up speed.
bimo: (Obi_pov)
  • Hours worked at the Filmmuseum: 7
  • Books bought during lunch break: 3
  • Gigantic rainbows seen at 9:30 in the evening while opening bedroom window to let in some fresh air for the night: 1

Behold the temptations of a workplace situated only one minute away from the local Zweitausendeins store.

Oh, and before you ask...

1) Ellen Auerbach: Berlin, Tel Aviv, London, New York.
Originally only picked up because I remebered Auerbach's name from an interesting radio feature I had listened to a couple of days ago. Now that I've browsed through the pages, I'm totally amazed by the beauty and evocativeness of Auerbach's photography.Definitely the purchase I'm most proud of.

2) German copy of Susan Sonntag: The Volcano Lover. A Romance.
I like Sonntag, I like historical fiction. No idea whether the combination of these two factors is any good. The book was there, it was dead cheap, I'm a curious person.

3)Rupert Christiansen: The Victorian Visitors. Culture Shock in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Found about two hundred meters away from Zweitausendeins, over at the rivalling Jokers. Call me a Victoriana fan girl ;-)

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