Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ten Songs On A Thought: Ten Songs Evoking Nostalgia

It's easy to evoke nostalgia of a particular type...high school, childhood, fond memories, past loves, etc. But it's not easy to evoke a generalized nostalgia for something past. That's what this mix does! Each one of these songs will tailspin you into a non-specific nostalgia to match any reminiscing you might want. Ever.

Here is how this works (assuming I have any readers ever...It's been awhile. And generally always is between posts anymore): I choose a topic and write down the first ten songs that come to mind on that topic in no particular order. Then you do the same. Easy enough, right? I give you:

Ten Songs Evoking Nostalgia

1. Oh, Mandy - The Spinto Band listen
2. Modern Man - Arcade Fire listen
3. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap listen
4. Swansea - Joanna Newsom listen
5. Ceremony - New Order listen
6. In This Home On Ice - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah listen
7. Tickle Me Pink - Johnny Flynn listen
8. I Was A Kaleidoscope - Death Cab For Cutie listen ---the version linked here is an acoustic version I think fits the theme pretty well, but if you've never heard the original, look it up, one of my favorite songs by this band...
9. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel listen
10. Playground Love - Air listen

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Hot Guys Reading Books

Okay, so...I know I haven't updated this blog in forever. I started a little something called "grad school" and then I was like's been a long time since I updated this blog. I hemmed and hawed and assumed that in order to update said blog, I would need some kind of EPIC RETURN. I couldn't think of an epic return, so it just didn't happen. Over and over again it didn't happen. I spent 6 weeks in Russia and couldn't even be bothered to help you guys out with some posts then. I'm basically a jerk.

So to make up for it, I present you with my version of porn. It's hot guys reading books. It's what the name implies. Here are a few favorites I scrounged up from the site:

Since you need more...undoubtedly, try the site itself on for size.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: White Noise by Don DeLillo

I really liked this novel. Quite a lot. In fact, I would have given it 5 of 5 stars if a. I wasn't trying to be more discerning with my rating system, reserving 5's for only those novels I consider all-time favorites b. if the third and final portion of the book hadn't dragged on a bit too long. That is my only real criticism of the book, that that third part of the book is a bit too long... because the rest is pure gold.

Some people seem dissuaded by this book because it is highly regarded as the ultimate postmodern novel. And it is, really. If you have any experience with postmodern theory then there are about 10-20 different paper topics one could make from this book alone. Believe me, I did one of them in a single frenzied Sunday afternoon sitting at an IHOP during finals. It was about Hitler as a simulacrum. And I got an A, because as I said, this is rich postmodern reading, and White Noise is great fodder for any professor who loves himself a good postmodern analysis. Just mention "the most photographed barn in America" and you'll get any postmodern theorist worked up into a frenzy.

But even if you could not give less of a crap about postmodernism (and I'm sure there are plenty of you out there), this is still a great novel. Because at the crux of this novel are two themes we can all identify with: the meaning of and dissipation of the nuclear family and the fear of death. And it's put together in this witty (if sometimes hard to access) package that is genuinely a pleasure to read.

This particular version that I read was the 25th anniversary edition with an introduction by Richard Powers. Normally, I regard most introductions as either boring rehashings of plot points I want to experience for myself or monotonous statements of the most obvious, but I actually liked this introduction. It was a nice precursor to some of the novels themes and even if some of the points he makes are a bit obvious, they're useful. It sets up the novel well.

This is my third DeLillo novel, and I can see why it is regarded as his very best, even if personally I liked Libra just a bit more. DeLillo is a writer whose sense of irony and well-placed word play makes his writing seem alive and vibrant, pulsating and electric, even where the plot seemingly lags. His characters are composites of people who are so distinctly absurd that you know they probably do exist somewhere, absurdity aside. I would readily recommend this book to anyone interested in contemporary literature, and especially to students of literary theory.

That's the mark of this book's quality: you can read it for theory or you can read it for pleasure, and either reading would be equally enriching.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!

Book Review: Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life by Theodor Adorno

I read this book for my class on Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. We slogged through it 10-15 aphorisms at a time for about 12 weeks, and in the end I have to say it was really rewarding. I think it would be a formidable text if we hadn't broken it down. For each section, pairs from the class presented on an aphorism or two and related it back to other sections from earlier in the book or to other Frankfurt School readings from the course. From an academic standpoint, it was a really rich text in that it encompassed so many of Adorno's ideas into clever little bits. One joke I liked to make is that Adorno speaks in a way that lends itself to the facebook status.

But I fell a few weeks behind and so had to read a big chunk of the book in a more traditional format and it was still rewarding that way as well. Adorno isn't concerned with offering solutions: only pointing out how the world is broken. "There is no right life in a wrong world." And so he is concerned with pointing out how the world is wrong, how life is damaged. It sounds depressing and this book can be pessimistic even at its best moments, but there is something hopeful in the care he takes in examining the world so closely. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone recommended in Frankfurt School theory or social theory in general.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!

Ten Songs On A Thought: Ten Songs To Combat Postmodern Malaise

Okay, so postmodern malaise may be an exaggeration, but as someone who has been reading postmodern literature and theory for months at this point, recognizing the state that all people find themselves in whether they like it or not (a society controlled by the culture industry, surrounded by brands, the constant onslaught of technology, never lacking for inputs and signifiers, the constant fear of a world illuminated by news and maps and science and the internet, the web of a world now illuminated, etc). And it seems to me like an ever-growing number of songs reflect this frenzied discontent one feels with a world full of impulses and signs. So I decided to make one of my mixes about it.

For those who don't know, each week (theoretically. Really, it's whenever I get the impulse) I choose a topic and write down the first ten songs that come to mind on that topic in no particular order. Then you do the same. Easy enough, right? I give you:


1. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens listen
2. One Hit - The Knife listen
3. The Mall and Misery - Broken Bells listen
4. Ready To Start - Arcade Fire listen
5. Apres Moi - Regina Spektor listen
6. Sleepyhead - Passion Pit listen
7. Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again - The Books listen
8. No Ability - Dovekins listen
9. We've Got Everything - Modest Mouse listen
10. Symptom Finger - The Faint listen


Okay, so once or twice a year, I make a big to-do and say I'm going to return to regular blogging. Will this one stick? I don't know, 50/50 shot. But I am trying to concentrate on something BESIDES grad schooling. Do you have any idea how hard that is? Very.

I like to imagine grad school is like giving birth to a child. The pregnancy is that waiting period where you're spending all this money sending off applications, trying to convince people somehow, someway, that you are NOT an idiot and that they should not only accept you, but give you money to boot. And you wait, and wait, and the impatience baby in your tummy grows and grows and knots and knots until one day you get your first rejection, and then another (it's always the acceptances that come late) and then you finally get accepted and you think: okay, I'm going to begin this journey.

So you move to the school (you "have your baby") and it robs every piece of your life you once held dear...your relationships, your hobbies, your free time, your sleep, your temper, your patience, your sanity. It's all in service to this thing you are undertaking and you know you're going to be doing it for years and years to come. And you're happy, because it's what you've always wanted, but suddenly you're in this place where getting an A is all well and good, but probably not good enough, because you need to publish and go to conferences and be mentored by the right names and network and all that if you want to eventually have a job when all these old guys in these old departments start kicking the bucket about right when you graduate...and if you get a B, well, you may as well go home.

And yet, I'm so happy, because I feel forward momentum. It's masochistic, really, it's outright torture, the things that people are willing to go to get to a point where they think they'll be happy. And the real kicker is, while you're doing all this, at least in my field, you're reading all this Neo-Marxist theory that tells you "every desire you've ever had has been fabricated for you in advance" and you think, well, okay, there is a system, and I have to play into it or not. And it all becomes very very exhausting, Foucault telling you your government controls you through Biopower, Benjamin telling you you're manipulated by the phantasmagoria of the commodity fetish, Horkheimer and Adorno telling you you're a pawn within the Culture Industry, Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy saying there is only hope in a world where your singularity is subjugated to a plurality. It's exhausting and you frankly feel like you need a nap and yet, when you get a break, you can't help but read more and more into it.

So you can understand why I've fallen a bit behind on the blogs. But I'll change it soon, fingers crossed...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: Laugher In The Dark by Vladimir Nabokov

I read this book very quickly over a couple days. I picked it up on impulse, having always wanted to read another book by Nabokov and having been intrigued by the synopsis.

Oddly enough, one of the most interesting parts of this book was the introduction by John Banville, which chronicled the novels place within Nabokov's career and it's possible relation to Nabokov's later works, including Lolita. More specifically, it highlights the way that the parasitic relationship in this novel may have been a precursor to the relationship investigated in Lolita, only in this novel, Margot is a cunning (if not very smart) and vile active participant in Albert Albinus' demise.

Unrelated sidenote: Albert Albinus? Humbert Humbert? Axel Rex? I'll gladly take any comments related to the meaning behind Nabokov's obsession with mirroring names.

I didn't like this novel as much as Lolita, but only because it DID read to me a bit like just that: a precursor to a greater idea. In this novel, Nabokov seems to be toying with the idea of female power and of male justification for reprehensible behavior, themes that will be investigated to much greater effect later and which might not have been so deeply developed were it not for novels like this one.

Albert Albinus is at least slightly sympathetic. One can see the wheels turning within him and warning him that the decisions he's making are destructive and loathsome. One can see his moment's hesitation in considering a proper route of action. His conscience is visible. The drama and tragedy comes in his continued failure to obey these impulses, particularly in the face of Margot's calculating seducation and continued moral decline. Her and Axel Rex make for some truly perilous villains, and it is obvious from the start that a man like Albinus will not be able to stand up to the terror they will impose upon him.

The strength in this book comes from the quality of Nabokov's prose, which anyone who has had the pleasure of reading a Nabokov novel is familiar with. I look forward to reading other Nabokov novels, as this one has really whetted my appetite for more. It might be a good place to start if one is interested in reading beyond Lolita.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!