“Sorites for a Rich Indian Uncle” — Harry Mathews

IMG_6253

Click on the damn image to make it much bigger so you can read Mathews’ list (or sorites/stories/sorties). From Selected Declarations of Independence. The illustration is by Alex Katz.

 

Advertisements

“Snips of the Tongue” — Harry Mathews

“Snips of the Tongue”

by

Harry Mathews

from Selected Declarations of Independence

Once burned, twice snide

+

Every drug has its day

+

The road to help is paved with good intentions

+

Never pull of tomorrow what you can do today

+

When in Rome, do as the Trojans do

+

Half a loan is better than no bread

+

Every crowd has a silver lining

+

One man’s meat is another man’s person

+

Look before you leave

+

A snitch in time saves nine

+

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky

+

Too many cooks spoil the dwarf

“The Poet as Outlaw” — Harry Mathews

20130527-113327.jpg

Something on Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure

georges-perec-la-boutique-obscure-124-dreams

1. Listening to someone’s dreams is usually pretty boring. Reading about someone’s dreams is even worse.

Except when it’s not, of course.

2. Perec, describing his dream journal La Boutique Obscure:

I thought I was recording the dreams
I was having; I have realized that it was
not long before I began having dreams
only in order to write them.

These dreams—overdreamed, overworked,
overwritten—what could I then
expect of them, if not to make them into
texts, a bundle of texts left as an o)ering
at the gates of that “royal road” I still
must travel with my eyes open?

3. La Boutique Obscure is new in English translation by Daniel Levin Becker, published by the good people at Melville House.

4. The dreams in La Boutique Obscure, rendered in fairly concrete prose (Perec avoids analysis), were recorded between 1968-1972.

5. I’ve been slowly reading the essays and riffs and lists collected in Perec’s Species of Spaces and Other Pieces over the past few years. There’s something wonderful about picking the book up at random and finding some little quip or note (or entire essay) that illuminates some fascinating aspect of what we might initially take to be a dull topic.

La Boutique Obscure works the same way.

6. Sample:

Capture

7. Many of the elements that we see in Dream No. 24 / “Cats” run throughout the collection: Friends, doors, streets, houses, apartments, disasters, performances, lists, etc. etc. Note also Perec’s refusal to analyze or contextualize or otherwise attempt to make meaning out of the dream.

8. My favorite pieces in the collection are the ones that convey more plot—adventures, chases, fragments of films and plays—but there’s also pleasure in Perec’s shortest pieces, which often resemble imagist poems—like “The stone bridge”:

Capture

9. A good review, a responsible review, might try to situate Perec’s dream journal against his role as Oulipo gamesmaster, or set the entries against Perec’s biography, or maybe compare it to other dream journals. Or maybe even try to tackle it as a novel, or a novelish book.

10. But I’m more interested in the aesthetic experience of reading La Boutique Obscure. The book is fun, distracting, and divergent. Perec’s refusal to interpret his dreams leaves plenty of space for the reader to make his own connection—and if need be, interpretations—but to be clear, the same banal anxieties that inform our own dreams are what Perec traces the contours of in La Boutique Obscure. The book’s greatest strength is its imagery, its evocation of place, space, movement. To fault it for lacking depth would be to entirely miss the point.

11. Reading La Boutique Obscure provides another nagging reminder that I have yet to read Life A User’s Manual.

12. Finally: Roman Muradov’s response to the book is better than any review:

tumblr_mkghmeCTMk1qzxelgo1_1280

Georges Perec (Books Acquired, Some Time Last Week)

20130304-154911.jpg

I picked up Georges Perec’s twofer Things and A Man Asleep last Friday at the used bookstore. I was there looking for something else. The Perec was not even shelved under “P.” I found it laid on a table. The good people at Melville House also sent me a copy of Perec’s La Boutique Obscure last week, which I do not photograph here because it is an ebook. I read a big chunk of Obscure this week and will do some kind of write-up sometime soon, but here’s David Auerbach’s review at the LA Review of Books in the meantime.