Bookerrrrrr

Longlist has been announced

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger
Gaynor Arnold
Girl in a Blue Dress
Sebastian Barry
The Secret Scripture
John Berger
From A to X
Michelle de Kretser
The Lost Dog
Amitav Ghosh
Sea of Poppies
Linda Grant
The Clothes on Their Backs
Mohammed Hanif
A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Philip Hensher
The Northern Clemency
Joseph O’Neill
Netherland
Salman Rushdie
The Enchantress of Florence
Tom Rob Smith
Child 44
Steve Toltz
A Fraction of the Whole

Color me thingie. I’m happy. Some heavyweights, some more unknown novels and even a thriller. I will now read my way down that list. Have read one already and ordered Netherland which is supposed to be superb. And no Carey!!!

Surfing Academics, again

Something occurred to me in respect to this.

Funny thing. Much of this is written in a rebellious spirit, practically ‘against’ academia, to show ’em. Fuck yeah. Rogue surfer dude is as good as the fucking academics.

But the thing is, by extracting that guy from academia, defining an academic not by conpetence or even occupation, inasmuch as the man studied, did his phd, attended fucking professional conferences and spoke there. They concur with the worst idiots in academia that it has to be your career, you have to make money (and thereby hangs a tale) off of it in order for it to count. So these poor deluded people are doing exactly the opposite of what they set out to do. Instead of being ‘unruly’ they reproduce the exact power structures that the people they oppose represent, they copy the rules, word by word. Instead of shaking anything up or thinking outside the box, they sit squat in the middle of said box, staring at the walls, thinking about the walls, writing about the walls.

It happens to us all, happened to me too. When (not if) it becomes a habit to me, too, please please shoot me before I make more of a fool of myself as I’m making anyway.

(yes, I know, this was obvious and I should have said it before but I’m kinda slow and somewhat drunk)

Academics Cannot Surf

I recently remarked on identity politics on this blog. This is another case.

Apparently, it’s fine to headline an article Has A Surfer/Snowboarder Who Lives In A Van Rewritten Physics?, or “SURFER DUDE STUNS PHYSICISTS WITH THEORY OF EVERYTHING” or “COULD THE NEXT EINSTEIN BE A SURFER DUDE?” or surf’s theory of everything, even if you talk about a guy who is “40 years old and possess[es] a Ph.D. in theoretical physics”, who “posted an academic paper called “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” to arxiv.org, a site for scientists that’s maintained by Cornell University” and who “began presenting his theory at conferences last year, and many well-regarded physicists found it interesting, even plausible”.

But nooo. He’s a surfer dude.

Let me tell you something. If I continue working odd jobs as I do now, never find my way into an academic career, but work on complex theories of literary criticism daily, for 15 years, attend professional conferences and publish my results in an academic paper, and you call me a “surfer dude” (or something like it), I will bloody your nose.

That said, the article linked above is an engrossing read and highly recommended.

Critics and Djs

Sancho’s Panza is mad

“The way things are … the critic tends to act exactly like a disc jockey. The DJ’s success, just like the new critics’, depends on his capacity for tuning in to the dance floor’s occupants, whose appetites, tastes, and level of excitement or euphoria he must divine, stimulate and encourage.”

It’s more necessary than ever for there to be critics who illuminate ideas and change opinions, rather than pander to the dance floor. A DJ is a DJ, a critic has the obligation to go against the grain, if that’s the way the gut goes.

Which is not totally off the mark, but in the comments is a nice emendation

that’s a bit of an insult to what the best DJs can do. […] In the best situations, the catharsis of the dance floor is that it’s a two-way relationship between DJ and dance floor.

And I can think of several DJs in college radio (when that meant something) who changed my tastes and my life. DJs can be cultural critics as much as anyone else.

That said, there is something about the description that sounds right. I think of it closer to the DJ in Clearchannel-era radio or the wedding DJ.