Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book Tag Meme

By virtue of having read this post at Disgusted Beyond Belief's blog, I've been tagged with a meme. Specifically, the book tag requires:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the 5th Sentence.
4. Post the next 3 sentences.
5. Tag 5 people.

OK, for the fun of it, I will play the game. Both DBB and the person who tagged him chose to do the meme at a time when they could pick the book, so as to get a "cool" extract. I am sitting at my computer and have chosen a book I could reach, on the shelf next to the computer. Since this is a book my husband picked up in an airport, that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, I have no clue what I'm going to get. Here we go, the prescribed 3 sentences:
"It is important. Where were you?"
"That is none of your concern."
For the curious, the book I pulled for the meme was An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears.

At the moment, I'm going to follow DBB's lead and suggest that if you have read this post, you should consider yourself tagged. I may do some more active tagging later but it's late now.


  1. "...'I hope she's pregnant.' Enid plunged her hand into the jungle and pulled forth the whisky and soda."

    This is from Gore Vidal's novel Washington, D.C.

    There are a few new "literary" movements on the net which are based on chance operations and computer-generated textual sequencing. They have some earnest advocates.

    I'm not among them.

  2. Anonymous4:21 PM

    "...find a hedge fund with a great manager. What defines a great manager and what defines a hedge fund worth investing in? (1) The manager has to have a great long-term record of beating the market and mak-..."

    My Sweetie is reading Jim Cramer's STAYING MAD FOR LIFE.

    Cramer had Elliot Spitzer, a classmate of his in law school, on his show last week. Larry Kudlow is going berserk over Spitzer's testimony. My Sweetie, who is able to watch this stuff without loading up my 12-gauge and turning off the tv with OO buckshot, tapes the segments she knows I'll want to see. Cramer, and Spitzer, make sense to me, even though I agree with Al Gore's 1991 conclusion that the problem is the logic of modern civilization. My Sweetie correctly observed that Larry Kudlow is MSNBC's Rush Limbaugh. I, of course, have still not forgiven their parent company NBC for stripping Ashleigh Banfield of her correspondent's epaulets for criticizing media coverage of the Iraq War.

    I gather this tagging has something to do with the notion that random sequencing of short excerpts is as useful as what passes for reasoned discourse and coherent creativity. I must say that for me, the most coherent creativity both acknowledges and artistically incoporates the fact that human civilization pretty much always dances on the edge of incoherence, a fact captured with at times painful beauty by the French, and with genuine Anglo power by T.S. Eliot and the mad literary genius/deranged Mussolini-phile whose name I cannot believe I cannot at the moment think of.

    Anonymous David

  3. I thought this would be fun and it is, just to see what book people decide is "nearest." I actually did a little selection to get An Instance of the Fingerpost; it could have been The Dieter's Companion or Kenneth Cooper's old paperback Aerobics. They were both on the same shelf.

    Anonymous David, consider that once television goes digital the box won't work without a converter anyhow; maybe someday you could allow yourself to turn it off for the last time. A 12-gauge seems a little bit overkill.

    I've actually never quite figured "tagging" out. Once in a while I like to do something that doesn't really make sense, just to see what happens. You may be right about dancing on the edge of incoherence; I like your analysis of T.S. Eliot, and if you remember the name of the mad literary genius/deranged Mussolini-phile, let me know, I'm curious. My husband suggests Ezra Pound, could it be he?

  4. Oh, yes - and I want to know why Enid keeps the whiskey and soda in the jungle. I guess I have to read the novel.

  5. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Yes, hedera, your husband is correct. Still cannot believe I could not think of Ezra Pound's name. I guess the next step is not being able to think of my own name.

    I thought you were supposed to make it literally the closest book, although I admit to looking for something else I could rationalize was equally close, then decided that making it literally the closest, whatever the book, makes it more fun.

    Anonymous David

  6. Being by trade a bookseller, the option of "nearest book" could present me with dizzying arrays of choice. The book in question was a copy I had just received from an e.Bay purchase, acquired on speculation. Purported to be signed, and in decent condition. Unfortunately, the signature was forged, and its condition was lamentable. That's why it was sitting just at the edge of my computer screen, waiting to be sent back for refund. I haven't read the book, but I gather the scene takes place in a greenhouse, which would explain the "jungle."

    We just acquired a new flat-screen TV, one that accommodates the new digital reception without a box. The picture (and new range of channels) is impressive. And it wasn't that expensive. For anyone contemplating alternatives, I'd recommend buying one of these instead of getting a box.

    Pound's politics has always been a problem. My take on it is that Ezra more or less lived in a "world of his own"...always had...and that the romance with Mussolini had more to do with his love of and identification with Italy than with feelings about Jews or Fascism. But then there are those damned broadcasts, and the things in the Cantos. What's one to do? Lowell, who sat on the committee that gave Pound the Bollingen for the Pisan Cantos, said "we simply decided it was the best book" and awarded the prize. That's about how I feel: Pound's best work is simply wonderful, and you have to live with the consequences. The ability (genius) to write great poetry, or novels, does not exclude the possibility that the author is a) nuts b) not a nice guy or c) politically incorrect. Or all three! How about Celine? Marianne Moore was "dotty", a confirmed Republican, and lived in a crabbed little apartment in Brooklyn with her mother, yet she was a wonderful poet.

  7. Anonymous7:53 PM

    From "Krondor, the Betrayal" by Raymond Feist(Fantasy book, I am in a training class this week and picked it up from a used book store in Dallas. It was either this of the Bible)

    The Earl's voice was surprisingly deep and forceful.
    "Welcome, gentleman. My Lord Bas-Tyra answered my request."

    My wife and I have decided to just get the converter boxes for digital TV. We don't watch it enough to warrent spending real money on a new TV.

  8. Is this an application of the concept of a Ponzi scheme to the construction of a new literary form, i.e., the non-sequential random quote cantos?

    Sort of like Alfred Korzybski's "Non-Aristotelian" Library.

    Can't get hung up in these dichotomies!

    O to be a Synthesis, now that Contradiction's waned!

  9. It can't be a Ponzi scheme, Curtis, if no one is making any money out of it - and I assure you, I'm not!

    Stephen, I may have to read Krondor, the Betrayal, after I've read Tanya Huff's Blood series, which is waiting for me to start it. The books you pick up when traveling are a very mixed bag; I've found some real gems, and some real dogs.

    We're still deciding what to do about a TV. Our existing TV is I think 15 years old and is only used to play DVDs from NetFlix. (Which reminds me, someday we have to replace the DVD player too...) The big advantage of replacing the TV is that the new one would be FLAT; we might even be able to hang it on the wall. Space in our house is at a premium.

    And yes, what does one do about the brilliant artist whose politics are objectionable? How about Furchtwaengler, anyway? For that matter, how about Von Karajan?? But if you've never heard them, Furchtwaengler's wartime broadcast recordings of Beethoven, with the Berlin Philharmonic, are astounding, even though the recording is crappy. I think in one of them you can even hear a bomb going off in the background, a thought which gives a classical music performer the heebies.

    And it isn't just musicians and literary types: Erwin Schroedinger, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists of the early 20th century, essentially disappeared into the Nazi party and never came back out.

  10. Anonymous8:59 PM

    I think you have to take great art from whoever brings it to the world. You just never support any abominable political or criminal activities. The personal political foibles of anyone, so long as they are not made tangible in criminal ways, are just that - damnable foibles.

    If forced to choose between crushing the Nazis and getting more brilliance from a Nazi, you crush the Nazis.

    The dilemma comes, of course, when the question is Do we present this brilliant artist as part of our great artists series, even though he/she is a (fill in the blank)?

    I favor presenting the artist, but I would have no qualms about stating that I was presenting this artist for his/her art, in spite of his/her reprehensible personal beliefs, and then the artist could choose not to perform. But this is America, where the great South African playwright (I need help with the name again, dammit) was denied a visa to attend the American premier of one of his plays by the Idiotreaganadministration because he was a communist, and communism doesn't even qualify as a reprehensible political ideology.

    Sadly, we as a society seem unable to rise above the impulse to censor because someone finds something offensive. The list of American works under attack from censors is absolutely amazing. Sometimes I think our national anthem should be "Scarecrow's Song," although I hate linking the affable scarecrow to those bastards.

    Anonymous David, who is still in search of an opinion

  11. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Athol Fugard.

    Anonymous David

  12. We as a society have an unfortunate streak of the blue nose, which goes all the way back to the theocratic Massachusetts Bay Colony, and which has been manifesting itself very fully over the last 6 years or so.

    Let us hope we can soon get rid of it, and see the pendulum swing back.

  13. Anonymous8:07 PM

    This is not unlike what we did in college, alternating reading sentences from Winnie the Pooh and Lady Chatterly's Lover. Turns out Winne was the R 18.

    Okay, S.m. Stirling's Dies the Fire

    "Astrid is damned good with that bow, to come anywhere near hitting something from a moving horse. She's also acting a bit weird. Or maybe even weirder than normal would be a better way to say it."

    I suppose if someone's three sentences were interesting enough to the reader, you might possibly pick up a book you otherwise might not have read. Otherwise, this activity would be hilarious accompanied with an adult beverage or two.

    One of the most blue nosed groups was the Victorians. Every read The Pearl? Fanny Hill? The Victorians knew how to act mannerly in public and enjoy themselves on the sly.