Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/26/2010

"Our Three-Volume Novel at a Glance", a cartoon by Priestman Atkinson, from the Punch Almanack for 1885 (which would have been published in late 1884). This is a jocular look at some clich├ęd expressions which were overused in the popular literature of the time. It contains absurd literalistic interpretations of a number of conventional metaphors, accompanied by some outrageous visual puns. In the nineteenth century, popular novels often appeared in three-volume editions when first published, in order to allow three customers of commercial "circulating libraries" to be reading parts of the book simultaneously. I've abridged the second and third "volumes" of the cartoon in this scan. From Wikimedia.


Daily Thoughts 1/26/2010

This morning, I took some time to look at Microsoft Word 2007 Quicksteps on the train so I could familiarize myself with the new version of Word which we have on the public computers. Another day, I'll probably sit down and check the program some more.





I also read some more of The Medieval Craft of Memory. It makes me think how much we take certain things for granted. For example we have a specific numerical order to the alphabet which we are taught as children, we are also taught to associate each letter of the alphabet with a specific picture like a for apple.


We also use sequential numbers for street addresses. This makes it easier for people to find and remember where an address is. We create to do lists in sequential order to get things done. Many of these are techniques to make us remember. Right now, I am reading the section called The Art of Memory by Jacobus Publicius. This section unlike the others is not focused on religion. It has a more general approach.


I think this is a book which is very interesting, but is not likely to be reviewed in the popular journals. One of my colleagues has asked to read it after I am done. It is the kind of book which is very hard to review. The content is quite philosophical in nature. I am not sure I could give full justice to some of the content. Much of the content is on how to memorize large portions of the bible. There are some very striking images on how to memorize the parts of the gospels. There are supposed to be three steps in memory, first the memorization of poetry, then memorization for oratory, then memorization for the law and religion.



Most of the content was translated from latin. It is very hard to find similar material. It also opens people to a very different view of the world. This material was written for practical use by teachers, priests, academics, and intellectuals during the middle ages. This makes the book a very specialized subject. Some of it still has relevance for our time.



I picked out some graphic novels for the graphic novels club this afternoon. I also chose some books on Thailand to go out to the book mobile. This morning, I had a chance to read through the latest New York Times Book Reviews as well as Publishers Weekly.



I planned on doing the graphic novels club for teenagers and adults. I had one of those unexpected things happen. A lot of the ten to fourteen year olds ran in to look at the graphic novels. I made some adjustments in my selections of graphic novels. The tweens. They mainly came in for soda. They took out a number of them, including a few dvds. X-men was the favorite comic. One of the dvds was Max Fleischer's Popeye. Also, Baby Mouse was popular as well as some of the shojo-- ladies manga. There were a number of girls who wanted more girl superheros. I'll have to look for more comics with lady superheros.



I started reading Jeff Vandermeer, Finch. This feels like a very experimental novel. Jeff Vandermeer has been building a fairly strong author website. His blog announces the promotion of his wife, Ann Vandermeer to Editor in Chief of Weird Tales. http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2010/01/25/breaking-news-weird-tales-announcement/ . I find this rather interesting. It reminds me a bit of the marriage of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner who both wrote fantasy novels.



The novel Finch is published by Underland Press, http://www.underlandpress.com . This is a relatively new press. It has a brand new set of authors, many of which I am first seeing. I found the opening dialog to be quite different in style than many books I have read. I think the book has quite a bit of experimental content in it. I think some people may like it. It is a mix of urban fantasy, weird tale, and detective story with a bit of psychedelia thrown in to make it stranger.

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