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  What Book Are You Currently Reading?
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 334713 times)
Gustaf
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« Reply #875 on: November 04, 2013, 05:21:30 pm »

Murakami's always felt a little same-y to me, in that he's more influenced than influential and cosmopolitan in a way that seems (for me, and this is entirely subjective) bland rather than cultured. He also can't write women to save his life. He's got really good instincts for imagery and mood, though.

I mostly agree with this. What's weird though is this: why do women love him so much?

Most women I know who are into literature like Murakami. Most men don't. But to me that's odd.

Now that you mention it, this is true among people who I know as well. I don't know why that might be and I don't particularly feel qualified to theorize about it. It's definitely strange. Murakami's women have always struck me as very female-as-baffling-other-as-seen-by-self-absorbed-straight-male, especially in Sputnik Sweetheart, which one might think wouldn't have this problem but which, if it was intended not to, backfired horribly.

Yeah, I agree totally on all of that.
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Lurker
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« Reply #876 on: November 05, 2013, 03:34:58 pm »

Now that you mention it, this is true among people who I know as well. I don't know why that might be and I don't particularly feel qualified to theorize about it. It's definitely strange. Murakami's women have always struck me as very female-as-baffling-other-as-seen-by-self-absorbed-straight-male, especially in Sputnik Sweetheart, which one might think wouldn't have this problem but which, if it was intended not to, backfired horribly.

I haven't read Murakami myself, but I also know many women who love his books. Could the answer be that Murakami actually understands women better than you think (or, understand them better than you do?)? Obviously, that may be totally wrong - and not having read his books I can't tell - but I kind of doubt that a writer with such a poor understanding of women could have such a large female fan base.
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Nathan
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« Reply #877 on: November 05, 2013, 04:54:22 pm »
« Edited: November 05, 2013, 05:00:41 pm by asexual trans victimologist »

I guess it's conceivably possible that Murakami Haruki understands women better than I do but that implies unsettling enough things about my relationships with the women in my life that I'd prefer to look for other explanations. I'd be willing to concede the notion that perhaps most of the women Murakami spends time with think and behave way different to most of the women I spend time with for whatever reason.

Thinking that he has problems handling female characters isn't just a quixotic opinion of mine; it's a frequent criticism of his work. I should point out that the majority of people in the circles I run in who are familiar with Murakami admit, regardless of gender, that this is a problem with his writing, even people who like it otherwise.

(The other issue that I have with Murakami is that, to paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, his writing doesn't feel like it's from anywhere; this isn't meant to echo the pat criticism in his own country's literary establishment that his writing is not 'purely Japanese' enough; it's a broader issue than that. Even when images and moods are arresting and well-communicated, I've never felt like a had a good understanding of the general intended milieu of any of his fiction, except maybe Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which is probably my favorite of his novels that I've read but which still didn't make as much of an impression on me as, I [Inks] you not, an experimental fantasy anime that's strongly derivative of it. His nonfiction is better about this, as indeed it is about most things. Underground is a genuinely great and important book.)

(Anyway there's really no reason to focus on Murakami when Takahashi Gen'ichirō is still alive, except that far more of Murakami's work has been translated.)

Also I'm thinking of starting Mann's Doctor Faustus at some point, probably after I manage to work my way through Yukiguni and Nijūshi no hitomi in the original.
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« Reply #878 on: November 05, 2013, 05:38:21 pm »
« Edited: November 05, 2013, 05:40:10 pm by Lurker »

Interesting. I really should read some Murakami.

Extremely impressive that you can understand the original versions of Japanese litterature, Nathan - how did you learn the language so well?

Also, I have to say this thread is quite impressive too. Seems like the Atlas is very high-brow when it comes to litterature, to put it mildly (not that I would have expected many Dan Brown or El James fans to show up here).
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tweed
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« Reply #879 on: November 06, 2013, 03:36:13 pm »

good selection man.

Really? It seemed rather dated to me.

he's a freshman in college, not everyone brushes up on economic historiography at age 12.
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Nathan
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« Reply #880 on: November 06, 2013, 04:55:18 pm »

Interesting. I really should read some Murakami.

I can recommend Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World without too many reservations, and Underground and after the quake with none.

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Extremely impressive that you can understand the original versions of Japanese litterature, Nathan - how did you learn the language so well?

It's my major and I'm a senior! Thank you for the compliment but I actually can't read it all that well; I've read Snow Country and Twenty-four Eyes in English before and this will be my first attempt to read original 'serious literature' (junbungaku) longer than an Akutagawa story.
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tweed
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« Reply #881 on: November 09, 2013, 12:59:43 am »

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TJ in Oregon
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« Reply #882 on: November 09, 2013, 08:47:01 pm »

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Scott
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« Reply #883 on: November 09, 2013, 09:04:44 pm »

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Miles
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« Reply #884 on: November 12, 2013, 04:14:16 am »

I'm just wrapping up The Syria Dilemma for a Middle East class:

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The book itself consists of multiple news columns by professors and pundits. It was a quick and generally easy read, but the book was published before the Congressional debate on Syrian intervention, so some parts were a bit dated.
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Nathan
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« Reply #885 on: November 12, 2013, 05:31:59 am »

I just finished John McGahern's The Dark. I'm not quite sure what I thought of it yet.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #886 on: November 12, 2013, 07:00:17 am »

Now that you mention it, this is true among people who I know as well. I don't know why that might be and I don't particularly feel qualified to theorize about it. It's definitely strange. Murakami's women have always struck me as very female-as-baffling-other-as-seen-by-self-absorbed-straight-male, especially in Sputnik Sweetheart, which one might think wouldn't have this problem but which, if it was intended not to, backfired horribly.

I haven't read Murakami myself, but I also know many women who love his books. Could the answer be that Murakami actually understands women better than you think (or, understand them better than you do?)? Obviously, that may be totally wrong - and not having read his books I can't tell - but I kind of doubt that a writer with such a poor understanding of women could have such a large female fan base.

That's a harsh but fair point. I should add that I do know a number of women who also criticize this aspect of Murakami, so it's not just us. But to me it's more his attitude towards them that is odd than him not getting them.

I finished Penguin Island. Weird book and poorly translated, a fair bit of fun all the same.

Now I'm reading Down and Out in Paris and London
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Mopolis
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« Reply #887 on: November 13, 2013, 04:07:32 pm »

Candide

I feel that the novella suffered for its brevity, rather than benefited from it; the rapidity with which the central characters moved from tragedy to tragedy was sometimes too much to take. Still, I found the conclusion satisfying enough, and Martin did have some great lines.
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #888 on: November 14, 2013, 05:23:23 pm »
« Edited: November 14, 2013, 05:26:57 pm by TheDeadFlagBlues »

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If the views in this book form the basis for the PPE program at Oxford, I need to transfer ASAP. The approaches revealed in this work are so similar to how I approach the social sciences and I feel as if I found the reason why I feel vaguely dissatisfied with my econ/poli sci courses: they lack a foundation in philosophy, ethics and the humanities. Strange to think when I entered undergrad that I only craved classes focused on empirics and now I tend to shy away from it.

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The discussion of the cross-influences of the sentimentalist philosophers and non-conformist protestant theologians was really great but Friedman's view of growth is a little too centrist/neo-liberal/Davos/World Bank for my tastes. That being said, he is correct in stating that economic growth engenders tolerance and strong democratic institutions but I don't think he cares about whether this growth is equally diffused which is a view I can't tolerate.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #889 on: November 14, 2013, 05:27:23 pm »

PPE is basically an apprenticeship degree for aspiring political hacks.
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #890 on: November 14, 2013, 05:32:51 pm »
« Edited: November 14, 2013, 05:34:48 pm by TheDeadFlagBlues »

PPE is basically an apprenticeship degree for aspiring political hacks.

In the states, Economics is basically an apprenticeship degree for aspiring hedge fund managers so I'd much prefer the former. Even at my crunchy, "learning for learning's sake" college a good half of Econ majors are in the program because they're good at math and want a six-figure salary.

Maybe British political hacks are more tolerable because PPE has good required courses? I might study abroad at Oxford next year so I'll be sure to check them out.

edit: the one thing that makes me want to consistently change my major is the fact that mathematical prowess is exalted above perceptive social scientific insights in econ departments. it's hard for me to even consider it a social science at times.
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #891 on: November 17, 2013, 09:03:17 pm »

about to invest weeks of my life into these books:

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please pray for me as my brain flexes hard and gets swoll.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #892 on: November 17, 2013, 09:11:46 pm »

If it's any consolation Thompson, at least, is a good read. Weird book: in some respects not just ahead of its time, but ahead of what is written now; but he also repeats some arguments and theories that were pretty much discredited by the 1960s, even going out of his way to defend one of them. But then that's Thompson for you.
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #893 on: November 17, 2013, 09:23:41 pm »

If it's any consolation Thompson, at least, is a good read. Weird book: in some respects not just ahead of its time, but ahead of what is written now; but he also repeats some arguments and theories that were pretty much discredited by the 1960s, even going out of his way to defend one of them. But then that's Thompson for you.

One of my professors mentioned that social history/marxist approaches has gone the way of the dodo in favor of more cultural/anthropological approaches since the 80s, is this true? If so, my tiny interest in having History as a fallback major is out of the question.
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #894 on: November 17, 2013, 09:38:47 pm »

If it's any consolation Thompson, at least, is a good read. Weird book: in some respects not just ahead of its time, but ahead of what is written now; but he also repeats some arguments and theories that were pretty much discredited by the 1960s, even going out of his way to defend one of them. But then that's Thompson for you.

One of my professors mentioned that social history/marxist approaches has gone the way of the dodo in favor of more cultural/anthropological approaches since the 80s, is this true? If so, my tiny interest in having History as a fallback major is out of the question.

Basically, yes (not so basically, it's more complicated)... and no bad thing too.

Thompson's book is still great although it's greatness is partly due to its obvious bias and at times ranting nature.
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Lincoln Republican
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« Reply #895 on: November 17, 2013, 10:00:22 pm »

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #896 on: November 17, 2013, 10:12:37 pm »

If it's any consolation Thompson, at least, is a good read. Weird book: in some respects not just ahead of its time, but ahead of what is written now; but he also repeats some arguments and theories that were pretty much discredited by the 1960s, even going out of his way to defend one of them. But then that's Thompson for you.

One of my professors mentioned that social history/marxist approaches has gone the way of the dodo in favor of more cultural/anthropological approaches since the 80s, is this true? If so, my tiny interest in having History as a fallback major is out of the question.

Basically, yes (not so basically, it's more complicated)... and no bad thing too.

Thompson's book is still great although it's greatness is partly due to its obvious bias and at times ranting nature.

Why do you think it's "no bad thing"? All I see is the erosion of the left in academia at all levels and it breaks my heart.

I'm looking forward to it!
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #897 on: November 18, 2013, 01:44:40 pm »

Well, most work produced as part of the History from Below movement was pretty dreadful.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #898 on: November 18, 2013, 01:54:28 pm »

Anyway, that brief summary isn't entirely true as it omits the influence of (grossly misunderstood and badly applied) poststructuralism in the 1980s and 1990s, out of which much of the current emphasis on culture, identity and so on emerged. Oh yes, that is indeed the original sin of the currently dominant historical 'parochialism' (i.e. excessive specialism, an over-focus on aspects of history that seem marginal to outsiders, etc). But then it's difficult to argue that it's seriously worse than the ten-a-penny crude Marxist screeds that were so characteristic of the 1970s.

Essentially what good stuff there is tends to be produced by people who are at least a little out of step with dominant trends.
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True Federalist
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« Reply #899 on: November 27, 2013, 01:04:32 am »

I'm currently slogging thru Aquinas' Summa Theologica.  Maybe it's the translation I'm reading, but I'm not impressed so far.  He makes assumptions that while doctrinally sound are still assumptions yet he casts them as self-evident truths.  He also asks some questions I don't really see the point of, such as "Is God a superior example of oneness to all other ones?"  First off, as far as I'm concerned one is one.  Something is either one or it is not and I fail to see how one one can be different from another one its quality of oneness.  Even if it were possible for there to be differing types of oneness, how would one judge one one to be superior another one?  Aquinas doesn't say, nor does he say (at least in what I've read so far) why he considered the question worth asking.  He just points out that he had previously shown that God is one and that God is superior to all else, therefore He must be the superior epitome of oneness.
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