Saturday, November 11, 2006

One Final Quote from Thomas Bernhard

So finally finished reading The Loser. Bernhard sure is very addictive and he has driven some of my gloom away too. Now I have to find another book by him to read, though my library doesn't have anything else by him.

Anyway, here is one more passage from the book which stuck to my mind (next time remember this passage when you are looking at your bookshelf)...

In the end the so-called great minds wind up in a state where we can feel only pity for their ridiculousness, their pitifulness. Even Shakespeare shrivels down to something ridiculous for us in clearheaded moment, he said, I thought. For a long time now the gods appear to us only in the heads on our beer steins, he said, I thought. Only a stupid person is amazed, he said, I thought. The so-called intellectual consumes himself in what he considers pathbreaking work and in the end has only succeeded in making himself ridiculous, whether he's called Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, it doesn't matter, even if he was Kleist or Voltaire we still see a pitiful being who has misused his head and finally driven himself into nonsense. Who's been rolled over and passed over by history. We've locked up the great thinkers in our bookcases, from which they keep staring at us, sentenced to eternal ridicule, he said, I thought. Day and night I hear the chatter of the great thinkers we've locked up in our bookcases, these ridiculous intellectual giants as shrunken heads behind glass, he said, I thought. All these people have sinned against nature, he said, they've committed first-degree murders of the intellect, that's why they've been punished and stuck in our bookcases for eternity. For they're choking to death in our bookcases, that's the truth. Our libraries are so to speak prisons where where we've locked up our intellectual giants,naturally Kant has been put in solitary confinement, like Nietzsche, like Schopenhauer, like Pascal, like Voltaire, like Montaigne, all the real giants have been put in solitary confinement, all the other in mass confinement, but everyone for ever and ever, my friend, for all time and unto eternity, that's the truth.

And it goes on and on....

Anyway, I was looking at my virtual bookshelf on Library Thing and it informs me that The Loser was 30th book that I read this year! If only I read even half of it related to what I do for living! Sigh! Anyway, My new year reading resolution was to read more history, specially about the Russian revolution and the Austro-Hungarian empire and more philosophy, specially Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer and the Romantics but actually hardly read anything on these subject. Next year may be...

I am also almost done with reading a brilliant companion monograph on W G Sebald, rather modestly titled Understanding W. G. Sebald, and I have no hesitation in calling it a masterpiece of explication and elucidation. I just wish there were more academic books like it. Will write about it later. I still have to read parts of it. Link to the publisher's page here.

Next book on the list is The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth. Here is a nice essay in New Yorker that I was reading and another essay by Coetzee also gives lots of background on Roth's life and works. Also learnt a new word, "delirium tremens." Roth died in a state of delirium tremens.

18 comments:

jyothsnay said...

*Patted and Kissed the 30th book
Ran past the 300th post...

yeh kya ho raha hai? umm...
Are you sailing aboard the Fascination-3?

Alok said...

Haven't done anything else the whole of this year, just reading and blogging, what a life!!

jyothsnay said...

Oh what a life
I wonder, sometimes, sitting in the corner,
at restless fingers crawling over the book
how would it feel if I get one more
set of hands and eyes
exhilarated it would be reading and blogging
not in sequence but in rhythmic march
I am the dearest bug in the corner
look at me am still a lean machine

I wonder, sometimes, sitting in the corner,
how would it feel if I gather extra pair of legs
wonderful it would be as they walk down to the library
for a bunch of new books as I read and blog in my corner....
oh what a bug, am the dearest bug!
---Jyo(swirls copyright)

Cheshire Cat said...

Reading...

Blogging...

What else is there?

Alok said...

hehe... and then I complain of feeling melancholy :)

Alok said...

and yes, thank you for the poem Jyothsna :)

km said...

If only someone came up with waterproof paper. I'd be reading in the shower.

(my count's FAR less than 30 for 2006!)

Alok said...

"Waterproof paper"? sounds like a great idea to me... :)

I have heard that people, specially women, read in bathtubs. never really imagined myself doing it but just in case if you spend a lot of time in there... :)

Szerelem said...

sigh I hate school for the simple reason that it becomes so difficult to read!!

blogrolled you btw, you dont mind no?

jyothsnay said...

so where are we now? bathtubs & women...
Umm, I heard of Archimedes, who happens to be a man...was not he the one who jumped out of the bath and ran naked down the street ...screaming EUREKA...? {giggles}
man or woman, bathtubs or bathing/personal cleansing spaces have always been a source of inspiration..that trickle of cold or lukewarm water-drops, the head-spinning tantalising hedonism (dnot we admire our bodies, yup!) etc etc stimulate the grey cells n we tend to be a lot more intelligent to selves then than to the rest of the time we spend with the mundane n boring external world...

light-hearted creature!

Alok said...

szerelem: of course not, will add you to mine too.

jyothsna: sigh! i see bathing just as a necessary chore :(
btw, can i get some of your extra enthusiasm, energy and "admiration for one's body"? i seriously need each of these.

jyothsnay said...

huh, extra enthusiasm....
pull out Nike sneakers,run with a sense of abandonment,let self be drenched by those endorphins,plant self next to the bowl of Kelloggs,pat the doggie,ignore the whistles n bells of your book corner,get into the bath,put something high-adrenaline music,tune ur body to the hues n shades of music,gleam at those sparkling beads of water on your shoulders, recall how u used to play with water or used to make mom run after you vehemently crying over the bath ala Calvin,sit in the sun, feel the warmth,no dnot look at books,come back n be a couch potato for a few hours,slip into deep slumber,dusk falls over you,get up smile at ur handsome face, siesta does wonders to ur skin..walk down the street,mingle with the crowds,heard them talking nonsense,come back to prepare hot pasta...nostill dnot look at books!
Put pink Floyd,Groban or any instrumental music n sink into deep slumber..tell me hw u felt after that day ....
still no significant changes at a 99% confidence level...then u have to meet me!

Alok said...

WOW!! All this sounds so strange to me. I have never done anything like this ever in my life :(

I am going to take a printout of this comment and stick it next to my bed now...

jyothsnay said...

...No mockery in the world ever sounds to me as hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure." -- Charlotte Bronte

Don't mock at a gentle soul like me who behaves like a wild west girl...

Alok said...

No Mocking...

I do need help. I am pessimistic about it though. I have my own personal mind-body problem to take care of... and it is so difficult. Mind denies the body all the pleasures it craves and the body then refuses to do anything.

god, my comment space is looking more like a psychiatric help line! lets get back to discussing German literature, will we?

jyothsnay said...

yup....Bernhard

am dying to read Thomas Bernhard's The Voice Imitator ...as recommended by Chesire cat n i read thro the reviews..a promising start.

jyothsnay said...

I am reading Turgenev's Faust and Those Barren leaves by Huxley...but I stayed back willingly with T's section where he runs down the memory lane describing the garden at his home...simply outstanding!

Alok said...

I like that Turgenev book a lot too though my favourite are his love stories...:)

finish it and write about it on the blog...

haven't read that huxley book. brave new world is the only book by him that i have read...