Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not that busy actually...

Much as I hate my job, sometimes I think it is not so bad. Just these last couple of weeks when I was thinking I had lots of work to do, I don't know what happened, the work either took care of itself or perhaps I did something. It is almost back to normal now. Speaking in general, even otherwise it is the kind of job which never requires any serious intellectual application of any kind and even time and effort-wise it only occasionally makes its presence felt in my inner and private life. Most of the time it is just the same dull routine. Talk to people, do the work, and in general behave like an automaton! I find it amusing and sometimes surprising that someone like me, with this level of demotivation and detachment, has been able survive all this (though I must say it hasn't been too long yet!) I know, mere survival is not enough. May be I will find something that will spur me on, and who knows I might even find myself in the company of those deluded, crazy and philistine usurers in future with whom I am surrounded at work and who earn many times more than what I do now. (In case it is confusing, it is actually a bank where I work and I write software for a living.)

So what did I do at work today? Besides a few other things I read this article in the latest TLS by George Steiner on the nineteenth century German writer George Buchner, author of classic Expressionist play Woyzeck, the novella Lenz and other works. I have read only Woyzeck which is brilliant and one of my favourites. I have been looking forward to reading his other works but haven't got a chance to read any of it yet. It is not that great essay. Steiner is a very estimable and heavyweight literary critic but this article felt a little hurried. Still there is a lot of information and introductory material in there. I didn't know for example that Buchner died at the age of twenty three!

Werner Herzog's film adaptation of the play is brilliant in its own right too, not least because of Klaus Kinski's performance in the titular role, a role almost tailor-made for him to play. You can watch the introductory scene from the film on youtube.

Also via This Space I read this rather pointless article about fantasy in literature. Surely no reader of fiction can ever have problem with fantasy. I mean, that goes by the dictionary definition of the word 'fiction' itself! It is what you do with fantasy that matters. For example, you can either start a franchise and sell tie-in products with your books or else create genuine works of literature which engage with serious and difficult questions regarding reality, representation, truth, language etc etc. It's the same with Bollywood too. I don't have any problems with song and dance, melodrama or artificial colours. It is what you do with them. On one side there are people like Fassbinder and Almodovar and on the other people like Bhansalis and Karan Johars...

Also talking of fantasy fiction, Laszlo Krasznahorkai's Hungarian novel The Melancholy of Resistance is absolutely brilliant. It is not really a fantasy, even though it has some fantastical elements, it is more like a fable written in a remarkable style and a voice which is odd and extremely gripping at the same time -- very Kafka-like in tone and style. The book is full of long serpentine sentences and thomas bernhard style paragraphs which never seem to end. Also how he blends the reported speech with narration is very similar to bernhard. It is not easy to read, I have been reading it for the past one week and I am not even past the first hundred pages but it is worth all the effort. Will write more once I finish the book.

Finally this interview of Thomas Bernhard (thanks Bhupinder). As entertaining as ever!

6 comments:

Antonia said...

oh you discovered Buechner, he is wonderful, all his plays, he hasn't written that much, but he is greast....my favourite is the 'Lenz'

Antonia said...

the TLS essay by George Steiner is outstanding, excellent. He really covers everything one needs to know, maybe it is a bit much informtion on too little space, but it is absolutely the right information. Wonderful also this reference to the Celan Buechnerprizespeech 'Meridian'. That's the best what I had read so far on Buechner.

Alok said...

I liked that essay too. It was just too much information and too little space. It was ideal for a much longer essay. Perhaps the editor cut it down to fit the space.

I can't find that Celan speech anywhere. My library has got his collected poems and a biography but his speech is not there in either of them.

Cheshire Cat said...

Coincidental - I've been getting a bit curious about Lenz himself. I imagine him as a sort of German equivalent of Christopher Smart or John Clare; if he's not, that would be more interesting still...

Antonia said...

hmmm I don't knwo where this Celan speech is....can't find a translation either, I am afraid you have to learn german, alok :)
yes cheshire,Lenz is great. Based on a true story, Buechner's Lenz

Alok said...

Cat: I haven't read the Buchner novella or anything by Lenz himself but he sure does sound like one of those "poete maudit" types!

Antonia: Learning German is on the agenda. May be I will have to reset the priorities... :)