Monday, October 22, 2012

Catch-up

Six more teaching Mondays between me and the end of the semester, with a Monday holiday the week of the election as a respite. I am weary!

Today in the classroom: two de Man essays, "Semiology and Rhetoric" and "Literary History and Literary Modernity"; also, for my afternoon lecture, the opening stretch of Swann's Way!

My apartment is full of books various publishers have sent me that I don't want to read - there's a stack of thirty or so currently awaiting donation - but then I get one that is the thing I most want to read in the world, and am delighted again at the influx: in this case, it was James Lasdun's Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked. I read it in two short sittings, partly because of the gripping nature of the topic (the way the internet has hugely amplified stalking possibilities for the sociopathic and borderline, as exemplified in a terrible multi-year experience Lasdun himself had with a student who turned into his passionate stalker). In some sense, I deem the book a failure, although because the topic is so interesting and because Lasdun is such a good writer, it remains quite worthwhile. But I don't think he's had enough time to process the experience into a book-length piece (and of course he has the horrible irony of the fact that his novels are about this already, uncannily and avant la lettre, though I have certainly myself found it to be more generally the case that things in life happen that are like things one already wrote in one's novels); it probably would have been better saved as draft and then rewritten as more like a ten-thousand-word essay another few years down the road. He wants the book also to be about anti-Semitism, despite his nagging suspicion that both his stalker and the letter-writer who once sent an obscenely defaced missive to his father are really "just" mentally ill, and there is a general feeling of Lasdun (quite understandably, I hasten to add) still being in the grip of the experience rather than having moved away from it to shape it into something with the clarity and perfection of his fictions.

In other news, Tough Mudder on Saturday was great. (Although I should note that my knees and shins are ridiculously scraped and bruised, as though I have become an unruly five-year-old!)

Light reading around the edges: two more old novels by Diana Wynne Jones, Eight Days of Luke and Archer's Goon. It is strange, this notion she has of a person being split up into constituent parts and losing memory of him- or herself: it's very consistently developed across a wide number of different books. I really love her novels more than almost anything else I can think of.

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