The Spoils: April 2013

A bookstore sale allowed me to pick up loads of titles this month, namely, the first seven titles in the list below. The last three came from a much-delayed online order.

  1. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists by Gideon Defoe (third book in a series but this and the fifth book on the Romantics are the ones I’m really interested in)
  2. The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest
  3. The Stain on the Snow by Georges Simenon (published in the US as Dirty Snow)
  4. Midnight Plus One by Gavin Lyall
  5. Before, During, and After: Poems by Hal Sirowitz
  6. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
  7. The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
  8. The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation by Fanny Howe
  9. The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995 by Michael Palmer
  10. Thread by Michael Palmer (reviews from Jacket 2, Lana TurnerThe Constant Critic, Poetry magazine, and Publishers Weekly)
  11. Conjunctions 37: Twentieth Anniversary Issue (Fall 2001)
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In Smiley’s World

As preparation for my most-anticipated film for 2011, based on one of my favorite novels of all time, I’m currently listening to the recent Radio 4 adaptation. (Later, I plan to re-watch the television adaptation and to re-read the book, of course.)

I’ve just finished listening to the second of its three parts this morning, which means I’m as fully immersed as work and the rest of my life allows, which led to several misadventures this morning (and no, this is by no means an attempt at a Le Carre pastiche; I doubt I’ll ever have that man’s facility with language).

I arrived at the office and immediately opened the briefcase handcuffed to my wrist my bag, which contained a highly-sensitive dossier recommendation letter I wrote for an agent a student who was picking it up that morning from my local runner the Department secretary. The student requested for this letter by dropping me a note in a dead-letter drop my pigeonhole last week. He arrived as I was encoding preparing the document for his pick-up this morning. I was momentarily startled, as if he broke cover, but I simply handed him the letter and wished him luck in his mission application.

The next bit is a little funnier since I virtually sound like I’m in the intelligence business here, with minimal moments of sous rature:

One of my research assistants handed me the highly-confidential (it really was, as indicated by the stamp on the sealed envelope I was given) mission briefing project appointment from HR. (Come to think of it, it IS a mission briefing, since it details a special and somewhat secret project I’ve been tasked to do.) It was a vital document that needed to go to my contact in Personnel, who had been calling me about it for the past two weeks, so I immediately went out and headed over there to pass it on.

Since I’ve been quite absent-minded these days, it took me a while to notice the envelope had my name on it as a receiver: I was so overwhelmed by the importance of the document, which up until this morning I didn’t even know existed, that I thought it was something for Personnel’s eyes only. Realizing my mistake, I opened it, clumsily tearing the envelope in my haste, certainly looking as if I was about to read something I wasn’t supposed to. I signed the document, but realized at the last minute that I needed to take note of details (like my salary) I needed to tell Control my wife.

So I took photographs of the document with the camera on my mobile phone.

I also picked up my paycheck today, and of course, I had to show my papers faculty ID first before signing a release form that had me leaving Accounting with a smile on my face and Smiley on my head heart head heart END TRANSMISSION.

Three Unrelated Essays

Still part of my ongoing “organization” of the numerous browser tabs I’ve had open for a month or so now, three more links to essays I find interesting:

  1. “Zombie Economy” by Ben Woodard (originally written with the following subtitle: “Understanding Capitalism, Ideology and Desire through the Zombic text”)
  2. “Honeymoon in Disneyland” by Mark Fisher (moves from Philip K. Dick to Eurodisney to Michael Jackson)
  3. “What You’ve Done to My World” by Mark Greif (on Fugazi’s self-titled debut EP but also about the punk rock experience)

Apophenia 1: Harrison, Derrida, Lacan, Poe, Public Enemy

I’m a big fan of M. John Harrison‘s writing in general: not just his novels and stories but also his blog entries.

Lately, Harrison’s been posting lists of works in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction. It would be an understatement to refer to these lists as unorthodox; while most of the entries are books, some are films, computer games, and pop songs.

In a comment on one of Harrison’s follow-up lists, an artist named Edwin Rostron mentions something called The Codex Seraphinianus. Following the link Rostron left, I found myself thrilled by both the book itself and that essay about it. Additionally, I was also thrilled by the mention of a professor named Terry Harpold.

That was when things became apophenic.

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