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Pisan Cantos: Sieburth’s Introduction (x-posted to Lucifer’s Valet) Michael Morse & I are reading the Sieburth edition of the Pisan Cantos. I’m going to try to put down some of my thoughts, and maybe some of the dialogue with Michael. Try to be quick about it. Make the reader feel good, like a young blog… Lawrence LaRiviere White 12/03/09 1 12/04/09
Against Theory Hey, did you catch how the title of my previous post was a joke on Steven Knapp & Walter Benn Michaels’s Against Theory? Not much of a joke, but it had a point, in that Kugel’s claim, that a text can have a meaning other than the author’s intention, would seem… Lawrence LaRiviere White 10/05/08 12 03/05/10
For Interpretation I finished James L. Kugel’s How to Read the Bible! And I’d like to spoil it for you. Alert! Kugel carefully and rather effectively, I think, holds off on his conclusion till near the end, only making his first pass at it at the ¾’s mark, in his discussion of the… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/26/08 16 09/29/08
Reginald Shepherd 1963-2008 Last week, after a long and painful illness, the poet Reginald Shepherd died. He was the author of five volumes of poetry—Some are Drowning; Angel, Interrupted; Wrong; Otherhood; and Fata Morgana—and a volume of essays, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry. He edited two… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/16/08 2 04/11/10
What I Don’t Know About Comics I came to Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics for help clearing a confusion. This confusion arose from my experience here at The Valve, namely, many of the folks here, our glorious former editor foremost, seemed gaga for comics, yet I wasn’t. Heck, I don’t even own a copy of Maus. If these… Lawrence LaRiviere White 07/08/08 2 02/08/11
Acting! Allow me to riff off an old post over at Peli Grietzer’s Second Balcony. In it, Peli bemoans his inadequacy when it comes to appreciating acting. For an example, he considers Hugh Laurie, who is able to do “embarassing”: as well as “cool”: and decides that the yawning size of the… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/15/08 0
Tudor Booty Call First off, let me apologize for the title. Not that I could come up with anything better, but it’s not only lame, but lame in an academic way. That is, it’s an attempt at jazzing things up, but it’s hopelessly outdated. As is the term “jazzing things up.” My first experience… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/11/08 3 05/12/08
Talking Pathetic Fallacy Blues Something that takes up again the theme of popular music, and something posted earlier: Paul Rodriguez, commenting on Rohan’s post about lit crit on or about the spherical public, made a distinction that caught my attention, between “criticism of style” and “criticism of content.” Now I might have misunderstood what was… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/06/08 21 05/12/08
Let’s You and Him Fight David Crystal is a gem! (Google says I’m the first one to make that terribly obvious joke online. I win the internets!) I’ve just finished David Crystal’s The Fight for English, my first go at one of his books. Mention at Language Log had gotten me started, but when I told… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/30/08 9 05/01/08
Bible as Literature (Not) I am reading James L. Kugel’s How to Read the Bible. Kugel’s Bible course at Harvard was famously popular, and this book seems, in the nearly 700 pages it takes to get to the endnotes, a record of pretty much every point he could have ever made in the twenty years… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/20/08 21 04/28/08
Translation Wars. Once More Into the Breach Edition. Here’s the promised follow up. To start, a confession.  Master & Margarita is one of my favorite novels. Or should I say, the Mirra Ginsburg translation of it is. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s romantic, it’s historic. & it’s about religion, about politics, and of course it’s about show business. As… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/16/08 12 10/18/08
Translation Wars. Go! Translation is impossible, of course. & that’s the good news. Someone will always be unhappy. Talk about job security. Well, if you can figure out how to get paid for it. Anyway, I found, via Silliman, an Eliot Weinberger review iof a new translation of the Psalms. & tWeinberger doesn’t like… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/20/08 51 03/24/08
The PostModernist Crisis of Invention This post will start poorly and end (I hope) better. The better part is a further comment on Reznikoff. The stupid beginning was inspired (not the stupidity, but the topic) by a recent post over at pseudopodium, combined with something I mentioned in and keep remembering from my post on the… Lawrence LaRiviere White 01/24/08 14 06/09/10
Hear Me Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat Sometimes you have an idea, some critical judgment, that feels like a discovery, something that was hidden has been revealed. & you look around for evidence to support your idea, & you find out you weren’t the first person to come up w/the idea. Of course this is deflating, but at… Lawrence LaRiviere White 01/15/08 13 01/17/08
The Great World Small More of Poetry 35:7, this time Charles Reznikoff, who might be considered the Objectivist par excellence. At least Zukofsky seems to have considered him so, considering that the founding document of Objectivism, the essay “Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff,” included in the appendix of… Lawrence LaRiviere White 01/04/08 4 01/06/08
How’d Ya Get Them Spurs? It’s that time of year again. Theory season! Which reminds me of something I meant to ask about last time, but didn’t get to it. Actually, a post over at Crooked Timber reminded me. Kieran Healy directs us to an essay from back in the day, by Michele Lamont, that lays… Lawrence LaRiviere White 12/06/07 46 12/10/07
What a Book Would Be the Real Story I am reading two biographies of Raymond Chandler, Frank MacShane’s & Tom Hiney’s. They each have their virtues. The Amazon reviewers note that Hiney got some summaries of the novels wrong, so they’re worried he might have got some other stuff wrong, but I think he does a much better job… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/23/07 2 09/25/07
LZ Louis Zukofksy, to you. The guest editor of Poetry 35:7. The ringleader, as it were, of the Objectivism, having reluctantly coined the term at Harriet Monroe’s insistence that the issue have a title. Comparisons to Pound are easy, Pound himself being an inveterate ringleader. Zukofsky had sent his a copy of… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/21/07 13 10/17/07
And Now for the Katastrophe! I’m interested in how violence works in Godard. Well, not Godard tout court, but the previously referred to Masculin/Feminin, as well as Vivra Sa Vie and Week End. The Criterion Masculin/Feminin disc has suppléments, mostly interviews. Such as, two middle-age guys from back in the day, talking about how they didn’t… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/07/07 5 09/10/07
Springy Here is the first installment of further comment on Poetry 37:5. As mentioned before, one anomalous feature in the collection of second generation Modernists is the presence of a first generation figure, William Carlos Williams. Williams had met Ezra Pound when they were both at Penn. They both spent about their… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/05/07 3 09/09/07
Why Couldn’t the French Go Pop? This could be a topic for a senior seminar in Everything Studies. I’ve wondered why France had such weak participation in the great pop music explosion of the ‘60s and beyond. I know there are good answers to it, foremost being hostility to U.S. cultural imperialism, but the thing that confuses… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/04/07 16 09/09/07
Index to Poetry 37:5, the Objectivist Issue While there are many narratives of artistic development, there are fewer events, by which I mean single isolated moments that draw together a large number of artists. The Armory Show might be the most famous example. (Obligatory comix reference: Rudolph Dirks, the creator of the Katzenjammer Kids, had stuff at the… Lawrence LaRiviere White 08/30/07 4 06/13/08
EU Transnational Anthem Here’s a post I’ve wanted to do for a long time, only I thought it was more Crooked Timberish, and I’m not a Crooked Timberer. But now that we’re part of an Everything Studies co-operative w/the Timberites, I’m going for it. Here’s a suggestion for a new EU Anthem: Abba’s “Lay… Lawrence LaRiviere White 08/29/07 3 08/30/07
Fiery Furnaces By which I mean Blake’s. But what follows is as histrionic as anything yowled by Friedberger frére et soeur. Something John Dolan said about Wordsworth made me think of something Allen Grossman said about Wordsworth and Blake. Grossman’s bit comes from the Harvard Advocate interview I have previously mentioned. Since then… Lawrence LaRiviere White 08/28/07 5 08/30/07
Poetic Entrepreneurs Most folks, I assume, who’ve surfed their share on the internet have heard of The Exile. It’s a poorly mannered free weekly, to put it mildly. One of its most popular writers, perhaps even the most popular, is John Dolan. At least if you count what he writes as under his… Lawrence LaRiviere White 08/25/07 7 08/28/07
The Fantastic Four Zoas Why aren’t William Blake’s late prophecies more popular? Blake is thoroughly anthologized, canonized, etc. even if it’s a little hard to fit him into a strong central narrative for his period (the key to success in any survey course, for sure). As you well know, if you have any familiarity with… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/12/06 7 10/18/06
Jack Spicer’s Best Seller, Trout Fishing in America Another day, another example of my ignorance. On the recommendation of a student, I picked up Trout Fishing in America. That someone eighteen years old would even know about the book was my first surprise. Even though I’d never read any of his stuff, Richard Brautigan was a low-level iconic figure… Lawrence LaRiviere White 09/03/06 12 10/28/06
Happy Stanley So it’s the other day, and from the library I’ve got the Criterion DVD edition of The Lady Eve. One reason for getting the Criterion edition is to get the commentary. In this case, it’s by Marian Keene. At the time I have no idea who she is. But as I… Lawrence LaRiviere White 06/10/06 14 06/03/08
Savage Wit I am one hundred pages into H. L. Mencken’s The American Language, and I have as yet to get an explicit statement of what exactly constitutes American as opposed to English. But given his descriptions so far, it seems to be mostly a matter of vocabulary: Americans use different words or… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/12/06 4 04/15/06
How vs. What I would like to start off our discussion of How Novels Think with some considerations that might seem both painfully obvious and annoyingly obtuse, or at least off-topic. Instead of taking up the specific details of Armstrong’s argument, I would like to isolate one of its presumptions. Actually, something even more… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/21/06 3 03/22/06
Nancy Armstrong’s How Novels Think: A Valve Book Event For the next three days, we will posting and commenting on Nancy Armstrong’s How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism from 1719-1900. This book event is the latest in our series that includes Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees, as well as the anthologies Theory’s Empire and The Literary Wittgenstein. This time… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/21/06 0
That Adorno Post 1,000 years ago, in Valve time, Amardeep asked if we shouldn’t be talking about Adorno at some point, yet we still haven’t, at least not directly. So let’s! What, do I need to say any more? Can’t I just drop the name, like the referee dropping the puck at a face-off,… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/07/06 11 03/10/06
Cake. All Right Here? Do you read screenplays? If not why not, if you read plays? Or perhaps you do: then which? Are screenplays even readable? & come to think of it, do you really read plays? It’s been ages since I have. But I’ve read a screenplay recently, a well-suited one: Withnail and I.… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/02/06 13 03/12/06
That was Then Rarely does something appear on BoingBoing that could be imported directly over here, but some months ago something did, a list of The 50 Most Cited Twentieth Century Works in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, 1976-1983. I offer the link, for your consideration. I’ll start by throwing out a couple… Lawrence LaRiviere White 03/01/06 15 03/05/06
Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat? Taking what Luther has said into account, another note on what commonly gets called surrealism, or at least surrealistic. So Ray says the Goon Show isn’t improved by a big budget. So, we might ask, how good was it on a small budget? (The lack of budget was a sore point… Lawrence LaRiviere White 02/26/06 20 04/01/12
Terry Southern’s Quality Lit (Another, this one obliquely relevant, note on surrealism.) When folks think of Terry Southern, if they do, they mostly think of the screenwriter for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or maybe his appearance on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s. But at one time Southern was a rising player in what he called the… Lawrence LaRiviere White 02/01/06 25 05/08/09
Separated at Birth? While paying my respects among the obituaries for Hunter S. Thompson, I read that Nelson Algren’s Walk on the Wild Side had been an important early influence. (Isn’t this kind of curiosity, wanting to know what came before, one of the most basic, primitive features of the scholarly mind?) When I… Lawrence LaRiviere White 01/11/06 20 01/15/06
What’s Ashbery to You? Over at his blog, Scott posted a quotation from Robert Mazzocco that seems both very right and very wrong. At the least it’s an opportunity to spout opinions. Mazzocco: [Ashbery’s] ability to go on and on has always struck me as the signal characteristic of the work of John Ashbery. Many… Lawrence LaRiviere White 12/05/05 13 12/16/05
An Advertisement for Jack Spicer Another note on surrealism. (What? Can a series contain such gaps? Why, this post touches on that very question. “It coheres all right”!) Folks should read Jack Spicer. Who, you say? One third of the Berkeley Renaissance (whose brand-name got stolen by the Big Media Superstar Beats in San Francisco), along… Lawrence LaRiviere White 08/14/05 24 08/03/11
You Lose, Hermeneut! Today I would like to talk about a little bit from Kafka, “On Parables.” What follows touches on recent Mark posts, my inaugural surrealism post, and even the great John Emerson v. all of Professional Philosophy Literary Wittgenstein kerfuffle. In keeping with the spirit of Valvism, it also talks about theory… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/17/05 12 05/20/05
The Wrong Ones Can’t Get Saved Aha! My chance has come at last! Jonathan’s recent post on editorial problems in the Book of Mark is the crack in the doorway through which I will barge in with a personal anecdote for years I have been dying to tell. It is a tale of a hapless TA in… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/09/05 2 05/16/05
A Note on Surrealism This will be the first of a series of brief comments and queries I would like to make on the subject of surrealism. By way of introduction to the whole shebang, I would like to reference two comments by important (for me) critics, Allen Grossman and Guy Davenport. In 2000, Grossman… Lawrence LaRiviere White 05/01/05 10 12/29/10
Something for the Toolbox According to Cavell, J.L. Austin thought that one of the problems with philosophy was a lack of variety of examples, in particular when considering questions of knowledge, whether or not we can know something. One of Austin’s innovations, then, was inventing new cases: hence the asking whether or not that’s a… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/15/05 12 04/20/05
Gary Lutz, My Hero or, A DJ Saved My Life Last Night I love teaching composition. Since I could very well spend the rest of my career adjunct teaching at community colleges, this is a blessing. But it was not a case of love at first class session. The feeling has grown over the years.… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/13/05 2 04/14/05
What is Poetry? Take 1 Inspired by a post over at John’s home blog, I have been reading in The Literary Wittgenstein. The central Wittgenstein aphorism for the book, found on the back page, right inside the front page, & throughout the essays, goes as follows: I think I summed up my position when I said:… Lawrence LaRiviere White 04/02/05 15 04/07/05