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What are you currently reading?

Slumber

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Currently I've been revisiting Byung-Chul Han's 'Burnout Society', it touches on the mass burnout and increased levels of depression we're currently experiencing in industrialized societies. I won't spoil anything of it, but, if the topic is interesting to you then I highly recommend it.
 

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Kyou

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David Foster Wallace - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
(anyone know the context behind the cover btw? It's lost on me.)

Seven essays. All thought-provoking.

Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley: I say thought-provoking, but the first ~20 pages of the book are a hard read. I first had contact with this book quite a while ago, in my senior year of HS, though I never got past the first essay. It's Dave's origin story, I guess, or at least the origin for a lot of what you'll be finding later in the book and in IJ. The references to calc and linear algebra kind of filtered me the first time through, though now I know about enough to be able to decide whenever one of those metaphors doesn't actually apply, and reads more like DFW trying to sound academic on purpose (which happened more than once, I promise you, and I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing).

E Unibus Pluram: So after congratulating myself on getting past the roadblock that the previous me could not, I immediately found myself mindbroken by this one. It's about television, advertisements, and fiction, and it was written in the early 90s, so I naturally face it with both a sense of archaiety and also curiosity. I'll say right now that it is I think more truth-piercing, or otherwise at least mindful, than all of the post-internet cultural speculation following it. I'm sure there's like a billion essays you could approach in this style, but I'll leave it at that.

Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All: Again, I think that this is where DFW shines in terms of style, rather than any sort of depth in his topic. In that way, he's entirely unpretentious. Actually, I think that might be his best quality as a writer, that being, the way he can so casually switch from the math terminology of the opening essay to the city-slicker forced normal-guyness of this one. Also made me regret my childhood quite a bit, this one did. I have vague not-memories of this sort of thing for some reason, though the haziness of the memories themselves I think indicates that I was unable to partake in them.

Greatly Exaggereated: Is a book review, the shortest section among these here essays and/or arguments. Honestly not much I can say about this one, since it is about the book Morte d'Author: An Autopsy, which I have not read and apparently very few others have done so. There are quite a few other books in the review, mentioned due to relation, which I do currently intend to read at some point, so I'll maybe end up looking into this one. too.

David Lynch Keeps His Head: I really wish people would stop talking about movies...
...And I still stand by that view but I'll admit this is maybe the most engaged I've been in reading someone's thoughts on movies. A lot of insight here I think into Lynch's stuff, which I'll admit I'm still not very familiar with, though this has made me more receptive to going deeper into his stuff.

Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness: I FUCKLING LOVE TENNIS. Honestly this made me want to start taking tennis lessons. Never done it before. Can't be that difficult, right? There's quite a bit in here about how the highest end of professional tennis players are almost dehumanizingly good at the sport. but honestly?
Nah. I'd win.
...Well, at least, I do fencing (mostly foil, if you're wondering) and comparing how David describes tennis to my actual experiences with fencing is rather disheartening. You probably think fencing is some sort of high-society rich person thing, though just comparing it to tennis? We're like the broke crackhead relative who lives in a ripped-up minivan which reeks so bad of cigarettes that even their nephew, whom pretends to not have a sense of smell, can't help but admit smells bad (in a nostalgic way).
Was that too much of an analogy?
Anyways, I'm also a bit embarrassed to admit, the main think I was thinking about while reading this was that I could totally right a bishoujoge about a tennis player girl. I have all the material. It would rock.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: The title essay, the one about the cruise ship, the one which people keep telling me to read. Since I still have a bit left to read I still haven't entirely made up my mind on it but it is really good. Good in a similar way to the state fair essay, I mean. I've seen quite a few people compare Tim Rogers to DFW, and I think I see the resemblance now. Also a bit embarrassing to write that out, comparing an eceleb to an author like this, but I find both of them to be thought- and feeling-evoking.

All things considering, I would recommend this book to basically anyone who can tolerate DFW's intentionally west-coast-sounding, half-down-to-earth, half-academic authorial voice.
 
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Kyou

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Some smaller stuff from the first half of December. All of these are around the length were you can finish them in two or three sessions.

Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot
Missy gave this to me, telling me that it was her favorite book. I've had it sitting in my mind, after finishing it, for about 20 days now, though since I haven't had any noteworthy conclusions come to me in that time, I think it's going to be a couple rereadings before I decide what it's "about". I watched this performance of it, to get a better idea of the movement of the play.

While it lacks the explosive, often bipolar interactions of Death of a Salesman (which were my favorite parts) it does always try to do something interesting with each conversation, and I did atleast laugh a few times. It's got that kind of similar attitude, the one where more cliched interactions have a sort of counterpoint movement to them, which I think is best exemplified in Xavier: Renegade Angel.

Edwin A. Abbott - Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
This one has a lot of "filler" to it, even though I finished it in like 3 days. It's about higher and lower dimensions (geometrically, I mean) though also written in a more-than-verbose voice that I think makes a lot of people give up on it. I don't think there's much said here that you probably couldn't find somewhere better, in something written since. Aside from maybe some funny parts about women. I will admit though, it did reawaken a certain part of my brain which hasn't been exercised since I was 12.

Steven Pressfield - The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
This book, which if your reaction to the title and general premise is close to mine, will be offputting, because it seems like it would consist of the surface-level quotes you could find in one of those (now-probably-AI-generated) 'best inspirational creative quotes'-type videos.
It is.
I think it's okay, though, in that it is at least organized into some context to make that surface-level advice more soul-enveloping. And, it's at this point—that I came to the book after going through multiple academic and anatomized introspections of creativity—where I can say that you'll get more practical advice from this book than any of those latter ones.
 

Atlain

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Just like the threads we have for music & video games, what books are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading Everyday Chaos by Brian Clegg. Kind of a popcorn book, pretty sparse on any deeper understanding of the topics at hand, but sometimes it's fun & can lead your thoughts into new directions to "take a step back" & look at the world from a bird's eye perspective before going back to being enmeshed in details. Very beautiful design too, one of the most beautifully put together books I've ever picked up.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Upanishads, History of The Pelopennisian War, various academic PDFs on Alexander the great
 

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I am currently reading MURDER MACHINE, by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci. Awesome book about the italian mob, specifically Roy Demeo´s Crew in the Gambino Crime Family.
 

Jade

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I just finished up The Gods of Pegana by Lord Dunsany. Very good stuff, If you have an hour and are looking for something esoteric I highly recommend it. It draws a lot from WW1 and the Lost Generation's perspective on the world.
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Ross_Я

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I've just finished Konstantin Sluchevsky's The Professor Of Immortality. Very peculiar philosophical book, I've liked it quite a lot. Shame I can't see to find an english translation of it. If I were getting paid for this kind of stuff, I'd translate it myself, but, alas, translating a book for free is not a luxury I can afford myself.

One day, perhaps.
 
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Kyou

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Second half of December

Barry Strauss - The Trojan War: A New History
Hesiod - Theogony and Works and Days / Theognis - Elegies
Julian Jaynes - The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

So I was planning on reading the Iliad at the start of the new year, but after the first two books here I feel that desire has been killed. I closed Strauss's Trojan War really wanting to hate it, kinda like some sort of guy who hates video games (you know the one) but I can't remember his name at the moment. That's not the philosophy I'm trying to cultivate here though, so I wont say that much. I will at least say that it's poorly written in a lot of ways, by Oxford Essential Guide to Writing standards. The book is about the legitimacy of the Trojan War, always relying always on the exact same device, which is essentially to say, "well, we have Hittite documents that say kinda similar things, so maybe it happened?" If anything, it got me more interested in said Hittites rather than continuing down the Greek history route. The most worthwhile thing here is maybe the massive bibliography/further reading list at the end.

Next was a collection of three poems, two by Hesiod, and one by Theognis, a couple centuries later. All three were uninteresting, though I guess I do know the Melpomene lore now. What really pissed me off, though, was the editorial introductions. Does anyone read these? I do. The later introduction to Theognis was fine, almost cute, even, with how unabashedly subjective it is, but the translator's introduction to Hesiod was just not something I could get behind. It felt a bit too personal, as if trying to make connections which were not existent.

It's actually that very train of thought, feeling an inability to connect to these older stories, that brought me to Jaynes's book. I read the synopsis after @zalaz alaza mentioned it and I just could not shake the thesis from my head while trying to read Hesiod. I had this assumption going in that we (me and the author) are always on even ground, as humans. But, after the suggestion that that may not be the case, that early writers like Hesiod and Homer (both of whom were probably not even singular people) were not even conscious, in the same way I am? Well, I have to read more. And I'll admit, I'm skeptical of any psychobabble from any era, and from Jaynes's writing style, his use of rhetoric, and the way he presents his ideas, it's easy to dismiss it as nonsense; after all, he himself admits at multiple points that he's skimming over a lot of things, creating more rabbitholes than he is actually answering any questions. Even then, I won't lie, it is a pretty convincing argument.
 

scroll

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I've picked up The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by John Allegro. It goes into great detail on ancient linguistics and spiritual practice. Would recommend. Helped me piece together a much better understanding of Jupiter/Zeus/Hadad/etc. In particular, I was surprised I had not elsewhere heard the straightforward explanation of why ancient storm deities were always king of the gods and associated so strongly with fertility. The ancients saw rain's ability to bring life out of the earth and concluded that it had fertilized the earth's womb (gaia, terra, etc) . This also explains cthonic deities and the understanding that the earth consumed the dead, ties into the 'quickening' 'the quick and the dead' to be quickened is to be planted, and so of course what is planted may grow again. The central argument of the book is that Jesus was a metaphor for amanita muscaria. A plant that grows from no seed, in the shape of a greek Tau (the pre-nicean christians used the Tau cross, not the modern t shape). Consume my body and you will have everlasting life? Similar to the Eleusinian mysteries. Mushrooms had no seed, they were born of a virgin. Allegro explains a number of instances of word-play that elucidates otherwise apparently meaningless passages. The idea is that you could not outright explain the mysteries in writing, you had to be able to pass them off as spiritual teaching to Roman authorities. Hence the word play, which is lost in translation. Interesting stuff.
 

nakadashi

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I've been wanting to read it for a long time. I'll probably will do it as soon as I reduce my currently-reading list to a least shameful number.
I also have this edition which I think is very neat.
View attachment 67963
Season 5 Hen GIF by The Simpsons
Well, I've finally managed to finish Neuromancer and I freaking hated it. Really, I got filtered so hard by this. Should I even bother with the Cryptonomicon or it would be more of the same.
 
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№56

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So I was planning on reading the Iliad at the start of the new year, but after the first two books here I feel that desire has been killed.
I had a similar experience with the Iliad earlier this year, although I got further into it before giving up. I think the bronze age Mediterranean is really interesting and could appreciate the poem as a historical source, but actually reading it was a slog. The Iliad is clearly meant to be sung out loud to music and not silently read from a book.
I read Richmond Lattimore's translation (his emphasis on accuracy over poetry didn't help) and there was a section in the introduction about how many of the things that make the poem seem weird to modern readers are a consequece of it being written to fit into dactylic hexameter in Greek. It's all meant to sound good rather than "read good" or even make literal sense. There's a line where Pandarus - who breaks a truce between the Achaeans and Trojans in a cowardly way - is described as "blameless." Why? Because the Greek word for "blameless" had the right number of syllables to fill out the line, and therefore sounded better than a more accurate alternative. All the repeated lines, epithets, and similies all start to make sense when you imagine them as lyrics to a song - think about how many great songs seem boring and repetitive when you just read the lyrics without the music.
There may be a psychological aspect to the difficulty modern people have with ancient literature, but I think it has more to do with the fact that we don't (and can't, really) experience it in the way it was meant to be experienced.
 
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Jade

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I had a similar experience with the Iliad earlier this year, although I got further into it before giving up. I think the bronze age Mediterranean is really interesting and could appreciate the poem as a historical source, but actually reading it was a slog. The Iliad is clearly meant to be sung out loud to music and not silently read from a book.
I read Richmond Lattimore's translation (his emphasis on accuracy over poetry didn't help) and there was a section in the introduction about how many of the things that make the poem seem weird to modern readers are a consequece of it being written to fit into dactylic hexameter in Greek. It's all meant to sound good rather than "read good" or even make literal sense. There's a line where Pandarus - who breaks a truce between the Achaeans and Trojans in a cowardly way - is described as "blameless." Why? Because the Greek word for "blameless" had the right number of syllables to fill out the line, and therefore sounded better than a more accurate alternative. All the repeated lines, epithets, and similies all start to make sense when you imagine them as lyrics to a song - think about how many great songs seem boring and repetitive when you just read the lyrics without the music.
There may be a psychological aspect to the difficulty modern people have with ancient literature, but I think it has more to do with the fact that we don't (and can't, really) experience it in the way it was meant to be experienced.
This is something a lot of scholars have noted with Beowulf. There have been a million and one attempts to translate Beowulf and they all suck for exactly the reasons you described, PLUS a massive cultural barrier, as a translation has to deal with the fact that it's a dimly remembered event from ancient Danish history, passed down to Anglo-Saxons and then a poet(s) took those dimly remembered events of dimly remembered events and wrote a poem on it based on their own native English culture (e.g. the land where Heorot sits resembles Northumbria more than Denmark), and now that Anglo-Saxon culture which we can only dimly remember is being transcribed into a modern english context.
 
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Steingar

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I just finished various works by Mark Fisher ('Ghosts of my Life' and 'Capitalism Realism'). Although both are really good and insightful, 'Ghosts of my Life' has to be one of the best collections of pop cultural criticism I've ever read. It's seriously reinvigorated my interest in music, especially those with a hauntological bend (which Fisher touches on extensively). I actually see Fisher more or less as a prophet of vaporwave, since his ideas of "lost futures" (and retrofuturism) provide the intellectual and philiosophical framework behind the vaporwave subgenre, at least in the way I understand it.

I also read Pagel's 'The Gnostic Gospels', which gives a really fascinating overview of early gnostic writing and beliefs in relation to the early church. The discussions on the political implications of orthodox thinking vs. gnostic thinking was particularly insightful. I'm not a Christian, but I have read the bible and have a pretty good understanding of Christian thought, so reading this really gave an interesting insight into what "could have been".

Right now I'm close to finishing 'Noli Me Tangere' by Rizal, which is kind of like the National Book of the Philippines (I'm living there right now so I thought it would help me gain some insight into the country). It's quite good, especially when held in relation to broader Filipino history. I might read the sequel ('El Filibusterismo') after and then take a break from reading.
 
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WKYK

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Well, I've finally managed to finish Neuromancer and I freaking hated it. Really, I got filtered so hard by this. Should I even bother with the Cryptonomicon or it would be more of the same.
dayumnnn I just started it, so far I like the world building, I hope it doesn't fall off. I'll give a review when I finish. I'm also reading Brave New World, never read it in highschool like most others so I thought I should read it now. So far I really like it :) also reading a book on veetnaam, We Were Soldiers Once And Young. It's good, classic military history. Reads like a Tom Clancy book. Which makes me wonder, how many books do you all read at a time? I usually hover around 2-3.
 
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nakadashi

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how many books do you all read at a time?
My magic number seems to be 6. At any given point in time, I'm always reading 6 books for some reason. If a book gets me really invested I usually read it cover to cover without even touching the other 5. Last ones that were like this for me were Dracula and my third re-reading of Bleeding Edge.
I also try to keep 3 non-fiction and 3 fiction, with varying degrees of success.
 
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Lord_hierophantūs

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The books I bought recently are of the following

pragmatism and other writings by William James

A treatise on human nature by David Hume

principles of human knowledge and three dialogues by Berkeley

An essay concerning human understanding by John Locke

I've been wanting to study under this subject of human understanding for some time and in general wanting to get into philosophies which are blatant in achieving a kind of understanding through a realistic view point.
 

WKYK

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I'm also reading Brave New World, never read it in highschool like most others so I thought I should read it now. So far I really like it :)
Finished it. Really really good, its a quick read too so I highly recommend it to y'all.
 
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Currently reading Letters from a Stoic (Lucius Seneca), beyond midway through. Been a good and straightforward read, can recommend if you're into stoicism or just want to expand your horizons towards this topic. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations would be up next, which has been said to be a much harder read on the subject, we'll see.
As for Brave New World, I've had my own copy for years but still haven't gotten to reading it... Guess it's finally time for a new year's resolution and make it happen. :D:

About reading in general, getting back into the 'routine' of reading after the holidays has been much more difficult than I anticipated. Guess most here are more or less used to reading books? I kinda had to relearn into this habit during these past few years.