Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bolano's 2666 for Theater

Friday, April 27, 2018

Extinction by Thomas Bernhard, IV

"Then it suddenly occurred to me how odd it was that I should be teaching Gambetti German literature, of all things--German, Austrian, and Swiss literature, the literature of German-speaking Europe, to use the usual clumsy formulations--despite the fact that I find this literature impossible to love and have always rated it below Russian, French, and even Italian literature. I wondered whether it was right to teach something I did not love, simply because I thought I was better qualified to speak about it than another literature. Even in its highest flights, I told Gambetti, German literature is no match for Russian, French, or Spanish literature, which I love, or Italian literature for that matter. German is essentially an ugly language, which not only grinds all thought into the ground, as I've already said, but actually falsifies everything with its ponderousness. It's quite incapable of expressing a simple truth as such. By its very nature it falsifies everything. It's a crude language, devoid of musicality, and if it weren't my mother tongue I wouldn't speak it, I told Gambetti. How precisely French expresses everything!"

~~ from Extinction by Thomas Bernhard

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Joseph Michael Phillips, Rest In Peace

The Philadelphia Inquirer posted a touching obituary of my twelfth-grade English teacher, Joseph Michael Phillips. His class had a great influence upon me and led me to study many different classics in college, most often for political philosophy, history, or literature courses, and from there to become a college instructor and novelist. Readings he selected for us in Advanced Placement English included: The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, The Bell Jar, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, Light in August, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and "The Love Song for J. Alfred Prufrock." In addition to these classics, he introduced us to ideas from Boethius, Kant, and others. It was quite a class, and Dr. Phillips was the first intellectual I'd ever had for a teacher. Over the years, I've had many conversations about Dr. Phillips with a friend I stayed in touch with from high school. I'll add more and better writing to this at some point.

Extinction by Thomas Bernhard, III

"The tragedy of the would-be writer is that he continually resorts to anything that will prevent him from writing."

~~ from Extinction by Thomas Bernhard

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Extinction by Thomas Bernhard, II

"Unlike my brother, I had no respect for authority. Very early on, Uncle Georg had told me the truth about teachers: that they were moral cowards who took out on their pupils all the frustrations they could not take out on their wives. When I was very young Uncle Georg impressed upon me that among the educated classes teachers were the basest and most dangerous people, on a par with judges, who were the lowest form of human life. Teachers and judges, he said, are the meanest slaves of the state--remember that. He was right, as I have discovered not just hundreds but thousands of times. No teacher and no judge can be trusted as far as you can throw him. Without scruple or compunction they daily destroy many of the existences that are thrown upon their mercy, being motivated by base caprice and a desire to avenge themselves for their miserable, twisted lives--and they are actually paid for doing so. The supposed objectivity of teachers and judges is a piece of shabby mendacity, Uncle Georg said--and he was right. Talking to a teacher we soon discover that he is a destructive individual with whom no one and nothing is safe, and the same is true when we talk to a judge."

~~ from Extinction by Thomas Bernhard

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Auggie's Revenge: Reviews, Interviews, and Excerpts

Book Reviews: "The Teaching Life as a House of Troubles," by Don Riggs, American, British and Canadian Studies , June 1, 2017 ...