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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Without a computer...

During my 10 day holiday, I decided not to use the computer at all and see how much more I could read and write. Several things jumped at me immediately. I certainly could read more, have more time to spend with the books, etc. I could also write more using my Royal portable typewriter. I am not reverting back to pre-technology days, but it was a test of will not to turn on the computer for a week.

This is what happened:

1-I read "Rilke On Love and Other Difficulties"

2-I read "The Dream Life of Sukhanov" by Olga Grushin

3--I am in the middle of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins

Of Rilke I can only say it was a worth while read but strictly on an academic level. There are some fine passages from his letters and other writings. This was the first time I read some of his poetry. I quote here in the original German in honor of my literary benefactor and friend:

Wir sollen nicht wissen, warum
dieses und jenes uns meistert;
wirkliches Leben ist stumm,
nur daB es uns begeistert,
macht uns mit ihm vertraut
"The Dream Life of Sukhanov" went by so fast that I finished the book in 24 hours. I couldn't put it down. The first five or six paragraphs are hard to swallow--it's difficult to make out what's going on. Once things are settled, it is an enjoyable read. Sukhanov is the editor in chief of the premier art publication in the Soviet Union. He has everything he could ask for. Things begin to unravel when a friend from his past chances upon him. The toss up judgment that the reader eventually has to take is that of whether it was right for Sukhanov to give up his dreams for a comfortable career. He begins to justify his life by claiming that he did it all for others, not for personal gain. But the equation is not that simple. He "sells" out to the Soviet apparatchik, and his dream of being a cutting edge (albeit highly against Soviet policy) surrealist painter vanishes. I think there are some interesting devices here too. For example, the narrator point of view changes from third person to first person and then back. I think this works, insofar it helps Sukahnov explain his dilemma. It does get confusing at times so the reader must be alert to the change as it happens. This story is easily comparable to "The Death of Ivan Ilych" by Tolstoy.
I am reading Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion," but I am not commenting on it.
I found this old quote by Kafka in a scrap piece of paper hidden between the pages of one of my old books.
I am nothing but literature and can and want
to be nothing else.... A writer's life actually
does depend on his desk; if he is to avoid going
mad, really he should never leave his desk, he
must cling to it like grim death.... I want to delve
into it with all my strength; when not writing I feel
myself being pushed out of life by unyielding hands. -- Franz Kafka.

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3 Comments:

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Sylvia said...

If you are reading Dawkins, you might also be interested in his foil, McGrath.
Review: http://www.equinoxjournals.com/ojs/index.php/JSRNC/article/view/1615/1125
NB. I haven't read either man, but as both a biologist and a Christian I find Dawkins to be a big jerk.

 
At 7:26 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Brave you, JCR to return to an experiment of the traditional. No wonder you were lost in action. I missed you.
Thank you so much for your comments on both my blogs. I really appreciated your thoughts. :-)

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger Bookgirl said...

When I go on vacation I rarely use the computer. It's nice to step away from it isn't it. Good luck on your first day back! :)

 

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