Monthly Archives: November 2007

Let’s Say

That I’m not surprised:

Sensing trouble was afoot, Lynch told the students: “I don’t know what he said, but I think I understand that he used a word from the Third Reich. Let’s just look at it this way, it’s a new world now.”

I’m drafting a paper, in between several other projects at the moment, on Lynch’s levels of existence and social class in I N L A N D  E M P I R E, and this recent swerve into what I’m going to assume is traditionalism (see Mark Sedgwick’s Against the Modern World) is in fact preordained—or, at least, predictable.


As I have a scholarly interest in Le Carré, I’ve noticed over the years that Clive James’s opinion of his writing, delivered in the New York Review, has been unduly influential. James suggested that his early work was superior to the later because of increasing bloat. Here’s a related example from his review of The Honorable Schoolboy: “To start with, the prose style is overblown. Incompatible metaphors fight for living space in the same sentence. “Now at first Smiley tested the water with Sam—and Sam, who liked a poker hand himself, tested the water with Smiley.” Are they playing cards in the bath? Such would-be taciturnity is just garrulousness run short of breath.”

What in fact is happening here is free indirect intrusion into Sam’s gambling-laden mind, not a mixed-metaphor, as should be apparent to all but the least charitable of readers.

Mailer Goes Jogging with Ali

That night he and I had dinner and he told me what had happened. He had kept up with Ali for a couple of miles into the country upriver from the compound at N’Sele, but then he had begun to tire, and finally he stopped, his chest heaving, and he watched Ali disappear into the night with his sparring partners. In the east, over the hills, the African night was beginning to give way to the first streaks of dawn, but it was still very dark. Suddenly, and seemingly so close that it made him start, came the reverberating roar of a lion, an unmistakable coughing, grunting sound that seemed to come from all sides—just as one had read it did in Hemingway or Ruark—and Norman turned and set out for the distant lights of N’Sele at a hasty clip. He told me he had been instantly provided with a substantial “second wind” and he found himself moving along much quicker than during his outbound trip. He reached N’Sele safely, jogging by the dark compounds, exhilarated not only by his escape but by the irresistible thought of how highly dramatic it would have been if he hadn’t made it.

George Plimpton, “The Last Laugh”, New York Review, (August 4, 1977).

I also recommend Terry Southern’s contribution.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (dir. Billy Wilder, 1970)

I finally got a chance to watch this last night. The first third is a camp parable about Maynard Keynes; the remainder concerns espials and submersibles. Bracketing all this fun is:

Sherlock Holmes preparing an injection of cocaine in Billy Wilder

The story goes that the studio butchered this film in the usual manner. I would have liked to have seen the Oxford flashback, certainly, but I think the film possesses a certain logic as it is. Ebert seems to have missed the metacommentary and much else. (Joseph McBride and Michael Wilmington’s Film Quarterly review is much better, particularly the comment about Wilder’s attitude toward professionalism.)

Time for Everything up to And Including

Installed the new hard drive today with only the aid of a metric jeweler, a Natural (as my forefathers called them), a potter’s vise, three hearty curses, and six MND 3.1.889(s). I’ve also noticed that John Wesley Harding contains more hypercorrect “whoms” than you’ll find in the usual album:

Dylan from cover art of John Wesley Harding

Am waiting on a USB case for the data recovery process to begin. The commercial services charge around $3000 to do this for an apparent hardware failure, if you’re wondering. I hope to be able to employ a hex editor at some point. I entered many a line of hexadecimal from Run magazine during the less exciting parts of the mid-80s, and that’s shaped the horizon of my expectations.

On Gateway’s Customer Service

I mentioned in the last post that I was somewhat dreading having to deal with a computer manufacturer’s customer service regarding my laptop. I suspected that I would have to endure hours of pointless flowchart following after having already established what the problem was. But, to Gateway’s credit, the guy I spoke to was very quick to acknowledge that the hard drive had died and even suggested some data recovery services, which, if anyone reading this has happened to use before, I would love to hear about them.

There are only a few unbackedup-files on the drive, but I would like to get them if at all possible (cost permitting, of course).

The Purdue Theory of Mind Conference

Is where I spent my weekend, and it was a good conference, filled with smart, friendly* people discussing interesting things. Smaller conferences seem to be much better, ceteris paribus.

Further experiments with my laptop seem to indicate that it may have been a hardware failure, though I’m not about to absolve Vista until more facts are known. I anticipate learning much about Gateway’s customer service in the next few days and do not wish to color the experience with the dread reason suggests.

I may have made some minor progress in convincing people that computational models of mind have some relevance to literary interpretation, or at least that the idea should not be dismissed immediately as unsound syncretism.

*I usually write down unusually ghastly instances of pretentious, snobbish, or generally arrogant behavior at conferences for future reference and amusement and came away this time with only a few superciliates, as I call them.