Nabokov’s Conundrum

September 1, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Fiction, PETER'S WRITING |

You are doubtless familiar with Poe’s Law: “Satirical expressions of extremism online are hard to distinguish from genuine ones without indicating intent.”*  As inventor Nathan Poe put it, in relation to fundamentalist religious belief: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake it for the genuine article.”** But, as usual, the master of English as a second language formulated something even better.  Writing about the announcement of Facebook from the terrace of the Montreux Palace in the Spring of 1977, Vladimir Nabokov formulated his…

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Sir Vidia on El Dorado

August 15, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

V.S. Naipaul (17 August 1932 – 11 August 2018) was fairly down on colonialisation, perhaps because he correctly divined its attendant psychology.  Here he is on Columbus, Robinson Crusoe and the quest for El Dorado: “The facts about Columbus have always been known. In his own writings and in all his actions his egoism is like an exposed deformity; he condemns himself. But the heroic gloss, which is not even his own, has come down through the centuries…In this adventure, as in today’s adventures in space, the romance is something we ourselves have to apply…But the black legend of Spain…

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Fall, or Dodge in Hell (by Neal Stephenson)

Apparently a psychopath feels negative emotions such as fear or disappointment only slightly, but experiences the highs of (say) skinning people so very much that he or she continues to take risks which neuro-normals wouldn’t countenance. Clearly, having learned so little from the decidedly negative emotions I suffered upon reading Seveneves and The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and being so ridiculously hopeful that the latest Neal Stephenson novel will be another Snow Crash,  I must be a psychopath. Again: Great idea – Drab execution. Richard Forthrast, billionaire (previously met in Reamde) has instructed that, upon death, his remains are…

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Homage to Catullus

May 9, 2019 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | HISTORY, Poetry |

A rumination: Farts foreshadow faeces, Poppers presage poo; When they start, and carry on There’s little else to do But find yourself a toilet And sit yourself right down, Unless your suiting will assume A savage shade of brown.  

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Les Murray

17 October 1938 – 29 April 2019 A canonical poet, Murray couldn’t be bothered either to hide his faults or his reactionary tendencies. As Peter Porter wrote of him: “A skewer of polemic runs through his work. His brilliant manipulation of language, his ability to turn words into installations of reality, is often forced to hang on an embarrassing moral sharpness. The parts we love – the Donne-like baroque – live side by side with sentiments we don’t: his increasingly automatic opposition to liberalism and intellectuality.” And in fact, his vast body of work is somewhat uneven and even, at…

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