Last week, I finished the Random Walk through my home library. Let’s review what we’ve learned, explore some underlying ideas, and then I’ll open the floor to questions. (Ha! Me? Answer questions? Are you kidding?)
Today was the last day of my Random Walk, and I thought I’d take a minute and describe my process. Randomness, after all, takes a lot of planning.
Also: starting in June, and for the rest of the summer, this will be a weekend thing.
45:5, 16:5 Tulips and New Amsterdam. (The NYC book was published in 1954. Absolutely amazing photos.)
From a certain angle, this is so me. I could have carefully chosen seven important books for last week’s challenge. But 62 books (two a day all month), picked completely at random, seem to be working just as well at sketching an outline of my identity.
29:19, 55:5 No comment.
17:16 Pronounced Mardu Gorgeous. Such a fun book, and exactly the sort of eccentric thing NYRB is so good at rescuing from obscurity.
16:24 (Click here for a dispeptic divagation on one of the blurbs on the back cover.)
Marjorie Perloff’s blurb on the back cover of The Mathematical Sublime is an inadvertant description of exactly what bothers me about too much contemporary poetics and criticism. Why shouldn’t a critic be able to handle both langpo and formalism? Why does such eclecticism strike Perloff as so remarkably rare? Everyone outside Academia is exuberantly, unapologetically, and often instinctively eclectic.
I agree with her that Mark Scroggins is “unpredictably brilliant and persuasive.” I’m just annoyed because her blurb reminds me that everything she praises him for shouldn’t be so damn unusual. If you’re a cultural critic, you have one job: to range as widely and deeply as possible through human culture and send back reports of your remarkable discoveries. Perloff is praising the window frame when she should be admiring the view. And her blurb implies she doesn’t look out very many windows.