Prospectus Autodidactus: 2009

get-carter-michael-caineMichael Caine as Jack Carter: fashion icon for 2009.

The New Year is looking good. My resolution to read two solid hours every day has already been compromised— some days you just don’t have the time; not everyone can be Joseph ‘nine hours a day’ Campbell— but that resolution did outlast the ‘jog daily’ one. The flesh is weak.

Still, I’m back in Paris with most of the books I’ll need for my thesis, the research portion of which should be done before April. I’m supposed to hand in a detailed outline in the next week, and I’m still struggling to isolate what exactly it is I want to write about. I’m leaning towards ‘Narration in Virtual Space’ but the more I read on the subject (Janet Murray, Marie-Laure Ryan, Noah Wardrip-Fruin), the more debilitating my ignorance in key areas (computer programming, literary theory) and the less original things I see to say. This is going to be the greatest academic hurdle I’ve attempted and, historically, I’m a piss-poor excuse for a student who, from my perspective, has only gotten where he is through luck and— if not quite deceit— impressive powers of resource and persuasion. If I do get this thing done, it will be handed in breathlessly at the thirteenth hour— that is to say, two hours (months) after it matters.

If not, I have a cool job at a company that’s going well and hope to be invited to stay on after my internship ends this summer. (At some point, I will explain the whole project.) I just handed in another interview for Futureclaw and should have a few more out this season, perhaps even for another publication.

As for the blog, I plan to keep posting regularly if not as consistently as these last few months. It will probably involve less original material (expect the Poetry/Prose entries to continue; people seem to like them) punctuated by fevered outbursts on whatever is hounding me that week. A few more interviews are in the pipes, along with some thoughtful pieces on The Wire, Facebook, mushrooms and France. I will also without fail post the Classical Music Week feature I’ve been threatening for over a year now. (Also, if you’re fiending for blogs of a feather, now is the time to check out Ben’s erudite new site, So Paltry and Brief, which he will only maintain if we clap our hands and believe.)

My annual Best-of film and music lists are almost finished, although I’m trying to cram in a few more entries in the former; between the foreign release delay in France and the moratorium on releasing independent or slightly inaccessible films in Tulsa (and everywhere else in the U.S., apparently— To be continued…!), I am really behind in my cinema. On that note, if you haven’t been following it, Slate’s welcome annual Movie Club feature just came to a close. (I love the ladies, but I do miss Nathan Lee.)

Now is my chance to look briefly forward to the New Year from the Autodidact’s perspective. A good portion of my reading and time (and, thus, time for reading) will be consumed by my thesis for the first half of the year, but I still plan to moonlight. Laure hung the bloody moon for me and got us an international New Yorker subscription for my birthday. I feel restored. The last two issues alone have been embarrassments of riches: profiles on Will Oldham, Barney Frank and The Village Voice. (Oh, New Yorker! Even Denver‘s come around to your beneficent elitism!) Anyway, here’s how 2009 looks to me.

Fiction: Dos Passos U.S.A. trilogy, Saul Bellow’s middle period novels (Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Herzog), Hemingway’s short stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls, John Cheever and Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean and Une vie, some Simenon and, if I have time, at least one Pynchon novel.

Non-Fiction: I will be happy if, by the end of the year, I’ve finished Peter Gay’s Freud Reader, Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style, Lionel Trilling’s The Liberal Imagination and Mark Stevens’ de Kooning biography.

Philosophy: I’m mainly going to be reading video game theory (Ian Bogost, Jesper Juul) but I’m going to slip in some analytical classics like A.J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, any other Logical Positivism I can understand (Carnap, etc) and dip my feet in to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, generally considered the key philosophical work of the last century (depending on your interests). Also, Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. At some point, I’m going to need to start reading some continental theory (namely, Deleuze) and Heidegger, but I don’t think this is their year.

Poetry: At this point, if I finish Paradise Lost before I die I’ll be happy. In the unlikely event that I finish it this year, Shelley and Robert Lowell are up next.

Film: Lots of British film. I plan to go straight down the BFI’s Top 100 list. At last count, I had only seen 17. I will at some point watch Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, as much Rossellini as I can see on the big screen (especially, The Taking of Power by Louis XIV), and convince someone, somewhere to lend me his or her Huillet-Straub box set; just saying their names gives me that insider tickle.

Fashion: Michael Caine as Jack Carter, Maurice Ronet in Le Feu Follet, Benjamin Button. Tucking in your shirt looks good. So do sweaters with collars and my dad’s jean jacket he used to wear in the 70s.

Music: I’ve recently acquired the complete Stax-Volt singles and the Atlantic Rhythm and Blues box set, so: lots and lots of soul. For classical, I just want to see more live performances. I was blown away by some Ravel just yesterday. Jazzwise, the more live John Coltrane I hear, the better my life will be.

Ambitious as always, and I’ll be content if I manage to finish even a fourth of it, but it feels good even writing it out; the mind tends to confuse the past with projection. But who knows? I’ve already somehow managed to subvert my nightbird habits (I woke up at 9:30 today and it felt late!), so maybe healthy study habits will follow. I’m sure I’ll let let you know…

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~ by ohkrapp on January 12, 2009.

One Response to “Prospectus Autodidactus: 2009”

  1. Read the Hemingway short story “Summer People” now! It’s in the back of the book. Then read this short film I wrote.

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