book

I have been reading Italo Calvino’s If on a winters night a traveller. One chapter is particularly interesting because it draws heavily on the imagery of optics (one of Calvino’s obsessions). It makes a reference to the 19th century British scientist David Brewster for his invention of the kaleidoscope. I hadn’t read about Brewster before so I had to look him up. He was so much more than the inventor of kaleidoscope.
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I finished reading Thomas Pynchon’s novel V. about a month ago. I was thinking about writing a review, but what’s the point? Given its classic status, it has been analyzed to death. So just a couple of thoughts. This was Pynchon’s first novel, so we have to ask if it compares well to his later masterpieces. I think a novel worthy of Pynchon’s name must do two things: 1. It must induce a mindfuck.
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I was reading about the Emacs org-roam mode, and came across the Zettelkasten method of notetaking. I hadn’t seen this term before, but the idea of taking notes with cross-referenced index cards sounded familiar. Where did I read about it? Ah yes… in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, the main character Casaubon (an ex-academic who makes a living as a “detective of knowledge”) uses boxes of index cards to keep track of ideas.
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Finished William Gibson’s Count Zero. I like William Gibson. There are things that he did extremely well in this novel. But it doesn’t work. The three main threads of narrative are all interesting ideas by themselves, but they don’t add up to a meaningful big picture. In the end, I don’t understand why anything happened. I was planning to read Mona Lisa Overdrive after this one, but maybe not. The second half of Count Zero seems too clumsily written for me.
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Europe was a dead museum from William Gibson’s New Rose Hotel. Clearly an homage to William S. Burroughs.