Amen to all that …
Thanks for expressing this concern, John. I feel it is valid, and important to differentiate between process (open/vulnerable) and product (finished/marketable); and what do you think of defining different spaces for these? I’d like to suggest the following channels (which I imagine interlacing with #commons:cafe as well, as Kleinian surfaces) as interrelated yet differently oriented locations for writing to be shared and discussed:
#metapsychosis:writers-underground – This is the “lab to develop and experiment with the uncanny and the weird stuff. Write, not about what you know, but about what obsesses you.” That’s what makes it underground! It’s what’s not meant to be published or seen, or strut and fret its hour, at least not yet.
#metapsychosis:editorial – This is an editorial channel for material that will be published in the journal (or book form). Thus criticism, aesthetic judgment, and editorial values can and should be part of the process, which is geared toward producing a product, e.g., a web page, podcast, book, etc. which has social relevance (though not necessarily “market value”).
And we also have #metapsychosis:readers-underground (and various sub-channels, such as #metapsychosis:gebser and #metapsychosis:spheres) which are dedicated to reading the works of others (from outside our social/living milieu), from wider spheres. Here I believe the “honing critical skills” you mention can be combined with Geoffrey’s “creative reading” so that we become better writers and readers all around.
I would really enjoy having more fiction in our midst. Also: I love philosophy, but poetry is really my true First Love.
I think sometimes, its easier to do philosophy because the rigor of a good argument enforces a certain form. (Hence the distaste for Sloterdijk, who perhaps indulges overmuch, at times, but not with success, in my view, in a literary use of reason.) But “literature” proper is a more open (and integral) intellectual form than philosophy, in my view.
So what about Nova? And Soul Mountain? And Giovanni’s Room. And Cordwainer Smith and Le Guin and DeLillo and Philip K Dick and David Foster Wallace and Octavia Butler and…What’s the plan?
I also loved Giovannis Room because I loved Paris, and still do, the way Baldwin did, and far more than the way Hemingway did.
Hemingway wrote about losing his manhood there, Baldwin his soul. I lost my mind.
From that time …
"For a week I wandered through the Luxembourg gardens asking women to gouge out my eyes. Both or none at all I had said. What little I had understood. Under the lights of the Boulevard StGermain I managed to pull one out with an oyster fork before losing consciousness. It always brought out the best in me. Neurological change, I believed, was finally taking place. The kind you had to fight tooth and nail for day in day out. The kind they only spoke about in kook shows and woo woo books.
When I finally woke up I checked myself out of the hospital and walked until I found a grandfather clock to stare at. I spent the whole day meditating over the swing of the pendulum until the police were called in and I was removed by force. By that time I was already in tears. And all from just a single eye.
And it’s something to find yourself with one eye. To cry deeply, totally, from just one eye."
I would like to do Octavia E. Butler. Octavia is such a majestic name and she died, alas, too young but what she did write deserves attention. I would like to read Parables of the Sower Last summer, I read Mind of My Mind it was wonderfully creepy. Of course if you just want to do contemporary or sci fi that is understandable and the authors that have been mentioned are fine with me.
Baldwin is not a science fiction writer but he did write in an oracular voice. Another Country is not his best novel but he writes about sex, violence and race in ways that have become prophetic.
Melville is wild, too, ( Billy Budd, Benito Cereno, Redburn) on race and erotic tangles but these are classics that probably are too old to look at. And then there is the greatest weirdo, Edgar Allan Poe. I have yet to read _The Purloined Letter, a short story that Deleuze writes about it. I am really curious about The Leatherstocking Tales, and about the Indian kidnap narratives that were extremely popular in that period.
Delaney’s Phallos interests me, a short erotic novel, set in ancient Rome. I am embarrassed to say I never read Mary Shelly’s _Frankenstein,_which is very different I have heard from the movies. Another visionary novel I have yet to read Hermann Broch _The Death of Virgil, recommended I believe my Jean Gebser
Poetry? What about Rilke’s Orpheus? Gebser, you may know, considered Rilke and Eliot to be Integral poets.
" Myth has always been described as the result of an unconscious activity and as a free product of the imagination. But we here find myth mad according to plan. The new political myths do not grow up freely; they are not the wild fruits of an exuberant imagination. They are the artificial things fabricated by very skillful and cunning artisans. It has been reserved for the twentieth century, our own great technical age, to develop a new technique of myth."- Ernst Cassirer
I wonder what technique of myth will happen in our current century?
Ah, a good cry, even with one eye, is a great relief. When was the last time you had a good cry when reading a novel or especially the first time? I remember reading Brothers Karamazov when I was twelve and sobbing in the middle section when Father Zosima tells his story about the duel. Or when the old guy dies in prison in Great Expectations. I cry now even as I think of it. In those days I didnt just cry, I wept. By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…
When the little boy becomes the wind in the Alchemist, when his friend saves him from the firing squad in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, when Treya dies in Grace and Grit, when Giovanni is fired, when Zarathustra speaks to the sun … there are so many.
Maybe we need to vote? I mean, I’m game to read anything we decide to do, so we could even agree to pick a book at random from our list
We have various tendrils forming. Sci-Fi, poetry, classics, obscure, short & sweet. At this time, we seem to have enough gusto to attempt a spare Thursday discussion. We could keep it basic with one book. I have also been thinking that a selected/collected reading each month might be fun and more productive for the group (something like: April: “the Fife of Bodhidharma;” then @ZacharyFeder and @johnnydavis54 would select passages from Giovanni’s Room; a few selected stanza’s from Aurobindo’s Savitri; May: a poem, short story, essay, etc. …beneath the smaller readings can be a core book and somehow they would all be tied in together).
I did mention adding a poll yesterday @Geoffrey_Edwards . Here is attempt #1:
- David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
- Don Delillo - Point Omega
- Gao Xingjian Soul Mountain
- Samuel Delaney - Nova
- James Baldwin - Giovanni’s Room
- Octavia E. Butler - Parables of the Sower
- Liu Cixin - Rememberance of Earth’s Past (Book 1 -The Three Body Problem)
- Mary Shelley Frankenstein
And a poll for possible selected readings, short stories, poems, etc.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
- Irvin Yalom
- Cordwainer Smith
- Edgar Allan Poe
- David Foster Wallace
- Other Nominees (add to your hearts delight)
There is not an option for top picks (such as #1, #2, #3) so let us pick three and manually list out the particular order.
Oh there is also Huxley’s The Island a utopian novel which you mentioned before. I’m really not interested in Baldwin as I’ve already read him. I am interested in new stuff I’ve never heard of. Just throwing out some ideas. I will be glad to go with the sci fi.
This one is actually at the top of the list for me. The Eastern philosophical elements might flow directly into our Aurobindo readings, and I know the discussion around the book would be solid. Let’s say that Huxley’s novella makes it to round two of the polling
We had six responses and a clear selection for the top three picks. Here is another poll to perhaps finalize the first choice for a reading group.
- Gao Xingjian Soul Mountain
- Samuel Delaney - Nova
- Aldous Huxley - The Island
- Octavia E. Butler - Parables of the Sower
A few comments:
I did not have the intention of playing the role of lead organzier when this began. I do not mind to role if no one objects, but I feel like certain individuals might be left out of the literary loop. My social networking skills are minimal and I feel that we might be leaving out a larger group of individuals that either do not frequent the Infinite Conversations forum daily or do not have access to the Readers Underground. @madrush: your intuition and experience on this appreciated.
The selections above are by no means final. If you have a reading choice not mentioned or left off the list, short or long, feel free to chime in and promote your reading preferences.
Options and Opinions
How would others like for the group to be arranged?
I mentioned above something like a monthly “collected selection” of reading material (a few chapters in selected book, additional related poetry, essays, etc.). No major undertaking and might be a nice addition.
We seem to be revolving around 6PM-ish on 1st or 3rd Thurdays each month. Anyone not available or have two cents?
Other ideas, opinions?
My vision for Readers Underground is that any member could form their own mini-groups around works they personally want to read. I thought we could have multiple readings going on, self-organizing, cross-pollinating, and available to choose from.
However, we don’t have the numbers for that decentralized vision yet, and it’s helpful to have a more centrally organized ongoing event to set an example for later efforts, while keeping the overall conversation going in a fruitful direction.
Thursday is generally a good day for such conversations, for me, because it’s near the end of the week, but not yet into the weekend. I find these literary conversations a good way to transition into a more creative state of mind of the weekend. But of course, there could be other times that are better for others, and I would like to devise a system that allows for multiple events being organized without centralized scheduling.
As well, I think our book choices could be a great way to attract new readers, writers, and co-operators, so we should be invitational, and use these as an opportunity to invite new voices (both new authors, and new readers) into the mix.
How do we turn this into a Playbook template? How does Readers Underground actually work? Some simple ‘rules of the game’ could be all we really need to get started. And in the meantime, while we’re figuring that out, I wouldn’t mind proceeding with one of the books we’ve voted on. We could create a simple overview page, and email an invitation to the Cosmos/Metapsychosis list, too.
I have started on on “Soul Mountain” since that seems to be consistently at the top of everyone’s list!
Okay. Let us begin with Soul Mountain. Upon a quick intuitive glance at his work and at the below video (shared not for its content, per se, but for gaining a “feel” for the author). Gao Xingjian has a strong presence with a quiet and determined voice. A tough Chinese man with a gentle soul, confident of his literary work, he presents a solid account of the real struggles towards freedom and the life in exile.
@madrush: can you contact @Dona? Can I? I enjoyed her insight and other input during a few Bubbles calls, when she could make it. If we were to do 6PM on Thursdays, that would probably be 2 AM for her.
@Geoffrey_Edwards: Looks like you will be ahead of the gang. Perhaps we could also dive into segments of his plays and stories, if it suits us.
I agree that it is still a bit early for the branching off into mini-groups. The Partially Examined Life podcast is a good example of the time it can take to get the rhythm in place and for the branchings to form as intended.
The format of the Partially Examined Life (PEL) podcast (and their eight year timeline of a slow take-off) should work for us here. They have had a core four individuals regularly attending to make things happen. One individual is the core hub for their project (our Marco) which is centered on philosophical readings that are selected by the core individuals and suggested by listeners. Much has changed over the past few years and they seem to be fully listener-supported. They have branched off to include a critical music podcast, Philosophical Literature readings and another fiction group all led by different individuals, exactly what the mini-groups here can be.
They are more professional with their recordings (though no video) and more consistent with their scheduling, yet something both limiting and structural to PEL is the core four. They have a guest on occasion, but they are consistently a weekly production with only the core four, a new reading each week. We have a tendency to be a core group of individuals yet with a stronger desire to reach out and branch out. We want to gain the numbers so we can have the various reading groups form. We want to have different perspectives from new individuals. I imagine the fictional Readers Underground to be a cross between Cosmos Cafe and a PEL podcast episode.
With this reading of Soul Mountain and into subsequent readings, I intend to remain consistently present for the fiction reading group. This needn’t be another project that goes neglected. I can create a basic template for Soul Mountain once we are all in agreement, yet do not feel comfortable with creating a playbook template just yet. Thanks in advance for helping to bring this reading group into action and for any help along the way with outreach and professionalism and other advice and assistance.
I am looking forward to start reading Soul Mountain with you. Just let me know date/time of our first meeting and I will be happy to join.
This is exciting. I’m inviting my wife who lived in China for many years to join us!
In order to accommodate friends around the globe, can we aim for 12PM MDT on the first Thursday of each month, with our first gathering set forApril 5th? This would be 2PM EST for @johnnydavis54 and 9PM in Amman, Jordan. @ZacharyFeder: you are on MDT correct? Looking forward to soulful insight from your significant other.
And @Geoffrey_Edwards: Wondering what time zone you will be frequenting, as you seem to be a global traveler at certain times of the year.
I can’t make that time. Thursday afternoons are always a busy time for me. I am tied up until 14:30 most Thursdays.
Does anyone have issue with a 1st or 3rd Friday at 12 MDT?
Not normally, Doug, although I may have an issue on May 18th. That’s the only problem I see in coming months, through to end of June.