BookTuber Tuesday – Derrida

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[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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From “The Structural Study of Myth” by Claude Lévi-Strauss

“Of all the chapters of religious anthropology probably none has tarried to the same extent as studies in the field of mythology. From a theoretical point of view the situation remains very much the same as it was fifty years ago, namely, a picture of chaos. Myths are still widely interpreted in conflicting ways: collective dreams, the outcome of a kind of esthetic play, the foundation of ritual…. Mythological figures are considered as personified abstractions, divinized heroes or decayed gods. Whatever the hypothesis, the choice amounts to reducing mythology either to an idle play or to a coarse kind of speculation.

Mythology confronts the student with a situation which at first sight could be looked upon as contradictory. On the one hand, it would seem that in the course of a myth anything is likely to happen. There is no logic, no continuity. Any characteristic can be attributed to any subject; every conceivable relation can be met. With myth, everything becomes possible. But on the other hand, this apparent arbitrariness is belied by the astounding similarity between myths collected in widely different regions. Therefore the problem: if the content of a myth is contingent, how are we going to explain that throughout the world myths do resemble one another so much?

A remark can be introduced at this point which will help to show the singularity of myth among other linguistic phenomena. Myth is the part of language where the formula traduttore, tradittore reaches its lowest truth-value. From that point of view it should be put in the whole gamut of linguistic expressions at the end opposite to that of poetry, in spite of all the claims which have been made to prove the contrary. Poetry is a kind of speech which cannot be translated except at the cost of serious distortions; whereas the mythical value of the myth remains preserved, even through the worst translation. Whatever our ignorance of the language and the culture of the people where it originated, a myth is still felt as a myth by any reader through- out the world. Its substance does not lie in its style, its original music, or its syntax, but in the story which it tells. It is language, functioning on an especially high level where meaning succeeds practically at “taking off” from the linguistic ground on which it keeps on rolling.

Prevalent attempts to explain alleged differences between the so-called “primitive” mind and scientific thought have resorted to qualitative differences between the working processes of the mind in both cases while assuming that the objects to which they were applying themselves remained very much the same. If our interpretation is correct, we are led toward a completely different view, namely, that the kind of logic which is used by mythical thought is as rigorous as that of modern science, and that the difference lies not in the quality of the intellectual process, but in the nature of the things to which it is applied. This is well in agreement with the situation known to prevail in the field of technology: what makes a steel ax superior to a stone one is not that the first one is better made than the second. They are equally well made, but steel is a different thing than stone. In the same way we may be able to show that the same logical processes are put to use in myth as in science, and that man has always been thinking equally well; the improvement lies, not in an alleged progress of man’s conscience, but in the discovery of new things to which it may apply its unchangeable abilities.”

 

“The Structural Study of Myth” by Claude Lévi-Strauss

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Get Gaiman?: PolyMorpheus Perversity in Works by and about Neil Gaiman by Clay Smith

Or, how Neil Gaiman is a myth: 

‘While the criticism that I cited at the beginning of my essay promotes Gaiman over the gaming that occurs in/with/through texts, it does provide us with an effective means for observing how polyMorpheus perversity maintains Gaiman’s author(ity). As indicated above, one of the primary causes of this perversity is the attribution by critics of the works produced under the name “Neil Gaiman” to a single [and singular] authorial source. Often these critics illustrate their claims about Gaiman’s author(ity) by including panels from his graphic novels (most often from the Sandman series). In doing so, these critics deny the existence of the authors/others (e.g. inkers, colorists, editors) involved in the production of those panels and the series in which they appear; instead these critics promote the textuality that they see in these panels as a product of Gaiman’s author(ity), thereby further obscuring Gaiman’s authors/others and promoting polyMorpheus perversity.

Attention to these authors/others within Gaiman’s work(s) reveals the extensive promotion and production of Gaiman’s exclusive author(ity). Interviews with artists like Kelley Jones describe how Gaiman’s storylines enable his own creativity in ways that he would not realize otherwise. To illustrate his claims, Jones notes how he added intricate details to his visual designs of Hell’s Gate and other referential images (e.g., dreams attributed to historical persons like El Cid and Columbus) to his work on the Sandman series (Bender 102). He also notes that he adopted previous artistic styles (e.g., those characterizing 19th c. Japanese woodcuts and Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings as well as the works of Audrey Beardsley and August Doré) to accentuate the diversity of cultural references in his work for Seasons of Mist. While none of these visual elements or styles appear explicitly in Gaiman’s verbal narrative for this series, they do coexist with(in) the published version of these Sandman stories through Jones’s illustrations. However, they do so only because Gaiman author(ize)s them: initially by sketching the plotline which they illustrate, then by placing his authorial approval on them – essentially (re)authoring them as part of his own incorporative production. In other words, Jones’s elements remain invisible until readers are told that they may see them and even that they exist. The work of authors/others within the body of Gaiman’s work(s) exist only after they have been (re)articulated by Gaiman…

This processing of authors/others into an author(ized/ing) product illustrates a central aspect of Gaiman’s strategy to promote his author(ity). Here the process reveals its complexity by first having Gaiman (re)articulate the product, then by having Jones echo that reauthorization in his interview, then by having Bender (re)authorize it (visually within a grayed text box thereby formally separating it from the main-text/interview body) so that readers can see that the inspirational intersection of Gaiman’s and Jones’s articulations of the Sandman story is actually engendered exclusively through Gaiman’s author(ity). Gaiman’s approval of the storyboards did not include such detail or stylistics; such detail and stylistics emerged only after/through Gaiman’s approval within the space that he had originally created and actively controls. In other words, Jones would not have been able to create the visual analogs of (re)articulation and referentiality in his panels without Gaiman’s originary and continuous (re)authorization. As this example illustrates, Jones’s (re)articulation is actually an iteration of Gaiman’s author(ity). Such foreclosure of textuality defines a key aspect of polyMorpheus perversity by revealing how the apparent openings for/of textual free play are foreclosed by Gaiman’s author(ity). Readers come to see textuality only by forgetting the authors/others for the pleasure of knowing Gaiman’s author(ity).

…Again, Gaiman appears as the controlling nexus from which artistic creativity and familial fulfillment can and do emerge – a mythic empowerment of Gaiman’s author(ity). According to these testaments, Gaiman’s guiding hand is everywhere, whether we see it or not. And if we do see it, we see yet another example of the polyMorpheus perversity that we must come to know through such openings.

Further examples of the extent of Gaiman’s authority occur in the anthology The Sandman: Book of Dreams (1996). There various authors intersect, invoke, and interject Gaiman’s Sandman storyline within their own works, but only under Gaiman’s literal and figurative author(ity). Because Gaiman occupies a paratextual role in this collection, The Sandman: Book of Dreams illustrates how pervasive his author(ity) is: while he appears only as a nominal identity within this collection, his author(ity) manifests itself throughout the entire work in implicit and explicit ways; in doing so, Gaiman appears as a virtually anonymous author(ity) validating each of the anthology’s authors and her/his work.

While Gaiman’s name appears in only four places, those places serve to (re)author those works that appear in this collection: his name appears (1) on the cover as the editor (along with an otherwise silent Ed Kramer), (2) at the anthology’s end as part of advertising for his other works, (3) a brief bio note, and (4) at the anthology’s beginning as one of the creators of Sandman characters (Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg are also listed). This last appearance informs his author(ity) in this anthology: the formal declaration of genesis follows the legal declaration of DC Comics’ trademark ownership of the “Sandman and all related characters, slogans, and indicia” and precedes the statement: “The Authors assert the moral right to be identified as the authors in this work.” Yet this disclosure of textuality appears virtually invisible: buried so that only a very few readers may ever find it. However, Gaiman’s nominal primacy overshadows the presence of any authors/others.

While such manipulation remains relatively hidden, the hand of Gaiman’s author(ity) appears more explicitly throughout much of his work in the form of citations, commentary, paratextuality – in short, though his attributive incorporation of the bodies of other works within the body of his work(s). Throughout his work(s), Gaiman utilizes a constant rhetorical strategy that explicitly and implicitly cites/sites citationality within his works not as textual free play but as textual foreclosure. Most often these references appear in the form of direct and indirect quotes embedded within the body of his work, but they also assume other forms of reference to other authors and cultural events. Despite its presence in seemingly different formats (graphic novels, interviews, and webpages), this referentiality (re)articulates the same message: Gaiman is the vortex (one of his recurrent images) from which his unique narrativity exudes and from which most readers cannot (do not want to) escape.

While such promotion may not seem surprising given the commercialism of such sites, its blurring of the lines between product and producer(s) reflects Gaiman’s larger rhetorical strategy designed to privilege him as the author(ity) of all of his works. Moreover, those readers who get Gaiman’s gaming with such sites (the dimensions of his [and Wolfe’s] parodic walking tour book and its virtual presence) seem to approximate an intimacy with Gaiman’s manipulation (and thereby approximate an intimacy with Gaiman). However, such approximations are integral parts of Gaiman’s strategy as we have seen: they render those who believe in them as appendages for Gaiman to control. Again, the peripherals emerge only in relation to the center: the auteur over the authors/others.

Such exclusivity and denial of the text’s hybridity in favor of hierarchy and stasis run counter to the apparent inclusivity and alterity that Gaiman claims to promote in his texts and life as well as for which he is often celebrated. We can see how Gaiman manipulates that apparent textuality to achieve this delusion only if we keep our own relationship with textuality: we must maintain the polysemic over the author(ized); if we do otherwise, we too will become subject to Gaiman’s author(ity), and thereby become subject to its polyMorpheus perversity.’

[Via]

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: We’re All the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in New Doomsday Movies

Interestingly, despite our ever present doomsday fictions, the nature of the way we’ve portrayed the innumerable horsemen of the apocalypse has changed. In the past, the apocalypse was a single, cataclysmic event that could be stopped. From the machine armies of Terminator to the nuclear fallout in On the Beach, the apocalypse was always the result of a choice . But now, our end of the world stories tackle issues that are “broader and more diffuse,” which makes us “afraid but less able to point to a source of our fear,” Bures wrote.

[Via]

See also: What we talk about when we talk about post-apocalyptic stories.

Mercury is drawing on The Automation for his next painting. He loved our use of the word “mercurial” so many f*cking times.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

#TBT – Malk

That time things escalated too quickly on YouTube. 2009.

On the history of letters:

‘Addressing the symbolic and material functions of letters, this essay shows how a selection of their epistles served as gifts, thus conferring prestige on recipients in a society where social networking was largely defined by a cultural consensus. The sociological notion of cultural capital adopted here refers to the material and symbolic use of epistles as evidence of a person’s training in Greek παιδεία: its style of writing, discourse among powerful associates, and models of governance gleaned from its history and literature. Mastering these lessons qualified individuals as scholars, civic mediators, and patrons in a heritage of leadership stretching back to the pre-Roman era. This preparation did not always yield tangible benefits, but having this resource—especially in conjunction with holding political and economic authority—garnered one respect in a community defined by its accumulated cultural knowledge. A proficiency in παιδεία—as manifested in epistolary exchange—was evidence that one knew the rules of social interaction among elites. Individuals steeped in classical Greek studies held a profit of distinction that brought them immediate legitimacy when they interacted with persons of similar background. Thus, exhibiting this cultural capital facilitated the discourse between bishops and their correspondents.

In the eastern Roman Empire, where social standing often was based on one’s command of ancient Greek literature, individuals educated in the curriculum of παιδεία had been raised on classical Hellenic mores. Although the heritage of hellenismos (“being Greek”) had already come to be equated with “paganism” by the mid-300s, in their discourse with elite eastern Romans the Cappadocians continued to celebrate those aspects of παιδεία that represented “speaking” and “being civilized” in the Greek way. They did remain guarded, however, in proposing this education for Christian laity, who might not have sufficient discernment to dismiss its polytheistic theology and accounts of immoral behavior. One of the more salient ideals within this classical Greek heritage—rooted in the φιλία relationship—involved conferring prestige on an individual with the expectation that the recipient would reciprocate the act of honor. Presenting cultural capital in the form of epistles was not a financial transaction, but rather a reminder of mutual values that could potentially inform one’s policies. Gift exchange, in the form of sending and receiving letters, represented an exercise imbued with emotional and personal connection. To send a letter meant that one was presenting part of oneself. The nature of such a precious gift prompted the recipient to acknowledge its affective meaning and to act in the best interest of the giver. As masters of eloquent words (λόγοι), the Cappadocians asserted their erudition in a social setting based on honor and expectation… The model of ancient Greek gift-giving provided them a means by which publicly to assert the heritage of a pre-Christian Hellenism as a social and political force; it called attention to Christian participation in this practice; and it enabled them to mediate for individuals and communities under their social patronage.

Using exempla from the Iliad and the Odyssey established the writer’s command of the fundamental texts of the Greek literary heritage. And referring to motifs from venerated Attic writers underscored the writer’s affinity with an elite leadership that governed through the power of its words. Παιδεία required learning across a number of disciplines, including art, geography, mythology, and physiognomy, a comprehensive knowledge that distinguished its experts as refined and steeped in Hellenism. This education invited its recipients to display their erudition in multiple forms, ranging from textual references to visual representations on clothing and in material objects. Composing and sending epistles was only one way of signaling membership in this circle. But the epistolary medium was especially relevant because it applied Hellenic allusions and showed their relevance to current social and political circumstances. And it conveyed these sentiments in the form of a gift. The acceptability of the epistle, however, depended on high standards of writing. Not every letter was worthy of sending to a beneficiary.

To acquire gift status, an epistle had to have merit warranting that the recipient would value it and share it. Letters of great distinction were “small objets d’art, carefully articulated, circulated among a select group, collected, copied, and treasured.” Letters of premium quality “had to rise above the ordinary routine of life. There had to be a touch of elegance . . . brief and to the point, but also so fi nely crafted that the recipient would want to show it, rather read it, to his friends.” Individual honor derived from the publicized contents of the epistle, which made the recipient’s acquisition of the letter known to a greater populace, along with its message.

Letters from prominent scholars—set apart by their Hellenic education—would have been made known to the community. An individual’s collection of these written works, particularly if one wanted to appear as an eloquent Greek, enhanced one’s reputation.

…Although all epistles reflecting cultivation were to be valued, a certain gradation can be detected in their content, indicating that certain gifts carried more prestige than others. The number of literary references and their familiarity among scholars, for example, could aff ect the merits of an epistle. Inserting several uncommon classical allusions demonstrated the author’s high level of labor in composing the epistle by singling out distinct references. More obscure passages also indicated the addressee’s deeper knowledge of the ancients, as did couched metaphors, because they would have necessitated an ability to recognize them. An epistle containing a few famous phrases from Homer, for example, might present less status than one that included cryptic sayings from more esoteric sources. The latter would indicate an advanced level of παιδεία for author and addressee. It designated a person as part of a limited group endowed with the precious ability to comprehend the text. Receiving this kind of epistle would have trumpeted one’s comprehensive familiarity with the Greek literary heritage.

By emphasizing ancient Greek themes in their correspondence, the Cappadocian Fathers were reinforcing their access to a program of social and political influence in the east, one that they would not surrender to non-Christians. Through these gifts of eloquence, the bishops were coopting Hellenism, sans its pagan deities, for their own agenda.’

Nathan D. Howard “Gifts Bearing Greekness: Epistles as Cultural Capital in Fourth-Century Cappadocia.”

BookTuber Tuesday – Margaret Atwood

Recommend a BookTuber video in the comments and it could make our Tuesday post!

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Terry Pratchett on the novel he wrote with Neil Gaiman:

“In the end, it was this book done by two guys, who shared the money equally and did it for fun and wouldn’t do it again for a big clock.” – Terry Pratchett, on writing Good Omens with Neil Gaiman.

[Via]

Co-authoring doesn’t seem like it’s all that it’s cracked up to be.

#TBT – The Last Unicorn film

That time there was a faithful book to film adaptation. 1982.

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Mark Clamen’s Review ‘The Almighty Johnsons: Family Dysfunction of Heavenly Proportions’

The series has a relaxed pace, quite unlike other shows of its genre. The best of the first season, and its greatest charm, lay in the feeling that it was in no rush to get anywhere in particular. Scenes go on a little bit longer than you’d expect, and the characters (and the series) are often happy sitting exactly where they happen to be. In fact, when I first tuned in, as much as I enjoyed the early episodes, I wasn’t sure what the story was, or intended to be. There didn’t seem to be a season there, far less a multi-year story! (There was also the question of how it was to negotiate the How I Met Your Mother problem, where every new female character to enter a room might be – and really probably isn’t – “the Frigg.”)…

…A new era is coming, and the Johnson brothers seem destined to be at the centre of it. But there is nothing epic about it, Norse or Hollywood. It all happens in small scenes, without grand special effects – at barbeques, in alleys behind bars, and in the stacks of public libraries. The groundedness of our boys (a fridge full of beer, the trials of daily life and loving) is what consistently keeps the narrative from floating off to Asgard. The result is a playful and sometimes even blasé attitude towards to the story’s own mythic centre: a half dozen gods and goddesses piling into an old station wagon to do battle against their enemies, or a goddess whose gift appears to be a preternatural ability to organize parties, or when one of the brothers starts dating someone who is literally Hel, etc. The series is often laugh-out-loud funny precisely when it plays straight, with a character simply laying out the absurdity of a situation in the plainest possible terms and then taking a pull from a pint, or when Axl filters new revelations through the limits of his Star Wars-centric imagination.  For example, here’s how Mike Johnson explained why he kept certain aspects of their family history from his younger brothers for so many years: “I mean, what was I meant to do? Tell a bunch of bloody kids their mother is a fucking tree?”

[Via]

BookTuber Tuesday – The Handmaid’s Tale

Recommend a BookTuber video in the comments and it could make our Tuesday post!

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

“In the distant past, the god Vulcan created a handful of Automatons…”

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

 

No real spoilers, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is basically the Gaia Hypothesis in story form. And it’s pretty good.

“That being said, the sacrifice of a smooth ride for Quill gives us a really interesting movie. This is the most oddly-structured Marvel film since Iron Man 3, with the cast spending a large chunk of time apart while our focus is trained on anything but an impending cosmic threat. That threat does come, make no mistake—but the fact it takes a while to arrive only helps the story. It feels like an escalation rather than a last-second addition, and the film’s constant ramping of stakes, scale, and tension makes for a genuinely tense third act.” [Via]

“…like any good epic tale, it might touch a nerve or two…”

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: After the Ugly Laws by Sunaura Taylor

‘Perhaps we need to ask how we can assert both our humanity and our animality. How do those of us who have been negatively compared to nonhuman animals assert our value as human beings without implying human superiority or denying our own animality?

On some level identifying as animal has always felt right to me. As a small child I went through a short period where I would bark like a dog when people spoke to me. I didn’t do this out of shyness; according to my parents, I did it because I truly wanted to be a dog. My parents were understandably horrified. Not only did they have to deal with the social implications of having a small child in a wheelchair, but now she was barking, too.

I’m sitting in a cafe in downtown Berkeley as I write this. I have retrieved all of the objects I need from my bag and arranged them on the table in front of me. To do so, I had to put my mouth on the edge of my computer pad and bite down, wiggling it loose from my bag. I then pulled it out and laid it on the table, reached for my keyboard and did the same. I repeated this a few more times until I had everything I needed.

When I use my mouth instead of my hands in public, I realize I am transgressing boundaries, not only of able-bodied etiquette, but of the ways in which one is supposed to inhabit a human body. We use the mouth for language and for eating, yet it is deeply private, an orifice containing germs and breath and slobber. The mouth is sexual. The mouth is animal.

Hands, however, are human. Humans are supposed to have opposable thumbs and dexterous fingers. Like walking upright on two legs, human hands have been said to represent our big brains—as hands make and use tools, they opened the door for human culture to emerge. Hands represent our physical agility and separateness from other species.

I feel animal in my embodiment, and this feeling is one of connection, not shame. Recognizing my animality has in fact been a way of claiming the dignity in the way my body and other non-normative and vulnerable bodies move, look, and experience the world around them. It is a claiming of my animalized parts and movements, an assertion that my animality is integral to my humanity. It’s an assertion that animality is integral to humanity.

I do not mean this in a metaphorical way. It is not that we are like animals or that the idea of animals is integral to who we are—although both claims are true. It is that we are animals. A fact so boringly commonplace that we forget it—perpetually.’

[Via]

Read it for free on Goodreads:

Download it for free on Goodreads.

#TBT – The Show by Lenka

That time Lenka released a song that would later make it into the Easy A trailer. 2008.

 

BookTuber Tuesday – The Circle

Recommend a BookTuber video in the comments and it could make our Tuesday post!

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

#BLAThoughtOfTheDay – Yes, this explains one reason why I dislike Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

Other reasons include: