On hiatus, perhaps

Okay children. I know it’s only been a month or so since I started blogging this but somehow I’m finding the need to take a break for a few weeks. For some reason fiction hasn’t really been working out for me. I’m guessing the high doses of politics (working toward an ISO branch at my school, fuck yeah) has gone to my head and now all I feel like reading is leftwing political tracts. Just for funzies, here are the books I have on my list (both not yet started and in various states of completion):

  • The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: the Theory of Permanent Revolution by Michael Löwy
  • The Liberal Defense of Murder by Richard Seymour
  • Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights by Omar Barghouti
  • Trotsky’s Marxism and Other Essays by Duncan Hallas
  • Party and Class by Chris Harman, Tony Cliff, Duncan Hallas and Leon Trotsky
  • What is the Real Marxist Tradition? by John Molyneux
  • Revolution in Danger by Victor Serge
  • A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
  • Class Struggles in Eastern Europe by Chris Harman

You might think, “wow, Bill, that’s really disgusting that you bought so many books without having a job, and while taking trips to New York city that cost $30 each time round trip, your mom will most likely skin you alive.” You would be correct, but there aren’t scholarships widely available to the school of class struggle unfortunately. One of the perks of this business is that you feel somewhat better about extravagant spending on books, which is a nice perk, and there are precious few of them (well, besides the feeling naturally superior to other people part which is pretty great).

On the other hand, there are some things I might be able to do for you if your thirst for amateur Marxist literary criticism is really that bad. 1) I wrote an essay on Blood Meridian (post #1) for English class, and while that isn’t necessarily Marxist, I did enjoy writing it and I might put it up there for the sake of having content once it clears grading. Similarly for a brief paper I wrote on Mayakovsky’s Mystery-Bouffe, which is a tad more political. Also with school ending tomorrow, I will have ample amounts of free time on my hands, which I plan to use some of to finally write an essay on Murakami’s politics, which I noted in the “about” section. I tend to go a little crazy without something specific to occupy my mind.

Other than that, I’m pretty confident I will return to fiction after a short time. This is a (small) transition for me as it will mark the first significant stretch of time I’ve been out of school since summer 2009. Around times like this I tend not to have patience for large projects, and as you can see from the above list my concentration is clearly shot to hell. But this year looks especially good for new fiction. China Miéville’s Embassytown comes out in a week, and in the fall we’ll see Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke (I plan to reread and review the prequel, Sea of Poppies, at some point before that) and FINALLY, the English translation of Murakami’s 1Q84, the reading of which will be the closest thing I can imagine right now to heaven, except of course being with my beautiful, intelligent and talented compañera Maria.

By the way I felt this from Victor Serge belongs here, and it should give you something to chew on til I next return:

For despite everything life goes on. Perhaps we shall be slaughtered tomorrow; that doesn’t matter. The main thing is to keep calm and resolute today, and to be able to think of something else from time to time. Today, Sunday, during the funerals of Tolmachev, Rakov, Kupche and Tavrin, there was an artistic oasis amid the sorrowful and threatened city. Hundreds of people came to the small white hall of the Conservatory to listen to music by Glazunov. The great composer was there himself, tall and stooping, his broad shoulders gaunt, with pallor, weariness and anemia visible in the heavy creases of his face… It was a charming morning of good music. There was a young woman, blonde, graceful and slender like a Greek statue, a wonderful artist. For a long time she too held this audience charmed by her violin-playing. Then, in a smart black dress-coat, as though at a fashion reception in the old days, Maximov sang Heine’s Leider.

One day, when these things are discussed with a concern for justice and truth, when, in the society of the future that we shall ultimately build, where all the wounds of humanity will have been healed, then the revolution will be praised because it never, even in its most tragic days, lost the concern for art; it never neglected rhythms, fine gestures, beautiful voices full of pathos, dream-like settings, poems, anthems played on the organ, the sobbing notes of violins. Never. And I cannot help discovering in this obstinate quest for beauty, at every hour of the civil war, stoicism, strength and confidence. Doubtless it is because the Red city is suffering and fighting so that one day leisure and art shall be the property of all.

(Victor Serge, “During the Civil War,” in Revolution in Danger: Writings from Russia 1919-1921, trans. Ian Birchall. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011. 30-31)

Keep it real (but not too real) and love always,

Bill

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