Wild Horses
I am trying to read a book a week this year. This obviously necessitates reading lots of short books to counter the whacking great huge ones I want to read, so far it's been quite good for pulling the great unread off of my shelves. I'll highlight the ones I think were particularly great. The scores on the doors thus far:

Here Comes Everybody - Clay Shirky
The Sugar Barons - Matthew Parris
A Wizard of Earthsea AGAIN
Isis: Inside the Army of Terror - Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan
Yaksini Magic - Mike Magee
Corbynism - Matt Bolton & Fred Harry Pitts
The Loosening Skin - Aliya Whitely
Hello World - Hannah Fry
Hine's Varieties: Chaos & Beyond - Phil Hine
Semiosis - Sue Burke
Voodoo & the Art of Haiti - Sheldon Williams
Pit Sense & the State - David John Douglass
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
Haitian Vodou - Mambo Chita Tann
A People's Tragedy -Orlando Figes
The Miracle Club - Mitch Horowitz
Monstrous Cults - Stephen Sennitt
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sexual Revolution - Wilhelm Reich
The Skeleton's Holiday - Leonora Carrington
Still Here - Danielle See Walker
Maoism: A Global History - Julia Lovell
Ode to Charles Fourier - Andre Breton
Arcimboldo - Werner Kreigskorte
Torre David - Brillenbourg & Klemper
The Supermale - Alfred Jarry


call me big papa
I did that for a while, think I managed about two months?

I don't know about you but I felt my reading muscles getting stronger each week.


Wild Horses
I don't know - always been quite good at comprehension, and I have to admit I found the last one (The Supermale) a struggle. What I have noticed is my mind continously going back to the one I have to finish next.


Took me ages to get into The Dream of Scipio... I think he's quite bad at writing characters and they sometimes get buried beneath the ideas they need to carry. That said, the ideas and the philosophy and the concepts of aesthetics and right and wrong and how they do or don't change over time, along with the way the stories entwined became more and more interesting and the book became increasingly fascinating. I really was getting deeper and deeper into it and wondering how it would all end... such a shame I just left it on the train on the way back from squash.


That's maybe the fourth time I've left a book on the train or bus in the last five or six years... however - eureka! - it turns out they have this one in lost property, albeit at a station some distance away. Still, thirty days to collect it, I will get it back.


Well-known member
Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, on the emergence of pragmatist thought in the context of the American Civil War (quality's a mixed-bag; it leans into storytelling at the cost of accuracy or coherence, but I'm interested in the topic), and Cesar Aira's work of magical realism Ghosts, which is so smart and beautiful and sad.


I finished The Beetle Leg anyway... now can someone else read it and tell me what it was about. Please.
I enjoyed it in fact. It reads like Cormac McCarthy at his most dense and western. Sometimes it's really hard to work out what is going on and it's always pretty much impossible to work out why. Lots of stuff in it. Only 150 pages but grimy and intense and weird.


Wild Horses
I just finished The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman. About Jim Simons whose claim to fame and gargantuan levels of wealth was launching the first computer driven/data science hedge fund and making more money than God. Interesting story, though IMO terribly written. Lots of business books and writing do that terrible thing of describing characters in a really flat awful way - "a lanky, floppy haired business grad with an easy smile" and weaving it together with one quirky anecdote ("he once rode to Mexico in a red sports car". It's really grating and cuts against the immense influence and power these people weird. The most famous employee of Simons' fun - Renaissance - was Robert Mercer, who bankrolled Trump's campaign and brought him together with Steve Bannon. Still kinda fascinating, even with these limitations.


What shall I read next? I'm wondering about starting Confessions of a Mask by Mishima. I'm kinda fascinated (stroke appalled) with the way that Japanese artists seem to take things that bit further (Sex Pistols swearing on telly vs Les Rallizes Denudes hijacking a plane for instance) and Mishima is another perfect example of that in putting his revolutionary beliefs where his mouth was.
On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai, under pretext, visited the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp, the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.[27] Inside, they barricaded the office and tied the commandant to his chair. With a prepared manifesto and a banner listing their demands, Mishima stepped onto the balcony to address the soldiers gathered below. His speech was intended to inspire a coup d'état to restore the power of the emperor. He succeeded only in irritating the soldiers, and was mocked and jeered. He finished his planned speech after a few minutes, returned to the commandant's office and performed seppuku
But anyone know if the book is any good?
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Wild Horses
Confessions of a Mask is bloody great. He's really good on how his sexuality is bound up with personal and physical pain. Been meaning to watch the film for about 20 years as well. Phillip Glass soundtrack IIRC.


Wild Horses
You'd like it I think. But I can get you might not be in the mood. Lots of identifying with St Sebastian and self flagellation IIRC.


Now you're saying this stuff I remember watching a documentary about him now and there was a lot of that business.
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
Sex Pistols swearing on telly vs Les Rallizes Denudes hijacking a plane for instance
that comparison doesn't really line up - more like if someone from The Pink Fairies had been involved with the Angry Brigade

which didn't happen afaik, but there was a great deal of that radical political-cultural crossover in that particular late 60s moment in the 1st World

i.e. the more militant end of early krautrock had a lot of fellow-traveling with the radical left, Amon Düül coming out of the commune scene for one

the Japanese tendency for cultural extremity - not just in the sense of transgression but in taking things to their logical extreme - is certainly true

my understanding is Mishima's farcical coup d'etat was more about his fixation on ritual suicide and his psychosexual issues than politics per se

the obsession with physical beauty, a 20th C. vision of bushido, St. Sebastian as martyr/gay icon, shame about failure to participate in WWII

a fascinating character no doubt, albeit with terrible politics. the coup was extremely "first as tragedy, then as farce".

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
not really on-topic but the book I'd highly recommend on 77 UK Punk + the Pistols specifically is the great England's Dreaming by Jon Savage

the Sex Pistols provacteur act is interesting in that McLaren and Jamie Reid both came from an art school background versed in Situationism

but Reid's politics were serious/sincere, while McLaren was an ambiguous hustler, the nuances of which were understandably lost on the public

the Pistols themselves were (besides Glen Matlock) proles and apolitical, with Lydon being true avant-prole, into Can, Beefheart, reggae, etc

after "God Save the Queen" Lydon literally got attacked and beat up on the street by some stolid defenders of the Queen's honor

the better punk comparison Les Rallizes Denudes is Crass, tho they were pacifists and (besides Steve Ignorant) middle-class hippie art types

Crass's formation being heavily influenced by the British state's railroading of Penny Rimbaud's friend Wally Hope

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
as for me, rn I'm reading Jonathan Sumption's enormous history of the 100 Years War

I read Volume I a few years ago but I'm rereading it now to reacquaint myself then on to the Vols. II-IV


Obviously I was being flippant with that comparison. And not endorsing hijacking etc for that matter - if it came out that way.