The artist assembles the machine and learns how it will function as he builds it.
Something Old...Donavan (November 26th, 2011 at 8:06 pm)
During the last World Cup Franz insisted that I stop referring to his favorite sport by the “American” word soccer. “Will you please, for the duration of the competition at least, use the sport’s proper name, football?” I agreed. Read more…
About a month ago we bit the bullet and ordered a new computer. I’m not the sort of guy who needs the latest and greatest bit of technology. I’m exactly the opposite. I’m the last person to buy the “new thing.” But I was forced into this purchase because the Internet “channel” where I watch soccer “upgraded” their service so that my “vintage equipment” was no longer compatible. Read more…
This month, things will be quiet here on the web site while I'm busy writing a rough draft of the final book in my Eden Quartet, Recovering Eden. And, yes, I'm doing this in conjunction with National Novel Writing Month. Current word count: 25041.
The Stony Brook fall film series started last Friday at the Staller Center. The first film was Page One: Inside the NY Times, a documentary about New York’s famous newspaper, how the news works, and why the professional journalism business is in danger of extinction. Read more…
varsity girls travel to westhamptonThursday, 6 October 2011 at 8:38am
The Lady Eagles Varsity side kicks-off againt Westhampton today at 4pm. The Ladies drew with Amityville on Tuesday, 1 - 1, to bring their record to 1-3-1 in league play. Westhampton is rank just ahead of the Eagles with a league record of 2-3-0. Read more…
[The food movement] is at heart revolutionary, with some of the world's poorest people in the lead, from Florida farmworkers to Indian villagers. It has the potential to transform not just the way we eat but the way we understand our world, including ourselves. And that vast power is just beginning to erupt.
---Frances Moore Lappé in "The Food Movement: Its Power & Possibilities" published in The Nation 3 October 2011
We all know that strip-mining is bad for the environment. It shouldn’t be such a leap to conclude that strip-malling is bad for our cultural environment. Read more…
Donavan's News returns after a year of so of being disguised as a blog for my Cajun French (as a second language) course. I'm still doing the Cajun or Louisiana French, but Cajun 101 is now a book (or two books really, Cajun for Kids and Elementary Louisiana French), but now that is all being compiled in the Books part of this web site (where it should have been all along).
Donavan's News is a framework for my new WIP, Close to Home, a book about localism and cutting lose from the corporate umbilical (shackle). Somehow I'll work the material into Phaneron, my new journal of phaneroscopy. (If you've been reading Donavan's Brain then you will have heard of Phaneron.) The plan is to write about a real place, Rocky Point, New York. Out of that analysis I'll be coming up with a practical plan for local development which will appear in the pages of Phaneron (soon).
And I probably never would have started this project (at least not now) if it hadn't have been for my interest in soccer. Read more…
After the morning soccer match in Southampton last Saturday we went out to lunch at the Publick House and then strolled around the village. On our way to Book Hampton we noticed a couple of guys playing guitars and singing under a tent. Then out in front of the Golden Pear there was another tent and performer. In the main park, there was a big stage and tents with food and drink vendors. By accident, we’d stumbled onto a celebration of something. “What’s this all about?” asked Denise. “Harvest?” Read more…
I’m reading David Crystal’s book, Language Death, to learn some of the causes and (hopefully) cures for declining languages and dialects (as part of my ongoing study of Louisiana French). On pp. 74-75 he quotes an Amnesty International report about human rights abuses in Brazil and connecting that with the destruction of certain of Brazil’s many indigenous languages. Read more…
Let’s get started. Throw away your TV. Simple as that. You don’t need it. Too extreme? Got a favorite show you want to watch? Alright, I admit it, I love Doctor Who. But I don’t love it so much that I’ll pay for cable or satellite. I wait until the episodes are available on blu-ray (stupid name). Read more…
reader + fiction = romance
Each week or so I post a short story inspired by a book and people who read. If you want to read the latest story, just click on the cover below. Enjoy!Donavan (October 12th, 2011 at 3:16 pm)
For the last week or so I’ve been reading my way through The Writer’s Tale, a collection of email correspondence exchanged between Russell T Davies (former head writer and showrunner for Doctor Who) and Benjamin Cook (television journalist and contributor to Doctor Who Magazine and Radio Times). The correspondence is a sustained examination of Davies’ creative process as he wrote series 4 of Doctor Who. I have the expanded paperback edition which is sub-titled “The Final Chapter.” Read more…Donavan (October 6th, 2011 at 3:29 pm)
Éric Rohmer’s films often have deceptively simple plots. They are so simple that people often miss them altogether. One example is the plot of Rohmer Conte de printemps / A Tale of Springtime. One review I chanced on claimed that there was no plot at all in this film. A casual viewer might indeed miss it. Read more…
Resist standardization. Destandardization promotes diversity.
Food values. Don't buy fast (trash) food, period. Don't ever. Find an alternative. Don't shop at supermarkets. If it comes in a package, you probably don't want to eat it (or drink it). Cook your own meals. Grow your own food, or get to know the person who grows your food. Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Read more…
Finishing. Neil Gaimin: "Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it." And then, David Hare: "Write only when you have something to say." Which brings us to Greg Guirard: "It's not that easy to say where one story ends and another begins, you know?"Donavan (September 28th, 2011 at 6:19 am)
And, I’ve discovered the subjectivity of spectation. Excuse the neologism. I could probably use spectating or observation, but I’d like to mash both words together into spectation just to be meddlesome. It’s really true that two people don’t see the same event in precisely the same way. One’s location (at least) enforces a difference of view. The scene I look at is necessarily different than the view anyone else has, just by virtue of our relative positions. Read more…
I know you aren't supposed to put all your eggs in one basket, but when it comes to my blog, Donavan's Brain, I have a different idea. A blog is the sort of framework (a machine?) where everything can be profitably dumped. So, what I'll probably do from now on is post everything that interests me here rather than try to keep it all separate. What I mean is that my many interests are actually all related. The common thread is Cajun culture. Read more…
Things have been quiet here (on the blog/site) for the last couple of weeks. Here’s the reason: I’ve been off on a two week tour of English and Welsh real ale pubs. I’m still distilling all the information I collected and will share some of that here and a few photos. Read more…
the labyrinth as a metaphor
The image of the labyrinth is on the verge of being overused; however, even though I will probably not make explicit use of the term labyrinth to describe my hypertext or my novels, it is worth making a few points explicit. First, a labyrinth is not a maze. A labyrinth is a delineation of space to facilitate wandering around some object placed at the center. Second, there is more than one way to get into and out of a labyrinth. One can enter and leave by several doors or openings. Read more…
If I got up for a moment and drew back my curtains to put myself in tune with the light, it was as a composer, who hearing in his head the symphony he is writing on paper scarcely needs to strike a note in order to make sure he is in tune with the real pitch of the instruments.
Marcel Proust, ``Contre Sainte-Beuve from `III The Days' ''
A Proustian Thread
Marcel Proust. Most famously the author of the very long novel À la recherche du temp perdu.
Monday, 7 March. Translating Proust's Title. I've been poking around on the Web to find Voltaire's translation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 30, but without success. ``In Search of Lost Time'' is almost a literal rendering into English of Voltaire's line: À la recherche du temps perdu . So you are right about the babelfished last step to get the new English title. Voltaire probably had stylistic reasons to translate ``remembrance of things past'' as he did. Proust did use Voltaire's translated line for his title, and Proust knew enough English to have appreciated the difference in the two lines. The best we can probably do in English is to use both ``In Search of Lost Time'' and ``Remembrance of Things Past'' since contrasting them gives people plenty to talk about--and that's what literature is all about.
Proust took his title from Voltaire's translation of a line in Shakespeare's Sonnet 30.
SONNET 30 by William Shakespeare.
WHEN to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thought I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
In her essay ``Proust and the private life'' Amy Kiernan reviews two other books about reading Proust. The review appeared in Humanitas, ( Volume XI, No. 1, 1998 ). The two other books are: Alain de Botton ``How Proust Can Change Your Life'' and Phyllis Rose's ``The Year of Reading Proust..'' de Botton's book is the better of the two. Rose might have read Remembrance of Things Past, but her own memoir is more like ``my interesting life and the famous people I know and here's what I think about stuff.'' Rose comes off as a Proustian character rather than a mediator or interpreter of Proust.
This is what Amy Kiernan says about the title: `` The sonnet captures Proust's experience far better than the more word-for-word translation does. In Search of Lost Time sounds vaguely scientistic, like a cross between a dig at the Aztec ruins and Einstein's Theory of Relativity. While I respect Kiernan's poetic sense and her loyalty to Shakespeare, Proust didn't just use Voltaire's translation because it used French words. Proust could have appreciated the differences between Shakespeare's English and Voltaire's French. Phyllis Rose likes the scientific sound of ``In Search of Lost Time'' because she thinks of Proust as some kind of Belle Epoch social scientist exploring the psychology of the people around him--Proust as the psychological chronicler of a generation.
The copy I have of Phyllis Rose's book about reading Proust is second hand and reader annotated. My first ``reading'' of Rose's book was to go through and see what the previous reader had underlined and commented on. I formed some impression of the previous reader based on these annotations. My reading of this book will be different from anyone else's reading because I'm also reading these unique annotations. If you want to read the same book, I would have to give you this physical copy.
A paper of mine entitled ``The Proustian theme in a letter from Keats to Benjamin Bailey'' was chuckled over by the six or seven scholars who read it.--Lolita (p. 16), Vladimir Nabokov
I feel like Nabokov's H.H. when he writes about the reception of his scholarly work. I've collected together a outline of the many references to Proust I've found in a non-systematic way. At first I was excited by finding references to Proust. But now I've discovered that Proust is in everything.
When I was a child I would play a game on long car trips. The point of the game was to spot a word or object that began with an `A'. Once found then I would look for a something that started with the letter `B'. The collection of objects found in this manner had no inherent meaning. Spotting these items was a pastime--something to distract me from the boredom of sitting in a car for hours on end.
Collecting references to Proust is a more adult version of the above game. Instead of working my way through the alphabet, I read whatever I want and make note of any reference to Proust I find. Sometimes I write the reference down. Most of the time I do not and try to remember where I saw or heard the reference. I've discovered that looking for references to Proust in literature is like trying to find sand at a beach.
In a way I am like the gleaners in Anges Varda's documentary Les gleaneurs et la gleaneuse/The gleaners and I. I am a literary gleaner. I comb through books and film for references to Marcel Proust. When I find a reference, I collect it. Then what?
Transform these found objects into art--the gleaners. A literary recycler.
I copied a quote from Nabokov's Lolita above. The voice is the confessional narrative of Humbert Humbert or H.H. The next sentance after the one I copied also interests me. H.H. says that he ``started to compile [a] manual of French literature for English-speaking students''. In a way, the notes I'm collecting here could be thought of as a manual of French literature and film for English-speaking students. Although, my collection of reflections and references is more like a stroll through a garden than a scholarly work. I lead you, Reader, on a tour of items I've collected in a little museum for my amusement. I will share with you anecdotes and stories. My tone is informal. I make no attempt to be comprehensive. We are having a conversation you and I. Speak to me, Reader. Tell me what you want to see.
I bought the annotated version of Lolita. In the note elaborating on the above copied line, the annotator, Alfred Appel, Jr., elaborates on references to Proust in Nabokov's work. Appel: ` H.H.'s ``Proustian theme'' is no doubt on the nature of time and memory.' Appel's sentence is curious. The nature of time and memory. Proust's novel, Àla Recherche du temp perdu/In search of lost time is an... I almost wrote enquiry into the nature of time and memory, but I hesitate to describe a novel as an enquiry, especially a work of art as grand and sophisticated as Proust's. Nabokov placed Proust's novel in his top four ``greatest masterpieces of twentieth-century prose.'' The annotator, Appel, lists these four us as: ``Joyce's Ulysses; Kafka's Transformation; Bely's St. Petersburg; and the first half of Proust's fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time.
``Ignatius Reilly (Confederacy of Dunes) is a grand comic Proust.'' About an hour after I wrote this note to myself, I came across the line in Toole's Confederacy of Dunes that describes Reilly as Proustian.