Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Piosenka na skok w nowy rok / A Song for the Leap into the New Year

Listen: [Kult, "Nowe tempa"]

My sentiment exactly: I wish us all that our times slow down and catch breath.

Reading for Repetitive Beginners

Repetitive beginners aren't those with just elementary reading skills. Not the ones who would always choose a film adaptation of a book over the book itself. It's the ones who have overeaten reading matter, which means that reading has eaten them and now they cannot help reading cereal boxes, descriptions of detergents, magazine ads, internet banter from facebook status updates to seedy gossip columns, emails (tons of emails), reviews, interviews. They've made reading the central element of their work and compulsory reading lists have eaten their attention. At home, all the novels have teeth.


I got a lovely email from an old friend. In high school we would give each other reading recommendations. I never kept track of what I was reading: allusions led to allusions, accidental choices always swept away designs. But my friend kept a reading journal and had a list of must-reads. He would put ticks by the titles in his journal. (I just had notebooks of quotations, which are now stowed away at my parents', so my feigned erudition plan fell through, we could say.)

The lovely email was like the letters we used to exchange in those dust-covered days of pleasure reading -- it was like a letter and chock-full of great reading recommendations.

Wonderful. But how do I explain that now when I have plenty of reading lists (mostly not devised by myself), I feel that I read almost nothing? Ever since I decided to study literature at university I have increasingly felt the teeth of books. Before that I would sometimes fall asleep with a book. Now I am always prodded by the pencil left between the pages.

In terms of recommendations, I feel like sending my friend this one link: to an article about Margaret Drabble's new book. I can really relate to Drabble's interest in jigsaw puzzles. I don't like them myself, but I know what it's like to desperately need a hobby other than reading.

I am currently knitting two scarves (I never thought I would knit anything, ever). Because of the scarves I haven't posted anything here in a longer while.

But I send my love to the accidental internet tourists and friends who might stop by.
Recommendations for me on how to respond to that letter and/or reading recommendations, please!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


A wonderful relief from authoritarian stylists -- costume-y delight enveloped in intriguing sounds.

(I wish I could be as pithy in the book review I'm working on.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oryks i Derkacz

Czyżby świat przedstawiony w powieści Oryks i Derkacz* Margaret Atwood już chwytał nas za gardła?

Pogarda wobec nauk humanistycznych prowadzi do tego, że "specjaliści" nie rozumieją znaczenia i konsekwencji własnych działań. I nie zdają sobie z tego sprawy, niestety.

Ten list z Gazety Wyborczej niestety utwierdza mnie w przekonaniu, że wspólnym językiem dziedzin i krajów staje się nie tyle angielski, co pieniądz. (I zdaję sobie sprawę, jak naiwnie to brzmi, ale z drugiej strony nie uważam, że przyjęcie tego po prostu do wiadomości załatwia sprawę.) Nie będę pisać o tym, jak to wygląda na mojej uczelni, ale nie jest wesoło. Oryksa i Derkacza czytają studenci na seminarium mojego kolegi, a powinni też przeczytać tę książkę konsultanci, którzy tną nam budżet i likwidują wydziały humanistyczne.

W liście do Wyborczej czytamy:

Mój kolega M. wkrótce przestanie być studentem i wkroczy w świat krawatów i dużych pieniędzy. Może z czasem, jako uznanemu fachowcowi, ktoś zaproponuje mu stanowisko w administracji państwowej albo zleci jego firmie zrobienie ekspertyzy dla jakiegoś ministerstwa? Mam tylko nadzieję, że nie będzie to ministerstwo odpowiedzialne ani za kulturę, ani za szkolnictwo wyższe.

... i ciarki przechodzą.

*Yes, I do mean Oryx and Crake. I haven't read The Year of the Flood yet but I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Miracles Happen

Our miraculous finding at the local co-op: ogórki kiszone. One of the foods I miss the most. How do I like them best? (No, not as something to bite on between shots of vodka, though that's one way to have them. And the salt water from the jar helps heal hangover.) I like them sliced, on a kanapka (open sandwich??? one slice of bread) with cheese.

What else?

Chruściki in an ultra-patriotic box -- that's how you know they're made in the USA and not imported. The white eagle tells you so. We haven't opened them yet. I hope they're at least as good as the ones my grandma used to make (she used too much oil and relied on pre-war cookbooks).

And finally:

Imported from Poland -- which means it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup, it's smoked, and not ground to a pulp like the American "Polish kielbasa" products. And the package has delightful spelling mistakes -- final proof that it comes from Poland in its entirety.

We also found pierogi with mushrooms and dried forest mushrooms. There will be barszcz and bigos this Christmas, albeit experimental.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Dreary Lot of a Bookseller

Found on the internet: The Book Mine -- Stupid Quotes

A sample:

(man gazing around)
"You have a lot of books."
"Yes and they could all be yours!"
"What would I do with them?"
"Read them?"
"Why? I read one once."