Sunday Morning! “Ducks, Newburyport”

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq
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    I’ve been getting into the Shardelake novels by CJ Sansome. These are Tudor era mysteries where our historical detective is.a lawyer during the time of Henry VIII and now Edward VI.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    The “emperor wears no clothes” thing is not a new or novel thought. That kind of reverse snobbery, anti-intellectualism has been around for a long time. Maybe forever. Uylsses is a difficult novel. I have tried to read it multiple times and failed. But I will continue trying until successful. I sense its greatness and there are truly great passages and themes. I’ve heard other people be more dismissive and state “Uylsses is the kind of book that college sophomores walk around with in order to appear smart.”

    The statement strongly implies or explicitly states that no one can truly enjoy difficult art or something that tries to be experimental. All art that tries to be anything but entertainment is merely wankery for the haute-bourgeois bohemians. Other times I’ve experienced this is if when I say I am going to see a play that is a bit daring or not a conventional plot. For example, one of my favorite experiences in the theatre was the New York production of The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard. It is a three-play cycle on 19th century Russian intellegentsia. In February, I am finally going to go see Elevator Repair Service perform Gatz, it is a six-hour interpretation of the Great Gatsby. When I tell people that I enjoy these things, it is not uncommon for them to look at me like I have three heads. It is often very hard to find people willing to see them with me. Sometimes people more or less ask me “do you know about this thing called fun?”

    I know at OT that I am known as being the big scold against geek culture. But one of the reasons I maintain that is because we seem to live in an age when the poptimists of all sort rule. Everyone wants to do super-analysis of pop culture and high culture is looked down upon. You are supposed to write essay after essay about the greatness of Lizzo, not Ducks, Newburyport.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw
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      Yeah, that sort of thing goes both ways, right? I know some people who won’t ever watch the movie “Joker” and it’s because they can’t stand what that movie’s all about- while they haven’t actually seen the movie!

      As far as the reverse thing, it seems like advanced level snobbery, when someone says “Not only do I get Ulysses, but I get it better than you do because it’s far beneath my refined tastes!”

      I actually read it when working in a printing press after high school and my job on the sorting machine was so tedious that I could read a page, pull the lever on the machine, read a page, pull the lever, etc. I loved it. I think I was at the right age and place. Do I understand all of Ulysses? Nope, I don’t think so. I will say I still enjoy it immensely. If you get the chance, go to an Irish pub for “Bloomsday” and listen to actors read from it- the jokes come alive.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw
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      tired: the Emperor was the villain
      wired: the crowd was the villain
      inspired: the kid was the villain

      “Everyone wants to do super-analysis of pop culture and high culture is looked down upon. ”

      that’s because pop culture is common to all persons and thus provides a meaningful framework to base intellectual discussions on without needing to spend an entire college course setting participants up with the canon.

      the “high culture” you slather so much lip-juice on was the pop culture of yesterday. Shakespeare was the Michael Bay of the 16th Century.Report

  3. Avatar PD Shaw
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    My wife and I saw Non-Fiction today, part of a local international film series that we regularly bought season tickets until almost twenty years ago. I’m not sure any one of the films would be ones we would have sought out, but its nice to be forced out of the convenience of home-viewing of precisely whatever one wants to watch.

    Non-fiction feels like a Woody Allen movie, engaging a fairly narrow educated/artistic class that spends its times eating, drinking and having affairs, all along bristling with navel-gazing dialogue about the impending collapse of culture brought upon by the digital age. Most of the main characters work in publishing, acting or labor politics and verge on being boomer reactionaries, facing a public that’s been lured away from higher things by tweets and Amazon.

    As a matter of personal reflection, I first saw Juliette Binoche’s breasts in the 1980s and to see them again in the twenties is to be confronted with my own mortality and her immortality. Strange.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F.
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    I had not heard of Non-Fiction. It also sounds like a typical French movie- are there lots of discussions around meals and a few characters having affairs? I think most French actresses are immortal. and possibly vampires.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rufus F.
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      You can do worse for an object of worship than a beautiful French woman.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Rufus F.
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      Not a ‘few characters,’ pretty much all of the main characters. I think its a French movie, but other than the affairs and some smoking, not a lot stands out about this culture being that different from a similar slice in America.

      Next week we see Capernaum, though tomorrow we’re watching Star Wars.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to PD Shaw
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        Mais bien sûr! This is a running joke I have with my roommate, who’s a French Canuck- there are many wonderful French movies, or at least there have been. But, modern French movies are like 95% about bourgeois Parisians discussing their affairs over lavish dinners. This might be why the majority never cross the pond. There are definitely Americans who can relate, but even I’d rather watch superheroes discussing whatever it is that gets discussed in those movies.Report

  5. Avatar DensityDuck
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    This book actually sounds interesting, sort of an experiment in “live-blog as literary mode”.

    I’ve been reading the Slough House series; spy-thriller stories about a department in the UK intelligence service that is a sort of Failed Agent Repository, like The Village from “The Prisoner” only done by the guys from Brazil, where agents who’ve screwed up are sent to do horribly boring drudge work in a terrible environment in hopes that they’ll quit (and, therefore, not be owed pensions or severance benefits or be able to claim Discriminatory Retaliation).

    Since this is a thriller series, of course the agents have all kinds of exciting adventures, have Mysterious Dark Pasts, are Maybe Not Actually Screw-Ups, etc.

    This has got enough heat that they’re making an Amazon Original series for it, with Gary Oldman leading the cast (apparently he’s got the taste for Old Spy Bastards.)

    If you like Spy Thriller stuff, give this one a shot; the first book is “Slow Horses”.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David
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    Still reading book 1 of The Sea of Fertility – Spring Snow. It is dense, my reading speed has dropped, but there is at least one beautiful, intensely well-constructed sentence every other page. I think four books Mishima at once would be a sensory overload of the literary sort. I did stop for a short break by rereading At the Mountains of Madness. Mid-winter beach reading at its finest.

    I am not a fan of stream of consciousness writing, so I doubt that I will pick Ducks… up. Joyce was at his best, at least in my opinion, in shorter works such as The Dead. But, I feel that about many lauded authors. Then again, this didn’t stop me from naming my son after one of his books. So, he’s got that going for him, which is nice.Report

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