de great grumpenproletariat

November 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

i read today that a restaurant in mumbai is now serving bibimbap. this is exciting news and i have made a (mental) entry in the calendar (i don’t have) to put some in my mouth. 

in my final semester in college i would eat two dinners – one at 8pm and another at 10.30pm just as the mess was shutting – to make sure that i would not be hungry later in the night. around midnight i would open tastespotting however, and after that all bets were off. it was during these months that i first read about the lovely and attractive david chang, googling his restaurants and reviews of his food for weeks on end. his brand of NuKorean food, so to speak, has become very famous and very trendy (i am sure for excellent reason) but why i am writing about him is because i remember reading a long blogpost about his bibimbap.

bibimbap – if you wiki it – has at its very heart a a bunch of meat. it seems that a proteinous protein – not, you know, a half-assed vegetarian protein – is dressed up very nicely, and there is often a process to be followed in the partaking of it. i was not at the time a non-vegetarian but somehow this did not prevent me from getting into descriptions of meat-foods and enjoying them – and one of the most notable of the descriptions i have ever read is that blogpost on bibimbap. it (the blogpost) was carefully, precisely written, with a prayerful focus on the food and the process and the effect of the process on the enjoyment of the food. i held that writer’s hand on his journey, man. we had a moment and all. 

a real study, that post was. where are you now, post? how do i find you?

anyway, have you read any muriel spark? over a year ago i read the sublime the prime of miss jean brodie and since then, i’ve done what little i can to help her career along (i can’t. she’s dead.) by having this here muffin purchase for me her collected works. so i’ve been reading the comforters, which, as i suspect is true with everything spark has written, has a plot is just deliciously unobtrusive. the plot hangs softly through the novel like a sort of ectoplasmic scaffolding for the real story, which unfolds inside the characters’ minds. this is a truly attractive attribute in a book. maybe it is just how i approach books, because i have never been a fan of what is popularly described as ‘plot-driven writing’. that writing tends to be jerky and urgent and not at all hippie, and i am hippie, maaan. stop and smell the flowers, yaaaar. 

the comforters i read on the way to office on a train, but not on the way back. on the way back i read milan kundera’s the joke. this book made me adjust how i read books, a little, because there were some things to get used to. i could not simply flip through at high speed, gathering not much more than a Sparknotes impression in my head. if you are reading this book, in the beginning there is this discomfortingly self-aware expaaaansiveness to get used to in kundera’s writing style; this tendency to pull the machinations of an increasingly frantic reality to a grinding halt while we look at the audience and lean against the wheel and smoke and reflect on our impressions of the significance, of the *synchronicity* of this moment, with the rhythm of our lives

in the beginning i dismissed it as narcissistic and poorly edited writing, but i kept going. further in, i picked up on the book’s rhythm and began to see what it is about. each chapter approaches the conclusion with a sort of ponderous, tectonic certainty, and once you understand that, you begin to enjoy the little soliloquies as being what they are: a fantastic exercise in capturing the sense of time being eternally short in our physical realities while mysteriously managing to be in eternal abundance inside our heads. similarly also, of our realities being constrained by our positioning in time and space, but our – how do you say it – ‘inner selves’ living in lightheaded chimeras of the past, the dreamed past and just dreams. 

about the title: you read the book and see. there is a joke that is told by one of us, but the joke that is played is on all of us.

as for dreams, there are some things said about dreams in martin amis’ dead babies as well, but you can take this book or leave it. martin amis is a neurotic, imperfect, clever writer, and as such is worth a read, but i think he lacks an imagination. in this book it felt like the plots and characters were disposable little conceits to him; just goats on the altar of his narrow Ultimate Point. 

there are patches of clear, mercilessly articulated prose that you will be rewarded with if you sit through this book, but they will be secondary to the Much Bigger Point that absolutely must be made. and amis will make that point with a battering ram, he will wrestle it into the ground and kick its head in just to make sure, perhaps pee on it –  because why not – with a bored violence that gets tiresome very quickly.

i’m a bit tired of words and things, actually. maybe go here for some other stuff i do sometimes.

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