Archive for the ‘Gulliver's Travels’ Category

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In Search of In Search of Lost Time…

November 8, 2009

Well at least volume 1 of In Search of Lost Time a.k.a. Swann’s Way. Who knew this book, probably Proust’s most famous, would be so difficult to come by.

In any case, after trips to several local book stores, I was finally able to track a copy down. So, consider me ready to read.

Oh, before we close the book on Gulliver’s Travels, I’ve been meaning to ask:

Did this run through your head on a continuous loop while you were reading about Houyhnhnm Land?

Justin

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Gulliver Traveled

November 5, 2009

Well Twin…I, too, finally finished. I read the adventures of Houyhnhnm over yesterday and today. I think this was my favorite part of the book. I liked the second half of this book significantly more than the first half–maybe its because I had expectations and ideas of what would occur in Lilliput and Brobdingnag–but not so for Houyhnhnm (in fact I was quite surprised–horses acting like people!) , Laputa, Glubbdubdrib, etc.

Anyway…I thought Houyhnhmn was pretty enthralling…but also simultaneously horrifying. The idea of these horse sitting on their haunches discussing politics–I found it utterly unsettling. (It still kind of makes me uncomfortable).

My one bone of contention would be Swift’s anthropomorphization of the horses. Why (I ask why!) would advanced horses sit on their haunches, do needlework, and generally act more human I felt that the disrespect for animals otherness was an echo to what we saw in The Wind In the Willows).

And you what I thought of The Wind In the Willows (Spoiler Alert: I’m not a fan).

I was also surprised by how quickly that Gulliver turned his back on his fellow men, the Yahoos. A fair weather man our Lemmy.

I did happen upon a nice little coincidence while reading…as Gulliver lands in Portugal he writes “We arrived at Lisbon, Nov.5, 1715.” — tomorrow’s November 5th! I finished my travels with Gulliver on almost the same day (give or take a hundred years) that he himself finished his journey (or almost finished his journey–okay so maybe its not so much of a coincidence.)

I’m looking forward to reading something a little more modern…I’m thinking I’ll probably try to start our Proustian adventure sometime over the weekend.

Until then,
Jon

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In Defense of the Golden Beaker

November 4, 2009

My last post was written in haste, and I didn’t have a chance to respond to your comments. Really, I just wanted to let you know I finished the book. (Before you, I believe, not that it’s a competition, but just so you know it’s not a competition that I keep winning.) But now that I have more time, let me be less hasty…

Due to both the berevity and haste of my last post I was not able to fully provide a rebuttal to your rather scathing re-creation of our recreation(al science). Your jealousy of my domination of the Jeffryes Family Golden Beaker is sad. While I admit it was probably due to my showmanship more than my science. (Boy, could I make those funnels spin). In fact, I like to think that if Jan de Bont had seen my spectacular spinning his jaw would have dropped and he would have said “Now, there is a Twister!”

And I don’t know how to break it to you, but when you drop a half eaten Butterfinger on the ground and you pick it up and there are specks of dirt and grit on it, you haven’t “created matter.” (And as a follow-up note, said Butterfinger should not be eaten.) Oh, and that hardly counts as a science project in my book.

As for the picture you posted you fail to mention the ugly turn things took after you snapped that candid shot. Remember how Colonial Jenny accused me of witchcraft and stealing her essence with my “shutterflash,” and then she went “all colonial on my ass.”

One final thought, you have a magical gift for period speak. Methinks thou should continuest in this tradition merrily. (I don’t know if what I wrote makes any sense.)

Anyway, let me know when you’re finished. I still have to track down a copy of Swann’s Way, but should be ready to start reading when (or should I say if) you finish reading Gulliver’s Travels.

Justin

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A Parting Image from Houyhnhnm Land

November 2, 2009

A horse (or Houyhnhnm, if you like) threading a needle.

That is the image that I’ll take with me from my time in Houyhnhnm Land.

And with that, I finished the book. (Just to let you know.)

Swann’s Way, next, eh? Well, give me some time before we start, I have to set things up so that I can write my posts while laying in bed and I have to perfect my madeliene recipe. Oh, and I need to get a copy of the book.

Enjoy the rest of your Travels,
Justin

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Weird Science

November 1, 2009

Wow there’s a lot to unpack from that last post…but I think I’m going to start with that still-contested science jamboree.

And I’m going to start by asking questions:

1.  What makes the “Law” of Conservation of Mass a law? Because Newton said so.  Who voted on it, I sure as heck didn’t.  If Newton said “Verily, I think it should be a law that people named Isaac Newton have bigger brains, sharper wits and more handsome visages than all others” would that be a law?  You’d probably say yes.  (P.S.  I also think that Calculus is a myth).

2.  If I didn’t create that matter then where did it come from?  Where?

3.   Each year you taped two two-liter bottles filled with water together and exclaimed “Behold, weather in bottle!  Whoosh!”  and each year you walked away with that damn Golden Beaker.  How is that fair?  (I created matter!) You were all flash and little substance (while with my created matter I was nothing but substance).

I’m glad to have gotten that off my chest.  Now to move onto the section of your post concerning Gulliver and history…

I, too, liked this part…how Gully got to meet historical figures and found out that those who were most lauded often did not live up to their historical reputations (Isaac Newton, ahem.)  But I hadn’t thought about its likeness to everyone’s favorite historical vacation destination Colonial Williamsburg.  But when you mentioned it I could only nod my head and mutter “Right on.” It also made me remember our trip to Colonial Williamsburg when you barged into history:

Just as we were taking this picture the militia stormed saying “Forsooth ye shall sunder a hole in the space-time contiuum… if such a thing exists which, of course, we can’t be sure of!”

Ah, vacations.

I really liked the second part of part three (not to get too granular). I had two particularly favorite parts…the first is when Gulliver learns of the Struldbuggs of Luggnagg and decides that if he lived forever he’d do all of these wonderful things…get rich young and then live off that wealth for eternity while he hung out with the other immortals and had a gay old time. And I thought to myself. Really, Gulliver? Really? Because my guess is that if you were immortal you’d probably just spend a lot more time getting on boats and getting lost.
(I mean having “adventures”).

And I like this quote from the beginning of Part III’s Book 11:

I thought this account of the Struldbuggs might be some entertainment to the reader, because it seems to be a little out of the common way; at least, I do not remember to have met the like in any book of travels that hath come to my hands: and, if I am deceived, my excuse must be, that it is necessary for travellers who describe the same country, very often to agree in dwelling on the same particulars, without deserving the censure of having borrowed or transcribed from those who wrote them before.

Now, three quarters of the way into the book, Lemmy is justifying adding a story. And a story that was actually interesting. What’s your excuse for Brobdingnag, huh Gulliver?

Anyways I thought it was cute.

As to finishing…I’m thinking today or tomorrow. I’m ready to move on for sure.

And I’ve picked our next book…drum roll please…Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust. Yes, let’s delve into this world of French society, the meaning of memory, homoeroticism and, best of all, cookies. I’ll be reading the Lydia Davis translation (if you want to “twin” our translations

Until then,
Jon

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Lilliputian Comings

October 27, 2009

And, of course, by that I mean short comings…both Jonathan Swift’s and mine…but first I’d like to reply directly to your post.

I agree wholeheartedly…it seems foolhardy, if not downright reckless for these shipmen to keep inviting Lemmy on board.  This book must have taken place during the great boat doctor shortage of the early 17th Century.

But I disagree wholeheartedly with your thought that the description of Laputa was the aftereffect of a “bad trip.”  Indeed, I welcomed this introduction of whimsy into what was quickly becoming a slightly stale story.  But then Swift quickly got back to form and started making the book boring again.  Swift starts talking  the lode-stone and Jon starts skimming.

Which is the shortcoming I mentioned earlier…Gulliver’s Travels is quickly joining the ranks of Vanilla Sky, The Riches, and the Little House on the Prairie series of books.  Things that start interesting but quickly devolve into boring chores (These Happy Golden Years indeed!).

So I’m going back to reading for the poop jokes, and here luckily Swift delivers.  When describing the studies going on at the Academy of Balnibarbi Gulliver sees a scholar who’s project is “an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food; by separating the several parts; removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale; and scumming off the saliva.”  Good luck with that!  (But poop, it’s nice to have you back.)

Now to the Lilliputian (read short) coming of my own.  I truly intended to be finished with part three by the start of this week…but I was distracted by a disc of the Gilmore Girls final season–and how am I supposed to focus on this book when Lorelai and Chris’s marriage is dissolving before my eyes?!  I ask you–how?!

But I’m close (ish) and I’m going to finish by the end of the month if it kills me (and it might).

Boy am I ready for a new book…

Jon

 

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This Post is Brought to You by the Letter “Y”

October 24, 2009

I guess rather than the letter “Y” this post is brought to you by the question, “Why?”

As in: Why would anyone want Lemuel Gulliver to be a part of their traveling party?

We are not even a page into section 3 before William Robinson starts hitting ol’ Lemuel up for joining his crew. Not only does he make visit after visit he offers to pay him double (Double!?!) the normal salary.

One might think that Gully after his last two sea voyages might have, I don’t know, something of a reputation among the sea-faring community. Perhaps as being, I don’t know, bad luck. Let’s see he’s only been abducted by giants and miniature men voyages scheduled to take months leave him asea for years on end.

It’s sort of like a sightseeing boat vying for Gilligan’s services.

Let me just say, if I ever found myself in a fictional 18th century England, hired as a boat hand, and I found that Gulliver was on my crew, I might re-think my employment options.

Luckily, I don’t think the chances of that happening are very great.

I too am on my way to Laputa. After reading the first chapter in part III I am pretty sure that 1 of 2 things is true:

1.) Gulliver is a crackpot.
2.) Guilliver is abused some extremely potent hallucinogenic drugs. (An island in the sky? Really, Gulliver, really?)

Well, I hope you are reading remains Swift (Don’t start a battle of puns with me, Twin Brother. It is a battle you cannot win.)

Happy reading,

Justin