Read, Viewed: September 2021

During September I finished reading Gene Wolfe’s acclaimed scifi-fantasy novel Shadow of the Torturer as well as a short story by Adalbert Stifter, apparently a luminary of 19th century German literature. And watched “Go Karts,” an inspiring Bildungsroman. Okay, not really. Just a movie about a kid that races gokarts.

9/1
Narcos: Mexico (2018–), 1.1-2. Prior to having watched this I found myself repeatedly exasperated at the number of Netflix offerings to the lore of the narco. It reminds me of that great episode of Law and Order where a character whose father had been killed by mafia complains about how we idolize and celebrate a bunch of scumbags (this actress went on to play a not insignificant role in The Sopranos).
So watching Narcos: Mexico was an expression of fatigue.

Diego luna and joaquín casio in narcos: mexico (2018–), yet another story about drug lords
Diego Luna and Joaquín Casio in Narcos: Mexico (2018–), yet another story about drug lords

9/2
Narcos: Mexico, 1.3-5. Yet I highly esteem the actor Diego Luna, who plays El Padrino Félix Gallardo (to whose Wikipedia page I will not link!), for his character (Cassian Andor) in the best of all of the Star Wars films, Rogue One (2016). In the beginning of Narcos, he channels the nobility of that character, but as you might imagine, it does not last.

Diego luna as cassian andor in the 2016 film rogue one, to my mind the only truly successful star wars film.
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in the 2016 film Rogue One, to my mind the only truly successful Star Wars film.

9/3
Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer, 15 pp. This book has sat on my shelves long enough. As you might have surmised, the W-Z box of books opened before it made its way back onto a shelf (tempted to break into Woolf or even Thomas Wolfe!).
Chef Flynn (2018). Some genuine wonder if the excitement was about his age or his food (or both … or neither!). Only time will tell.

9/4
Shadow of the Torturer, 25 pp. Enjoying these pages turning.
Narcos: Mexico 1.6-7

9/5
Shadow of the Torturer, 30 pp.

Baby Driver (2017): This movie answers the question, how do we tame the savage beast in the moments between car chase sequences? Musical overdubs sequences with something that is neither dancing nor musical performance.

9/8
Baby Driver (2017), 90 minutes. Schlecht. Freaking stupid. So predictable. And doing such violence to some genuinely good music. This is the movie that solves the problem, how do we tame the savage beast in the moments between car chase sequences? Musical overdubs sequences with something that is neither dancing nor musical performance.
Shadow of the Torturer, 40 pp. I suspect only I’m stupid enough to allow myself these intellectual oversights, but I generally do not assume that a book is about a torturer until I find out from the source itself. I frequently completely ignore whatever guidance a title offers about its contents.
So I am somewhat pleased to learn that this is a book that actually concerns torturers. And descriptions of torture. Not to say that I enjoy the latter. Actually, the one description was viscerally uncomfortable.
But the scene I just read presented a device not unlike what Kafka describes in “In The Penal Colony,” and there is no one who isn’t fascinated by that (well, no one worth mentioning).

9/9
Shadow of the Torturer, 70 pp. Kept reading and reading because I was looking forward to him arriving at the small town telling us more about becoming a Carnifax, but instead the narrative went into some weird episodic state. Kind of disappointed. Doubting my earlier enthusiasm.

9/10
Shadow of the Torturer, 20 pp. Hasn’t gotten to the duel yet. More sexual innuendo with Agila and Dorcas. But the Garden episodes were interesting, being both about teleportation and storytelling and interpretation.

9/12
Shadow of the Torturer, 20 pp.
Narcos: Mexico, 1.9-10

9/13
Shadow of the Torturer, 15 pp.

9/14
— Finished Shadow of the Torturer
Forbidden Games (1952): A beautiful film that inspired thinking on the unique forms of mourning expressed by children.

Trailer for the 1952 film Forbidden Games

9/15
A Few Good Men (1992)
Alien Covenant (2017)

9/16
— NYRB: James Gleick on clocks

Still from the film go karts (2019)
Still from the film Go Karts (2019)

9/17
Go Karts (2019)
— Wolfe, Claw of the Conciliator, 5 pp.

9/18
—— NYRB on art during the Cold War, Ravenna, and the reasoning for the Iraq War
Kate (2019)

9/19
Claw of the Conciliator, 10 pp.

Promotional image for anchorman: the legend of ron burgundy (2004)
Promotional image for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

9/20
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004): Boredom is a horrible thing. Now according to Heidegger boredom is the condition for a fundamental attunement. I’m pretty sure that no such attunements have occurred during the view of Anchorman, which is mildly amusing, to be sure.

9/22
The Crown, 3.1
— NYRB on Jacqueline Rose, the APL

9/23
Adalbert Stifter, “Rock Crystal”, 25 pp.

9/24
The Crown, 3.2
— Finished Stifter

9/25
— NYRB on rehistoricizing the Mongols

9/26
— NYRB on Heine
The Crown, 3.3

The front cover of gene wolfe's the claw of the conciliator
The front cover of Gene Wolfe’s The Claw of the Conciliator

9/27
— NYRB on sea wrecks, WeWork
Claw of the Conciliator, 30 pp.

9/28
— Schelling, Philosophy of Art, 20 pp.
Claw of the Conciliator, 10 pp.

9/30
Claw of the Conciliator, 20 pp.
— NYRB on people who choose not to have children because of environmental collapse


Curious what I’ve read and viewed lately?