So the reading project continues to be a bit on the grim side. I’m trying really hard to read “Some Motifs in Baudelaire” which is one of the best things ever to be put on paper and has as its subject one of my top five all-time great essay topics (how compelling Freud’s ideas become when you realize that pathology/trauma is a difference in measure and not in kind), but even that is slow going. I have started with The Fugitive again, and have high hopes of being done with the whole stupid thing this year. Cross your fingers.
I was thinking about what I was doing at work and for my classes, and it occurred to me that I wasn’t writing enough code for either, because my tasks were specifically defined enough that I didn’t really need to do much more than fill in a template (although before you get any ideas, that template does indeed reside in my head.) Despite feeling a little harried already, I decided I needed a tinkering project. Initially I was going to write one tiny application a day, but after talking with known computer-wizard Gnarles “Fighting Quaker” Chen I decided making something small (but hopefully somewhat functional) on Monday and monkeying with it for the rest of the week was a better idea. I’m glad I did, because my first project which I thought would be a total toss-off (converting from any int representation — taken as a string from argv — to any other) turned out to be a way bigger pain than I thought it would be, and I’m pretty sure it’s due for at least one catastrophic revision (hopefully involving turning a bunch of atoi-like conversions into a process of setting bits; promise: fulfilled.)
So I have not been doing a lot of reading. In addition to, you know, the job (which is going to involve actually being “on call” next week, I’ve been taking classes. So maybe instead on talking about philosophers I can pass on some bit-shifting hacks here are something. You love bit-shifting hacks, right?
Well, too bad for you, because I’m still not very handy with them so you are going to have to wait.
As mentioned elsewhere, I was in San Francisco recently. It sort of tugged at me, which I feel somewhat ambivalent about. It’s easy to attribute it to pining for lost yoofs, but I think there is something in its nature which will always be more familiar than Portland. I guess the fact that I left it because it wasn’t urban enough made it inevitable that I would end of pining for the urban qualities that it does possess.
S/Z is a book in which Barthes looks very closely at a story by Balzac, exploding the core-text’s 20 or so pages into something on the order of 200 pages of codes, unpacking of nested meanings, references and various other things that an author hides, both consciously and unconsciously, in a text. I read through the introduction where he makes an introduction to this project and talks a bit about his methods.
Like The Pleasure of the Text and Camera Lucida there is a romanticization (or indeed an eroticization) of the act of interpretation, but S/Z gives a lot less credence to the personal than either of those works. Barthes was the last and greatest haute-modernist and it is really on display here. Like some kind of super-Hegel he derives from Zola’s story not just its time, but subsequent history as well, all against a matrix of types of semes.
I have been reading “Camera Lucida,” and I’ve also been having a massive geek-out and entries about each of those things are coming up. Also, the latter has still-unresolved drama so stay the-fuck tuned.
So I was standing in line at the Safeway down the street and I glanced, as I often do, at the tabloid racks. One of them was purporting to publish a list of the people Obama “wants silenced.” At the bottom of the cover was a picture of Whitney Houston, and for a minute I thought that Whitney was one of Obama’s mortal enemies. Sadly, closed examination revealed that there was an unrelated story about Whitney still being “addicted to” Bobby Brown. Too bad, I would have bought the paper.
Note to tabloid writers: I will take out a lifetime subscription to you magazine if you can write even a single story linking Obama to the Jon-Benet Ramsey case.
In case you haven’t been following along, the ladyfriend and I picked up a house. Some portion of this process was recorded for television. In fact, we’ve just soldiered through our last shoot, so I guess the completion of the process is official. I am landed.
My feelings about this are not wholly unequivocal. Up until about 9 months ago, I hadn’t really planned on buying property any time in my thirties, and I’m pretty sure I’ve always assumed that I just wouldn’t ever have a detached house. I mean, I’m not really the kind, right?
What this shift means is still up in the air, along with everything else until all the detritus around here is beaten into some semblance of order.