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Hail Odin! by Christenklatscher666


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Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West

At last got around to reading my first novel by McCarthy - went into it basically "blind" & it definitely surpassed all my expectations. It's often referred to as an "anti-Western", but compared to it e.g. the movies of Peckinpah or Alex Cox's Walker are like children's cartoons (though the latter does capture some of the immorality at least in spirit if not in imagery). It's aesthetically more akin to the apocalyptic paintings of Pieter Bruegel, the landscapes of Bloodborne or death metal (curiously also conceived in the mid-80s). Its imagery is propped up by a unique language style which is often archaic but strangely poetic with its abstract similes and deceivingly simplistic and-structures (cf. Whitman).

I'll just drop a few quotes here:
>"They rode on and the sun in the east flushed pale streaks of light and then a deeper run of color like blood seeping up in sudden reaches flaring planewise and where the earth drained up into the sky at the edge of creation the top of the sun rose out of nothing like the head of a great red phallus until it cleared the unseen rim and sat squat and pulsing and malevolent behind them."
>"In truth they didnt look like men who might have whiskey they hadn't drunk"
>"He hooted softly and his voice passed from him like a gift that was also needed so that no sound of it echoed back. He entered the water. Before the river reached much past his waist he'd lost his footing and sunk from sight. Now the judge on his midnight rounds was passing along at just this place stark naked himself - such encounters being commoner than men suppose or who would survive any crossing by night - and he stepped into the river and seized up the drowning idiot, snatching it aloft by the heels like a great midwife and slapping it on the back to let the water out. A birth scene or a baptism or some ritual not yet inaugurated into any canon."

Also just ended up watching John David Ebert's commentary in it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtQsY5369GI
He rambles a bit and some of his interpretation (esp. regarding the ending) is questionable, but I appreciated it for the historical/geographical facts, esp. about the different Native American tribes and their precursors.
No. 57403 Kontra
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Don't want to veer off too far from discussions of the written word but I just had a galaxy-brained moment for a second when I figured out the missing link btw Bruegel and Bloodborne is of course the late Kentaro Miuara's great manga Berserk (started in 1988 - sth about those 80s huh). Which now that I think about it has quite a few parallels with Blood Meridian, even a big bald guy somewhat reminiscent of the Judge though I doubt there were any direct influences.
No. 57427
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This is literally not literature at all but well here's the books thread so
Did anybody ever read/look at these picture books as a kid? I think they truly do deserve the title of fantastic for once. I distinctly remember the tank one, some type of sailing/galleons one, and a medieval castles one in fact I'm so smitten by it I'm now considering trying to find a few used copies of my childhood books for cheap. I am an adult now and I want the whole collections. I never got the chance to see inside things like Giant Machines and Giant Buildings. I forget how detailed they are for descriptors from an engineering standpoint or if they'd go into any detail about load bearing structures and so on. In retrospect I think of these as kids books but maybe they weren't illustrated just for kids
Man am I now getting serious flashbacks to how fucking dumb and boring I thought all the other children were and likely still are as adults
No. 57443
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It's basically literary junkfood but I've just finished reading World War Z by Max Brooks (again).
Also the Zombie Survival Guide.

There's a few remarks I wanted to make about it but can't remember right now, beyond it being amusing in retrospect reading it again a decade into the future after a pandemic where China basically did act like in the book but think he ended up being way off the mark to what would actually happen. Not just China's effective response at least compared to Westerners and third world countries, but also the fact that a zombie plague is basically a mass civil disturbance and pandemic all rolled into one so I have no doubt the PLA would just shoot everyone in the head and try to make it sound like they're cracking down on dissidents.

Also the author's murican exceptionalism may come across as a bit cringey to certain non-murican audiences, which also in future tense looking back from when I first read it is way off the mark because clearly murican society will simply break down. We won't likely unite into some Team America making some inspiring speech at the UN, but rather immediately descend into rioting, violence, mass chaos, and civil war. Basically, I think that we'd act like China did in WWZ. It's Mel Brooks' son so he has a somewhat pro-Israel bias too, which I'm not entirely sure I agree with both that and depiction of the Arabs in that regard, but otherwise is probably pretty accurate, also mirroring reality with right wing Orthodox basically acting like moronic jackasses fucking things up for everyone just like they basically did for Israelis IRL for this pandemic.

Honestly it's just a really funalso paranoia inducing at night book that's a lot more interesting when you read it after the 2020-2021 pandemic and gauge where the author may be uncannily accurate or hilariously off. He also lampshades the fact his zombie survival guide is basically murican perspective and so a good amount of it isn't really applicable to non-Americans, i.e. everyone just going out and getting a sidearm and his advice about freeways.
No. 57445 Kontra
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Also here, this book was published in 2006 and here is the map of his future predictions for life after the gobal zombie war. Rate
No. 57451 Kontra
>That map
Hahaha oh wow
No. 57462 Kontra
Your review gave me really want to read this novel. I placed it in top of my list.
No. 57505
That map is even worse than most fantasy world maps.
No. 57571
Pelevin also has entire book with Galkovsky as main character, in which he meets with KGB officer on Sosach /fg/ board (one for transgenders). The joke is that Galkovsky calls his fans "ducks" and sosach trannies call each other "ducks" too. Also it has form of review in progressive left-wing journal on Galkovky's book about his own adventures.
But it's garbage, most of Pelevin's recent writings are just low effort funposting for money.
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Yu Hua - Chronicle of a Blood Merchant

Second novel by Yu Hua I read this month.
I encountered its title first in English, and based on that I expected it to be some gripping tale of someone trying to cope with the fact that he's profiting off blood donations in China, but the plot of the novel has nothing to do with the institution of "blood merchants" aside from the fact that the main character uses their services to sell his blood.

The Hungarian title is different yet again, it's "The Blood-giver's Chronicle" or "The Blood Donor's Chronicle". Because the two titles mean very different things I decided to quickly check the Chinese original, and it's "The Record of Xu Sanguan's Blood-seeling", but I initially interpreted it as "Xu Sanguan the Blood-seller" on the tram, because I thought 卖血记 formed a single word and 记 was actually denoting an occupation or doing something on the regular like in 记者 (Reporter), because I mixed up the two characters. It's actually 者 that denotes an occupation or doing something regularly, so it's like "记 record/chronicle 者 -er" in this word.

I liked this one more than "To Live". The relationship between the characters felt deeper and more genuine, even if ultimately it had no coherent plot to work towards to. It was more like a collection of episodes from the Xu Family's life from circa 1948 to the 70s, usually involving adultery, conflict with the neighbours or a historical event like the cultural revolution and the great leap forward impacting the family's wealth and daily life.

Honestly if you cut some of the episode short, you could make a pretty sick stage adaptation of this. The sometimes repeated dialogues are asking to be played out live. Like when Xu Yulan starts crying, inevitably ending in a monologue that starts with "What did I do in my past life to deserve x and y?", eventually even the author omits these, which would imply that on stage the actor would repeat it but the other characters would go on ignoring it while its played out in the background.

I never read a book that was good by itself but is actually begging to be adapted/changed for a different medium like this one.
The repetitions of blood giving, the monologues and the dialogues at the blood-boss' office especially would make very fine gags on stage. (It has an "all is well that ends" well type of ending, so I think it wouldn't be that alien to stage it as a sort of tragicomedy.)
The dialogue is where it really shines in my opinion. It's very lively.

The plot is basically that one day Xu Sanguan encounters two peasants and he accompanies them to donate blood to prove that he's healthy and strong before marriage. For this, he earns 35 yuans, which he spends on marrying Xu Yulan. They have three sons, but as it later turns out, Yulan got raped by her former suitor, which means that the first child Xu Yile isn't Sanguan's. This serves as a basis for a series of conflicts throughout the novel.
Usually an episode involves either a conflict around Yile and Sanguan's relationship, or something that saps the family's funds, forcing Sanguan to sell his blood to earn enough money to fix the problems.

The "Chronicle" word does make sense, because otherwise the plot never really "goes" anywhere, even if the last episode + the epilogue does feel like it's more high stakes than the other conflicts they have throughout the novel.
Basically it's just the MC+family living through 20 turbulent years and growing old as they eventually settle into normal lives thanks to China stabilising.

It's a much better novel than "To live". "To Live" is a good novel too, but at times it feels like something that you'd have to read at school to help you construct a national identity/connect with history through literature.
Essentially what I'm trying to say is that it felt like this novel had much more soul poured into it and was more about the characters growing older and making amends with the mistakes they made throughout their lives than about being a tortureporn of a novel where everyone fucking dies because sickness-war-cultural-revolution-famine-random-accident-just-for-the-sake-of-it.
(And CoBM isn't a "novel of inaction" in a sense like "To Live", where the characters seem to suffer at the hands of fate without any agency of their own. Here they actually assert themselves and solve their problems.)

What I also found interesting is that in "To Live" the main character, Fugui never really gives a damn about politics or ideology. He's such a rural and "small" person that he can't afford to even comprehend the government's policies or positions. He just keeps his head down and does what's asked of him if politics interferes in his life.
Here, Sanguan is actually quite well versed and gives a very harsh description of the Red Guards and the Dazibao craze of the cultural revolution, explicitly stating that it's used as a tool of petty revenge among the people, causing immense harm and chaos.

I'm quite interested at this point what his magnum opus novel "Brothers" is like. I'd like to think that because it's longer, it's going to be better, simply because the author has more space and length to deepen his characters and plot, but I'll see once I actually get to it. Eventually.
No. 57762
I've been really digging this YT channel by Michael Sugrue lately, recorded lectures from the 90s(?) about various "Great Books" & philosophy etc - the prof manages to cover the topics well while also being entertaining.

My favorites have been so far the one on Robinson Crusoe - it's one of those books I'm not too eager to read myself but he gives a very solid interpretation of how it encapsulates the Enlightenment/Anglo imperialist worldview of its time.
And the one on Don Quixote (which I'm currently reading on and off) - gave me some motivation to get through to the superior second book.

Nice, hope you'll enjoy it.

Thanks for the detailed review, been also meaning to read this some time.
No. 58907
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Idema-Haft - A Guide to Chinese Literature

Finally done with this monograph. I enjoyed reading it, especially the first half or so.

The first few parts deal with the foundations of Chinese literature, establishing the properties and general outline of different genres in Chinese literature and their context in History.

But there's also the thing that it's just a monograph. To actually get the most out of it, you need to read a large chunk of the works it talks about, otherwise it quickly turns into a slog of just
>[Author](XXXX-YYYY) lived in [Province] and his most important work was [XY], which is remembered for its [Z] qualities and language.
I was lucky enough to have read a lot of what was talked about or knew the synopsis beforehand. In a sense, it's better at contextualising what you've read from Chinese authors before than to introduce you to Chinese literature as someone who has never picked up a Chinese book before. (Unless you drop the monograph from time to time to read some of the mentioned short stories and poems.)

The only issue I can find with the book is that the part dealing with the literature of the PRC and Taiwan is pretty short and very out of date, but that's because the book is 24 years old now, so I have the benefit of hind sight.
(It also somewhat applies to the post-1911 part, which is less detailed than the parts dealing with classical literature.)
It's not that big of a deal, since in the foreword they mention C.T. Hsia's "A History of Modern Chinese Fiction", which covers the period of 1917 to 1961 and is pretty detailed at over 700 pages.
I guess this isn't really a worthwhile criticism, since it's an introductory book you're supposed to move past, and the bibliography is incredibly detailed and plentiful, so by leaving the reader curious for more is actually a feature, not a bug.

Very good book, I'm sad that I haven't found out about it before university.
No. 59054
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This book makes for an interesting history of the social sciences and American-euro cold war history then.

The social sciences after 1945, especially during the 1950s underwent a fundamental shift, that was concerned with systems and their models and as well as US democracy/society. Basically, you can find a certain view in disciplines like game theory, cognitive psychology, operations research, economics and social sciences in general.

What was the object of social sciences?

It is about systems that are characterized by their relations.

>In short, the subjects of social science were systems structured by relations, the method employed was behavioral-functional analysis, and the goal was a theoretical model, one that potentially could be made an operational guide to practical action-in some other, future publication.[@heyck2015, 19]

Interesting here is the remark about operationality, one models in order to make operational applications possible with it, at least that is the goal.

According to Heyck, high modern social sciences are associated with what he calls a bureaucratic worldview, which entails certain methods and concepts:
>The central concepts of this approach were system, structure, and function, and the ideal product (not always realized in practice) was a model of a system's structures, functions, and relations, preferably one based on quantitative behavioral data. [@heyck2015, 21]

Things are treated as a system, which is formalized and then can be made into a model, which then can by parameters give outputs for systems of various kinds, i.e. is one step prior to operativity or lends itself to operativity, formally playing out possibilities. Later it is said:
>The high modernist era was oriented around the concept of system and the consequent attempt to create a social science that could map and manage the structures, processes, and functions of systems, usually by tracing the flows of information, communication, or control in them. [@heyck2015, 187]

high modern social science and bureaucratic view are in the following relation for him: they are to be separated from each other, one is a corpus of ideas, the other a practical or concrete shaping of science:
>The term high modern social science refers to a constellation of ideas, practices, and social relations; bureaucratic worldview describes the (sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit) basic assumptions about the structure of the world and the nature of science that underlay high modern social science.[@heyck2015, 22]

He counts them among the modern social sciences, high because they had exuberant ambitions, high self-confidence in their own methods and views, etc., and because their view was one from above, claiming universal validity.[@heyck2015, 23]

A whole chapter is dedicated to a model of man as homo adaptivius:

>>Homo adaptivus (a complex, error-controlled, hierarchically structured, functionally differentiated, system of nested systems whose structures, functions, and behaviors are fundamentally shaped by its cognitive limits) has assumed many guises: a cybernetic problem solver and category maker, a homeostatic stress manager, an economic and political decisionmaker, a creator of new cultural gestalts, a traveler in a mental mazeway, and a model-building conceptual schemer, thinker, tinker, and science maker. The different disciplinary clothes that homo adaptivus wore did matter, but in 1956–57, beneath those clothes walked much the same man—for those who embraced high modernism, at least.

Heyck elaborates this development as the consequence of an organizational revolution that continues to unfold.
The point was that the ideas could actually have an impact, those who think systemically and can implement that win wars. In addition, there is a technical development that opens up new spaces, also for thoughts. Today, this is even more true as these technologies have evolved.
>In addition, technological advances in organizational technologies provided new tools to think with, from radio and television and their associated networks to feedback controlled servomechanisms (frequently used in weapons systems and in electronic circuitry), to the first digital computers, which had an enormous inspirational effect on experimental psychologists, among others, especially once those computers were able to store programs.[@heyck2015, 124]

Heyck notes that this preference for system does not destroy the agency of individuals, which would also be fatal due to counter-ideologies (Soviet Union/Marxism etc), but instead a middle course is taken that grants individuals bounded rationality, whereby the individual can continue to be autonomous, but is limited in his rationality or overview of things/reality. The goal is then to construct the systems in such a way that they support the bounded rationality.[@heyck2015, 125] This is then probably the subject of the fourth chapter titled Producing Reason. And it is the chapter that deals with worries about democracies.
The high modern social sciences were concerned with the decision itself and no longer with the decision-makers. Around 1900, writings were published in the social sciences that questioned the rationality of individuals. People were not rational, but they could act rationally by developing rational systems in which they would find themselves. I.e. the decision theorists within the social sciences (and there were many of them at that time and they spanned many disciplines) were interested in developing systems that promoted rational decision making and thus action, so they had a practical/real goal. They redefined reason/rationality.
One reason, among others, was the perceived threat to democracy by actually irrational individuals who were then rationalized by systems. The irony, according to Heyck in the conclusion, was that people got a problem with these bureaucratic/administrative systems and protested against them."[@heyck2015, 126-142]

Also in the Conclusion is an interesting critique of the game-theoretic prisoner's dilemma, which accuses it of only making certain choices within an authoritarian context. There would be possibilities/decisions in the sistuation that are simply not considered as a decision, e.g., cooperation. [@heyck2015, 141]
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The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin

Chinese sci-fi book. It's a bit poorly written: some characters are unrealistic and one-sided, plot relies on "pure coincidences" in multiple times. However the concept is great, and it fully compensates what mentioned above. Gonna read other two books in trilogy one day.

Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
About a retarded guy who was turned into genius by scientists, and his relations with other people. Nice book, but author's attempt to write about 160 IQ while not being 160 IQ is a bit naive. For example, the character managed to learn multiple languages but didn't manage to learn that for other people it's very rare to know more than couple of languages.

It's Me, Eddie, Eduard Limonov
Kohlchan in a form of book: moron with inflated ego lives on welfare and shit in the giving hand. In the meantime he hangs out with commies, sucks BBCs, goes to meeting for Palestine, gets drunk and cuntsuffers (I thought this word invented by sosachers, but no) about his ex-wife.
Very funny and entertaining. And somewhat relatable:
> I was brought up in a cult of insanity. "Schizo" - short for schizophrenic, as we called strange people, and this was considered praise, the highest assessment of a person. Strangeness was encouraged. To say about a person that he is normal meant to offend him. We sharply separated ourselves from the crowd of "normal".
> Many of my friends in Kharkov and later in Moscow received pensions, as they are called in the USSR - "groups". The first group was considered the height of praise. Shizp of the first group - there was nowhere to go further. This game took many people far, it was a very dangerous game. The poet Arkady Besedin killed himself painfully and brutally, the poet Vidchenko hanged himself, we were proud of ourselves. There were just several hundred of us in the whole city.