‘Literally’ by Antonya Nelson
|January 9, 2013|
From The New Yorker:
She’s always late!” the sixteen-year-old sobbed. She’d set up the ironing board and its accessories like a shrine to housewifery. Heat shimmered in the air, had already slightly compromised the plastic of the spray bottle. Only Bonita could master the pleats of Suzanne’s ghastly uniform skirt. Other girls did not care. Still others had punctual housekeepers. Or parents who ironed.
“Suse is so anal,” her brother, Danny, noted from the table, where he and his father were studying their computer screens over breakfast, sharing news items and a bowl of pineapple. “She takes three showers a day, which is more than some people take in a year. In the future, that will be illegal. Seriously, I skip showers so that our carbon footprint won’t be so terrible.”
“Do you know there’s a second part to that expression? The ‘retentive’ part?” his father asked. “It’s amazing how comfortable people are tossing that around—‘anal retentive.’ People are very casual with the psychology. So blasé about the butt.”
“God damn it!” the girl cried. “Please please please!”
“Also,” Danny said, “she exaggerates. Constantly.”
“Literally,” his father said. Richard liked to make his son smile by using his favorite word incorrectly.
Inherent Vice’s Two Directions
The jokes certainly strike one as sophomoric and the latter one as clichéd, further below Pynchon’s intelligence than one would like to think he would stoop, at least in print. Discounting them and moving on, or throwing the book across the room as Parker half implies we should do, however, would be to lose sight of “that high magic to low puns”.
Auden, Larkin and Love
I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb” contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Plato, Our Comrade?
Not surprisingly, there have already been critics of Badiou’s translation. The first is that his translation breaks the formal rules of translation to such a degree that the original meaning of the text has lost its significance. But this critique is inadequate at face value because Badiou’s hyper-translation is forthright in its intention of taking Plato’s concepts and modifying them into his own lexicon.
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The Minister of the Interior stood in the middle of the room, assessing three suits laid over a chair. One was a pale morning-sky blue; the next tan, of light material, intended for these terrible summers; the last a heavy worsted English three-piece, gray, for state visits.
The academic who was to open the Professor A. Katz Memorial Evening wore her best dress. Elizabeth Woolacott was a large-boned, energetic woman. The dress, from an Oxfam shop, was antique gold velvet in sumptuous folds of burnish and tarnish.
The joke of it is,” Henry kept saying, “the joke is that there’s nothing to leave, nothing at all. No money. Not in any direction. I used up most of the capital year ago. What’s left will nicely do my lifetime.”