The SFFaudio Podcast #361 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges

March 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #361 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul Weimer talk about The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges

Talked about on today’s show:
the dream of Bryan Alexander, the nightmare that is Paul, 1940, 1962, almost a disaster, this story hit them like ton of bricks, Frankenstein, disturbing, a simple plot, leading you in circles, rising action, the horrible Freytag pyramid, creating a person out of dreams, a Joseph Campbell plot, learning Spanish, listen to the negatives, no one was unaware that the silent man, the unanimous night, it claustrophobic cloaks, the beginning of Moby Dick, in The Garden Of Forking Path, Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris, the circularity of the text, there is no “collected works” of Borges, Broges’ translations, the language of doppelgangers, the father and son angle, a mediation on parenthood, a god of fire, if Eric Rabkin were here, Prometheus, realizing you’re a dream, a trapped figure in endless circularity, parenting, once the colour of fire and now that of ashes, a grey man under unknown leaves, tributaries of sleep, weaving a rope of sand, coining the faceless wind, a folkloric reference, a Cornish legend, The Lottery Of Babylon, the company knows all, a ruin of a religion that somehow comes true, the most difficult task a man could undertake, an infinite amount of time for the hairs on the arm, not the god of the bible, food and figs, a dream god, a hilarious line from Celephais, I’m a prodigious dreamer, a dream man who dreams a dream man into existence, a dream written down, meta accusations in the post modern school, a hero to post-modern thinkers, The Babylonian Lottery, where the Zend language, characteristics of a society, too much leprosy, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, the moonness was going above the river, the beautiful language of a dream, Voltaire’s Zadig, a fake Babylon, the book of Zend, The Library Of Babel, real world Greek, this river, bamboo canoe, other burned temples, H. Rider Haggard, double negative, Xenophon’s Anabasis, 10,000 mercenaries, epic adventure, populated or unpopulated, in the aftermath of disaster, Detroit, Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings, yet another abandoned village, The Warriors (1979), an optimistic version of New York, being a vegetarian, Frankenstein’s creature is a vegan, he’s got to dream some meat into being, this is Abel not Cain, where the story really gets cooking, his body is a temple, dialectic dreams, clouds of taciturn students, interpolate him into the real world, a man lecturing the clouds, The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds by Lawrence Block, seeing images in the clouds, people are like clouds in dreams, a two sided coin, the dialectics, dissection theater, in the Gnostic cosmogonies, a red Adam who cannot stand, the world was created by the demi-urge, Valis by Philip K. Dick, addendum to the creation story, Lilith, the red mercury story (a geopolitical urban legend), alchemical texts, a locked Wikipedia entry, the cold fusion of terrorism, a golem, a man made out of clay but without a soul, Adam of dust, Adam of dreams, the wizard is the dreamer, again Frankenstein, why would it have been better?, Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Hypnos, doppelganger fiction, mirrors, Borges’ philosophy of Poe’s Composition, the literary equivalent of Escher, more like Lovecraft than Dick, aristocratic families, grandparents who were big into books, loved suits, loved their hometowns, Buenos Aires, a love of reading, wrote about writing, letter writers, connected with their readers, strange visionary figures, gregarious men, authors confused (conflated) with his own characters, complex truth and curious parallels, beauty, meaning and the belief in the power of story, how we make sense of the universe and how we interpret knowledge, both seeking to blow minds, Borges read Lovecraft, There Are More Things by Jorge Luis Borges is dedicated to Lovecraft, arguing with Lovecraft, cosmic is the word (not eldritch) or dream, The Call of Cthulhu, interpolate connects us to Dick as well, a bit of sense data, we don’t see just by having the world come into our eyes, we also project, the story is not complete, filling in the steps between fire and grey, Dick, Borges, and Lovecraft are working the world in a different way showing us their dreams, what would a Borgesian city in Kadath (the Dreamlands) look like?, Inception is a Borgesian story, far more concreteized, a heist, the grey man kissed the mud, the blades which were lacerating his flesh, the brambles delacerated his flesh, where did the blades come from?, what is certain, there’s something on the bank injuring him (or the blades are in him already), the crown of thorns, the temple was crowned, from out of the south, almost biblical, interesting, the plaything of forces far greater than he can comprehend, mental terror, the incessant trees, obligation, inconsolable shriek, the birdless morning, the phoenix, the tiger is man, Tyger Tyger, horses as a symbol of force, power, dynamism, and nobility, horse or tiger, domesticated vs. wild, super enigmatic yet we know exactly what happened, the creation of the heart, the moon, fourteen lucid nights, from lucidity to obscurity?, meticulous love, to rectify it with a glance, invoking the name of a planet, Mars?, Venus?, Mercury?, it could be the penis, much more meticulous from, the innumerable hair was the most difficult task, full moon?, starting the cycle again, the circularity of the ruins, re circularity, a disc vs. an amphitheater, the geography of the Library of Babel, a torus, the bottom of an amphitheater, it’s a magic spell, Lovecraft fandom, Cthulhu prayer breakfast, Borges was the darling of the literary set when he was alive, the New American Library edition, Borges is still a god of modern literature, intertextuality, Borges’ made up quotes and citations, Ibid by H.P. Lovecraft, a parody of 19th century scholarship, the adventures of a man’s skull, groundhogs worshiping a skull as a deity, the sense of humour, S.T. Joshi, a classic schoolboy error, BBC Radio documentary, humour in Borges, loops and whorls, sophisticated humour, blades vs. brambles, Poe the prankster, Herman Melville, extraordinary sentences, puckish and wry, apotheosis.

The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

October 29, 2008 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Neil Gaiman
Audible Download – Approx. 8 Hours[UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 2008
Themes: / Fantasy / Ghosts / Childhood / Revenge / Parenting / Afterlife / Humor / YA /

In a few words: Not as disturbing as Coraline (which is… a bit) and every ounce as entertaining as I hoped.

Now, details: The Graveyard Book is Neil Gaiman’s latest YA novel. The story is about Nobody Owens, a young boy who starts the novel as a toddler that ends up in a graveyard late at night, all by himself. I’ll let Gaiman tell you how that happens, because the journey is all the fun here. Nobody Owens grows up, and Gaiman’s ghosts do all the parenting.

Again, Gaiman manages to be both sinister and funny at the same time, like he’s telling you the worst thing you’ve ever heard, but with a smile and a wink. Here’s the first lines of Chapter 1:

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black gold, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you may not even know you had been cut. Not immediately.

You’d think what follows would be a bit grisly, and I suppose it is, but it’s all so fantastic that I smiled through most of that chapter, with the sort of glow I get around Halloween. A pair of ghosts (the Owens’s) raising a live boy, that boy growing up and learning his letters off gravestones and his life’s philosophy from the perspective of dead but well-meaning people; well, it’s just a great idea, and it’s perfectly presented by Gaiman. My kids love it too. This is the kind of book that will be revisited in my house often. In addition, I’d say that if you have a Harry Potter fan on your Christmas list, this book might be just the right fit, and it has the added bonus of introducing him or her to the likes of Neil Gaiman, which in turn could open that fan up to the rest of the world of books as well.

Gaiman also narrates, and like I’ve said elsewhere, he’s one of the few authors I’ve heard that could make a comfortable living as an audiobook narrator. I can’t imagine this audiobook being read by someone else, and I’m very happy that it isn’t.

Edited to add the SFFaudio Essential, which was forgotten by the reviewer. He has been sacked.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson