Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Unfogged Reading Group

Just before the server pooped out on comments, the Unfoggedariat, as summarized by I don't pay, had narrowed the options for primary texts to:
Montaigne

Paradise Lost

Burke

Kirkegard's Repetition
Somehow, my suggestion for The Prince--backed rather enthusiastically by some, I'll note!--got left off that list.

I think it's quite possible that, as Armsmasher suggested, Montaigne might not present as much intellectual meat as some people might expect from an Unfogged reading group. I don't actually see that as a downside, not if we read his essays as, to be crass, very smart personal blog posts from the past.

Paradise Lost could be a good option. It's fucking beautiful, presents all kinds of aesthetic and theological problems, and is handily divided into manageable segments. Personally, I can't really advocate this choice because Milton is too fraught in both my academic and personal life; I won't come to a reading group on PL without longstanding stakes, that much is for sure.

Burke. Well. I'd be very interested to see the Mineshaft debate Burke, but I'd want them to weigh the Reflections against the Enquiry and then to take the Hastings trial into account... Seriously, though, Burke is a fascinating and problematic character, much richer than the caricature that the third-generation NRO readers and writers make him out to be, but I might be humorless and emotionally involved in an Unfogged discussion of him.

Kirkegaard, I should read more of. Repetition in the abstract I'm not against--as long as it doesn't involve sacrificing Isaac over and over again. My fifteen year-old doubting believer self is still shuddering at the memory of reading Fear and Trembling, but maybe my adult self could approach a different text with a more open mind.

A reading project is worth trying--and it will work better if someone with mainpage authority feels able to crack ye olde whippe.

14 Comments:

Blogger The Modesto Kid:

I would be more interested in Montaigne, PL, or Repetition than in Burke. That is not based on any knowledge of Burke though, so much as a bias that he must be dull. I liked the idea people like NickS and Tia were getting at, of having Montaigne's essays as intermediate reading group material to get us warmed up before working on heavier stuff.

5/17/2006 11:03:00 PM  
Anonymous teofilo:

I vote for PL; I haven't read it, and I figure it's the sort of thing I should read but probably won't (unless, say, a blog reading group comes along).

5/17/2006 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger washerdreyer:

If my comment had gotten through, I was going to talk down PL, because personally I don't need extra motivation to look at that again. Then I wanted to second the single nomination by I-forget-whom from Underworld. And finally suggest John Stuart Mill as a possible alternative to Montaigne. Mill's feminist works might be especially well suited.

5/18/2006 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger CharleyCarp:

The comment I was writing at the moment of collapse was that I would probably play if it turned out to be PL. That you'd approach it with 'history' doesn't exactly make this less interesting, as a selection.

I'd also have played if one of the Pynchon books had been chosen, but with history of my own. You didn't say how long ago you fiddled with GR, or whether anyone told you that you could skim the first 100 pages lightly, and then come back to them, as needed, and do just fine. Hey, you know who's got a nice little blog: tyrone slothrop.

5/18/2006 02:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Bostoniangirl:

I don't think that I have the energy to slog through Paradise Lost. I'd be okay with the other three, but I'm leaning toward Burke and Montaigne. I think that Burke might be useful for refuting the wingers.

5/18/2006 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

Unfortunately, Burke's Reflections won't be helpful in refuting the wingers. The Hastings trial might be. And TMK, Burke wanders between dull and outrageous.

I have to say that Tia's despotic ruling--to try out a few Montaigne essays before launching into a huge project like PL--makes a great deal of sense.

5/18/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous LizardBreath:

Right. I think a large part of what killed the Being and Time group was the sense that it was taking forever and we were still in the incomprehensible introduction.

5/18/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger CharleyCarp:

My brother the Lit guys says, On PL, I highly recommend Anton Lesser’s Audio CD recording on the Naxos label. Shows the poem to be the last and greatest of Shakespeare’s tragedies. After I've had the CD a while, and subjected it to processes I will not discuss in public, I'll send it along to LB. What happens to it after that will not be my affair.

5/18/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous I don't pay:

Lets get back to commenting as fast as possible, letting others know where it is. At least we've lost ToS for now.

I was ready to start taping my hands for Burke, but I'm happier with the choice we've made.

Do we want to continue the kidney/class threadf?

5/18/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger standpipe:

After I've had the CD a while, and subjected it to processes I will not discuss in public, I'll send it along to LB.

At least you warned her.

5/18/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

Wait, IDP, you were arguing for Burke? That didn't really come across: I thought you were anti-Burke. I mean, on some grounds, we're all anti-Burke, but I thought you were anti-reading-Burke-for-this-project.

5/18/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous I don't pay:

I was anti-Burke, just getting ready to "hold up my end," as my mother says, and trying to honor Hazlitt in the process.

5/18/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

Yeah, Hazlitt's great on Burke. Have you read the Hastings trial material though? It gives you a very different idea of the man to know he spent ten years and ruined his political career in an attempt to bring down a corrupt colonial plunderer and the system that permitted him to flourish. Burke is also great on the American War. Which all is why people like Wollstonecraft were so appalled when the Reflections came out.

5/18/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous LizardBreath:

Woohoo! Audio epic poetry, to which nothing illegal is known to have been done! Thanks!

5/19/2006 08:40:00 AM  

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