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Again Of Math and Metaphor

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Two books new to my home stacks —

AtwoodMorning in the Burned House, new poems by Margaret Atwood. One of two copies that were on the used bookstore’s poetry shelves, and the book has no marks nor signs of wear; so this might actually be a new book, picked up from some other bookseller’s leftovers rather than a previously owned book. One or two of the poems in this book, I may have read online before, I won’t know for sure until I’ve read through them, first reading to be done over the course of the new several weeks, with initial place being a temporary spot on Daystand. Permanent place will be on my key poetry shelf in the living room. Update — Yes, re-reading “Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing” upon encountering it during transcription of the book’s TOC for my Poetry Register, that one I know I’ve read several times before; it’s been rather frequently passed along elsewhere. But then starting back at the beginning after a preliminary scan of first lines, I know I’ve not previously read the first poem here, “You Come Back” – that closing line is the sort of thing I tend to remember long, the sort of thing that sends that poem to my memorization queue, the spark that has Atwood high on my list of favorite poets, precisely the reason this purchase today was so nice a find.

linear algebraLinear Algebra, by Larry Smith. (The Amazon link here refers to the paperback reprint of the hardbound version I purchased.) First copyrighted in 1978, obviously this is not the same text used by the linear algebra college class I did well at during my second semester at Houghton in early 1973; as I recall, the cover of my linear algebra book back then was a deep blue. Although I’m currently also reading several other math books I own (notably, one on Fermat’s Last Theorem), I’ll be using this linear algebra text to re-launch my own personal mathematics study program, curriculum to follow shortly. Temporary place, as I begin its study: Sewing room book stack. Permanent place: living room math bookshelf.

Susan had been off at the sewing center picking up two machines she’d had off for repair work, but cautioned me against making any purchases at Half-Price Books without checking with her first, then carefully reiterating her caution lest I had thought her to merely be teasing with the running joke about how I’m not to be trusted in a bookstore with spare cash in my pocket — ah, she’s got a surprise coming for me! So I did text her and tried a follow-up phone call after I’d found the Atwood, both book approval attempts seeing no response as she went about her business. Which was what gave me the time to find the linear algebra text — bad enough to let me run free in a bookstore with spare cash, but give me spare time too and I’m seriously dangerous! Finally I simply took the chance and made my purchases without her pre-approved stamp, risking that she’d not managed to find the one Atwood poetry book I’d be most likely to jump at the chance to get, with the even greater risk (ummm, not?) that she’d be giving me a linear algebra textbook. The bookstore clerk had to hear me chat about it, so he took it seriously enough to tell me that the back of my sales receipt described a return policy, should it turn out that I’d matched Suzi’s gift choice. I won’t be needing to use that, thanks anyway.

bumper sticker [] - grolier


Written by macheide

22 July 2014 at 2:38 pm

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Another Wake for Finnegan

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I’d already started reading James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake back before my shenanigans (thanks, Kelly, for the Penguin Books edition I have). And I’d made myself a fairly solid beachhead before that reading effort got torpedoed by my death, followed by the major regulations project I’ve been working on since, together with other responsibilities and interests.

Coming back to it from that very first midsentence “riverrun,” I had decided to read it this time the way I read the original 401(a)(4) regulations, the way I’ve read so many hundreds of poems, the way I’ve read so many blog posts and e-mails and written correspondences — I am manually transcribing the entire manuscript myself, page by page, word by word, letter by letter, each and every punctuation mark exactly as it stands. As I encountered back in 1991 with those 401(a)(4) regulations, so too today, all too commonly the same people who act impressed at how well I know and understand what I have read are quick to judge and even openly insult my methods. *shrug* I know what works for me. If people spent one hundredth the time they spend preaching “acceptance” on actually practicing what they preach instead of rejecting others’ ways and choices and beliefs and kindness, there would be a whole lot more love in this world.

Today, I picked up a new personal trademark idiosyncrasy that will slow my Finnegan transcription to a crawl. I’ve been using my iPad mini for transcription — already possibly the second slowest alternative at my disposal (the slowest being via the smaller keyboard of my iPhone), perhaps even slower than if I wrote it all out in my longhand scrawl, certainly way slower than the PC keyboard I used for 401(a)(4) regulation transcription. Apple’s text services had been annoying me by continually trying to correct what it thinks to be misspellings — nuisance enough for a normal text message, but almost insane for a James Joyce book, in which just about every third word is unrecognized by Apple’s dictionary. So annoying that I can’t count how many times I’ve thought I ought disable the auto-correct feature completely, but for how useful it is when I actually do unintentionally misspell a word and am grateful for the built-in editor.

So I’ve kept the auto-correct on, time and time and time again accidentally typing through the end of a Joyce “word,” having Apple “correct” it, then having to take the extra time and effort to back up and type the correct version back in. But today, the number of amusing replacements finally got to me. So I’ve launched a new Adrienesque exercise: I’m now transcribing two separate versions of Finnegan. First, of course, the authentic version, the way Joyce wrote it. But in my second version, I’m letting Apple run free, like an untrained dog without a leash, which will give me Finnegan According to Apple, so to speak.

Of course, I’ll increase my transcription time by 50% or more: I’ll still have the usual typing with frequent backspacing and retyping for the authentic version; then, to get the Apple version by most direct means, I will be re-typing the entire text from scratch all over again, that second time of course saving myself from the time of correcting whatever Apple decides to do. Even with the extra transcription time, I expect to be completely finished both versions in time for the 100th anniversary of Joyce’s publication of the first edition (about five years from now).

bumper sticker [] - grolier


Written by macheide

18 July 2014 at 3:44 pm

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