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Old 16th August 2016, 11:34 AM   #361
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The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman. A study on the Western world leading up to WW1 (though as with all nearly all books, in English, about the period, it deals at least so far nearly entirely with Great Britain).

It's kept my interest so far, despite being almost entirely to this point about the English aristocracy. As I'm doing a rather thorough study of the Great War, this one should be just the one-volume title covering all the relevant events and social shifts leading up to it that I've been looking for.



I just finished Fighter Heroes of WW1, by Joshua Levine, nearly all about the Royal Flying Corps, with some sidebars about Richtofen and Werner Voss. Unlike Tuchman's, this is not a scholarly work. It does however give a decent overview of the RFC, and is peppered throughout with firsthand accounts, quite a few of which are humorous and/or amazing.
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Old 16th August 2016, 12:04 PM   #362
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Caesar: The Life Of A Colossus
Adrian Goldsworthy
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Old 19th August 2016, 12:07 PM   #363
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Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman. A study on the Western world leading up to WW1 (though as with all nearly all books, in English, about the period, it deals at least so far nearly entirely with Great Britain).

It's kept my interest so far, despite being almost entirely to this point about the English aristocracy. As I'm doing a rather thorough study of the Great War, this one should be just the one-volume title covering all the relevant events and social shifts leading up to it that I've been looking for.
I wanted to follow up on this, as after the first chapter on English Society ended, TPT did expand beyond Britain, first with a study of the Anarchist movement (which had many similarities with ISIS, with the latter being less warm and fuzzy), and now with a section on the US circa 1890-1902.The Dreyfus Affair follows.
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Old 19th August 2016, 02:21 PM   #364
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Just finished re-reading Jostein Gaarder's (author of Sophie's Choice) The Solitaire Mystery.

Quite the light fare naturally, although it does delve into some light philosophical questions - and the merits of a deck of cards being the basis of a calendar.
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Old 31st August 2016, 06:05 AM   #365
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The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

After having seen the film (twice by now), I figured it was time to read the book.

I like it so far.
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Old 31st August 2016, 06:29 AM   #366
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Re-reading all the Dickson Carr Merrivale series.
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Old 31st August 2016, 11:40 AM   #367
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The Guns of August.
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Old 20th September 2016, 10:39 AM   #368
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Castles of Steel, Robert K. Massie, about the First World War at sea.

Only just started it this morning so I haven't formed an opinion of it yet, but I must say that it's refreshing to come across a history book that doesn't have 30-40 pages of introduction, preface, foreword, etc. before getting to the actual book. This one just jumps right into the meat.
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Old 20th September 2016, 11:52 AM   #369
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I've started re-reading the The First Rune hexalogy by Mark Anthony.

I enjoyed it the first time through, although I did think that the author used quite a few similes, as well as several simplistic characters.

It's been at least 3 years, so I'm curious if I still think the story is as good as I thought previously.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 04:45 PM   #370
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Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
Castles of Steel, Robert K. Massie, about the First World War at sea.

Only just started it this morning so I haven't formed an opinion of it yet, but I must say that it's refreshing to come across a history book that doesn't have 30-40 pages of introduction, preface, foreword, etc. before getting to the actual book. This one just jumps right into the meat.
Have you read Massie's "Dreadnought"? It is a sort of "Prequel" to "Castles Of Steel" dealing with how British and German relatations fell apart in the first decade of the 20th Century,centering on Germany's naval challenge to the UK,and the British response.
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Old 22nd September 2016, 05:00 PM   #371
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"Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day" by Joel Selvin.

https://www.amazon.com/Altamont-Roll...bs_156305011_1
Not my usual cup of tea,but a fascinating account of the day that inflicted damage on the image of the Sixties counter culture that it never really recovered from.

Reading it is a lot like reading a really good book about a military disaster:bad decision after bad decision after bad decision. Selvin ultimately puts a good portion of the blame on the Stones...Mick Jagger in particular..for making some incredibly irresponsible decisions,but Selvin finds plenty of blame to go around.
And, yes, the making of the documentary "Gimme Shelter" is gone into in great detail in the book;with the final chapter being a analysis of the film which Selvin thinks a great piece of documentary filmmaking but which gives a very incomplete account of what happened at Altamont,and little on why it happened.
Selvin points out that FOUR people died at Altamont, not just Meredith Hunter (the man who was stabbed to death on screen in "Gimme Shelter". One man got high on drugs during the concert ,fell into a neighboring canal and drowned; two other people were victims of a hit and run which happened when people were leaving the concert;by a driver of a car who by eyewitness accounts of his erractic driving was probably stoned out of his mind;that was never solved.
In the end Selvin states that if the Counter Culture died at Altamont, the wounds were largely self inflicted.
Fascinating book;I drive thourgh the Altamont pass all the time (great backdoor route to avoid the massive traffic jams in the East Bay) and will never look at it the same way again.










Joel Selvin
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Old 23rd September 2016, 11:19 AM   #372
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Have you read Massie's "Dreadnought"? It is a sort of "Prequel" to "Castles Of Steel" dealing with how British and German relatations fell apart in the first decade of the 20th Century,centering on Germany's naval challenge to the UK,and the British response.
I have not, at least not yet. Next time I'm at Half Price Books I'll keep my eyes peeled, especially since I'm eyeing up HMS Dreadnought as a future model to build. For right now though I'm trying to keep my reading within WW1 specifically, before I branch out into pre- (and post-) war stuff. Proud Tower was about as far as I was willing to go for the time being.

And speaking of Tuchman, now that I finished Guns of August, my one criticism was that it had precious few firsthand accounts from any participant lower than a corps commander. I recognize that not every historian can be Lyn Macdonald, but after a while constant chronology of the movements of tens of thousands of men around the names of French and Belgian towns sans description starts to blur together; even with the maps provided it's difficult to keep track.

Where Guns shines is that it's easy to maintain view of the bigger picture. I found myself frequently saying, "Stupid" aloud regarding many of the decisions made early in the war (and beforehand in planning). My opinion of many of the major players hasn't improved. It was lowered in the case of Sir John French.
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Old 23rd September 2016, 11:40 AM   #373
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Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. I can't remember why, but it was recommended to me by an online acquaintance and I haven't been disappointed at all. It's nice to read something by a decent author. I've been reading so much indy stuff for fellow authors, trying to support and provide reviews and so forth, that getting to sink into a novel of this caliber is refreshing. I tore through the first half of the book without feeling at all forced.

The story is set in the near-future with augmented reality playing a very large role in how the characters interact with the world and each other. Wearable tech is the norm for the current generation, allowing an unprecedented flow of information which can both empower and diminish. Medical breakthroughs have saved some, but left others stranded, and worldwide concerns center on the next potential extremist violence.
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Old 28th September 2016, 05:38 AM   #374
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Somehow, "120 Nights In Sodom" ended up in my eBook folder and I began reading it for shiggles.

Hoooooly potatoes, I don't think I'm ten pages in and I'm already pretty sure it'll be an act of heroic will if I finish it.
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Old 28th September 2016, 05:50 AM   #375
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Originally Posted by BaaBaa View Post
Somehow, "120 Nights In Sodom" ended up in my eBook folder and I began reading it for shiggles.

Hoooooly potatoes, I don't think I'm ten pages in and I'm already pretty sure it'll be an act of heroic will if I finish it.
It's awful.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 13th October 2016, 03:56 PM   #376
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Scott: The Bride of Lammermoor.

I'd no idea it was a comedy, or at least a salutary warning in keeping your servants in check.

An aged retainer, in a sometime grand house, lessened of late, attempts to keep the family honour intact when, upon receiving guests and there being no food to speak of, causes an almighty clattering in the kitchen using the convenient cover of a thunderstorm to claim that a sumptuous repast was ruined when the wind came down the chimney and scattered pots and pans, and leaving soot over all the victuals.

And there's more.

On another occasion, when gentry are announced to be arriving at short notice and he judging that the accommodations will be of a poor standard, arranges that the visiting party are put up elsewhere by the simple expedient of burning down the castle!
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Old 14th October 2016, 05:13 AM   #377
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Caesar: The Life Of A Colossus
Adrian Goldsworthy
That is an amazing book. While I was reading it I'd take photos of pages and send them to friends almost every day because there was just so much good stuff in there. I lent it to a friend and he loved it as well.

After finishing it I went right on to Augustus, by the same author.

What did you think?
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Old 14th October 2016, 06:51 AM   #378
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
That is an amazing book. While I was reading it I'd take photos of pages and send them to friends almost every day because there was just so much good stuff in there. I lent it to a friend and he loved it as well.

After finishing it I went right on to Augustus, by the same author.

What did you think?
It's good. I haven't read Augustus yet.
I have a keen interest in the late Republic and early Principate up to the middle of the second century so I have read a few books on Caesar, this is the most comprehensive.
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Old 14th October 2016, 10:57 AM   #379
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
It's good. I haven't read Augustus yet.
I have a keen interest in the late Republic and early Principate up to the middle of the second century so I have read a few books on Caesar, this is the most comprehensive.
I haven't read that many, but found Tom Holland's Rubicon to be good for me as a complete novice to the era.
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Old 1st November 2016, 05:55 PM   #380
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All five books.
A literary classic. Basically Monty Python meets Star Trek.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 04:48 AM   #381
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Larry Niven's The Draco Tavern
David Weber's Shadow of Victory and At the Sign of Triumph
John Sandford's Escape Clause
G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 04:53 PM   #382
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Originally Posted by GT/CS View Post
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All five books.
A literary classic. Basically Monty Python meets Star Trek.
First two are OK but I never cared for the books, they stretched the joke too far.
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Old 6th November 2016, 10:52 AM   #383
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Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. A loan from my niece.
Not my usual fare but an excellent YA superhero novel featuring the teenage daughter of a couple of superheroes who teams up with her friends only to accidentally become supervillains because of circumstances. Then they start enjoying villainy...
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 6th November 2016, 01:43 PM   #384
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Charles Stross 'The Rhesus Chart'
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Old 9th November 2016, 01:27 AM   #385
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Charles Stross 'The Rhesus Chart'
A great Laundry book. I read that and the next one close together, as they overlap.
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Old 9th November 2016, 03:13 AM   #386
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
A great Laundry book. I read that and the next one close together, as they overlap.
Absolutely, an excellent series. Stross's branching out with additional viewpoint characters means there's a lot happening in parallel as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN progresses.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 9th November 2016, 03:47 AM   #387
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Absolutely, an excellent series. Stross's branching out with additional viewpoint characters means there's a lot happening in parallel as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN progresses.
Not enough Pinky And Brain in the later books though...
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Old 9th November 2016, 04:01 AM   #388
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
Not enough Pinky And Brain in the later books though...
True. Hopefully they'll get a novella to themselves.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 9th November 2016, 06:14 AM   #389
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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, by Jeremy Scahill.
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Old 9th November 2016, 01:34 PM   #390
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Livin' the Dreem
A year in my life by Harry Hill.

A frank and controversial diary.

Well, a spoof in Harry Hill style. Not for those that don't like Harry Hill humour.
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Old 10th November 2016, 07:45 PM   #391
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Smoke and Mirrors: Q-Ships Against the U-Boats in the First World War, Deborah Lake.

I read about these in Castles of Steel. I'd never heard of them, but I was very interested. It's a subject that makes me wonder why they (or at least Gordon Campbell's exploits) aren't the subject of a movie.

I just finished Alan "Directly"* Moorehead's Gallipoli. It was okay, a fair comprehensive account, but left me wanting a more comprehensive book.

*Moorehead used this word often. I don't think he knew what it meant.
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"Let your ears hear this beautiful song that's hiding underneath the sound," Ed Kowalczyk.
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Old 11th November 2016, 12:08 AM   #392
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I'm reading Christmas Holiday by Somerset Maugham. It's great so far. I have a vague feeling that I read it many years ago when I was reading a lot of his stuff as a lot of it feels familiar, but though I'm pretty sure I've read it, I don't actually remember it at all.

Good book. He does a great job of exploring human nature and sort of showing the complicated multifaceted thing that is a human being. We can see both beauty and ugliness in a single thing as he sort of looks at it from afar and at the same time zooms in close on the smallest details of a person's being. He was a true master.
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Isaac Asimov
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Old 11th November 2016, 12:09 AM   #393
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Last weekend I just read a collection of the Ashenden stories by the same author. I have similar things to say about them.
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Isaac Asimov
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Old 11th November 2016, 12:13 AM   #394
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Dark Money, and you all should read it.

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This weekend, I [Bill Moyer] brought home Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Mayer is the New Yorker staff writer whose reporting can leave a reader breathless. The calm, patiently-paced “voice” in every one of her books demands that attention must be paid. I had not even opened Dark Money, however, when an email popped up from an old friend — a long-time public servant and experienced cultural and arts administrator who had beat me to the punch.
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Old 12th November 2016, 11:39 AM   #395
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I have several of Thomas Franks' books lined up in my reading list ("Pity the Billionaire", "Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule" and "Listen Liberal: Whatever Happened to the Party of the People".

The first two are re-reads for me, the last one is new.
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Old 13th November 2016, 04:02 AM   #396
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http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016...es-gift-to-us/

A review that I agree with.


I'm reading the selected letters of John Cage.

The early friendship with Boulez is interesting -- they had overlapping interests at first, and Cage was composing a sort of conceptual serialist music, though not 12-tone.

And, early on, Cage comments that he is scrupulously avoiding any rhythm or meter in 2,3, or 4 -- too obvious -- and any regular pulse. So he is also allied, early on, with the French "additive" approach, or the approach of ungridded "pure duration". (Which makes as little sense to me as someone trying to walk across the room by measuring each step -- pure ungrounded idealism.)

One might still have a student or two, at Conservatory, who blanch at the sound of any pulse -- too animalistic, too commercial, too "Fascistic", not mysterious enough!


For me, Bruckner and Bill Evans sound better every year. Cage's music (as opposed to his prose) sounds more and more trivial.

Since the population of zen dabblers and part-time meditators is growing every year, we will see ever more bland acceptance of Cage as a sort of genial American Zen patriarch.

That he was entirely human, completely ambitious, and not always nice to those who disagreed with him will be smoothed over.

Reading the letters is partly inspiring because of his energy and enthusiasm, and partly depressing because when it comes to the pure composition of music, Cage really seems like a strange careerist man-child, a mixture of rigour and opportunism. He had no time for anyone but the leaders of "the revolution" and their helpers.

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Old 14th November 2016, 03:16 AM   #397
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016...es-gift-to-us/

A review that I agree with.


I'm reading the selected letters of John Cage.

The early friendship with Boulez is interesting -- they had overlapping interests at first, and Cage was composing a sort of conceptual serialist music, though not 12-tone.

And, early on, Cage comments that he is scrupulously avoiding any rhythm or meter in 2,3, or 4 -- too obvious -- and any regular pulse. So he is also allied, early on, with the French "additive" approach, or the approach of ungridded "pure duration". (Which makes as little sense to me as someone trying to walk across the room by measuring each step -- pure ungrounded idealism.)

One might still have a student or two, at Conservatory, who blanch at the sound of any pulse -- too animalistic, too commercial, too "Fascistic", not mysterious enough!


For me, Bruckner and Bill Evans sound better every year. Cage's music (as opposed to his prose) sounds more and more trivial.

Since the population of zen dabblers and part-time meditators is growing every year, we will see ever more bland acceptance of Cage as a sort of genial American Zen patriarch.

That he was entirely human, completely ambitious, and not always nice to those who disagreed with him will be smoothed over.

Reading the letters is partly inspiring because of his energy and enthusiasm, and partly depressing because when it comes to the pure composition of music, Cage really seems like a strange careerist man-child, a mixture of rigour and opportunism. He had no time for anyone but the leaders of "the revolution" and their helpers.


I shouldn't have said "additive", because that usually means something else.

I'm referring to Boulez' use of serialized durations in particular, and pretty much the whole project of serializing rhythm in general.

Quote:
Babbitt's use of rhythm in the latter piece was criticized by Peter Westergaard in Perspectives of New Music: "can we be expected to hear a family resemblance between a dotted half note followed by a sixteenth note (the opening 'interval' of duration set P0) and an eighth note followed by a dotted eighth note (the opening 'interval' of duration set P2)?"[7]

Pierre Boulez used the values in Messiaen's piece to order the rhythms in his Structures I (1952).[4] These range from a demisemiquaver (thirty-second note, 1) to a dotted crotchet (dotted quarter note., 12).[8] In Structures Ic, for example, successive durations may be used for successive pitches of a row, or each pitch row may use only one duration, while in Ib new methods are constantly invented.[9]

In 1957 Karlheinz Stockhausen described this additive series as "a subharmonic proportional series" which, "compared to a scale constructed of chromatic intervals, is a mode",[10][11] and criticized it because the intervals between successive degrees are perceived as having different sizes (unlike the chromatic scale of pitches).[10] For example, the first four notes equal about 13% of the total duration while the last four equal over 53% (each being 33% of the values).[12] A duration set based on the harmonic series would introduce irrational values.[11]

Not a single one of these efforts produced anything like an interesting rhythm or a coherent framework or a clear architecture or even a nice moment -- that I'm aware of.

Contrast this with Carter's approach to rhythm, which did produce some audible results in the earlier pieces. Later, of course, he took his own ideas too far, into a realm of unhearable complexity.
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Old 15th November 2016, 05:30 AM   #398
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This is one reason why I call him an opportunistic careerist man-child, although there is much to admire about his gumption:

Quote:
After I had been studying with him for two years, Schoenberg said, "In order to write music, you must have a feeling for harmony." I explained to him that I had no feeling for harmony. He then said that I would always encounter an obstacle, that it would be as though I came to a wall through which I could not pass. I said, 'In that case I will devote my life to beating my head against that wall.' "[37]

Someone with more humility and less ambition would have given up, or resigned himself to being a perpetual student or a toiler in the second-rate.

Cage took the path of the strong artist who redefines the game rather than trying to improve himself.

He didn't make that decision based on mastery or a superior vision, but based on necessity -- he was doing what he could. All of his polemics are just a composer's armor and -- although they are entertaining and provocative -- are obviously rationalization.

All the "lifestyle" stuff ("lifestyle" being a term I first noticed in the 70's and found repellent even then) is entertaining enough until you begin to feel that it's just more not-music. All the trends of revolution, of media, of fashion, of politics -- they are all not-music. And that is where Cage lives.

There's music -- as autonomous as mathematics -- and there's life. Life wins every time. Life is what you read about in the newspaper.

Do we dwell on the honesty and humor, or on the devaluation of music?

Cage in some ways resembles a more courageous, outrageous, and ambitious version of my father, who might have been happier if he had been as honest as Cage.
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Old 18th November 2016, 09:57 AM   #399
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I'm about half-way through Edward Rutherfurd's London: The Novel. Very Michener-esque, informative as well as entertaining.
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Old 18th November 2016, 01:49 PM   #400
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The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo.
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