Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Grammar Are On Their Last Leg

My old mucker fústar of fústar dot org fame has a top notch post today about the snooker - am watching Hendry and Bond while I jack this cyber missive straight into the matrix - which I highly recommend my tiny band of readers to check out for purposes of sporting edification. I've never had the stolid, collected, intellectual qualities required for snooker or golfing success (No, doing things simply for enjoyment is not enough, I must have victory damn it) being forced by an intemperate nature and an inborn laziness bordering on nihilism to stick to pool and pitch and putt instead. Even at that, the slightest display of skill or whiff of usefulness and I go to pieces. I can't handle the pressure. Anyway, watching the World Championship is a different story. Its is a compelling, understated appeal which even a sports dunce like me can totally deal with. Fústar prefaces his post with a quote from the superlative essayist, Clive James, to whose portal-style website a link exists yonder on my sidebar. There is much at clive james dot com to titillate and stimulate he or she who would the life of the mind pursue, not least of which is the interview series Talking in the Library in which Clive speaks to such luminous adornments of the creative world as Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, PJ O'Rourke and Cate Blanchett. Don't miss his chat with Terry Gilliam. Bibiliophiles will be sick with envy at Mr. James's book-lined abode so dense with hefty tomes that it has been assessed by structural engineers as in imminent danger of plunging through the loft-style, warehouse conversions below to end up in the underground carpark several floors down. Anyway, I've meant for a while to post the following poem from Clive and Fústar's quote provides me with the perfect motive. When I intoned it aloud to my beloved, we both ended up in stitches, creased with the giggles, doubled over with belly laughs and guffaws to bate the band. It is a pleasure I would share with others. Of course, I am brilliant at reading having first formed an acquaintanceship with the alphabet almost 30 years ago. Another laugh out loud effort from Mr. James is The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered with which you should, having consumed the following, familiarise yourself instanter. Lest the impression be given that Clive is simply a gifted light versifier, faithful readers are encouraged to sit a while in his poetry section and spend time with some of his more thoughtful works. Out loud now kids, out loud. And have fun.

Windows is Shutting Down

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are On their last leg. So what am we to do? A letter of complaint go just so far, Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes. A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad Before they gets to where you doesnt knows The meaning what it must of meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread, But evolution do not stop for that. A mutant languages rise from the dead And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long The best seat from the only game in town. But there it am, and whom can say its wrong? Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

(Clive James 2005)

12 Comments:

Blogger Fergal Crehan said...

Ah snooker, or "the snooks" as myself and my King's Inns classmates used to affectionately call it. Broken so ideally into study-break-friendly frames, the world championships helped me through many's the exam season.

On the topic of clive james, is there any bumper-sized collection of his essays available, a la United States by Gore Vidal? His last collection rather whetted my appetite.

4/18/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Copernicus said...

I don't know of a large collected works, unfortunately, but if you haven't already read them, there's a collected volume of his three-part memoir, which is hilarious.

Rather irritatingly, the two collections before the latest came out almost on top of each other and had several essays in common. There are stacks of smaller volumes which it is easy to get second hand (especially in the Oxfam Books in Rathmines, which is well worth a bus trip, and Chapters on Abbey Street).

4/18/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous fústar said...

Ah yes, Clive is one of those writers who makes one weep jealous and bitter tears (P. G. Wodehouse is another). We will never, ever be that good...but at least someone out there is...

As for snooker...well, those who love it appreciate its drama, its cruelty, and its decidedly 'human' nature. It's not about the strongest, the fittest, the most drugged-up. It's all about shredded nerves, inexplicable errors, ashen faces, and mental strength.

4/18/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous fústar said...

Just watched the Gilliam interview. Terrific stuff.

4/18/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Copernicus said...

What did you think of Clive's library?

4/18/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous fústar said...

Well I couldn't make out any of the titles - so it could be wall to wall Mills & Boon for all I know - but the volume and colour was certainly drool-inducing. Nice couch too..

4/18/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

C,

Reading Money by Martin Amis was definitely among the best things I did last year, giving me colourful terms like 'zugwanged' and 'infernal dog' to use.

4/22/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Copernicus said...

I have Money around here somewhere but still haven't got around to reading it. I really liked London Fields when I read it as a callow undergraduate in Galway and there is much to enjoy in the Moronic Inferno collection of essays, especially on the porn industry. (I may be getting my wires crossed, but he definitely writes about his visit to the San Fernando valley somewhere.)

I picked up his collection of criticism, The War Against Cliché about the same time as I picked up the Hitchens collection, Unacknowledged Legislators, both of which are great reading, even though the Hitch's politics are now somewhere to the right of his brother's. Who'd have believed that would happen ten years ago?

I'm bound to say I may be unique among Irish bloggers in having seen Saturn 3, the sci-fi film written by Amis and starring the freakish triumverate of Farrah Fawcett, Harvey Keitel and Kirk Douglas. I'm happy to be proved wrong. Amis was also a writer on Mars Attacks. Fuck knows why.

4/22/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Copernicus said...

When I was a gruesome adolescent I read the Riverside Murders by Amis pére, the tale of a gruesome adolescent who gets seduced by an attractive, bored 30-something housewife, which I really, really liked. Can't quite remember why...

4/22/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Breathnach said...

Even though the Hitch's politics are now somewhere to the right of his brother's.

Ah now, Copernicus...

Anyway, before reading your post, I was ignorant of Clive James. I must pick up a few of his essays as soon as these blasted exams end. (I don't know how many authors I've said that of in recent weeks, and I still have a McGahern, a Rushdie, a Nabokov lying on my shelf, consistently staring at me while I write and rewrite and rewrite the 4 pillars of marketing.)

Regarding Hitchens, Love, Poverty and War is probably the only book to which I've repeatedly reopened. If I'm killing time in Waterstones, I dash upstairs - almost always inconsiderate of anybody accompanying me - and find it in the same position I left it previously. Speaking of "killing time", at the start of his Proust essay, he writes of the curious nature of that same expression; he reflects that it is ironic that we purposely try to kill time, given that it is time which is killing us.

That essay on Proust is absolutely delightful, while his short piece on Mother Teresa is endearing and venemous at once. I'll leave his politics alone for the moment; it would only flame an argument which is made so often that it never ceases to bore me.

I'm familiar with Mr. Amis, but not greatly. I read The Moronic Inferno, and have nothing but good things to say about it. Given my currently limited knowledge of literature - particularly modern literature - it was of great help concerning the Bellows, the Mailers and the Vidals. Also, if you haven't already, read his piece on the demise of Joseph Heller; very, very witty I thought. My comrade in crime, Michael, has a copy of The War Against Cliché; I'll be sure to pick that up. After the Leaving Cert, obviously and of course.

I've rambled on a fair bit, so I feel I should stop.

4/28/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Copernicus said...

Amis and the Hitch are like best friends for life so it's unsurprising that if you like one you'll like the other. Not that they agree on the GWOT. I think the Hitch fancies himself as the Orwell of the modern left, but it's an empty pose in my not so humble.

Still, thoroughly enjoyable as his style is, don't believe everything you read by Hitchens. Even I have had to be set straight by my woman on certain of his critical judgments, having been dazzled by his prose.

Having said that about his style, his books on Clinton and Kissinger are well nigh unreadable.

Clive is a much better role model and far closer to a modern Orwell than the Hitchmeister. I think there's a link to his essay on the University of the Holocaust on his site (see links) which should probably be required reading. Next time you're in Waterstones, make Clive your go-to guy!

I never let the fact that I've rambled on stop me, and I don't think you should either.

4/28/2006 03:38:00 PM  
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