Alexander Crompton

📚 24 - February

Annie Ernaux (1994). La Honte. [Shame]

Shame—shame—shame. Something that occured to me when I read this book is that I used to feel the same bone-deep shame that Ernaux describes, but now I don't anymore. Where did all that shame go? If anyone's still doing affect theory, maybe they could explain to me whatever happened to shame?

From a formal perspective, this book achieved what I think many US-American short stories try to do (or at least tried to do back when I still read them): there's something like a volta at the end of the book where the text turns back on itself and multiplies the meaning of what you've just read. I think where the US-American short stories fail is they (1) use this volta to try to dredge up meaning where there wasn't much to begin with and (2) reach for a done-to-death bittersweetness.

But Ernaux's work is strong enough to stand without the volta. Ernaux's world—the épicerie with its shutters, the nuns at school, the little town's oppressive mores, the gaffes on the train-ride—is evoked so plainly and movingly. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it.

Carl Jung (1952). Synchronicity.

How could events be meaningfully connected without causality? Trying to wrap my head around this question was the biggest challenge of reading this work. I struggled to imagine such events. Thoughts like: "two events could be meaningfully connected but causally unrelated... if they were both caused by energetic forces we cannot perceive!!"

How to unlearn the axiom of causality? It should be easy to unlearn, given that straightforward and concrete causality (with no chance or probability hedging it) is all but nonexistent in the our everyday lives. And yet!

Something I think about a lot is how much we rely on artifacts for our understanding of the past. If something isn't legibly available now, it must have never existed. So you get fanciful claims like "Shakespeare invented 1,700 words" because the idea of a lost history of language is unthinkable. What other lost histories aren't available to us? What golden face lies behind the veil of obscurity??

This XKCD comic came out a couple days ago. What does it all mean???

xkcd comic about physics being magic ###