In the name of Bacon will you chicken me up that egg/ Shall I swallow cave-phantoms?

by John Holbo on January 6, 2011

A stray note on the history of science fiction, in relation to theatrical absurdity qua independent but relatable phenomenon, via the intermediation of McGuffins, actual and potential, scientifical, metaphysical and occasionally fistical, and suchish chickenegg castings of shadows …

The note is: Beckett’s 1930 poem, “Whoroscope”, seems like an interesting work to think about.

It also seems worth chicking and eggsamining how Beckett and co. came close to satirizing, avant lalettre, Gernsback’s glorious goose egg of a golden coinage, ‘scientifiction‘. But I see that Gernsback actually proposed the term a few years earlier, in 1926. So that would be upsetting the eggcart before the chicken. And we wouldn’t want to do that o no.

Why am I thinking these thoughts? In part because I’m reading Martin Esslin, The Theatre of the Absurd [amazon] – on the iPad! It’s interesting. And it’s just what I wanted my iPad to do for me. Old good books re-released in inexpensive e-book format.

Couple quick thoughts about that. First, the thing has tons of typos and really quite serious transcription errors. Obviously an OCR effort, from a paper, pre-e-text. It’s not just that it’s got no page numbers, as noted in a previous thread. It’s really textually kinda sloppy. Not better than a Gutenberg text, certainly. But still it is more useful to a scholar than a better-edited scholarly paper edition would be. Because I feel that now, for the first time, I can be a good note-taker, which has always been my weakness. I loath the transaction costs of interrupting my reading to scribble stuff and this bad habit has been compounded by being an obsessive polisher. I don’t like taking notes that are sloppy enough. I end up just plain writing. And then I stop reading. So my reading-writing life has, my whole adult life, lacked that solid, note-taking middle. But now my iPad, with its functional – but only just – keypad is encouraging me to hit that sweet spot of sending myself telegraphs, in suitably telegraphic style, that I will receive from me in the future, for memory’s sake. Obviously your mileage may vary, but I feel that this device will be what it should be: a crutch for my mental weakness, not just more stimulant to fuel the ADD that I, like everyone else, suffer from. The iPad encourages efficient note-taking and discourages the dissolution of the mind into the candysugar shards of multitasking, i.e. reading blogs all day.



john c. halasz 01.06.11 at 5:17 am

Who though you stoop with fingers of compassion/ to endorse the dust/ shall not add to your bounty…


chris y 01.06.11 at 8:32 am

John, what have you done with all the other front pagers? Was there a coup d’etat?


John Holbo 01.06.11 at 10:09 am

Either they are going to show back up or I’m renaming the blog ‘ecce holbo’. Probably we’ll keep the same url.


BillCinSD 01.07.11 at 12:44 am

ecce holbo is probably better than Crooked Holbo or John Timber


Anon 01.08.11 at 3:49 pm

Ecce Holbo? I thought for sure you’d go for Holboscope.


Anand Manikutty 01.11.11 at 6:42 pm

Whereas, actually, the blog is going to be called “iHolbo”.

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