The History of Literature #367 – The Beatles and the Power of Narrative | Tolstoy on Twitter

367 The Beatles and the Power of Narrative | Tolstoy on Twitter

Jacke talks to Mike Palindrome about his work on the “Tolstoy Together” project sponsored by Yiyun Li and A Public Space, along with some other thoughts about reading great books on Twitter. THEN Jacke responds to the incredible Peter Jackson film Get Back, with some thoughts about the stories we tell about the Beatles and how narratives shape our understanding who we are and how we fit in the world. He also runs through the reasons usually given for the Beatles breakup, assesses them for their narrative power, and offers up a new idea that just might be the most powerful of all.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at http://www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

The History of Literature #364 – Bob Dylan, the Blues, and Songs with Literary Power (with Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez)

364 Bob Dylan, the Blues, and Songs with Literary Power (with Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez)

What happened in the Sixties? How did singers of popular music transform from mere entertainers to the poetic bards of their generation? Were these songs literature? If so, what does that mean? And if not, what exactly are they? In this episode, Jacke talks to the authors of a new book, Poetic Song Verse: Blues-Based Popular Music and Poetry about a new way of acknowledging, analyzing, and discussing the literary qualities of works by singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and those who came before and after.

MIKE MATTISON is a singer, songwriter, and founding member of Scrapomatic and the Tedeschi Trucks Band with whom he has won two Grammy Awards.

ERNEST SUAREZ is the David M. O’Connell Professor English at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He has published widely on southern literature, poetry, and music.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

Embrace Your Inner Beatle! “I’m So Tired”

Back to coins for this week’s randomizing method. Seven quick flips to allow the gods of genius and creativity to have their say, and…

Oh gods. Excellent choice. But are you feeling okay? Feeling droopy? Has the work of inspiring creativity gotten you down? Or are you just admiring one of John’s favorite songs? In any case, here we go with…

“I’m So Tired” (Lennon-McCartney, The White Album)

Where to begin? This is one of those songs that critics dislike but listeners don’t forget. That voice! Those words! Like so much else on The White Album, it goes straight to our brain.

I know, I know: why is this millionaire tired? He doesn’t haul bricks or drive a forklift, he doesn’t work two jobs, he’s not on the night shift. He plays music and does drugs and eats whatever he wants. Stop complaining! Continue reading

Christmas with James Joyce: The Sisters

Happy Dubliners Day! What’s that, you ask? It refers to a holiday tradition I have, which is to read one of James Joyce’s Dubliners story each day in the fifteen days leading up to Christmas Eve. Just like an advent calendar! And today, December 10, is the day to begin. I recommend taking off work, getting roaring drunk on Guinness or some good Irish whiskey, and jumping into the icy river of your choice while screaming sentences from Finnegans Wake at the top of your lungs.

Just kidding! All you need is about fifteen minutes and a clear, open mind. Follow this calendar (it’s not hard!) and you will be a better person at the end of it. Your Christmas Eve just might be the best you’ve ever had. Trust me.

How did this tradition begin? Well, it first came about when I read The Dead, one of the greatest short stories (some would call it a novella) ever written. The Dubliners stories lead up to The Dead the way the songs on Sgt. Pepper lead up to “A Day in the Life.” And with apologies to Dickens, The Dead is probably the greatest Christmas story for adults in all literature. (Maybe I’m forgetting one. But I don’t think so.)

Anyway, I first read The Dead at age nineteen or so. and was completely blown away. I wanted to read it over and over, I wanted to feel everything I felt the first time, but I didn’t want the impact to lessen. And so I thought, “I should re-read this story once a year for the rest of my life.” It wasn’t hard to go from that to “…and it should be on Christmas Eve!” And from there to “I’ll read one Dubliners story a day until I get to The Dead on Christmas Eve!” And that’s how it all began. A secular holiday tradition, but no less spiritual for that.

So here we go! This year I’m inviting you to come along with me for the ride. We’ll start with the first story in the book, “The Sisters.” All texts are provided courtesy of the incredible Project Gutenberg. There’s a great rendition of the story in the video above, too. All highly recommended. Enjoy!

THE SISTERS

THERE was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: “I am not long for this world,” and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.

Old Cotter was sitting at the fire, smoking, when I came downstairs to supper. While my aunt was ladling out my stirabout he said, as if returning to some former remark of his:

Continue reading

It’s The Jacke Wilson Show! Episode 2 – The Mind

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Here we go! Episode 2 of THE JACKE WILSON SHOW is up and running. This is a fun one: the Beatles, philosophers, prehistoric fish and Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. A few Tibetan rainbows for good measure. And lots more!

Download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 1.2 – Perception and the Mind

Getting better, I hope! You can also download The Jacke Wilson Show 1.1 – the Halloween Episode or listen to it here:

Let me know what you think! Thank you for listening!

Show Notes:

It’s the JACKE WILSON SHOW!

Episode 2: The Mind. The Beatles, the clinical effects of Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, philosophy and psych experiments at the University of Chicago, the rainbows of Tibet, holy spirits of all kinds, Tetris Zombies, and Jacke Wilson Object #20 (The Sign).

JACKE WILSON is the pen name of a writer whose books have been described as being “full of intrigue and expertly rendered deadpan comedy.” Born in Wisconsin, Jacke has since lived in Chicago, Bologna, Taiwan, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Mountain View, and New York City. Jacke now lives and works in the Washington D.C. area. Like his writings, the JACKE WILSON SHOW takes an affectionate look at the absurdities in literature, art, philosophy, great books, poetry, current events, hard news, politics, whatever passes for civilization these days, and the human condition (that dying animal). For more about Jacke and his books, visit Jacke at jackewilson.com.

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