Lists Part One (or Novels Part One)

Humans love lists. This is not a criticism, merely an observation. Perhaps I will write an essay on this phenomenon related to organizational thought and general mental storage/organization processes. I will also write a lot about literature, one of my deepest passions.

Lists are typically annoying and boring and reductive, so I am going to avoid using any general superlatives. These lists will simply be jumping off points for me to discuss some of my favorite works of art. I learned at an early age that if I found history’s profound, transcendent, genius voices and the creative work in which they express and filter the knowledge of eras, cultures, generations et al, then I could quickly filter out much of the noise permeating and saturating modern life. Straight to the source so ta speak.

These lists will be lists of ten. I will write a lot about numbers, groups, rings, fields, bases, primes, ideals, transcendents, the great modulo ten debate, the binary obsession/misconception, zeta functions, gamma functions, infinity, closures, extensions, Galois, Riemann, Cantor, Langlands, Poincare etc etc you will have so much fun learning math in the future with me that it makes me quite giddy. And I don’t just get giddy fo nuttin (nuttinness aint even real). However, for now, ten is an acceptable list number, just ask Georges Perec if one day you happen to randomly walk into him in the Hall of Geniuses section of the afterlife. Once I learn how to blog better to better my blog, I intend to link each list item to a brief (brevity is the soul of witevah) piece containing further thoughts on said item, its influence on my life and all life, and whatever else comes to mind. Again, I only intend to write things (sometimes it’s ok to use common, general words…I do what I want) I would find Good (more on false dichotomies and continuums of ideas later).

Ok, let’s start with ten novels. I’m going to separate literature into a few generally accepted categories (more on category theory later, but I don’t intend to make any distinctions that go beyond fundamental common characteristics): short stories (likely in the form of story collections), short novels or novellas (potentially collections), novels, plays, poetry, and possibly non-fiction with a few extra subcategories. Other lists will cover film, art, music, television, restaurants, and whatever else I feel fits into this format that I would like to explore. Like all structurally sound ideas, this one will remain dynamic and open to suggestions.

Again, not BEST, certainly favorites, moreover meaningful creative achievements in human history/thought. All great novels are in some sense historical in that they by definition serve as commentaries on life experience and the experience of life in a historical context. Novels are primary historical documents with a voice and purpose. These first selections are of the go-big-or-go-home variety (more on algebraic varieties and their invariant properties later). These authors and their works shape my life past, present, future. The lists might skew modern/post-modern, but I appreciate all brilliance, dislike semantics, and enjoy traveling around in place and time in my airship in the cloud atlas, against the day. I will only include one work per author per list, though I have spent the most time standing on the shoulders of these giants standing on the shoulders of other giants I imagine like a superstable human pyramid of greatness. I want to write longer pieces on each author and specific works. I realize this is ambitious, but, again, go big or GTFO (more on parenthetical statements later).

The written word is the most human-versal (I avoid universal here because of mathematics) means of communication across human existence in space+time, and history is the story of people. RIP Howard Zinn, DFW.

Novels Part One (or The Big Ones Part One (now with mine-own subtitles):

  1. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    (sub: How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Hate the Bomb)
  2. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
    (sub: Ensō)
  3. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
    (sub: Man: You Monster)
  4. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
    (sub: Man: You Fool)
  5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    (sub: War: What is it Good For?)
  6. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    (sub: Melancholia and the Finite Sadhappyness: Life)
  7. Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
    (sub: LISTS!!!!!!!!!!…and representation theory)
  8. The Recognitions by William Gaddis
    (sub: Art or Fart)
  9. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
    (sub: Let Women Rule)
  10. Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    (sub: Time and Love (and Incest) by Vivian Darkbloom)

-BB