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For What It's Worth - a literary site
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The literary site of Jason Bentsman, featuring quality writings and other media by him and notable Contributors
The literary site of Jason Bentsman, featuring quality writings and other media by him and notable Contributors

202 followers
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For What It's Worth - a literary site's posts

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Dear G+ Friends,
I'm retiring this account. Thanks to all of you for your patronage and kind sentiments. If you'd like to continue occasionally seeing pieces of and about literature, philosophy, art, and film, quotes, cartoons, and other notables in the same vein, I encourage you to sign up for FWIW's email digest
http://forwhatitsworth.be/email-digest-2/
and like its FB page
https://www.facebook.com/fwiwliterary/
All the best to everyone,
Jason
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Forgotten Classics: White Fang by Jack London

I'm about 3/4 through the novel White Fang by Jack London. I never had given much thought about this late 19th / early 20th century American writer other than in the context of forgotten, lesser 'classics.' I was flabbergasted when I began reading it. His writing style in this novel is excellent: deft, incisive, evocative, eloquent, rarely overwrought. Some of the sentences are some of the finest I've read in American literature...

The plot is excellent. It's essentially a bildungsroman about a wolf (actually a 3/4 wolf, 1/4 wild dog mix) from the wolf's (or kindred animals') point of view, told mostly in a limited 3rd person narrative which allows one to feel both the wolf's perspective, as well as the wider worldly karmic and at times even 'metaphysical' context, which begins with the wolf's parents years before he is born...

The plotting of the first section is rather ingenious in that it doesn't even hint that the book will be a bildungsroman, but begins with two sled-men in the remote Yukon, portrayed almost as a remote planet, during a famine in the wilderness, hired to bring back the body of a wealthy businessman's wannabe adventurer son who recklessly traveled and froze to death there, way overschedule and running out of rations and energy, as they are aped by a pack of wolves that each night, in spite of their best efforts, kill some of of their sled dogs. The denouement in this section is exceptional...

London's psychological understanding of wolves and wild dogs is amazing. Surely there are probably some inaccuracies here and there, but overall it seems to be unparalleled. It's as if he had been a wolf in a previous life. His knowledge of wildernesses and the life of the wild is also keen...

Sometimes he makes statements about animal instinct, heredity, and other biological impulses far beyond his time, merely by dint of intuition, which only recently have been gaining some credence and articulated scientifically (Epigenetics, for example). He also, sparingly, manages to make profound metaphysical observations. The first section in which he is describing the whiteness, vastness, inhospitality, and severeness of the arctic landscape is especially piquing...

The book of course does have some missteps, as all books do, some passages out of character, but overall I'm very surprised by how good it is and, per this, how little London is remembered today. I would assume it's one of his best. Also get the sense that, interestingly enough, he may not actually have had a deep understanding of human psychology and relations. In this novel the human characters are perfectly serviceable and realistic, but their roles and interiors are secondary, exist mainly in service of showing the interiors and developments of the animal characters...

Anyway, highly recommended. A great (re)discovery.
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The Author's Cut, published for the first time, of the just brilliant Beckett-Pinter-Kafka-Calvino-Borges-WC Fields-esque absurdist short story that first appeared in Harper's Magazine, and is undoubtedly a striking metaphor for our times

http://forwhatitsworth.be/?p=7249

“It is not supple. It communicates nothing. The kupuestra is mute; brittle; many-cornered… It is performed without music… The great artists of the medium all die before the age of forty.”

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What if Ernest Hemingway had written a cookbook? Perhaps, as this comedy piece reveals, it would have been something like this. "You must pick your tomatoes with courage. And if they are true and good tomatoes, they will last a long time..."

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All Yesterday's Parties - a retro psychedelic foray
http://forwhatitsworth.be/?p=7214
Just for fun. . . A short video I made with my phone and a prism glass I found at a party. Very simple: two takes, no editing (save for the fades in the beginning and end, adding the song, and balancing sound levels). . . Music by the Velvet Underground & Nico

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Two films I saw recently that affected me significantly are Sunflower (1970), by Vittorio De Sica, and Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears (1979), by Vladimir Menshov. Here are a few clips from them involving music:

https://vimeo.com/115165396
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX0u0K3qt6Y

Neither I would say are incredible movies, but they are very poignant, realistically portraying change over time and the vicissitudes of life that often happen, and as such are great movies for learning a lot about life. I wish movies of such depth could be made today, but it seems that much of the depth has been sucked out of life by social media, relativistic philosophy, consumerism, and so on, much flattened. As if some deity sucked out much of the depth of civilization through a straw in the atmosphere. Though of course there are still pockets and individuals out there... somewhere.

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From the vault. . . EXIT MUSIC
http://forwhatitsworth.be/?p=2695
"A short ambient film about being a humanist in the postmodern world... // Inspired in part by a comment by Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky about the future of cinema: 'It would be nice, let us say, to shoot a film in complete freedom... Reject large financing. Have the possibility to observe nature and people, and film them, without haste. The story would be born autonomously...' // Reductively speaking, the film illustrates the subjective perspective of a young man alienated from his postmodern, consumeristic, media-addled, and polluting society, as he drives over a 24 hour period through a faltering landscape…”
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"Every person living on Earth or anywhere under its jurisdiction has the right to the following, which will be provided by the government or currently presiding collective body..."

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"I'm tired, can't think of anything and want only to lay my face in your lap, feel your hand on my head and remain like that through all eternity.”

― Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena
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