A Tranquil Star
February 6, 2007 1:47 PM   Subscribe

A Tranquil Star...for a discussion of stars our language is inadequate and seems laughable, as if someone were trying to plow with a feather. (via)
posted by grateful (11 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Two weeks in a row that New Yorker fiction has been posted to the blue - fantastic! I thought that this story was well-written but not nearly as exciting as last week's Battlestar Galactica. That shit went supernova and how!!
posted by billysumday at 2:02 PM on February 6, 2007

In the last New Yorker thread, someone asked if there was an easy way to catalogue all the fiction hiding in the New Yorker site. Well, I posted rather late, so I'll reproduce the query here:

I usually read the New Yorker short stories on the Monday that they are published online, and have wondered if anyone has created an easily-searchable online directory of all of the short stories hidden in the New Yorker site. Anybody know if that's been done?

New Yorker Fiction Archive
posted by limon at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2007

I've often wished I could write with such lucidity regarding the shortcomings of language and the limits of human perception such shortcomings belie. I'm convinced that a large percentage of human suffering is derived from the human inability to truly understand large numbers, let alone impart such an understanding to others.
posted by quite unimportant at 2:15 PM on February 6, 2007

I love Primo Levi, haven't gotten this issue yet. Thanks!
posted by everichon at 2:18 PM on February 6, 2007

Well, that was pretty writing. Beyond that I was unmoved. It seemed like a re-hashing of foulk Sapir-Whorf, which people tend to "rediscover" on their own all the time.

And what's the point of the story anyway? That poor Ramón can't describe the awesomeness of a Nova to his wife due to the limitations of language?
posted by delmoi at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2007

Thanks for this. Also, limon, thanks very much for reposting that comment. I've read a handful of the New Yorker's Short Fiction, partly thanks to Mefi (and partly through trying to figure out just what exactly Jhumpa Lahiri was up to), and finding that I generally really liked all the ones I'd read, I wanted to find more, only to discover that there was no easy way to browse through them on the New Yorker's website. So, that fix you provided is a godsend, and now I will be busy wading through the literary bounty.

A couple of recommendations of other stories I've read:
Once in a Lifetime
, and Hell-Heaven, by the always excellent Jhumpa Lahiri.

If I have enough motivation, I'll try to put together a small index of the work of the more well-known authors from the fiction section and post it in a comment.
posted by wander at 4:52 PM on February 6, 2007

Best read while listening to something from Eric Whitacre's Cloudburst.
posted by odinsdream at 7:31 PM on February 6, 2007

Thanks for the link :)
posted by flippant at 1:53 AM on February 7, 2007

This is something I've been working on - when I have the time, I will create a separate post for each entry, organize works by author, and have a simple, one-line directory to search for author, story name, and date. Until then, it's just a collection of paragraphs containing: the name of the story, the author, the date it was posted, and the first few lines (to jog the memory in case you've read it before).
posted by billysumday at 5:58 AM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well I agree completely with Primo Levi - and as for the rest of you hater-gargling bile-volcanos, let me just say this: you may not like his story, but didn't the guy also invent jeans? And aren't jeans the building blocks of all life on Earth? Each of us has at least a couple pairs of jeans, without which we wouldn't even EXIST. So fucking chew on that shit, you malice-licking scorn-throbbers.

Levi is quite correct that an accurate description of "the stars" is simply beyond the unassailable limits of our language. Can anyone actually describe how big TV's Oprah Winfrey is? Or how hot Owen Wilson is in Hollywood now, after his triumphant turn in Night at the Museum? Or even how many Oscars Jack Nicholson SHOULD be given for his bladder-slackening performance in The Departed - which set new standards in actorial excellence across seventeen continents and three minor land masses?

No - of course not! The stars exist in a dimension beyond you wart-heavy plebians, a realm in which their eternal talents corruscate blindingly and light the very heavens with intense beams of ultimate force. And yet you virgins sit there in your rooms, alternately squeezing your pimples and typing away on your little "computer sites", desperate to sneer at anything of valoh hang on I hear Mom calling I'M IN MY ROOM MOM DID YOU BRING SOME OREOS? NO I CAN'T I'M BUSY AW MOM ok hang on guys I gotta take out the trash. Trek on, cyber-bro's!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]

billysumday: Wow. Thanks. I'm glad I came back here to check on the thread. I spent a couple of hours last night creating a table and manually entering each author and book title that showed up in the google search that limon posted. It definitely started to get a lot more long, tedious, and frustrating than I had expected, although I am mostly done with it. I was trying to figure out the best way to add inline links to each story title, so I could finally post it up here. I'm tempted to finish it, but now that I see that you've basically done the same thing, have it on a dedicated website, and are keeping it updated it seems a bit like a moot point. I think once you get it so you can sort by author, it will be an excellent resource. Definitely a bookmark from me.

the quidnunc kid: Hey! I was wondering where you've been. Haven't seen you around Mofi in a while.
posted by wander at 9:35 AM on February 7, 2007

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