Friday, August 31, 2007

Wheat and chaff

Casting a ruthless eye to one's library, especially in the light of a very long move, leads to some interesting discussions. What complicates things is that there are two conversations at work--what can I get rid of wholesale (and the concomitant question of "how?"), there is also "what can I take with me?" The results have been...interesting. Mostly it's a matter of giving up, grudgingly, some side interests. I don't need seven books right now on German, I need an actual desire to learn to read German.

I need one translation project text and that's it. In May of 2005 I was translating Czech with a book, my dictonary, a red pen, and the back of an e-ticket confirmation in the Vienna airport. (I still have those integrated into the notebook I'd run out of space in, naturally.) I don't now need three Čápek plays, say, even if they are Czech postwar editions, even if one is R.U.R, which I might want to read at some stage, it's just distraction. I hope this streamlining is good for productivity. (Now, don't think I'm trashing these other texts, oh no. They'll be kept.)

I guess the more I look at it, the more it's how many books I take with me, versus how many I leave behind, with an eye, to borrow a phrase, towards radical parcimony. I'm even toying (halfheartedly) with the idea of leaving my giant Czech dictionaries at home, though that would leave me at the mercy of the Internet for my word-finding needs. I might even leave some Fuks behind. That's unlikely too, but this feels like a healthy streamlining instead of a purge.

Ten more days of work.

EDIT: I think I can get everything I want to take with me, books-wise, into a single paper box. It's hurt, and it will hurt, but there's a lot of good in there. Nick, heads up that you may be getting another box of mailed books, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finished with two things...

I put in three and a half weeks' notice at the job today, and then came home, and, after some desultory packing, finished transcribing The Way to the Promised Land . Two short story collections, the novel, and now this novella. About 160,000 words, all told.

It's a start.

Friday, August 10, 2007

If it weren't for punctuated equi,li?bri;um...

I was going to follow that title up with "there'd be no equilibrium at all" but then realized that didn't make sense. It's the equilibrium-rupturing what's important. It's the punctation that's important, for many reasons besides separating us from the e e cummingses of the world.

I'm nine thousand words into an August transcribing jag. ( The Way to The Promised Land emerges from an inchoate state) Three months of negotiations with management have left me itching to take on a landlord who is acting both childlishly and illegally tomorrow. The lease is up in three weeks, and California beckons shortly after.

So how much can I get done before then?

To work.

Monday, August 06, 2007

You know those Germans...

So evidently the middle English had a word for Prussia, a variant of the then-Middle French Pruce (currently Prusse, if my high-school French hasn't mouldered away completely). This variant was Spruce.

Whence the name of the genus of tree (whose leaves provide an emergency source of Vitamin C), and (I am given to understand) the verb and adjective, after an apparently trim and tidy "Spruce leather." Those Germans were stereotyped for their meticulous cleanliness even then, it seems.

I'm seven thousand words in to August's transcribing binge, and brought my Czech-English dictionary home from work, where it had languished lo these several months.

I daresay I'm sprucing my writing up a bit.