A day at the library

I’ve been to the library today, checking out some books (I had half a day off from paternity leave).

First, I found a book I hadn’t thought of looking up, George Lakoff’s Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. It’s an impressive volume; it’s much more philosophical than I thought, and delves deeper into linguistic matters (but then he’s a linguist, after all). I think I will read it sometime, but not now. (I couldn’t find his Metaphors We Live By, though.)

I wrote down this quote as I leafed through it:

The mind is … not simply a “mirror of nature,” and concepts are not merely “internal representations of external reality.”

The book argues against objectivism, in favor of experientialism. He mentions, as examples of other books that do this, Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Paul Feyerabend’s Against Method.

Then I tried to find Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga, but it was deposited and I didn’t bother to ask them to get it for me.

So I continued browsing and I found a copy of the Swedish anthology on genre theory I saw on display in the window of one of the inner-city libraries as I was out walking with my daughter. It’s very interesting, but I’ll wait a while before reading it.

But I realized that there is much confusion about what defines a genre. Some see it as nothing more than classifications of literature. In my notes I wrote that there’s confusion about when a genre can be said to have emerged (it’s one of those things you know but can’t define, I guess). I also wrote that genres aren’t logic classes, but groups or historical families, but I didn’t write down who said this.

Some names in genre theory: Alastair Fowler, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Karl Viëtor (did I get that name right?), Hans Robert JauÅ, Claude Lévi-Strauss (said something about structure), Gérard Genotte, and Jacques Derrida (wrote an essay titled “The Law of the Genre,” or something like that). Some of these might just be people referred to by genre theorists.

Genotte has written things about archegenres and archetexts. Archegenres are the foundational genres epic, lyric, and drama, whereas archetexts include genres, modes (whatever that is), and form.

Anyway, I also tried to find books on semiotics, after Håkan suggested I should look into it. There were some titles by Umberto Eco, but I couldn’t find any of them.

There was one that caught my attention, though: a book from 1973 by Russian semiotician Yuri Lotman. It’s a Swedish translation, so I don’t know if there’s an English translation, but literally translated it’s titled, “The Semiotics of Film and Questions About Film Aesthetics”.

I began to leaf through it and I knew I had to read it soon, so I went and got myself a library card, for the first time in decades.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on August 29, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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