View Full Version : Page Error with Clive James - Cultural Amnesia
12-21-2008, 05:15 PM
I'm new to this forum so please forgive me if this one has been posted before.
Is anyone else having problems with Clive James - Cultural Amnesia throwing up a Page Error when trying to open in PRS-505?
The title is supposed to be DRM Free, but when I try to open it I get the Triangle Warning sign and the message Page Error. I have several other epub titles that open fine, and this title will open on my PC using the Adobe Digital Editions Reader.
Any help would be much appreciated.
Great site by the way!
12-21-2008, 06:11 PM
Is anyone else having problems with Clive James - Cultural Amnesia throwing up a Page Error when trying to open in PRS-505?
That error means that the EPUB book contains one or more HTML files which are larger than 100k / 300k compressed / uncompressed. If you check the "Item info..." for the book in the desktop version of AdobeDE it should show you a warning about that.
You should be able to fix the problem with calibre by feeding the book through 'any2epub.'
12-21-2008, 11:06 PM
I'm no help kirky, but I just wanted to pop in and say "Good book". I've bought it in both pbook and ebook form myself.
12-22-2008, 03:07 PM
Thanks for your response - much appreciated.
I have just downloaded a copy of Calibre, now I need to spend some time figuring out how it works.
12-22-2008, 03:57 PM
I have just downloaded a copy of Calibre, now I need to spend some time figuring out how it works. If you know how to use command line tools, then see any2epub (http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net/user_manual/cli/any2epub.html). Calibre's phyton scripts (including any2epub.py) are already in your "path" so just run it from a command window.
It may be easier to use the GUI. Click on the calibre icon (to open the gui). Select the hammer icon (settings), to the right of the search bar. In the general tab, select EPUB for single file save (and output format if you want), and click save. Click on "Add book" to add the existing epub. Once it is there, click on the ebook to select it and then click on convert ebook. Check that under "Page setup" the profile is PRS505, then click OK. The ePub should now be suitable for the PRS-505.
12-22-2008, 04:25 PM
Thank you all very much.
I downloaded Calibre, added the title 'Cultural Amnesia' and, using the GUI, converted the file to lrf.
I then sent the title to my PRS-505 and it opened as it should.
It really is one of the great books of all time as far as I am concerned. I already own a hardback copy but it's a bit heavy to carry around. So, naturally, I purchased an electronic copy to add to the other couple of hundred books I need to keep by my side should I have a spare moment.
Thanks again. I shall be bookmarking this this site and visiting on a daily basis from now on.
12-05-2009, 11:53 PM
Great writing requires loftiness of soul. Good writing merely requires a reader who has the option of turning the page. The Viennese writers who were denied the chance to write dissertations for an audience of one "were driven instead to journalism, plain speech, direct observation and the necessity to entertain." They wrote essays, reviews, sketches and squibs; they also wrote in longer and more conventionally prestigious forms, but always in styles that had been honed by the whetstone of conversation. Cultural Amnesia is an extended defense of literary journalism as occupying not only an honorable place within the hierarchy of cultural discourse but the supreme one. For journalism demands both simplicity and compression, and compression makes language glow. James's stylistic models are writers like Altenberg, who could "pour a whole view of life, a few cupfuls at a time, into the briefest of paragraphs." His highest hero, "the voice behind the [book's] voices" (and one of several exceptions to his rule of writing only about twentieth-century figures), is Tacitus. It was Tacitus who wrote the sentence out of which the entire volume grew: "They make a desert and they call it peace." James heard the line quoted as a young man and "saw straight away that a written sentence could sound like a spoken one, but have much more in it."
Indeed, Cultural Amnesia is less a collection of great figures than of great sentences. Each entry begins with a thumbnail sketch of the individual in question but mainly consists of James's commentary on one or more quotations drawn from his or her writing. Sometimes the commentary concerns its author, sometimes not. No matter what it concerns--pornography, movie dialogue, the politics of literary exile, the problem of high seriousness in modern art--it is invariably absorbing. Reading the book feels like having a conversation with the most interesting person in the world: You're not saying much, but you just want to keep listening anyway. The reason James is such a good talker, though, is that he's such a good listener. He means it literally when he says that the book took forty years to write, because its quotations are the harvest of the notebooks he has kept for all that time, and the notebooks are the harvest of his insatiable reading.
Ever since running into Tacitus, James has been a connoisseur of aphorisms and aphorists--of writing that is both conversational and compressed and of the kinds of minds that produce it. It's no coincidence that he is also a connoisseur of music. "Echoes of a predecessor's rhythm, pace and melody are rarely accidental": That sentence contains four terms that sound like they refer to music, but it's about writing. Rhythm is central to James's understanding of style, and so are "echoes"--that is, memory. He is himself an incandescent and virtually habitual aphorist--I wanted to follow his advice and copy down his best lines into a notebook of my own, but I would have had to transcribe the entire book--and so his love of the beautifully turned phrase goes far deeper than mere appreciation. "Few writers have ever had a more identifiable tone of voice than Egon Friedell," he writes, "but the tone was a synthesis of all the voices he had ever heard, and so is ours." The most individual style in the world is the product of a collective effort. In gathering the voices that inhabit his own, the echoes he hears in his head, James has indeed produced an epic on the growth of his mind, a song of himself.
12-05-2009, 11:54 PM
I would like to say a few things about Clive James’ new book Cultural Amnesia. James’s book is prompted, to some extent, by the suspicion that a new age of barbarism is indeed descending. He has lots of company in this view. My recent memoir(5 volumes in 2500 pages) is also prompted by a similar intuition. But like the barbarism of the late Roman Empire in the West in the second and third century A.D., I take the view that a new religion is growing in our midst. Like Christianity which crept, half-hidden, along the foundations and against the background of an Augustan empire, the Baha’i Faith seems, thusfar, too insignificant to be noticed by history for it, too, is growing slowly, obscurely, insensibly in our modern and postmodern world.
In his book James also offers a steady stream of advice on how to go about the business of self-education. I offer advice, for the most part indirectly, or such is my hope, for I am all too conscious of the limitations of direct advice-giving; I do not advise any must-reads or how-to's. There are, as in James’s work, many anecdotes. Like James in his Cultural Amnesia I launch a symphony of voices; I hope it is not a cacophony.
My life, like James's, has been richly social, but not in the world of celebrities and media. I have read a great deal, but nothing like the quantity that James has consumed. James says that most of his listening was to the authors behind the books he read; in my case, until I retired in 1999, most of my listening was to people in the raw: individuals, groups, communities. For a host of reasons--the expansion of universities, of suburbs and of telecommunications, to name three--the kind of face-to-face intellectual-artistic life that was exemplified in coteries in the past, and that flourished in various twentieth-century cities, notably Paris, before WW1, simply no longer exist--or so James sees it. I agree, but not all the way. I feel as if I’ve done an awful lot of face-to-face stuff in my life: in cities, towns, classrooms, lounge rooms, my own home, rental halls, inter alia.
James's answer to what he sees as a diminution of venues for intellectual-artistic activity, this bereavement, is the book itself--as is my own memoir, partly. Here in James's book is the café, the former place of the intellectual-artist; he has created it in his mind; it is a convocation of voices that respond to one another across the barriers of language, outlook, expressive form and, most of all, time.
Over the decades and beginning after I got my BA and B.Ed. degrees in 1966 & 1967, respectively, I was driven away from academic institutions of higher learning and toward a more journalistic approach, to a plain speech and a style of writing that was not as esoteric as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation. Direct observation and the necessity to entertain was absolutely crucial for James and for me. I would never have survived in classrooms had these qualities not surfaced insensibly over the first half-a-dozen years of my teaching experience from 1967 to 1973. When I did get near institutions of higher learning it was on the periphery and for brief periods and so the esoteric did not have a chance to bloom.
Not in the mass media eye, as James was and with his immense success, I settled for a more modest achievement in the world of “the school” and “the college.” Like James, I wrote essays, reviews, sketches and squibs for students; I also wrote in longer and more conventionally prestigious forms, but always in styles that had been honed by the whetstone of conversation, but without the accruing prestige that James accumulated.
Writing for the student and for the popular press, even at a much less successful and prestigious level of everyday journalism than James, demands both simplicity and compression, and compression, if it is of good quality, makes language glow, even if the glow is only little and slightly warming. I felt, as the years went on, that some light was finally being emitted from the marks on the page that I was putting down even if I was the only one who saw it and a few coteries of votaries in cyberspace for nanoseconds.
The stylistic models that James and I emulated were much different. However different, they each could "pour a whole view of life, a few cupfuls at a time, into the briefest of paragraphs." James highest hero, "the voice behind the book’s voices" and one of several exceptions to his rule of writing only about twentieth-century figures, was Tacitus. I was surprised at this in some ways, but not entirely so, for James is primarily a serious bloke with a patina of humour which he will never get rid of. It's part of his cultural schizophrenia.
It was Tacitus who wrote the sentence, says James, out of which his entire volume Cultural Amnesia grew: "They make a desert and they call it peace." James heard this line quoted as a young man and "saw straight away that a written sentence could sound like a spoken one, but have much more in it."
My Tacitus, was Gibbon and Gibbon saw his history as a continuation of Tacitus’ work. I felt, therefore, James and I were on a similar track. I've been reading Gibbon for decades. I would like to think that my memoirs are what James’ book Cultural Amnesia was to the reviewer in The Nation; namely, “less a collection of great figures than of great sentences.” But, alas and alack, I write in the minor leagues; not that I mind, for I love the art, the act itself.
That same reviewer, William Deresiewicz, went on to say, “reading Cultural Amnesia feels like having a conversation with the most interesting person in the world: You're not saying much, but you just want to keep listening anyway.” Well, I’m not sure if I have had such a conversation in years as a talker or a listener expect in books. On the other hand, I sometimes feel as if I have had al too many such conversations of the deep and the meaningful. But as fas as print is concerned, James is, for me, one of my many, one of my crucial, mentors.
The reason James is such a good talker is that he's such a good listener- or so that reviewer in The Nation said in his fine review, a review on James's website along with a number of other statements of encomium and only a little opprobrium. James means it literally when he says that the book took forty years to write, because its quotations are the harvest of the notebooks he has kept for all that time, and the notebooks are the harvest of his insatiable reading.
Forty years of talking tired me out as did forty years of listening. Gore Vidal once said listening was one of the most demanding arts. I did not fin d it so for decades but I do now. In recent years I’ve gone on shutdown. Forty years of my note-taking has resulted in a small study filled with files that annoy my wife who has a penchant for the tidy and the clean, the orderly and the useful. It is a penchant I share with her but in a different modus operandi, modus vivendi. I like a tidy desk, but am not too concerned about the efflorescence of my files. Forty years of reading and note-taking gave me an even greater appetite for print after I retired from full-time, part-time and casual-work and all that talking and listening in the years 1999 to 2005.
Ever since running into Tacitus, says James, he has been a connoisseur of aphorisms and aphorists--of writing that is both conversational and compressed and of the kinds of minds that produce it. It's no coincidence that he is also a connoisseur of music. "Echoes of a predecessor's rhythm, pace and melody are rarely accidental": That sentence contains four terms that sound like they refer to music, but it's about writing. Rhythm is central to James's understanding of style, and so are "echoes"--that is, memory. He is himself, at least for me, an incandescent and virtually habitual aphorist.
I, too, went down this road but not quite as passionately as James, for I was not in the media spotlight that he was, a spotlight where the aphorism is one of the kings of the sound-bite and the clever turns of phrase. I did collect quotations in my many notebooks, but clever turns of phrase and jokes always slightly eluded me when I went to translate them into verbal matter. As I approached my sixtieth year, I found there was just too much to copy into notebooks; there was too much that was useful. By then my computer directory began to come in handy.
The love of the beautifully turned phrase goes far deeper than mere appreciation. James knows this better than most. The identifiable tone of voice, a tone which is a synthesis of all the voices one has ever heard, is at the core of the term “voice.” A lot of things make up voice. The most individual style in the world is the product of a collective effort. In gathering the voices that inhabit our own, the echoes we hear in our head, are indeed produced by the growth of our mind; it is the song of self, as Walt Whitman might have put it--and did.
I have discussed this notion of the individual voice, its song, its life, in connection with Wordsworth’s poem The Prelude and my own poetry which is a sort of prelude two hundred years later. But that is in another essay.
To fully participate in community life in the sense that is at the heart of James's s work requires an exemplification of liberal values. We must engage, in James' s view--in the work, the community enterprize in our own individual way and with a broad liberalism, both are essential. We each can do some things that others do, that other community members do, but we must see our own work as a part of a larger enterprise. We must strive in the context of this larger, this non-utilitarian liberal enterprise and its myriad smaller components.
Being a part of the community, then, is not simply a matter of learning new skills, new attitudes and new values, but also of fielding new calls for identity construction. This understanding of identity suggests that people enact and negotiate identities in the world over time. For identity is dynamic and it is something that is presented and re-presented, constructed and reconstructed in interaction. And like the tension in violin strings which are the basis of musical harmony, life in community also possess a tension with which we must deal with in harmony. Of course, this can not always be done. James has been more successful than most. He produces little noise Often only noise. He has done a good deal of connecting. This is true when one writes, when one talks and when one lives and works in community, if one can bring humour to the table. Humour is a wonderful oil in this whole exercise. James knows this, again, for he has done it better than most writers.
The individual experience of power derives from belonging, but it also derives from exercising control over what we belong to, what we participate in, what we read, indeed, an entire panoply and pageantry of activity. Each individual is heterogeneously made up of various competing discourses, often conflicted and virtually always possessed of contradictory scripts. Our consciousness is anything but unified. In many ways wholeness or integration is not so much a goal as a battle, at least some kind of perpetual balancing act of dealing with unstable forces, forces which we must try to reconcile or they will tear at our psyches. These unstable forces may also cause us to withdraw and, like a planet slipping from orbit and following the dictates of its own centrifugal momentum, become ultimately so remote from the magnetic attraction of the sun that it flies irretrievably into remoteness. This can happen to both individuals and societies. Inner conflict is not so much a disorder as it is the first law of human psychic life and is part of that principle of polarity at the centre of life.
This Australian critic and raconteur, this retired journalist, Clive James made a pertinent point in this connection when he compered an ABC FM Radio program about Australian orchestras in concert. He said that large countries like Australia and the USA don't have identities. They are too diverse. I think the same is true about individuals. They are also diverse over a lifetime to have a single identity.
There is now a great wealth of literature available to the Baha’i community, both in-house literature and the burgeoning material now available in the marketplace. My book occupies a small place, possesses no particular authority and competes for a place, for space, with a print and electronic media industry of massive proportions. In order to survive and do well in most of the print and electronic media a writer must develop the ability to put things simply and effectively, in a manner that everyone can understand. Such a writer has maybe a minute and a half to two minutes if he is talking on the TV to explain a complex subject or a series of short verbal expositions if he is involved in an interview; even a book, if it is to find a large readership in the mass circulation market, must be as simple as possible.
Many academics and intellectuals are so steeped in academic jargon that they are unable to simplify their material. I hope my book is not an example of this academic problem, the problem of someone who could not pull off the simplification process. I’m afraid simplicity and brevity are not marks of my literary style. James's fat books, however liberal in philosophy, will not penetrate the minds of the new barbarians. James knows this. He has realistic expectations. His book will fail with that increasingly large crowd. But the crowd at this year's Melbourne Writers' Festival will devour his new book.
I knew of a senior academic who was asked to appear on a local TV station. She showed up with six or seven books and they had little pieces of paper stuck in the books for purposes of quotation. The whole interview was over in less than two minutes; she never read any of her quotations and she was frustrated that she just couldn’t make her points. She didn’t understand that if you’re going to play in the media ballpark, you have to play by their rules, not your own. I like to think that this book, this autobiography of mine, has allowed me to have my six books and their quotations and that the role of this book does not include a two minute TV summary or an interview of ten minutes on an arts program. On the other hand, I could probably write a ten second autobiographical-ad grab, summarize what I’m all about in one or two minutes and be interviewed for any appropriate length of time. It will probably never happen before I die. Perhaps there is hope in the posthumous literary world.
There are many different kinds of self-referential writing. I have incorporated some of them in what is for me a surprisingly large work invoking Whitman's "I am large, I contain multitudes,” as an appropriate presiding spirit for the genre. Whatever largeness I claim to possess, it is the same largeness we all possess in relation to ourselves. And some are larger than others. James is a big chap--in more ways than one. We all must live in our own skins for all our days and the sense of our largeness--or our smallness for that matter--is a result of our bodily manifestation, our physical proximity to self. In the multitude of methods and genres of studies of Baha’i history and experience, teachings and organization, autobiography is either tentatively acknowledged, invoked by negation or simply passed over in silence. It is one genre that is, for the most part, conspicuous by its absence from any bibliography. This has begun to change in the last decade or two. This piece of writing is part of that change.