Women and Vodka!

This is an interesting piece about an illustrator named Lou Marchetti and a writer named David Markson, but I’d link it just for the magnificent reproductions of the front and back covers of the anthology of Russian stories whose title I have borrowed for this post. Thanks, Trevor!


  1. David Eddyshaw says:

    … the rest I just squandered.

  2. Heh.

  3. Seeing the phrase “a writer named David Markson” strikes me in the same way “a baseball player named Willie Mays” would strike a sports reporter or “a Treasury Secretary named Alexander Hamilton” would strike Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is not to suggest that Markson is anything like famous, of course. It’s just us cult members who feel this way.

  4. More power to you! If I were to give him a try, where should I start?

  5. I’m personally very fond of Springer’s Progress, and his late aphoristic “novels” (such as Vanishing Point and This Is Not a Novel) are also worthy of attention, but Wittgenstein’s Mistress is the place to start.

  6. Thanks!

  7. Customers who viewed Wittgenstein’s Mistress also viewed

    Omensetter’s Luck
    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

  8. David Eddyshaw says:

    Apropos of nothing much, I just came across a reference to a letter in which the philosopher J L Austin (as in “Sense and Sensibilia”) refers to Wittgenstein as “Witters.” Affectionately. Or not. As you may think.

  9. I wonder if he also referred to the Tractatus as “Tractors.”

  10. David Eddyshaw says:

    I would not have put it past him. Though my own Sprachgefühl suggests rather “Trackers.”

  11. I agree, but “Tractors” is funnier.

  12. David Eddyshaw says:

    Austin would almost certainly concur. One of the funnier analytical philosophers. If they ever bring out a book of Best Analytical Philosophy Jokes he’ll be up there with … er …

  13. David Eddyshaw says:

    Because that inevitably led me to think of Sidney Morgenbesser, I cannot resist passing on his insight that the explanation for the truth that “what goes up must come down” is evidently Natural Selection: “The stuff that didn’t come down isn’t here anymore.”

  14. Thanks, I hadn’t heard that one!

  15. Helium, notably. We are using it up and it can’t be replaced, because it drifts to the top of the atmosphere and out.

  16. There is an awful lot of helium. It doesn’t last long in the atmosphere, but it still constitutes almost a millionth of the Earth’s crust. What people do worry about wasting (not because we will run out, but because it is so much rarer) is He-3.

  17. Well, yes; there is no absolute scarcity of He-4. But that doesn’t mean that the readily extractable helium from natural gas isn’t being wasted or lost at the vast majority of natural gas extraction and helium consumption sites worldwide. (Balloons aren’t a big deal: they are only 8% of total consumption, and they are so profitable that they subsidize larger uses of helium such as superconducting magnets.)

  18. The losses are mostly helium that is just not collected during natural gas extraction. Once you have helium liquefied, it is not that volatile. The first time I worked with liquid helium, I was very, very surprised that we could work with it in an open dewar. Access to the liquid helium was via a tube several centimeters wide and about a meter long, which you could leave open for many minutes without appreciable evaporative losses, in spite of the 300 K temperature gradient between the helium at the bottom and the air at the top. (When you pull a probe out of the 4.2 K helium, it comes out still so cold that you can watch the air condense on probe’s surface.)

  19. I agree with the previous orator. Women and vodka are more precious commodities.

  20. David Marjanović says:

    you can watch the air condense

    Awesome. 🙂

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