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B. Traven (wikipedia.org)
107 points by benbreen 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments



I'm experiencing a weird Baader Meinhof Phenomenon variant right now...I just started reading 2666, which concerns itself with (among other things) a mysterious German novelist in Mexico. Very odd to see this story here right now.


offtopic: The word Baader Meinhof needs to be retried. Besides reminding us of terrorists and being pseudo-intellectual, it wastes time and attention (and co2) by having to google its meaning. The better terms, "Frequency illusion" or "selective attention bias", however are quite self explanatory.


I did a research paper on Baader Meinhof long before the phenomenon came to my attention.

It was two years after that paper before I came across any other mentions of them.

The very next time anybody mentioned them to me it was in the frequency context and I'd had exactly the opposite experience of the "phenomenon." No frequency illusion at all.

I have no idea why we'd name a phenomenon after a thing that made some guy have a certain feeling this one time. It's a moronic name.


Here's some more Baader Meinhof from me:

Omnibus did an episode on B Traven[0], but also did episodes on Baader Meinhof[1][2]!

[0] https://www.omnibusproject.com/317

[1] https://www.omnibusproject.com/310

[2] https://www.omnibusproject.com/311


Hello fellow Archimboldian!

I’m slowly making my way through 2666. The very dense, entirely descriptive prose is quite demanding but the story is quite interesting and meanders nicely. Definitely feels like drinking a large cup of very dense chocolate - delicious but must be done in small sips.


Me too -- I just watched the Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Not only did John Huston direct, his father acted in it. One of the best characters.


Me too! I was just reading this article from this week’s issue of The Nation.

https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/b-traven-sierra-ma...


Another 2666 fan here. My copy of Treasure of Sierra Madre cites Traven as an inspiration for Archimboldi.


I wonder if it is possible today to publish under a pseudonym that will stand the test of history, given what we know about mass surveillance databases.


No need to even go there. Elena Ferrante got made a few years ago simply by tracking royalties payments. Most lit pseudonyms are broken by simple gossip.


I think the thing that makes it so truly rare, even in history is that very few people can resist getting even some recognition for their work. At the very least, most authors have a handful of literary minded friends they discuss their ideas and the machanical aspects of their writing with.

It's just incredibly hard for most people to never breathe a word of something that eats up so much of their mind like writing a book does. Especially when that work begins to recieve acclaim.

Writing has this in common with crime actually. A stunning number of people are made for a crime because they talk about it. Even to the point of many eventual exhiberstions coming when a perpetrator discusses the crime years later, believing themselves out of the woods.

I'm not sure Ferrante is an example of someone trying genuinely to remain anonymous.


Did you read “Crime and punishment” by Dostoevsky? It’s about this very thing. What is crime without attribution - of success as much as of guilt...?


I haven't but I've recently revived my interest in 19th century literature and will move this up my reading list.


Is Ferrante known with certainty?


The publisher continues to deny but it’s an open secret by now that she’s Anita Raja. The only question is the degree of involvement from her husband Domenico Starnone (also a writer), since his style is very close to her style; but Raja has also been a long-time editor for Starnone, so the overlapping might be entirely organic.


A lot of publishing houses, even large ones, won't let you use a pseudonym since they lean heavily on the author generating their own buzz and publicity for the book.

There was also an infamous incident recently in which an editor used a pseudonym to hide their relation to various publishers who in turn helped bid up the price for the manuscript. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/11/a-suspense-nov...


It will be interesting in the future to find out if the intelligence agencies know who created Bitcoin. Can anyone think of other modern mysteries that government surveillance might know the answer to but are keeping quiet?


What if the agencies are the ones that created bitcoin?


Or some coal miners in China :/


UFOs, "of course".

More seriously, I think it's more likely that we'll eventually find a bunch of high-profile cases were built with "parallel construction".


Everybody raves for sierra madre. I think death ship is a better novel in some ways. More constrained. Jack London expose style.


They are both great books. And both have relevant points for current times. Death Ship has quite interesting analogies to the upcoming (vaccination) passports and resulting society structures and failures. And Sierra Madre has important lessons about companionship. For someone being critically inclined to the "press" reading some of his Ziegelbrenner will be quite interesting.


The Treasure of Sierra Madre is a very good introduction to game-theoretic decision making. In fact in our graduate game theory course, our instructor recommended watching it. It was far ahead of its times.


Have you seen the 1948 film? If so, how does it compare to the book?


Both are good. The book of course has more details. But the acting of Walter Huston and Humphrey Bogart adds an extra dimension.


An old documentary that claims to solve the mystery: https://youtu.be/gCKgOADaV5w


This wikipedia article seems very under-sourced, and there are several unsupported instances of "many say" and "some argue", just in the introductory paragraphs. Later there are paragraphs with a number of factual claims and only one source that supports only one or none of them.


I don't know why this is getting downvoted. These are good points. The literary world enjoys a good mystery. Look no further than the debates over Shakespeare's genuine identity or discussion of the whether Socrates was indeed a real person.

This is where discussion of a historical topic often ends up however when facts are few. We end up carrying around a bunch of "widely held" beliefs among other odds and ends.

There is a movement that seeks to shelve any historical beliefs that aren't backed by some physical evidence. However, there are documented cases of these kinds of things turning out to be true.

i.e. this ancient author claims a civilization minted coins 200 years before any known coins in some area so no one buys it. But eventually someone digs up a pot of coins minted by such and such civilization.

Pursuit of these kinds of informal pieces of information have led to breakthrough discoveries. Sites of ancient cities have been discovered this way.

I think the general position of most historians now is to believe the fact oriented claims passed down, not too intensly, so long as they aren't outright fanciful or seem intended to inflate personal or ethnic or political glory. For example, most ancient historians believe that most accounts of battles actually corespond to a real battle but they are often skeptical of the seemingly inflated numbers of soldiers supposedly mustered.


Wiki mentions his left-wing anarchic persuasion. I admit I've only read "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", but I honestly can't see any political taint to his work. Sure, it highlights the evils of raw capitalism, but, outside of the anarcho-capitalists, I don't think you'll find much argument t here. It's a very fine novel, and has a lot to say about the human condition.


Just to knit pick a bit, if you were to dig deep into capitalism or socialism or anarchism, you would see those are explorations of the human condition. Politics then is drama woven around that. Maybe I'm being overly poetic. My point is that those concepts and phenomena that are sometimes so hotly debated are not somehow inherently adverserial or tainting, for the lack of a better word. There's no such thing as a dangerous idea, only a dangerous reaction. If a man owns up to every reaction, nothing imaginary has power over him.


Might as well go meta here: you mean "nit pick".


You're right. I always presumed that nitpicking refers to picking at loose threads in something that is knit (as in something you can't help not doing). Apparently, nitpicking refers to picking nits off someone; nits as in flea eggs.


Going meta^ here: You mean 'You mean "You mean nitpick"'.


The greatest irony is they're just another throwback to Platonic thinking, and completely---I mean truly---worthless in practical application (i.e real life, vs. academic theory).

People organize themselves in "capitalistic," "socialistic," and even "anarchistic" manners depending on the context, and level of scale (informal, local, global, etc.); many times even pushing one way, then the other; and finally ending with a mix that would be foolish to arbitrarily try and separate, much less "categorize" (what has that ever achieved, but some wishy-washy "more accurate communication?").

Politics is basically the human drama over power, in its rawest form. Everything else is a derivative of this drama.

An interesting aside: the "every programmer thinks every problem can be solved with more tech" extends to other areas, viz. economics, "political science"/geopolitics, etc.

All problems are people problems; and most people problems are power problems (which themselves are super-ordinate to ego problems).


Platonic thinking is a new term to me. Seems to be summed up by "tell me how it is and I will tell you why".

I think people problems, to an extent, have to do with what we identify with. Am I a male, a national, a church member, a political partisan, a human, an animal, a piece of life, a body, a mind, etc.? All those identifications are fine if you can switch between them. Problems start when you're stuck with one, even if it's not useful anymore. It's that loss of freedom or flexibility that fascinates and perplexes me.


There are a shocking number of people that think raw capitalism is just and good and anything bad can be explained by regulation. Especially in North America.

The Overton window has moved so far to the right that even criticising that is considered "left wing".




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