October 19, 2011

This & That Wednesday

Sat in the bookroom petting our German Shepherd mutt this morning for some ten minutes, simply enjoying the "temple of peace". I love books, but that is precisely what led me to go the e-reader route. I bought so many of them and am so reluctant to give any of them up that it would irresponsible to "adopt" any more of them. Already I often lose books, or at least can't easily find them. That is the point - when you can't find books you own - that it's probably time to buy an e-reader. For with a Kindle you can never lose a book again. I have about hundred books on the e-reader, a hundred books I would have to shelve, and the cost of a new bookcase exceeds the cost of a new Kindle. But the good thing is I can still enjoy the physical books, the look on the shelves; the e-book revolution came at the perfect time for me. And at $79 a pop now, pretty darn affordable. The Kindle Daily Deal has been a fun addition to my day. It's like playing the lottery: Every morning I check to see if I "won". (Winning being them offering for $1.99 some book I might actually read, which occurs maybe once a week.) I bought a biography of Bismarck and "Eyewall", the fictional story of a hurricane set near Hilton Head over the past two or three weeks.

So I looked around at the lovely expanse of books that wrap around the room. I felt a yen for Chesterton (oh but his name ought be Chesterten, for rhyming purposes), and I picked up what I thought was the Ignatius Press copy of his essays but instead was of his poetry, and a single line struck me: "Finds the wild windfall of a little kindness."

Speaking of Chesterton, read a bit of a bio which, I thought later, was no substitute for his own inimitable writing. It's like with Dickens, how sometimes I want to read his biography more than his work when it works better the other way. (A potentially interesting new biography explores the impact of love in Dickens' life and writing.)

Tempted to get James Martin's "Between Heaven and Mirth" if only because I'm curious how he squares the seriousness of the stakes of religion (eternal joy versus eternal torture) with a feeling of lightness and levity. He makes the case early that religion is too grim. A quick flip through it revealed a reference to the Protestant work ethic: "after all, it's not called the Protestant play ethic."

Went to the annual Columbus library book sale and thought almost immediately, "Why am I here"? Shades of Ross Perot's old running mate. James Stockdale. Full of old library books from the 70s, 80s and 90s, I couldn't pull the trigger and add to the books I already have. Perhaps it's natural that the combination of age and collection size would eventually flatten the desire to buy books "just because you can". (There were $2 for hardbacks, $1 for paperbacks.) The books I eventually had in my hands were middlings like "Inventing Niagra: The Story of Niagra Falls". I thought to myself that there is more gold in one page of Heather King's Shirt of Flame than in this whole sale.

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So the big New Orleans trip is o'er. Would've been nice to have gone but circumstances weren't favorable. All my favorite bloggers went, or at least some of them. Betty Duffy, the Darwins... Amy Welborn couldn't make it due to a death in the family. I'll bet a fabulous time was had on the Duffy Merry Prankster's bus. They drove the 13 hours or so to the Gulf port and later sipped bourbon in the warm southern air. It was ostensibly an academic conference about Walker Percy, and that would've been interesting too I'm sure.

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Three potential novels, now that Middlesex has been finished: A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafona and The Marriage Plot by Eugenides.

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The perennial dust
on the entertainment center
bespeaks an unfamiliarity
with a dust rag.

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I can't write a siesta
or whatever it's called
at least not while drinking.


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Liturgy Sunday at the Byzantine parish. It feels of entering a different world ("Heaven on earth"). A comment from a priest at St. Pat's last week still resonates: the reason, he said, that Christ comes to us in the Eucharist is because it makes Him approachable. He knows we wouldn't come to Him if He appeared to us in His glory. What a unique way to look at it! And of course that's also part of the reason for the Incarnation. God became man because man perhaps had trouble approaching an invisible, all-powerful God. Eve became flesh of Adam's flesh and similarly Christ became flesh of our flesh. Thus our Creator became our Spouse, and we are even more joined to the Body of Christ than Adam was to Eve, they who were joined to each other, having shared a rib.

Read the Roman rite's readings and the first reading was from Isaiah chapter 45 about how God empowers even when we don't know it's Him. That was oddly comforting since I took it to mean he will give us strength even when we're not smart enough to ask Him for it, when we don't know how helpful he is and longs to be. If we haven't totally personally inculterated his loving nature. The actual meaning of the text may be more along the lines of God using even Pharaoh to indicate God's power but...

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Amazing weather last weekend. Seventy degrees and blue sky backdrop to evergreens and an aging yellow maple. Certainly October has its moments; both last weekend and this weekend have been pretty tolerable, especially by late afternoon. October definitely picks its spots though: you can go a week or more with lousy weather.

Speaking of which, Ireland came under some criticism on that front by Michael Lewis through an African visitor who said that it was always raining or thinking about raining: "Who would want to live here, under an elephant?"

Lewis also mentioned the German's strange fixation with bodily excrement. From Luther to Hitler, the "clean people" are obsessed with dirt. Very odd. Lewis also mentions how Greece and Ireland are opposites: Ireland not complaining a peep about an austerity caused by their banks, while Greece violently protesting that which they themselves are guilty of (the whole country is made of tax cheats and corruption). It is quite striking how different cultures are, how there has arisen not just a single successful way to live but apparently many. Or perhaps I should say the differing cultures have found many middling ways to live.

3 comments:

Ellyn said...

I'll second your comment on Shirt of Flame! (btw, I'm looking forward to the Marriage Plot - couldn't put Middlesex down....I spent so much of a week-end devouring it that I was afraid that I would develop some sort of thrombosis...or at least a condemnation from Good Housekeeping or Martha Stewart.)

TS said...

Ha yes, Middlesex is so damn readable isn't it? And I have you to thank since I never heard about until you mentioned it. Looking forward to The Marriage Plot as well though I suspect it can't be as good. My natural pessimism at work.

MrsDarwin said...

New Orleans missed you. But I tried to write it up for you, though I can't do it in the finest TS style of vicarious vacationing.