Wednesday, June 29, 2005

There's many a slip twixt cup and lip

I can now appreciate the world of small business much better now that I'm in the process of subletting my apartment. There are far too many possible contingencies and uncertainties to be worth the lost sleep and hassle. What if a subletter doesn't pay up? What if a subletter burns down the damn apartment? I don't want to have to think about this, much less deal with it. How many times do I have to show this stupid studio before I get a reliable tenent?

I definitely prefer being on the consumer side, where the "other side" has all the risk.

St. Louis, ho!

I should probably write more, but my computer access has been rather limited the past 2 weeks or so. Plus, I've been driving between Milwaukee and Chicago and St. Louis and Madison in a seemingly endless caravan. Oh well.

My plan is to not get internet access in St. Louis, but instead buy a laptop and just go to one of those coffee shops or libraries that has wireless access. Or just hope that someone in my fabulous building hasn't secured their wireless access, which is likely enough. Either way, thinking up that idea was a stroke of genius, McAdams. Pure genius.

Now I just need to figure out how I can retrace Huck Finn's trip down the Mississippi and I'll be set for the summer.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Regenstein set to become largest research library in US

There's nothing like paving over your former Big 10 athletic field to build a library, and then paving over the lone remnants of that field twenty-some years later---a pair of lonely tennis courts. But at least Chicago's Regenstein library is set to become the largest of its kind within the United States. Says Provost Saller, "'On our campus, it's not the football game that draws the biggest crowd, it's evening study in the library. We're a campus where the library is sort of the social center because it is the focus [of the university].'"

Amen to that.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thompson, Fear and Loathing

This scene reminded me vaguely of the one where Doc wonders around the country.
The only hope now, I felt, was the possibility that we'd gone to such excess, with our gig, that nobody in a position to bring the hammer down on us could possibly believe it. Particularly not since we'd signed in with the Police Conference. When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it heavy. Don't waste any time with cheap shucks and misdemeanors. Go straight for the jugular. Get right into felonies.

The mentality of Las Vegas is so grossly atavistic that a really massive crime often slips by unrecognized. One of my neighbors recently spent a week in the Vegas jail for "vagrancy." He's about twenty years old: Long hair, Levi jacket, knapsack--an out-front drifter, a straight Road Person. Totally harmless; he just wanders around the country looking for whatever it was that we all thought we'd nailed down in the Sixties---sort of an early Bob Zimmerman trip.

On a trip from Chicago to L.A., he got curious about Vegas and decided to have a look at it. Just passing through, strolling along and digging the sights on the Strip...no hurry, why rush? He was standing on a street-corner near the Circus-Circus, watching the multi-colored fountain, when the cop-cruiser pulled up.

Wham Straight to jail. No phone call, no lawyer, no charge.

The Willy Loman Effect

It's a sad story, and it seems more fit for stock brokers after Black Tuesday than farmers.
The rate of rural suicide in Australia is among the highest in the world as farmers battle the stress of years of drought, failed crops, mounting debt and slowly decaying towns.

While the rate of depression, which leads to suicide, is equal in urban and rural Australia, the rate of suicide per 100,000 people jumps more than 20 percent in the country.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Novelists Are Our Philosophers

...or they should be.

I like how Richard Rorty approaches novelists, as people who are probably more effective than political activists or philosophers at bringing attention to social issues and philosophizing on every day life, respectively.

Rorty says: "Ironists read literary critics, and take them as moral advisers, simply because such critics have an exceptionally large range of acquaintance. They are moral advisers not because they have special access to moral truth but because they have been around. They have read more books and are thus in a better position not to get trapped in the vocabulary of any single book".

That doesn't really sum it up, but it reminded me of the point above.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Black Marigolds

Even now
My thought is all of this gold-tinted king's daughter
With garlands tissue and golden buds,
Smoke tangles of her hair, and sleeping or waking
Feet trembling in love, full of pale languor;
My thought is clinging as to a lost learning
Slipped down out of the minds of men,
Labouring to bring her back into my soul.

Even now
I bring her back to me in her quick shame,
Hiding her bright face at the point of day:
Making her grave eyes move in watered stars,
For love's great sleeplessness wandering all night,
Seeming to sail gently, as that pink bird,
Down the water of love in a harvest of lotus.

Even now
She swims back in the crowning hour of love
All red with wine her lips have given to drink,
Soft round the mouth with camphor and faint blue
Tinted upon the lips, her slight body,
Her great live eyes, the colourings of herself
A clear perfection; sighs of musk outstealing
And powdered wood spice heavy of Kashmir.

- From "Black Marigolds"

Steinbeck, Cannery Row, II

In front of the Palace Flophouse there was a large log of wood where Mack and the boys were sitting in the mid-morning sun. They faced down the hill toward the laboratory.

Doc said, "Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think," he went on, "that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want."
[...]
Richard Frost said, "I think they're just like anyone else. They just haven't any money."

"They could get it," Doc said. "They could ruin their lives and get money. Mack has qualities of genius. They're all very clever if they want something. They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in the wanting.
[...]
"It has always seemed strange to me," said Doc. "The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."

"Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?" said Richard Frost.

"Oh, it isn't a matter of hunger. It's something quite different. The sale of souls to gain the whole world is completely voluntary and almost unanimous---but not quite. Everywhere in the world there are Mack and the boys."
(pp. 141-3)

Steinbeck, Cannery Row

A man with a beard was always a little suspect anyway. You couldn't say you wore a beard because you liked a beard. People didn't like you for telling the truth. You had to say you had a scar so you couldn't shave. Once when Doc was at the University of Chicago he had love trouble and he had worked too hard. He thought it would be nice to take a very long walk. He put on a little knapsack and he walked through Indiana and Kentucky and North Carolina and Georgia clear to Florida. He walked among farmers and mountain people, among the swamp people and fishermen. And everywhere people asked him why he was walking through the country.

Because he loved true things, he tried to explain. He said he was nervous and besides he wanted to see the country, smell the ground and look at grass and birds and trees, to savor the country, and there was no other way to do it save on foot. And people didn't like him for telling the truth. They scowled, or shook and tapped their heads, they laughed as though they knew it was a lie and they appreciated a liar. And some, afraid for their daughters or their pigs, told him to move onl. to get going, just not to stop near their place if he knew what was good for him.

And so he stopped trying to tell the truth. He said he was doing it on a bet---that he stood to win a hundred dollars. Everyone liked him then and believed him. They asked him in to dinner and gave him a bed and they put lunches up for him and wished him good luck and thought he was a hell of a fine fellow. Doc still loved true things but he knew it was not a general love and it could be a very dangerous mistress. (pp. 103-4)