"There is nothing I can say about myself as a whole simply and completely, without intermingling and admixture. The most universal article of my own Logic is Distinguo. I always mean to speak well of what is good..."
-Michel de Montaigne, "Of the inconstancy of our actions", tr. M.A. Screech
Sars at Tomato Nation takes the plunge -- into a large mug: "I've decided to get married. To coffee. What? Seriously."
Naomi at Baraita gives simple trick-or-treating guidelines: "(10) For future reference, and especially for those of you dressed as witches, there is no One True Way to pronounce 'Samhain.' There is, however, a proper way to pronounce 'Hermione.'
Disclaimer: I am way out of any kind of pop-music loop. So I have no idea who the heck Vanessa Carlton is. All the same, her spiel for a forthcoming album slew me:
"There's nothing piano-recital-y about it. It's goth."
"Among the tracks completed are the likely first single, 'Private Radio', about insomnia; 'She Floats', about 'the kind of the euphoria that someone gets when they're tortured by being dead'; 'Morning Sting', about 'emotions being so raw in the morning'; and the only love song, 'San Francisco.'"
"I've been able to kind of just merge the Wicca and the Eighties chick," Carlton says.
It doesn't help me read those statements with any sobriety that thinking of 'the euphoria someone gets when they're tortured by being dead' also makes me think of Jerry Haleva as Saddam Hussein in one of the Hot Shots movies telling Charlie Sheen "And now I will kill you until you die from it!"
First, try to be something, anything, else. A movie star/astronaut. A movie star/ missionary. A movie star/kindergarten teacher. President of the World. Fail miserably. It is best if you fail at an early age - say, 14. Early, critical disillusionment is necessary so that at 15 you can write long haiku sequences about thwarted desire. It is a pond, a cherry blossom, a wind brushing against sparrow wing leaving for mountain. Count the syllables. Show it to your mom. She is tough and practical. She has a son in Vietnam and a husband who may be having an affair. She believes in wearing brown because it hides spots. She'll look briefly at your writing then back up at you with a face blank as a doughnut. She'll say: ''How about emptying the dishwasher?'' Look away. Shove the forks in the fork drawer. Accidentally break one of the freebie gas station glasses. This is the required pain and suffering. This is only for starters. ... In creative writing seminars over the next two years, everyone continues to smoke cigarettes and ask the same things: ''But does it work?'' ''Why should we care about this character?'' ''Have you earned this cliche?'' These seem like important questions.
A lot of people seem to have books that they re-read as comfort food, and I suppose I do, too, but re-reading the books in that category always has a wistful edge to it, since it means I've worn off the freshness of reading it the first few times, which is sad. The Hobbit is one such book, and I re-read it this weekend, being in a bit of a mood.
I've always been a fast reader, and even when I was a child re-reading The Hobbit was an afternoon's work at most, but there's still the sense that "This used to be longer"; or that I used to get more totally drawn into it. So, while it's still a great pleasure to read, there's this (possibly imagined?) Peak Hobbit Experience that I'm straining for, which makes it a little bittersweet.
Still and all, there are always new things to be found. For instance, I found the botanical details jumping out me this time, which I had never really paid much attention to: such as when the party is descending into Rivendell, and the trees change from evergreen to deciduous; and the beeches appearing at the edge of Mirkwood.
I thought a lot, too, about the book as an artifact, rather than just the text. I have a late 1970s George Allen and Unwin paperback, black with a painting of Smaug on the hoard on the cover.in a frame. I can't remember where I got it: I think my aunt bought it for me when I was around 6 or 7. At the time, those editions were about what you got when you bought Tolkien, at least in Canada; not like nowadays, when every bookstore has a bewildering array of bindings and covers and the like.The cardstock of the cover is lighter than usual; much the same design as my much-treasured 25th Anniversary Lord of the Rings. Even if I got to choose the book design, the paper, the typeface, and the cover art, I can't imagine after all this time wanting it any different.