I am not opposed to the existence of e-books; I know lots of people are wildly enthusiastic about them. But I have spent my life working with books as an art form and I am devoted to physical books. E-books in their current incarnations are still imperfect and they threaten the arts of book design and typography. As a book conservator I am also nervous about the digitization of books: will they be readable one hundred years from now? Or will thousands of books simply vanish as platforms and programs change?
E-books have certain advantages (they are searchable) and disadvantages (they are not beautiful objects in themselves and don’t display images very well). I’m sure they will improve over time, though. I don’t know when or if my books will become e-books. Writing me hostile e-mail about this will not hasten my desire.
The author, Jennifer Percy, states, “Euphemisms, politeness, suggestiveness, sarcasm, irony and passive-aggressive gestures — all risk being lost in translation. In my writing class, I teach my students about subtext. I tell them people alter their conversations depending on whom they wish to address. I tell them people rarely say what they mean, that we are constantly revising our words, that the movement from thought to word is often transformative and strange.”
This statement got me thinking; in relationships, and in life, how often do we say exactly what we mean? How much of our speech is spoken in euphemisms or dysphemisms to avoid or create conflict?
As we are approaching the New Year I have been considering resolutions. Perhaps my resolution will be to speak more candidly in hopes of making my life a little simpler. Rather than relying on others to decipher my subtext I can articulate exactly what I mean when I mean it. As far as resolutions go, this is a lofty one. I can’t exactly measure every statement that comes out of my mouth as being “exactly what I mean”. But, I feel like a step toward that direction will due.
I can’t help but think of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes, “Be who you are say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. That basically sums it up. Speaking candidly, I think it’s something many of us aspire to do but few of us actually pull off.
Awhile ago I picked up the book Alphabet Juice and I am having a ton of fun with it - mostly because I'm a nerd.
absolutelyIs heard more and more often in conversation as truth gets more and more relative, whether we like it or not. We need a good solid thumping way of saying yes when, as Alessandra Stanley puts it in The New York Time's, "practically every... drama in prime time is a spooky mystery in which things are never as they seem and nobody can be trusted". Cf. amengroinAHD says this is perhaps from the Old English grynde, meaning "abyss" or "hallow," influenced by loin. WIII agrees on grynde (related to ground) but says the oin influence is from the British-dialect groin (related to grunt) meaning "the nose and sometimes the upper lip of an animal (as a swine)."(Omigod, I just discovered where oink comes from.)If you ask me, groin is a portmanteau of grind, as in bump and grind, and loin.
He panicked: How will I remember everything about Elspeth? Now he was full of her smells, her voice, the hesitation on the telephone before she said his name, the way she moved when he made love to her, her delight in impossibly high-heeled shoes, her sensuous manner when handling old books and her lack of sentiment when she sold them. At this moment he knew everything he would ever know of Elspeth, and he urgently needed to stop time so that nothing could escape.
The first time I read J.M. Coetzee was in my British Lit (1800-present) class. I also remember my tall, dark and handsome professor who taught it. This was also same professor who introduced me to The Moonstone (one of my favorites) in a three-week summer seminar. I’m still disappointed to this day he was married.
Anyhow, I came across Coetzee’s Summertime a few months back and finally picked it up. Immediately after finishing the first chapter it all came back to me why I liked Coetzee so much in the first place (surprisingly enough, it wasn’t because my gorgeous professor had a way of making me fall in love with every piece of literature he taught) and am making it a personal vow to read more of his work.
In this novel-cum-memoir Coetzee describes his earlier self; a “child” in his mid-thirties caring for his father, working on a novel and struggling to become a professor:
The house across the street has new owners, a couple of more or less his own age with young children and a BMW. He pays no attention to them until one day there is a knock at the door. “Hello, I’m David Truscott, your new neighbor. I’ve locked myself out. Could I use your telephone?” And then, as an afterthought: “Don’t I know you?”
Recognition dawns. They do indeed know each other. In 1952 David Truscott and he were in the same class, Standard Six, at St. Joseph’s College. He and David Truscott might have progressed side by side through the rest of high school but for the fact that David failed Standard Six and had to be kept behind. It was not hard to see why he failed: in Standard Six came algebra, and about algebra David could not grasp the first thing, the first thing being that x, y, and z were there to liberate one from the tedium of arithmetic. In Latin too, David never quite got the hang of things—of the subjunctive, for example. Even at so early an age it seemed to him clear that David would be better off out of school, away from Latin and algebra, in the real world, counting banknotes in a bank or selling shoes.
But despite being regularly flogged for not grasping things—floggings that he accepted philosophically, though now and again his glasses would cloud with tears—David Truscott persisted in his schooling, pushed no doubt from behind by his parents. Somehow or other he struggled through Standard Six and then Standard Seven and so on to Standard Ten; and now here he is, twenty years later, neat and bright and prosperous and, it emerges, so preoccupied with matters of business that when he set off for the office in the morning he forgot his house key and—since his wife has taken the children to a party—can’t get into the family home.
“And what is your line of business?” he inquires of David, more than curious.
“Marketing. I’m with the Woolworths Group. How about you?”
“Oh, I’m in between. I used to teach at a university in the United States, now I’m looking for a position here.”
“Well, we must get together. You must come over for a drink, exchange notes. Do you have children?”
“I am a child. I mean, I live with my father. My father is getting on in years. He needs looking after. But come in. The telephone is over there.”
So David Truscott, who did not understand x and y, is a flourishing marketer or marketeer, while he, who had no trouble understanding x and y and much else besides, is an unemployed intellectual. What does that suggest about the workings of the world? What it seems most obviously to suggest is that the path that leads through Latin and algebra is not the path to material success. But it may suggest much more: that understanding things is a waste of time; that if you want to succeed in the world and have a happy family and a nice home and a BMW you should not try to understand things but just add up the numbers or press the buttons or do whatever else it is that marketers are so richly rewarded for doing.
Unless you would like to personally request my review copy, you will have to wait until December 24th to read Summertime in its entirety. But I'll tell you, it's fantastic.