Shopping Spree: Diary, 4/23 to 4/24/21

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{4/23/21}  Weight 214.2 at 6:15 am.

Ordered four books last night—I am a book-buying addict.  The titles are:

  • Anne Lamott:  Bird by Bird
  • Natalie Goldberg:  Writing Down the Bones
  • The Portable Walt Whitman
  • Bertrand Russell:  Mysticism and Logic

The first two are “the ones I wanted.”  The other two were because one was free and one was needed to get free postage.  The cost?  $14.15, remarkably economic and it gives me a reason to look forward to receiving mail.  The regret?  I have no shelf space, and I’ve already exceeded the number of bookcases that I was willing to have (five).

Now, the two books on writing I definitely want to read “right away.”  When I “take time to think,” that is, when I’m otherwise unoccupied, as on the bus, I usually think about writing, like I did on 4/20, as the entry here shows.  So, those two are “justifiable.”  The Whitman and Russell “make no sense,” because I already have books by these two that I haven’t read after buying them.  I may or may not have read them before buying them, because I had access to other copies (obviously).  So they “make no sense.”  I ordered them because the cost was ridiculously low and because I “wanted them on the shelf,” i.e., the shelf that I don’t have.

Perhaps this purchase isn’t worth a moment’s thought, and certainly not all this hand-wringing.  I like to buy books, wait for them to be delivered, opening the packages, opening the books, reading a little, then putting them on the shelf and looking at them later.  And maybe referring to them for a specific purpose or no purpose at all, and maybe even reading them.  Truth be told, I even like the “hand wringing,” when I can write about it (not otherwise); or, probably more accurately, I’m just enjoying this writing this morning.

What I don’t like is the small regret, the necessity of putting them somewhere other than on a shelf where they should go, and seeing them out of place again and again.  These books, or some others, will likely go into a box in the closet or into a bag to be gotten rid of; the alternative, getting more shelves, would be more irritating.

The first fifteen minutes of Yellowbeard was fifteen minutes of eye-rolling and not laughing, except for one laugh, at the sight of “Queen Victoria.”  I turned it off and went to bed.

In bed this morning I got to thinking about Jonathan Swift and thinking that there was a Portable Irish Reader that would likely have his “Tale of a Tub” or other short works that I’d want to have on the shelf.

And I was thinking what a peculiar genius Bernard Herrmann was when it came to writing music for movies, and how much I enjoy his music and have, all my life.  He gives you sounds that you don’t hear anywhere else, sounds that you won’t hear from Beethoven, or Mahler, or Wagner—perhaps Wagner comes closest sometimes to some of Herrmann’s moods—and this seems to be what I really like about his music.  Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Wuthering Heights (his opera), The Twilight Zone, and above all, Psycho!  Enough, I’ve raved about his music often.  In fact, I love Aaron Copland almost as much, for different “reasons,” but never talk about him.

I’m enjoying this aimless writing; couldn’t I put it to better use?  The thought kills the pleasure.

I had the idea of seeing what I might have of Natalie Goldberg in my Collected Quotations file, found this quote [from Long Quiet Highway] and added the final comment:  “…I had to slow down tremendously.”  p. 90.  When I read this, months ago, I thought it important.  She’s talking about, essentially, living in the now, focusing on her eating, washing, all her activities.  I’m undecided about this, because many tasks are just not very interesting.  [4/23/21:  Yet boredom gives “time for thought,” unlike other times (moping?); it is often the best time of the day, if one will allow it time—a thing I hardly ever do.]

Well.  I am neither bored nor moping right now; I’m in a writing mood, perhaps.  I’ve felt hunger already, and I need to pee; when I get up to pee, about the time I finish this sentence, the mood—I think—will break; right now I feel sorta trapped in the mood, yet I don’t want to break it.  It is—I think—an uncommon mood for me.

Damn it:  I never washed yesterday’s dishes.  Time to get to it.

Episode two of South Park actually made me laugh three or four times.  I’ll keep watching the DVDs for a while.  Walden (the book) played a role.

The Portable Irish Reader is available for $6.89 in “good” hardcover.  Damn.  The Teenage Liberation Handbook, one of my “five best,” is selling for $127.  Walter Truett Anderson:  Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be is under $5 in hardcover, which puts my total above $10 and thus gets me free postage [at Thriftbooks.com], so I bought them (not the Handbook!).  More books on the way.

The six books I’ve ordered are all “feel good” books—nothing like The Shock Doctrine or anything by Thom Hartmann or Noam Chomsky—so that’s a plus, but there’s one exception:  the Anderson might add to my burden of knowledge.  I read it in prison and remember being excited about it, and I photocopied a chapter (which I haven’t since reread, I think), but I don’t remember anything else about it.  Which is the main reason I wanted it.

What is this “burden of knowledge”?  Bombs, land mines, CIA skulduggery:  the guilt and pain that comes from knowing about American history and politics, such as the true history told by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, James Loewen, and Dee Brown.  It’s good to know these things; it’s painful to know these things.  If I felt like it, I could write a book, Painful Knowledge.  I don’t feel like it.  It would mean a lot of unpleasant work.  Perhaps I’ll just write an essay for the blog.  (I find that “skulduggery” can be spelled with a second “l.”)

I looked at the blog after writing that, and came across and read my brief sorta-essay, “You Need an Angle.”  I “reblogged” it, making a mess on my Home page because the boring photo of my messy desk, which comes out huge, is shown twice, and there’s too much text from the essay.  But I love the lesson:  “So if I want to write about Frazier Park, in [a work in progress], I should write about Kat grieving in Frazier Park.”  Emphasis added.  I thought of “A Bird’s Eye View of Paris,” the second chapter of The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” a great novel by Victor Hugo with a dead chapter that I didn’t even read or maybe didn’t even start.  There was no angle (at least not in the first paragraph—surely I looked at that!) so it held no interest.  I really, really should read that chapter, shouldn’t I?

In light of this lesson, I want to say that the great Victor Hugo should have started with a character climbing stairs into a bell tower to get a view of the city, explaining along the way that they are looking for something very important.

{4/24/21}  Weight 214.4 at 5:30 am.

The cistern feels empty this morning.

Hemlock Club today, sans Pablo. [I won’t be writing a summary this time.][5/2/21: Except that I did. See link.]

Watched an average episode of Andromeda last night with Pablo.  One disc down, 49 to go!  We had started on Eyes Wide Shut, which we quit after half an hour; I found the dialog, characters, and story thoroughly boring, though Nicole Kidman was eye candy.  I gave him the DVD.  Later I watched White Comanche, a western starring William Shatner as half-breed twin brothers; high body count, Joseph Cotten as a sheriff.  If you can get past the preposterous casting, it was a tolerable, insubstantial bit of fluff for ninety minutes.  The music, annoyingly, was unsuitable and overbearing, and the quality of the DVD transfer was horrible.  The less said about this movie, the better.

Am I not too old for such mindless timewasting?  Each day feels like another drop of blood; yet, one cannot be serious all the time.

How much blood is my blog worth?  I’ve spent much of the last two days struggling with it, trying to get the menu and appearance of the home page right.  It is much improved, but what can I hope for?  I don’t have a good answer.  In a sense, it’s charity work.  I can’t expect much fame or money.

Created 35 new names for my most popular blog page:  “Character Names for Adventures.”  The funniest, “The Fartful Codger,” is already on the internet as Facebook and Twitter accounts and tee shirts.  “Poggy Fubble Fonk,” not surprisingly, exists only in my mind.  It doesn’t mean anything, just nonsense syllables strung together one day more than five years ago.  “Goober Hawking” gets 149 hits, a name I used for a character in a nonsensical “radio play” possibly forty years ago.  Actually, I had it as “Goober Hocking,” originally.  That gets four hits.

A realization:  I have some books on the shelf which I’ve read and highlighted or otherwise noted passages to copy out.  In some cases I can dictate these quotes into my CQ file—then I can get rid of the book.  Here’s the first:

Steve Silberman:  Neurotribes:  The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, Avery/Penguin Random House, New York, 2015.  Quotes (see CQ for more):

“The problem with labels, [Karl Bonhoeffer, ‘a pioneering neurologist’] said, is that they seem to correspond to disease entities that live independently of the patient, like types of viruses or bacteria. But in psychiatry, labels describe constellations of behavior that can be related to any number of underlying conditions.”  p. 145.  I have two old ways of asserting the problem:  “The label never fits,” and, “The first step to misunderstanding something is to label it.”  I don’t know that I can support these now as stated, however.

“Still, the gifted loners that Asperger wrote about kept popping up, like a lost tribe moving through the underbrush of psychiatry, occasionally glimpsed from the air. In 1953, two psychiatrists from Pennsylvania, J. Franklin Robinson and Louis J. Vitale, described a group of young patients with ‘circumscribed interest patterns’ at a residential facility in Wilkes-Barre called the Children’s Service Center. The fascinations of these children tended to cluster in ‘rather odd spots,’ like astronomy, chemistry, bus schedules, calendars, and maps. They had precocious vocabularies, extraordinary memories, and a passion for science and science fiction. But they had a hard time making friends their own age.” p. 213-214.  Some of this seems directly relevant to me, but I always had one special friend, “Caesar,” from age 8 to about 15, and afterwards, when he was seriously damaged by encephalitis and the drugs that were given him to control his seizures.

“They enjoyed learning for its own sake, as Asperger had observed a decade earlier.” p. 215.

Quoting Lorna Wing:  “Nothing exists until it has a name.” p. 335.

“…psychiatry as the front end of the pharmaceutical industry…” p. 383.

“By autistic standards, the “normal” brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail and routine. Thus people on the spectrum experience the neurotypical world as relentlessly unpredictable and chaotic, perpetually turned up too loud, and full of people who have little respect for personal space.” p. 471.

I could be “on the spectrum,” but I’ve never had the more severe symptoms; or, so I conclude.

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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