Excrement! Diary 10/16 to 10/24/21

Shelf overload; Jane Austen; the end of self-therapy; Marsha Hunt; Pollyanna; antiphilosophy; Jung worthless? Dreams; Hemlock Club; pronouns; excrement! BB Journal; Dune; Henry Miller; writing doldrums; Writers of Kern

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{10/16/21}  Weight 211.4 at 6:05 am.

Hemlock Club today.

Bought $28 worth of stuff at the Beale Library book sale on Thursday—ten books and four CDs.  Two books of Henry Miller, plus a Gertrude Stein, volume three of Russell’s Autobiography, an Aldous Huxley, Seneca, Hamilton: The Roman Way, two volumes of the Great Books second edition (Descartes, etc., and Twentieth Century Philosophy), and Jung:  A Very Short Introduction.  Now, which books that I haven’t read am I willing to get rid of?  My shelf overload is getting desperate.

The CDs are interesting:  Ginastera, Goldmark, Hanson, and Piston.  I’ve listened to the first three and am ready to get rid of the Ginastera and maybe the Hanson (two symphonies).  I’m not excited about the Goldmark (Rustic Wedding Symphony); we’ll see about Piston.

I’ve noted but not commented on a change in my reading interests.  I had been keen on self-therapy and self-analysis, but have finally decided—after five or six decades of persistent interest—that I don’t need any more of this.  I’ve produced my memoir, ending my life with a punctuation mark (probably a “?”).

{10/17/21}  Weight 212.2 at 8:00 am.

What I need to do, ASIDE FROM GETTING KM PUBLISHED, is to write more stuff, probably fiction, maybe philosophy.

{10/18/21}  Weight 212.2 at 7:40 am.

A few days ago I caught the last hour of the 1940 Pride and Prejudice, which I talked about here on 6/4/21.  Now, I was surprised to find it the funniest of the many versions I’ve seen.  Laurence Olivier makes an excellent Darcy.  Following that, TCM had a documentary on Marsha Hunt, a popular actress who mostly played supporting roles; her career in movies was ruined by the HUAC investigation and subsequent Hollywood blacklist.  Learned that she’s still alive at age 104!  Seeing much of her in this bio, I am now persuaded that my comparing her to my mother at a young age is largely wishful thinking, but I can’t go back and reconsider old pix of my mother because I have none.

Watched again The Jane Austen Book Club, essentially a rom-com with an appealing cast and some bones thrown to Austen fans.  It’s good enough; I especially liked the very vulnerable but restrained performance from Emily Blunt.  Accompanying featurettes are worth the price of admission; as I expected, one of the characters is a riff on Austen’s Emma, but one featurette revealed that all six main female characters are built around Austen heroines.  I didn’t know enough of the Austen characters and roles to match them up myself.  This triggered an itch to read the novel the movie is based on, but have reconsidered; apparently it’s a collection of six short stories, each following a character in the movie.  Likewise I was momentarily considering rereading Austen’s novels, but they are at this point “excessively familiar.”

Started rereading Eleanor Porter’s Pollyanna, which I read thirty-five years ago and thought at the time, “life-changing,” specifically my life.  It is, of course, a children’s book; in the Hayley Mills movie version, the character changes the lives of virtually every adult she spends any time with.  The message is to look for the silver lining in everything, especially every adversity.  Porter (and Pollyanna) calls this “the Glad Game.”  It was outrageously popular in its day.  About the movie, Daniel Eagan said in Film Journal International, “Heartwarming period coming-of-age tale with typical Disney gloss,” according to Rotten Tomatoes.  It absolutely is not a “coming-of-age tale.”  Rates 86% and 80%.  The book is available at Gutenberg (link).

Sent off for the PBS video of Pollyanna and a couple of books—Russell’s Autobiography (volume 1) and Ayer’s book on Russell.  Tsk tsk.

Water is burnt hydrogen.  Actually, “burnt hydrogen is water” is preferable.

Had a dream this morning that my best friend, whom I haven’t seen in twenty years, showed up unexpectedly.  I gave him a hug, but had an impulse even to kiss him on the mouth.  I have never kissed a man on the mouth.

{10/19/21}  Weight 211.2 at 7:10 am.

I’ve decided to avoid morning news and talk shows.  We’ll see how long this lasts.  The point is to get more writing done, and I don’t mean in the diary (though that’s good, too).

{10/20/21}  Weight 211.2 at 7:45 am.

Spent much of the day reading Richard Rorty; I’m planning to write a short piece on antiphilosophy, but there are a couple of issues that keep me from embracing it wholeheartedly (the philosophy, not the writing task):  First, I can’t deny that I exist, regardless of how I want to define “I”—how does this affect “truth”?  And second, antirepresentationalism will shoot down in flames my “models and mysteries” thing.  I need to think these through, which is plenty of impetus for writing about it.

Reading Jung:  A Very Short Introduction a few days ago and not liking what I’m seeing.  Do his many technical terms make anything clear and understandable?  Or are they so much obscuring dust?  Is there any science here, or just mystical BS?

{10/22/21}  Weight 211.4 at 6:50 am.

Dream and speculation this morning about how a couple of stone-age men could kill a small T. Rex.  Silly.

Seriously lacking in motivation to write here or anywhere.  Too bad.

{10/23/21}  Weight 212.6 at 5:40 am.  Breakfast at Leo’s, big mistake.

Three brief dreams:  First, I was saying to someone, what if we could predict the position of any star at 100 years in the future?  Better, 1000 years, or better yet, a million years—what would that look like?  This seemed quite an astonishing conception while I was dreaming, but now?  Meh.  I gather that they have a problem with the “three body problem” still.

Second, I was lying in bed with a woman who reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow, but was not her, someone I had been attracted to some years before.  I had my right arm lying under her chin and wrapped around her head so my hand was on the top of her head.  And she said something about this, perhaps, “Why are you doing that?”  I don’t remember anything else.

Third, I was with someone in a restaurant, either on the day before or perhaps just minutes before a meeting of the Hemlock Club, and I had with me copies of three documents:  Russell’s “Mysticism and Logic,” a single sheet of edited diary entries that started with a quote from Nietzsche (which I had put together IRL for a previous meeting), and finally a document some few pages long that does not exist IRL.  Well, I heard that Dennis Prager was in the restaurant; someone came to me and asked for copies of these documents for Prager, and I gave them to him.  (IRL means “in real life.”)

The HC is meeting today.  I’ll be handing out copies of the Russell essay for discussion at a later date.  This discussion is sure to be all smoke and no substance, as all previous “philosophical” discussions have proved.

{10/24/21}  Weight 212.8 at 7:50 am.

Hemlock Club meeting yesterday.  As usual, Nog and I were the first to arrive.  I raised the issue of our pronouns, “he,” “she,” and “it,” being separated by gender, but other possibilities could be imagined—notably, distinguishing the age of the person indicated.  I didn’t mention it, but it occurs to me now that in English we have Mister, Missus, Miz, and Master; when I was a kid I occasionally got a birthday card addressed to “Master Alan Nicoll.”  We talked a bit about the pregnant woman who was nearby and the “three generations of women” at one table.  I mentioned my thinking about “carving nature at the joints” and excrement—on which side of “the joint” should we consider the mountain of excrement we produce in our lifetime?  After TC and Peanut arrived, Nog talked about “the Tao’s three great treasures,” Humility, Frugality, and Compassion; and about “Buddha’s three greatest possessions,” Health, Contentment, and Trust.  When Pablo arrived the origin of the I Ching was raised; I mentioned Confucius having a role, but Pablo disputed this with some heat.  Much else was discussed, but this covers all the notes that I wrote at the time—I had neglected to bring my Bullet Journal and so had only my smaller version, which I suppose could be called the “BB Journal.”  I handed out copies of Bertrand Russell’s essay, “Mysticism and Logic” for discussion next week; this kind of thing rarely goes very far.

All of us except Peanut went to see the new version of Dune, TC paying our way.  I was immediately annoyed to see that the title is really Dune:  Part One.  The movie was okay except for the soundtrack, which TC and I found overbearing and disappointing.  The special effects and acting were fine, but so far I’ve seen nothing that impressed me beyond the old David Lynch version, which I like well enough.  It was a frequent irritation that whenever the actors whispered, I couldn’t tell what they were saying.  Whatever weaknesses the movie has regarding believability and pacing are largely due to the original source, the novel by Frank Herbert—in my opinion.  I am not eager to see Part Two.

A quote from Henry Miller that cries out to be added to KM:  “…new epithets will have to be coined to describe my bad taste.”  It’s from Miller’s “Preface” to Stand Still Like a Hummingbird, A New Directions Book, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, 1962, p. vii.  I read Miller’s essays, “Thoreau,” “To Read or Not To Read,” and at least part of “Walt Whitman,” among other browsing.  I’ve read only one book of Miller’s before this, Tropic of Cancer, which I mostly didn’t like; I have a longer review in my Prison Diary.

Speaking of the PD, and my current diary in particular, I’m thinking that I can use these pages source material for the HCN, like a source of topics to be discussed and points to be raised, plus imagined disagreements and the like.  I need to get something moving on this novel!  Dictating the rest of the PD (about 700 pages handwritten) into the computer is something I’ve been putting off for too long.  I’ve been in the doldrums since finishing KM.

Talking to Pablo recently, I raised the issue of a critique group as being my best stimulus to producing new fiction pages.  It turns out that Writers of Kern runs such groups in various categories—I doubt that I’ll like them because I would prefer what I had in prison:  four dedicated writers/critiquers meeting weekly, considering one chapter or story per meeting.  Given that the critiques are never worth much except for keeping one motivated to producing new work, I suppose a monthly meeting would be okay…but rather than speculate, I should immediately check their web site and, probably, send them the membership fee.

Membership is $65 (includes $20 one-time fee, $45 per year).

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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