Kawabata: Diary, 2/25 to 2/27/22

New mouse; new books; MS Word woes; Sleeping Beauty and other DVDs; Vietnam and discovering Kawabata; Isabel Miller; Hemlock Club hairpulling and poetry; Leonard Cohen; Loaded Diapers; etc.

Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972)

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

{2/25/22} Continued from last post

Bought a Logitech wireless mouse for thirty bucks while I was at Office Max to get a printer cartridge.  I’m very pleased with the effortless functioning; the only adjustment I made to the settings was to slow down the pointer a bit.  I’d like to turn off my laptop touch pad, but that doesn’t seem to be possible except by editing the bootup code (or whatever it’s called); I’ll live with this failure and see how it goes.

Received my three books in the mail today that I ordered from Thriftbooks.com about a week ago; they are:

  • Bertrand Russell:  Unpopular Essays
  • John Holt:  Escape from Childhood
  • Milton Mayer:  They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

The last one was featured in the “Thom Hartmann Book Club,” that is, one of the books he read a bit from on his show.  The excerpt was fascinating and seemed pretty relevant to the US today.  The other two are old favorites which seem to me pretty controversial even today.


Word clobbered my customized keyboard once again, meaning all the customized key assignments disappeared.  Microsoft’s “Help” is helpless, as usual, and my “Help” document didn’t.  There appears to be no way to recover except to make the tedious assignments again.  This time, even the file of my macros disappeared; fortunately, I save the file quite often.

Watched Sleeping Beauty (2010), which is headlined “Jane Campion presents,” which I took to mean, “Jane Campion directs,” which was not true.  I hated this movie, despite much female nudity and generally good cinematography.  It might have been titled, Scenes from a Downward-Spiraling and Senseless Life.  Scenes were presented without any context (backstory), and were often weird, disturbing, or weird and disturbing.  It was boring at times despite a generally good performance from the much-relied-upon Emily Browning.  Readers of Yasunari Kawabata’s House of the Sleeping Beauties will know (more or less) what’s coming from this movie.  Actually, the basic idea of that story (which made me a Kawabata fan) is only part of this wretched film. Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at 48% from critics (a “splat”) and 32% from audiences.  Definitely not recommended.  I generally have a taste for the offbeat in movies; not this time.

I haven’t posted any reviews of Yasunari Kawabata’s work.  I discovered him while I was in Vietnam, unintentionally screwing up the war effort there in 1969.  I’ve read most of his novels, or perhaps about half of them (like six books or so) and always enjoy them, though usually without getting the point.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature—at the time, the first Japanese author to be so honored.  I’ve read his Snow Country probably six times, still without quite getting what he’s getting at.  I think most recently I reread A Thousand Cranes, with the usual result.  The only novel of his that I’ve failed to finish was his The Master of Go—which was particularly annoying because I love the game as I do no other, but the book was so boring that I couldn’t finish it.  I’m not suggesting that the fault was in the book.

Read in one day the 120-page “novel” Laurel from Isabel Miller (which is a pen name; she’s Alma Routsong).  I’ve been a Miller fan since I read Patience and Sarah maybe fifty years ago.  Laurel was her last novel.  This one follows one middle-aged lesbian as she tries to connect with the eponym.  Multiple, excessively complicated relationships are the focus:  sex without love and love without sex is sort of the theme.  Much of the text consists of lengthy wrangling without conversation, then lengthy conversations to sort things out.  It got a bit repetitious, and characterization I thought was thin, but overall I liked it, in part because the writing is often poetic.  If you’re not familiar with Miller’s work, I’d suggest the popular Patience and Sarah (originally titled A Place for Us) as the place to start, though I would stop well short of saying “You have to read this!”  It’s a better novel than Erica Ridley: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower, reviewed here on 2/3/22.  As I recall (always risky for me), her work published under “Miller” is all lesbian but never graphic; work published under Routsong is not, or not so much.  However, I haven’t read all her books.

Hemlock Club today at Panera Bread in Bakersfield was the usual mix of frustration and interesting table talk.  The highlight of the three hours was when barista Madelyn sat with us for about twenty minutes (at the end of her shift) and read my poem “Out of Touch” and praised it (available here).  Pablo gave her a copy of issue #2 of The Wasteland, a glossy zine in which a poem of his was published.  She is a general favorite with Club members, and is young, pretty, and smart.  I must get a picture of her some time.  Another highlight was the participation of Mikey, organizer of a game club.  He told us about hair pulling as a remedy for headaches; I’ve tried it and it works.  Next time you get a headache, take hold of a strand of hair at your temple, on both sides of your head, and pull, not too hard.  Hold it for a few seconds and see if it doesn’t work.  Mikey said that this practice has reduced the incidence of his headaches.  Results not guaranteed, and of course I am completely unqualified to give medical advice.  He also recommended Alan Watts, and he posed a question to the group about “levels of evidence”; this promising start quickly became frustrating for me because I thought he wasn’t hearing my point.  Pablo told us a lot about Leonard Cohen—he and I had watched a DVD about him, which I abandoned after half an hour.  I don’t remember the title and I haven’t previously written about it or him, though I generally like his poetry.  I said at one point early on that “I was control freaking again.”  I think I have that tendency, i.e., to be a “control freak,” at least to a mild degree.  I believe this was after I corrected Pablo’s misquote.  Nog was voluble and he mentioned a punk band (I think) called “Loaded Diapers.”  Pablo and I were amused by the name.  He asked what I understood by the term “bodhisattva” and was pleased when I said I thought it was people who had “followed their path to completion,” or words to that effect.  TC arrived at noon, but didn’t spend a lot of time with us, though (as usual) he drove me and Pablo to my place, saving a tedious bus ride.  I gave him the “small mountain of books” and DVDs that I wanted to get rid of.  Oh, and I played “eye tag” with an adorable two-to-three-year-old.  I suppose the adjective is redundant.  Most unusually, Pablo and I arrived at Panera at the same time, on time at 10:00 am.


A quote from Isabel Miller: Laurel, The Naiad Press, Inc., Tallahassee, FL, 1996:  “When they kissed me, my mouth was smooth and soft and alive again all the next day.”  p. 11.

Started reading John Holt:  Escape from Childhood, which I read and was flummoxed by many decades ago. Holt at his most radical, idealistic, and romantic; alas, what he urges will never happen in the U.S., unless we’re conquered by the Scandinavians, but I think it would be a mistake to call him naïve. It could inspire, and for all I know did inspire, some hippie communes regarding how to treat their kids. Probably would end badly—what Holt advocates would have to be done at the state level, at least.

Ordered four more books from Thriftbooks.com, earning a “free book”:

  • Karen Horney: Adolescent Diaries of Karen Horney
  • John Ajvide-Lindqvist:  Little Star, the only novel I’ve ever called “profound and overwhelming”
  • Patricia Highsmith: Carol (original title:  The Price of Salt)
  • Gifted, a Blue-Ray DVD

Next time I shop there I can get a book priced up to $6.99 (I think), though they charge $0.99 for postage.

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

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