Swept Away: Diary 3/21 to 3/22/22

Books that sweep me away; inspired by Middlemarch; a scam avoided; inspired by Greta Thunberg; a dream; blog activity up; George Lakoff and metaphors.

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

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

{3/21/22} Continued.

Watching the forty-minute A Reader’s Guide to Middlemarch on the Middlemarch DVD, I am inspired to try again with TLC…  the focus will be on their conversations, and perhaps Apple leading him to a more progressive and depressive world view.  Something like that.  I do not have the kind of broad experience that Eliot had; I cannot write a novel like Middlemarch.  I must go with what I know and what I am moved to write—talking to Neil last night, I told him about the long conversations that I like to write.  Indeed, I can lose myself in them, and explore all kinds of things, and that’s what I want to do in my novel.

And I want to read Eliot’s novel again, and perhaps take the tack that she does of direct author-to-reader statements (which are mentioned in the video, I don’t remember noting them myself).  There are two editions of a Norton Critical Edition of Middlemarch.  It’s not available at [my local] Barnes & Noble (nor through the library), but the B&N edition is supposed to be available [i.e., on the shelf at B&N]; I’m sorely tempted to run right over there and buy it, and you know how well I can resist when I am “sorely tempted.”

I sent the following email to RexMD.com regarding my sildenafil order; it’s self-explanatory:

I received a text message at my phone number, saying this:  “[Free MSG] USPS Delivery of your item will be suspended until the address change is confirmed.  Tracking Number: US2354701245528.  Please check: https://healthandfitnessniche.com/update”

When I went to the web site, it looked like a US Postal Service web site, asking for $1.99.  Since you’re shipping FED EX, clearly this is a scam.  I did not enter the requested information, indeed, my tracking number was not requested.  Thought you might want to know about this, since my order to you was the most recent order I’ve placed online, and other orders were with web sites I’ve purchased from dozens of times before.

No need to respond to me, this is entirely for your information.

Alan Nicoll

I have also notified USPS.


Greta Thunberg on Facebook this month

Spent ninety minutes this morning researching Greta Thunberg on the Internet.  Wikipedia has a great article with many links.  She has been an inspiration for me for a couple of years, though I haven’t done anything with this inspiration.  Possibly I can use it to vitalize my TLC and the character of Apple.  That’s this morning’s idea, and it got me out of bed at 5:30 am.  Implementing the idea will require some research, which of course I hate to do for my fiction writing.

Yesterday’s inspiration, Middlemarch, sent me out of the house to Barnes & Noble, where I spent about $25.  I bought a copy of the novel, and have started reading it, plus a copy of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi in a cheap-but-deluxe hardcover from B&N, and the latest Free Inquiry.  I looked at the Greta book at B&N, but it’s $22 and it’s not impressive.  Her collected speeches [and interviews] are available on the Internet.  It’s amazing how much activity she has inspired.

8:00 rapidly approaches, and that’s when I like to eat breakfast, so…

Greta Thunberg Foundation!  She has earned some prizes, including one for a million euros.

A nap and a dream:  I was in an office with people in the background, sitting at a computer screen full of words, looking rather like the display I’m sitting at now, but it was not my laptop.  A young woman came up and said, “Where’s that report you were going to do for me?”  It was a report on world population.  I said, “What do you want to know?  We know the population is like seven billion.  Shall I look up the world clock?”  “Yes.”  So I turned to the computer to do a search.

That’s all there was.  The interesting thing, if there is anything interesting about this dream, is that, while dreaming, I remembered discussing the report I was to do; this was from a bantering previous conversation that I remembered having with her like a couple of weeks before.  I mean, that I had this earlier dream weeks before, and I remembered it while I was dreaming.  That’s it.  Seems like she was “cute.”

Yesterday’s blog post, “Jane Eyre,” has gotten seven likes.  This is in line with the activity level on my blog for the past week or so.  It helps that I posted four days in a row, then missed on March 19th, now if I post today it will be three in a row again.  I think one of my recent posts has gotten thirteen likes, highest ever.  Of course, half the blogs I look at have much higher numbers than mine, and frequently dozens of comments!  I wonder why I care, aside from being self-centered.

I took a nap in preference to watching the last two episodes of Middlemarch, because I was thinking, “Well, that’s just time-killing.”  I wanted to get started on my rewrite of TLC, “but not yet.”  I didn’t feel particularly sleepy, but when I hit the sack, I had no trouble going to sleep and staying there for two hours.  This metaphor, that sleep is a kind of journey, is the sort of thing George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have made a career writing about, beginning with Metaphors We Live By (1980, with an afterword of 2003) and perhaps most notably in Philosophy In the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (1999).  Lakoff was at U. C. Berkeley until his retirement in 2016—he’s five years older than me, that is, eighty.

George Lakoff

I read the first chapter, as I recall, of MWLB decades ago and was impressed by it but did not pursue my interest any further, I don’t know why, until I came across PITF while in prison.  I started reading it and was excited by it, but found the middle section excessively detailed, so I skipped ahead to the end (it’s over 600 pages).  The basic idea is straightforward enough; in my words, it’s that we understand things physically.  For example, that “sleep is a kind of journey” tends to be the center of the words we use to describe sleeping, and probably dreaming.  That we say we “fall asleep” doesn’t quite fit the picture—it’s a different metaphor.

My “explanation” here is not a good fit (metaphor!) with the brief overview (metaphor!) in the Wikipedia article on Lakoff.  I don’t feel like working hard enough to make it better right now.  But I would urge readers to check it out—it’s a useful insight into how thought and language work (metaphor!).

Before my nap, while lying in bed, I noted in my mini-Bullet Journal, “In my reading I want and hope to be carried away on a tide of ideas.  And facts.  Insights.  Notable examples:”  I added a list of books that seem to me to embody this idea, or perhaps, that gave me the feeling of being “swept away”; here it is:

  • Alfred Korzybski:  Science and Sanity
  • John Holt:  How Children Learn
  • Fritz Perls:  In and Out the Garbage Pail [sic]
  • Cindy Crabb:  The Encyclopedia of Doris (reprint: Things That Work)
  • Bertrand Russell:  Unpopular Essays
  • Henry Thoreau:  Walden

I thought of, but did not write down, George Gamow:  One, Two, Three, Infinity, my constant companion in, probably, junior high, for a couple of months or more, perhaps.  The above six are all books that I have on my shelves right now, except for the Holt.  I’ve reread four of them, at least partially, in the last five years (i.e., since leaving prison).  No doubt I could add more to the list if I reviewed “My Best Books” with that idea in mind; a casual review suggests that most of the books there “swept me away” initially. But there are surely other reasons to read books.  I was thinking that some might require second or third readings to reveal their true riches, but offhand I can’t think of any good examples.

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

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