Sayonara, Patricia Highsmith

Diary 8/8 to 8/10/22: Simone Weil; Demonic DVD; “Creativity is mine!”; a dream; feeling unmotivated; exercise plans; downloading audio files; this diary; “duende”

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

“Duende” Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995)

{8/7/22} continued.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.  Prices for used paperbacks [Camus Notebooks, volume 3] start at $132.  I doubt that the price will ever come down until the book is reprinted.

The cable I bought at Wal-Mart is nice enough, but there’s no such plug (microphone in) on my laptop.  So, a good idea defeated by a cheap computer, exacerbated by an old doofus who didn’t bother to check.

Simone Adolphine Weil (1909-1943) “”was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist. With her now highly well-regarded works of philosophy and theory exploring relations of power and matters of faith, Albert Camus described her as ‘the only great spirit of our times’.” Wikipedia

Gide’s Journals are available at my main library.  Perhaps I’ll pick one up so I can decide whether I might want to read it/them.  Simone Weil sounded interesting when I came across her in a reference book, probably Benet’s; collections of her writings are also available at the library.

Not recommended

In fact, I did watch Demonic all the way through, and mostly liked it well enough for its relatively fresh take on demons and how to combat them.  I quite liked the Matrix-like constructed-world scenes.  I don’t understand the RT scores—some of the critics are just disappointed that this isn’t another District 9 (same director).  The weaknesses here are generally in the script, with some stupid, even inexplicable, choices by the protagonist who desperately needs a bit more Ripley (from Aliens) to give us something to like here.  As it is, she screams and pants and whimpers and runs away and essentially is made a heroine in spite of herself.  Some good surprises, but few actual chills (and those come via nightmares, regrettably).

Did an Ecosia search [] for “be deliberately naïve” and got only three hits:  my blog post, and two things saying “don’t be deliberately naïve.”  Creativity is mine at last!


Laundry today, finally.  Finally no more pee bedding.  But this may, likely will, mean putting off to tomorrow, at the earliest, a visit to Planet Fitness.

Mid-afternoon, and I want to get some work done in addition to laundry.  So I rotated my mattress, which I’ve never done before, and now I’m going to dictate some quotes from Camus: Notebooks 1942-1951 in my Collected Quotations file.  A few highlights will likely be copied below. [Um, nope.]


2:47 am.

A dream:  I’m at a concert. The soloist, who has just played the two Liszt piano concertos, comes walking into the audience, hobbling because he has an injured leg, and he is carrying a large cardboard box open at the top, an oversized tray. Then about ten children come walking into the audience from the stage, and they look somewhat ragged. I’m guessing that the children are Ukrainian refugees. At least one child is carrying a large teddy bear. One child is being carried and her head is thrown back and her mouth is wide open. I’m trying to figure out whether she’s singing, or is in extreme bliss, or perhaps is mentally defective.

I went to bed and to sleep early, around 9:00 pm, because I had gotten very sleepy and didn’t feel like watching a movie.  I had already watched multiple episodes of Family Guy, wanting to write but feeling unmotivated (who, me?), and decided to forget about it because I had done laundry in the morning—a major task because I had to take the laundry on the bus to the laundromat.  I left at 8:30 in the morning, bought a bag of mini-donuts, and proceeded to eat them all throughout the day.  I think this constituted dinner, and I ended up also eating potato chips at 8:30 pm—I generally aim to stop eating altogether at 5:30, but again I cut myself some slack because of the day’s physical challenge, and I was surely dehydrated. I also had to make the bed before using it, and even turned the mattress (queen-sized), which I’ve never done before.

Making the exercise plan work is not going to be easy, even if I’m motivated in the morning, because what happens when I need to do laundry or grocery shopping or some other errand?  Which comes first?  As usual, everything would be easier with a car.  I am on track to save $200 or more this month, but I’m just getting started with that.

Downloaded audio files of Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey, Homer: The Iliad (Pope translation), Henry Thoreau: Walden, and Bertrand Russell: Authority and the Individual (Reith Lectures).  I can listen to these while exercising.  I also downloaded a couple of public domain bits of music to use as background when/if I decide to make an audio file of my Bleak Philosophy notes.

As I write these words, I am printing all 229 pages of this year’s diary so I can review and highlight and so on, for some vague purpose.  If it proves valuable, I’ll do the previous volumes as well.


Valuable?  Not particularly.  I read 130 pages, skipping over the worthless smoothie recipes and, I suppose, most of the less-interesting movie reviews.  Yet it held my interest, generally.  I find that I have nothing to say about it.

Patricia Highsmith’s name appears here 41 times, the last time three days ago.  I never wrote a final review of her Diaries and Journals, but I wrote as I read, all much the same.  I’ll be passing the tome along to Eric on Saturday, along with the Bookforum that contains a review.  I have three or four other issues which I’ll hang onto for another week—perhaps this time someone will take them.

Crappy photo by yours truly

I reread the review and observed the vocabulary, typical for Bookforum:  several words I didn’t know, but only one that I bothered to look up.  The author of the review describes the photo on the cover of the book:  “She exudes an overwhelmingly seductive soft-butch duende, a charisma that ensorcelled many of the women on her ranked, busily annotated ‘Lovers Chart’ from 1945.”  Melissa Anderson: “Primrose Pat: The Private Writings of Patricia Highsmith,” Bookforum, Dec/Jan/Feb 2022.  “Duende” is defined as “a special quality or charm that makes a person irresistibly attractive,” from Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition.  Another word in the review is “soigné,” defined as “dressed and groomed elegantly and with great care: used in referring to a man.” The dictionary also says that this spelling is sometimes used to describe a woman.  (“Soignée” apparently is preferred.)

I suppose that both words are worth knowing, for a writer!  I’ve seen “soigné” before, but “duende” seems particularly valuable—if I ever dared use it.  Using such words risks restricting your audience.

I started dictating Highsmith quotes, then realized that this is better done in the evening or afternoon, not in the morning, which I prefer to devote to creative writing. So, shall I say, off to the salt mines?

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

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