Resurrection Means Bodies
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Mid-Week Miscellany

Our hot water has been off since sometime Saturday evening, because the outlet line split open and started spewing water everywhere. The plumbing company we use couldn't send anyone to fix it until Wednesday morning, so I've been taking cold showers, on the theory that overall it's less hassle to take a quick cold shower than to heat water etc. to avoid it.  I don't do physical penance very well at all; the least bit of fasting is a trial for me.  But it's difficult to get clean while simultaneously trying to avoid contact with the water. 


So much of ordinary life consists of just putting up with things that aren't really hardships but that you really would rather not put up with. And putting up with people you would rather not put up with. I liked this comment by Jeff Woodward (made in the context of  this post, which had a long to a commentary on P.G. Wodehouse):

The world of Wooster and Jeeves is a world, above all, of order; and order is what it takes maturing human beings a depressingly long time to recognize and assimilate into their own Weltanschauung (a word that Bertie Wooster would have relished using and at which Jeeves would have winced).

There comes a moment in the intellectual and moral development of every human being in which he realizes that rules of conduct are not an annoyance devised for the express purpose of making his own life more miserable but rather a system under which other people (assuming they submit to the system) will be rendered less of an annoyance to him. That moment is the foundation of civilization.


Here is a most unwelcome announcement from TypePad, the company that hosts this blog. Translated from cheery marketing talk, there is more than a suggestion here that in the long run TypePad is not going to be a very hospitable place for a small-time blogger like me. This is discouraging, because I haven't even managed to get all my stuff from the old site over here. And I really like TypePad.

Don't you hate the word "monetize?" If a civilization can be judged partly on the richness and beauty of its language, we don't rate very high. American language is lively and inventive, but more and more characterized less by vivid folk developments ("if it ain't broke, don't fix it") than by ugly coinages like "monetize" that seem products not of imagination but of hyperactive impatient commercialism.


On the way home this evening I came up behind a car with a license plate that read "HOWL." It didn't look like the sort of car that an Allen Ginsberg fan would drive: a relatively new Civic with some accessories of a slightly tacky nature (e.g. flashy wheel covers). I passed it and tried to see what the driver looked like, but it was twilight and the car had tinted windoes, so all I could see was that he or she was talking on the phone. I'll be keeping an eye out for that car, but I'm wondering if "HOWL" isn't now a reference to something other than the famous beat poem.

I heard Ginsberg speak once, in 1969 or '70. It was in Birmingham (Alabama), and all I remember is that he compared the steel mills to the fires of Moloch. The steel mills are gone now, and so is Ginsberg. Sometime in the next thirty or forty years the last person who remembers both will be gone.


But Moloch stays around, in different guises. Without further comment from me, I offer you this paragraph from a review of Sex and the City 2:

"Sex and the City 2" is more than harmless escapism. It's an accidental candid snapshot of the sick, dying heart of America, a film so pleased with its vacuous, trashy, art-free extravagance that its poster should be taped to the dingy walls of terrorist sleeper agents worldwide. More depressing and alarming than the movies themselves is the notion that a certain culture, a certain mindset, birthed it, without a pang of remorse or even apparent self-awareness, much less self-criticism. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why they hate us.

 You can read the whole review here, but that's the essence of it.


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ugly coinages like "monetize" that seem products not of imagination but of hyperactive impatient commercialism

They are just in the process of building a new, multi-million pound library at my University. Though dwarfing the old Library, which it currently stands alongside, it will hold fewer books. So, therefore, these books,the library staff tell us, will be, 'deaccessionized'.

I asked why they can't leave the old library standing, at least to store the books. But they say the upkeep will be too much, and they must knock it down.

Wow. I've heard "deaccessioned," which I thought was hideous enough, but "deaccessionized" takes it to another level.

The school where I work built a new library in 2004, but I think it actually holds more books, though I don't know that anybody looks at them very much. The old building had a magnificent reading room--I'll try to find a picture--and happily was not torn down, but rather "repurposed," another quite ugly word.

The worst thing is when you find those words creeping into your own vocabulary.

They built a new central library in Memphis about 9 years ago. It's architecturally hideous, but it has lots of room, and they made all the books that used to be in the stacks accessible. I was so happy because 9 out of 10 of the books that I wanted were in the stacks and I always had to wait for them to find them and bring them up and half the time the books couldn't be found.

I drove through Birmingham in 1972 and I remember that you could see the smoke from the steel mills from miles away. Of course, I remember Ginsberg, too. I probably prefer the steel mills. If I remember correctly, the fires of Moloch were fueled by child sacrifice. Not many steel mills around any more, but plenty of that. Wonder which one Ginsberg would have preferred.

Y'all might remember that about this time last year, I'd been complaining about incessant rain for about 6 months. I don't think it's been that long sing we've had a decent rain, but it's been a very long time. The little river that rose 4' over the road last year is now about 5' below it's banks. You could almost walk through the swamp dry-shod. We just ushered in Fall with a week of record high temperatures. Yesterday the high was 96F (40C) and today it is supposed to be 98F.


That happened with our library, too--transition from closed to open stacks. In fact that was one of the reasons why we had to have a new building--it was an accreditation problem. My office, as I've mentioned, is in the new library (it wasn't in the old one) and it's sort of a torment to me to walk past the stacks to get to my office, but never have time to read.

I think your temps are even a bit higher than ours. I went for a longish walk last night and wasn't drenched in sweat after 5 minutes, and it was very pleasant early this morning, though by the time I got to work at 9 it was pretty much sweltering. Not only pleasant but unusually beautiful at the bay, and I was sorry I hadn't brought my camera.

It has been cooler in the evenings and early mornings. Thank goodness for that. The moon was very nice this morning, too--just setting as I was driving to work.


The formative years of my childhood were spent in "Steel City". Steel hasn't vanished, but it makes a lot less smoke now (and employs a lot fewer people).

Hopefully Francesca will be able to get her hands on some deaccessionated books (if it won't cost too much to transport them across the Atlantic). Keele University got a new library a few years ago, and got rid of a lot of books. Pulped mostly (because that's more cost-effective in man-hours than selling them) but a friend did manage to salvage a few volumes.

There's a Dutch word, "verzilveren", which means the same as "monetize" but translates literally as "to turn to silver". I was wondering with a colleague just today when it was that "personnel" became "human resources".

And really, they are a bit hard on "Sex and the City". It's just a bit of vulgar nonsense, not some great cultural manifestation.

I disagree somewhat with you there. In itself, yeah, it's just a bit of vulgar nonsense, but its huge popularity is a cultural indicator. I noticed in Parade magazine (a Sunday supplement type thing) a week or two ago that when they did a poll with the question "What tv/movie character would you most like to swap lives with?", over 40% picked what's-her-name, the main character in that show...Carrie? (I haven't actually seen it, except for a few minutes, but I feel entitled to detest it anyway.:-))

Oh OK - perhaps it is some sort of cultural manifestation. I watched an episode once, and its main purpose seemed to be to fill in between adverts for sanitary towels.

Reportedly it's become the fantasy life for younger women (under 40 or so). Maybe action heroes fill the same spot for young men, but they don't really have an opportunity to act on that fantasy, whereas anyone who wants to can build his/her life on consumption and hedonism, within the limits of income.

Could that licence plate have been a reference to Howl's Moving Castle?

With regard to "monetize": Isn't an ugly word the most appropriate tool for expressing an ugly thought?

True, although "make money from" expresses the same thought but isn't nearly as ugly. By compressing the words, "monetize" gives more of a sense of haste and indifference to anything other than the money.

I don't know, Anne-Marie--I'd never heard of that. Maybe less of a stretch than Ginsberg. I was wondering if there was some pop culture reference that I didn't get. I read somewhere that werewolves are going to replace vampires as the trendy monster phenomenon. Maybe this person is an early adopter.

We just finished wateching Good Will Hunting and it was "In Memory of Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs." Of course, they had both just died.


Never seen Good Will Hunting, partly because it's one of those movies I'm prejudiced against. I'm not sure why. Isn't it one of those Robin Williams "vehicles", as they say in Hollywood? If so, that would explain it...yes, via IMDB, I see it apparently is...(I absolutely hated Dead Poets Society.

But anyway...a heart-warming Williams-fest seems like a slightly odd thing to be dedicated to Burroughs, at least--a very far from cuddly sort of guy.

Not only that, but there is wonderful section where Williams talks about his marriage--a good marriage--that is so antithetical to the beat lifestyle.

We only watched it because we didn't have anything else and it was the first thing we found on Netflix and our dinner was getting cold. It was ok. I didn't like Dead Poets' Society either. I'm relieved to find I'm not the only one.


Some glimpses of Burroughs' domestic life here. More when you click on his son's name in that article.

I didn't like Dead Poets' Society either, too.

The classroom scenes in 'Good Will Hunting' were filmed in the physics building at the U of Toronto while I was a grad student there. It was odd to watch the film and see a place where I'd been so many times. Doesn't Binx Bolling talk about this feeling? A professor down the hall from me was the 'scientific advisor' for the film.

This was in the days before Matt Damon was a big star. I didn't see him or Robin Williams.

Yes, Binx does talk about it, and I wish I could remember exactly what he says, or had time to look it up.

A few years ago I was watching the beginning of a fairly cheap monster movie on the SciFi (SyFy) Channel. Two people were in a car riding along a waterside highway and talking. I started thinking that the surroundings looked awfully familiar, and then they pulled into Argiro's, a bait shop/restaurant on the Mobile Bay causeway. I cannot explain why I found that exciting, yelling "Look! They're on the causeway!" to my wife. But Percy has.

The rest of the movie took place in the swamp and involved giant mutant alligators messily devouring people, so I didn't watch that much of it.

They film a lot of movies in Memphis, so that happens fairly frequently. They used the big theatre downtown for two different scenes in Walk the Line--neither were supposed to be in Memphis. And then, of course, they shot a lot of the scenes of his early married life here. I was similarly excited when I saw the Orpheum in the movie and also during The Firm.


It's always entertaining in Morse, when they turn the corner out of a college cloister, and are suddenly in another college's quad, half a mile away.

Yeah, that always cracks me up.


Too much coffee.

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