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.