08 August 2006

On Quibbles, Collections and The Man

    Sorry, folks, for the lack of updates lately.  Can I be bothered to care?  Not really.  Colour me listless and cranky-- only moreso than usual.  So, to appease the need for an update, herewith a few short(er)-takes on items various and scattered:

  • Today the Doc is feeling especially osteoporotic, having spent most of yesterday helping his paternal unit install cement-board in preparation for retiling a room.  Both creaky and cranky, what a combination.... It's going to be a great day. 

  • Tonight also is the Van Morrison concert in Toronto, which alas I'm going to miss.  It's only his second appearance there in the past ten years, and I am going to have missed both of them.  Insert litany of profanities here--- or perhaps better, an extended melodic growl.

  • It seems the die is all but cast in relation to my employment situation, my employer completely snubbing me for positions for the second time in three years.  Some people keep insisting I have to get my union involved, but I'd rather respond to indignity with dignity, if that's possible.  Yes, there's a part of me that wants to make something of a response or a defense, but there's little point in doing so.  Then again, everything seems pointless lately.  Oh, it's a wonderful, affirmative world....

  • Into the Delectable Irony file must go, fittingly, a few words from the original Dr J ostensibly on Shakespeare but perhaps just as appropriate to his much-too-slender namesake.  Judge for yourselves, keeping in mind that "quibble" for Dr Johnson meant pun and not complaint or argument:
    A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapours are to the traveller; he follows it at all adventures, it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible. Whatever be the dignity or profundity of his disquisition, whether he be enlarging knowledge or exalting affection, whether he be amusing attention with incidents, or enchaining it in suspense, let but a quibble spring up before him, and he leaves his work unfinished. A quibble is the golden apple for which he will always turn aside from his career, or stoop from his elevation. A quibble poor and barren as it is, gave him such delight, that he was content to purchase it, by the sacrifice of reason, propriety and truth. A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it.
    Hmmm....  As the old exams used to say, "discuss and comment."
  • Kate's Book Blog asks an interesting question about the books that dominate one's private collection, and about how one organizes them.  My collection is moreorless organized by the "cram-them-in-there-with-a-shoehorn" principle, but I thought it worth taking stock of those authors in my collection currently represented by five or more volumes (only by, not about).  My list then, not including Shakespeare: 
    Graham Greene, Henry James, Northrop Frye, Tom Eliot, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, John le Carre, Hugh Kenner, H.D. [Hilda Doolittle], Harold Pinter, D. H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw, William Faulkner, George Orwell, Richard Condon, Robertson Davies, Mordecai Richler, Sigmund Freud, Saul Bellow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Adrienne Rich, Leonard Cohen, Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode, William Empson, Margaret Laurence, Tom Stoppard, Dostoyevsky and Philip Larkin (among others, surely).
    The first several aren't surprising, but I have to admit I didn't think some authors were as well-represented in my collection as they in fact are, especially Lawrence (around 20 volumes), Freud, Shaw, le Carre, Bellow and Rich.  Greene, by far, leads the pack, which is a little ironic considering how many editions of Greene I have given away to students over the years.  I'm also surprised by how much James I own.  He seems to be everywhere.  What's in your collections?
Anyway, as you have surely gathered, there's nothing much new to report (is there ever?), save for trying (as ever) to figure out a future.  Can one make a living from boredom in a way that Beckett didn't?  Meh, methoughtst not.  But on with things--- and if any of you out there get to the Van Morrison concert tonight, know the Not-So-Good Doctor is intensely jealous of you and he wants a full report as soon as possible.  Grumble, grumble, growl, growl....

No comments: