18 November 2006

Some Random Imputations

    Just a few odds and ends:

  • Playing poker recently, I had my first chip-and-a-chair experience.  Down to nothing and holding on to my place at the table like an ingenue clings to fame, I managed to forestall the inevitable and prove myself the gum my competitors couldn't get off their shoes.  Circling the drain (let's see how many tired metaphors I can use) for the better part of an hour, I just kept holding on and holding on until the chip-leader knocked off the other two remaining opponents.  Then it was David and Goliath all over again, without the spectacle but thankfully the same result.  It was a short battle: five (or maybe six) hands later, it was all over.  Which just goes to show, yet again:  Don't underestimate the little guy.  He might just fuck you up after all. 

  • Finally saw Superman Returns and Woody Allen's Scoop, trifles both but harmless ones at least.  The former was groanless but forgettable, while the latter was innocuous fare with some good lines but no direction.  Scoop, in fact, reminded me of an undergraduate essay, with its occasional chuckles and rarer insights patched together with duct-tape, willpower and a little bit of charm.   On the cinematic subject, some of you may want to check out Reel Fanatic's blog right here

    Dr Johnson
  • Two beautiful quotes from Theodore Dalrymple's piece on another Doctor J, much larger and wiser but arguably half as idiosyncratic:
    The necessity for honest self-examination, if avoidable misery is to be avoided, could hardly be more eloquently expressed; and it is one of the most serious defects of modern culture and the welfare state that they discourage such self-examination by encouraging the imputation of all miseries to others, and they thus have a disastrous effect upon human character.

    And this one, beautiful in the most unfortunate way:

    Johnson found his Boswell, as the saying goes, but it would be truer to say that Boswell found his Johnson.

    (I love it when academics, normally so acute to double-entendres, blurt so blatantly, even if it's the perfectly honourable Dr Dalrymple.)  It's a minor tragedy that no one reads the Actually Good Doctor, save those studying 18th century lit, and many of those brave souls flee from the Doctor like young women from the elder Wyatt.  I used to draw pretty regularly from Doctor Johnson when I taught Shakespeare, but I know quite well I was one of the few that did, because Johnson was regarded with the dutiful but chagrined reverence--- aka the "we're-horrified-so-horrified-we-have-to-pay-lip-service-to-this-guy-but-we-do-because-we're-supposed-to" treatment--- largely reserved these days for Plato and Aristotle.  That sort of snobbishness is now coolly and regularly described as "Johnsonian," even if Johnson receives that snobbishness more than he issued it.  This reminds me of a question posed by Harold Bloom in The Western Canon in his chapter on Dr J:  "If canonical values are exiled completely from the study of literature, will Johnson still have an audience?"  The answer, of course, is obvious:  yes he will, but it will be a smaller and smaller audience less and less prudent in its judgment, and increasingly prone to confuse judiciousness with judgmentalism.  Oh, never mind; it's already here.

  • I fear this video will scar me forever.  (Beware, it may scar you, too.)  Consider it proof-positive that some people should never be allowed to own web-cams.  *shudder*  I think my spine just went cold.  Mongolia-in-January-cold.  Skinny-dipping-in-the-Ross-Sea-cold.  Hillary-Clinton-cold.  ("Why, Bill?"  "Because she was there....")
And with that traumatizing clip (or my perhaps more traumatizing riffs afterward), I'll shut-up and see if there's a way we can make Malthusian theory practicable in the internet age.  Hey, don't rule it out--- as I said, never underestimate the little guy.  Especially if he's already found his Johnson. 

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