How to Be Alone: essays

Franzen begins to grate on me after awhile. I enjoyed the essay Lost in the Mail about the Chicago post office and its seriously problems (mountains of undelivered mail from years ago to present day, stashed bundles hidden in carriers’ apartments, fires lit with undelivered mail).
Most of the other essays were at least skimmable. I glazed over a couple of times and just had to give up outright on some essays.

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The Man Without Qualities

It was an intelligent country, it housed cultivated people who, like cultivated people all over the globe, ran around in an unsettled state of mind amid a tremendous whirl of noise, speed, innovation, conflict, and whatever goes to make up the optical-acoustical landscape of our lives; like everybody else, they read and heard every day dozens of news items that made their hair stand on end, and were willing to work themselves up over them, even to intervene, but they never got around to it because a few minutes afterward the stimulus had already been displaced in their minds by more recent ones; like everyone else, they felt surrounded by murder, killings, passion, self-sacrifice, and greatness, all somehow going on within the Gordian knot that was forming around them, but they could never break through to these adventures because they were trapped in an office or somewhere, at work, and by evening, when they were free, their unresolved tensions exploded into forms of relaxation that failed to relax them.
******
“Why,” Ulrich thought suddenly, “didn’t I become a pilgrim?” A pure, uncontingent way of life, as piercingly fresh as ozone, presented itself to his senses; whoever cannot say “Yes” to life should at least utter the “No” of the saint. And yet it was simply impossible to consider this seriously. Nor could he see himself becoming an adventurer, though it might feel rather like an everlasting honeymoon, and appealed to his limbs and his temperament. He had not been able to become a poet or one of those disillusioned souls who believe only in money and power, although he had the makings of either. He forgot his age, he imagined he was twenty, but even so, something inside him was just as certain that he could become none of those things; every possibility beckoned him, but something stronger kept him from yielding to the attraction. Why was he living in this dim and undecided fashion? Obviously, he said to himself, what was keeping him spellbound in this aloof and nameless way of life was nothing other than the compulsion to that loosening and binding of the world that is known by a word we do not care to encounter by itself: spirit, or mind. Without knowing why, Ulrich suddenly felt sad, and thought: “I simply don’t love myself.” Within the frozen, petrified body of the city he felt his heart beating in its innermost depths. There was something in him that had never wanted to remain anywhere, had groped its way along the walls of the world, thinking: There are still millions of other walls; it was this slowly cooling, absurd drop “I” that refused to give up its fire, its tiny glowing core.

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Electric Circus

Still I have heard nothing about this album in the mainstream press. Am I looking in the wrong places? Am I just not looking? Hip-hop rock and roll, keyboards everywhere, and a live band. Common, sporting an afro and beard, gets all Hendrix on us, lacing heavy electric guitar, soulful vocals, and live drums into a swatch of hip-hop culture.
Looking at this, Common’s now seems to have switched to the “culture” side of the “divide.” Thank you, Google: Davey D thinks this is nonsense.

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The Perfect Dinner?

baby lettuce with winter fruit and parmesan
tarro and porcini soup
whole thai snapper with white wine, parsley, lemon, anchovies
butternut squash with ……
bottle of 2000 …….rizzou
ah hirsch 16 year old bourbon
homemade cookies (ginerbread, peanut butter, sugar, chocolate/macademia, oatmeal raisin, …)
courtesy Rose Pistola, the day of LZ’s 28th year.

Masthead

Loud Latin Laughing is a web catalog of reading. This site always under construction. Inquire within.

Joyce, Ulysses, Chapter 3

My Latin quarter hat. God, we simply must dress the character. I want puce gloves. You were a student, weren’t you? Of what in the other devil’s name? Paysayenn. P. C. N., you know: physiques, chimiques et naturelles. Aha. Eating your groatsworth of mou en civet, fleshpots of Egypt, elbowed by belching cabmen. Just say in the most natural tone: when I was in Paris; boul’ Mich’, I used to. Yes, used to carry punched tickets to prove an alibi if they arrested you for murder somewhere. Justice. On the night of the seventeenth of February 1904 the prisoner was seen by two witnesses. Other fellow did it: other me. Hat, tie, overcoat, nose. Lui, c’est moi. You seem to have enjoyed yourself.
Proudly walking. Whom were you trying to walk like? Forget: a dispossessed. With mother’s money order, eight shillings, the banging door of the post office slammed in your face by the usher. Hunger toothache. Encore deux minutes. Look clock. Must get. Ferm’. Hired dog! Shoot him to bloody bits with a bang shotgun, bits man spattered walls all brass buttons. Bits all khrrrrklak in place clack back. Not hurt? O, that’s all right. Shake hands. See what I meant, see? O, that’s all right. Shake a shake. O, that’s all only all right.
You were going to do wonders, what? Missionary to Europe after fiery Columbanus. Fiacre and Scotus on their creepystools in heaven spilt from their pintpots, loudlatinlaughing: Euge! Euge! Pretending to speak broken English as you dragged your valise, porter threepence, across the slimy pier at Newhaven. Comment?

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The tipping point

Very much enjoying this one. The three rules of epidemic: law of the few, stickiness factor, power of context.
Law of the few: connectors, mavens and salesmen
Paul Revere was a connector (one who is charismatic and knows a lot of people) and a maven (broker of information). Hence the revolutionary war.
How ideas tip into the majority, from being thought up by a minority of innovators. Highly recommended.

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The Descent

I had to give up on this one after 120 pages. It’s clever-ish, but the whole point of the book is lost on someone living in 2002. Underground nuclear bomb shelters are quaint nowadays, and I can’t muster enough excitement about the book itself to finish this. It might have something to do with not being the best book to read on the beach, which is where I was when I gave up.

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