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Friday: June 29, 2007
She herself was a victim of that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books. This passion is more common, and more powerful, than most people suppose. Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at their command. They want books as a Turk is thought to want concubines–not to be hastily deflowered, but to be kept at their master’s call, and enjoyed more often in thought than in reality.
(Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost, Chapter 6)
Sunday: June 24, 2007
Why would ‘Noel’ be the most appropriate name for a priest’s pet parakeet?
Update: My brother ‘Steevil’ has the answer:
Took me all day, the only thing I could think of at first was a dimly remembered character (possibly fictional) who called her parakeet Onan, because he “spilled his seed upon the ground.”
By the way, I do not know why comments are not working.
Sunday: June 17, 2007
What one British rogue learned at school in the early 19th century:
. . . I was sent to one of the most fashionable and famous of the great public schools. I will not mention it by name, because I don’t think the masters would be proud of my connection with it. I ran away three times, and was flogged three times. I made four aristocratic connections, and had four pitched battles with them; three thrashed me, and one I thrashed. I learned to play at cricket, to hate rich people, to cure warts, to write Latin verses, to swim, to recite speeches, to cook kidneys on toast, to draw caricatures of the masters, to construe Greek plays, to black boots, and to receive kicks and serious advice resignedly. Who will say that the fashionable public school was of no use to me after that?
(Wilkie Collins, A Rogue’s Life, Chapter I)
I’ve been in Staunton, Virginia, for some Shakespeare at the Blackfriars Playhouse — more on that later. For now, I’ll just post about some interesting signs seen along the way:
- Sign that looks like it’s missing a letter: Grim Realty.
- Sign overtaken by events to produce an unfortunate ambiguity: (on the back of an ambulance) S.A.R.S. Ambulance. I imagine that stands for Staunton Area Rescue Service, or something like that, but the tinfoil-hat crowd might think we now have special ambulances for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the deadly flu which killed over 700 people in China, Canada, and other countries four years ago.
- Surprisingly accurate sign: Every city in America seems to have an ‘Oak Grove Road’, and I’ve never seen an oak grove anywhere near any of them. I’m no dendrologist, and I passed rather quickly, but it looked to me like the Oak Grove Baptist Church near Farmville is located in an actual grove of oak trees. That shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
- Least expected message on a sign: Goat Milk Soap, next right.
Saturday: June 2, 2007
Ambrose Silk, September 1939:
It is a curious thing, he thought, that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste. Nanny told me of a Heaven that was full of angels playing harps; the Communists tell me of an earth full of leisured and contented factory hands. . . . . Religion is acceptable in its destructive phase: the desert monks carving up that humbug Hypatia, the anarchist gangs roasting the monks in Spain. Hellfire sermons in the chapels; soap-box orators screaming their envy of the rich. Hell is all right. The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish. But Limbo is the place. In Limbo one has natural happiness without the beatific vision; no harps; no communal order; but wine and conversation and imperfect, various humanity. Limbo for the unbaptized, for the pious heathen, the sincere sceptic.
(Evelyn Waugh, Put Out More Flags, Chapter I.7)