I Just Finished Pride and Prejudice

I think what I like best about Jane Austen’s romances is the lack of physical contact. By the time you get to the end of the book and Lizzy and Mr. Darcy are violently in love not one kiss has been given, received, or even thought about. They have taken walks. They have talked endlessly through their disagreements, emotions, and desires and have walked back into the happy and messy Bennet house. But they haven’t held hands and Ms. Austen hasn’t shed a single drop of ink on their physical interest in each other.

One of my dear friends once told me she thought women were more rational than men. She couldn’t have been more serious and determined in her claim and I couldn’t have been more quietly skeptical. This, my skepticism, I am now skeptical about. Jane Austen has written some of the greatest romances we know, or at least some of the most culture shaping, and she did it strictly through the emotional and largely intellectual connection of her main characters. That’s an achievement and it seems to point in the direction of my friend’s conclusion: Jane Austen was intensely rational. For her a romance was a connection of minds and souls, hearts and desires, personalities and temperaments, but not bodies.

Or perhaps she was simply living in early-Victorian England where such talk was not allowed.

I don’t know. I do think I’m likely in love with Mr. Darcy though. And Elizabeth would make an inspiring and heart-felt friend. Jane Austen never got married and she wrote, I believe, primarily about love. I think I’m a bit sad about that. She died at 41. I am now not too many years from her death year. I still hope to be married. I still hope to have children. Somehow I am to be lucky while Ms. Austen was not. Dear Ms. Austen, I hope for a love as you describe. Not ultimately lacking physicality, but certainly a deep emotional and intellectual connection. Perhaps I ask too much. It appears Jane Austen did.

How To Do Justice

How to do justice to a new land, an old land, 1,000 pages of history, and a man who brings it all alive?

I give up!

I just returned from England, a land new to me, but yet one of the oldest, I’m nearing the end of a 1,000 page book entitled “The English and their History”, and Jack – my sweet dear beautiful friend Jack – has just emailed me from Changi, Singapore. (The Brits do get around, you know?) He is retracing the steps he took there when he was a young airman in the RAF decades ago – he said he walked probably 10 miles today looking for places he remembered – there’s not much left, save Biggin Hill.

In my book, I just read about Tony Blair. Very recent history. I’m nearing the end.

I’ll end with a photo or two from “the mother country”, England, and the intent to write more.

 

Parlay

Parlay: Turn an initial stake or winnings from a previous bet into (a greater amount) by gambling.

Source: “How the Empire developed after 1815 — primarily as a means to protect British commercial investment and exploitation — and how a small island parlayed an early industrial revolution, supported by large domestic reserves of coal, into one of the largest and most successful empires, commerical, financial and governmental, the world has ever seen, is the primary story of Dawson’s book.

Source of the source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15793661-unfinished-empire

A Train of Consciousness

He’s so pretty. Small but pretty. Every day I see him on the train and wonder if he feels bad about being small.

Leonardo DiCaprio, but far more handsome. That’s what he looks like. Glasses, black rimmed, and relatively introverted.

I have yet been able to tell if he has a ring on his left hand. Probably. He’s sitting across from me, a little off to the right, beyond a metal and air barrier.

He’s got a wonderful blue suit on. Classy snazzy. Someone dresses him well. Maybe him?

The gentleman on my right flips through papers, stapled together in the upper left, and with lines double spaced. The papers sit in an open brief case on his lap. His hair is receding. Professor. English Professor? That’s my guess. Very long lines, his fingers. Looks like a distant cousin of John Cleese.

My right finger hurts. I’m getting old. I can see it curve further towards my middle finger over the months. My real aging, meaning the noticeable kind, started when I was 34. Pretty certain it’s down hill after this. Can we reverse the hill?

The deaf people are below me. They used to throw me off. Because, you see, they make sounds, which they can not hear, while they “talk”. And by talk of course I mean sign. They sign with the greatest animation; they are the same as you and me! A life filled with vibrancy, but no audio. They are all African American.

The wheels squeak. Train stops. I’m supposed to be writing my questions for the new doc I meet tomorrow. A new doc. Never thought I’d say those words. Why do I see so many docs? They just take my money and make me cry and the pain I came in the door with I leave with.

I can see my sneakers stick out over the railing; I’m in the upstairs of the double-decker train, last car, end of a long day at work, the gym, the night is here.

I’m going to go write my questions for the doc. Maybe she will heal me! A far younger version of myself would have thrown a wad of paper at the blue-suited man of perfection. Maybe another day.

Alexander Hamilton, Episode 1

Being a good Chicagoan, I have seen and loved “Alexander Hamilton”, the play. Being a nerd, I have started the book which inspired the play. And being a person of drama, I must rank them: the book wins.

Reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton is like drinking from a fire hose of good words, none wasted. His lack of waste produces force, weight, power. I am even tired sometimes reading his work, but it is a delirious, happy tired. The West Indies are glowing – I can feel their heat – the colonies are barely formed, fractured, confused, and yet I see current American culture nascent in them, and Hamilton is America: young, passionate, unconventional, loud, calculating, risky, informed, and pulsating with confidence (and a host of bad things which can be left for a later post).

Here are the words that piqued my interest, that I simply didn’t know, or that I had once known and am so happy to remember.

purblind
“Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton–purblind and deaf but gallant to the end–was a stoic woman who never yielded to self-pity.”
– having impaired or defective vision

bombazine, de rigueur, bespoke
“Wrapped in shawls and garbed in the black bombazine dresses that were de rigueur for widows, she wore a starched white ruff and frilly white cap that bespoke a simpler era in American life.
– a twill fabric constructed of a silk or rayon warp and worsted filling, often dyed black for mourning wear.
– required by etiquette or current fashion
– dealing in or producing custom-made articles (especially clothing)

betokened
“The dark eyes that gleamed behind large metal-rimmed glasses–those same dark eyes that had once enchanted a young officer on General George Washington’s staff–betokened a sharp intelligence, a fiercely indomitable spirit, and a memory that refused to surrender the past.”
– to give evidence of

disgorged
“Almost by default, the giant enterprise fell to her fourth son, John Church Hamilton, who belatedly disgorged a seven-volume history of his father’s exploits.”
– to discharge or let go of rapidly or forcefully

hagiographic
“Before this hagiographic tribute was completed, however, Eliza Hamilton died at ninety-seven on November 9, 1854.”
– the writing of the lives of saints; idealizing biography

I’m only to page 4 so I will close with this (from the prologue):

In all probability, Alexander Hamilton is the foremost political figure in American history who never attained the presidency, yet he probably had a much deeper and more lasting impact than many who did. Hamilton was the supreme double threat among the founding fathers, at once thinker and doer, sparkling theoretician and masterful executive… As the first treasury secretary and principal architect of the new government, Hamilton took constitutional principles and infused them with expansive life, turning abstractions into institutional realities. He had a pragmatic mind that minted comprehensive programs. In contriving the smoothly running machinery of a modern nation-state–including a budget system, a funded debt, a tax system, a central bank, a customs service, and a coast guard–and justifying them in some of America’s most influential state papers, he set a high-water mark for administrative competence that has never been equaled. If Jefferson provided the essential poetry of American political discourse, Hamilton established the prose of American statecraft. No other founder articulated such a clear and prescient vision of America’s future political, military, and economic strength or crafted such ingenious mechanisms to bind the nation together.

Books around the Globe and through Time

I can imagine a vacation no better than a world tour of the greatest libraries.

Inspiration: https://www.expedia.com/postcard/posts/23-spectacular-libraries-you-wont-want-to-leave

When I have the time, money, and a companion as nerdy as I, I’ll disappear down those dusty halls. Too bad the Library of Alexandria is no more.  (Turns out that library was dedicated to one definition behind the name of my blog: the Muses.)