Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And so this is Christmas

Swift's Resolutions:

Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me which of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.

Those sound about ryght.

If I were going to do anything at all... then today would be a good day for it. This newest of days. Something, like listening to old Journey albums or cleaning out the garage.

The new year should fall in early spring. Whoever arranged the configuration of the Gregorian calendar to the earth's rotation around the sun was not so great a poet, nor gentle thinker. It is all wrong, and anybody that celebrates newness at the very beginning of the height of winter has a lonely and troubled soul. That is but one of the many things that is so detestable about the masses, they lack an open sense of natural truth. They are willing to wear hats and drink champagne to celebrate the demise and rebirth of their own maudlin ill-wittedness. At least in that they are marked and can more easily be noted.

I still celebrate Lady Day, and recognize it as the true beginning of the new year (see image above). 

I will finish East of Eden today. Yes, I know... I am reading it slowly, because it is dull. I don't regret having read it. I can say that. It does possess occasional merit, passages here and there that feel like a payoff of sorts. It is not great, in the sense that it neither provokes nor provides a sense of catharsis. No tragedy occurs because the characters are wooden, carved imprecisely from the wrong tree. Or, I should say, there is very little chance of tragedy happening in the next fifty pages. None, really, because I don't care. Steinbeck possesses a craft and uses it, that's all. The heavy scent of craft can be smelled throughout. It can not be concealed by the craftsman. He lacks the requisite artistry; too fond of biblical myth, and personal nostalgia. Six hundred pages of it wears me down, particularly as he seems incapable of managing those two ambitions and aligning their purpose. When I finish it later today I will be lying in my bed the entire time, not in Salinas, where I belong.

Additionally, he suffers great critical loss at being dead, male, and white. What combination could possibly render one more inconsequential in this  bright new day. Steinbeck himself claimed that if Eden were not good then he has been fooling himself. That is likely its truest critique. 

He is clumsy, a melodramatic moralist. Faults that could be overlooked, except for the gracelessness. That ignominy is one that no reader should be asked or expected to disregard. It is forgivable to be inelegant in a casual essay - a brutish assumption practiced here with monastic fervor - but to do so in such a grand, hopeful, and epic way… Well, a reader should find themselves chanting Yes when reading a work, not the other. 

Oh my. No, no. 

A great book should always seduce us, even if we are repulsed by what is being written, by what is being told. The truest fault is to be charmless in one's vices.

I know that now.

What else might I do today? I have a lunch date with the woman pictured above. She is struggling with a difficult relationship. I will attempt to charm her, let her forget her many woes. 

Perhaps it is best not to mention Steinbeck, present myself as being too indelicate in critical matters.

I know that now. I know that now.