Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Baggage

I started blogging in 2005, and yesterday I went through my archives and deleted a ton of posts. It felt good to weed the mental baggage: the memes, the "today I did this," the "bitching about my co-workers" posts. There are, however, a some posts that I deemed worth saving: most of my book and movie reviews, for example, the chronicle of the winter we spent building the addition onto our house, some other things. The original bunk bed story is pretty funny, though I say it myself. There was the time my nipples accidentally ruined one of Creigh Deed's campaign ads. There are some good Mad Scientist stories: the time we were in Sears and he thought we were in the Gap, the time he hacked through the security on the library's computer and got a stern tap on the shoulder from the librarian, the time he and his friend were giggling over a paperback book that I assumed was obscene that turned out to be short stories by Isaac Asimov, the time he used Celtic Runes to spell out the message "JESUS, YOU'RE AN IDIOT" to his science teacher and she translated it. There is also my post about Adele Davis and how I suffered because my mom followed her nutrition philosophy. That entry, written in 2005, brings multiple visitors to my site, daily, and is still generating comments. Indeed, just yesterday, someone claiming to be Adele Davis' son contacted me. His message was somewhat incomprehensible and I didn't understand why he mentioned cowboys until I realized he was referencing my profile picture. Ick.

All of that is on my old blog at a different hosting site. I don't back up my blog entries. Is that what most people do?

One series of posts I might republish is a recap of the novel Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Clarissa is the longest work of literature in English. Written in 1748, it tells the story of a young woman's determination not to give in to the man who goes to great lengths to have her. The themes of Clarissa are so foreign to modern sensibilities, and the plot is so ridiculous, it comes across as a farce, although I gather that eighteenth century readers took it seriously. It was also made into a movie, starring Sean Bean as Lovelace, the wicked man who's after Clarissa, and a forgettable actress in the title role. I'm considering rereading it and writing an improved snarky recap, but the thought of devoting months to rereading a book that drove me crazy isn't appealing right now. On the other hand, some people who read my recap liked it enough that they bought Clarissa so they could read it themselves.

Speaking of lengthy books, I am currently reading The Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton--631 pages, but well worth the effort. Many non-fiction historical accounts are very dry. I sometimes read them like medicine; good for me, but so hard to get down. The Arctic Grail isn't like that. If it isn't the most entertaining and readable work of history I've ever read, it's definitely in the top five. The title sums up the subject matter: the 19th century quest for the Northwest Passage, and later, the North Pole. Highly recommended.

I'm also reading A Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes. A standard academic satire. Why are academic satires always set in English departments in the Midwest? Is it because writers are most comfortable with English, or is it because English departments are guilty of the worst crimes of puffed up, deconstructionist, post-modern, academic nonsense? Still, Hynes is a good writer, and his satires are more entertaining than some I've read, and at the very least it makes me glad I didn't choose that career path.

3 comments:

  1. That's commitment, to go through all those old posts! Wow. I'm going with the latter on why satire takes place in academia. Pomposity rules the realm there...I was just thinking that the other day, in fact.
    The Arctic Grail sounds good, I may have to find that book.

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  2. I love your dedication to reading dry history books, I've tried and failed many a time. An excellent series are books on Byzantium by John Julius Norwich. For such byzantine history they're remarkably lively. And if you don't want to re-read a mega novel just to report on it, go read some Amazon reviews and they'll refresh your memory...

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