Walk to Borrow, Run to Read

Alan Bennett on Libraries (our emphasis)

A library needs to be handy and local; it shouldn't require an expedition. Municipal authorities of all parties point to splendid new and scheduled central libraries as if this discharges them of their obligations. It doesn't. For a child a library needs to be round the corner. And if we lose local libraries it is children who will suffer.

London Review of Books Vol. 33 No. 15 · 28 July 2011
I was put in mind of the small remote fly-in communities in northern Ontario and whether they benefit from interlibrary loan programs. I am blessed to live in a city, Toronto, where the public library is built upon the operation of branch libraries and a wonderful system of holds & loans that have books delivered for pickup at your local library. Yes political will is important for building and maintain intelligent library services.

And so for day 1626
27.05.2011

The Halting Problem Revisited

John Koethe. Sally's Hair. "Continuity and the Counting Numbers"

One let's you trace out what you've been or are
Or might yet become; the other is a row of tombstones
You plow right into them because you are carried by the alternatives of past, present and future. And the future is terminal.

And so for day 1625
26.05.2011

What Colour Is Your Bowl?

I like the enumeration at the end of this passage. It gives you the impression of peering into the cups to appreciate their coloration and the effect it might have on whipped green tea.

The cups Lu Yu liked best had an exquisite blue glaze, so that once the reddish-brown cake tea was served in them, it would look jade green in the cup. The more delicately colored whipped tea inspired Sung ceramicists to come up with strangely beautiful teacups of blue black, black, dark brown, and deep purple.
James Norwood Pratt. The Tea Lover's Treasury.

Reading this presents us with the memory of all the joy in comparing colour swatches and the names invented to distinguish colourings: Brinjal, Black Blue, Pitch Black, Mahogany (names lifted from a purveyor which markets itself as "Craftsmen in Paint and Paper"). Still love the simplicity of Norwood Pratt's listing. Luscious even without the presence of jade tea.

And so for day 1624
25.05.2011

Bovarism Symbolized

Not much of a spoiler to indicate that towards the end of the novel there is a book burning which features a fire-retardant copy of Madame Bovary.

The sixth match dealt with Madame Bovary. But the flame refused to set fire to the page where Emma lies in bed with her lover in the hotel at Rouen, smoking a cigarette and murmuring "you'll leave me …" This final match was more selective in its fury, choosing to attack the end of the book, where Emma, in the agony of death, fancies she hears a blind man singing:
The beat of the sun of a summer day
Warms a young girl in an amorous way.
This fine twist of incorporating an intertextual quotation into the heart of the diegesis is from Dai Sijie Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

And so for day 1623
24.05.2011

Adhesions

Kate Daniels
"Reading a Biography of Thomas Jefferson in the Months of My Son's Recovery"

As the poem wends its way through reading and recovery, it presents an image of origin that is as startling as it is unsettling.

Before he was my son, he was contained
Within a clutch of dangling eggs that waited,
All atremble, for his father's transforming glob
Of universal glue.
Cells glued to cells.
History glued to present possibilities.

The poem appears in Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson edited by Lisa Russ Spaar.

And so for day 1622
23.05.2011

Chacone Encounter

As befitting an event worthy of folklore this piece of reporting has picked up variants in the retelling (so much so that Gene Weingarten wrote a piece for the Washington Post correcting erroneous claims [Gene Weingarten: Setting the record straight on the Joshua Bell experiment). Here are quotations from the original news story — it's a reverberating tale which I like to recall as the Chacone Encounter.

He’d clearly meant it when he promised not to cheap out this performance: He played with acrobatic enthusiasm, his body leaning into the music and arching on tiptoes at the high notes. The sound was nearly symphonic, carrying to all parts of the homely arcade as the pedestrian traffic filed past.

Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something. A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

[….]

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.
Setting conditions response and an important part of setting is the constraints placed on time. Gives new import to the expression "free time". I want me some of the kind of attention that kids have (minus the parental oversight).

And so for day 1621
22.05.2011

XoX 1985 XoX

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
[...]
Thanks to the kind folks at OPIRG Kingston, a piece of local history enter the online world — Anti-Nuke-Kiss-In. I do grin that one of the participant's names morphs from Ford to Fred. The essentials are correct: two men kissing on the steps of City Hall in a make-love-not-war demonstration. The story is part of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group's "People's History Project" and it begins thus
On August 9, 1985, controversy was sparked when a lesbian and gay kiss-in on the steps of Kingston’s City Hall was included as a part of a three-day anti-nuclear vigil to mark the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Elsewhere there's even an audio tour as part of "The Gay and Lesbian History of Kingston, 1940 to 2000" on the Stones [of Kingston] site.
[...]
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
And so for day 1620
21.05.2011

Alternatives

Phil Hall
Why I Haven't Written
"Assessing the Damage"

I could try to go home,
or I could try to change.

Not both.
Being at home and not being changed.
Chrysalised and homeless.

And so for day 1619
20.05.2011

Two Wheels Keep on Rolling

I was intrigued by the account I encountered in Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire and went on to check out the search engines for artwork — it was glorious.

Bicycle Day is an international holiday that commemorates the date that Dr. Albert Hofmann first tripped on LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-25) and bicycled home from his lab in Basel, Switzerland on April 19th, 1943. During the bicycle ride home, he experienced the psychedelic effects of LSD, making this the date of the first acid trip in history, propelling the West into the Psychedelic Age.

http://bicycleday.la
And to be expected there is a ton of images to view and trip out on to the tune of Queen's "Bicycle Race".

And so for day 1618
19.05.2011

Pourquoi cuisiner?

Nigel Slater. Appetite. In answer to the question "why cook?" he takes us on a ride of enumeration piled on enumeration.

Cooking can be as passionate, creative, life-enhancing, uplifting, satisfying, and downright exhilarating as anything else you can do with your life. Feeling, sniffing, chopping, sizzling, grilling, frying, roasting, baking, tasting, licking, sucking, biting, savoring, and swallowing food are pleasures that would, to put it mildly, be a crime to miss out on. Add to that the buzz, the satisfying tingle that goes down your spine when you watch someone eating something you have made for them, and you have one of the greatest joys know to man.
Food porn !

And so for day 1617
18.05.2011