On the one hand, I feel a bit as though I’m just marking time until the end of September when I’ll be heading to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan again.   North Carolina wears on me until I’m fed up with the whole state and need to go north again for sanity’s (and comfort’s) sake.  On the other hand, I feel I really have no right to complain about summer’s lingering choke-hold when I have so many opportunities for good times with friends and family here.  The hot weather did break for a bit last week, and I’m viewing that as a harbinger of more comfortable times in the near future.


Know this:



Books: Finishing Ship of Fools took me approximately an age.  Porter is undeniably a talented writer, but never was a book so aptly named: every character in it was one kind of idiot or other.  After 500 pages, I liked some of them even less than when I started.  Maybe that’s why it took me so long to read it; if there isn’t at least one character with whom to sympathize, it’s difficult to care about what happens next.  At the same time, however, I do recognize that her insights into human nature are extremely valuable: we all *are* some kind of idiot or other.  The subtle (at first) hatred between Christian and Jew was eye-opening; suddenly I saw how it must have been terribly easy to fall into that trap unawares in German daily life of the 1930s.  All in all, Ship of Fools is a good piece of literature, if an unlovable one.

Our philosophy reading group recently discussed Nietzsche’s first essay in On the Genealogy of Morality.  Nietzsche reminds me of a curmudgeonly old dog who has a tendency to bite but whom you love anyway, and reading him again after so long makes me want to pat him on his conceited little head.  He probably would take my hand off.  I expect most people don’t have such a fond impression of Nietzsche, but for me he will always be associated with the best and most mind-stretching of the classes I took in school.  My copy of On the Genealogy of Morality is full of marginalia penciled in by me and my friends (we shared books a lot), sometimes in answer to each other.  That said, Nietzsche’s quite the jerk.  The first essay isn’t terribly good or clear, and it becomes painfully obvious how his sister was able to edit his works to sound like they supported the Nazi party.  Nietzsche wasn’t anti-Semitic so much as he was just anti-everything, and he rails against everyone impartially. He does have some good points cloaked in the vituperation, and people who haven’t read him should give him a try before they dismiss him out of hand.

Last week we  read a portion of Hegel’s Philosophy of History.  I had never read any Hegel before, but I think maybe I like him.  His prolixity is dismaying, and Bertrand Russell calls him one of the most difficult to understand philosophers, but I found quite a few of his points fascinating.  His analogies help tremendously; I was lost until he threw in one of those.  Someday, if I’m feeling very, very ambitious, I’d like to try reading some more of his works.

I read East of Eden by Steinbeck and my head is so full of it that I think it will need its own post.  Stay tuned!