Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GOD I wish _I_ had a "porpoise grant"

I accept and acknowledge that I have posted little to not at all in the last few months.  I have been working on a TV pilot, one in which characters who have given up on meaning go forth in drunken confusion to comment with despairing erudition on a life they neither understand nor approve.  They strive only to despair elegantly.  To stuff their suffering into masks of beauty.

That said, I've also been reading more than I do usually.  Now is neither the time nor the place (well, actually it's both) for a recounting of titles, but let's say only that Moby Dick (by Edmund Welles) is one of them.

I last read the whale book in, like 2002, so I remember it only sparingly.  And I'll tell you what--which you may not believe--it's #@$#@ amazing.  I mean….it's like, this guy, Melville, he could write!  Cetology!

I'm also transcribing a lot of passages, nowadays, thanks to the Kindle, which makes transcribing so easy.  I'm coming more and more to believe that the rote copying of other people's words is the only way to learn to write.  In the past, in Austen's time, e.g, such rote copying was widely accepted as a valid learning method.  Nowadays, not so much.  But it should be.

Anyway, here's a passage I bring forth to you all.  It made me think vividly of Johannes, that criminal guitarist.  The bit at the end is the bit of note, obviously.

I mean, what crown gives a porpoise-grant?  God I want to know THAT story!
It is upon the record, that three centuries ago the tongue of the Right Whale was esteemed a great delicacy in France, and commanded large prices there.  Also, that in Henry VIIIth's time, a certain cook of the court obtained a handsome reward for inventing an admirable sauce to be eaten with barbacqued porpoises, which, you remember, are a species of whale.  Porpoises, indeed, are to this day considered fine eating.  The meat is made into balls about the size of billiard balls, and being well seasoned and spiced might be take for turtle-ball or veal-balls.  The old monks of Dunfermline were very fond of them.  They had a great porpoise grant from the crown

Monday, March 3, 2014

"A Handful of Gems Slipping From Palm to Palm"

If you love have not yet had the opportunity to read the Patrick Melrose novels of Edward St. Aubyn, hie thee now away to some literary purveyor, acquire them, and begin at once to read.  You will thank me.

A few quotes to whet your appetite.

* * *

David’s methods of education rested on the claim that childhood was a romantic myth which he was too clear-sighted to encourage.  Children were weak and ignorant miniature adults who should be given every incentive to correct their weakness and their ignorance.  Like King Chaka, the great Zulu warrior, who made his troops stamp thorn bushes into the ground to harden their feet, a training some of them may well have resented at the time, he was determined to harden the calluses of disappointment and develop the skill of detachment in his son. 

….  It was no use expecting gratitude from [his son], although one day he might realize, like one of Chaka’s men running over flinty ground on indifferent feet, how much he owed to his father’s uncompromising principles.

* * *

He longed continually for an uncontaminated solitude, and when he got it he longed for it to stop.

* * *
[on an Professor]  Nevertheless, like a masterful broom, his new book had scattered the dust long settled on the subject of Identity, and swept it into exciting new piles.

* * * 

Heroin landed purring at the base of his skull, and wrapped itself darkly around his nervous system, like a black cat curling up on its favorite cushion.  It was as soft and rich as the throat of a wood pigeon, or the splash of ceiling wax onto a page, or a handful of gems slipping from palm to palm.