More specifically concerning: reading
18 February 2001, around 19.34.
Up, coffee, letter, Thucydides, coffee & lunch, bookstore, room, The Third Policeman, tea, bed.
19 February 2001, around 19.35.
Up, coffee, Greek historiography, Kagan YCS 24, send letters, breakfast, library (return books), Athenian culture (the oikos, the womens’ sphere, pederasty), coffee, library (return books, renew, and borrow Arethusa 11), groceries (bread, milk, etc., no honey), room, At Swim-Two-Birds, email, lunch, package, treats, novel, bath, At Swim-Two-Birds, bed.
20 February 2001, around 19.36.
Up, coffee, At Swim-Two-Birds, email, breakfast, library (return books), coffee, museum (periodicals, course reading), library (Thucydides, etc.), The Blessing, lunch, room, The Blessing, bread, Thucydides, bed.
24 February 2001, around 19.40.
Up, coffee, bath, Love in a Cold Climate (it troubles me somewhat, being clever and charming and not especially brilliant, the characters remain, as intended I suppose, card-board cut-outs — Cedric, for instance, is an insult to one’s intelligence — though it is entertaining to ponder the actual schedule of the narrator), library (Greek Religion, […]
26 February 2001, around 19.43.
(unwell) Up (after a night of heated sleep, not tossing and turning, but trapped in the stillness inimical to rest), coffee, Ulysses, email, breakfast, library (return books & borrow Greek Prose Style), Athenian Culture, museum (return & borrow books), bookstore (check on religion books in cheap paperbacks), library (translations & TLS), email, lunch, room, tea, […]
2 March 2001, around 14.52.
(unwell) Up, coffee, essay, breakfast, email, essay, snooze, deliver essay, room, bed, A Room with a View, talk to Mama, mint tea, drift in & out of wakefulness, sleep.
3 March 2001, around 14.54.
Up, coffee, Baroque, Women in Ancient Persia (559–331 BC), Brahms, tea, notecards, Elgar, African Civilizations, brunch, groceries, room, Omeros, tea, continue reading, call M, Bach, bed.
5 March 2001, around 14.58.
Up, coffee, Women in Ancient Persia…, email, breakfast, letters, Athenian Culture, library (kinship diplomacy), library II (return book, renew books on Greek cults & borrow book on Roman Rhetoric), coffee, bookstore, bread & milk, room, settle, lunch, write letters, tea, Bach, Ulysses, &c., talk (dreadful and dull), room, bed.
6 March 2001, around 14.59.
Up, email, breakfast, library (kinship diplomacy), coffee, museum, bookstore, post-office (stamps for letter & forms), room, read, St. John’s Passion, tea, read, Ninth, read, email, dinner, room, bed.
11 March 2001, around 15.01.
Overcast toneless gray, neither warm nor cold. Reading The Ambassadors, then up, out and to coffee. Purchased litre of orange juice, email, return to room, where reading Hellenistic history, Sophocles & Antiphon whilst trying to organize my bibliography. Dull and stupid, partook of tea & more Henry James, then tired at last, to bed.
12 March 2001, around 15.00.
After a night of nausea, day dawned bright and clear, no frost, but chill preceding spring. Spent much of the day in bed, feeling not well enough for anything, though did stumble through more of The Ambassadors. To sleep early, with thanks.
13 March 2001, around 14.58.
Dark smoke-blue sky and evidence of rain, to which was added the sound of car alarm. Naturally. Organizing bibliography, &c., but in no humor for nearly anything.
18 March 2001, around 14.52.
More laundry and packing and reading of A Concise History of Greece. Tidying things up in general, as a means of distracting myself from Roman history and the minutiae of Greek grammar. Also looking wistfully at the three library books I must return tomorrow; I’ve had them for six weeks, but have scarce made a […]
3 June 2001, around 8.15.
People sat or sprawled on the lawns, soaking in the sunshine or lolling in the shade. I, meanwhile, was content to walk along the river bank and admire the scene, the hum of bees, &c. The rest of the morning passed amid thoughts of the ancient Greek aristocracy, kaloikagathoi, the beautiful and the good. Have […]
2 September 2001, around 16.46.
Again, up early. Restless. Still reading the Letters of Rupert Brooke. Aside from having a perfectly splendid name and being a tremendously handsome (in the English manner, if you like that sort of thing) minor poet, I find he even manages to write amusing letters, about such interesting things as, well, life – which is […]
4 September 2001, around 16.49.
Something like a gloomy day; morning in the library, then returned couchwards for coffee & short stories. The old brain could handle nothing stronger; I put it down to a slight overindulgence in Shostakovich string quartets yesterday evening…
9 October 2001, around 16.29.
Perfectly idle, reading Infinite Jest, which is not so bad as I remember. I finally got more than ten pages into it, which seems highly virtuous of me. It would have been more virtuous if I hadn’t needed to read Lysias instead.
16.10.01 – Tuesday
16 October 2001, around 16.41.
At some point I find myself watching the clouds – the leaves are changing – some trees are already bare – but the clouds, the warm, the cold, the gathering, dispersing. Autumn puts me in mind of wool jackets, wood smoke, the break of apples, dust of books; also: steam rising from coffee; yellow-orange leaves […]
19.10.01 – Friday
19 October 2001, around 16.36.
compare Scrutinizing my recent reading and find that I’ve been spending far too much time ambling through modern literature – which would, I suppose, be acceptable if I were reading Proust or Eliot or some other frightfully clever & dreadfully important authors, but I’m not – I’m reading the squabblers, with personalities more interesting than […]
29.10.01 – Monday
29 October 2001, around 16.34.
Reading Medea (γυνὴ γὰρ ὀξύθυμος, ὡς δ’ αὔτως ἀνήρ, // ῥάιων φυλάσσειν ἢ σιωπηλὸς σοφή. (319–20)). Ah, ionic elements! We are fond of our archaicisms – and might be in danger of descending to dactylic hexameters… give us a minute.
1.11.01 – Thursday
1 November 2001, around 15.53.
Much of the day spent in reading – Agora excavations and Dreiser’s The ‘Genius’. Waited late into the night in the language center for befuddled first-year Latin students to seek help; apparently, on Thursday nights, beginning Latinists have no difficulties with the lingua. I was left, then, to amuse myself as best I could, which […]
19.11.01 – Monday
19 November 2001, around 15.58.
Softly, softly. Malthakôs. The oak leaves are falling at last — air of unreality, setting a scene (tho’ not making one). Received two glorious letters – read them in the afternoon light while waiting for the bus. Invariably waiting for the inevitable bus. There really is something about reading Plato. I can’t explain it. The […]
22.11.01 – Thursday
22 November 2001, around 16.00.
Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts – Palestrina, Missa Brevis – the smell of baking apples – seeds of a pomegranate. Cold air – blue sky.
8.12.01 – Saturday
8 December 2001, around 14.04.
Reading Invitation to a Beheading: In the evenings he would feast on ancient books in the lazy enchanting lap of wavelets in the Floating Library, in memoriam of Dr. Sineokov, who had drowned in just that spot on the city river (27). Motivation, of course, something to do with latent shame, as usually I’m the […]
8.01.02 – Tuesday
8 January 2002, around 17.17.
Went last night to the Pleasant St. Theater and saw The Royal Tenenbaums on M’s recommendation. Anyway, it was enjoyable, much as reading Sartre or Pound in a bus station with the cold smell of dirt, stale coffee, and old cigarettes is fun, I suppose. It was uplifting, a tale of redemption, &c. Walked home […]
17.06.02 – Monday
17 June 2002, around 13.48.
The greatest pleasure I find in life is reading. In the past few weeks I have found much longed-for enrichment in such a quantity of books as I had thought myself unable to consume. Yet it is true that one hungry will, if possible, eat and the thirsty will, given the chance, drink – so […]
28.06.02 – Friday
28 June 2002, around 13.46.
‘I can always tell when you’re reading somewhere in the house,’ my mother used to say. ‘There’s a special silence, a reading silence.’ I never heard it, this extra degree of hush that somehow travelled through walls and ceilings to announce that my seven-year-old self had become about as absent as a present person could […]
Neither a borrower…
18 November 2002, around 16.31.
I have to remind myself it was only a book – mass-market paperback, pristine condition though bought used. I lent it to an acquaintance; I do not say she was a friend, because she was not. She was an acquaintance. At the time I would have compared her to a whirlwind, for wherever she went […]
The thing is
25 November 2002, around 16.39.
That it seems nothing is happening. I spend each and every day following the same routine, the dull rhythm of the week waxing and waning, more timely than the moon. Waking up at 5:30 in the morning, the darkness still swirling like the fog, I stumble, tumble down the stairs, make dark coffee and a […]
9 August 2003, around 8.10.
The Most Illustrious Purpled Person will choose to hear the rogue’s confession of his crime. —Don Tarquinio, chapter xvii It is a hot, and it is summer, and there is soymilk and milk made of almonds, and there is also water purchased in blue plastic containers, and I too sometimes think there should be ‘Society […]
4 October 2003, around 17.46.
Dickinson is not known to have met with the new and exciting novels by American women that dominated the market in the 1850s, many of them patterned after The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner: perhaps they were secured out by Amherst’s tastemakers. Whatever the explanation, most of the women’s books that crossed Dickinson’s path […]
splitted in the midst
6 February 2004, around 14.16.
Currently (and actively) reading (in no particular order): François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. trans. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955.1 J. Innes Miller. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire, 29 BC to AD 641. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.2 Michel Foucault. The Archeology of Knowledge. trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge, 1989 (1969).3 Goethe. Die […]
21 February 2004, around 9.24.
I call that day good in which I may spend the morning in bed reading Aubrey’s Brief Lives (cf.) and Cornelius Nepos.1 When Oxford surrendred, the first thing General Fairfax did was to sett a good Guard of Soldiers to preserve the Bodleian Library. ’Tis said that there was more hurt donne by the Cavaliers […]
8 March 2004, around 8.12.
adventurous students always read classics.
10 March 2004, around 8.07.
Among the Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer, or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in […]
de arte poetica liber
23 March 2004, around 12.18.
To my great embarrassment, I mistook this overview of William Blades’s Enemies of Books (via) for a poem1; e.g.: Bagford the biblioclast. Illustrations torn from MSS. Title-pages torn from books. Rubens, his engraved titles. Colophons torn out of books. Lincoln Cathedral Dr. Dibdin’s Nosegay. Theurdanck. Fragments of MSS. Some libraries almost useless. […] The care […]
7 April 2004, around 13.25.
On quires and choirs.
Love and Freindship (sic)
9 April 2004, around 18.59.
the perils of misspelling for young authors
12 July 2004, around 13.29.
Three chairs on the deck of the house opposite rock of their own volition, looking at the sea and seven sail-less sailboats. The bright pink flowers of potted geranium plants refuse to lose their petals. And I, sadly, am reading William Hazlitt.
24 July 2004, around 17.14.
Books to be packed. She sat rather glumly looking at her own hands, her chin drawn in as though suffering from indigestion, or a surfeit of English. —Patrick White The Vivisector, p. 317. I am, as it were, at sea. The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most likely […]
3 November 2004, around 16.11.
Started reading The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić. The novel proper begins as follows: 1. ‘Ich bin müde,’ I say to Fred. His sorrowful, pale face stretches into a grin. Ich bin müde is the only German sentence I know at the moment (3).1 I note this only because ‘Ich bin müde’ was […]
10 January 2006, around 20.45.
28 January 2006, around 14.03.
cricket, criticism, & Clytaemnestra
3 April 2006, around 11.23.
springtime and Cyprus
29 March 2007, around 10.06.
Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which produces the most powerful effects upon the life and action of others, and really constitutes the best practical education. Schools, academies, and colleges, give but the merest beginnings of culture in comparison with it. Far more influential is the life-education daily given in our homes, in […]
28 July 2007, around 1.22.
fiction of ideas
13 October 2007, around 13.34.
Between the limits of affection and antipathy for the author’s personality, the relationship of author and reader may take a score of different forms: admiration and respect without affection, as in the case, perhaps, of Thomas Hardy; exasperated affection as in the case of Kipling; devotion for Jane Austen; sheer worship or utter dislike for […]
31 October 2007, around 22.54.
Since selling off most of the books earlier this year, I’ve been trying to avoid purchasing more, which has led to increased, or perhaps simply more self-conscious library usage. The following are the books I have most recently checked out of the public and local university libraries (including three interlibrary loans): Aksakov: Years of Childhood […]
27 December 2007, around 18.35.
Up, coffee, tofu, e-mail, cook lunch, read book about world with no people, bicycle to work in the rain, make rude gesture at driver who runs stop sign at cross street, data entry, knit, drink hot chocolate, data entry, eat lunch, read book about emotionally confused people, shuffle papers, knit, shuffle papers, data entry, bicycle […]
all the baggage
25 March 2008, around 17.38.
So I was reading Paul Fussell’s book about travel, Abroad. Of course it’s not just about travel, though he does spend some thirty-odd (or more or less, I’ve returned it to the library and cannot refer to it now) pages lamenting the impossibility of true travel1 in this degraded age of tourism, it’s about literary […]
hold my coat and snicker
29 March 2008, around 0.38.
I remember being told by a teacher not to read Jane Eyre, because I would be reading it in her class in the fall. Of course I read it that summer. Propped in bed, or curled in a corner, but finally finishing peripatetic. That’s how I remember it, anyway. I walked the three miles from […]
Ho yuss! Vurry true.
17 April 2008, around 6.00.
Properly, we shd. read for power. Man reading shd. be man intensely alive. The book shd. be a ball of light in one’s hand (55).1 Reading Pound’s Guide to Kulcher, I was perplexed; partially because it is an odd book, aimed at those who don’t mind attending the university of the brain of Ezra Pound […]
at a loss
21 June 2008, around 2.18.
There is something outrageous in a person’s misdirecting a traveller who has lost his way and then leaving him to himself in error, yet what is that compared with causing someone to go astray in himself? The lost traveller, after all, has a consolation that the country around him is constantly changing, and with every […]
in the afternoon
27 November 2010, around 12.21.
Afternoon tea out at the country, in November.
4 January 2011, around 16.26.
on studying hard…
a spring febricitation
1 May 2011, around 12.16.
on overstimulation and minor authors and spring-time
7 September 2011, around 15.26.
Design for a chimneypiece (ca. 1762) A few months ago, I was reading Nikolaus Pevsner’s 1968 article on ‘The Architectural Setting of Jane Austen’s Novels’ and it got me to thinking. It must have, for here I am, still muddled by it months after the fact, which is not something that normally happens after my […]
24 September 2011, around 15.19.
And in choosing, from the mid-afternoon drowse, between a biography of Virginia Woolf, some slightly silly essayettes,1 and English Society in the Eighteenth Century (which is, as it sounds, an introductory history to society in 18th century England), I must choose the latter – because its aims are clear, and it will not fight with […]
20 October 2011, around 8.09.
In which Boswell observes some annotations.
22 November 2011, around 8.12.
a writer’s notebook…
22 November 2012, around 19.22.
I was almost exactly halfway through Céleste Albaret’s recollections of Monsieur Proust when I realized I had erred in the matter of genre. I had supposed it was merely a servant’s memoir of her eccentric employer. Given the pains she takes to clarify her stances on her employer (not crazy, not malingering, not a bit […]
24 November 2012, around 6.14.
a few remark’s on Tatyana Tolstaya’s dystopian novel, The Slynx.
hours of indolence
23 January 2013, around 18.56.
…and of course one begins the year with the best of intentions, sweeping through books at a gallant pace, which one’s attempts at scribbling cannot match.
it would do beautifully
21 July 2013, around 5.05.
The inconstant reader. … I reminded him how often we had talked about my travels on the five continents and sixteen seas, and my inability to stay very long in one place. Although I was living peacefully in Pollensa, there was not guarantee it would be permanent. —Álvaro Mutis (Triptych on Sea and Land, p. […]
24 December 2013, around 14.10.
No snow, sadly. And of course expected – hoped for – snow at the mountain for Christmas; I’m sure there is, too, another few hundred feet further up. The only thing for it is to skate Skarphedin-like across the hardwood floors in stocking’d feet for another cup of tea.
3 January 2014, around 5.21.
A few books close at hand. Her favourite reading was a mouldy old book called Urn Burial, that she read in bed; and she liked creepy, rustling things like tortoises and cacti. She had a dark, haggard face that made one think of an old graveyard, but her eyes were so dark and deep that […]
12 January 2014, around 15.11.
A down-graded storm. There are of course other things I should be doing, even other things I should be reading, but just at the moment detective stories seem to be what I want. They are amusing and plotty and charmingly shamefaced. There’s not a one that takes itself too seriously, not one that claims it […]
A view (41)
8 February 2014, around 10.53.
Print is Dead
13 July 2014, around 14.19.
By Jeff Gomez, Macmillan, 2008.
barrier to entry
31 August 2014, around 14.48.
Reading at the window, December 2013. There were too many things to do this summer, each day crowded with too of the little nothings that are so necessary if anything is going to happen. Now, though, projects are winding down, and there’s nothing to do but bustle about and procrastinate on those last few things […]
a mere habit
24 December 2014, around 11.56.
It is snowing outside and there is nothing to do save sit in front of the fire and read. Indeed, there is nothing one would rather be doing. Did she distrust all figurative language because she was sharply aware of the aptitude of the most languid figurative expressions for persisting as a mere habit of […]
the long road
19 January 2015, around 7.56.
Robert Adam, Ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia (1764) From time to time out of the text there emerged little black figures which postured on the white paper beside it, achieved a group which was magical, an incantation to death, and ran back again into the text, which carried […]
a wholesome note of doubt
8 February 2015, around 9.16.
‘With so little new reading-matter to distract us we were able to carry all the details in our head until the next issue.’
Crambe repetita (35)
15 February 2015, around 5.21.
Teffi, ‘One Day in the Future’ from Subtly Worded.
15 March 2015, around 16.13.
A bit of light reading from Terry and the Pirates. I’ve been spending much of March reading Will Eisner’s The Spirit (as reprinted by DC Comics), and trying to put it in some sort of context, which involves more reading (of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy). It hasn’t been […]
9 October 2015, around 5.33.
anachronism ‘Thales Milesius’ by Jacques de Gheyn (1616) A man must give to thriving husbandrie, to laborious study, to toilesome hunting, and to every other exercise, the utmost bounds of pleasure; and beware he engage himselfe no further, if once paine begin to intermeddle it selfe with her; we should reserve businesse and negotiations only […]
31 December 2015, around 6.34.
At this point it is unlikely I will finish reading any more books this year, so I might as well make a list of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2015: Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby Anne Garréta, Sphinx Mary Lascelles, Jane […]
bettered novels (22.1)
13 February 2016, around 13.22.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, part 1, first impressions (1796/1813).
26 May 2016, around 18.29.
Rousseau on ubiquitous reading.
6 July 2016, around 14.01.
16 September 2016 – Crézan
16 September 2016, around 19.41.
Day 10. And at last we have arrived. It is autumn – the haws are ripening and the cyclamen are blooming. We’ve taken our country walk and are ready to curl up with a book.
24 December 2016, around 4.25.
These are by no means all of the books I read this year that I found enjoyable or good, but they are the ones that, when thinking back over the year, stood out to me as some of the better ones – or at least the ones that were the right books for me at […]
5 March 2017, around 6.14.
reading at the dinner table…
an antique fashion shows
3 April 2017, around 6.49.
The cover was off-putting. A boy in a garden, glancing slyly back at an illicit meeting, in the unctuous watercolors so popular for mass market literary paperbacks of a certain age. I refer, of course, to a Penguin edition of First Love, translated by Isaiah Berlin, which, as a book, rather reminded me (not to […]
6 August 2017, around 21.29.
‘Ville Imaginaire II’, Erik Desmazieres (1999) I’ve stumbled into a course of reading where nearly everything resonates with each other, ideas reverberating from page to page and decade to decade, resulting in a common clarity rather than the expected bewilderment. Renee Gladman’s personal essays are enriched by reading them with Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural criticism; Greta […]
good, better, bested
31 December 2017, around 13.51.
Of the books I read in 2017, I would recommend the following: Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle – an engaging look at wealth and the early church. Barbara Comyns, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths – a better presentation of the limits of intellect than An American Tragedy. Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination […]
12 June 2019, around 13.50.
Saint Jerome Reading, (Jusepe de Ribera [called Lo Spagnoletto], ca. 1624) Proteus: Upon some book I love I’ll pray for thee. Valentine: That’s on some shallow story of deep love… The chair from which I work is by a window – or a set of windows, rather – overlooking a street and some trees and, […]
6 April 2020, around 14.27.
Reading odd bits of books in the evening as consolation for not being able to manage a satisfactory photo of any of the nurse stumps on the short walk through the woods I love the wind even if, exactly, my imagination tends to give it ferocious shapes and colors. Battered by the wind, I go […]
1 August 2020, around 10.11.
Despite a subscription to one of the noteworthy review periodicals, I have mostly given up reading book reviews. They never really manage to tell me what I want to know, the information that a blind, intuitive reaching for the shelves will provide – what do I want to read next? Indeed, looking at book reviews […]
30 October 2020, around 10.18.
To begin with how it is. Sun fallen behind the ridge to the south, the light fading in the valley, though still bright on the northern hills. Raking up after a frost, hoping to clear the drive and the edges of the road before the rain. For I can push a barrow as well as […]
11 December 2020, around 5.41.
Nothing is quite what I’m expecting at the moment. If November was a month in which I could read fluently and easily and joyfully and curiously, December is, or currently seems to be, a month in which nothing makes sense, and every word on a page makes me peevish. I am tempted to retreat into […]
17 December 2020, around 6.23.
A glimpse of the season’s first snowfall, through the window, at night. The first snow of the season (or the first snow I was awake to see falling) reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to do. I am trying to read more patiently – not necessarily more attentively or carefully, but more patiently, or […]
19 December 2020, around 14.24.
‘I read all the time: newspapers, magazines, fiction, nonfiction, but it’s important for me to feel interpolated; to feel like the thing I am reading will lead to another and another…’ —Moyra Davey (‘Opposite of Low Hanging Fruit’, in Index Cards)
12 January 2021, around 8.22.
at the reference desk.
26 January 2021, around 5.31.
These are some of the latest things I haven’t read, with the excuses I made for abandoning them. Penguin classics edition of Epicurus. I had hoped for updated notes and bibliography, something that I could point students (should I ever get another course as adjunct) towards, but it was a reprint of a book published […]
the guest-room bookshelf
19 February 2021, around 14.22.
Not quite a guest-room bookshelf, ca. 2012. So many books enter one’s life through happenstance, rather than through the ordered chaos of book reviews or bibliographies or the propinquity of a library or bookstore shelf (each good in its way).1 This aleatoric approach to book selection is something I associate with travelling, and I like […]
22 February 2021, around 12.30.
I remember reading something about a chatterbox in a coach who left himself open to some devastating wit by asking his fellow passengers if he wasn’t a coxcomb and I have no idea where I read it but it was about a sixth of the way down a verso. I think. The witticism involved repeating […]
human kindness, curdled
25 February 2021, around 5.23.
‘A plan of the cities of London and Westminster’, etc., by Johns Roque, Pine, and Pinney (ca. 1746) We disputed about some poems. Sheridan said that a man should not be a poet except he were excellent; for that to be a mediocris poeta was but a poor thing. I said I differed from him. […]
11 June 2021, around 5.51.
It is a foolish question – what book is the most formally perfect? – because it assumes, first, that there is an ideal form for a book, and second, that perfection is attainable.1 The only perfection possible is the heat death of the universe – frozen droplets of iron suspended, isolated, in a deafening void, […]
25 July 2021, around 6.47.
…the soul and body are joint-sharers in every thing they get: A man cannot dress, but his ideas get cloth’d at the same time; and if he dresses like a gentleman, every one of them stands presented to his imagination, genteelized along with him—so that he has nothing to do, but take his pen, and […]
10 October 2021, around 18.17.
The sort of lazy Sunday on which one has to work because one was having a sort of lazy Friday and a lazy Saturday, but Monday will come with its deadlines, and one does not like to disappoint. Somehow, last week, I managed to write my to-do list on the wrong day in my planner, […]
18 October 2021, around 5.34.
— Is it OK, do you think, to stop reading a book without finishing it? — What do you mean by ‘finishing a book’? — Getting to the end of it. — So you think that if someone takes up a book and turns all of the pages until he (the exemplar is invariably a […]
2 February 2022, around 9.06.
It is another round of desultory reading, a sort of weak waving of the hand at sturdy piles of thoughtful books that do not at the moment appeal. I’ve been in the sort of reading mood that cannot ignore failures of proofreading – the inconsistent use of straight and typographer’s quotation marks in the last […]
10 April 2022, around 7.55.
other readers in the stacks.
game trails and cow paths
31 August 2022, around 5.21.
Everything I set down has a source in prior song or the written record. Some poets don’t want to read first; some of us want to give the stories we know a longer life […] —Stephanie Burt (‘(frag. 612)’, After Callimachus, p. 79). Shortly after becoming acquainted with the dog, then a black puppy of […]
on travel writing
21 November 2022, around 5.00.
Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero […]
23 November 2022, around 13.34.
‘Underlining personalizes the book. The marks become traces of your interest.’ (124) ‘If the book is yours and it does not have antiquarian value, do not hesitate to annotate it. Do not trust those who say that you must respect books. You respect books by using them, not leaving them alone.’ (125f.) —Umberto Eco, How […]
26 December 2022, around 14.55.
Id quoque, quod tenetur, per manus exit et ipsam, quam premimus, horam casus incidit, volvitur tempus rata quidem lege, sed per obscurum; quid autem ad me, an naturae certum sit quod mihi incertum est? —Seneca (Epistulae Morales, 101.5)1 In the past, I haven’t been particularly strong on reading rules and systems for my yearly reading; […]
2 January 2023, around 5.37.
archaism and fish bones…
15 January 2023, around 4.56.
αὕτη οὖν ἀρχὴ τοῦ φιλοσοφεῖν, αἴσθησις τοῦ ἰδίου ἡγεμονικοῦ πῶς ἔχει: μετὰ γὰρ τὸ γνῶναι ὅτι ἀσθενῶς οὐκ ἔτι θελήσει χρῆσθαι αὐτῷ πρὸς τὰ μεγάλα. νῦν δὲ μὴ δυνάμενοί τινες τὸν ψωμὸν καταπίνειν σύνταξιν ἀγοράσαντες ἐπιβάλλονται ἐσθίειν. διὰ τοῦτο ἐμοῦσιν ἢ ἀπεπτοῦσιν: εἶτα στρόφοι καὶ κατάρροιαι καὶ πυρετοί. ἔδει δ᾽ ἐφιστάνειν, εἰ δύνανται. ἀλλ᾽ ἐν […]
on leisure and reading
23 January 2023, around 4.59.
Remember, that it is not only the Desire of Riches and Power that renders us mean, and subject to others, but even of Quiet, and Leisure, and Learning, and Travelling. For, in general, valuing any external Thing whatever, subjects us to another. Where is the Difference, then, whether you desire to be a Senator, or […]
26 January 2023, around 17.33.
‘Books that speak like the noise of multitudes reduce to despair by the sheer weight of their emptiness. They entertain us like the lights of the city streets at night, by hopes they cannot fulfil.’ —Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, ch. xiv
30 April 2023, around 4.31.
‘When you feel disagreeable it is better for you to sit. There is no other way to accept your problem and work on it.’ —Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind…, p. 40) ‘Engaging with mystery is neither problem-solving nor completing tasks. None of these mysteries can be solved, answered definitively, controlled, managed, or mastered. We never finish […]
31 May 2023, around 6.21.
‘The deepest secrets are to be found in the simplest natural things, but, pining away for the Beyond, the speculative fantast treads them under his feet’ —Ludwig Feuerbach (‘Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy’, in The Fiery Brook: Selected Writings, p. 94, trans. Zawar Hanfi) ‘Even though many ideas come, we do not think about […]
11 August 2023, around 4.37.
…only a particular concatenation of circumstances will reveal that one man always acts in a good way because his instinctual inclinations compel him to, and the other is good only in so far and for so long as such cultural behaviour is advantageous for his own selfish purposes. But superficial acquaintance with an individual will […]
3 September 2023, around 12.28.
Ferrante on Stein and Hemingway and truth in fiction…
in the dark
8 September 2023, around 6.20.
Quid, cum fictas fabulas, e quibus utilitas nulla elici potest, cum voluptate legimus? quid, cum volumus nomina eorum, qui quid gesserint, nota nobis esse, parentes, patriam, multa praeterea minime necessaria? But what of fiction, from which no utility can be extracted, that we read for pleasure? What of our eagerness to learn the names of […]
31 October 2023, around 4.31.
‘…we must fall back upon the wholesome truth that we cannot delegate our intellectual functions, and say to a machine, to a formula, to a rule, or to a dogma, I am too lazy to think, do please think for me.’ —Edward Sang (‘On Mechanical Aids to Calculation. A Lecture to the Actuarial Society of […]