April 1st, 2007

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

It is April 1st, April Fool's Day, though I prefer to see it as April Wonder Day, though fools deserve their place, too, and maybe fools are wonders.

I enjoy Verlyn Klinkenborg's columns and I love to read Jane Austen.  I like what he says here, especially since there is an article in the NY Times today on senior girls from Newton North High School.  Each one sounds amazing, and it seems today it is important to be intelligent, yes, and also very "hot."  Looks still top brains, even now, and certainly, "hot" is in the eyes of the beholder.  I think Jane Austen was probably quite sexy and certainly she was astute.  It would be lovely to envision her preparing to be accepted by colleges.   This column seems timely.

Editorial Observer

If Jane Austen Were Among Us Now, Whom Would She Cast as Herself?

Published: April 1, 2007

What did Jane Austen look like and why should we care? The only undisputed portrait — a drawing of the novelist in her nightcap — was done by Austen’s sister, Cassandra, about 1810, when Austen was 35 or so. Almost anyone who examines this naïve portrait is likelier to impugn the artist than the model. And yet a Ms. Helen Trayler, who works for an English publisher, has recently said of Austen, “She was not much of a looker.” That’s why Ms. Trayler’s company has beautified this portrait for a new book. Austen’s cheeks have been rouged a little, her nightcap has been removed, and she now looks like a stern cross between the logo for Columbia Pictures and the head on a Roman coin.

This is only the beginning of the Jane Austen makeover. A new film about her will come to this country in August. It is called “Becoming Jane” and stars Anne Hathaway, who was last seen in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Ms. Hathaway is indeed a becoming Jane. Publishers of “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice” and the rest of Austen’s works should simply reprint a still from the film — Ms. Hathaway in Georgian costume, superbly blushed and coiffed and playing cricket — and call it “Jane Austen,” with the quotation marks. The novels would be so much richer if only we could believe they were written by a looker.

I reread “Emma” recently and found myself wondering, what if we knew as much about Shakespeare’s life as we do about Austen’s? And what if we knew as much about Austen’s life as we do about Virginia Woolf’s? No one would give up the chance to have 150 letters by Shakespeare or 26 years of copious diaries by Austen.

But the work always stands apart from the life, no matter how much we know. No amount of biography — no grasp of the details of the life as it was lived — ever accounts for the transfiguration that takes place in the work itself. You can search all you want in the life, but you will never find the ghostly separateness, the act of imagination, in which the work emerges.

I was only a few pages into “Emma” when I realized that I was reading with a smile on my face. It wasn’t just renewing acquaintance with such old, old friends — Emma Woodhouse herself; her ailing and slightly querulous father; Mr. Knightley (whose given name, I always forget, is George); and the grand female talkers in the book, Miss Bates and Mrs. Elton.

I was smiling at feeling the very separateness of the world the novel creates and at watching the adroitness with which the author governs the reader’s awareness. The text of Austen’s novels is the most persuasive biographical detail we can ever have of her. Her work is the product of her unremitting attention, and we can see the character of that attention — that mind — more clearly in the novels than in anything else we know about her. The same thing might be said of Woolf, about whom we know so much more, and of Shakespeare, about whom we know so much less.

I had not only forgotten that he was George Knightley. I had forgotten that in a polite spasm of near-disgust, Mr. Knightley says to Mrs. Elton, “Come on a donkey, however, if you prefer it.” I had forgotten that Emma had introduced a “large modern circular table” to her father’s house and how closely her patronizing chatter with her protégée, Harriet Smith, resembles the patronizing chatter of Mrs. Elton herself, for whom Austen’s favorite stage direction is “laughing affectedly.” One of the great pleasures of a reading life is picking up an old, familiar novel thinking that rereading it will mean a kind of reminding, when, in fact, the novel makes itself new all over again. It is as if the novel holds itself apart, waiting for real life to erase enough in us to make us suitable readers once more.

I never wish I knew how pretty Austen was or how she dressed or how her voice sounded. (On the other hand, I wish intently that modern publishers did not care how handsome or beautiful their authors are.) But let me put it a different way. I would like to know how anyone who lived 200 years ago talked or sounded or dressed or ate or felt.

I would recover all the unrecoverable details about any life that passed in those days just to come to terms with the distance and the difference of the past — and I do mean any life, not just those of the writers or the statesmen.

It is a failing to read Shakespeare and feel impoverished by the lack of biographical detail. It is no less a failing to read Austen and wonder what the mirror said when she looked into it. I cannot think of anything that would make “Emma” richer than it is.

Book Cover

Clocks and such -

My computer clock is finally on time.  It did not like the change in daylight savings time and I would change it and it would change itself back, so I got used to adding an extra hour, but now this morning I see that yes, 8:50 is 8:50.  Hooray!   My computer is stubborn like me, and not always thrilled with change.

My son Chris has an old Corvette that needs special care, so I drove him up yesterday to pick it up at the place where it has been living for the last two months, Corvette World or something like that and there I met Joe and saw some wonderful old cars.  I have never been much of a car person but I do enjoy the Classic Car races, especially the cars that are pre-war.  Sometimes they get up to 30 mph and they slow for the hills and most of them don't all make  it through what I believe is ten laps.  Anyway Joe knows Corvettes.  It was like being with the Car Talk guys who I listened to as I drove over to Berkeley.  It was amazing to hear Joe talk about Corvettes.  I think that is one reason Chris's car took so long to be fixed.  Joe loves Corvette's and he talks to each person who comes in, for hours.   It was fun.

Joe had Chris's car up on the rack so we could look at the suspension and watch the transmission fluid leak.  I'm glad that my car is reliable.  This car of Chris's rarely runs and it works for him because he rarely drives, but it is fun to be under the underpinnings of a car and see how it all began before efficiency set in, and I love my very efficient car.  After all we needed something to get us there.  Of course the Corvette also made it here and it was something to celebrate and I think it made it home where it will sit for a week before it goes back up for more work.  Chris just wanted a chance to drive it and it will return to Corvette World where it can hang out with other oldsters.  I guess it is like an old folk's home and I'm sure the stories told at night by those old Corvettes are exaggerated and bold.

Happy Palm Sunday.   1000 churches today went green in their choice of palm fronds so the palm fronds this year were picked carefully by people making double what they used to, and the trees and forests are healthy and intact.  The country is going green.  Chris works in the world of Solar Power and is loaded with job offers right now and he has a really good job already.  It is a world ripening into green and I mean money.  The tax incentives are bringing new companies and enthusiam to life.  Finally green is where it needs to be, making money.  Now, we should see the surge and hope it is not too late.  I read that poor countries will be hurt more by global warming than the rich ones.  May that, too, change, so we all find ways to adapt to this self-created change.  

Enjoy this day, and celebrate in whatever way spins your heart in the light of spring.  It is quite something to feel the light gain weight and strength.
Book Cover

Palm Sunday!

I am working on the book, working with my perception of young and old light as I unite present and past.  Jane and I are on the same page, the same pages, all 55,000 words of them.  Oh, my!   Tis a lot of words to again go back through.

Somehow in working I had the image of the palm, the palm of the hand, the palm as soul.  I like this image of Palm Sunday, too, the place where we touch and connect.

Happy Day!
Book Cover

Book recommendation!

Last night I read the book Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee.  It is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Though the subject matter is difficult, I recommend the book and I understand all the high praise.   I was drawn in and could not put it down.   I don't  want to say any more than that.  I am still in the spell and the immersion of meaning that is clear, tangled and light.
Book Cover


"We honor life when we work. The type of work is not important: the fact of work is. All work feeds the soul if it is honest and done to the best of our abilities and if it brings joy to others."

-- Matthew Fox

I feel good about my work today.  I think, I believe that Jane and I are close.  Another file is complete.  May it be, as much as is possible,  so!!

Now, to get out into the day!!    Happy most beautiful, clear, and satisfying day!!

Book Cover

Laugh out loud!!

These are great especially if you recognize the people answering the question.   Let's here it for humor and quick come-backs!  Hmmm!

If you remember the Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this may bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when " Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous, not scripted, as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.

Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A. Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A. Rose Marie: No; wait until morning.

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I Love You"?
A. Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.

Q. What are "Do It," "I Can Help," and "I Can't Get Enough"?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you' ll  never forget.

Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries.   Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps.   One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q.When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give e birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the  habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: Naw, It got me out of the army.

Q.. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?

A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and  has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh.

No day is so bad it can't be fixed by a nap.