Carousel of Progress by Christian Lambert
Time for a progress report on my 13×13 Project. You’ll see that I’ve modified a few of the goals to be more realistic and suited to life (and life drama)…a few goals have increased, a few decreased and a few have been completely changed. So it goes.
Reading Montaigne 1.37: Of Solitude
The first time I read it, “Of Solitude” changed my life. The second time I read it, it changed my life. And the third. And so on. It partially is my life. It is what a good part of me wants my life to be. Forgive me in advance for some lengthy quotes from this, an essay I am constantly lost in.
I am a person who operates best in solitude. I live best alone. Which might seem a strange thing to say when I have put so much of my life out on the web in the form of blogs, publications, shared links and curated collections of various kinds.
Gregory Currie from “Does Great Literature Make Us Better”:
You agree with me, I expect, that exposure to challenging works of literary fiction is good for us. That’s one reason we deplore the dumbing-down of the school curriculum and the rise of the Internet and its hyperlink culture. Perhaps we don’t all read very much that we would count as great literature, but we’re apt to feel guilty about not doing so, seeing it as one of the ways we fall short of excellence. Wouldn’t reading about Anna Karenina, the good folk of Middlemarch and Marcel and his friends expand our imaginations and refine our moral and social sensibilities?
If someone now asks you for evidence for this view, I expect you will have one or both of the following reactions. First, why would anyone need evidence for something so obviously right? Second, what kind of evidence would he want? Answering the first question is easy: if there’s no evidence – even indirect evidence – for the civilizing value of literary fiction, we ought not to assume that it does civilize. Perhaps you think there are questions we can sensibly settle in ways other than by appeal to evidence: by faith, for instance. But even if there are such questions, surely no one thinks this is one of them.
What sort of evidence could we present? Well, we can point to specific examples of our fellows who have become more caring, wiser people through encounters with literature. Indeed, we are such people ourselves, aren’t we?
Monkey’s Paw (Andrew Rowat)
The New York Times describes the Monkey’s Paw Bookstore:
The Monkey’s Paw specializes in oddities like “Life-Spark Stories”: printed matter that has fallen between history’s cracks and eluded even Google Books’ all-seeing eye. There are Victorian etiquette handbooks, antique sex manuals, obscure scientific treatises. There are forgotten 19th-century travelogues with sumptuous chromolithographs and leather-bound correspondence courses on fingerprinting. There are medical books (“Hewat’s Examination of the Urine”), how-to guides (“Safety in Police Pursuit Driving”) and historical studies: “Drug Adulteration: Detection and Control in 19th-Century Britain,” “The Water Closet: A New History,” “The Puppet Theatre in Czechoslovakia.” There are books whose accidentally poetic titles alone are worth the asking price: “Prospecting for Uranium,” “Magnetic Removal of Foreign Bodies,” “South Australia From Space.” A sign in the Monkey’s Paw window dryly sums up the inventory: “Old & Unusual.”
“This isn’t the store where you’ll find the book you were looking for,” Fowler says. “It’s the store where you’ll find the book you didn’t know you were looking for.” You may find something else surprising at the Monkey’s Paw, too: a glimpse of the future, a way forward for the old-fashioned bookstore in the age of the iPhone and the e-book.
“Sweetheart” [CC licensed photo by Insidi0us]
This came across in a recent daily email from Delanceyplace and, given some recent experiences, it was interesting and informative. I’ve never really considered the mechanism of hearing loss…
“By far the most common [condition that destroys hearing is] exposure to either long-term moderately loud noise or sudden very loud noise. … What actually happens in the inner ear when it is exposed to … loud noise?
“The inner ear is home to the cochlea, a bony spiral cavity about the size of a pea, which turns on itself two and a half times and looks like a snail shell (‘cochlea’ comes from the Latin term for ‘snail’). Sound waves, or vibrations, enter the cochlea (having been given a boost by the middle ear’s three interconnected bones, including the stapes, the smallest bone in the body). As this happens, fluid in the cochlea sets in motion the thousands of hair cells located in the organ of Corti, deep in the inner ear.