Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Record Post Total

This puts 2008 over 2007, 86-85. I would be impressed with my consistency, at least, if I had greater cause for pride in the work, or at least any sense of its not being exhausted in an entirely fruitless endeavor. I am not seriously going to try to wean myself off of this habit anytime soon, however, so long as I am not prevented from doing so, and can perceive no alternative task which it is any more suitable or necessary for me to pursue.

My Youthful Aunt is Now 50. Having only seen my youthful aunt once in the last fourteen years, I just realized this the other night while staring dazedly at the Christmas tree lights. My youthful aunt was only 11 when I was born. When I went to kindergarten, she was still in high school. When I was a slightly older schoolboy, she and her friends were about the only remotely youngish, with-it people with whom I had any regular contact (when I say with-it, I mean they were socially confident, fun, and always desirable within their own circle, narrow in terms of the whole world but extensive within the area of the northern edges of Philadelphia and its inner suburbs--they listened to Billy Joel and drank Miller Lite, and dressed the part). When I was 19 she took me out, (though she was married and had several children by that time), on what was my first ever night of bar drinking in Chestnut Hill. She was the sort who always had good connections with people who had unlimited access to supposedly hard-to-get sports playoff and concert tickets. Anyway, now she's 50. Her children are college-aged or older. She never went to college or pursued any kind of career or espoused much interest in work, though she married well (a master carpenter). She was a socially capable person, so I suspect she finds some way to pass her time which takes advantage of this.

On Polar Explorers. My other great thought for this post, now going on two weeks old and equally stale, was of my increased respect for polar explorers after spending an hour tobogganning in 13 degree heat. Even now if I come across an issue of National Geographic with a story about polar travel I am always mesmerized, and think "Now that is the way to live life." The guys in these expeditions are manly as hell. They clash with each other incessantly. They have to carry serious guns, as well as other weapons for spearing and gutting fish and seals and so forth for dinner. They leave off of women and drink and comfort and warmth for months on end and come back ten times stronger and more desirable and better for it.

As someone who believes the spirit of enthusiastic amateurism produces enough vitality to a society to offset in many instances the rarer, and largely undiffused excellence of the professional, I have a certain affection and admiration for the notorious doomed British polar explorations of the early part of the last century, Scott's and Shackleton's obviously being the most famous. The pros of today look rather aghast upon their general lack of preparation, experience and attitude toward a journey that is anything but a lark or a game, and of course both of these expeditions resulted in varying degrees of total disaster, but that kind of naive romantic foolhardiness bespeaks a culture whose people really believe something rather extraordinary about themselves and their place in the world, which we don't allow to be attractive or desirable until we have lost it utterly in ourselves.

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