Wednesday, June 17, 2009

(Super) Quick Hits

Because now that I'm an experienced blogger I just can't bother anymore with developing my thoughts at length.

I think the predictions I have seen that in fifty years New Hampshire will have the climate that Virginia has now are not plausible unless the pace of change starts picking up considerably. Having lived in both places, the contrast between the two places in the extent and duration of coldness especially is pretty vast. While is true that the weather seems to be trending warmer longterm, we are still a long way from Virginia-type winters. While the difference in average temperatures may not seem that far apart over the course of a year, the extremes are markedly different. Whereas the temperature in NH would formerly go below 0 40-50 days a year and below -20 10-20 days a years, now it is below 0 10-20 days a year and only very rarely below -20. In Virginia it almost never gets colder than 10-15 above at the worst. Similarly the lakes and rivers in NH are frozen for a significantly shorter period, 10-20 days in some cases, than they used to be 60 years ago, but they are still frozen for a good 90-100 or so days a year. In Virginia a solidly frozen river even for a single day is a once every several decades event. A permanent change that dramatic in such a short time would, I think, be fairly unprecedented in recorded human experience. Perhaps it will happen, but I am not planning for it yet. That Northern New England will become more like Connecticut climatolgically in fifty years, I could buy. Virginia, I really can't.

America will never have an adequate general education system until there is once again a certain level of credible intellectual leadership with a consensus on what people should know widely distributed throughout the society, leadership in which the effects of its own learning would be palpably visible and alive in the persons assuming this mantle themselves. These are the sources of conviction and authority, without which I am not aware of any enterprise that can achieve even modest success. Right now even the groundwork to provide any kind of sophisticated or deep education to more than a handful of people is not present, and is several generations from being built up in the populace in significant numbers again. The scholarly life is a habit, easily enough demonstrable to others when one really has it, but we have turned it into a theory, wherein we crave for others, but especially ourselves, to know things, but haven't got the least idea where to confidently look to go about getting it, or the inner resources to attain the goal.

The next really important, epoch-changing literary genius, I think, will have to come up with a vision of our modern existence that gives it some kind of weight, that gives it the form or appearance of actual/authentic human life out of which a real culture could actually draw strength from. I do believe such a figure, or group of figures, will still emerge. What form they will work in I have no sense of, but as long as language is the most common advanced way through which to delineate experience, some segment of the people will still require literature.

From the pre-blog archives: This is always a popular segment. When we were doing Shaw lately, I forgot to go back and look at my great insights into other of his works in the past, so I present them now. On Arms and the Man from February 12, 2001:

'Much more impressed with the play the second time around, the conflict between ideality and "reality" is quite clear really, I'm not sure why I wasn't "struck" by it before. I think it seems apparent that (GBS) is skeptical of the idealists, though I think he understands the need for these feelings--in his society I believe he felt their aims--and people's energies--were often misplaced.'

On Major Barbara from July 10, 2004:

'A lot of ideas to sort out, making for a very unique picture when one can view them in a sort of composite. I think the idea is that we can admire achievers and people who step on toes, etc, so long as they are not allowed to become oppressive and self-serving parasites. Consequently the masses ought not be summarily crushed out of hand for sport, but pity must be dispensed with. Religion does not appear to be dismissed out of hand, but rather recognized as one of the great achievements of the human mind and demanded to be understood as such. Evidently this "humanistic" approach will greater encourage political equality as well. Funny, more similar to Wilde now with the lapse of time than I had realized.'

An awful lot of things have to go wrong to end up with a mind like mine but, amazingly, they all seem to have happened, and to keep happening incessantly.

Now that we have opined, we can listen to some unremarkable to bad songs that I have stumbled upon lately. Someday I am going to have to undertake a study of serious music--maybe that can be the subject of a later blog, after I finally put this one out of its misery.

A very early MTV-era hit. Like the video, not sure why. Pretty good-looking chicks, people seem to be enjoying themselves, and not much posturing, I guess.

I have a policy of only putting up Morrissey/Smiths songs when accompanied by clips of vintage (pre-1980) British movies. So I have found one.

I must be having some kind of minor midlife crisis. How else to explain the circumstance that I have developed a (mild) fascination with the slightly freakish, quasi-lobotomized, totally edgeless Lennon Sisters, the proteges of Lawrence Welk, the Vanilla Ice (many times over) of jazz, and laughingstock of the better half of America (of course my grandparents, who were diehard Republicans--they truly formed part of the hard spine of Nixon's silent majority--were devoted watchers of the Welk program). Well, they are rather pretty, and there is something in the way they sing that I like, though it is amazing how any trace of any individual personality is totally expunged from these performances. This one where a responsible elder male of the white community breaks in to shut down the girls' foray into "rock n roll" is pretty amusing. If only more real fathers had done the same.

I wish there were a way to reclaim Judy Garland from being almost exclusively an identifier of unabashed gayness, because she can really deliver a song the way you want a song to be delivered.

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