Monday, February 20, 2012

Slumbering Jubilation I

I was on vacation for a week. Hence the especially long gap between postings.

I expect my activity here will be light for the foreseeable future--certainly for the rest of this school year. I finally seem to have reached the point where I truly do have too many children of certain ages. Writing has gone from being a futile endeavor to a pretty much impossible one. As well my head these days is still about as clear as the air on a Scottish Isle in November, and there are of course no great doings, no illustrations of virtue, or even any casual domination and terrorizing of any poor saps on my own part to relate, and I haven't the spirit to relate such instances observed in other people even if I were aware of any. If I should be doing anything on this site, it should be going back and editing and even deleting my particularly embarrassing older posts. Yet the urge to complete and publish any new thing whatsoever overcomes all. Not for me the ethos of Lord Macaulay, who "made it a rule for himself to publish nothing which was not carefully planned, strenuously labored, and minutely finished". Though of course no one reads him anymore either. Even me.

I was going to write a commentary about the recent uptick in what was already a deluge of articles circulating through the popular media and internet sites about the various failures of contemporary men, especially as far as their desirability and suitability for marriage to high-achieving modern women are concerned. This subject is already well-covered in the blogosphere, and in addition I don't seem to be up for anything requiring even a modest amount of sweep at present, so I am leaving it alone. This is already one wearisome motif, and as it does not look like the situation being lamented, from any of the various angles from which it is being lamented, is likely to improve any time soon, I am guessing it is not going to go away, and the people of the nation begin to hold our young and even middle-aged men in general admiration again. Obviously I am in many ways a prime example of one of these diminished males in terms of intellectual/career achievement, though I have to this point avoided the video games and the porn addiction (honestly!), so the subject hits close to home, and unhappily so, as it must be; given my current time constraints however any pertinent thoughts I have on the matter will probably continue to come out in little drips and draps instead of in a coherent grand survey of the contemporary scene.

Did you know that Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's natural son is an apparently authentic genius? This guy just won a Rhodes Scholarship and taking it in the flow of his biography this accomplishment strikes the reader as actually a step backward--or at least an interruption--to his already brilliant and active career. Other than his awesome resume (graduated Bard College at 15, admitted to Yale Law at same age, worked for UNICEF as an advisor to the former US Ambassador to the United Nations while still a teenager, 'director of the US government's relationship with non-governmental actors in Afghanistan and Pakistan'--this at age 21--and testimonials about his general brilliance such as those in the New York Times attributed to a former neighbor and local selectman in his home town ("extraordinary in his academic accomplishments'...'off the charts [intellectually] from the beginning'...always...operated at the highest level intellectually'--I don't actually know what these mean, but evidently they are spoken by someone qualified to make such pronouncements) it is hard to pick out the specifics of these mental qualities which repeatedly blew the minds of numerous of the most serious and importantly placed adults in the current world scene, but I guess one has to assume they are there. He does appear to be a bit humorless, which is ironic given his bloodlines, though he has been estranged from his father since he was about five years old, and appears to have adopted a hardened stance towards him.

Several dozen women at least whose pictures indicate that they are of more than acceptable attractiveness have declared him to be cute, and not a few have openly announced that they would be interested in exploring having sex with him. For whatever that is worth.

I recently received my Northern New England edition of AAA Magazine in the mail (as a studly commentator at a site devoting to gaming women once noted, before returning to the more interesting subject of the various hard-bodied young women he pleasured at will entirely on his own terms while acceding to no unpleasant demands on his side at all, all wretched beta males ought to have the grim expression "I was responsible" carved at the bottom of their tombstones). That cover featured a nighttime picture of a trenchcoated and derby-hatted man shuffling past a half-familiar haunt of mine, the Porthole Fountain diner along the one alley in the old Portland waterfront that apparently has been permitted to retain its 'gritty' look. I have never actually eaten at the Porthole, as in my day its opening hours were from like 5am to 1pm, which did not coincide with my dining schedule, but I used to walk around the atmospheric and abandoned streets surrounding it in the evenings to meditate, usually in lieu of doing schoolwork, as I was too restless at that age to sit around all alone for too long of a stretch. Anyway, after this long introduction, this picture is on the cover of the magazine because this month's main story is about the increasing popularity of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont as settings for crime fiction. Like other prominent milieux in this genre of literature (Sweden, the British upper classes between the wars; I even suspect 1930s and 40s noir-era Los Angeles was pretty sedate on the crime front compared to what it became in later years), the actual crime rate in the region, especially violent crime, is about as low as can be found anywhere in recorded history. Best-selling writer Archer Mayor has recently put out the 22nd volume of his series whose hero is detective Joe Gunther of Brattleboro, Vermont, a city so menacing that if I happen to be walking down Main Street on farmer's market day or during a folk festival I am often realistically in contention for the most threatening looking person on the strip. One of Maine mystery writer Gerry Boyle's main characters is "a rookie cop in Portland with an old cabin cruiser, a girlfriend, and a history"--perhaps one has to have a certain youthful experience of the actual Portland police force to feel a sense of hilarity at the portentousness of this description. I certainly grasp the appeal of the region for writers (bad weather, small cities and old towns, geography at once diverse and compact, largely homogenous population that retains even now something of a common history and identity, though this has eroded noticeably even since the late 80s), much of which is touched on in the article, and the crime genre, while I find I tire of its limits fairly quickly, obviously is one of the more enduring and effective modes of storytelling in modern literature in a broad sense, but--surely there are more interesting stories and subjects to be mined from these attractive locales.

I don't recalling any of the prominent sports pundits noting that in the recent frenzy of conference expansion and league jumping among ambitious and merely desperate schools in college sports that the one league everybody supposedly would be dying to join neither expanded nor lost any members at all. I speak of course of the Ivy League. But let's say the presidents of the member schools wake up one day soon and are overcome with the desire to hold a championship game in football, which would require them to have twelve teams. Who gets added? No school whose faculties, administrators, or students would be too overly eager to receive or self-satisfied at receiving an invitation to this gilded club should be considered, Iwould think--Duke, Georgetown and Northwestern are three who come immediately to mind that will not be tapped. Stanford might seem the most obvious selection, and they essentially already have the exalted status without the affiliation, but in addition to having a really fabulous all around sports program they are also far away in California, which, like Texas, and perhaps Florida, is a country and culture onto itself, and to which Stanford has deep and symbolic ties. They should stay where they are. The first two schools I would thus bring into the Ivy League are the two old academies, Annapolis and West Point (or, in football-speak, Navy and Army). They are an obvious and natural fit, being firmly ensconced on the East Coast, having similar traditions and elegant old campuses hearkening back to the golden age of high collegiate spirit, and in many undeniable ways that of the nation itself. They traditionally have, and I assume still do produce graduates who are active, prominent and accomplished in the highest levels of national life. They should be in. The other school I would put in would be the old University of Chicago, which has been content to follow its own lonely and even anti-social path for the last 75 years, but which I think could use some allies and friendly rivals. Chicago is obviously not the best fit geographically--they'd have to fly to all the games--but they have a venerable intellectual tradition, though I know there is a lot of grumbling that they have let standards slip in recent years (haven't all these places?) and while they have long downgraded their athletic program to the Division III level, they did produce the very first Heisman Trophy winner back in, I think, 1934 or '35. Besides I don't know who else to put there. I can't even come up with an appropriate 12th team. All those good, quasi-Ivy, pretty hard to get in to for the average schlub northeastern liberal arts schools (Colgate, Bucknell, et al) are not really distinguishable enough to me from other to elevate one of them, though who knows if you couldn't subsitute Colgate for Cornell or Bucknell for Penn and have just as cool of a league. There is a missing Ivy League school in Vermont I think (Montpelier would be a really good place for it I bet) which could be formed as an amalgam of all those tiny liberal arts schools that are already there, Middlebury, Bennington, Marlboro, Goddard, etc. You would have the writing, the music, the sexual experimentation, the casual languid wealth, the eccentricity all concentrated in one place. This team would probably fight it out for last in the league in football every year with Brown and Columbia (Chicago would be able to scrounge out enough midwestern talent to win four or five games a year in this league, I think), but it would be chock full of the kinds of groovy girls so many people need but can never find because they are tightly concentrated in a few select places and not widely spread among the general population.

I hate divisions in all sports, but with my alignment you could do it very neatly, having the New England teams (plus Chicago) in the one and the Mid-Atlantic teams in the other.

No comments: