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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
What with His Holiness’s impending descent on Dee Cee and the mayhem it’s going to cause, ol’ Robbo decided that the prudent course would be to eat some leave time and stay out of the way until the whole thing has all blown over. (I was strolling around the Mall at lunch yesterday and what with all the construction going on along the parade route – fences, marquees, port-o-johns and the grass being boarded over – it looked like a Capital Fourth on steroids.) This will probably come back to bite me when the weather turns icy and snowy, but so be it.
Anyhoo, I recently made a swoop through the devil’s website and picked up a few items which may be of interest to friends of the decanter.
First, I finally got around to bagging a couple of DVD’s that I’ve been meaning to get, namely the “Band of Brothers” box set and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” Of the former, I will state once again that Damian Lewis looks like a constipated cat and that David Schwimmer, poor man, is doomed to be Ross from “Friends” no matter where he goes or what he does. Of the latter, I think I’m only repeating the obvious in that it’s the best of Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy. I do have one question that has always bugged me, however: When Tuco shoots the bad guy from the tub, Clint hears the shot and says to the kitten, “Every gun has its own tune”, meaning that he recognizes the sound and thus knows Tuco is around and can use him to help kybosh Angel Eyes’ gang who are holding Clint. Well, that wasn’t the same pistol that Tuco had been using the last time Clint was with him, now was it. So why would he say that?
A small point, but it bugs me.
Second, a couple of CD’s. The local classickal station keeps a couple of canzons by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612) in its rotation, so I finally broke down and bought the disc from which they came, “Music of Gabrieli and His Contemporaries“. Said contemporaries (none of whom I know) include Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634), Gabriel Diaz (1590-1638) and Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517). The first three produced great, glorious, triumphal antiphone – Spain and Italy in all their Renaissance powerhouse. The latter – who was obviously earlier – at least here seems much more contemplative and melancholy, traits which I associate with what little Late Medieval musick I have come across. These pieces are all done by the Empire Brass on modern instruments which, I think, is acceptable, but I should like to hear them on period instruments, too. The voice here covered by the trumpet would be played on the cornetto, a curved piece of wood that looks rayther like a gazelle’s horn. I have a DVD of Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo” in which cornetti are used and they are quite supple.
I also picked up a copy of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the “Eroica”, performed by the Orechestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under the direction of Sir John Elliot Full-of-Himself. I’ve actually got the box set of Beethoven’s symphonies by this lot, but the CD of the Eroica mysteriously vanished. Perhaps it was the mice. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I like the story that ol’ Ludwig Van was set on dedicating this piece to Napoleon until he finally realized what a monster That Man actually was and became so enraged that he nearly tore the work up. Ass. By the way, Peter Schickele, in the guise of P.D.Q. Bach, did a very funny parody of the 4th movement from this piece in his “Preachers of Crimetheus” which you can find on his album, “1712 Overture and Other Musical Assaults“.
Finally, although I already have them but because the Pope is in town and a lot of people are saying a lot of very foolish, ignorant things about him and about Catholicism, let me again recommend a couple of books by Frank Sheed: A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith and Theology For Beginners. These were recommended to me by a seminarian doing a turn at my church this past summah and I can’t begin to tell you how much I have profited by them. Straightforward, tightly reasoned and accessible to anyone who has the least talent for comprehension and willingness to make any kind of effort to actually understand what they are talking about.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo apologizes again for the dearth of meaningful posting here. I’ve been spending a lot of time away from teh computer lately, either soaking in the first hints of approaching autumn (my favorite season of the year) or else glued to the teevee (in fact, frequently yelling at it much to the annoyance of my family) in anguished suspense, hoping my beloved Nats can catch the Mets. (We’re only down by four now, having swept the Braves this weekend, and open a home stand against the Mets this afternoon. It’s gonna be yuuuge.)
In the meanwhile, Robbo is enjoying this Labor Day by pointedly refusing to mow the lawn and also by reveling in de lamentations of de vimmin, as it’s Back to School tomorrow morning for the Gels: Senior, sophomore and 8th grader. Where does the time get to?
In the meanwhile, a few idle observations:
♦ At long, long last, I have actually started some preliminary work on the idea I have long nourished of trying to compose another entry in the Flashman Papers that covers Flashy’s involvement in the American Civil War. Granted, so far it’s nothing more than taking notes on references to his adventures there as I read the other novels, but hey, it’s a start, no? I reckon to be poking at this off and on for the rest of my sentient life.
♦ My big plan for today is to wash La Wrangler. If you knew how infrequently I actually do this, you would be impressed: It must be a good three or four years since the last time. I’ve always felt there was something wrong with the sort of people who are compulsive about keeping their wheels shiny.
♦ Watched “Annie Hall” last evening for the first time in years. Eh, I can see that it’s well done but, apart from “Sleeper” Allen’s stuff doesn’t age well with me. (BTW, I hadn’t noticed before that Christopher Walken played Diane Keaton’s little brother. I had to stifle a comment about more cowbell.)
♦ My poor brother has to have back surgery this week – blew a disc through too much running. I’m glad that my own shot knees give me the excuse not to have to indulge in such an unhealthy pastime.
♦ Message to GOPe: Calling conservatives dupes and morons is not going to attract us back into the fold. Just saying.
Whelp, off to give the car her bath and then settle in for the game. What else can one say except
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Sorry for the lack of posting this week. Ol’ Robbo has been somewhat becalmed, creatively-speaking, no doubt due to dog days of summah fatigue. It happens. So here are just a few things:
♦ Pulling into my garage at work this morning, I overheard one of the guards opining to another that “we ought to have free health care and college here like they do over in Europe.” I wanted to leap out, grab the man by the neck and shake him violently. The pure ignorance of this sentiment becomes more and more critically important the closer the progressivistas push us to Euro-socialism. Let me repeat then (although I know all of you know this already) a fundamental fact of reality: Where goods and services are provided, there is no such thing as “free”. Ever. Period. Somebody has got to pay for it, otherwise it won’t be produced. Argh!
UPDATE: And that somebody in the world of rainbows and unicorns, of course, is teh gub’mint. Allow me to quote Peej O’Rourke’s description from “All The Trouble In The World” of Milton and Rose Friedman’s identification of teh four ways money is spent:
1. You spend your own money on yourself. You’re motivated to get the thin you want at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.
2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.
3. You spend other people’s money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.
4. You spend other people’s money on other people. And in this case, who gives a shite?
Most gub’mint spending falls in category four.
How does one convey this to the Free Shite Army? No idea – send ’em to Venezuela for a while, I guess.
♦ I continue to enjoy the phenomenon of Teh Donald, but I am amazed at some of the reactions his advent has caused on the Right among people I never would have thought would shill for the Establishment. I am particularly puzzled by those who scold that we shouldn’t be “duped” by his hucksterism. Well, I dunno about anyone else, but this certainly isn’t the case with me. I know perfectly well exactly how awful he is. The only reason I am even considering voting for him is nicely summed up in a bumper sticker proposal I read somewhere (slightly sanitized here because family blog): “Trump ’16: Because Screw You, GOP! That’s Why!”
UPDATE: Again, I am no “Trumpkin” as his supporters are sneeringly called by some. I’m not like that woman at the Mobile rally photographed looking like she was meeting Elvis-come-back-to-life. In fact, my order of preference is probably Jindal, Cruz, Walker. However, Jindal doesn’t have the national mojo and Walker has been disappointingly quiet. OTOH, I think Cruz and Trump have some kind of understanding, which could prove very interesting, indeed. But this is the first election I can see myself voting specifically against something, and that is the corporatist, amnesty-pushing, get-along-go-along RINO squishfest known as the Republican Party. I’ll simply sit on my hands and watch it all burn before being sold out by them again.
♦ Middle Gel is off with some of her friends to see a Mystics basketball game this evening. Frankly, I had forgotten they even exist. How much money does the WNBA actually pull in? (Oh, and they’re all (the Gel and her friends, not the Mystics) coming back to Port Swiller Manor for a sleepover afterwards. Groan….) UPDATE: The gels sat courtside and had a good time. MG tells me the crowd wasn’t all that big, which doesn’t surprise me because the whole WNBA thing has always had a sort of Title IX flavor to it. I wisely slept in the basement, as Daisy kept barking all night at the noise the gels were making in MG’s room.
♦ Meanwhile, my beloved Nats seemed to be playing with more verve and passion this week, having briefly got back up to full strength, but a new round of injuries is giving me moar ulcers. The Mets have got to choke sooner or later, haven’t they? Haven’t they? UPDATE: Whelp, the Mets did lose last night, but so did we. This is what happens when you load the bases with nobody out and can’t capitalize.
♦ The nice weather round here this week has allowed ol’ Robbo to go back to his lunchtime walkies. I like to do a loop around the Mall that adds up to about three miles and change, and stick with it at any temperature up to about the mid 80’s. (I take a particular perverse delight in making my circuit in cold, wet, nasty weather, but I think that’s just my Inner Scot coming through.) Today I was watching a number of birds feeding out on the grass as I marched by when I suddenly remembered a character out of a book (“Bored of the Rings” possibly?) who amused himself by arranging breadcrumbs in order to get flocks of pigeons to spell out rude words. I find it makes folks a bit nervous if you’re walking along and suddenly start snickering to yourself.
♦ Finally, speaking of weather, it would be nice if TS Erika (or whatever it is) came on up the East Coast because we could use some of that sweet, sweet rain. We got a fair amount over the first half of the summah, but it has been pretty dry since mid-July. I put this down to the fact that we finally got a landscaper to put in some extra drains and retainer walls to deal with the flooding problem we’ve had for years here. (Port Swiller Manor sits on a hillside and all the runoff was coming straight down the driveway and ponding against the garage and front of the house. Flooded the basement out a couple years ago.) Rain stopped almost the exact day they started work. As an old comic strip I used to love put it, “They’ll do it every time.” One of the catch-phrases from the strip, “The Urge to Kill”, is still in the family lexicon. UPDATE: Well, so much for that.
Since I’m still in the fiddling-around stage with my new iPhone, here’s a snap of some of the new anti-flood measures:
I see where today was commemorated over in Blighty as the 75th anniversary of the “hardest day” of the Battle of Britain via a nice fly-by of Spitfires and Hurricanes. While September 15 (I believe) is the o-fficial Battle of Britain Day, August 18, 1940 saw a massed attack of the Luftwaffe against Biggin Hill and other RAF fighter bases as part of the then-German strategy to wipe out Fighter Command on the ground. Almost worked, too, and had Hitler kept it up instead of switching targets to London and other big cities, the skies over south-east Britain and the Channel could well have been wide open for any German invasion.
(Of course, there are those who argue that as long as the Royal Navy held command of the sea – and they never really lost it – such invasion would have been impossible regardless of air superiority. But that’s a different sack of cats.)
Back in the day when I had a real P.C. instead of this stupid disk drive-less Apple product, I used to play Microsoft’s WWII: Air War in Europe a good bit. Even had a joystick. My very favorite scenario when going through the RAF series was the one depicting the “hardest day”. It was a predawn attack by swarms of Dorniers and Heinkels with a few 109’s thrown in for luck and you had to scramble off the runway as bombs fell all around you. I would always lose my squadron because they would bank off to chase a flight of bombers moving across from right to left while I kept my sites on another one coming dead straight at me. If you crammed your throttle wide open and held your nose just right, you could gain both enough speed and enough altitude to take a crack at the lead planes from below. I would shoot up that flight, then go help my mates and then (if I was playing with unlimited ammo and hadn’t taken too much damage) would go hunting stragglers.
Oh, and as we observe the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, it appears that 40% of young Brits don’t even know what it is. I used to think this kind of historickal ignorance was the product of incompetence in the school systems (both there and here). Increasingly, I’m coming to the conclusion that it is, in fact, quite deliberate: It’s much easier to brainwash kids with social justice pablum and rainbow-skittles utopianism when they don’t possess any real factual knowledge.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Many, many years ago, ol’ Robbo picked up the collected works of Charles Kingsley at a library sale somewhere in (if I’m not mistaken) the Hamptons. At the time, I knew he was a Victorian writer of schoolboy adventure stories, but not much more. However, since the books were very cheap, I bought them anyway with the intention of eventually getting around to reading them.
Whelp, 20-odd years later, prompted by a reference I’ve seen repeatedly somewhere else,* I finally cracked the cover of what may well be Kingsley’s most remembered novel, Westward Ho!
Good God, Almighty.
The book is a massive, sprawling story of the loyal sons of Devon and Cornwall during the glory days of Good Queen Bess who, under the leadership of such stout figgahs as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, repeatedly biff the Dons along the Spanish Main and in Ireland while, at the same time, foiling the plots of nefarious Jesuits prowling around Merry Old England like the Hosts of Midian, trying to topple the Golden Age of Elizabeth and bring said enlightened paradise back under the foul claw of teh Whore of Babylon, sometimes referred to as the Pope in Rome. In this, Kingsley drifts mighty close to outright libel. For example, so far as I know, there is absolutely no credible evidence that St. Edmund Campion was in any way involved in any plot to dethrone Elizabeth, but Kingsley does not seem to concern himself with actual facts in pursuit of his theme.
If you’re sensing my bias here, you’re not wrong. The book was published in the early 1850’s** and here and there Kingsley breaks out of the past tense to take jabs at those then-current Papists who wished for the reconversion of Britain to Holy Mother Church. As I remarked to the Mothe this past Sunday in our weekly telephone chat, it sounded to me like Kingsley was taking a whack at the Oxford Movement. And damme if I wasn’t right. Upon a bit of further research, I found that Kingsley, who was himself an Anglican clergyman, was virulently anti-Catholic and got into a printed dispute with the Blessed John Henry, Cardinal Newman, in which the former accused the latter of being a liar and a fraud. It was as a result of this spat that Newman penned his Apologia Pro Vita Sua.
Since several of ol’ Robbo’s guiding figgahs for his own swim across the Tiber came from the Oxford Movement (including not only Cardinal Newman but also Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson and Msgr. Ronald Knox), you can understand why I might be a wee bit touchy about this. I wonder what I would have thought about it when I first bought the books twenty-odd years ago.
Anyhoo, despite all these defects, Westward Ho! is a right ripping yarn in parts, with some terrific descriptive imagery and an action-packed plot. Also, I’ve got little problem with his bashing of the Dons over their treatment of their New World conquests, which amounted to not much more than rape in the classical meaning of stealing anything and everything that wasn’t positively nailed down.
Besides, I’m almost 400 pages into it and am not going to quit now. So, there.
* I simply can’t remember where, now. However, I also know that Evelyn Waugh, himself a Catholic convert, has his title character in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold attempt to slog through Westward Ho! in order to drown out the possibly psychotic voices in his head. Heh.
** Of interest, the book was dedicated to the “White Rajah” Sir James Brooke, for no other reason than that Kingsley thought Brooke a hell of a fellah. George MacDonald Fraser sharks will, of course, recall Brooke from Flashman’s Lady.
See? Hang around long enough and it all ties together…..
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
As I see from a quick dekko at sitemeter, it seems the demand for the return of Robbo from his summah hols has been astronomical. Well, my friends, your wait is over, as I am most definitely back.
As I mentioned, the Family Robbo met up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his brood at a lakeside retreat this year. More specifically, it was Lake Anna, nestled in the heart of the Great Commonwealth of Virginny and also sporting its own nuke plant a couple miles up the shore from us, the wastewater discharge from which kept our part of the lake at a temperature somewhere in the mid-80’s. Indeed, splashing about in it was not unlike taking a bath and, frankly, wasn’t all that refreshing.
As a matter of fact, ol’ Robbo spent very little time actually swimming and much of his time kayaking. I would roll out of bed earlyish in the morning and put in an hour and a half to two hours of industrious paddling about, then go for another round later in the afternoon. It was most soothing. As it happens, I have the kind of body that, with any kind of regular exercise, buffs up quite quickly, so I am also feeling quite fit at the moment, although my arms are still killing me.
In between bouts of rowing, I found time to get in a goodish bit of reading, too. My list included the following:
A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith by Frank Sheed. This book is not an argument but rayther, as its title implies, a simple statement of the Faith. Here is what we believe. Here is why we believe it. Here is what we do and don’t do as a result of these beliefs. Here are what we think are the consequences of following and not following them. Easy, logical, lucid prose without all that heavy breathing you get from somebody like Scott Hahn.
Frémont’s First Impressions: The Original Report of His Exploring Expeditions of 1842-1844. I picked this up because of my recent visit to Wyoming and views of the Oregon Trail Fremont’s first expedition in 1842 was to map said Trail as far as South Pass. I was delighted to recognize the area he describes in and around Ft. Laramie. The second took him all the way to near what is now Portland, down across the Sierra Nevadas (in the dead of winter) into the Sacramento River valley, around the souther Sierras through Arizona and New Mexico, back up into Colorado and then hey for home. The book is very well written and “The Pathfinder” obviously knew what he was about: exact scientific measurements and observations; good judgment of terrain; (mostly) careful travel with the occasional calculated risk; an instant grasp of the strategic importance of the Columbia River and San Francisco Bay to the rapidly expanding United States; and genuine curiosity about that area of the Intermountain West known as “The Great Basin”. Unfortunately, for some reason this edition does not contain any of the maps, drawings or appendices attached to the original reports. Also, it is fronted by a somewhat condescending introduction by some modern academic who is quick to point out what a racist/imperialist/white male aggressor Fremont was, and that, of course, we aren’t like that now. Sheesh.
The End of the Battle by Evelyn Waugh. I won’t say anything about it here. Waugh is one of my very favorite authors and the Sword of Honor trilogy (of which this is the third book) is probably my very favorite Waugh. I’ve read this book many, many times. One question that occurs to me, though: Why do references to J.H. Chase’s No Orchids for Miss Blandish keep popping up in Waugh’s novels? It is usually found in officers’ messes, masters’ common rooms and elsewhere and I can’t help thinking that Mr. Wu is getting in a little dig for his own amusement although I don’t quite get the joke.
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. A swashbuckler set in the reign of Charles II featuring a dashing privateer taking a whack at the Dons in the Caribbean. I’ve never read any Crichton before although I’ve heard of his good reputation. Frankly, I don’t understand it, if this book is any example of his writing. It might have made a good screenplay, but the prose and characters have a Tom Clancy-like cardboard quality about them. Also, Crichton doesn’t seem to grasp some basics of nautical terminology. He uses “ground” when he means “deck” and he persistently refers to ships (including a galleon) as “boats”. He also describes a gunnery trick used by the hero to elude his pursuing enemies that is patently absurd. (I also started out on Crichton’s Sphere but ran out of time and only got about a quarter of the way in – the book belonged to teh rental house. Just as well, really, because the prose was as bad as in P.L and was beginning to irk me.
And why was I able to get so much reading done? Because the house turned out to be quite big and roomy enough for the ten of us not to suffer that ghastly feeling of being on top of each other all the time and I was quite able during the mid-day hours to snuggle into a corner relatively undisturbed, apart from some bouts of door-slamming and children running about that reminded me of something out of “Arsenic and Old Lace”.
All in all, a good week, leaving ol’ Robbo tanned, ready and rested.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers! A rainy Saturday morning at Port Swiller Manor allows me to duck mowing the lawn and instead bore those two or three who still gather over the decanter with my first impressions of the great state of Wyoming, or at least of its south-easternmost parts. (Ol’ Robbo was taken camping in Yellowstone as a toddler, but that hardly counts.)
This area is pure High Prairie, the westernmost part of teh Great Plains lapping up against the Rockies, and resembles, in large part, nothing so much as the Ocean. George Armstrong Custer puts it rayther well in the early part of his “My Life on the Plains”:
Starting from almost any point near the central portion of the Plains, and moving in any direction, one seems to encounter a series of undulations at a more or less remote distance from each other, but constantly in view. Comparing the surface of the country to that of the ocean, a comparison often indulged in by those who have seen both, it does not require a very great stretch of the imagination, when viewing this boundless ocean of beautiful living verdure, to picture these successive undulations as gigantic waves, not wildly chasing each other to or from the shore, but standing silent and immovable, and by their silent immobility adding to the impressive grandeur of the scene. These undulations, varying in height from fifty to five hundred feet, are sometimes formed of a light, sandy soil, but often of different varieties of rock, producing at a distance the most picturesque effect.
The constant recurrence of these waves, if they may be so termed, is quite puzzling to the inexperienced plainsman. He imagines, and very naturally, too, judging from appearances, that when he ascends to the crest he can overlook the surrounding country. After a weary walk or ride of perhaps several miles, which appeared at starting not more than one or two, he finds himself at the desired point, but discovers that directly beyond in the direction he desires to go rises a second wave, but slightly higher than the first, and from the crest of which he must certainly be able to scan the country as far as the eye can reach. Thither he pursues his course, and after a ride of from five to ten miles, although the distance did not seem half so great before starting, he finds himself on the crest, or, as it is invariably termed, the “divide”, but again only to discover that another and apparently higher divide rises in his front, and at about the same distance. Hundreds, yes, thousands of miles may be journeyed over, and this same effect witnessed every few hours.
In fact, thanks to modern speed (80 mph speed limit, baybee!), these “gigantic waves” do seem to chase each other wildly. I’ve been on the Plains before, mostly in Illinois and Iowa. I’ve driven between Omaha and Lincoln. Because I flew in and out of Denver on this trip, I got a chunk of Northern Colorado, too. But it was only once I got into Wyoming, especially north of Cheyenne, that I really got the full effect, most of these other areas being either urbanized or else thoroughly tamed farmland. It was absolutely humbling – wave after wave after wave of land, all under an enormous sky. However, it was not all plain sailing, because these hills are also broken up by a succession of creeks and rivers.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Re an item in the post immediately below, no fencing for Port Swiller Manor today after all: It’s been raining steadily since last night, sometimes quite heavily. (In fact, looking at the radar, it appears the last big burst of the storm is going to hit us in a little while.)
I had been thinking before today’s monsoon struck that this might have been a good weekend to cut back the forsythia. Some years ago, I would have sallied forth to do so regardless of the weather. More recently, I would have refrained but fumed about it all day. Now? I simply said meh and have spent most of the day reading Evelyn Waugh.
Progress, I like to think.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Fathers’ Day!
Ironically enough, what with Mrs. R taking teh younger gels to camp today and teh eldest jaunting down to King’s Dominion, after Mass ol’ Robbo spent most of the day more or less just mooching around Port Swiller Manor on his own. One can argue that a break from teenagers can be a rayther nice Fathers’ Day gift in and of itself, but it also wears pretty thin pretty fast.
Anyhoo, somebody recently asked me, “Tom, how go things with teh new doggeh?”
Well, she certainly doesn’t avoid me anymore but at the same time she does not seem to have gained complete trust and confidence in me as she has the female members of the Port Swiller family. Indeed, she reminds me at this point very much of Ben Bolt’s Alice:
DON’T you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt,—
Sweet Alice whose hair was so brown,
Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile,
And trembled with fear at your frown?
She likes it when I pet her (indeed, she seeks it out), but she mostly still goes stock-still when I do so. Also, if I so much as look at her squiggle-eyed, she…well, what the poem says.
It’s a shame, really, and makes me wonder what kind of Alpha Male she had to deal with in her earlier life. Sooner or later, I’m sure she’ll come round.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
One of ol’ Robbo’s most fundamental virtues (or defects, depending upon your view) is his dyed-in-the-wool conservatism. By this I don’t necessarily mean anything politickal. Rayther, I mean to say that I love the tried and true, the time-honoured, the routine, the predictable. In this way, I suppose I am very hobbit-like. What was it Prof. Tolkien said of Bagginses? That one knew the answer they would give to a given question without bothering to ask it?
Anyhoo, I mention this because I have been wrestling again recently with this virtue/flaw in the context of my personal reading list.
You see, ol’ Robbo has a rayther substantial shelf of books which he loves to read over and over again. Were time not a factor, nor some of the authors on the list less, ah, worthy,¹ this would not be a problem. However, every time I start in yet again on a favorite author/book/series, a voice in the back of my head starts to nag that I really ought to be trying other undiscovered countries. Memento mori and all that.
I believe that said nag has a legitimate point. On the other hand, I can’t help admitting that I also get new insights every time I reread even the oldest of my stable.² (That’s the definition of a classic after all, isn’t it?)
What to do?
Is there a magic formula? One new book out of every three read, for example? Is there a temporal solution? Nothing but new books for a month or six weeks? I simply don’t know.
All this becomes acute because my membership in an FB Aubrey/Maturin appreciation group is tempting me to set sail again for yet another cruise through the canon, while my first viewing of the rayther lame “The Charge of the Light Brigade” last evening strongly tempts me to plunge yet again into the Flashman papers.
That’s thirty-three books between the two series, each of which I’ve read at least a dozen times. By my math, that’s 396 books. As I say, I gain more and more each time I reread them, but at the same time, that’s nearly 400 other books I also could digest.
As I say, what to do?
¹ These include Tom Clancy, Bernard Cornwell and Jeff Shaara, all of whom I consider to be creators of entertaining trash.
² The sole exception here is the Harvard Lampoon’s “Bored of the Ring“. It’s still tear-inducing funny, tho’.