I assume this would be over and above basics such as food, fresh water, shelter, blankets, a couple of changes of clothing, etc. If Little Witness was on board with me, he would have to be one of the items, as I’m not leaving him to sink beneath the waves.
Second, I’d want a fully-charged iPad so I can tell somebody I fetched up on this little island… no I don’t know the co-ordinates, but we were on our way to some place… sorry, I thought I heard a noise but it was just a coconut dropping. Let me move out from under this palm tree. OK, bye.
While waiting in comfort for help to arrive, I would study the environment and wonder about the other three things I really should have with me.
A good book would be a boon. You would think my Kindle would be suitable as it has a fair-sized library on it, but battery power on this island is a non-renewable resource. I would be better off with a long and engrossing paperback… perhaps The Memoirs of Cleopatra (Margaret George) or a Lymond novel by Dorothy Dunnett. The first Hornblower book would be a good choice from a nautical point of view, or (better yet) the full set of Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian.
Are you sure I can’t have them all? Dorothy Dunnett then, as it’s years since I last read any.
The six volumes follow the life and career of the charismatic Francis Crawford of Lymond, the younger son of the Crawfords of Culter, members of the landed aristocracy of the Scottish Lowlands. Brought up according to the Renaissance ideal of an educated autodidact, he is a polyglot, knowledgeable in literature, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences, a practitioner of all the martial arts, a spell-binding musician, a talented thespian, and a master strategist with a genius for imaginative tactics.
Two more items?
A stationery set. I insist that counts as one item and will include paper, pens, pencils, ruler, eraser and sharpener. Then I can blog to you about what it’s like sitting on a desert island waiting for somebody to come. I wouldn’t be able to publish my adventure till later, but it would give me something to do. If there are colour pencils in there too, I could draw geckos and beetles, pretending I’m a female version of Stephen Maturin.
How many items is that? Four. I need one more.
A nice big chunky bar of chocolate comes to mind, refusing to be dismissed, especially if I can keep it cool and the ants don’t get to it. I’d eat it slowly while reading the Dorothy Dunnett novel, and the rescue boat would arrive just as I polished off the last piece.
Provided no lives were lost, that would be a good day.
‘Today,’ said Lymond, ‘if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.’
― Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
A few mixed things running through my mind…
There are books I read recently which strike me as important because of the issues they raise… books such as Quiet by Susan Cain. I’ve often felt things are organized in a way that suits only some types — confident types with good hearing! There are no options, no flexibility. You’re considered flawed if you find a situation more overwhelming than others do, but if they were you, they’d be exactly the same for the same reasons!
Another book, Being Wrong by Kathryn Schultz, had a big impact on me, and I always think back to it when someone is deemed stupid for holding different opinions. We equate ‘wrong’ with ‘stupidity’, which is one reason why people have such a horror of being caught out. Yet there is more to it; mistakes are unavoidable but have their uses. Perhaps our thinking has to change.
A few days ago I was reading the Culture Monk’s post on conflict, and commented that a lot of conflict is unnecessary… too many people base their actions on what they think, not what they know. We accept our own imperfections (to a point) and that of people we love, but expect perfection from everyone else. We look at other people and think we know them, yet have barely scratched the surface. I reckon this is why we need real conversations, not just Facebook status updates and space-limited chats…
I have to say I identified with the bit in Quiet that says introverts love deep and meaningful conversations and find small talk frustrating! I have felt embarrassed on my own behalf, seeing myself as a social clodhopper, but if there are others out there like me, I don’t need to worry so much.
There’s presumably controversy about whether people should be classified as introverts and extroverts, and especially if we should say ‘introverts do this thing and that thing’ whereas maybe extroverts do as well. If we wear the terminology lightly and just pay attention to the message, we can see the book is important because it’s a voice that says “no, there’s nothing wrong with you! You’re one of many.”
I’ve become more of a reader than a writer. Though I’ve not visited many blogs lately, I get hold of a lot of books and search Google for articles. It’s likely I would read blogs on a regular basis if I figured out how to work them into my daily routine (and didn’t overwhelm myself with things like BuzzFeed).
My sister gave me a pink espresso pot for my birthday. I don’t hear it bubble when coffee is coming through, but I feel it rumble on the hob. I’m not much of a blogger now, but… put coffee on, read blogs? Sounds perfect to me.
Isn’t there a song that begins:
You gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between?
For years I’ve been trying, but the negative insists on creeping in. As for the middling greyness, that confusing and disappointing place, that’s where I do most of my lurking.
Luckily it turns out there is help at hand.
It’s called, HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done by Oliver Burkeman. It’s a collection of Guardian articles about his findings when delving into the murky world of self-help. I found it amusing and down-to-earth, describing situations and attitudes I recognized — for instance, unaccountable irritation when accosted in the street by charities. As with anything else, there’s both good and bad in the world of self-help and popular psychology.
One tip he liked — and the reason for my post — is the idea of writing in a gratitude journal. He says don’t force yourself to do it, as it must never become a chore — and only list 5 or 6 items a day.
Well, I’ve been writing one for over a month now, but (being lazy) I just add it to my personal journal. I don’t think I could have separate books with different things (can’t think how I survived school!) I have a small black ‘ideas journal’ (somewhere) but that’s as far as I go.
I wondered why it had to be a list of ‘gratitudes’ and not ‘likes’, but I suppose we are grateful they exist! However, grumpy things kept floating through my head while I was trying to think of nice things. This is frustrating when you’re writing a general journal that records all your thoughts (not just some), so when a friend admitted to keeping a gratitude list herself, ranging it alongside gripes in a steno pad, I gave in and allowed the more negative things a voice as well.
This wasn’t the advice we were given! I’m not sure gripe lists will encourage me in my drive towards positivity. This is the trouble with mixing notebooks with different purposes… or are they really that different? My friend claims annoyances swirl around in her head forever unless she writes them down, and then she forgets them. I know what she means, as once I’ve laid an annoyance bare on the page, I’m more likely to step back and laugh. My old journals always sound like someone else has lived my life.
Recently I was doing scans of an old handwritten 2009 journal. I have a vague plan to back these things up, but it’s tedious work. In any case, back in 2009 I was writing about the need to pay attention to the more positive things in life rather than be critical about myself and everything else. Presumably that thought goes back even further, but every time you think of it, it seems new…
Well, I may not have a separate pad to flip through when seeking happy inspiration, but I thought it would be fun to ransack each month and find the best. Each day’s list seems coloured by mood, and I don’t know why that surprised me! I imagined them as simple lists of items and random thoughts, but sometimes I was tired and angry, other times amused and chatty — and you can tell what sort of day it was just by the lists.
The following are my June gripes and gratitudes, whittled down. Obvious items such as friends, family, health and chocolate don’t appear, though originally were there. Couldn’t remove coffee — I would have had withdrawal symptoms! My hand shook every time it hovered over the delete key, so I had to leave it.
(1) Spiders who run very fast to a spot just above your head, then vanish in the blink of an eye.
(2) Fundamental attribution error (FAE).
(3) Boredom and procrastination.
(4) The way the most recently changed post in Notes automatically moves to the top of the list as soon as you click on an older note… and suddenly you’re back on the most recent post instead of the one you were trying to switch to. It throws you off balance.
(5) Yes, we have no aubergines.
(6) SPAM!!!! (Stomp stomp stompstompstomp).
(7) Apps with adverts all over, even when you’ve paid.
(8) Not having enough time or light in the day!
(9) Eternal terms and conditions.
(10) Technology moving so fast that people get left behind.
(11) Getting spam from a Honey and having to double-check it wasn’t ‘my’ Honey.
(12) When Mum turns up the volume, a bar appears on the TV screen, blanking out whichever subtitles are there. It seems to stay there for quite a long time while you’re on tenterhooks, wanting to know what they’re saying, and then she clicks it again, and it stays on for another long time. Drives me absolutely bats.
(13) Being bombarded by charity adverts.
(14) The entire Textilus document is indented, and I can’t un-indent it.
(15) Feeling too hot. Who put on the central heating, and why??
(16) Not seeing in time that the Grumpy Mule coffee I picked out is decaffeinated.
(1) Bed and sleep.
(3) Song ‘Butterfly’ by Danyel Gerard.
(5) Spider plants.
(6) New ideas — new ways of doing things.
(7) Homemade rice pudding, full of spice.
(8) Energy and enthusiasm.
(9) Those who are genuine.
(10) Zone-out days (Furry Blanket Days, in my case).
(11) Ty Beanie snails.
(12) Being safe from wolves.
(13) The existence of people who write things like gratitude journals.
(14) Cats with a sparkling sense of humour. (Nobody ever told Samson he shouldn’t hit women. He smacks every woman in the house who goes past — human or feline).
(15) The cat in the Caveman’s Prophecy game who’s just like Delilah, especially her plaintive mew.
(16) Fried mushrooms with egg and bacon.
(17) Tumbler tomato plant tumbling with tomatoes.
(18) Learning and mellowing through the years.
(19) Still being able to use Bryce when so many other Mac users have lost access to it.
(20) When I remember to wear my hair as a pigtail and it doesn’t get so much in the way when I sleep. Didn’t remember tonight…
I took so long polishing this post that June is long gone and July is nearly over. Hopefully there’ll be a list for July too; doubtless not till near the end of August! Watch this space.
Worked on a seamless b&w texture design in ArtStudio, which has ‘offset’. It’s for a brush in Procreate. I’m not sure it’s going to be any use, but who knows… might be the best brush I ever made. I’ve been rapping myself on the knuckles for not doing the design in Adobe Ideas (smooth vector pens) and copying it into ArtStudio for offsetting. There’s a lot of space (a 500 px doodle is becoming a 1800 px doodle) so I’ve been doodling all day!
It’s quite fun, though I slowed down a lot and started turning it into a mountainous landscape when I’m supposed to be doing variegated texture. It’s a little like a Chinese pen & ink panel. I even put a long winding wall in.
I made eggs and bacon pots for supper… my first attempt ever at baking eggs. It looked quick, and you don’t have to brave the gas hob. Mum was enthusiastic and said the eggs were tasty. She agreed with me though that I should cook the bacon first, next time… I was hit with griping pains just before bedtime!
Was reading more of the ‘being wrong’ book today (by Kathryn Schultz). She says being wrong leads to a form of existential crisis. That moment when you suddenly disagree with yourself (or wonder how you came to do what you did) is an uncomfortable and confusing feeling. Yesterday I was thinking how ‘wrongness’ (both mine and everyone else’s) leads me to feel ill-at-ease most of the time. I don’t breeze through life with confidence.
Apparently it’s hard to remember the specific ways in which you were wrong. I believe that’s true… all your mistakes are lost in the comforting fog of distance. You start to feel it wasn’t you responsible for the stupid stuff, but someone else. I bet I’ve forgotten more stupid things I did than I remember, though I remember plenty.
(1) Believing Pete when he said we should always trust and be honest with each other.
(2) Thinking I knew what the Space Needle was (and not checking first).
(3) Putting something on the database after being told not to, and screwing up the whole thing.
(4) Writing letters instead of studying.
(5) Making wrong moves in games, sometimes realizing half an instant later that I did the very thing I meant NOT to do.
(6) ‘Unsubscribing’ from spam mail (before I knew better).
(7) Choosing the yellow dress instead of the blue and then trying to rationalize my decision.
(8) Mis-hearing or misunderstanding people, sometimes not realizing till much too late.
The author says there’s no such thing as “I am wrong,” as you don’t know you were wrong till afterwards. And then because you are now right in seeing that you were wrong, you are free to forget your little lapse as quickly as humanly possible.
I find though (maybe it’s just me!) that you sometimes know you’re wrong even before you do it… usually when running a risk. Like when I ate the bacon… I knew it was underdone and I shouldn’t touch it. But I’d gone to all the trouble of cooking it, and had looked forward to it… didn’t want to admit defeat.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
PS: Just got this email from Amazon: “As you’ve shown an interest in books, we thought you might like to see a selection of titles trending with our editors and customers.”
I had to read it several times before I understood. ‘Trending with…’??
Talking of mistakes, they forgot to change the customer reviews on their Daily Deal page for two days running. The ‘how to draw’ book I bought had a review about how it was wonderful for anyone wanting to know more about economics.
Nice to know it’s not just me who messes up. 🙂
We meant to go to the supermarket this morning, but the car refused to start. Mum says the battery has gone flat (again). We don’t use it enough!
When I was glancing at my list of old Kindle purchases on Amazon, it said there was an update available for one of the ebooks. Any notes and highlights I made on that particular book would be wiped out… but I don’t care about that. I can always put them back in!
I’ve seen people saying on a Kindle forum that they are sometimes offered these ebook upgrades… but I don’t think I was notified about mine by email. I should check the full list of purchases in case there are other offers!
Mum has apparently been going crazy watching me share many happy hours with my Kindle, because she suddenly announced that she wanted one too. Instead of sitting around waiting for one to arrive through the post, she bought a Kindle Touch from Argos. (Reminds me of the Argos advert… she’ll be the one darting brightly through the door with Argos bags, while my house of cards tumbles down about my ears).
She wanted to make the font larger, as she can’t read very well in bed. It took us both a little time to find out where Amazon had put the font sizes… it’s right there on mine, but harder to find on hers. Anyway, it’s all sorted now.
She seems to be reading Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. Maybe I should do all the cooking for a while…
Totally lacking energy right now… nothing to say. Try to do things and they don’t work. Write a blog post and there’s nothing to blog about. Read a book and it’s full of dry bits. Friends and family on Facebook no closer than they were. Makes you wonder what Facebook is for.
I prefer quiet conversations with just one person at a time.
Sometimes feels as though life is something you are forced to do when you would rather keep out of it! There is no way you can say “I don’t want to do this, thanks…. I don’t have the right kind of brain.” I always wanted my life to be a book I could learn from without being hurt in any way.
I’m the heroine of my own story, and I don’t like it at all. I’d much rather read about it.
At the end of the novel I would turn round and be at home with my family. No other kind of existence is imaginable.
But for now the book is still open…. the next chapter could be filled with masked highwaymen (or did we just have that one?) Or howling wolves in a cold Scottish forest (think I’ve done that one as well). Or a shipwreck, and pirate’s treasure. Or there’ll be a hobbit and a gold ring.
Is that all just wistful thinking?
Woke around five a.m. and read my Kindle… Alfred Tennyson by Andrew Lang.
I liked the following… it reminds me of modern TV:
“The brief life of the Ideal has burned itself out, as the year, in its vernal beauty when Arthur came, is burning out in autumn. The poem is purposely autumnal, with the autumn, not of mellow fruitfulness, but of the “flying gold of the ruined woodlands” and the dank odours of decay. In that miserable season is held the Tourney of the Dead Innocence, with the blood-red prize of rubies. With a wise touch Tennyson has represented the Court as fallen not into vice only and crime, but into positive vulgarity and bad taste. The Tournament is a carnival of the “smart” and the third-rate. Courtesy is dead, even Tristram is brutal, and in Iseult hatred of her husband is as powerful as love of her lover. The satire strikes at England, where the world has never been corrupt with a good grace.”
All this talk about flying gold, ruined woodlands and dank decay reminds me of a perfume I like… Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession. Moss, wet earth and cool, damp leaves… beautiful. Perhaps the courtiers were wearing it at their Tourney.
There were words concerning women trying unsuccessfully to be like men (rather dubious, I thought!) and although I couldn’t find online commentary on the subject, I saw he had written a letter to Jane Austen in Letters to Dead Authors. I downloaded 10 or more Kindle books by Andrew Lang, including Letters to Dead Authors and Letters on Literature. I also found A Collection of Ballads, A Short History of Scotland, Tales of Troy and Greece and New Collected Rhymes.
A reviewer for The Book of Dreams and Ghosts said if anyone understood it enough to get more than 40% of the way through it, they were ‘ratty and silly’. Eight people out of eight said the review wasn’t helpful.
My Kindle was running out of power, so I connected it to the computer to recharge, washed a splash of coffee from its pink Shocksock and hung it up to dry. Then I went back to bed, as it was still quite early.
Had a horrible dream about a friend I fell out with…
In the dream I was happy and excited, telling her how I could visit a site of hers any time to see what she was saying and how she was getting along. It was like being subscribed to somebody’s blog, and there was nothing wrong with it. I thought she would be chuffed, but she told me that my frequent visits were causing problems on her site, and I shouldn’t be online so much, as it led to system overload.
She said I should unplug everything and stay offline. She didn’t say “check a few times to see how I’m doing!” or anything else nice; she gave the impression she wouldn’t care if I never went online again.
Obediently, I unplugged everything and thought, “well, I can do a little housework now.” I stared through a window at the garden. The day was slowly darkening, and shadows stretched across the lawn. The leaves stirred restlessly in the encroaching chill. I could hear my friend in the next room… she was clacking eagerly around her kitchen, talking to her husband. She had forgotten I was there, and was telling him that now they were free to do whatever they wanted, and she had lots of plans for the two of them.
I woke up again, depressed, and discovered I had slept so long it was lunchtime! The song Vienna by Ultravox was in my head.
The feeling has gone, only you and I,
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me…….
I recently read Blogging and Tweeting without Getting Sued by Mark Pearson. It’s available as a Kindle book or a paperbook. (It may also be available in other ebook formats too, but I haven’t checked).
When trying to decide whether or not to buy it, I worried that it might be dry or unnerving, but decided that it didn’t matter. As a blogger, I should read it anyway.
In fact I enjoyed it, and made a lot of highlights for my personal reference. (Incidentally, I decided a long time ago that I would only allow people to see highlights I made on older books such as Dickens. I’m just being cautious!)
It looks at international issues, which is something that affects all online communications anyway. It doesn’t pretend to cover all of the dangers, but I learned things I didn’t know… as a very new and uncertain Facebooker, it was mostly Facebook issues I didn’t know about. But there are issues everywhere, really. Better to be aware of them than not.
This is me… wearing Euphoria perfume and making mistakes! Missing words when I write and adding wrong endings such as ‘-ing’ and ‘-ed’ where they aren’t wanted. Making a multitude of typing errors on the flat Mac keyboard (ones that I don’t make on ordinary keyboards… in particular I seem to hit the comma when I’m aiming for the full stop. Worse, I scatter the letter ‘f’ through my words when trying to find my place by touch).
Trying to find somewhere on my desk to lay out a sheet of paper I’m copying from, but there’s no room. Then I remember I’ve got a nice solid copy holder somewhere, but I’m not sure where. Find it on my desk, sitting beside me. Prop the paper on it, not bothering to fasten it with the bar. This won’t take long.
*** *** ***
It’s half past 8 on a Tuesday night — feels more like it was Monday. Golden sunlight in the dimming outdoors, glancing off the tops of the clematis and off the sides of the trees. Sky a soft pale blue. Sun was pouring down through the loft hatchway upstairs, pooling in the middle of the soft gloom of the landing.
TV downstairs is on — one of those music shows of Simon Cowell watching dance groups that all look the same. A very nervous girl has just walked offstage in a skimpy outfit she’s not comfortable in — she looks as though in her mind she has already lost, and she is probably right. I don’t hear their remarks on the TV, or any of the music… though the music phantom in my muffled brain is playing some dignified, ‘big’, dramatic voiceless rock music that I know well and can’t identify. It’s one of the tunes that’s often there. Makes you think of sun setting slowly over heavy, glinting seas.
I’m drinking the dregs of yesterday’s coffee — it’s like stewed sawdust in water. There’s milk in it but no sugar. There are pigeons in the trees outside. Pecking, preening, flying off occasionally but always coming back. This is their home. They suffer somehow through the frosts of winter and are still here in the spring. I watch them and they watch me.
Mum is playing solitaire on her laptop. She’s moving the cordless mouse on a tray on her knee and is leaning back. It seems tired and disengaged. She said during the day she had a headache — perhaps it has not gone.
*** *** ***
My eyes smart a little, especially the left. I was at the opticians today, having a ‘full’ eye test. At one point in the proceedings she was shining a very white bright light in my eyes. The left eye stood up to it reasonably well, but the right eye kept fluttering and closing.
I nearly started whimpering in the middle of my interview with the optician — she pretended not to notice, but her bright cheeriness and warmth redoubled. I’d been upset all morning. I felt tired of trying to talk to people, maybe about important things like my eyesight, and not hearing anything they say unless they repeat fifty times or write it down. You miss things and make mistakes because of it, which results in repeat appointments etc… the very last thing you want.
I’d even got tired of pretending that I’m on board with everybody else — the polite nodding and smiling that smooths most of it over while feeling confusion about who people are and how they spend their time. Pretending I know whether a stranger has said “may I sit here?” or “is anybody sitting here?” to which the answer will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or ‘no’ or ‘yes’, depending. And all the time, a guilty, creeping boredom and resentment that has to be disguised.
Today I froze in the headlights, and waited for it all to stop.
I sighed and cheered up when the optician said my eyes were very healthy. I notice she didn’t add “for your age,” but I knew it was true. With my floaters, dry eyes, varifocals and blurring eyesight, it seemed an unlikely diagnosis. Especially when she said “you see better than 20/20 with your spex [sic]“, which my mother said she thought only Superman could do. Last week she said she and my sister have high blood pressure and that I might too… but I haven’t yet, it seems. Maybe because I’m the protected youngest, or because I was so sluggish this morning. “I felt like roadkill,” I said, and Mum said “you looked it.”
I suppose the thought of being deaf AND blind terrifies me. I wouldn’t be able to read what people say to me, and that would destroy what communications I have. It would just be me and the ‘music phantom’ in my head, and vague rumblings and vibrations in my environment. Perhaps a cat on my lap.
*** *** ***
It’s 0:20 the next morning and I’ve gone to bed. A Piggin leans on my shoulder. I’ve drained a glass of slightly too acid tomato juice — won’t buy that brand again. My Kindle is next to my bed in its pink Shocksock… I’m reading a rather poor whodunnit set in Egypt. But it’s not so poor that I need to stop.
The Kindle changes the way I buy books. I nearly bought an L.E. Modesitt Jr hardback for £1.50 from a charity shop, but when I noticed the stained pages, I put it back. I wonder, “do I really want MORE books taking up space, especially blemished ones that I’m too squeamish to touch? I could buy it for my eReader and highlight the bits I like, and leave it in my Amazon archive.”
It’s more comfortable reading and writing without my glasses. Everything at some sort of distance is a blur… shape, colour and a soft shine… no detail. Closer to, my hands and writing are clear. My long hair is a dark haze that frames my vision.
Last night I dreamed about white werewolves. As I watched a big one loping along, I grew nervous and asked myself why I was so relaxed? Then I remembered the werewolf was a friend who was helping me. I relaxed again, but then woke up and remembered the optician, and really didn’t want to go out.
Day came to an end eventually though, with golden sunlight and so on. It wasn’t all bad, any more than the werewolf was… though my inner rabbit waits behind my eyes, ready to pounce!
“That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”
Yesterday I finished Middlemarch by George Eliot. I don’t believe the following is a spoiler, as I don’t refer to the plot or individual characters, but if you are going to read the book, wish to start with a blank slate and don’t even need the persuasion, you might want to skip this, in case. 🙂 It was a surprise of a book… a slow and graceful waltz which illustrates life in a small English town in bygone days. I didn’t know if anything more would come of it, but in fact the pace quickens and there’s a strong finish. George Eliot is at pains to point out that life continues after that climax, with people either becoming what they want to be or getting lost along the way. Eventually they pass on, leaving room for young hopefuls, who tread similar paths while thinking them new. Major social events (such as weddings, births and funerals) tend to be skirted around, with the main focus falling on events both before and after: the things that make all the difference. It’s remarkable how a person’s life and character can be so affected and changed by individual decisions, both great and small. One person getting married or deciding to do good instead of evil, evil instead of good, or walk this way instead of that, could utterly transform the lives and characters of the people around him/her. It reminded me of An Inspector Calls in that respect… how separate and apparently irrelevant actions by different people could impact on one individual’s life in a major way. Parts of Middlemarch are dry and hard to follow, but there is plenty of humour and liveliness, and the style in general seems to loosen up in the latter half of the book. A quality I like about some of these older books is that there is a focus on redemption, forgiveness and change of heart, whereas many of today’s books and films have a shallow quality, demanding indignities and vengeance to be inflicted on unsympathetic characters.
“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”
Sometimes I couldn’t decide if I liked or sympathized with a Middlemarch character or not, which is like real life in that we don’t know everything about people. Our views are irrelevant anyway, because people have both good and bad things about them, and have good and bad experiences regardless of our opinion, and they make friends with people we like, even when we wish that they wouldn’t…
“‘I suppose we never quite understand why another dislikes what we like, mother,’ said Mary, rather curtly.”
I was amazed at the corners and shadows of human nature that George Eliot explored; it made you wonder what she has experienced in life to know all of this. Some of it falls in your own experience. It’s unsettling to know that you are thinking and feeling no differently from people back in the 1800s, but then you ask yourself what else you expected? As George Eliot said, these paths have been trodden and these stories told many times before.
“I protest against all our interest, all our effort at understanding being given to the young skins that look blooming in spite of trouble; for these too will get faded, and will know the older and more eating griefs which we are helping to neglect.”
“…people were so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool’s caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else’s were transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone were rosy.”