Still Learning

29 November 2001

Well, the good news is, my grandpa may not need surgery at all, since he may not have a hernia. We'll find out.

Oh, I didn't tell you guys that my grandpa might need surgery. Right. Well. We'll see. It's all up in the air right now. I feel sorry for people who are trying to keep track of my life right now, because there's a lot of stuff up in the air. It's just that most of it doesn't make it into the journal, because it's more other people's stuff than mine.

How can it be Thursday? I don't understand. And Monday was Sunday. Sunday was also Sunday. So we had Sunday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Making today Friday. But it's not. So we get two Fridays this week? I hope so. I wouldn't necessarily know this if it wasn't C.S. Lewis' birthday today, because I know it wasn't C.S. Lewis' birthday yesterday.

Right. See, this whole working from home thing, it'll get you every time. Which reminds me of something Neil Gaiman said in Smoke and Mirrors: "When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning." I'm 0 for 2 right now, but I have hopes of the foreign travel.

Evidently those of my readers who write aren't learning much, or else aren't reading much. I did get a handful of responses, though -- people are learning from Virginia Woolf, from their own students, from Robert Walser, and from Steven Brust, and I think I've forgotten one. Zak is learning from both Walser and Brust -- surfaces from the one and interior monologues from the other. I think that's a good idea, learning kind of opposite things at once. Balance, balance, balance.

Oh. Jessie asked who I was learning from. Details, details. Right now I'm reading He, She, and It, and I really like the way Piercy has managed to make part of the plot also part of the characterization: that Shira's reaction to losing her son is in every page of this book so far, without having to say it constantly. So I'm learning...I don't know if subtlety is the right thing there, but...maybe learning to maintain an emotional background? Learning to integrate plot and character in a different way than usual? Something like that. It's hard to put into words precisely what it is, but it's well done.

Nabokov is a lot simpler: learned about language from Lolita this weekend. It was the only aspect of the book that didn't make me want to put it down and walk away. I didn't want to fling it across the room. I didn't want to fire off freaking-out e-mails about it (not that I know anybody who had that reaction to this book). I just didn't care about the characters at all. Not a single one of them. But the language was lovely.

Wodehouse is driving me nuts. In his introduction to this book (The World of Jeeves), he cautions the reader not to read it all at once. I read a pretty big chunk of it before taking a break, and I have to say, it was quite a relief to get Bingo Little married off, because if one more of the stories concerned him falling in love, I was going to be in a flinging mood. Which I don't do. And the thing is, I'm learning how to write "The Butler's Black Arts" from these stories, but for the most part, I feel like I'm learning negative things. What not to do with a plot. Or even with characters. The Jeeves stories are the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasies. The apparently acting characters don't have to do much more than trust Jeeves, and things work themselves out. I don't like that kind of story at all. I don't like it when the main characters don't act on their own behalf at all, when things essentially happen to them, and I don't so much care whether it's God, Fate, or Jeeves that fixes things up in the end.

Thing is, I keep reading. And so I'm trying to learn why.

So. Everybody remember that AT&T @ Home might be dorks, so if you don't hear from me tomorrow, that may be why. I'm going to try to catch up on e-mail tonight, and I hope we don't have any problems tomorrow. But I'm not going to rely upon it. I usually only use my hotmail address for a back-up, but it's in no way secret or anything like that. It should all be going to the same place, but if you get mail bounced from my usual address, the hotmail one should get to me regardless. Eventually.

Back to Morphism.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.