Far Be It For Self To Say: #amstillreading REDEPLOYMENT

It is a beautiful, beautiful day in Annaghmakerrig.

Still reading Redeployment. Pretty good collection. Skip the following and you won’t miss much:

  • In Vietnam They Had Whores
  • Psychological Operations
  • War Stories

She knows Klay’s strength is in his utter brazen fearlessness. Showing how death really is. Let’s get real, this is death! This is what it’s like!

He even throws in some good, honest, American male fantasies (For another example of how sex/war/male fantasy go together, read Sebastian Barry’s shattering World War I novel A Long, Long Way) in the midst of the BOOM BOOM BOOM of warfare. Nightmarish, right? I’m dying; give me a woman!

Do not read In Vietnam They Had Whores because there is one pretty bad incident. If you persist in reading that story, you will know at once which incident self is referring to: the thing that happened in Vietnam.

You know, it’s a good thing Iraq had no whores for the Americans. Truly. Self is not kidding.

Self knows In Vietnam They Had Whores because they had whores in the Philippines, too. Which is the reason Clark and Olongapo becamse synonymous with, not just American bases, but honky-tonk: in other words, whorehouses.

In Thailand they also had/have whores. Self has walked around Patpong at night. She knows of what she speaks.

The second story self thinks worth skipping, Psychological Operations, has a female character, Zara, but she is a type. First of all, she’s a minority. In Amherst. (This is supposed to mean something? Yeah, the minority who is actually privileged! What a rare sighting!) Zara turns (strict) Muslim, changes her way of dress, accepts the narrator’s invitation to smoke a hookah, whatever! He does all the talking during the hookah scene — BORING! Of course, he just has to tell her a war story.

In War Stories there is mention of how easy it is for men telling war stories to get laid.

A character says: “I’m just fucking tired of chicks getting off on it.” (“It” being of course war stories.) You know, there is a simple solution to this problem: STOP TELLING WAR STORIES TO CHICKS. Just swap war stories with other men.

But swapping war stories with other men will not get you laid, which is a problem if you’re young, hetero, and lonely. Ergo, you will have to go back to telling war stories to chicks. Just sayin’. And pretty soon, you will find yourself stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle.

But there are worse things in life. Such as having to read some ex-Marine whining about how easy it is to get laid by telling war stories. Could you just. Get. Over. Yourself.

Next!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

It IS Easy Being Green 3: Some Recent Photos

  • “Sometimes it’s fun to take a step back from interpretive challenges and just celebrate a color: green!”

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

The window shot is from her bedroom in Unit # 1 of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

The woman in the portrait is Vanessa Bell (of Bloomsbury fame), painted by Duncan Grant. The painting hangs in the British National Portrait Gallery.

The snowdrops were in the backyard of her friend Dodo Stanley. Self visited her in Driffield, East Riding, in early March.

Story # 5 in REDEPLOYMENT: “Money As a Weapons System”

All the stories are very, very good, and Phil Klay richly deserves his National Book Award.

Story #4 was made up almost entirely of acronyms. Story #5 is from the point of view of some “liberal” do-gooder who arrives in Iraq to assist in the rebuilding of that country. It’s almost entirely conversation, and the characters say “Look” as in “Look, I don’t mean . . . ” a lot. A lot a lot a lot.

Self decided to take the opportunity for a little reflection. About her own use, in RL (Real Life) of the word “Look” in conversation:

“Look, I may seem crazy to you, but I am definitely sane.”

“Look, I don’t mean to be judgmental but . . . ”

“Look, I really want to go home, but I have no friends.”

And then she realized that “Look” is one word she never, ever uses. She doesn’t hear her women friends using it, either.

Does that make “Look” a gender-ed word? (It means: I am so exasperated. For the nth time, let me show you what I mean. Rather than say all that, you could get away with just saying: Look)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cato in THE DECLINE AND FALL

Aside from her Real Life, self writes a lot of fan fiction, all in The Hunger Games universe. In her AU, she has come to use the following characters over and over:

  • Seneca
  • Plutarch
  • Cato

Hunger Games Plutarch is manipulative, a consummate politician. Hunger Games Seneca is a tool, pure and simple. Hunger Games Cato is a blonde, physically powerful type who ends up in a battle to the death with Katniss and Peeta. Guess who wins?

Now that she is reading The Decline and Fall, she is reminded that the above names actually belonged to real people.

In The Hunger Games, Cato is very much a bully.

In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon on p. 348 writes “we may learn from the example of Cato that a character of pure and inflexible virtue . . . ” In other words, RL Cato is a good guy.

#what

Self will stop here, as she’s having conniptions over some #APBreaking news about Paul Manafort and it is putting her in a very sullen state of mind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

p. 244, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Self will admit she has an enduring fascination with ancient Rome (She’s just imparting that to dear blog readers because aside from the story collection Redeployment, by Phil Klay, the rest of her reading list is ALL ROME, ALL THE TIME: Rubicon, by Tom Holland; SPQR, by Mary Beard; Conspirata, by Robert Harris. And she has a long, long way yet to go in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

She read a biography of Cicero years and years ago (which was called, self thinks, Cicero) and she remembers in particular a section describing how triumphant Roman generals led post-victory processions throughout the capital. Standing just behind the general, in the same chariot, was a slave whose sole responsibility was to whisper into the general’s ear, over and over: Remember, thou art dust.

The minute self read that, her mouth dropped open. She was so in awe.

So far, the most interesting chapter in TDAFOTRE has been the chapter on the rise of monasticism. You would not believe what those monks would get up to! Especially when they were determined to abnegate themselves!

Now she’s into a chapter about Constantine building Constantinople. Very interesting descriptions of the Hellespont and the Bosporus. And then (Italics are mine):

  • As Constantine urged the progress of the work with the impatience of a lover, the walls, the porticoes, and the principal edifices were completed in a few years . . .

Oooh! Emperor Constantine had the impatience of a lover!

#Justimagine

Gibbon does not enter into any detail about Constantine as an actual lover, however, which in self’s mind is a serious omission. Unless the Emperor had no lovers, and dedicated himself exclusively to the cause of being a great Emperor. Which would be pretty sad, actually. For him personally. Not for posterity. Posterity is happy. Only eccentrics like self would bother themselves with wondering about the personal happiness of emperors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading about Monastic Ireland in THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The reading matter became more absorbing last night, when Gibbon stated that it only took eighty years for Christianity to move from being a persecuted religion to becoming the main religion of the Roman Empire. This latter development happened when Constantine, a Christian, became Emperor and swore to rule according to the dictates of his Christian faith.

Gibbon (whose faith is obviously important to him) then starts enumerating early monasteries around the Roman Empire, and these include not only monasteries in Syria, Egypt, etc but also monasteries in Ireland. Which leads self to look up names on the internet, and she stumbles on:

  • Glendalough: Monks built the Church of the Rock.
  • Iona, in the Inner Hebrides: Work on the Book of Kells was begun here, but when Viking raids became frequent, the work was transported to a monastery in Kells, hence the name Book of Kells.
  • Kildare: There is Cill Dara, the Cell of the Oak, which was founded by Saint Brigid and became a convent.

Self would love to visit some of these places, if she has time.

She remembers that one of the most exciting things about visiting Venice, a few years ago, wasn’t Venice itself, but her exploration of outlying islands, especially Torcello.

Torcello has a very old stone church, with a very high tower. When you ascend to the very top, you can see all over the Venetian lagoon. This was a watchtower. As Torcello is farther out from the mainland, small bands of Christians took shelter here, away from the barbarian hordes. Gradually, as Italy became more stable, settlement moved inwards, closer and closer to Venice. The culmination of the growing power of the Venetian state was the building of Saint Mark’s.

Self has always loved history.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, by Edward Gibbon

Self’s reading for 2017 is very heavy on history books. She finished Montcalm and Wolfe, is reading Gibbon now, and will move on to Phil Klay’s short stories of being an American soldier in Iraq, Redeployment.

She read a few pages of Gibbon last night, and it was very, very difficult to focus. She won’t give up, though.

Here’s what Edward Gibbon has to say about Marcus Aurelius, one of Rome’s greatest emperors:

  • At the age of twelve years, he embraced the rigid system of the Stoics, which taught him to submit his body to his mind, his passions to his reason; to consider virtue as the only good, vice as the only evil, and all things external as things indifferent.

Alas, Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by:

“the dark unrelenting Tiberious, the furious Caligula, the feeble Claudius, the profligate and cruel Nero, the beastly Vitelius, and the timid, inhuman Domitian”

#HolyCow #SoStokedNow

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

What The Writing Desk Looks Like Today, Saturday, 11 March

Necessary Writing Accoutrements Today:

  • a pair of scissors
  • a found book: Leap Into the City: Cultural Positions, Political Conditions, Seven Scenes from Europe, edited by Katrin Klingan and Ines Kappert
  • a hardbound copy of The Oxford English Dictionary (Word of the day: omerta. Self, can you just not? Why do you all the time have to be so bloodthirsty???)

DSCN1064

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Honor of International Women’s Day

Books that rocked self’s world:

  • Break It Down, by Lydia Davis
  • Empty Chairs, by Liu Xia
  • The Charm Buyers, by Lillian Howan
  • Yes (A screenplay), by Sally Potter
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  • Night Willow, by Luisa Igloria
  • Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, by Doreen Fernandez
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • Memories Flow In Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writings from Calyx, edited by the Calyx Editorial Collective
  • The Infernal Devices Trilogy, by Cassandra Clare
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, edited by Virginia Cerenio and Marianne Villanueva

#amreading: Advice for the Chronic Worrier, Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, 28 February 2017

For most people, worrying is a form of problem-solving where you look at challenges in the future and work them out before they happen, which can be constructive . . .  But some people worry too much. Chronic worriers fret all the time, about everything. Pathological worriers are chronic worriers whose apprehension affects their functioning.

— Elizabeth Bernstein (from “You’re A Worrier? Don’t Worry”, p. A13, Wall Street Journal)

First, ask yourself: Are you a “chronic worrier”? Here’s a list of things you can do to end “chronic worrying” and be happy

  1. Start with a reality check. Is the emotion you’re feeling equivalent in intensity to the situation you are worrying about? Usually the answer is no.
  2. Tell yourself a better story rather than focusing on the worst-case scenario. Not only will this help you feel less negative, you will free your mind up to find solutions to your problem.
  3. Make a plan. Write down in detail how you will deal with the situation. It will seem more controllable.
  4. Set a timer. Give yourself 15 minutes to worry as much as you want. Then stop.
  5. Yell “Shred!” (in your head). Picture your worries going through a paper shredder. Visualize them being destroyed.
  6. Distract yourself with music, exercise, a good book or movie. It is hard to focus on the negative when you’re enjoying yourself.

You’re welcome.

Stay tuned.

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