Tuesday, May 8th–There was more rain today. I slept until mid-afternoon, got up, walked and tended to Belle, ate, puttered around a bit, learned of the death of Maurice Sendak, and posted some photos on my blog, but was still tired and bored, so I went back to bed and slept until after 9pm.
I got up, posted some more photos and an old story, then finally finished Huxley’s “Point Counter Point.”
As with many of the books I’ve been reading lately, this one was much too long. And the tiny font size didn’t help matters either.
Huxley introduces a large number of characters and sub-plots (though not as many as you might find in a nineteenth-century Russian novel, for instance), and some of them he abandons long before the reader is expecting it, thus leaving the reader with the awkward sensation that some of the stories were unfinished. He states his ambitions for the book several times in the text, but I got the sense he bit off more than he could chew.
The point of the book? Well, I guess, love, sex, the meaning of life. That sort of thing.
One of the most annoying things about the book, the thing that caused me to put the book down bored and exhausted several times, is the amount of space Huxley devotes to characters thinking and chattering away about their love lives–all that “He/She loves me. He/She loves me not” sort of jazz. A worries about B, who is busy romancing both A and C, but is emotionally torn about the matter. D worries why E never is emotionally available, though D knows full well that’s a key component of E’s personality. All this fidgeting and fussing about makes me glad I’m single, because I have a very strong feeling that all this emotional jibber-jabber and nonsense is a great deal of what relationships are about. I felt nagged and pestered just reading the thoughts of some of these fictional characters!
Huxley bases many of the main characters on famous people, including Augustus John, Nancy Cunard, D. H. Lawrence, and himself. (Oddly enough, the British Fascist character was not modeled on Oswald Mosley, as Mosley was not yet a Fascist at the time the book was written.)
I was reading about the book after I finished it and learned that Huxley planned the relationship between the Lawrence character (Mark Rampion) and his wife, to be the only normal, truly loving one in the book, and Rampion to be the most sane and well-balanced character. Huxley and Lawrence were in fact friends, and Huxley admired Lawrence’s views. It’s strange, though, that the character of Rampion was the one I came to hate and disagree with the most.
This is the third Huxley novel I’ve read, the other two being “Crome Yellow,” which I found utterly charming, and “After Many a Summer Dies the Swan,” which I found interesting and enjoyable, if a bit long.
In all of these books there is a character to whom Huxley assigns the duty of delivering long, often tiresome speeches. I gathered that Mr. Scogan of “Crome Yellow” was based on Bertrand Russell, and research has borne me out: I thought I recognized those silly theories about child-rearing and the future as being Russellian. I’m not sure who Mr. Propter of “After Many A Summer” was based on, but at least his views are a little more logical and acceptable.
But the Lawrencian Rampion is obnoxious.
Now I’ve never read any of Lawrence’s novels, but I have read some of his essays, and their style grated on me, their views annoyed me, and the personality they expressed turned me into a confirmed Lawrence-hater. My later reading about the man only re-inforced this view. He was abusive to both animals and people, he beat and cheated on his wife, he was obsessed with primitivism and sex (to me, anyone who lets sex control him is sub-human), and he subscribed to that ridiculous notion that mankind was inherently noble, heroic, and fine–the pinnacle of creation (a belief he had in common with most religions, but not with me). Worst of all, he always came across to me as a braying ass, intolerant and obnoxious, with a one-track mind, intent on shouting down all voices and opinions but his own.
I have known people like Lawrence/Rampion. Arguing with such a person accomplishes nothing. Present him with facts and he declares the facts wrong and himself and himself alone to be right. The meek are cowed into silence and possibly into believing the loudmouth’s views as correct. The stronger souls who might argue with him are eventually worn out by the exhausting effort and retire from the field, leaving the loudmouth alone, still braying.
If, therefore, Huxley’s goal was to convince the reader of the rightness of Lawrence’s views, I think he failed. His picture of Lawrence is to me as repellent as any of the factual accounts I’ve read.
Would I recommend the book? Well, I suppose. It’s an exhausting read, but there are some truly splendid and beautiful parts. My reading was slowed down considerably by my having to stop and jot down lovely phrases and unusual words, and I plan to digitally scan several dozen pages before I return it to the library.
Wednesday, May 9th–I slept until mid-afternoon, puttered around my social media empire, and began Will Self’s hilarious “Dorian.” There was heavy rain at night.
Thursday, May 10th–Today was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday. More rain.
Friday, May 11th–Maintenance men woke me a little after 12:30pm, saying they were there to fix my air-conditioner. I assured them it was all right, but pointed out where the rain had leaked in. Belle was beside herself, thinking I was getting up, but I soon returned to bed and slept for six or seven or more hours.
It rained again, albeit briefly. I made some of my Big Ass Soup. A fire truck and ambulance pulled up by my building, but didn’t stay long.
I finished “Dorian” before going to bed.
Saturday, May 12th–It was a quiet day. I puttered, played with Belle, and began Graham Greene’s “Our Man in Havana.”
Sunday, May 13th–Today was the last day in my three week vacation. I slept until early evening. I called my mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day….
Monday, May 14th–I woke today at 1pm, exhausted. I walked and fed Belle, fed myself, got ready, and left the house around 3pm, catching the bus at 3:27pm. I got to my destination, after two bus rides, at about 5:34pm. Classes this week are at Eastside High School, which is way the fuck over in the East Side. I saw parts of the East Side I’d never seen before, and they are ripe for gentrification.
I had to walk all the way around the goddamn school, only to find the door locked and wait until some student happened by to let me in. I was dying for a piss by that point.
The school was about fifty or so years old, fairly run-down, but had some interesting parts, some nice tile-work, and was built around an amazing number of courtyards.
They had us on laptops tonight–my first time really mucking about with one of these. I found the lack of a mouse annoying–it was like masturbating with the left hand.
I discovered there won’t be any upper-division computer courses this summer, so maybe I’ll have to go off job-hunting with just the skills I’ll have acquired by the beginning of June.
Tonight’s course went quickly. There was a review of Word, Excel, and Power Point, and we learned how to do a Mail Merge. When James tried to show me that several years ago, it had two or three times as many steps and was so complicated my head almost exploded.
Towards the end of class I had a powerful need to fart and shit, but the men’s room was too filthy for the latter.
Some of the ladies of the class took pity on me, as it looked like a storm would be arriving soon, and one of them, along with her husband, drove me home. I got home easily two hours before I thought I would!
I got some IMs from James, who is in the middle of a two-week vacation on Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. Naturally, he devoted most of his messages to complaining. Everything was too expensive. The service was slow. The Internet connections were lousy.
I really wonder why he bothers to travel at all. He and his wife Nyssa have been all over the world, and have seen wonderful places of which I’ve merely dreamed. But he makes it sound as if all those trips were but variations on the Bataan Death March.
James makes a religion out of cheapness. He and Nyssa don’t like restaurants, don’t like sampling local cuisine. They prefer to buy groceries and eat in their hotel room. I did that the last time I was in LA (because I’d incorrectly tallied up my expenses and income before the trip), and it is a miserable way to travel.
So since James seems to almost suffer pain when he has to spend money, and regards not spending money as some twisted pleasure in and of itself, why does he continue to travel, seeing as travel is such an expensive pastime?
James also likes to go to restaurants and subject them to exacting criteria, rejoicing when he finally finds something wrong with the place, some reason to declare he’ll never set food in the establishment again?
Why does he bother? He’s clearly decided that the only place worth spending time in, the only place with decent food, is his home, so why does he venture out of that home to look for other places that he can compare unfavorably to it? He could just stay home and give me the money he wastes on traveling, and let someone who actually knows how to enjoy life do so.
I got a little reading done later on.