Tag: Downtime

Poetry: The Icelandic Language

The Hammock Papers shares an evocative poem from Bill Holm, The Icelandic Language:

In this language, no industrial revolution;
no pasteurized milk; no oxygen, no telephone;
only sheep, fish, horses, water falling.
The middle class can hardly speak it.

In this language, no flush toilet; you stumble
through dark and rain with a handful of rags.
The door groans; the old smell comes
up from under the earth to meet you.

Read the rest, here.

More on Holm, here and here.

This poem, apparently, comes from a collection, The Dead Get By With Everything.

 

Photo by Ghost Presenter on Unsplash

A place to live and work – late addition

A late, but essential,  addition to the previous post.

Apparently, singer Tori Amos is selling her Ballywilliam House, her home in Kinsale, Ireland.

I feel I could both live and work quite happily there.

I love Georgian architecture and this looks amazing. I particularly like how the lawn rolls up to the front door.

The asking price is €1.45 million. More details here.

According to Neil Gaiman, in a recent tweet, “This is where I finished American Gods, where I wrote a lot of Anansi Boys, and where I got flu and completely failed to write any of the Graveyard Book. It’s the most peaceful and magical place. I hope it finds a new person who cherishes it.”

Steely Dan and the Renaissance Men

Oh, the wondrous synchronicity of the interweb.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been having something of a Steely Dan wallow. I still can’t quite decide which is my favourite album, although 1974’s Pretzel Logic is high in the running, but then again…

Today, I discover these delights from Cultural Offering. Firstly a live video of Reelin’ in the Years:

Then, this profile of guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. I had previously read that Baxter was now a missile expert, but the whole story (on Business Insider) is fascinating.

And, in sharing these delights with my oldest, and vinyl-collecting, friend I find he had “just picked up an original US press of Katy Lied last Saturday – sensational stuff & the original sounds SOOO much better than the re-press I had.”

Baxter is one of those individuals who has forged hugely successful careers in wildly different fields. John Perry Barlow was another: cattle rancher, internet pioneer, lyricist with the Grateful Dead, cyber-libertarian and founding member of the  Electronic Frontier Foundation.

A third is John Kao: entrepreneur, psychiatrist, a talented jazz pianist who played with Frank Zappa, and a theatre and film producer with the film Sex, Lies and Videotape to his credit.

Do they all qualify as sovereign professionals? I guess they do.

And an eclectic set of fantasy dinner-guests.

 

Something for the weekend – Jordan Peterson

These are really good: two (different) lectures by Jordan Peterson in Iceland. As I recall, the second lecture starts with some background on how he came to write 12 Rules for Life.

The book made its way to the top of the Must-Read pile and I’m currently half-way through. Exceptionally lucid.

And, as Stoic Week nears its end, I see a lot of commonality between Peterson’s responsibility-over-rights perspective and the Stoic perspective.

Set aside a few (well, five) hours to feed the mind…

 

Settled science – the Cultural Offering of @HardenKurt

Pressed for time but eager to keep pace with the latest scientific developments?

Cultural Offering brings you Settled Science:

All this plus inspiration and more music than you can shake a stick at (as they say, but as I’ve never quite understood).

And, via Cultural Offering, here’s Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs:

 

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Dressing sharp and casual

The Art of Manliness blog offers top tips on dressing smart and casual … even when 29 is just a memory:

At the same time, the Gentleman’s Gazette offers 5 Business Casual Outfit Ideas, along with a cautionary 9 Reasons Dressing Down Is Overrated.

And, always on the topic of style, the excellent Grey Fox has:

Still need inspiration? Cultural Offering just posted this:

 

Title Image by Dmytro Tolokonov on Unsplash

Tom Wolfe on the art of fiction

Kurt at Cultural Offering points us to this 1991 Paris Review interview with Tom Wolfe. fascinating. Worth a read.

 I realized instinctively that if I were going to write vignettes of contemporary life, which is what I was doing constantly for New York, I wanted all the sounds, the looks, the feel of whatever place I was writing about to be in this vignette. Brand names, tastes in clothes and furniture, manners, the way people treat children, servants, or their superiors, are important clues to an individual’s expectations.

Image: National Endowment for the Humanities

Downtime: A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe

A Man In Full was my first Tom Wolfe novel. It had been on my Must Read list for a few years and, when Tom Wolfe died, I finally ordered a copy.

It’s a beautifully observed, beautifully written book that shows you its worlds through the eyes of each character, immersing you in their perceptions and prejudices.

It is often referenced because of its use of Stoic philosophy and that seems to come on two levels.

There’s the slap-in-the-face-obvious storyline of a man in his hour of darkest need, who comes across a Magic Book. The constant references thereafter to Zeus  play to this surface reading, so I guess that may have been Wolfe’s intent.

However, at a more interesting and subtle level, all of the main characters go through something of a Stoic revelation. In each arc, we see and experience their  own version of  “being a man”, from former football hero and real-estate mogul Charlie Croker’s trophy-wifed, quail-hunting, plantation-owning,  machismo, through Roger White’s educated, elegant, professional career, to young Conrad’s desperation to provide for his family. As the story progresses,  each evolves a different – and perhaps more Stoic – view of what it means to be a “man in full”.

I enjoyed it enormously, yet I came away feeling slightly let down by the final 100 pages or so (of 740). They felt rushed and, I suppose, I wanted a slightly different ending.

That said, it’s well worth a read over the summer.