finally, a little normalcy

I’ve spent the last several days at my mom’s apartment, which has been lovely on a number of levels. We don’t see each other all that often, which makes the time all the more precious and rich, for one thing. And while we’ve had lots of conversations and watched a few movies, there’s also been a lot of quiet time, which is something I’ve had rather a dearth of lately. In between Christmas meals (which have been fantastic!), I’ve actually been able to (finally) do something about the CSS in the photography section of this site – while it’s still by no means perfect, it’s no longer an eye-bleeding horror, at least on the Mac side of things. Ye Windoze users, please do snap a quick screen shot and send it along – the last time I doctored the stylesheets in gallery, for some reason the new versions only appeared on the mac side, and on Windoze machines everything was still painfully green and purple and ick. Anyway, that wasn’t my point.

I’ve also finally had some time to read. The fantastic Travis gave me a book before I left called The Debt to Pleasure, and in the past weeks I had only managed to make it a paltry seven pages in. Now I’m well underway, and must say I highly recommend it. Full of vivid descriptions from an avid chef and sinister undertones of which I do not yet know the origin or outcome, it’s a lush read. So, since I’d never heard of the author, John Lanchester, before, I googled him, and came up with this review, written in October. So point one, Lanchester is equally good in essay form, and two, this sort of struck me. I might be making myself rather unpopular with the following statement, but I have felt for some time that intellectual life, in general, is richer in the UK than it is here. Perhaps it’s just the people I’m exposed to (thanks to the people I already know, and now my work as well), but I find it’s much less common to be confronted with a blank look or rolling eyes when more complex topics creep into a conversation. I had pretty much taken it for granted that critical thinking and intellectual debate was more par for the course in England than America, full stop. Lanchester’s contention that this intellectual life is largely stilted, superficial and false is both unexpected and alarming. Have I been duped? Or is he just a literary/critical pessimist, preferring to see the (admittedly repetitive) glass of discourse and debate as half-empty rather than half-full? Am I so dazzled by people’s ability to use and understand four-syllable words that I’m missing the fact that their points are cribbed from some 19th century philosophy? I don’t think so, but perhaps the honeymoon just isn’t over yet.

Thoughts, anyone?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: I shut down the comments again, sorry. It’s not that I’m disinterested in feedback, even of the you-need-a-twelve-step-program variety (which I always find amusing). Rather, it’s that despite the installation and ongoing configuration of MT Blacklist, a plug-in that allegedly blocks comment-spam from the roughly nine and a half billion online pharmacies and texas hold-em parlours, I was getting upwards of two hundred spam comments per day. Since I really can’t be bothered to spend a half hour a day deleting those – hell, I can’t be bothered to spend ten minutes posting, most of the time – I’ve shut it down. You’ll just have to email instead.

Did everyone have a good Christmas? And what are we doing for New Year’s Eve?