Call it hubris; to me it’s reorganization. After posting to no fewer than six different blogsites since 2004, I’m settling in here. Isey seems to be doing the same. In the interests of maintaining a proper archival home for our ramblings, here’s a post that appeared in the original Justifications for Idleness in May of 2008. Appropriately, I’m trying to find a home.
I’m lost. I know it’s an increasingly popular sentiment in modern culture to feel at once distant and connected; the dichotomy of shrinking-planet interconnectivity and impersonal digital relationships has fractionated many an able psyche, mine included. Black Francis has been looking for twenty years now. What chance do I have?
Continue reading All Who Wander…
If I was to do this sort of thing, I might award this novel by Belgian author Jean-Philippe Toussaint my Book of the Year. In so doing, I’d explain, on behalf of the Institute’s Accolades Committee, how a book originally published in France in 2004 and released in its English translation in 2009, could somehow be eligible to receive so important a distinction in 2010 which, incidentally, if I was to do this other sort of thing, would be on a very short list of nominees for the greatest year there ever was. At least in my lifetime. Two thousand ten.
Running Away is a frenetic ride from Paris to Shanghai to Beijing to, finally, the island of Elba. The motivations and developments governing each step of the journey are often as cloudy and mysterious as the nameless narrator himself, driven from one page to the next by pure emotion and “dream-like pleasure, distant and hazy” (p. 54). The entire novel zips by in that same haze, the kind of jet-lagged confusion that makes a traveler look back on the last twenty-fours of transit — connections, disconnections, meetings, and meals — as if it happened to someone else, or to a younger you a lifetime ago. The narrator becomes that someone else, and even if we’ve never had similar experiences in our past from which to draw vague recollections (I’ve never been to China, so apart from the cities in Elba bearing sharp similarities to small towns along the Italian coast, I’m in uncharted territory), the emotions are all recognizable. We’ve all felt confusion mingled with fear, sadness drawn from loss, and, most significantly, passion sparked by spontaneity.
Continue reading Running Away by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Allow me to apologize for the fact that my first real blog post is nothing more than a re-post of an old entry from another site, with some minor edits and an addendum. I needed to get something on here to get the ball rolling… and that other site, being a paid membership site, is soon going to have one less member. I felt the need to preserve some old ramblings.
Originally published November 22, 2004:
My “wasted” years at UC Davis studying biological sciences elicited little more than an unreasonable fear of hydrochloric acid and a passionate distaste for scan-trons. I spent three years taking as many liberal arts classes as I could enroll in just to keep my GPA up, before it finally occurred to me that I’d simply be better off changing majors.
I’m a stubborn fuck.
Always one to make the best out of any given situation, I have recently revisited some of my college coursework. Some quarters were less mind-numbingly dull than others. You won’t be privy to any eight-year-removed insights into paleobotany (easily the worst class I ever passed), but you are about to benefit from this little life-changing revelation.
Continue reading Dating Chemistry
And, really, who doesn’t? After Google Groups and Blogspots and a half-assed attempt at creating a website, The Institute is revving its WordPress engine. Bookmark accordingly.