Chimera Song Mosaic
Sunday, August 17, 2003
This weekend we split our listening between news of the east coast blackouts and the would-be hurricane, Tropical Storm Erika, who didn’t eventually come through with her promises of rain for primarily parched South Texas. We were at South Padre Island, playing on the beach as many people left and headed west. Eventually, we packed up and left too, but then Erika didn’t come to Brownsville as suspected; she “put in” about 50 miles south of there on the Mexican coast, slowing and powering down and dumping some lucky rain there and into the mountains and fortunately causing little damage and no loss of life.

I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude (I keep absentmindedly calling it 120 Days of Solitude, but that’s another story), and was quiet moved by it. There is so much of it that mirrors human nature expertly and with tenderness and rue—too much to document. Better to read it. In a hammock, if possible. The treatment of nostalgia as both celebration and disease is wonderful and resonant. (Perhaps it is fairer to say that nostalgia can offer the means of both inspiring us to live and fertilizing our downfall.) The novel spans several generations of one family (and its branches) and covers human practices such as war, industry, invention, amour, and melancholy, yet manages to do so without leaving a small, ultimately insignificant and personally substitutable geographic location (undisclosed, but somewhere on Columbia’s or Venezuela’s Caribbean coast, by my estimate). Also, there are numerous, highly memorable, mini-philosophies that strike me as quite helpful in day to day life, such as Garcia Marquez’s methods for finding lost objects (but perhaps he does not solely limit this to the recovery of tangibles): when you lose something, it is because you have stepped out of your day-to-day trajectory for a moment. (Or maybe you have gone along your normal path, but you have brought along something—the object—which does not belong in that new place where it is eventually lost.) To find it again, you must not retrace your steps, because if the object were located in your daily routine, you would never have lost it in the first place. So, in order to find what you are looking for, you have to look in random, shocking places. In practice, this works for me. When I lose something, I never spend longer than 10 minutes looking for it. I just wait until I stumble upon it, always in the most unlikely of places. Of course, this is stated more elegantly in Garcia Marquez’s words (well, I wouldn’t know because I read it in translation by Gregory Rabassa), but re-writing it helps me to remember it. Lots of bits of wisdom like that, and also some startling images, such as that of a chamber pot full of shit and diamonds. Fabulous.

I’m not happy about this being my last week before school starts. Next week we have meetings, etc. Plus I have to plan my classes. I spent one of my brilliant summer days planning a delicious British Lit class, but now I find that I won’t be able to teach it because no one signed up for it. I’ll probably have a bunch of Rhetoric classes and an Intro to Lit. That’s fine. I’ve been on my own too long to resent working just yet.

I absolutely have to go watch Sex in the City now. I have so few pleasures in life. Well, that and I have started reading Anna Karenina, which is thoroughly charming. I know bad things are going to happen, but right now it’s charming.

Ps. We're about to schedule our foreign film viewings for the fall--please send suggestions to me--especially Chinese or Russian or Indian films.

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