this entry is apropos of this arcade article, and also apropos of my recent entries on the difficulties in reliance on arbiters of taste like roger ebert, or anyone, and which, like many of my entries, are attempts at judging well. i disagree generally with what i feel are reductionistic analyses of human behaviour, but certainly agree that one of my motives for attempting to judge well is to be thought well of. i appreciate anyone doing any (good) thing well, and likewise try to do things well so that others might appreciate me.
anyway, as it turns out (this phrase a favorite of douglas adams), i was reading one of my favorite authors, douglas adams, tonight (whom i've previously noted as having tastes agreeable to mine), and he mentioned that his five favorite authors were dickens, austen, vonnegut, wodehouse, and ruth rendell. i have no experience with rendell, but vonnegut & wodehouse are both among my favorites & i've read nearly the entirety of their output, and it was great to see this additional piece of simpatico. (i've also nearly read the entirety of adams' output which is sadly nonprolific, but also gladly so, since it's better to just have his gems.) i'm not very familiar with dickens and austen though i know many of you, whom i respect, are. this is from adams' introduction to wodehouse's sunset at blandings, which is very brief (the intro, not sunset), and which i highly recommend reading at the linked google books clip before continuing (it's only five pages long, and you'll be wanting to drop me a comment to thank me for pointing it out to you).
what i like is that adams notes that shakespeare was "our greatest writing genius".* what i don't like is that he disses shakespeare's humor, which i love, and specifically calls out dogberry in much ado, which is one of my favorites (i know there are some of you in each of the camps on that one). but no simpatico is perfect. and he's quite right about wodehouse being a genius musician of words and genius at being funny, and "being funny in such a SUBLIME way as to put mere poetry in the shade" (emphasis added), which as adams states, doesn't get nearly the level of props it should in certain circles. this whole endeavour, my journal, ebert, the sublime meme, etc., is about what we'd keep in the balloon, and you know, if you're picking a balloon to escape in, whose balloon do you want to share? and unselfishly spreading the word that, good god, my friend, you've never read wodehouse? never read adams? do yourself a favor, enrich your life by doing so! so i'll keep writing entries and reading them. oh, and i should point out there's a grace note in this: adams' introduction to wodehouse's unfinished and final book appears in the posthumous collection of adams' writing along with a version of adams' unfinished and final book, the salmon of doubt.
and apropos of arbiters of taste and the act of arbiting, and being an expert at something, douglas' very next piece in the book is his informative set of instructions for making a proper cup of tea, which are even briefer, and which i also recommend reading, if you don't already know how to make a proper cup of tea (or if you just like being entertained). i was VERY glad to read these, and to learn, both how to make a proper cup of tea, and that i CAN have milk with my tea (even though some people would tell us we shouldn't). on the matter of expertise and social value you'll see he notes that:
"the socially correct way of pouring tea is to put the milk in after the tea. social correctness has traditionally had nothing whatever to do with reason, logic or physics. in fact, in england it is generally considered socially incorrect to know stuff or think about things. it's worth bearing this in mind when visiting."
the reason i'm especially glad to have learned the above is that now i will enjoy drinking tea substantially more than i did, which was not all that much. and i have it on good authority that tea & tangerines will be my salvation.
*and i love also that adams recommends reading sunset at blandings for completeness, because i am always reading for completeness.
**the astute reader, having read for completeness, might surmise that i also take great pleasure in writing entries that attempt to say something. but as a critic of reductionism, i'd be more likely to throw a poker at wittgenstein than agree with him in this instance! (jokes are much funnier when you don't have to explain them)
foolsday ccx aka 3:47 on 4/1/11
tags: william flesch, william shatner, william shakespeare, p.g. wodehouse, kurt vonnegut jr., ruth rendell, douglas adams, roger ebert, tea, sublimity, apropoity, simpatico, grace notes, arbiting taste, poker, eight fortunes, jane austen, charles dickens, jorge luis borges, reading for completeness, unfinished works, genius, evelyn waugh, john milton, bach, mozart, einstein, feynman, louis armstrong, wittgenstein, a few simple rats