Monday, December 14, 2015


I decided to add a new kind of entry, which I'll call "Diary," in order to allow myself to write about anything without naming a specific topic. I've got into the habit of writing something every few days, and it's a lot easier for me to do if I don't have to come up with a topic each time. This will be my way of blabbing a little for fun. Strictly speaking, it won't be a real diary, because there will still be certain areas that are off-limits, since anyone can read this. As in my other posts, I won't say much about household members or their families, particularly my living relatives. Ex-wives, ex-girlfriends and ex-anything are still fair game, since those bridges have already been burned, though I don't think I have much left to say about them at this point. Not many of my family members know about the blog, and although I doubt most of them would be interested in it, I'd rather not risk estranging them if at some future time they were to take issue with something I wrote.

As I said, I'm reading things on the Internet at a reduced rate and am spending more time reading printed books and periodicals now. Coming up on my reading list are The Spectacle of Skill: Selected Writings of Robert Hughes, and The Mandarins, by Simone de Beauvoir. Hughes is that rare critic who writes well and has strong convictions, and though it may turn out that I don't always agree with him I find it intensely refreshing to hear passionate people speak their mind without kowtowing to editorial hucksters or academic prima donnas. I'm not sure whether I'll like The Mandarins, but am taking the chance. I am attracted to smart women, and de Beauvoir certainly was that. This novel is a roman à clef whose characters represent Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, de Beauvoir, Nelson Algren and others, and I hope it will provide some insight into intellectual life in Paris of that period, though it may not work well as a novel. I don't think I'll burn through these books fast, so it may take some time before I comment on them. I recently resumed Proust again out of a sense of duty, but he puts me to sleep after a couple of pages – making good bedside reading. I think of him as a writer who lived in a culturally rich time and place and who explained himself thoroughly and eloquently, but these positive attributes are not enough to compensate for the fact that he is an entrenched social climber and an airhead who indulges himself at the expense of his readers. I don't find him insightful in the least, though he has more to offer than fellow windbag Henry James.

We are having a dreary, warm winter so far, with no snow. Usually we turn on the boiler in mid-November, but it hasn't been necessary yet and we are heating entirely with wood. I'm not looking forward to Christmas, as I will be spending it here with non-family members, and I have no common interests or rapport with most of them despite knowing them for fourteen years. I had thought of going to Montreal by myself for a week to escape them but decided not to be petty. As you can tell, I don't have much holiday spirit at the moment.

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