MANICHAEAN is not currently reading any books.
I’m 69 years old, male, from the United Kingdom. I’ve been a DailyLit member since May 09, 2009. My reading interests include Literature, History, Travel, Cooking, and Writing.
"The art of newspaper paragraphing is to stroke a platitude until it purrs like an epigram".
"The Power & The Glory" by Grahame Greene. First time in my life, I kept thinking deeper & deeper into the characters depicted. Their weaknesses were of more interest than their strengths, especially the wiskey priest & I continue to this day to enjoy it more everytime I read it.
I shall be leaving shortly on home leave to the Philippines, and so my input into this miscellany will in the interim, cease. But please feel free to contribute, down any path you choose, in whatever inimitable style takes your fancy.
I have ventured,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth.
If you are fortunate enough to read French, (or had it drummed into you as a kid), then it gives an extra dimension to the books of authors like Andre Gide or Flaubert that cannot be fully expressed in English. Likewise I should think for Russian readers when delving into Lermontov & Tugenev. The language expresses the soul of the country.
I would be interested in the reaction of others to the quote attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson that; " Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life". Personally, I have been fortunate to drink the full measure from both cups. Books can both relate or put a new perspective on what you have already experienced, or they can add something which transfigures reality.
Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play;
For some must watch, while some must sleep:
So runs the world away.
"Fabrum esse suae quemque fortunae"
Each man the architect of his own fate.
"Only habit of persistent work can make one continually content; it produces opium that numbs the soul."
Whether it was this core establishment of Church teachings, or the familiarity with the comforting consistency and message of the Mass, he was not sure, but there came a time when he felt in his early twenties what is termed "the calling to serve" or as is sometimes expressed with an element of glibness "Many are called / But few are chosen".
Seth reflected on the journey so far. Those early formative year and a leaning towards spirituality, that normally unattained dimension: catechism, first confession & communion, incense, the Latin liturgy, priest facing the suspended Nazarene,the foundation stones of a faith that would carry one through both the sunlit uplands and the abysses of despair
Edward Gibbon. "The Decline & Fall of The Roman Empire">
My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the obscurity of a learned language".
The characters that have evolved so far:
1. Seth of uncertain background & aims, arrives in a small community in northern Jamaica, where he has an affair with a woman from the local beach club.
2. A cabal of : Tim the beach club manager / Kevin the drugs operator / Trevor the club doorman.
3. A mixture of associated females: Ellie (of indeterminate sex) & Andromada tied into the drugs ring.
Effie reflected on the intrinsic beauty of the patois spoken to her. The felicity of the cadence, the chain reaction of the rhyme, the pleasuring of the etymology. Such things can proceed happily and as it were autistically, in an area of mental operations cordoned off by and from the critical sense.
Its quite interesting actually regards book downloads on the net. Project Gutenburg contains an extensive collection that seems to stop at the end of the 19th Century. It also includes some real rubbish that is quite funny, where people write that one book in their life that they feel is within them and that comprises some totally obscure theme. For Truman Capote, try The Burgomeister's Books, but you are limited to 5 per fortnight. In the meantime Daily Lit is still doing a great job.
Any physician of note would have regarded the man with peculiar interest, ascertaining the angonizing malady he suffered, and the amazingly irregular debauched life that he led in spite of it - perhaps because of it.
It was something in those lips that marred the perfection of that countenance: a fault, elusive but undeniable lurked there to belie the fine sensitiveness of those nostrils, the tenderness of those dark liquid eyes and the noble calm of that furrowed brow.
A slight stocky man on the upper side of fifty, with an oval face that was delicately beautifuel. There were dark stains of suffering or sleeplessness under the low-lidded eyes, heightening their brilliance and their gentle melancholy. The face was very dark, save for the vivid colour of the full lips and the hectic flush on the rather high but inconspicuous cheek-bones.
He proceeded to the villa of his half cousin Kevin Young, known among the Kingston drug underworld as "Kitkat". The product of a liasion dangereuse between a mistress of Papa Doc Duvalier & a Ton Ton Macoute Corporal in the HSSE Enforcement Division, his ruthless methods had enabled his rise to meridian splendour and respect within the dark society he frequented.
TRAMMEL: An impediment to free action, a constraint, a hinderence.
(Macbeth):"If it were done when tis done, then twere well it were done quickly / If the assassination could trammel up the consequence / And catch with his surcease, success / But that this blow / Might that this blow / Might be the be-all and the end-all here / But here, upon this bank and shoal of time / We'd jump the life to come.
LIBERTINE: A person who follows his or her own inclinations, not restricted or confined by convention.
(Henry V):"When he speaks, the air, a chartered libertine, is still".
No, I had to study subjects that enabled me to make money & raise a family. But I was steeped & marinated in books as a child. Now having made the money & with the kids grown up, I can indulge myself.
Of all the biographies of Winston Churchill I have read, the two of a three part by the American author William Manchester are the ones that captured the essence of the man. (The Last Lion & The Lion at Bay). It was a tragedy he died before he had completed the third.
Clark Gable: " Do you write Mr Faulkner?"
Faulkner: "Yes Mr Gable. What do you do?"
The ravages of drinking half a bottle of rum however were soon apparent as the svelte apparition he initially percieved turned out to be that Fallen Archangel of Jamacian doormen: Trevor emerging from his monthly bath in the Caribbean, his dreadlocks wet against his paunch & his fists trailing along the sand above the surf line.
Born in London. Currently working in Qatar. Home in the Philippines.
Dear HSE Manager342, Sometimes I think that language is more fashion than science and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines. Gibbon had the soaring prose, Hemingway the terse reporters style. You will know a word by the company it keeps.
Seth sat on the porch and reflected, as is usually the case when hardened drinkers, drink alone and let good alcohol stimulate the thoughts and imagination.
He had not as a child rode out upon an adverse tide. A loving devout Catholic mother who had raised three sons both in her own strengths of character and of the faith she had so unreservedly accepted.
UNCTION: The action or act of anointing a person or thing with oil as a religious rite.
(Hamlet):"Lay not that flattering unction to your soul".
Dear Wellreadscholar. I personally like a woman to show what she knows either intellectually or in terms of character. Mind you, a bit of modesty & mystery would never go astray ! As long as she is not strident.
EXTANT: Conspicious, manifest.
(Hamlet):" The story is extant and the writ in very choice Italian."
CONTAGION: Harmful, contagious influence or quality.
(Hamlet):" When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world".
At this juncture the reader will have ascertained the unfathomable sea change in a relationship between the initial satiation of lust and the origination of something else. The cold reflections of the mind and bitter insights of the heart. The sentimentalist can decieve himself, but for the maturity and experience of mind, the cold exigencies of emotional reality must be accepted even if rational plays a second string.
Seth percieved that he had already passed that period of spiritual life when people seek happiness alone and when the heart feels the need to love someone passionately. Now he only wanted to be loved, and then only by a few. For ideas are organic entities: their very birth imparts them form, and this form is action. Passions are nothing more than ideas at the first stage of their development. They belong to the heart's youth, and he is foolish who thinks they will stir him all his life.
He was aware of other women in this new percieved circle he had entered and several times their gazes rested on him, expressing frustration while trying to communicate indifference. For them, they hated men in order not to despise them, while he invariably countered with despising women in order not to love them.
JADE: Exhaust, wear out, fatigue, tire, sate, dull.
GALLED: Bitterness, anything bitter.
WITHERS: The emotions, the sensibilities.
(Hamlet):" Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung."
If a highbrow is a man who has found something more interesting than women, what is a writer? Is fiction to the grown up what play is to the child? Is it there that one changes the atmosphere and tenor of ones life?
The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yoghurt and I suspect that the reason that the ability to write good prose and good dialogue go hand in hand is simply that a good writer knows how to listen.
But the coyness expressed on her part, continued to feed the relationship with Seth, for the greatest strength of a woman is her percieved innocence. Only the love we read in a woman's eyes is noncommited wheras words....... The concept of compassion - that emotion which all women so easily yield to - had sunk its claws into her inexperienced heart.
It is said that the love of a savage girl is little better than that of a well-born lady. The ignorance and simplicity of the one are as boring as the coquetry of the other.And yet there is no penance due to innocence.It was the first physical contact that had decided the issue as she twisted her trembling arms tightly around his neck as if by this kiss she wished to give her soul to him.
PITH: Importence, weight.
(Hamlet): "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all / And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought / And enterprises of great pith and moment. / With this regard their currents turn awry / And lose the name of action.
Earlier romances by comparison had been dull, fumbling affairs lacking in any real emotions. This man had been like a huge dense cloud, as dark as the sky at night and full of the presage of barely suppressed energy advancing upon her estate, creeping low over the fields to envelope her very being.
As a matter of course, upon arriving home, the woman was besieged by her female friends using every wile known to that sex to extract graphic detail of the previous evenings' encounter. Keeping this information to a minimum, her new loyalties enforcing upon her a reluctance to engage in the erotic detail still not fully absorbed, and yet so fresh in her mind. She knew she had been taken, and yet she did not feel used but felt a common bond with the man who had taken her beyond any sensations she had experienced before.
The freewheeling imagination of an Irishman.
QUIETUS: A discharge or release from ofice or duty. A final settlement, an ending.
BODKIN: A dagger, a stileto.
FARDELS: A burden, a load.
(Hamlet): "When he himself might his quietus make. With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear. To grunt and sweat under a weary life"
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That therby beauty's rose may never die.
The Importance Of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
The Gravity of Marmaduke P.Thornbush Currathers Ffrench Smythe.
"The razor thin cucumber slices, cut in delicate triangles modestly arranged between fresh homemeal bread with the crusts removed were nibbled upon by the ladies suitably arrayed in Lady Palmerstons drawing room in Curzon Street."
War And Peace.
Love And Eternity
"Napoleon emerged from the privy, suitably relieved"
At dawn the next day, they lay there in each others arms, soaked in sweat, hearts beating, gasping for air untill at last a total feeling of exhaustion overcame them both and they sank into that abyss of fatigue known only to commensurate lovers. Awake for ever in a sweet unrest.
JAY: A flashy or absurdly dressed person.
(Cymbeline): "Some jay of Italy".
UNANELED: Not anointed, not having recieved extreme unction.
(Hamlet): " Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin / Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled".
CONTUMELY: Contemptuously insulting language or treatment.
(Hamlet): For who would bear the whips and scorns of time / The oppressors wrong, the proud man's contumely"
The evening was nowhere near finished when Seth asked her home. No manoeuvring, no half truths.With a bead of perspiration on her upper lip she knew she was either in or out. The shock of reality for what the night held. Seth retrieved the keys from the entrance cubicle, where its occupant Trevor the doorman observed them coldly through hooded bloodshot eyes, his skin glistening with a purple hue in the hot humid night. Rivulets of sweat ran from his arm pits & his stomach churned from the half digested curried goat contained within.
Eyewrite. Just a short note to say I like your style.
Keep it up.
Her face, a face of a child rather than of a woman, seemed transparent, for so soft and clear was the skin. She kept her eyelids modestly lowered over her blue eyes; tremulous lids bent and suffused reply at his glance. "But I don't like the sadness", he thought. "That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they get before they quit or before they betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out".
Leaping into the MG in one swift bound that belied his advancing years Seth drove to the Discovery Bay weekly dance disco function, where gathered the "to be seen" of that community's middle class. Tossing the car keys to Trevor, a middle aged Rasta with a history of dubious distinction, he stode into the main hall and viewed the groups already gathered. His eyes lit upon one woman in particular. In her late thirties with a full bodied figure, low cut dress of green silk and a cleavage to die for.
TRENCHER: A plate, platter, a flat piece of wood for cutting & serving meat.
(Antony & Cleopatra): "I found you as a morsel, cold upon dead Caesar's trencher."
SAWS: Old sayings, proverbs, maxims, aphorisms, adages.
(As You Like It): "With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut. Full of wise saws and moral instances."
PANTALOON: A feeble, tottering old man. A dotard.
(As You Like It): "The sixth age shifts, into the lean and slippered pantaloon."
Even in England when reading Shakespeare for the first time, we have to reach for the dictionary to get the full meaning on 16th Century words & meanings. Hope a few of them might help.
Dear wellreadscholar & jrainis. As you have noted we are sometimes "divided by a common language" , not just in the pronounciation but also in our understandings e.g trunk / boot (of a car)/ pants (underwear to us)/ trousers have different meanings. Perhaps the most infamous faux pas was when one British ambassadour to the US at a State function, encouraged "All Americans to keep their peckers up". To us it is to keep your spirits up. I understand you have a different perspective on the meaning!
Whoops. Sorry Wellreadscholar. Just realised we were dealing only with Walden Vocab.
Thanks for the observation on "draft". You should see the Anglo/American meetings we have on the petrochemical job where I am when we venture forth into the realms of pronounciation either side of the Atlantic e.g. US: "What is the route?" UK: "Pardon, I don't understand" US "Route !". UK: "How do you spell it". US getting agitated "Route". UK: "Oh, you mean route" (pronounced root). US: "No, thats the bit of the tree under the ground".
This was reflected in his eyes of which I must say a few words. Firstly, they didn't laugh when he did. It was a sign either of an evil nature or of a deep constant sadness. There was no reflection of spiritual warmth or fertile imagination. It was the flash of smooth steel, blinding but cold. His glance was brief but piercing and oppressive; it had the disturbing effect of an indiscreet question, and might have seemed audacious had it not been so calmly casual.
From the male perspective in this instance, Seth had always felt that he had never become the slave of any woman he had loved. Was it, (in all due modesty), the magnetic appeal of a strong personality? Or simply because he had never met a woman with equal strength of character? He had a relaxed demeanour and was comfortable around them. In return, they could sense it, almost smell it. But the intensity of when he closed in for the kill was frightening.
Contumely: Harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness & contempt.
Nascent: Coming or having recently come into existence.
Ephemeral: Lasting a very short time.
Fecundity: Intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree.
Maleficence: A harmful or evil act.
Interregnum: A lapse or pause in a continuous series.
Cynosure: A centre of attraction or attention.
Imperious: Intensely compelling.
What is that equipoise existing in the ineluctable human chemistry that divides the sexes and that, as a result either attracts or repels as abhorrent one to / from the other? From a female perspective what is essential is that the interest be aroused. It's not primarily, physical sexuality. Women want some meat on the bones of character and personality before the initial and tentative commitment. "She is a woman, therefore may be wooed / She is a woman, therefore may be won."
The reader should be informed at this stage, that in Jamaica in general & in Discovery Bay in particular, that the female gender outnumbers significantly their male counterparts. Such is the disparity, combined with hot tropical nights, languid days and a certain Puritan outward demeanour of modesty, that an almost perceptable undercurrent of suppressed tension is felt. This was the complex human stage upon which Seth now made his mark, creating an impression whereby the romantic provincial ladies became infatuated to the point of distraction.
Anyway, little by little did Seth settle into the community. Ate at the local jerk chicken restaurant for a bit and then tended towards his own purchase of local produce & displayed an accomplished ability, much to the amazement of Miss Margaret who attended five days a week to wash & clean.
Being of a reserved and respectable disposition he was eventually invited to join the Discovery Bay Beach Club, a fenced off stretch of private sea front with controlled memembership and adequately equipped with a timber club house & shaded trees with long, sinuous roots protruding above the sand.
Small communities are such that any interruption in the daily routine soon starts a ripple of speculation throughout. So it was with the initial establishment of Seth. In true Jamacian fashion they soon concentrated on the essentials. Was he rich? Was he married? What was his background, his character, his faith and his intentions? Some had him as a retired banker, a hit man in between hits, a failed priest; such is the paucity of people's imaginations when given so few facts to grasp at.
Dear Maggie. Thanks for the encouragement. I was beginning to wonder what had happened to a country that had produced writers ranging from: Mark Twain to John Updike / John Steinbeck to Joseph Heller / Ernest Hemingway to James Baldwin! Everybody has got at least one book in them (or in this case, at least an occasional paragraph). Come on America. Does it take a Brit in his dotage to get down on Daily Lit your hopes, fears & aspirations?
The real estate office on the main drag, for some obscure reason was open, manned by the perspiring manager. Seth explained his need for a villa for an extended period and appeared not to have much concern regarding rates. By 6.30pm, the sun was setting and he was established on his newly acquired porch, suitably equipped from the nearby store with a bottle of Wray & Nephews rum, a tray of ice, coke & other accoutrements of a medicinal and beneficial nature.
Seth arrived in Discovery Bay on the north coast of Jamaica late afternoon by bus from Montego Bay. Tall, in his mid sixties, dressed in faded blue jeans and a white cotton Gant top, he descended the stairs and looked around. A cold, restless, impotent desperation, concealed under a polite exterior and a good-natured smile. The location was not the vibrant undercurrent of downtown Kingston or the glitz of touristy Ochio Rios. It was a cove community on the Caribbean encompassing a cross section of indigenous Jamacian society, from the affluent ensconced in their villas on the surrounding hills, to the Yardie in his corrugated iron shack who knew not where the next meal was coming from.
Just a suggestion. We all enjoy books, otherwise we would not be here on Daily Lit. Any takers in contributing to a chain novel. One finishes & the next follows. It may be too uncontrollable, it may be divergent & amusing considering all the variables in each members hopes, fears and aspirations, but what the hell!
Not sure how I made the choice myself. A combination of: books I have really enjoyed & go back to like old friends time & time again, new books or authors that have caught my interest & then of course the tome to use up the time & to be dipped into at leisure.
Ireland is a country with absolutely no talent, but bursting with genius. Wilde, along with James Joyce and others is representative of this strange kind of negative virtue. He was very talented and knew it in an amusing kind of way e.g. one of his quotes "The play was a great success, but the audience was a total failure". Try " The Ballad of Reading Goal" reflecting his imprisonment. It has a tremendous sadness in feeling in contrast to his light hearted & witty plays.
Off the top of my head:
1. "A Hero of Our Time" by Mikhail Lermontov.
2. "A Woman of No Importance" by Oscar Wilde.
3. " Fruits of the Earth" by Andre Gide.
4. "The Power & The Glory" by Grahame Greene.
5. "Count Cagliostro" by Alexei Tolstoy.
I spent a lot of time in Saudi Arabia based in the middle of nowhere in the 1970s and thats the last place to be if you cannot keep your mind occupied i.e. no cinema, limited tv programmes, no real social events. And so you had the time & the peace to read those classics that you never before could get round to reading: Gibbons "Decline & Fall" etc. You just had to make sure that you took with you a suitable catholic mix according to your daily prevailing moods. Thus some Grahame Green, William Manchester with a sprinkling of Ian Fleming & Ed McBain.
ITS QUITE EDIFYING THAT HAVING READ THIS BOOK WHEN I WAS 19 & NOW REREADING IT AT 65 I AM ENJOYING IT EVEN MORE, BUT IN A MORE SUBTLE AND SIMPLIER WAY. HEMINGWAY YOU CAN READ AS A YOUNG MAN AND NOT QUITE GRASP THE FULL DEPTH OF HIS THEMES. THIS EVOLVES WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFE FULLY LED. BUT THE COUNT HAS ALL THE INNONENCE OF THOSE BOOKS OF YOUTH: TREASURE ISLAND, DICKENS, JUST WILLIAM ETC.