Quiet

It’s hard to believe, but my daughter’s summer vacation is only four days away from being over with. This is imagesthe first summer where I’ve stayed home and for the most part, it’s been fun. There’s been a few challenges, of course, the midget is pretty good about occupying herself through out the day, but she still gets a little antsy, and usually I’ll have to take an extended break from whatever I’m working on to play video games, or head out for a quick outing to somewhere we both enjoy (Usually the bookstore.). And, of course, there have been times where she turns into the littlest Hitler and attempts to boss me and Mrs. Rawson around (Last night was particularly bad. The midget tried to bully us into going and picking up food instead of just eating what I made for dinner.), those moments, however, are usually short lived. But they have been occurring more frequently as we get closer to the first day of school. I can’t tell if she’s grumpy or excited about re-starting school? She’s, unfortunately, inherited my pokerface when it comes things she’s excited/pissed off about.

The one thing I have liked about this summer is that it’s been quiet. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never been a constant chaos kind of family. We like the quiet and togetherness and try our  best to not disrupt it. But this summer has been particularly quiet and I feel that we’ve grown a lot closer as a family. Most evenings when the day is done, all we’ll do is maybe watch a half hour of television (I think one of the real benefits of dropping cable and going 100% streaming is our overall time watching television has been cut in half, if not more.), but most of the time we just talk, joke, and sometimes play a board game. After the girls have gone upstairs, I usually put on some music, and then do nothing but read until I get tired. I know, it’s sounds boring, but I find it very peaceful. Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain this as the school year goes into full swing and as our new addition to the family grows larger and larger (Mrs. Rawson is experiencing the usual first four months of new baby: Morning/afternoon/evening sickness, hard fatigue, the usual stuff she honestly thought she would never have to go through again.), but I’m guessing it won’t, and that’s okay, because sometimes you need a little chaos.

Even though I will miss having the midget around all day, I will say that I’m looking forward to having the house to myself during the day. I’m a creature of habit, and I do tend to get a lot more work done when it’s just me and the dogs.

Anyway, in case you haven’t seen it yet, I wrote a listicle (By the way, folks, I fucking hate listicles. But, you know, it seems like a whole bunch of people are into them.) for LitReactor about one of my favorite novelists, Barry Gifford. So if you haven’t already, please feel free to check it out.

Book Notes: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage By Haruki Murakami

“One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”

– Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

 

I’ve decided to spend the remainder of 2015 reading the novels of Haruki Murakami that I haven’t gotten 14713111178_fbea0cbd3c_baround to reading yet. I’ve only read the entire bodies of work of a few novelists including Nabokov, Joyce (And, man, that was a struggle. Finnegans Wake ended up taking me 4 years to finish, and even then I needed to buy a readers guide to comprehend the bulk of it.), Dick, Kafka, Vonnegut, and Ellroy. So I thought Murakami would be a worthwhile addition to this very short list.

Despite how much I enjoy Murakami’s books, there’s surprisingly quite a few of them that I haven’t gotten around to, so I imagine I’ll be slogging through them right up until the end of the year.

I’m starting off with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which I’ve been sitting on since December of 2014. The premise is fairly simple: Tsukuru Tazaki’s four high school best friends dump him a year after they all start college, the loss devastates him, and then he spends the next decade living a fairly hollow and lonely existence, at least until he sets out to find out why his friends ditched him.

I’m 144 pages in and its pretty good so far. I’ll post a review once I’m done.

Dumb

I always get a chuckle when a prominent cultural figure comments on the “Dumbing Down” of culture. urlDustin Hoffman commented on it recently, so did Morrissey, and Alan Moore has been commenting on it for years, but thanks to this summary of Moore’s last interview in 2014 by the Guardian, the criticism he levels regarding the adult love of superheroes gained a lot of attention.

The worlds Hoffman and Morrissey knew are gone, and instead of adapting and perhaps exploring other avenues, they criticize.  And with Moore, well, even when he was a young man he was old.

The reason I get such a kick out of reading these broad criticisms is because of one thing and one thing alone: Human culture has always been dumb, and the fact is we’re not making it any dumber,  because it was already pretty fucking stupid to begin with.

As an example, I’ll use my favorite period of history, mid-20th century America. I like the period because the country was on the precipice of radical cultural and technological changes; it was a truly awesome time, at least from an historical perspective. But when it comes right down to it, I’m 99.9% certain that the people alive during this period weren’t sitting around discussing the Catcher In The Rye and Jack Kerouac. They weren’t listening to hot jazz music and watching the early films of Jean-Luc Godard.

What they were listening to was Amos ’n’ Andy casually making fun of black people; they were watching Jackie Gleason joke about abusing his wife; they were reading novels about Mike Hammer ruthlessly killing communists. Needless to say, all of that stuff was pretty fucking dumb, and you can go from decade-to-decade and find that all the things that we find culturally important now, well, chances are, nobody was paying attention to them, because people were watching/listening/reading to whatever dumb shit was popular at the time.

The fact is, the reason why Moore, Hoffman, and Morrissey are being so critical of our current culture is because they’re doing what the old do, they’re lamenting about how much better it is to be young and have this great big old world laid out in front of them for the taking.