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Soundtrack: Bobby Fuller—“El Paso Rock, Volume One”

 

Well. It’s official. I’m a Master of English Literature… That–as they say–plus a quarter will get you…well, to within about ten minutes’ worth of earnest begging away from a good espresso. Or, as Bill Murray remarks to Scarlett Johansson’s recent philosophy grad (in Lost in Translation): “There’s some bucks in that hunh?” In my case, a Bachelor’s in American History + this recent piece of paper add up to $7.61 (Canadian)/ hour…

 

I’m not complaining mind you. Whenever I get cash windfalls, I spend profligately, but I’ve never had a big problem with living off of oatmeal and coin rolls. Despite never even sniffing the poverty line (no, that’s not a reference to cheapjack cocaine), I can’t honestly say I’ve ever suffered at all (unless you count the winter of ’94-’95, when my apartment had no heat, but even that was kind of fun, at least in retrospect), and I’ve never failed to provide for my feline dependents… Unlike some of my colleagues, I don’t have any basic quarrel with a competition-based society (as long as there are safeguards in place to ensure that no one actually starves or goes without medical attention). The way I see it—if you want to go out drinking every night, or take big trips, work for it. Personally, I wouldn’t do it. I compute every expenditure in terms of how many hours I have to work to finance it, and there just aren’t many things that pass that particular test. One thing’s for sure—in a more “just” society, I’d have to work a lot harder than I do. If people want to work seventy hours a week, I say leave ’em to it! And if you need big money and/or big status as a reward for your metaphysical inquiries, maybe you should abandon them…

 

Tonight we watched Possessed (1931), an interesting “fallen-woman” melodrama with Joan Crawford & Clark Gable that, refreshingly, doesn’t end in the woman’s suicide. Crawford is pretty great in the movie actually. I’ve been warming to her thirties performances lately. I used to find her clipped delivery and pop-eyed intensity too disconcerting outside of film noir, but if you look closely enough, there’s some real wit, even playfulness, behind the façade (and I kind of like that she never smiles!). Gable turns in a pretty stodgy performance: he’s a couple of years away here from being liberated by Capra’s direction in It Happened One Nigh(1934)—best way to observe the difference is to contrast the byplay between the two stars in this movie with the much livelier dynamic they enjoy in Forsaking All Others (1934) (and if it turns out that FAO was filmed before the Capra movie, then I guess I look like a fool, but you take your chances! I’m not gonna look it up, I’ve only got a couple of minutes left!). So this is Crawford’s show all the way, and it’s great! There’s an almost surreal scene near the beginning where she’s walking home from work at the “paper box factory” and observes various passengers through the windows of a luxury Pullman car as if each high-gloss scene were an MGM movie on a screen.

 

I’m reading Leon Chai’s Jonathan Edwards and the Limits of Enlightenment Philosophy—it’s very good so far, uses Edwards’s thought (the greatest that the Calvinist tradition has produced) to provide some insight into the Enlightenment rage for epistemology (the study of how the mind acquires knowledge). Chai tries to understand why people like Locke and Malebranche were so hell-bent on proving that the external world “really” exists, and what the western philosophic tradition lost when Kant & Hegel turned in their respective obituaries of that quest…

 

tomorrow, I’ll be getting to some thoughts on “Visible”/”Invisible” Saints and secret identities + (if there’s time) genetic mutation & the “Half-Way Covenant”. This is all stuff that’s swirling through my brain as I attempt to settle on a finished version of my grant proposal (which a professor advised me today I’d “better get cracking on!”) And there’ll be more silver age letters!!

 

Good night friends!

Dave

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