Stanislaw Lem was still alive until today?
That sorta invalidates all those jokes about him spinning in his grave over that Soderbergh remake of Solaris. . .
(Condolences to his family)
Tom Spurgeon offers a late wrapup of the best comics of 2005. I feel pretty good about owning/reading 4 of the top 5 (haven’t gotten around to that Frank Kelly book yet).
We’re married! The wedding was wonderful! The guests danced, ate, drank, and otherwise made merry! I have NO pictures yet! (but as soon as we get them, I’ll start posting stuff)
As wonderful as the whole evening was, as great as our first dance was, as lovely as Amy looked in her wedding dress, the hands-down best moment of the evening came after we left the venue.
The photographer wanted to shoot some pictures of us outside, with Jackson Square in the background. When he was done, Amy & I walked over to our hotel, passing the Cafe Du Monde. A ton of people were having late-evening beignets and coffee at the open-air cafe. Someone saw us in tux and gown and shouted, “Congratulations!”
Then another. Then another. Then the entire cafe was applauding and congratulating us as we walked by. I stopped and gave Amy one of our great husband-and-wife kisses, which led to a great cheer from the cafe-goers.
It was magic.
Wedding bonus: Here are the readings we asked our friends Scott and Cecily to perform before we got to the vows:
Excerpt from a 1950s home economics textbook titled The Good Wives Guide
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.
Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.
Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to see him. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low soothing and pleasant voice. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity.
Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
A good wife always knows her place.
A Word to Husbands
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.
Do not take away the rose,
the lanceflower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in your joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.
My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.
My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.
Next to the sea in autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.
Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
but never your laughter
for I would die.
Whew! I found a reading for my wedding on Sunday! Being all literary and such, it was pretty difficult for me to come up with something good (I’ll post it sometime after the wedding). In my neurotic way, I felt pressure to come up with a Really Good Reading. The search reminded me of an article I read once about how difficult real writers find it to do things like write a note for their kids’ schoolteachers.
Anyway, it’s a Really Good Reading. The friend who’s going to read it on Sunday tells me she cried when she read it this morning. Amy sez she got choked up, too. Dames. . .
Today, we have more criticism of the book, by Kerry Howley at Reason:
Kamenetz, a 2002 Yale graduate, is the latest spokesperson for a paroxysm of anxiety among “emerging adults.” But you don’t have to accept Kamanetz’s absurd thesisÃ¢â‚¬â€that a group of people among the healthiest, wealthiest, and most educated in human history deserve your pityÃ¢â‚¬â€to get angry about the way their prosperity has been manhandled. The term Generation Debt is nothing if not apt: Young Americans come of age in a world where heaps of their as yet-unearned cash has already been promised away. They are embodied I.O.U.s to Medicare, to Social Security, to extended obligations in foreign countries with unclear objectives and no end in sight. A glance at the latest projections for, say, Medicare Part D is fair game for some righteous anger.
As a bonus, Chris Farrell at BusinessWeek has an article critiquing the arguments of another book in the “WAH! We’re going to be poor” cycle, Tamara Drout’s Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead:
Drout takes a hardline stand in her book. She argues that the younger American generation faces a life of “downscaled dreams.” The traditional middle-class life is out of reach for more and more young people. Going to college, owning a home, and having a child — or two — is increasingly expensive. Paychecks are increasingly meager, so more and more, the younger generation is taking on onerous debt. “They will be the first generation who won’t match the prosperity of their parents,” Drout writes.
Considering that a staple belief in American society is that each generation ends up a bit better off than the previous one, Drout’s charge is remarkable. And it’s also largely nonsense. For instance, she laments that recent college graduates, already burdened with student-loan obligations, have to rack up steep credit charges to furnish their apartments and buy a wardrobe for work.
Amy & I are getting married in two weeks, and I’m still trying to come up with a good reading for the pre-game show. The following passage is a hoot, mainly because I always envision it on one of those “Love Is” fridge magnets, except it’d have to be about two miles long and has disastrously fascist overtones:
Love means in general the consciousness of my unity with another, so that I am not isolated on my own, but gain my self-consciousness only through the renunciation of my independent existence and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me. But love is a feeling, that is, ethical life in its natural form. In the state, it is no longer present. There, one is conscious of unity as law; there, the content must be rational, and I must know it. The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be an independent person in my own right and that, if I were, I would feel deficient and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person, that I gain recognition in this person, who in turn gains recognition in me. Love is therefore the most immense contradiction; the understanding cannnot resolve it, because there is nothing more intractable than this punctiliousness of the self-consciousness which is negated and which I ought nevertheless to possess as affirmative. Love is both the production and the resolution of this contradiction. As its resolution, it is ethical unity.
–G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right
It’s a blast from the past! Here’s a From the Editor page I wrote in March 2000, when I was a newbie on my pharma magazine! Enjoy
Nearly 50 years ago, Francis Watson and James Crick uncovered the double-helical structure of DNA. A little more than a century ago, the fragments of the epic poem of Gilgamesh were discovered in the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. The tablets on which the poem were written date only a few hundred years after the invention of writing, a discovery that fundamentally changed human culture. The four-letter alphabet of DNA contains the possibilities of life in all its aspects. In both cases, scholars and scientists have spent years trying to decipher these strange languages.
Both of these sources, in a sense, address the same issue, albeit from opposite directions. Through the mapping of the human genome and the discoveries we shall make of the secrets of individual genes, we learn about the myriad individual components that create a gestalt of human life. Through gene therapy and other advances in biotechnology, we are told, man will someday overcome aging and possibly transcend death.
Through translating the story of Gilgamesh, we learn that man has always tried to circumvent death. The greatest king of his time (two-thirds divine, one-third man) travels to the limits of the underworld to learn how to overcome mortality. He learns that nothing is permanent. Upon returning to his kingdom of Uruk, all Gilgamesh can do is praise the strength of the city’s walls. Today, not one person in a million could identify Uruk on a map. Nor do those city walls stand. The first hero in literature faces the same limitations as a garbage man in the year 2000. Time passes and unmakes us all.
Scientists today question whether that process is necessary, and whether it can at least be slowed. The mission of translating the genetic language and making genes into a manipulable objects may accomplish Gilgamesh’s quest, 5000 years later.
Just finished reading Rob Walker’s Letters from New Orleans, which I enjoyed much more than Tom Piazza’s Why New Orleans Matters. I found the latter to be far too preachy, bordering on a sort of “White Man’s Burden” for why no expense must be spared in rebuilding the city. Walker’s book, on the other hand, made me care much more for the city and what it means and has meant.
Maybe the big difference is that one writer was discussing NO,LA pre-Katrina, and the other post-Katrina.
Or maybe it’s that one writer is a journalist, and the other is a novelist.
Or maybe one guy is someone you could just chill out and have a beer with, and the other guy is a douche.