Miscellany

Geez, a couple of crappy weeks for the old Kitten here. I figured out an analogy for my “fall blues” that sort of explains what I go through:

Picture yourself driving to work and back every day. No problem. Some occasional traffic, the even less occasional gridlock. But overall, imminently doable. That’s what I call “normal” mode.

Now picture yourself driving to work and back every day in reverse. Covering the same ground, have to get to work on time. Driving in reverse. How would it feel? You’d panic, you’d feel overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted. You’d have to compensate a huge amount and expend a huge amount of energy to cover the same ground you could cover fairly easily before. That’s what the “fall thing” feels like for me.

After 20-plus years of it, I’ve gotten pretty good at driving in reverse. But this year the heavy workload really got to me. Ah, well. Next year will try a light box and see if that helps.

Anyway, back to the Literate part of The Literate Kitten:

I’ve worked my way through Patricia Bosworth’s biography of Diane Arbus. This was my second read, as I first read this book about 20 years ago. I love the reread; I always pick up nuances I missed or come to the work from a new perspective in my life. With the Arbus bio, for example, the first time I read it, in my late teens or early 20s, I was taken (as I remember) with her fearlessness and courage and, of course, stunned by her suicide. In my reread, I focused more on the whole of her life, how she came to be the sort of person who produced her kind of work. Maybe that’s the simple hallmark of a good book: One that stands up to the reread.

Also finished Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. I enjoy Kerouac. He is so playful with language, so exuberant. I even can appreciate his naivete. I think I liked Big Sur, which I read earlier this year, better than the Dharma Bums, simply because it had more balance; I felt Big Sur was more layered and complex, dealing with the weighty issues of mortality, while Dharma Bums seemed an interesting but simplistic view of spirituality in the America of his time. If you haven’t explored Kerouac beyond On the Road, which is the sort of middle ground of Kerouac’s vision, you might want to sample Kerouac’s voice from the far left of optimism (Dharma Bums) to the right of center realism (Big Sur).

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