Ago 21, 2004

To sit on a seat with a man, except in a cafe, is taboo for a virgin.

Whatever people say, the fastidious, formal manner of the upper class is preferable to the slovenly easy-going behaviour of the common street lout. In moments of crisis the first know how to act, the second becomes an uncouth brute.

Cesare Pavese
August 21, 1940
Diary entry


Good day 1

Over all, I found it a good day. Well, to be exact, I need to process some bad news, one a tad too bad for comfort.

Still, a good day. Maybe I can have a string of good days and just write on the blog, every so often: "A good day!" And again, on a good tomorrow: "A good day!" Then the tomorrow after that: "A good day."

A good day. A good day. A good day. A good day. A good day.

I have a string of them sometimes. Sometimes I have a whole week or month I could consider exemplary. I know that's lucky. Others grew up needing misery for breakfast.

Not too obliquely, I wonder exactly what Jean Cocteau learned. Consider this diary entry written August 20, 1953: "A great lesson from Kafka's diary. He wrote it during the First World War, which he never mentions. Not a single line refers to it."

Tolkien wrote something clever in connection with this in his Silmarillion. He reduced several hundred or thousand years of 'good days' to a single paragraph then admits that that was the way it was. Good days just didn't make history. Maybe happiness is not worthy of recording. And I'm not talking hysterical, fanboy happiness.

Just plain happiness. Well, if happiness can be plain. Or can it be anything else but?

Wow. The word happiness four times in a single breath. Now five. It seems quite unnatural. Though if you ask me how I am, I'd say: "Fine thanks." But I'd also need to say: "Really." That means: "I meant it, it's not merely a polite answer, it's actually, positively true!"

However, among several problems, paranoias, and family secrets, I must pick one to justify a journal entry, to justify ecriture, to justify this. Here it goes.

I hope she gets well. I'm about to blame myself now. It's true too. I hold classes despite brown-outs and that's as good a reason as any to get asthma attacks.

How do you teach strength then take it back? I told them how in one study, they revealed that the female body had better thresholds for pain and extreme temperature than the male body. The evolutionary interpretation? The female body needed more resilience to preserve offspring.

When the male thinks he's more resilient than the female, what is this? Patriarchal pride? When the female thinks she's less strong, what is this? Attractive weakness?

I didn't teach with electric fans during my first year in Pateros. We just didn't have them in the room, plain and simple. Are they hardier folk there? Maybe I wanted them here in the baths to develop what my kids from Pateros possess. Or have I just proven myself insensitive, pushing my students to prove the theories, to uncover denied verities with their very bodies?

There, I just ruined my day. No comfort at all. And maybe this ruination ought to be more natural.

If I also did so with yours, all apologies. Yet too, be glad you're not in a hospital.