~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Housebound and Hangin' Around with _The Historian_ ~ Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I await the delivery van from Ikea and so, I'm stuck at home between 11 and 6 (they had originally said between 9 and 6, but then they called this morning to change that). Funny how it chafes when one is forced to it--I wouldn't have had a problem if I were just staying home all day, no doubt. But now that I *cannot* go out or do anything, I'm irritated. Of course, I also have to rush if I need to go to the washroom, in case they happen to arrive in those very moments when I have sat down in search of relief.

It's a gloomy day, but there's enough light outside for the colours--greens, reds, purples, oranges--to be radiant. The tender, fresh colour of the leaves, which from a fanciful view really could be a yellowish gold ("Nature's first green is gold" selon M'sieu Frost), has mellowed into a bright, vibrant but still somehow spring-y green. I think it darkens further as the seasons progress, but I will watch with interest this year.

It has also been a few days since my post because I have turned my energies towards learning shorthand--Pitman, to be exact. A fascinating study--it's a masterfully adapted form, so well-suited to the languaged as we use it. It's just so interesting to see a character set that has been created with (apparently) two primary goals in mind:

1) brevity
2) as effective an expression of usages in English as possible.

It is also interesting to realise that it was created to be used for the language, where we so often see pre-existing character sets applied to a given language or adapting alongside the language. Pitman shorthand, by contrast, was created for English (by Isaac Pitman in the nineteenth c.) and so it is well-adapted to usage (and there have been several modifications of his original system in the interim).

Some facets are a bit confusing--for instance, the character for ch: / also doubles as the character for "which" (and there are others along the same vein: "n" doubles as "any" or "in":). I suppose as I become better at reading (when I reach the point where I don't have to laboriously sound out and think through every character!), it will no longer be confusing, since the context would make whichever usage self-evident. But for now, a phrase that uses / as "which" requires one pass, sounding it out with "ch", and a second sounding it out as "which" to see which makes sense.

No doubt, so long as I persist, it will come. A course would be useful in this context, for the time when my enthusiasm fades and it feels more like a slog. I'll have to look into my options.

In other news, I am reading _The Historian_. It's not bad. There are some lovely descriptions, but it's been rather long drawn out, thus far. I guess it is evocative of a style and pacing from a more leisurely time--I always feel a twinge of envy when a given writer is able to get away with this.

It isn't bad, but so far (nice descriptions notwithstanding), it has not lived up to the hype, IMO. A slightly intriguing story, but there are a few issues that I do not understand and hope will be explained at some point--without some kind of explanation, they become gaping plot holes. (e.g. why all the dire warnings and elimination of people and pets surrounding the main characters? Why not just kill the people doing the investigation and be done with it? Why all the sinsiter hintings? If this is not explained later, via some kind of "the investigators have a special protection" then it's a pretty big plot hole, IMO. But given how slow the pacing is, it may well be explained later, so I shall just have to be patient and see.)

In addition, despite the fact that the enframing narrative does, occasionally provide a slight advancement of the plot, right now the flashback/backstory is the relevant part of the narrative and is more interesting and urgent than the "present" narrative, which is still revving its engine IMO (~150 pages in). A bit of an irritating conceit, particularly because it isn't consistently used. It begins as a father telling his daughter about events in his past during trips they take around Europe (so inevitably, it breaks off at a "cliffhanger" and then we have long descriptions of their walking around Greece or Provence or wherever, as well as her everyday life at school in between these trips). But then there are several narrative flashbacks that do not follow the conceit and are, instead, just shoved in between other events in the present (to maximize the slight tension of a scene in the enframing narrative, one presumes).

So, that didn't seem very adroitly done, IMO--and generally, the whole narrative does ramble somewhat. I've been skimming a bit, as I'm mildly (rather than urgently) curious about the story and where it goes. I also have the large print edition (so I'm actually ~300 pages in), so that makes it easier to read, though this version now weighs in at ~1200 pages (the regular print is ~600 pages). Since this edition is hardcover, it does present itself as quite a tome.

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 11:07 AM::::


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Anduril Elessar
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