Once more - bam - the weekend is over. I really, really hate this about the passing of a chemically depressive state. At least a slow burn of mild braindead makes time crawl. Feeling very bitchy this morning. Not just because we got a new bookshelf this weekend and our library has morphed from piles on the floor to nicely arranged tomes on a shelf (I've even grouped the authors, something I haven't had the mental organization to do since 1996) so I know exactly what I'm not reading as I walk out the door to work.
Not just because I listened to an interesting broadcast this weekend whilst sewing which managed to incidentally spell out for me that part of what makes me hate my profession is its ecological parasitism - a fact I was aware of, but which I'm usually able to bury under five or six layers of rationalizations. My relationship with Buddhism is limited to watching 27 episodes of Monkey! but when people get going about it, it reminds me that there are some good and bad choices to make for oneself as a moral creature that I'm not making right now - all I'm making is money. Ouch. I can say to myself endlessly 'it's okay, I'll stop in a year and a half, in a year and a half everything will change,' and maybe it will, but it's not a year and a half from now yet and in the meantime I don't like the ethics of what I do.
No, on top of all that, I've had motherfucking 'Uptown Girl' stuck in my head since I woke up. I know it was a huge success as a single and probably made Billy Joel millions of dollars, but seriously, as an aesthetically aware creature what possesses you to unleash four minutes of such shit on your fellow humans? Ugh.
Possibly what got it stuck in my head was reading the first ten chapters of The Mayor of Casterbridge last night, since Thomas Hardy's novels are all about uptown girls and downtown guys, or vice versa, in the framework of rural England. At least I think they are, I'm just getting my feet wet with Hardy, having only read The Return of the Native and Tess of the D'Urbervilles before. I didn't enjoy Tess of the D'Urbervilles - it was a very good book but it was too heavy for me at the time at which I was reading it. The Return of the Native I liked better, though it was also quite heavy - I think because in The Return of the Native, I felt less sympathy for the main characters, though Eustacia really struck a nerve, she seemed so real, than I did for poor Tess. The Mayor of Casterbridge also promises to be heavy. It opens with a wife-auctioning scene, in which the protagonist Henchard gets loaded and sells off his woman and child at a country fair. And hijinks ensue.
Sometimes I wonder if I like sort of depressing authors like Thomas Hardy and Somerset Maugham as a sort of hangover teenage Curehead thing - if I've just replaced whiny Robert Smith vocals with whiny British authors dealing with the deterioration of their country's social and economic edifices. But then I get over it. I like Thomas Hardy, at least, because of his incredible powers of description - not just of people, but of place and ambience. Read this, from the beginning of chapter 11:
The Ring at Casterbridge was merely the local name of one of the finest Roman Amphitheatres, if not the very finest, remaining in Britain (. . .) The dusk of evening was the proper hour at which a true impression of this suggestive place could be received. Standing in the middle of the arena at that time there by degrees became apparent its real vastness, which a cursory view from the summit at noon-day was apt to obscure. Melancholy, impressive, lonely, yet accessible from every part of the town, the historic circle was the frequent spot for appointments of a furtive kind. Intrigues were arranged there; tentative meetings were there experimented after divisions and feuds. But one kind of appointment--in itself the most common of any--seldom had place in the Amphitheatre: that of happy lovers (. . .)
Apart from the sanguinary nature of the games originally played therein, such incidents attached to its past as these: that for scores of years the town-gallows had stood at one corner; that in 1705 a woman who had murdered her husband was half-strangled and then burnt there in the presence of ten thousand spectators. Tradition reports that at a certain stage of the burning her heart burst and leapt out of her body, to the terror of them all, and that not one of those ten thousand people ever cared particularly for hot roast after that. In addition to these old tragedies, pugilistic encounters almost to the death had come off down to recent dates in that secluded arena, entirely invisible to the outside world save by climbing to the top of the enclosure, which few towns-people in the daily round of their lives ever took the trouble to do. So that, though close to the turnpike-road, crimes might be perpetrated there unseen at mid-day.