Thursday 28 February 2013

Skimmed Milk of Human Kindness

Nothing to report on model railway front but a reminder as to how these ceramic buildings are hopefully going to fit together.

Here are various plans, sketches, diagrams and photos from past episodes of the blog.

The ceramic Gare du Nord in position

With a newspaper canopy

Surrounded by paper mock-ups.
David Bowie:

Yesterday, I downloaded the newish (not actually the very latest) David Bowie single from his yet to be released album, "The Next Day".

The song is called "Where are we now?" and I've been listening to it on more or less a continuous loop since.


The accompanying video is perfect.

Last night's dinner on a shoestring:

Cauliflower cheese sauce plus tomatoes
Total cost - £1.50 per head.

Skimmed milk and Meditation:

Began reading the cult novel, "The Man with the Golden Arm" by Nelson Algren.

Written in the 1940s and set in Chicago among the poor and alienated of that era.

My edition comes with an introduction by Irvine Welsh and an afterword by Kurt Vonnegut.

And, I can't read it.

Let me quote from Vonnegut's excellent assessment of Algren, the novelist:

"He broke new ground by depicting persons said to be dehumanised by poverty and ignorance and injustice as being genuinely dehumanised, and dehumanised quite permanently. Contrast, if you will, the poor people in his book with those in the works of social reformers like Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw, and particularly those in Shaw's Pygmalion, with their very promising wit and resourcefulness and courage. Reporting on what he saw of dehumanised Americans with his own eyes day after day, year after year, Algren said in effect, 'Hey - an awful lot of these people your hearts are bleeding for are really mean and stupid. That's just a fact. Did you know that?'"

Therein lies the power of Algren's novel - it is uncompromisingly true.

Unfortunately, although I know that Algren's depiction of that period in Chicago is accurate, I can't empathise with it in any way. I simply don't know where to begin when I meet a dehumanised person.

I have no charts or compass to make sense of what I'm listening to when they speak. I would be as well trying to listen to bedroom furniture. I don't even feel compassion for them.

Perhaps this should be a topic for my meditation which I intend to begin tomorrow.

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