Monday, February 13, 2006


Post-blizzard clean-up, and weekend reading

The snow mostly missed Bangor. We had only a few inches to scrape around this morning, for which I am grateful. I spent yesterday inside reading and working on various projects, while my darling husband managed to get a good long run in before the flakes started to fly (sixteen miles, god love him). We've gotten used to not having anything on the ground for the past month, so he's been running outside almost all winter. I miss snowshoeing in Acadia National Park, which was wonderful last winter, but I'm not crushed that I haven't been able to go this year.

I finished The Education of Henry Adams yesterday, which I'd been ingesting great swaths of all week. I will treasure this book always for the inside look it gives at the world of nineteenth-century politics, a subject I knew next to nothing about, which I found fascinating from this close-up vantage point. Adams makes it come alive, and holds nothing back when offering his opinions about the corruption and disintegration that inevitably follows money and power.

"...private secretaries (himself) never feel candid, however much they feel the reverse, and therefore they must affect candor; not always a simple act when one is exasperated, furious, bitter, and choking with tears over the blunders and incapacity of one's Government. If one sheds tears, they must be shed on one's pillow." (p.130, about the early Union disasters during the Civil War)

"'You can't use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!'" (p.261, an aide to the president tells Adams this)

"Senators can never be approached with safety, but a Senator who has a very superior wife and several superior children who feel no deference for Senators as such, may be approached at times with relative impunity while they keep him under restraint." (p.354, about his friend Senator Cabot Lodge)

The book is extremely introspective, and Adams spends several chapters ruminating on his theories of the development of humanity and the universal energies that sweep us up, over the centuries. These chapters are dense thickets of reading, with some very strange twists and turns. I found myself at sea several times, but I also found nuggets of gold such as this:

"...since Bacon and Newton, English thought had gone on impatiently protesting that no one must try to know the unknowable at the same time that every one went on thinking about it." (p.451)

I'm not sure where to turn next. I tend to feel bereft after finishing a long, engrossing book such as this. I accumulated new books to read from the book sale Friday night, but none of them will do. I suspect I'll have to take a break and perhaps read a little poetry. And tonight the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to town, so I'll be seeing that instead of my usual two or three hours of evening reading. Banff is great, so if it comes to your town, dear readers, put the books down, get out of the house and go. The only time I've missed it in the past seven years was the one time I neglected to get tickets early and it was sold out. Don't let this happen to you!

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?