Friday, November 30, 2012


I was going to start blogging again, wasn't I? Well, that worked out well...

At any rate, the semester is almost over. I have taught my last undergraduate class (tho precious little "teaching" takes place that last week, I'm afraid), and the Ruskin seminar is largely wound up; we had our last official meeting Wednesday night. We'll meet again next week, but mostly for comestibles and potables, a free-wheeling discussion of Wilde's "Decay of Lying," and perhaps an episode of the sexed-up and hilariously inaccurate Desperate Romantics.

At the moment I'm in that wee breathing space between finishing teaching and having to dive into a sea of final grading. An odd place, where I want to get lots of things done – I've a big Black Mountain essay that needs major revision, for instance – but instead have been just nosing about among my books, happily learning things. I finished The Divine Comedy for the whateverth time the other day (Mandelbaum translation this time around), & feeling a little at sea without a "big" book on the burner, began The Cantos again: five cantos a day the current pace, tho that'll slow down when I hit the long ones.

One of the interesting aspects of the Ruskin seminar was the degree to which it ended up being an exercise in literary and intellectual biography. Looking back over my talking points (by the end, some 30,000 words, maybe 60 pages), I realize there's a pretty thorough short biography all written up in there. Mind you, I absurdly over-prepare for graduate seminars – probably only a third or so of that mass of mostly well-turned prose ever got talked thru. But something should be done with all that; I have a perverse hankering to start proposing a Ruskin life to some of the "brief lives" series out there.

But what about those hobbies, the piquant chutneys of life? Well, I've haven't laid a single brush to a single figurine over the past two weeks (tho I have gazed longingly on many a set reviewed in the Plastic Soldier Review site). But I have been thrashing away on the bouzouki or guitar for about half an hour every day, and even sat down the other day with the hurdy-gurdy, a pair of pliers, rosin, and cotton wool (it's complicated), and tried to coax some semi-musical sounds out of it. Better yet, Pippa and I spent an hour playing hell-for-leather versions of Irish dance tunes one afternoon last week, and started getting together a neat take on Richard Thompson's "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away." At 10, she's ten times the musician I'll ever be; but it's delightful being her accompanist.


E. M. Selinger said...

Thanks, Mark! I'm still off Facebook and Twitter, although the craving comes over me sometimes. Vastly prefer these longer, more elaborate views of life chez Scroggins. Still can't figure out when you have the time to do all this reading and music--must be the lack of TV. Those damned Korean dramas! Every episode is another unwritten essay.

Say, I banged out some lyrics to celebrate the latest Israel / Palestine mishegas, and posted them over at the BJB. Might be worth a grin, if you're in a Buddy Holly mood.

Love to all--

Archambeau said...

You bringin' that bouzouki to L-ville?

Mark Scroggins said...

The "free time" may have gone the way of all flesh, E -- a stack of Doctor Who DVDs somehow insinuated themselves into the household the other day.

I'd love nothing more than to get really blasted & embarrass myself on bouzouki in front of the assembled gnostics, Bob, but the damn thing's just too big -- as E can testify -- to bring on board the plane. Maybe I should take up the ukelele.