Sunday, October 11, 2009

Self from Self

Where have I been? Well you may ask. I have been on vacation, these ten or more days -- the means of such calculation escape me just now -- and while I did not intend to leave this little enterprise of mine utterly neglected, neither did I intend to take time from the time I have had to visit with my best friend R., up from San Francisco for his first visit in years, to noodle here. Instead, I thought first to again introduce essays from better minds, as I did the last time I was away. The store of great essays in English, or even of my favorite essayists, was hardly exhausted by my previous efforts. But when that experiment was concluded, I made something of a unscientific poll of those few regular readers here I could ask directly, and who might be trusted to tell me honestly, without worry that my feelings might be hurt, and found that not a one of 'em had read any essay I posted through to the end. The Internet, it seems, does not yet lend itself to reading at full length the glories of English prose. Or rather, my infinitesimal contributions -- as I had to type into this machine the essays I wanted but could not find online -- to the ever-growing store of digitized English classics, was an effort I might as well have spared myself, for all the new readers of Lamb, Hazlitt, etc., I produced. As someone who still believes such things best read in a book, by lamp-light, preferably with one's feet up, with a hot drink and a cigarette to hand, I do not offer any indictment, but of my own hubris. Comments had I none for my efforts then. When I made more direct inquiries, as I've said: abashment -- never a response one likes calling out of friends. Some did say they'd read my little introductions to each essay, and some said they'd gone on to read at least a little of the essays introduced, but... And so, a lesson learned.

Instead, all higgledy-pigilldy, whenever I was too late awake, and my friend asleep, I've rushed to fold in longer excerpts and quotes, largely in no order at all, and with no thought of a plan, from my last commonplace book; usually things of such a length as to just be too much for my more regular postings of the Daily Dose, and including here and there, whole pages from a novel, or, in one instance at least, a whole poem. That last was taken from the third volume of a broken set of the poetry of Thomas Moore, purchased, among other things, and at a great kindness, just this week past, from the good booksellers at Wessel & Lieberman, on one of the almost daily excursions to bookstores my friend and I have made of his visit. Opening the handsome little volume of "Satirical and Humorous Poems" all but at random, I found the poem reproduced here, and thinking it timely, copied it out.

I've had no comments added, I notice, since I've been vacationing from work and from writing here, so I imagine my selection of writing by other hands has again been met with less than the enthusiasm I might have hoped. It seems, in fact, in these few days, I have lost no less than three of my "Fellow Travelers!" Oh dear!

I have decided, in consequence, to post just this little note, by way of apology, to promise any who might still be reading, that I will be back to my more usual habits, grumblings and sunny meditations, in just another day or two, and do not plan hereafter to stuff this space with just the little favorites of my reading notebooks. I have decided, you see, to take the silence of my few readers as a very great compliment. If it is more of me, such as I am, you want, you shall have it soon, all the good it may do any of us. I have missed my exercise, more I should think than any might have missed me.

But just now, on the last full day of his visit, even as I write this, my friend is neglected upstairs with just his coffee and newspaper for company, and my friend still takes precedent, as I'm sure anyone so lucky as to have such a friend will understand, and so I must be off.

Should anyone still be here when I get back, absence has indeed, already, made me all the fonder. I promise a renewed effort -- just not today.


  1. Sure, sure, sure. That's what I always say too, on many fronts... I promise to do better... just not today. I confess to not read here what is not written by Used Buyer2.0. I'd take it as a compliment too.