October 10, 2004

Goings on of late.

Panoramic of the Ohio River, Paducah, Kentucky. Have had a very busy week. We played hooky from the university last Monday to trek to Paducah, Kentucky -- a quiet little river town in northwestern Kentucky that is across the river from Illinois and is the place where three large rivers meet. I found a copy of Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines at a shop there for a mere $4 that I hope I will get to read soon. Despite the legends of "Kentucky rednecks" and such, the folks of northwestern Kentucky are very nice and some of the friendliest people I've come across. And so polite! I otherwise had a busy week and didn't get to post much, not that I got any work done at all. On Thursday night, we drove all of the way to and through St. Louis, Missouri to pick up a Harvard historian from the airport for a talk she was giving Friday at SIU. She really is a lovely person, and her talk was excellent. My wife knows her from her years at the Crimson Stain (my term, thanks), so she spent several hours with us at our home Friday night, over numerous cups of coffee, talking about history, academia and reading. A wonderful person, really. She's as un-Harvard as they come, and I mean that as a very high compliment. I'm re-committing to getting more work done this week, damn it. And I have the perfect film as inspiration: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It's such a lucid depiction of frenzied studying and genius at work that it gives me, at least, something to strive to. None of that "playing god" business, though. Really, I have no talents for science, and I'm certainly no genius.


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that you found a copy of The Songlines in Kentucky, of
all places. I'm interested to know what you think of it (Songlines not
Kentucky). My interest in Kentucky and surrounds was sparked by Daniel
Boone TV shows when I was a kid, so it's probably not that accurate.

I'm reading Bartle Bull's account of his travels around Lake Baikal in
Russia, "Around The Sacred Sea". Apart from the fascinating subject,
it's good to know there are real adventurers out there in the old
"English" tradition. (Bull's Alma Mater was the Crimson Stain as you
call it... why?)

All the best,


Pragmatik said...

I can't speak for the entire state of Kentucky, but I think it's a beautiful place. I met someone last year from "Northern Kentucky" who was very forward with the "Northern" part, since he said that "Southern Kentucky is where all the rednecks and racists are." I've never been to the southern part, so it might be just as he says. But the Northern and Western parts are wonderful: rolling hills, wide rivers, nice folks. My wife is not the same race as I am, and we've never had staring problems there like we have in Southern Illinois sometimes.

I call Harvard the Crimson Stain because I've never met anyone who went there and came out for the better. My wife has little but animosity for it, sometimes. All of the people I met there were miserable at the school, and taking a year or years off was a regular thing, since a lot of people hated it so much. I won't bore you with my Harvard horror stories, but my opinion of that place is just not very nice. I'm probably not being fair, but I can't help it:)

Sal said...

Hmm. As an Australian, I should point out that this book is a work of fiction, to some extent philosophy, and in almost no sense related to Australia or particularly the Aboriginals.