Archive for October, 2008

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It’s Called The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

October 31, 2008

Oh my literal minded twin…

I don’t know who coined the phrase…Coleridge (Rock on STC!), Stanislavsky, Groucho Marx, but I know I love it.  And I know that there is no one I would more willingly suspend my disbelief for than Ms. Peters.  Her “numeric” age my block her casting from less imaginative minds, but she’s the perfect Dorothea through and through (especially as I hear her singing the love aria to Casaubon “Amor Vincit Omnia (Let Me Help You Study)”).

So I’m still on track with the timeline (color me on task!).  I have about 30 pages left in “The Dead Hand” and I don’t think it will ruin too much if I lodge my complaint that the titular hand is not spooktacular at all, it isn’t even spooky-ocre (that’s supposed to be spooky married to mediocre–did that come across?).  Damn you misleading metaphor!  It’s like someone took a baseball bat to the Great Pumpkin–George Eliot you’ve ruined another one of my Halloweens!  (Although, in all honesty, the fact that no one “got” my Daniel Deronda costume in 4th grade is really only slightly Ms. Eliot’s fault).

Well no time to type…I’ve got a timeline to stick to!

Jon

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Cast Off

October 29, 2008

Gentleman One: I have found that life is not unlike a meatball.
Gentleman Two: A meatball? How so?
Gentlemen One: It can be dry, it can be messy, but every now and then it gets a little spicy.
Gentleman Two: Yup, yup, yup!

As you can see I won’t be outdone in the made up quotation department. I hope you enjoy this little cup of insight. (By the way, reading footnotes? Color me impressed with your scholarly efforts. You, my friend, get a cookie.) 

Now onto more important matters:

I hate to be critical, but I think your casting of Muppetmarch is bit off. You are right, we would need some non-muppet performers. Sorry, as is fairly typical for me, once I start thinking Muppets, I keep thinking Muppets. (Will you ever cease to entertain me, Mr…I am sorry, Professor Bunsen Honeydew?) But Bernadette Peters as Dodo?

Isn’t Dodo supposed to be in the sunset of her teen years? Might it not be better to cast someone a bit more age appropriate?

Also, you’ve done it again. While I was aware that there were two wills (thanks to our phone conversation this weekend) I did not yet know the content of the wills. Perhaps it would work better for you if instead of me reading the book myself you just tell me about all the key plot points?

I am duly impressed with the pace of your reading. I’ve been a bit distracted by two other books (both well worth reading: One More Year by Sana Krasikov and Sherlock Holmes was Wrong by Pierre Bayard). But I am almost done with those and then it’s back to the march.

Until then,
Justin

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For Your Consideration

October 27, 2008

“A good Quotation, like an absent-minded milkman.  Is often hard to find”

I figured one good opening quotation deserves another, and I, like Miss George, feel free to make up my own epigrammatic quotation when I cannot find a pre-existing one to fit my needs.  How do you feel about that?  According to my footnotes each time an opening quotation is not cited to a specific author (I’m looking at you first and second gentleman) then it means that Eliot made it up herself.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bamboozled.

But I don’t want to get off your thought provoking post…MuppetMarch–I love it!  I’ll continue the casting call if you don’t mind (genius bit choosing two muppets to play Featherstone…Statler can be the part of Featherstone that left all the money to Fred and Waldorf can be the part of Featherstone who left his money to charity…or vice versa (I don’t really know who those Muppets are)).  I’ll proceed with the human casting, if you please, for what is the joy of a Muppet movie without the slightly awkward Muppet/Human interaction.  I’ve decided that for young Ladislaw we’ll cast Orlando Bloom.  And for Dodo…Bernadette Peters.  Let me know what you think.  And its a musical.

I realize the theme of love is obvious…but rather I think what she’s saying about love is interesting.  That is what I wanted to explore.  Trope that! (I also think money is a theme…I’m very deep.)

I would just like to state that I have stuck to the timeline and I’m getting ready to start Book 5 (“The Dead Hand”–sounds like spooktacular Halloween week reading!).  I think of this serendipitous timing as my reward for my perserverance.

That’s all I have for now…since I accidentally gave away plot points the other day on the phone I’m only going to respond to the points that you bring to the discussion.  Don’t worry about giving anything away…I’m ahead of you.  (Very, very far ahead).

Happy Reading!

Jon

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Show Me the Love

October 26, 2008

“All you need is love”
-The Beatles 

First of Twin Brother, apologies for my delay in posting. It seems I’ve been given quite a rigorous reading schedule to keep. Being the disciplined embracer of schedules that I am have managed through my diligence to only fall about a week behind at this point. 

You, on the other hand, have opened up the posting floodgates and the let waters of your insight and analysis pour out. Thanks for the thought provoking posts. They gave me plenty of food for thought as I read.

And read.

And read.

And read. (You know how it is when there’s a schedule to keep.)

One thing that I noticed again and again was your willingness to go out on analytical limbs as you read. For example: Your shocking realization that love might be a theme in Middlemarch. (Let me say, I applaud you for bringing a discussion of themes into the blog. You’d think this was a blog about books and reading or something. Sheesh, what’s next are you going to drop a trope on me?)

Now this is most likely not the weakest limb to climb out on the ol’ exegesis tree, but the more I think about the more I disagree. 

Who exactly loves who in this book? Causabon does not seem to love Dodo. Lydgate doesn’t seem to love Rosamond. (How can there be room for Rosamond when he is so deeply and fully in love with himself?) The only two people who seem genuinely fond of each are Mr. and Mrs. Garth, and they aren’t really major players. 

So, Twin Brother, show me the love. Where is it? I am looking but I’m not finding.

Yours,
Justin

P.S. In the quiet moments while my mind wanders while I read, I’ve been mentally casting the Middlemarch Muppet Movie (or course titled: Muppetmarch.) Here’s what I have so far:

Fred Vincy: Kermit the Frog
Mary Garth: Miss Piggy
Tertius Lydgate: Gonzo
Peter Featherstone: Statler and Waldorf
Mr. Garth: Fozzie
Causabon: Sam the Eagle

That’s all I’ve got so far, but I’m sure there will plenty of time to keep thinking as we haven’t even hit the halfway point of the book.

P.P.S. How do you like my Eliot-esque opening quotation? I guess George is rubbing off on me.

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A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

October 24, 2008

Sorry to double up on posts dear twin, but I’ve been reading Middlemarch like reading Middlemarch is going out of style (don’t worry…it’s not!) and ideas are verily popping forth from my consciousness.

First I’ve decided that one theme must be love, right? Look at these crazy messed up couples trying to make things right. Casaubon and Dodo both thinking they had found exactly what they were looking for, only to discover that the reality of their dreams isn’t quite what they’d anticipated. Lydgate and Rosamond, both seriously infatuated with Lydgate–it cracks me up that Lydgate capitulates to Rosamond’s request for an extended honeymoon because he completely sympathizes with her desire for more “alone time” with him, while she’s trying to see every fancy relative that she thinks he has (something tells me that that may not turn out exactly as she thinks. And then there’s poor Fred and Mary both loving each other from a distance but too caught up in the surrounding factors of life (money mostly) to give love a go.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve stumbled into a Victorian Love, Actually…you know minus that uncomfortable nude body double part (speaking of which…are they making an “adult film”–there seems to be a lot of nudity. It must be a classy one–all the time and energy they’re putting into lighting. AND is Christmas really the time to divulge your secret loves…I’d never heard that before seeing that movie–if it is then where is the line outside my door come Christmastime–riddle me that!

But I digress…So that’s me loving the love that is the soap opera that is Middlemarch–I mean you throw in one Polish cousin and the whole town gets a-roiled!

Now on to the other side of the titular line of my subject post. You know what I’m not loving in this book? (silence to give you time to guess–I like to imagine you shouting answers to the computer screen..kind of like I do when I’m watching Family Feud in my apartment…I heart Richard Karn!).

I dislike the way the narrator slips into the first person plural every once in a while. Here’s a soupcon of narrative to prove my point:

We may handle even extreme opinions with impunity while our furniture, our dinner-giving, and preference for armorial bearings in our own case, link us indissolubly with the established order. (p. 348)

I say Middlemarch narrator…you know nothing about how I feel about my furniture and/or dinner-giving (and don’t even get me started on my armorial bearings!) so, if you please, stop speaking for me.

Those are my thoughts…
Jon

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Under My Belt

October 22, 2008

So Book 3 is done…I’ll admit that I was a few days behind schedule (sorry but sometimes Gossip Girl just has to be watched).  But today, thanks in large part to the hours I spent in the waiting room of a service station ($450 I hardly knew ye), I’ve finished “Waiting for Death”.

And really I must admit that I like what Eliot’s done here (spoiler alert!–but if you’re following the timeline then I have nothing to warn you about).  She cleverly implies in the title that someone is going to die…but who?  First Fred Vincy falls ill and you think “Here it comes”….and he gets better.

Then Casaubon has his “fit” and I’m pulling out my stevedore and mourning jacket (those being the clothes I wear when fictional characters die…those things and a corn cob pipe and clown shoes)…and then he gets better (goodbye clown shoes!).

And finally we come to Featherstone…and you’re thinking, “Stop toying with a guy’s emotions already”… and well you know what happens.

The suspense never stops.

So I’m caught up with the timeline, my twin. Moving into book four as I type this…

Jon

P.S. As an added bonus for those readers (reader?) that follow(s) this blog that aren’t (isn’t) our parents here’s some pictures of how Justin and I spend our visits together.

Reading with my twin
Reading with my twin
A point is clarified

A point is clarified

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I Cannot Believe What I Just Saw

October 18, 2008

Did you really just post a reading schedule for the rest of the book?

Really?

I feel like I am back in sixth grade reading Old Yeller and being given a reading schedule by the teacher, and marking April 16th on my calendar with the “The dog dies today.”

I once again find myself in the position of being Ernie to your Bert, Laverne to your Shirley, Oscar to your Felix, Lucy to your Ethel, Chong to your Cheech.

Why must we be ruled by a schedule or (timeline), Twin? What’s your rush. Should we not take our time and relish all that Freshitt (and Tipton and Middlemarch) have to offer?

I let you cogitate on that while I boldly go where few in recent posts have gone and actually talk about the book. (Although, points to you for your brief mention of Fanny Hackbutt.)

A few posts back you mentioned you were having difficulty finding relevancies to today in Middlemarch, especially in light of the current financial and economic situation. I have found this book abounds in relevancies to today here are just a few things that make me think 2008 while reading:

Fred Vincy could very well be the human embodiment of our current financial crisis. Fred takes out a loan that he can’t pay that leads to financial turmoil, he then needs a significant infusion of cash to stave off complete ruin.

The back room dealings that occur in the election of the hospital chaplain are not unlike the political alliances forged during this election.

And finally we have the McCain-Palin ticket of our book in Mr. and Mrs. Causabon. He’s a curmudgeonly old man, she’s young, energetic, and more than a little niave, and you can’t help but question what either of them were thinking in pairing up.

So how’s that for relevancy?

Well, according the schedule, I am now exactly 33.47 pages off pace, so I should get back to reading.

Middlemarch-in’ right along,

Justin