Sunday, October 30, 2005


Excuses don’t get you very far. Neither do aphorisms. So…without any further introduction…

Update on Running
My cross country career has come to an end. I could have a debate (or even a bedate) with myself for hours over a cup of tea about whether the dividing lines we draw through our lives are artificial or inherent, essential or meaningless, helpful or misleading, but instead I’m just going to state it as a given that a chapter in my life has finished. I will never compete in an intercollegiate cross country race again. Now that I’ve stated it so melodramatically, I’m going to take a sledgehammer to my foundations and claim that the fact that this chapter is closed won’t make an iota of difference. I am still a runner, and hope only to embrace that title more fully in my post-collegiate years of competition.

Next up: a rematch between Jordan and the Boston Marathon. The first round went to Boston (due to the unexpected treachery of latecomer streptococcus bacterium), but if I were you I’d put my money on Jordan for round two. After that: trail marathons, ultra-marathons, adventure races, anything and everything.

I feel like I should make a few statements about how significant running on the MIT cross country team has been in the past four years of my life (because I’m worried my ambitious plans to move on may have overshadowed this). Echoing the words of Liz Walker: “Choosing to run at MIT was far and away the best decision I have made upon coming here, and you guys are some of the best friends I have ever had. Thank you.” There’s no way I would have survived here without athletics. Not a chance.

But onto the other things that are keeping me afloat…

Update on Reading
I’m slowly working on my “library problem.” The number of items I have checked out from MIT libraries has, thanks to my diligent efforts, dropped from 21 to 18. It’s a step (albeit a small one) in the sane direction.

I don’t have time to write about all my reflections here (yeah, I remember what I wrote about excuses), but I’ll try to at least list what I’m reading.

For class: “Merchant of Venice” and the “Jew of Malta” and a lot of related and peripheral sources including Marx and Bacon and Nietzsche (who was way more frightening this time around), discussions of anti-semitism and mercantilism, and, or course, usury. I’m not an economist or a sociologist, but I think it’s very interesting how economy, morality, and the relationship between politics and religion form a complex chicken and egg dynamic. I’m going to default to Jones on this issue, just to give you a quote to chew on:

“Theology, law and economic reality chased one another around usury creating a compound that greased England’s entry into the capitalist world of borrowing and lending within socially acceptable limits.” (Jones 203)

I never thought I would find such things fascinating…but I do. Maybe I should add whatever field that quote most closely addresses to my long list of career possibilities.

Up next for that class is “Richard the Second”, which I haven’t read yet. And I need to read “Macbeth” for my own enrichment.

With all this Shakespeare in my life already you’d think I’d be saturated, but I also started reading Greenblatt’s new biography Will in the World. It’s a lot of “educated guessing” put into a story-like narrative. I’ll let you know more once I get further than 60 pages into it.

Ahem, and there’s more. Like I said, there’s a lot…

Until a few weeks ago, the only Kurt Vonnegut novel I’d ever read was Cat’s Cradle. While I enjoyed it well enough, I wasn’t left with a desire to run out and read more Vonnegut. That was about six years ago. For some reason (no speculation as to its origins, please), I decided it was time for me to re-approach Vonnegut. I read Slaughterhouse Five a few weeks ago and loved it. Unlike my first experience with Vonnegut, I left the book somewhat insatiated and needing more. So now I’m working my way through Hocus Pocus and have also checked out Player Piano and Sirens of Titan. (My selections are based solely on availability and circumstance…and whatever fell into my lap.)

Per my brother’s request, I started reading Sebald, “anything Sebald”, to be more specific. An 80% random pluck from the library landed me with The Rings of Saturn, which I wasn’t very into until I reached this passage:

In August 1861, after months of irresolution, Emperor Hsien-feng lay in his Jehol exile approaching the end of his short and dissipated life. The waters had already risen from his abdomen to his heart, and the cells of his gradually dissolving flesh floated like fish in the sea in the salt fluid that leaked from his bloodstream into every available space in the body tissue. Through his flickering consciousness, Hsien-fend followed the invasion by foreign powers of the provinces of his empire by perfect proxy, as his own limbs died off and his organs flooded with toxins. He himself was now the battlefield on which the downfall of China was being accomplished, till on the 22nd of the month the shades of night settled upon him and he sand away wholly into the delirium of death. (Sebald 146)

I have a lot to say on Sebald, but again, that’s for another time.

The face that it took so much space just to describe what I’m reading without even commenting on it should be indicative of…something. And that’s just the humanities stuff. There’s also all the reading I’ve been doing on tidal power for my pseudo-thesis, and all the environmental earth science stuff…and oh I’m getting excited again.

It’s kind of ironic that my section on literature deteriorated into my most prosaic writing of late.

Update on Randomness
Ever since I read about Cranberry World almost a year ago I’ve been dying to visit. Today I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather (it snowed yesterday; today it got into the 60s), the good company (Jane is visiting for a med-school interview), and the generous wheels of a friend (Chandler was nice enough to lend me her car…again…) to go to Plymouth, MA and make my longtime dream a reality. The planets weren’t aligned in my favor, however, because apparently Cranberry World closed four years ago. Even though my aspirations educational videos, daintily painted models, flooded bogs, and tart-tasting samples turned out to be a bust, I did get to see Plymouth Rock for the second time, walk along the ocean at dusk, and eat some darn good fish and chips.

A note on Halloween: I dressed as Toucan Sam and Sarah dressed as Tony the Tiger. It great. I mean GGGRRRREAT! (Sorry, couldn’t help it.) A picture can describe it better than I can:
Sam and Tony

I had so much fun.

At my cross country meet on Saturday there was a man dressed as a whoopee cushion. That’s right, I was in the presence of a life-sized whoopee cushion. No, I didn’t go up and squeeze him and make a fart noise. Yes, I wanted to.

Today I watched Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Why aren’t movies made today that funny?

I really wish I had some insight in this post but…not today, my friends, I’m just cataloging.

A note on eclectic-ness: So what?


Erik Wirfs-Brock said...

So did anybody dress as captain Crunch or Count Chocula?

dave glasser said...

Wow it is the real Jordan Blog!

Awesome costumes!

(My favorite Vonnegut, after Slaughterhouse-Five, was Mother Night.)