About

Main

Contact

SEARCH

Archives

ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR SEPTEMBER 2011

September  30,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Everyone on This I Believe believes in the uniqueness and the dignity of the individual.  I have noticed, however, that the believers are far from unique themselves, are in fact alike as peas in a pod.

 

I believe in music.  I believe in a child's smile.  I believe in love.  I also believe in hate.

 

This is true.  I have known a couple of these believers, humanists and lady psychologists who come to my aunt's house.  On This I Believe they like everyone.  But when it comes down to this or that particular person, I have noticed that they usually hate his guts.

 

--The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy

September  29,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

For some time now the impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead.

 

It happens when I speak to people.  In the middle of a sentence it will come over me: yes, beyond a doubt this is death.  There is little to do but groan and make an excuse and slip away as quickly as one can.  At such times it seems that the conversation is spoken by automatons who have no choice in what they say.  I hear myself or someone else saying things like:  "In my opinion the Russian people are a great people, but--" or "Yes, what you say about the hypocrisy of the North is unquestionably true.  However--" and I think to myself: this is death. 

 

--The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy

September  28,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Some Fridays, Uncle Jules likes to see me in his office after lunch.  When he does so, he so signifies by leaving his door open to the corridor so that I will see  him at his desk and naturally stop by to say hello.  Today he seems particularly glad to see me.  Uncle Jules has a nice was of making you feel at home.  Although he has a big office with an antique desk and a huge portrait of Emily, and although he is a busy man, he makes you feel as if you and he had come upon this place in your wanderings; he is no more at home than you.  He sits everywhere but in his own chair and does business everywhere but at his own desk.  Now he takes me into a corner and stands feeling the bones of my shoulder like a surgeon.

 

--The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy

September  27,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

She can only believe I am serious in her own fashion of being serious: as an antic sort of seriousness, which is not seriousness at all but despair masquerading as seriousness.

 

--The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy

September  26,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Have you noticed that only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real?  I remember at the time of the wreck--people were so kind and helpful and solid.  Everyone pretended that our lives until that moment had been every bit as real as the moment itself and that the future must be real too, when the truth was that our reality had been purchased only by Lyell's death.  In another hour or so we had all faded out again and gone our dim ways."

 

--The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy

September  25,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Yet more happens in middle age--"

 

The General agreed.  "Everything happens in middle age.  One is old and young at the same time.  One bids farewell and prepares.  One's children begin the command they later take over completely.  It is true for instance that an old man grows to be an infant.  He is regarded by a son or by a daughter as he himself once regarded them--as a nuisance, a responsibility, something weak and fragile; something that must be watched and planned for.  Think of a man in middle age.  He is father to children and parents both, and he must see two ways at once.  One dies in middle age, certainly one is well beneath the net.  We are lucky, Lady Ponders: it is pleasant to be over seventy, as it was to be very young.  Nothing new will happen to us again.  To have everything to come, to have nothing to come--one can cope."

 

--The Old Boys by William Trevor

September  24,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"The middle-aged are most susceptible, are easily hurt and most in need of reassurance.  They are strait-laced in their different ways, serious and intent.  They have lost what they have always been taught to value: youth and a vigour for living.  They suspect their health, scared to lose it too.  The prime of life is a euphemism."

 

--The Old Boys by William Trevor

September  23,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"The older I become the more I feel one knows so little about oneself, one's motives, et cetera."

 

--The Old Boys by William Trevor

September  22,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

There are few countries less infested by "lions" than the provinces on this part of your route: you are not called upon to "drop a tear" over the tomb of "the once brilliant" any body, or to pay your "tribute of respect" to any thing dead or alive; there are no Servian or Bulgarian Litterateurs with whom it would be positively disgraceful not to form an acquaintance; you have no staring, no praising to get through: the only public building of any interest that lies on the road is of modern date, but is said to be a good specimen of oriental architecture; it is of a pyramidical shape, and is made up of thirty thousand skulls contributed by the rebellious Servians in the early part (I believe) of this century; I am not at all sure of my date, but I fancy it was in the year 1806 that the first skull was laid.  I am ashamed to say that, in the darkness of the early morning, we unknowingly went by the neighbourhood of this triumph of art, and so basely got off from admiring "the simple grandeur of the architect's conception," and "the exquisite beauty of the fretwork."

 

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

 

[N.B.:  Speaking of "the exquisite beauty of the fretwork," I am in open-mouthed admiration of that first sentence in this two-sentence paragraph.] 

 

September  21,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

The music played.  It was East Coast stuff, carphology in sound.  After a frugal tune had twice been announced in unison, an alto saxophone offered a 64-bar contribution to the permanent overthrow of melody.  Just when it seemed that the musician must break out into verbal abuse, a trumpet began to rave.  Several kinds of drum and cymbal continued a self-renewing frenzy in what had at one time been called the background, while underneath it all the string bass plodded metrically on as if undismayed.  And the thing had got four stars in Jazz Monthly.

 

--Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

 

September  20,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

[The music] relied chiefly on long single notes from the wind instruments with deep soft groanings from the two double-basses at the back.  After a while the two big serious boys playing these plucked the strings instead of bowing them, but it was not at all like the noise Bill Stokes got out of his bass.  In Jenny's reckoning this was the second-best sort of classical music, the film-music sort: although not as good as the tunes sort, it was better than Bach-and-Handel, which was goey but stayed in   the same place all the time.  Graham nudged her and showed her a part of the programme which said: Tone Poem, The Enchanted Lake--Liadov.  Then he looked at her to see how she was taking it.  There seemed no point in disagreeing, so she nodded.

 

--Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

 

September  19,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

He felt like an old book: spine defective, covers dull, slight foxing, fly missing, rather shaken copy.

 

--Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

 

September  18,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

At different times he had a drink, some coffee, some aspirins, a drink, something like aspirins but not them, a glass of milk, some coffee.  At one stage he was lying down on a big bed with his head on a circular pillow, at another he was in a taxi.  Things he noticed Julian saying included "I sold out a bit sharpish when I heard who was making the bid," "Oh, he's had a long day," and "Criminal law's the stuff if you've got simple tastes."  He noticed Susan saying "He looks terribly white" and "Do you think he'll be all right when he's got some food in him?"  "Big deal" was all he noticed Joan saying.  Then it was different: he was in a restaurant and beginning to feel better.  He danced with Joan until she said everyone was looking, so they sat down and he told her all bout the South African situation, his eyes filling with tears from time to time.  In the taxi home he held Joan's hand and stared at the moonlit buildings wheeling by and felt all right.  He knew that someone, either Julian or a waiter or himself, had telephoned his mother.  In the lift he kissed Joan, but it was rather like kissing somebody over a garden wall.  By toothbrush time he was telling himself he was pretty sober.

 

--Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

 

September  17,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"But you always get your end away, I expect."

 

"Yes, I expect I do.  Left at the next traffic light."

 

"How many have you had, do you think, about?"

 

"Oh, I never count them.  It's a bad habit, counting them."

 

"You're probably right," Patrick said, hooting to make an attractive back turn round.  It had an unattractive front.  Was that an omen?  "You know, all this women business strikes me as being a power thing really."

 

--Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

 

[N.B.:  Note Amis's use of dehumanizing language to drive home his point about power.]

 

September  16,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Oedipus Tyrannus is tragedy, and tragedy deals with "the irremediable," to anekêston; the play is a tragic vision of Athens' splendor, vigor, and inevitable defeat which contemplates no possibility of escape--the defeat is immanent in the splendor.

 

--Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time by Bernard Knox

 

[N.B.:  And here's the irony, if piety is the tragic flaw, at least to a God-fearing pagan (which would have made up the vast majority of the audience who first saw Sophocles' play), then Oedipus Tyrannus is arguably actually not a tragedy because the impiety of Oedipus is not irremediable--although his physical condition, his blindess and exile, is.  Indeed, at the end of the play, Oedipus has found piety.  He has lost the whole world but gained his own soul.]

 

September  15,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Logically, divine foreknowledge and human free will cannot exist together, yet the Greek view of prophecy admits the existence of these two mutually exclusive factors, and of course the Christian view has to embrace this same illogicality.  It is indeed, by the admission of no less an authority than St. Augustine, "the question which torments the greater part of mankind, how these two things can fail to be contrary and opposed, that God should have foreknowledge of all things to come and that we should sin, not be necessity, but by our own will."

 

--Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time by Bernard Knox

 

[N.B.:  And how is this "paradox" resolved?  Some have argued that we are necessarily grounded in time given that we necessarily have an "expiration date"--and a short one at that.  Therefore, we simply cannot grasp the implications of a being that exists outside of time, so that the terms "foreknowledge," "past" and "future" would have no meaning.  As has been noted elsewhere, God's way are not our ways.  Professor Knox, as an atheist, is, of course, unable to consider such matters--and, although he debunks the modern view that Oedipus is about the tragedy of man's foreordained fate, he is also unable to consider whether the tragedy in Oedipus concerns something that, to an atheist, is no tragedy: man's impiety.]

 

September  14,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

This book is addressed to the classical scholar and at the same time to the "Greekless reader," a category which, once treated with scorn by the professors of more educated ages, now includes the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the planet.  The book is therefore condemned from the start to fall between two stools.  But since the two stools in question often turn out to be those of exclusive technicality on the one hand and bodiless generality on the other, I may perhaps be excused for declining to sit squarely on either of them.

 

--Preface to Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time by Bernard Knox

 

[N.B.:  Professor Knox, quite pithily, has encapsulated what separates a great and lasting work of so-called "non-fiction," say a Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, from the latest ephemeral coffee-table adaptation of a TV series on the same or, even worse, a professor's monograph on the subject through the lens of the oppressed Maori Maoists.]

September  13,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

In the privacy of our own car, however, I asked her how the set-up had struck her.

 

"It's all right, I guess," she said.  "I've got a feeling these are the type of people who have to be invited to the house at regular intervals and that means some redecorating."

 

"It can't be helped.  That's part of the game."

 

"I know," she said wearily.  "Maybe someday, when we retire, we can have a home.  You know, a place where the people you invite are guests and behave themselves as guests or they don't get asked again."

 

"You have to be very rich or very poor to live like that.  If you're in-between, you just have to play along with the system.  After all," I added, "we've done pretty well out of it; we've got a nice home and we afford a good many luxuries."

 

"Sometimes I wonder about that word 'luxury.'  Is it always something you buy, or is privacy a luxury, too?"

 

"Privacy is something you buy," I answered, "And right now we can't afford it."

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

[N.B.:  What's the point of making money?  So you can finally behave as if you don't have any.]

September  12,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Anyone can tell lies, but financing them takes a certain touch of sincerity.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

[N.B.:  The best liars are the ones who have convinced themselves to believe their own lies.  And, indeed, the bigger the lie, the more important it becomes that the person telling the lie do so with sincerity.]

September  11,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"You know," Phil continued reflectively, "it takes a lot of things--personality traits and training and so on--to make up one human being.  The way I figure it, if you work for some outfit and too many of those things are either useless or liabilities, then get the hell out.  I'm a great believer in hard work, but you could work your tail off digging for gold in the middle of Times Square and still hit nothing but sewer pipes.  You've got to dig, but it helps if you dig where the gold is."

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

[N.B.:  Or, as they say in the oil patch:  "The best place to drill for oil is in the middle of an oil field."]

September  10,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Look for people who are doing things today; don't wait around for the ones with big plans for tomorrow.  You take my home town.  They've got a picture hanging up in the railroad station; an artist's conception of a magnificent new railway terminal.  Everyone in town is proud as hell of it; they talk about the new terminal this and the new terminal that and it's more real to them then the one which is actually standing there.  That happens to be falling apart, but they look at it and they don't even see it, they see the new terminal."

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  9,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Phil was an old friend, a maverick who started his career in my first agency but split off to go into industrial sales.  A salesman, he often said, led the unloved life of an orphaned camel, but on one occasion when I had tried to coax him back into advertising he had laughed and shaken his head.  "A smart fish," he said mysteriously, "prefers the roughest water to the smoothest air."

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  8,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Running a small business these days . . ." and he shook his head.

 

"You could always quit if you had to," I pointed out.  "With your experience, one of the big outfits . . ."

 

There was a funny look on Epstein's face--a sort of comic grimness.

 

"No thanks," he said.  "Most things are that way these days and I'd rather be holding the wheel than riding in the back seat.  I get a certain sense of personal security out of that.  I'd rather be my own failure than somebody else's deadwood."

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  7,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was nearly noon when I finished my calls.  I stepped out of the phone booth and started toward the street, but half way there I turned back and stood staring at the phones.  I wanted to have lunch with somebody.  I didn't care who it was, I just didn't want to eat alone.  I was feeling the first twinge of that terrible loneliness which haunts the unemployed; I wanted to share a table with someone who knew me and knew who I was and what I was.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  6,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Putting it all together, I saw how a man could slide downhill.  A year or so in a job which didn't make use of his training and it could atrophy, it could become outdated, and then he wouldn't be fit for anything better.  I'd spent my whole life grabbing for experience and never quite getting caught up, and now, suddenly, I had too much and nobody wanted to buy it.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  5,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

"There's a bookkeeper in our office," Mel continued doggedly, "who worked for one of Those Places Uptown and lost his job in some merger.  He sat down and drew up a list of fifty firms--fifty, mind you--and then he wrote a darn good resume and mailed a copy off to everyone on the list.  Got a dozen offers, just like that."

 

. . . .

 

"This little gimmick of your probably could land me a job, Mel--as a bookkeeper.  The sort of job I have . . . had . . .just isn't one you go after that way.  If you must know, I do have a list but it's a list of people I know and people who know me.  And I don't mail them resumes and say 'I'm unemployed, please hire me.'  I write them letters and say something positive--I want to do a certain sort of work for them or something like that.  Okay, it's a slow business but I can't help that; this is the way you get anything worthwhile.  The day I start plastering the landscape is the day I haven't got any professional position left.                               

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

[N.B.:  Dodd understood that most new jobs come from sources you already know.  And recent research has confirmed that 60 to 90 percent of new jobs are found through existing networks of contacts.

 

September  4,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

I was still boiling when Miss Halley brought in the mail.  There was an envelope on top with the return address of Joe's firm in the corner.  I ripped it open and pulled out the letter:

 

Dear Sir:

     Mr. ______________ has asked me to express his regret that there is no opening available in this organization at the moment.  Should one occur at some date in the future we would, of course, be glad to consider your application for employment.

Sincerely yours,                      

 

Laura L. Banks                      

Secretary                               

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  3,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

Monday I launched my telephone campaign and by Wednesday I'd heard more than a few words, none of them put together in the right combinations:

 

"I'm very glad you called.  It's been interesting to talk to you.  We've been thinking along the same lines and it's possible that we may set up something in the fall.  If you're still available . . ."

 

"As a matter of fact, I don't handle that any more.  They brought in this guy . . ."

 

"Well, you know; things are pretty slow in the summer . . ."

 

"Why yes, we are going ahead with it, but on a slightly smaller scale than we'd originally planned.  To tell you the truth, we're looking for a man who . . . well, someone who's, let's say . . ."

 

Younger.  Younger and cheaper.  You hear a lot of talk about this over-forty business, of course, but I never paid very much attention to it.  I'd always pegged it in my own mind on the sort of man who's a has-been at forty-two.  Everyone knows a couple of these guys--they're good enough to get by, but they haven't got what it takes to climb, and by the time they're forty problems begin to crop up: bottle-knocking or skirt-chasing or job-hopping, or just plain incompatibility with the team.  The hardly described a man who had made something of a mark in his business and these people were being just a little bit stupid if they thought they were dealing with that kind of guy.  If it came to that, I could haul out my scrapbook and point to clippings from trade books and newspaper business sections: the speeches I'd made, the award I'd received, stuff like that.  These things didn't cut any ice by themselves, of course, the important thing was that they reflected the self-awareness, the sense of direction which a man should have by the time he's forty.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  2,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Y]ou could count on him to do the wrong thing, but he was meticulous about doing it the right way.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

 

September  1,  2011

Patrick: Lagniappe

If people have worked with you for a good many years, if they've even put their own jobs on the line at one time or another to back you up, you feel you know them.  You forget that friends who will rush to your aid in a fight are likely to keep their distance if you have an infectious disease, and that's the way they see failure.  It isn't the danger that drives them away, it's the smell of decay.  They shied away from me, too, because there wasn't very much they could say.  The world had rolled ahead while I was marking time and, in a few weeks, I had become an outsider.

 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd