Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


A Little Taste

Taste is such a strange thing. I have powerful reactions to things that hit me right and to things that hit me wrong. I often wonder if my reactions--both positive and negative--aren't stronger than most people's. Other people don't seem to mind things so much, or at least either their tastes aren't as strong as mine or their borders softer or they're simply better at hiding it--or more polite--than I am. I'm sure there are extremes in this just as in other things, but I seem to be on the sensitive side of reactions to issues of taste.

Even as a child I had strong reactions to foods I liked or didn't like. I remember Mom telling me to eat something and me telling her that I couldn't eat it--it would make me throw up. Mom didn't believe me and made me eat it. Of course I threw up. Flavours I don't like still can make me gag. I'm sure it was frustrating for Mom, because as a child I didn't like many foods.

This week I had the strange experience of trying to read a book and being unable to because the way the author used language rubbed me the wrong way and made reading it intolerable, even though I found the story interesting. (For what it's worth, the novel was a young adult novel, Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli, who is quite well respected if you can tell anything from reviews and awards. So it's obviously me.) The same way I feel when listening to music I don't like--it bothers me far to much to be able to stand listening to music I don't like. There are a couple of things Jim likes that I simply can't be in the house when he plays unless he plays them so low there's no possibility I can hear it. Gamelan music is one of those things--for some reason it's like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Taste is such a strange thing. Some people don't have particularly strong definitions between what they like and don't. And it's funny how other people simply don't understand why you don't like a certain kind of music or think you're deficient for not liking it when they'd never make the same kind of comment if you didn't like a certain kind of food. Is it so hard to understand that taste in music is as visceral as taste in food?

It's not that tastes don't change--my tastes in food, books, and music have certainly changed, and not just because I have experienced a lot more, but I've also grown to love some things that I didn't like at all before, partly through familiarity and partly through simply changing and growing. And of course there are many things I used to love that I don't much care for now--some of which I actively dislike. But mostly my adult tastes have settled, even if I can't describe them well.

There are of course many things that don't strike me much either way--I neither particularly like nor dislike them. Mostly I avoid eating, reading, or listening to such things because I consider them a waste of time, but at least I don't have the visceral reaction that I do to things I hate. Still, I will avoid them in preference to the things that hit me right. Life's too short to waste time. Or calories.

Anyone, one of the things that I try to do for The Ectophiles' Guide is to match the music that comes in for review for reviewer's tastes as I understand them. And now even on the list I try not to say negative things about music that simply isn't to my taste, unless it is to say simply that and to articulate why if I'm able to. That's the same way I try to treat my comments about reading done below. But don't be surprised that this week I haven't commented on Sirena--I found it unreadable. This week at least. I wonder if it would be worth trying again sometime. But the very idea of it makes me shudder as much as the idea of eating Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. It makes something in my brain gag.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Last night we went to St. James Cathedral to hear Anonymous 4. There are no words that can describe hearing such clear and beautiful voices ringing around the crisp cathedral acoustics singing in unison and harmony. So beautiful you could die of it.

I've been listening to miscellaneous discs but nothing in particular rises to the surface to comment about this week, other than that lovely concert.

last week's listening § next week's listening


I finished Timothy Findley's Pilgrim, and while it was intelligently written and about fascinating characters, one of whom is Jung, I was overall a little disappointed with the shape of the novel. It's a novel about a man who claims to be unable to die, and in fact commits suicide several times, is declared dead by doctors, then suddenly starts breathing again. He also claims to have lived many lives. A close friend brings him to the clinic in Switzerland where Jung is working, and he immediately is attracted to the case. The novel is about the entanglements between Pilgrim, the main character, and Jung, and about their peripheral entanglements with other people. It is also about Pilgrim's life and circumstances, and to some degree, as almost all of Findley's novels, about the nature of madness.

My complaint about this novel is that because it is set in the Swiss clinic, it feels somewhat static even when it takes place outside the clinic or when the events take place elsewhere. The denouement also doesn't seem quite prepared enough for me. Still, I enjoyed reading it--it just somehow made me expect more of it than it was able to deliver.

William Mayne's Ravensgill is a young adult novel about two families of children who discover that something mysterious happened to their grandmothers, and that they are cousins, though they never knew it. It takes places in the Yorkshire Dales country, and the country is almost as much a part of the novel as the characters. While this was an interesting novel, it doesn't rank that highly for me amongst my favourite Mayne novels. Perhaps because it was entirely reality based? I tend to like his mysterious/speculative novels better than the others. Maybe they just become magic for me like their subject. In any case, this was still an entertaining read.

William Mayne's A Year and a Day is a slim children's novel about two young sisters who discover a baby in the woods and take him home. A local witch looks at him and declares that he's a changeling, and will only be with them fo a year and a day. This is the story of his sojourn with the family. It's not a particularly dramatic story, but it is charming.

Last week I read and liked Franny Billingsley's The Folk Keeper, so I tried her previous young adult/children's novel, Well Wished. This is a story about a young girl living in a town where the wishing well tries to trick people into making poor wishes, and to allow it to cause unhappiness. A young girl tries to make a wish to help her best friend, who has some kind of wasting disease and is in a wheelchair, but it backfires and she ends up in the friend's body. The story is how she manages to outwit the well. Entertaining enough, but not as interesting as The Folk Keeper, but still the characters in particular are worth reading about.

Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy kept me emotionally involved and hooked on it throughout. While I am growing more and more impatient with "fat" fantasies this is one that has a quite different world and original ideas that play out within it, yet in many ways it's still the dark versus evil of traditional epic fantasies. I just inhaled Queen of the Darkness, the final volume in the trilogy, and it was well worth following. I won't summarize the plot because it probably wouldn't make sense without knowing the previous three novel, but I will say that one of the things that I liked best about the previous novels--the interrelationships of the characters--is still strong and wonderful here. Recommended for anyone who likes fantasy novels and doesn't mind seeing both the dark and the bright side of them.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I did get the chapbook (the collection of my poems about Scotland), a draft at least, completed and out in the mail in time; I really hadn't thought I'd manage it, but I did. I'm pleased with that. It entailed some hard revision, and of course organizing the darn thing. It's still very much a work in progress but it's on its way.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

October 1976

551. One too many mornings

[Brief quote from the Dylan song of that title omitted.] Why am i always behind and never ahead? (Let me out of this crazy tutorial.[1] Dislike... could be hate if give time. I don't want to give it time.) Too many mornings, too much time, who knows?

552. I can feel

Hope is dead; i can feel it by the aching of my bones. I can tell, the dream is over, there's no chance of recovery, can only wait for that distant farewell. He want to let me go and i don't want to be gone. [Quote from a Jethro Tull about someone's zero when put to someone else's 10th power still makes nothing.]

553. We

We fight and then it's okay, but it's never okay enough. As soon as i make a guesstimation as to what's happening, status changes. If i could just relax about this, if i just didn't care so much, if i could finally, entirely, leave it in His hands.

554. An old friend

Saw an old friend today, a lost friend. One not seen for quite a while Missed her, but she's in such a far away space i don't think i can reach her. Well, maybe. I think it was God that asked me to go into the store she works at to talk to her. Far out. Maybe make a new friend out of an old friend.

555. Not again!

Guess what--i'm snowed under with work again. I can't believe it happened so fast. Why do i always run out of time? Maybe i shouldn't waste so much time But i need time to catch up with myself, so much is happening (and not happening) in my life. I'm gonna make it!

556. Heard good Seed news

Paul phoned tonight--with good Seed-News about changes that are going to have to come. We're going to have to make a stand, straighten our heads out--clean out the mess in The Seed. Clear out the excess and get back to the basics God gave us. Back to God--both as individuals and as a body.

557. Now to relax

Now to relax for a second, and do something i want to do (or like doing, better than taking notes for an essay). Write in Phono for a few minutes. (Days are both too long and too short--i think it's because they start too early.) Not much time left to waste, and i don't know what i'm trying to say. I just want the time away from Plato and Socrates and piety and early Wednesday morning.

558. Just about (=almost)

Just about, or almost, read to sleep and dream, just forget about time and deadline. (All my lines are dead.) I wish i could see what the reason could be as i spread my pen 'cross the page. (Only the lonely would understand.) I wonder if the rotter ever feels lonely. He must sometime, or he wouldn't be such a rotter. Is it true that you can take the kid off the street but you'll never get all of the street out of the kid? I wonder 'cause he's still got his share, and doesn't seem at all ready to relinquish it. Back to Socrates.

559. Gearing

("I'm geared toward the average, rather than the exceptional.") I don't know whether i've said that before, but today i've got rather a befuddled brain and so i said it anyway. Befogged and befuddled these days, and i miss a lot. Just goes over my head, and today i only catch the average. The exceptional causes too much strain.

560. On writing when

This is on writing when i don't have the faintest what i'm writing about and really shouldn't be wielding my pen at all. It should either be put away or be employed writing my overdue essay. I am insane. It is crazy to let an essay go overdue, particularly here. I just don't know.


1. I don't recall what subject the tutorial was for.

last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout

Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week

Email comments, questions, and complaints to neile@sff.net § Neile's main page

3803 people have wandered through this week with me