Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sacrebleu, je parle français, mais pas très bien

Cet article du New York Times m'encourage à apprendre le français. Il ya une histoire intitulée  The Benefits of Bilingualism ici.

C'est une chance pour moi d'avoir toutes ces ressources pour aider mon éducation. Qu'est-ce que tu sais? Vous me demandez.

J'ai mentionné que Youtube a beaucoup de francophones à regarder. Et bien sûr "French in Action." Et n'oubliez pas Google Translate. C'est absolument le meilleur.

Pour l'example:


Voulez-vous voir la traduction de cette page? Allez ici, s'il vous plaît.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yah THINK NYTimes?

We will soon have a lawless madman in the White House, and a Congress controlled by Republican collaborators. We need to strategize now what to do WHEN - not IF - Trump and his alt-right goon squads go full-fascist.

NYTimes: Pessimistic, Very Pessimistic: Readers’ Moods Darken After Election

Here is one of Trump's own - the aggrieved, irrational, entitled, racist people we will have to fight, for the future of this country.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why are people so dumb and/or lazy?

Trump voters are by definition dumbasses. A perfect example in today's NYTimes:

Dalia Carmeli, who drives a trolley in downtown Miami, voted for Donald J. Trump on Election Day. A week later, she stopped in to see the enrollment counselor who will help her sign up for another year of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
“I hope it still stays the same,” said Ms. Carmeli, 64, who has Crohn’s disease and relies on her insurance to cover frequent doctor’s appointments and an array of medications."
However, you would have thought that those who value literary arts would be less dumb and/or lazy than a Trump voter. A representative of a theater group that issues calls for scripts once asked me for my advice: "what can we do to ensure that only scripts that meet the submission guidelines are submitted?" she asked.

Hell if I know lady. 

All calls for submissions apparently suffer from the same problem. I've already blogged about it, but once again, I find it's the same old story. The most recent NYCPlaywrights call for submissions says
President-elect Donald Trump has said a number of controversial things, including that he can grab women "by the pussy" because "when you're a star they let you do it, you can do anything." This is considered a description of sexual assault by some, but locker room talk by others.
More on what Donald Trump has said about women.

NYCPlaywrights is looking for scripts about women in a time when the leader of the United States is Donald Trump.
So what has been submitted so far? Well 11 have been submitted so far within the first 24 hours and all but 4 had to be rejected. A few for completely ignoring the standard play script requirements and one for ignoring the request that the submission be sent as a PDF. In addition to that the subject matter of the rejects include:
  • A riff on CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF focusing on Brick's homosexuality
  • An interview by a woman of a character based on Donald Trump which discusses a wide variety of Trump-related issues, not just women.
  • A monologue from a dead (female) cat.
So to make it crystal clear I added this to the call for submissions:

  • Please note: simply having a female character in the script does not, by itself, meet the theme of "women in the age of Trump" - the script must focus on one or more women and their experiences in a world which reflects the values of a country that would make Donald Trump its president. See More on what Donald Trump has said about women for ideas. If the script does not focus on one or more women it does not meet the theme of this call for submissions. If you have already submitted a script that does not meet this criterion, you can resubmit a new script that does, as a replacement. If you don't have a 10-minute play or monologue that meets that requirement, you might consider writing one, the deadline is December 24, 2016. 

Hopefully it will keep the useless script submissions down a little.

In the meanwhile, enjoy this cartoon about reality in the age of Trump from the New Yorker.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I hung out with Slater's mom

It's a long story. But anyway it's a good excuse to post this. Slater is the one with the theory of the cash crop for the Southern states.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Justin Trudeau explains quantum computing

He's so adorable - he's a little full of himself, old Justin Trudeau, but it would be hard not to be if you were him, and he is really so cute. And he's a self-declared feminist and that counts for A LOT when our own president-elect is evil.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Obama compared to Trump: Hyperion to a satyr

The New Yorker has an important article about Obama, and I think this paragraph has captured perfectly Obama's essence.
In the Oval Office, the President was quick to comfort the young members of his staff, but he was, an aide told me, even more concerned about the wounding effect the election would have on the categories of Americans who had been routinely insulted and humiliated by the President-elect. At a social occasion earlier this year, someone asked Michelle Obama how it was possible for her husband to maintain his equipoise amid so much hatred. “You have no idea how bad it is,” she said. His practiced calm is beyond reckoning.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bitter Gertrude on the election

Bitter Gertrude makes a very interesting connection between academic analyses of the women in Shakespeare plays and the treatment of Hillary Clinton:

When discussing the character Desdemona, a character whose complete faithfulness to her husband is the primary narrative linchpin of the play, Kott says, “Desdemona is faithful, but must have something of a slut in her.” He says that she must be a slut “in potentia” if not “in actua” because so many men desire her– because she inspired erotic imaginings in the men around her. SO SHE IS THE SLUT. 
And while this kind of “my white male imagination tells me so” Shakespeare “analysis” we’re used to getting from the likes of mid-century scholars like Kott (and Harold Bloom, and so many others whose “analysis” of Shakespeare’s female characters is 100% flights of fancy) it stood out to me, even as a teenager when I first encountered this nonsensical “analysis.” It stood out to me that THIS IS AN ADMIRED BOOK OF SHAKESPEARE CRITICISM. This was the first moment I realized that the world of academia was going to be an uphill battle for me as a woman. 
This moment– seeing a respected book of lit crit describe male desire for a woman who never sought nor wished for that desire as HER OWN FAULT for somehow being a “slut” “in potentia”– has come to mind again and again this election cycle.
Millions of our tax dollars have been poured out in a desperate attempt to pin something, ANYTHING, on Hillary Clinton. Nothing illegal has ever been found. Every investigation has exonerated her, and the Clinton Foundation is one of the highest-rated on every nonpartisan site that monitors charities. Obviously false scandals have been created by alt-right (and regular right) propagandists, and they’re shared around the internet as if they make sense. Scandal after scandal have been manufactured and debunked. Hillary haters are the hydra of American politics– chop off one false scandal and two grow back. There’s a never-ending supply of false scandals, and the factual evidence debunking them is dismissed as “irrelevant” or “bought and paid for.” As if the Clintons have an unlimited supply of money– oh, wait, according to the Hillary haters, THEY DO, thanks to Jewish bankers and the Evil Jewish Scrotillionaire Necromancer Lich Demon George Soros.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Solange talking at you

Now that I'm serious about learning French I'm reviewing the public television series French in Action. You don't even have to scrounge around on Youtube for episodes anymore, it's available for free via the Annenberg Learner web site (their CPB project was the original producer of the TV show version of FIA.)

I find I am understanding it much better this time around, possibly because it's now available as online videos instead of broadcast TV - if you miss something you can easily go back. And of course you can watch it whenever it's convenient, not when it is scheduled. I first saw this show when I was living in Pennsauken NJ and working at a print shop - I would come home for lunch and watch this show while eating. I had just enough time. Now of course I can watch it while I'm at work.

I also find that it's helping to increase my comprehension by continuing to watch Youtube stars of the francophone world. I've already mentioned PL Cloutier and his best friend Theo Gordy - and by the way PL is definitely gay, here he is with his boyfriend Thierry Doucet.

I also discovered Solange Te Parle (Solange talks to you) recently. She has recorded what seems like an infinite number of Youtube videos of her sort of rambling on about one thing or another.
She's unknown in the Anglophone worlds but she's pretty much a celebrity in the Francophone one. Here she is on TV. She has a Wikipedia entry - but only in the French Wikipedia and under her real name Ina Mihalache.

The entry says in part (thanks to Google Translate):
... Around the age of ten, she decides to lose her Quebecois accent to adopt the accent "to the French", it means the radio or on chains television French as TV5 . She explained that it was for her an "aesthetic choice", fueling a controversy in the province home
I think this means that she switched from her native French Canadian accent to a Frenchy-French accent to be better accepted by media in France. Google Translate isn't perfect.

But what is really great for me, pour apprendre le francaise, is that, not only do some of her videos directly address issues of language - the video in this post is the first of hers I've watched, in which she compares a French Canadian movie to a  France-French movie and counts and discusses the number of English words each uses - but even better, her videos have both English and French subtitles. I find it easier to understand spoken French when I can read along with the French subtitles, which I try to do, but it's great to be able to double-check that my comprehension was correct by re-watching in English.

It's a brand new world of language skill tools these days. What an improvement over my workweek lunchtime French in Action sessions.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Learning French with Theo and Pierre

I'm not definitely moving to Montreal, but it has crossed my mind. If it happens it won't be for at least a year while I learn French. I've been studying French off and on since high school but have decided to get serious about it.

One of the great things about this Internet age is access to so much free educational options, and language studies is definitely included. I've been looking around YouTube to learn French, both from official "learn to speak French" sites as well as more casual French lessons. One of my favorites in the casual category are videos by these two guys, Theo Gordy and Pierre-Luc Cloudier. Theo is from France and PL as he prefers to be called, is from Montreal.

They make videos separately and together. The ones I like best so far are the ones where they make each other guess the meaning of French and Quebecois slang expressions.

They both appear to be Youtube celebrities, as I discovered by going to PL's web site which lists a schedule of appearances. But what, I wondered, did PL do at these appearances? As far as I could tell he just liked to make Youtube videos with his bon ami Theo. Well turns out, thanks to Google Translate that the appearances are for a bunch of parties:
PL Cloutier does not like to grow old!
To make his birthday better this year, he goes on tour to celebrate with his subscribers ... Many times rather than one!
In each city, PL will host two different YouTubers to party, in a "basement party" atmosphere where the public will be involved!
With hat and trumpet, Happy Birthday to me is the first tour of shows of a YouTuber in Quebec. Find the child in you, and be a party!
So for 25 bucks you can join PL in a basement party. Tres moderne. Also I assume, pretty gay. I guessed that these guys were gay based on the first videos I watched, and then I saw PL's Twitter feed where he mentions he likes flamingos and Zac Efron.

You can tell Cloutier is the Canadian one (besides the fact that he is wearing the Québécois fleur de lis on his t-shirt) because he is much more likely to break into English than Theo - in minute 7:50 in the video above he exclaims: "awww back at you Theo."

The answers to the slang expressions are:

The Quebecois expression "Etre le boss des becosses" means "boss of the outhouses" which means a petty dictator. (Theo can't guess it.)

The French expression "avoir le cul borde de nouilles" means "to have your ass surrounded by noodles" which means to be lucky. (PL guesses it.)

The Quebecois expression "Grimper dan les rideaux " means "climbing the curtains" which is similar to "climbing the walls" in English except more positive, I think. (Theo guessed it.)

The French expression "Etre au taquet" means to "be at the cleat" or rather be at the ultimate limit. (PL can't guess.)

The Quebecois expression "Peter de la broue" means to fart beer, which means to brag. (Theo guessed it.)

The French expression "Avoir la dalle" means "to be hungry" (PL can't guess.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post-it Messages at Union Square

As Esquire notes:

An artist known as Levee started a wall of Post-Its in the underpass connecting the 1 train to the L at 14th Street and 6th Avenue, and it's truly amazing to behold. Levee has been encouraging those who are feeling hopeless after the election to share their feelings by writing them down on a sticky note and adding to the wall.

I took some pix.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sometimes I think about moving to Montreal

This panel discussion really makes Canada sound great.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Colbert responds to the election

One of his best

I have to admit that Justin Trudeau keeps me thinking of Canada though.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It's like 9-11 happened again

I hope Donald Trump has a massive heart attack and dies.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


From the NYTimes:

Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals. But offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a “super PAC” with vengeance as its core mission.

Monday, November 07, 2016

My daughter ran the NYC Marathon!

Unfortunately my phone died just before she and her wife ran past me. Thanks to me video-recording so I could get a pic of Sean Astin, who was a couple of miles ahead of them (but only because he started an hour sooner - they outpaced him by a minute an a half per mile on average.)

So enjoy this image of Sean Astin running the NYC Marathon.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Evan Marc Katz's exciting new dating technique: mate poaching!

The other side of Katz's
mate-poaching technique

Evan Marc Katz the dating advice huckster keeps trying to pass himself off as an egalitarian, even a semi-feminist:
But I don’t write this blog (or offer advice) to look good. I write here as a reflection of reality. Yes, I believe I’m one of the good ones – and yes, even the good ones have been raised in a society that objectifies women – and have been known to make mistakes once in awhile.
This gives you an idea of how disheartening Katz's view of women's hopes and expectations is - even he, a "good one", persistently tells women to be passive in their relationships with men.

Katz also pushes the idea that men come in only two flavors: alpha (desirable) or beta (less desirable).

Here is Katz a month or so ago:
Beta/feminine men are often some of the best husbands out there, but they conduct themselves in a passive way, leaving women wondering how they feel. In short, these nice guys are so insecure about pursuing you and making a move that they often wait for YOU to express interest in them. “You can call me, you know,” might be their mantra. Which is fine. However, this puts you in your “masculine energy,” and forces you to be the one to reach out to him to gauge his interest and availability.
As a dating coach for women, I don’t like that model. Nor do most of my clients. They may be proactive superstars in real life, but they tend to prefer being courted by (alpha) men.

But then suddenly, unceremoniously he has abandoned that old dichotomy.

In his most recent blog post he writes:
Sounds a lot like the kind of experiences (and thinking) that we see so often in the questions and comments here. Women choose selfish alpha males who are inconsiderate of their needs, and insecure beta males who feel impotent and emasculated, and come to the conclusion that this is the way all relationships work. It’s not.
So now alpha and beta males are both bad choices that us stupid women make, and the alpha male has been swapped out for the married man. Katz cites the July 2016 Modern Love column by Karen Rinaldi:
From her own failed relationships (and her parents uninspiring 60-year-marriage) Rinaldi came to the obvious conclusion that the only answer was to be alone...
...Then she fell in love with a married man…who left his wife and married Rinaldi.
Says the author, 
“I don’t need him, but I want him in my life. He doesn’t protect me from others, only from my worst instincts. And as far as procreating, well, we did it the old-fashioned way and that will never get old.
He is comfortable in his masculinity and doesn’t need to remind me of who is boss, because in our relationship there isn’t one. Our lives are shared at every level and I realize now what a man is for.
He is a true partner. He is a lover and a friend. He is the father of my children and the only one in the world who cares about the minutiae of their lives like I do.”
And that, my friends, is why you keep dating. Even if you’ve made dozens of bad relationship choices in the past, you always have a new chance to rewrite your future.
Katz has not yet offered a Greek letter with which to label the poachable married man.

Katz's audience tends to be conservative - you'd have to be in order to accept Katz's constant promotion of traditional gender roles. So I was amazed he would deliberately alienate his audience by promoting an adulterous man as dating material.  I once posited that Katz promoted traditionalist men because they are more likely to be single than egalitarian men are, and thus increase the match-up success rate for his clients. Well apparently Katz has decided to expand the pool of men for his clients by suggesting they consider (not pursue, that would be unfeminine and active) egalitarian men who are not single.

One of Katz's commenters, "KK" responds to his blog post:
“Then she fell in love with a married man…who left his wife and married Rinaldi”.
Sorry, Evan, this isn’t a happy ending.
Not only not a happy ending but a ridiculous solution for a dating coach to suggest. A woman who doesn't mind dating a cheater will have plenty of men to choose from - she needs a dating coach about as much as a woman who prefers depersonalized sex with random strangers in a back alley needs one.

Well, I have said before that Katz is not very bright. 

Another one of the commenters offered information about the woman whose husband Rinaldi poached. Her name is Catherine Texier and she wrote an entire book about it eighteen years ago

One of the editorial summaries on Amazon:
Shortly after the author returned from a trip to France, the country of her birth, she discovered that her husband of 18 years and the father of their two daughters wanted to leave her. Texier, a novelist (Love Me Tender) who co-edited with her husband, Joel Rose, Between C and D, a lower Manhattan literary journal, publishes here the diary she kept in 1996, the final year of their marriage. Artfully written and candid in its anguish, her memoir describes the harrowing months when she tried to change Rose's mind by maintaining their sex life, cooking for him and restraining her rage at his betrayal. Although she discovered that he had been having a 15-month-long affair with the woman he wanted to leave her for, Texier continued to hope that the memories of the good years they had shared would be powerful enough to keep them together. It was only after Rose took his lover on a trip to Los Angeles that the author finally told him to leave their home. Men and women alike will respond to Texier's re-creation of her feelings of depression, anger, jealousy and erotic longing that accompanied the dissolution of her marriage.
Rinaldi is thirteen years younger than Texier. So this is the utterly banal scenario of a man dumping his wife for a younger model, a move that poster boy for alpha males, Donald Trump, has made twice.

As KK comments later on:
...the wife eventually kicked him out. He was perfectly happy with his cake- eating status quo. Therefore, Rinaldi ended up with him by default. He didn’t CHOOSE her. He didn’t confess his affair and run off with her. He got kicked out. And Rinaldi grabbed up her prize (sarcasm) after he got dumped.
So to recap.

The problem: women becoming discouraged over the failure to find a good man.

The Katz solution: get yourself a man, a damn fugly man, twelve years your senior, married with kids. A man who will two-time his wife for over a year, then once the adultery is in the open, continue to screw his a wife in addition to you for another year or so. You will finally have him all to yourself, three years after the beginning of the relationship, once the wife decides to cut him loose.

And here I thought that Evan Marc Katz's view of women's hopes and expectations was already at rock bottom.

I don't speak for all women of course, and I suppose it's possible that Katz may convince some women that a life with an old ugly unfaithful entitled man is the best possible one for them, but I for one would rather be celibate the rest of my life than end up with a creep like Joel Rose.

It's a complete mystery to me why people like KK continue to go to the poisoned well that is the advice of Evan Marc Katz.

The Republican Party has metastasized into pure evil and must be destroyed before it destroys our democracy

It's very unpleasant to admit, but the Republican party has become a cancer on the body politic and must be destroyed.

Per The New Republic:
It is thus tempting to imagine we’ve seen enough to know what divided government will look like in a Clinton administration. But that would be a mistake. The sheer alacrity with which Republicans have thrown political courtesies and democratic traditions overboard in the past months is a warning that as radicalized as they grew during the Obama presidency, they didn’t necessarily hit bottom. Things could get much worse, in ways that are staring us in the face. 
Republicans only flirted with nullification during the Obama presidency, but under a Clinton presidency we could conceivably face a full-blown crisis of one kind or another within weeks—regardless of which party controls the Senate. 
If Republicans retain the Senate, it’s likely that they will prevent Clinton from filling Supreme Court vacancies. Notably, almost nobody in the party is intervening to promise swift confirmation for qualified nominees, to counter those who are promising indiscriminate obstruction. This would amount to a legitimation crisis, unprecedented in our modern history, but astonishingly it wouldn’t constitute the most troubling possible outcome.
So with a Hillary Clinton presidency they are planning to hit her with both bullshit scandals like Benghazi AND dangerous obstructionism, starting with refusal to vote on any Supreme Court nominee.

Thanks to Scalia's death the Republican party has the opportunity to now hobble all three branches of the US government. Their aim is absolute power and they won't stop until they get it. And they are willing to destroy our democracy to do it.

The Republican party is a cancer on the body politic and must be removed as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Sunday Philosophy Club, revisited

I have recently been getting into philosophy in a fairly big way, thanks to attending meetings and reading the work of Massimo Pigliucci and the Stoics. So I decided to re-listen to the audiobook version of The Sunday Philosophy Club, the first installment in the series of that name. The idea of practical ethics that Pigliucci has talks about goes very will with the novels, as the protagonist Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. There's even a review of the Sunday Philosophy Club series in the magazine Philosophy Now, to which Pigliucci has contributed.

I mentioned previously that the narrator of the audiobooks of the series had a voice that got on my nerves. Well I discovered that an abridged version of the series is available in the UK, narrated by Phyllis Logan - that's Downton Abbey's Mrs. Hughes. But you can't get that version in the US. *sigh*

One more thing about the series - I don't believe there is ever once a meeting of the Sunday Philosophy Club described in any of the ten novels.

Friday, November 04, 2016

How stupid is Robin DiAngelo? How sleazy is her "white fragility" marketing campaign?

On the one hand you could argue that DiAngelo is smart - she's made a career for herself that is lucrative and not very hard - she travels around the country explaining to identitarian organizations that all white people are equally racist and the only way they can have some of their racism alleviated is to pay DiAngelo to lecture about "white fragility."

On the other hand some of the things she says are amazingly stupid. Her most recent free advertisement from the Good Men Project includes this statement:
But what if someone does literally point their finger and boldly state, “You are racist!” (a deep fear of progressive whites)? A white person who claims to be antiracist and who positions themselves as above or beyond other whites is being a self-righteous jerk, but that is on them. What is on me is to identify my racist patterns and work to change them. If the point being made is insightful to that goal, then regardless ofhow carefully or indirectly it is being made, that is what I need to focus on. The method of delivery cannot be used to delegitimize what is being illuminated or the excuse for not doing my work.
First off, this demonstrates a basic tenet of DiAngelo, that all white people are equally racist:
"A white person who claims to be antiracist and who positions themselves as above or beyond other whites is being a self-righteous jerk, but that is on them."
Apparently someone "claiming" to be anti-racist, and therefore claiming to be better than white people who are racist - is deemed to be a self-righteous jerk.

But also, and most stupidly, is her incomprehension as to why people don't like to be called racist if they believe they are not racist. White progressives do not wish to be called racist because they feel racism is a sign of stupidity or evil or usually both. And so if you declare them a racist, you have said they are stupid and/or evil.

And Robin DiAngelo finds this some kind of moral indictment, to object to someone attacking you as stupid and/or evil on the basis of your ethnicity.

Listen to DiAngelo describe people taking offense at being judged unfairly. It's at minute 5:18. Her words are bad enough, but it's the tone, especially, dripping with utter contempt, that tells you how she feels about anybody who questions her pernicious message.

"Because we hear a moral slight. We sincerely believe it wouldn't be possible for us to be racist because we're good people... and so we get very upset and defensive and we cry and we get our feelings hurt and we suggest that you don't know us and that you're generalizing."
"I actually think progressive white folks like me are the hardest."

She clearly thinks that those claiming she is generalizing are idiots, but in fact that's exactly what she is doing. Generalizing.

Meanwhile she aids those who are actual racists by giving them a legitimate reason to claim that anti-white racism exists in the United States. Robin DiAngelo is not helping the issue of race in America. Robin DiAngelo is making it worse by being the anti Martin Luther King Jr. She is promoting the idea that people should be judged on the color of their skin and not, as King dreamed, the content of their character.

The thing about DiAngelo's career is that she answers to nobody.

She is hired to promote her specious arguments about race and she will never have to face any critics. So she can keep turning her critics into defenseless straw men she can easily defeat with her contempt and her overweening smug self-satisfaction.

DiAngelo has completely accepted the mind-set of racism: that all humans are easily grouped into one of a few distinct "races" and should be judged accordingly. And she is attempting to spread that dehumanized view of individual human beings.

She makes a good living preaching the gospel of "race" and revenge and she will keep doing it as long as someone will pay for it.

More about Robin DiAngelo.

My Anti-Racist Bona Fides

Because the reflex response of all Social Justice Warriors/Identitarians like Robin DiAngelo is to smear their critics as racist, here is my statement on racism:

Although I was smeared on Tumblr by infamous bully Mikki Kendall and identitarian extremist K. Tempest Bradford (and thanks to the cozy relationship between Tumblr and Google, the smears show up in Google search results on my name), in fact I have a long history of opposing racism, and the evidence for the past 10 years is on this blog. Unhinged extremists like Kendall and Bradford don't care to know anything about the strangers they randomly smear. That's why they and the people who promote them like Verso books are horrible and don't help solve the problem of racism in the United States.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Bronte-mania - inspiration strikes

I wrote a ten-minute play about the Bronte sisters and how they first become published authors. Called BRONTES BEGIN it has yet to be produced, which annoyed me but now I'm glad because I was inspired by the Charlotte Bronte exhibit at the Morgan Library and now must update the play.

In my play I do have Charlotte allude to how much she disliked being a governess, but I saw this letter to Ellen Hussey in which Charlotte wrote:
I am miserable when I allow myself to dwell on the necessity of spending my life as a Governess. The chief requisite for that station seems to me to be the power of taking things easily as they come and of making oneself comfortable and at home wherever we may chance to be – qualities in which all our family are singularly deficient.
This must go into my play.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

More Bronte art

There is lots of drawings by Charlotte Bronte featured in the Morgan Library exhibition, including a possible self-portrait sketch (in addition to the goofy cartoon she drew, which I mentioned yesterday) on the left here. There were many other drawings of people on display, including a portrait of Anne.

Charlotte was the closest thing the Bronte family had to an extrovert. All of them were apparently painfully shy and socially maladjusted, especially Emily who appears to never have made a single friend in her life, except for friends of Charlotte's.

Neither of Charlotte's sisters as far as I know, had any interest in drawing people. At least I haven't seen any examples. What Anne and especially Emily liked to draw were the family pets.

Here are two drawings of Anne's dog Flossy - the first by Anne, the second by Emily.

The picture is a portrait of Emily's beloved  Keeper. The notorious incident of Emily and Keeper was told in Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte and recounted here.

Here are two more pets by Emily - a hawk named Nero and Grasper. As the signature attests, Grasper was drawn when Emily was sixteen.

Emily was so animal-focused that when she did draw a self-portrait, Keeper is much more prominent than she is. This picture is a sketch she included in one of her "diary papers."

She also reportedly told her pupils at the Law School that she preferred the school dog to any of them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Letter from Mary Taylor to Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte had a remarkable friend, Mary Taylor, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1845, but moved back ten years later and became a writier. She was bright and progressive, a feminist and a religious skeptic. Her letter to Charlotte (delivered 5 months after it was mailed) is an interesting historical artifact all by itself, in addition to its connection to the Brontes. Although I doubt she'd end up with an entry in the Encyclopedia of New Zealand without the connection.

The Morgan has the first of four pages on display but here conveniently is the entire transcription of the letter. Bronte had sent her a copy of Jane Eyre to read and she discusses it. She complains to Bronte that she as "no doctrine to preach" unlike Mary. She also includes a nasty bit of anti-Semitism - it seems that the trope of calling Jews cheap has been around for quite awhile. But even though the expression was common, and Mary Taylor herself probably did not know any Jews at all, and didn't think of the expression literally, it's disappointing she used it.

I do find it amusing that she mentions an acquaintance who read Jane Eyre and who thought Jane should have gone off with St. John Rivers - a man after my mother's own heart.

Dear Charlotte
About a month since I received & read Jane Eyre. It seemed to me incredible that you had actually written a book. Such events did not happen while I was in England. I begin to believe in your existence much as I do in Mr Rochester’s. In a believing mood I don’t doubt either of them. After I had read it I went on to the top of Mt. Victoria & looked for a ship to carry a letter to you. There was a little thing with one mast, & also H.M.S. Fly & nothing else. If a cattle vessel came from Sydney she would probably return in a few days & would take a mail, but we have had east wind for a month & nothing can come in.—July 1. The Harlequin has just come from Otago & is to sail for Singapore when the wind changes & by that road route (which I hope to take myself sometime) I send you this. Much good may it do you. 
Your novel surprised me by being so perfect as a work of art. I expected something more changeable & unfinished. You have polished to some purpose. If I were to do so I should get tired & weary every one else in about two pages. No sign of this weariness is in your book—you must have had abundance, having kept it all to yourself! 
You are very different from me in having no doctrine to preach. It is impossible to squeeze a moral out of your production. Has the world gone so well with you that you have no protest to make against its absurdities? Did you never sneer or declaim in your first sketches? I will scold you well when I see you.—I don’t believe in Mr Rivers. There are no good men of the Brocklehurst species. A missionary either goes into his office for a piece of bread, or he goes from enthusiasm, & that is both too good & too bad a quality for St. John. It’s a bit of your absurd charity to believe in such a man. You have done wisely in choosing to imagine a high class of readers. You never stop to explain or defend anything & never seem bothered with the idea—if Mrs. Fairfax or any other well intentioned fool gets hold of this what will she think? And yet you know the world is made up of such, & worse. Once more, how have you written through 3 vols. without declaring war to the knife against a few dozen absurd doctrines each of which is supported by “a large & respectable class of readers”? 
Emily seems to have had such a class in her eye when she wrote that strange thing Wuthering Heights. Ann[e] too stops repeatedly to preach commonplace truths. She has had a still lower class in her mind’s eye. Emily seems to have followed t[he] [b]ookseller’s advice. As to the price you got it [was] certainly Jewish. But what could the people do? lf they had asked you to fix it, how do you know yourself how many cyphers your sum would have had? And how should they know better? And if they did, that’s the knowledge they get their living by. If I were in your place the idea of being bound in the sale of 2! more would prevent [me]from ever writing again. Yet you are probably now busy with another. It is curious to me to see among the old letters one from A[unt] Sarah sending a copy of a whole article on the currency question written by Fonblanque! I exceedingly regret having burnt your letters in a fit of caution, & I’ve forgotten all the names. Was the reader Albert Smith? What do they all think of you?
I perceive I’ve betrayed my habit of writing only on one side of the paper. Go onto the next page.
I mention the book to no one & hear no opinions. I lend it a good deal because it’s a novel & it’s as good as another! They say “it makes them cry.” They are not literary enough to give an opinion. If ever I hear one I’ll embalm it for you. 
As to my own affair I have written 100 pages & lately 50 more. It’s no use writing faster. I get so disgusted I can do nothing. I have sent 3 or 4 things to Joe for Tait. Troup (Ed.) never acknowledges them though he promised either to pay or send them back. Joe sent one to Chambers who thought it unsuitable in which I agree with them. 
I think I told you I built a house. I get 12/– a week for it. Moreover I in accordance with a late letter of John’s I borrow money from him & Joe & buy cattle with it. I have already spent £100 or so & intend to buy some more as soon as War[ing] can pay me the money. —perhaps as much as by degrees as £400, or £500. As I only pay 5 per Ct. interest I expect [to] profit much by this. viz about 30 per Ct. a year—perhaps 40 or 50. Thus if I borrow £500 in two years’ time (I cannot have it quicker) I shall perhaps make £250 to £300. I am pretty certain of being able to pay principal & interest. If I could command £300 & £50 a year afterwards I would “hallock” about N.Z. for a twelvemonth then go home by way of India & write my travels which would prepare the way for my novel. With the benefit of your experience I should perhaps make a better bargain than you. I am most afraid of my health. Not that I shd die but perhaps sink into state of betweenity, neither well nor ill, in which I shd observe nothing & be very miserable besides. —My life here is not disagreeable. I have a great resource in the piano, & a little employment in teaching. 
Then I go to Mrs. Taylor’s & astonish the poor girl with calling her favorite parson a spoon. She thinks I am astonishingly learned but rather wicked, & tries hard to persuade me to go to church chapel, though I tell her I only go for amusement. She would have sense but for her wretched health which is getting rapidly worse from her irrational mode of living. 
 I can hardly explain to you the queer feeling of living as I do in 2 places at once. One world containing books England & all the people with whom I can exchange an idea; the other all that I actually see & hear & speak to. The separation is as complete as between the things in a picture & the things in the room. The puzzle is that both move & act, & [I] must say my say as one of each. The result is that one world at least must think me crazy. I am just now in a sad mess. A drover who has got rich with cattle dealing wanted me to go & teach his daughter. As the man is a widower I astonished this world when I accepted his proposal, & still more because I asked too high a price (£70) a year. Now that I have begun the same people can’t conceive why I don’t go on & marry the man at once which they imagine must have been my original intention. For my part I shall possibly astonish them a little more for I feel a great inclination to make use of his interested civilities to visit his daughter &see the district of Porirua. 
If I had a little more money & could afford a horse (she rides) I certainly would. But I can see nothing till I get a horse, which I shall have if I’m lucky in 2 or 3 years.
I have just made acquaintance with Dr & Mrs. Logan. He is a retired navy doctor & has more general knowledge than any one I have talked to here. For instance he had heard of Phillippe Egalite—of a camera obscura; of the resemblance the English language has to the German &c &c. Mrs. Taylor Miss Knox & Mrs. Logan sat in mute admiration while we mentioned these things, being employed in the meantime in making a patchwork quilt. Did you never notice that the women of the middle classes are generally too ignorant to talk to? & that you are thrown entirely on the men for conversation? There is no such feminine inferiority in the lower. The women go hand in hand with the men in the degree of cultivation they are able to reach. I can talk very well to a joiner’s wife, but seldom to a merchant’s.
I must now tell you the fate of your cow. The creature gave so little milk that she is doomed to be fatted & killed. In about 2 months she will fetch perhaps £15 with which I shall buy 3 heifers. Thus you have the chance of getting a calf sometime. My own thrive well & possibly I [shall] have a calf myself. Before this reaches England I shall have 3 or 4. 
It’s a pity you don’t live in this world that I might entertain you about the price of meat. Do you know I bought 6 heifers the other day for £23? & now it is turned so cold I expect to hear one half of them are dead. One man bought 20 sheep for £8 & they are all dead but 1. Another bought £150 & has 40 left; and people have begun to drive cattle through a valley into the Wairau plains & thence across the straits of Wellington. &c &c. This is the only legitimate subject of conversation we have the rest is gos[sip] concerning our superiors in station who don’t know us on the road, but it is astonishing how well we know all their private affairs, making allowance always for the distortion in our own organs of vision. 
I have now told you everything I can think of except that the cat’s on the table & that I’m going to borrow a new book to read. No less than an account of all the systems of philosophy of modern Europe. I have lately met with a wonder a man who thinks Jane Eyre would have done better [to] marry Mr Rivers! He gives no reasons—such people never do. 
Mary Taylor