Saturday, December 06, 2003

Aleatory automobile
The Peugeot 505 I bought for $1950 is a true adventure I felt a bit bad about buying anything French, but then I figured I was simply liberating the car from the clutches of the America-haters. Like a French woman, though, the Peugeot presents a different personality every day. Some days everything works, she smiles and hums and pleases me without my having to ask. Other days the turn signals don't work, the ABS light comes on, the cooling system overheats and the transmission seems on the verge of dropping out of the car every other second. But exerting my male mastery has so far kept her obedient, even submissive. I've learned a lot about her moods. I bring her presents, like octane booster, a tire gauge, a funnel for filling fluids. I'm sure she's going to dump me in the middle of nowhere some day, but it's been worth it so far, for those glorious sunny days when fourth gear kicks in and she zooms past everything on the highway, smooth and cool as a summer breeze. Not bad for an old gal. I wonder if it's true that French women get better as they get older. I'll have to find out! I actually found some Peugeot sites on the web, like this mailing list directory and this list of links. Could this be the start of a harem of seductive beauties from many different lands? I'm still on the lookout for an early '70s MG Midget. And I'd love an Alfa, a Lancia, an old three-cylinder Saab. Ah, so many cars, so little time and money!

Monday, December 01, 2003

More fiction
Browsing through Lou Salome's "Nietzsche", (University of Illinois Press, 1988) what should I find but ten aphorisms for writers:

Toward the Teaching of Style
1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.
2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)
3. First, one must determine precisely, "what-and-what do I wish to say and present," before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.
4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker's means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation; of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.
5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything - the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments - like gestures.
6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.
7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only thinks it but also feels it.
8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.
9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.
10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one's readers of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one's reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.

That old Friedrich Wilhelm! He sure does set the mind a-thinking. Numbers 8 and 9 are beautifully clear and compelling, but insanely difficult to practice.
Just in case anyone missed today, it has a link to a religious site that, nonetheless, offers this. As a government worker, I can testify to the scientific truth of the author's observation of governmentium, proven through many controlled experiments, all too easily reproduced in any environment on God's green earth.
Soldier of the Legion

Marshall S. Thomas has written a spectacular story which I bought and read. It's impossible not to get caught up in the action. At the end he keeps the reader in delicious suspense, agog for the sequel, which I am assured by the author is written and ready to be sent to the publisher. I can give no higher recommendation than to say that I haven't read science fiction for decades, weary of pedestrian plots and outlandish characters meant to shock as much as entertain. Legion is different. Read it.