Quick thoughts.

Two things have been rattling around my head today:

A man said to the universe: ‘Sir, I exist!’
‘However,’ replied the universe, ‘That fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.’
     — Stephen Crane


“It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”
      — Sholem Asch

I thought I had something to say.  I’m just having a little trouble placing it, right now.


Oddly content

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Came up, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the context of Game of Thrones.  Martin’s ability to make characters that do frankly reprehensible things into people you actually start to like is unlike pretty much anything I’ve ever seen (although, you know, suggestions for similar writers to check out is welcome).

It actually got to the point where I was deeply uncomfortable with someone’s pointing out exactly how objectionable the behaviour of one of my favourite characters was.  That’s fairly unusual for me, although probably it has to do with the fact that people who commit murders aren’t usually portrayed as sympathetic characters.  It’s not as if I am in a position to stand back and say “well, usually I have no problem with the criticism of characters I like which do bad things, but something about the way GRRM writes them makes it different.”

(Note that I said “people who commit murders” instead of “murderers”.  On the one hand, this illustrates how much focus gets put on other aspects of the character.  On the other, I picked those words, and they are words that minimize the murders in question.)


I’m putting off being annoyed at something.  I mean, possibly I won’t have reason to be annoyed, but I might, and the possibility is sort of trying to squinch up my spine.  It’s annoying, and between watching The Newsroom and pausing it to discuss Game of Thrones and getting the occasional news squib from the real world (mostly cheerful) I think I am mostly overcoming it.  Which is nice.

Sidetracked by palimpsests.

If that is in fact the plural.

We’re watching In the Name of the Rose, and the text is in German, and the credit is something like “a palimpsest from Umberto Eco’s In the Name of the Rose“.  I don’t assume that it means exactly the same thing as in English, but I can see where a similar meaning could be useful.

A palimpsest, for the record, is a document or part of it–a manuscript page–that has been scraped clean and reused.  Wax that was melted or pressed smooth again, vellum that had the top layer (and the ink) scraped off.  The idea that there’s a specific word for this always sort of intrigued me.  A bit difficult to articulate, but it’s a word for something that once had a characteristic which no longer exists; which is defined by being itself made over again.

There are very few terms for things like that.  “Recycled” or “upcycled” focuses on what it is now; “reused” is close, but it’s about what happened to it, not what it was/is.

I don’t think I’m being particularly persuasive; I’m seriously distracted by the movie.  It’s a deeply lovely film. Not pretty, it is very good at not being pretty, but it has a lovely depth to the faces and architecture and light and framing.

(I was going to write something about how I’d lost touch with people and how I was okay with that, but I can save that for later.  Now I am going to focus properly on the movie.)