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Nearly Relevant
Nonsense, Fiction, and Miscellaneous Things

Never, Ever . . . Forget
                                                                In Memoriam


                                     July 25, 1929 - Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014

'Orlando: A Biography', Virginia Woolf

     Orlando: A Biography© by Virginia Woolf is a difficult review for me. I appreciated Woolf's sublime literary sense and yet I couldn't say the book was without a bit of disconnect.  First a synopsis.
     The novel centers around Orlando, from his youth in an aristocratic family with access to the Queen, to his marriage - as a woman of about 35 years of age - to a ships captain a mere 350 years after his youth. Yes that's right, Orlando changes from a man to a woman and lives approximately 350 years. For me, these characteristics of the book are an important extending of the concept of fictive writing.
Both the case of Orlando's male/female being and the case of settings spanning across a few centuries add, in an evincing way, to the humane sensibility which seems to most concern literature.   The effect isn't radically innovative but rather additional in its ability to evoke. In the case of Orlando's gender change, when reading of separate male/female characters, gender aspects can be 'glossed-over' by readers. Orlando, as a singular character of yet different gender - is, if subtlety so, noticeably more availing and gritty as a man and noticeably more thoughtful yet reticent as a woman. Similarly, - through the spanning of 300+ years - Woolf delineates societal changes more noticeable than could be done by detailing societal relationships within the timespan of only  1 or 2 lives, 60 or 70 years. Whether the the reader agrees with the characterizing and conclusions of these gender and era differences is a question separate from the evocativeness of Woolf's portrayal.  
     The setting of the novel is mostly of Britain and it's society.  It seemed obvious to me that she harbored a deep love for Britain - its people, it's class structure of aristocracy and commoner, and most obviously its natural, urban, and rural, geography.  Time and again I was enticed by the depictions of a liveliness, warmth - even in drunkenness - and a  social security which characterized Woolf's Britain.  The countryside was a frequent escape for a forlorn Orlando, and it was always beautifully depicted.
     The book is as much humorous with satire and absurdity as it is with a sublime literary aesthetic.  Here, Orlando is a male and is smitten:   

                  "Images, metaphors of the most extreme and extravagant twined and twisted in his mind.  He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree . . ."1 

     Here, her future husband - Orlando is now a woman - and her meet for the first time. She's sitting under an oak tree, ankle broken.   He's come upon her while riding a horse and has pulled the horse to a stop:

                   "Madam," the man cried, leaping to the ground, "you're hurt!"
                   "I'm dead Sir!" she replied."                            
                   A few minutes later they became engaged.2
      The humor is not unfunny and the satire is forgiving rather than biting, but the contrast with the more profound style and elements of the book was such that trying to harmonize - connect - the two gave me a headache.  I finally settled on labeling the humor as somewhat sophomoric and silly.  Maybe you could say the humor derived from an 'aristocratic guilt';  The humor seemed inclined to, sophomorically, assuage some disdain of aristocratic pompousness, although, for me, the pompousness of aristocracy seems trite and cliched.
     Overall, the book is as good as the reputation of its author, Virginia Woolf, would suggest but it is not without lapses.

1Orlando; A Biography,  Virginia Woolf, ©Leonard Woolf 1956, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, pg .28
2 Ibid, pg. 183

Lowering Page Rank
     The PR rep which handles my success has informed me that there has been some problems lately because my Google® Page Rank has skyrocketed from 0 to 8.  He's been getting phone calls in which the callers claim their own page rank has plummeted and they have asked him if he could convince me to be more of an idiot.  He's explained to them the way a free-enterprise system works but they simply ask him if he would like to 'swim with the fishes' or, alternatively, 'Have you ever heard of 'broke/homeless/6 ft. under'?  Once his teeth stop chattering, they'll tell him "Grow up if you know what's good for you!" and then they hang-up. So he's asked me to see what I can do to lessen my Page Rank.  I told him I'd try but would be unlikely to effect any appreciable change.  I also told him I think we've got bigger problems than simply Page Rank.   Anyhow, here's my attempt to lower my page rank.  

     The Dr. who removed the boil from my butt wasn't able to get $100,000 for the thing, as he had expected.   So now he's suing me for $300,000.

     I told the story of the calls to my PR rep to my dentist.  He laughed.   He asked me to open my mouth please then asked me, "Is it safe, yet?"

     If Nathan Hale were alive today, he'd have said; "I regret that I have but $3,016 to give to get me out of this mess."

     Finally, for the benefit of my PR rep I'll have to insist that, if you folks know what's good for you, then you'll start following some of these other blogs . . . OR ELSE!
New Card Game
    Card games require inventing.  So I'm thinking of a new card game.

     The lowest value card is 'chores'.  This card has little concern for concepts of past and future and is therefore situated mostly in the present.
     The next lowest value card is 'money'.  It trumps 'chores'.
     The third lowest value card is 'ruminations/considerations'.  Basically, this card came about because of certain corruptions and cheating associated with the 'money' card.  It trumps 'money'.
     The fourth, second highest of value, is 'philosophy'.  Derived from the 'r/c' card, it's similar to the 'r/c' card but a bit more complex.  It gets most of it's value from an attempt to understand the interrelationships of 'chores', 'money', and 'ruminations/considerations'.   It trumps 'ruminations/considerations'.
     The highest value card is 'God'.  It trumps all the other cards.

     Now, I have some unfinished aspects of this game.  One, how is it that players playing this game  have agency over the 'God' card?   Two, what is won by the winner?

     Thinking of calling the game 'Western Civilization'.
". . . without letting them catch on your anger or pride, . . ."
"      A playground dispute in the fourth grade concluded with a barrage of epithets hurled at me, each one more stinging than the one before.  I was called every derogatory name for Indians that two white fourth grade classmates could remember.  Stunned, I could think of nothing equally hurtful to throw back.
     That evening still hurting from the insults, I told my grandfather about the incident.

     "Words can hurt," he said, "but only if you let them. They called you bad names.  Were you changed into the things they called you?"

     "No," I replied.

     "You cannot forget what they said any more than you cannot feel the wind when it blows.  But if you learn to let the wind blow through you, you will take away its power to blow you down.  If you let the words pass through you, without letting them catch on your anger or pride, you will not feel them."

     My grandfather's wise counsel has helped me through many storms in life.  How his quiet, yet powerful comments influenced me, and still do, is one of my favorite stories.

. . .

I, for one, am always willing to recall and retell the stories I have heard.  Especially when the wind blows.2                                           "

                                                                                                Joseph M. Marshall III
                                                                                                Sicangu Oglala Lakota

1 the lakota way:  stories and lessons for living,
Joseph M. Marshall III, pg. xi, ©2002, Penguin Compass of Penguin Group

2 Ibid, pg. xiv

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