I’m getting some very…

I'm getting some very interesting responses to the soulmates entry, but I'm going to hold off on diving into it again because I've just asked people if it's okay to post their mails here. If they say yes, I think it'll be a better entry. And if you write me on the subject (and please do), I'd appreciate it if you'd indicate whether it's okay to post it or not.

One thing that has become clear is that people have very different definitions of soulmates. What I strongly object to is one particular extreme definition -- but I still have some problems with even the moderate definition. Anyway -- patience. Stop babbling, Mary Anne, until you're prepared to babble in comprehensible detail. Okay.

So yesterday I wrote about 700 words of Cinderslut on the plane (okay, that's not really the title, but it's cute, huh?), and then got tired of looking at the little Visor screen, so put it away and pulled out a book. I'd like to note, however, that I wouldn't have written at all without the Visor, because the seats were so crowded that when the person in front of me tilted back, my laptop screen would have been at a 45 degree tilt towards me, and totally invisible. I knew there was some reason why I hadn't been using my laptop on planes much -- I just couldn't remember what it was until I was in the situation again.

I was reading The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. There's rather more dictionary-making than murder in this book, but I still enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, it was the dictionary-making (and the romance of Oxford) that let me get all caught up in the protagonists. I ended up getting weepy in the airport lobby (after I got off the plane, I settled down at a cafe table for a few hours until Jed got off work), at the plight of Dr. W.C. Minor. There were a lot of things I liked about this book -- not least the way it felt like it was never going to end. You see, there was the ending. Then there was a wrapping up section. Then there was a postscript. Then there was an author's note. Then there were the long and interesting acknowledgements. And finally there were the suggestions for further reading. Oof. But fun, and satisfying. When you finally put the book done, you feel like you've been done properly by. They didn't cheat you out of a satisfying ending in this book, no sirree.

If you take any pleasure in words, I think that you will enjoy this book. And the historical aspects are pretty fascinating too. There's only one area that seriously annoyed me, and I think it must simply be a legacy of British colonial thinking (the author is British, and much of the action of the book takes place in England). Dr. Minor apparently spent some time in Sri Lanka as a child, and this is what they have to say about it:

"Ceylon is in reality a kind of postlapsarian treasure island [oh, really?], where every sensual gift of the tropics is available, both to reward temptation and to beguile and charm. So there are cinnamon and coconut, coffee and tea; there are sapphires and rubies, mangoes and cashews, elephants and leopards; and everywhere a rich, hot, sweetly moist breeze, scented by the sea, spices, and blossoms"

I'm mostly okay with him up to this point -- but wait, there's more.

"And there are the girls -- young, chocolate-skinned, ever-giggling naked girls with sleek wet bodies, rosebud nipples, long hair, coltish legs, and scarlet and purple petals folded behind their ears -- who play in the white Indian Ocean surf and who run, quite without shame, along the cool wet sands on their way back home."

See, I have never seen these girls he's talking about. Unless he means little kids, less than five years old. And that's just sick. Everyone else wears clothes when they go to bathe in the sea. So I'm not sure where these fantasies are coming from. And lest you think he's talking about the way it was a hundred years ago, he goes on to confirm that,

"It was these nameless village girls -- the likes of whom had frolicked naked in the Singhalese surf for scores of years past, just as they still do -- that young William Chester Minor remembered most. It was these young girls of Ceylon, he later said he was sure, who had unknowingly set him on the spiral path to his eventually insatiable lust, to his incurable madness, and to his final perdition."

Well. Really.

But if you can get past that page of nonsense, the rest of the book is quite good.

Once I finished it, I went back to Cinderslut, and managed to get about 2000 words down before Jed showed up. Just 7000 to go. It's going pretty well so far; fingers crossed that I don't get stuck like I did last time I did one of these...

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