Thursday, October 08, 2009

A yearly visit of a week to the city of the callous and cynical

I have been meaning to write about the dubious pleasures of British television (outstanding [sic] mucky bathtubs, a mildly sadistic masterchef piercing the plump cheeks of buxom lads from Merseyside with his earnest little hedgehog eyes, speed dating for people with Asperger's syndrome - and, of course, the indomitable Miss Tits), but I don't feel the urge or have the time. Instead I give you more wisdom from my (current) favourite author:

"I should have lived an intelligible life, instead of only trying to live, aiming at modes of life beyond my reach. My mistake was that of numberless men nowadays. Because I was conscious of brains, I thought that the only place for me was London. It's easy enough to understand this common delusion. We form our ideas of London from old literature; we think of London as if it were still the one centre of intellectual life; we think and talk like Chatterton. But the truth is that intellectual men in our day do their best to keep away from London--when once they know the place. There are libraries everywhere; papers and magazines reach the north of Scotland as soon as they reach Brompton; it's only on rare occasions, for special kinds of work, that one is bound to live in London. And as for recreation, why, now that no English theatre exists, what is there in London that you can't enjoy in almost any part of England? At all events, a yearly visit of a week would be quite sufficient for all the special features of the town. London is only a huge shop, with an hotel on the upper storeys. To be sure, if you make it your artistic subject, that's a different thing. But neither you nor I would do that by deliberate choice."

(George Gissing, New Grub Street)

The passage continues:

"It's a huge misfortune, this will-o'-the-wisp attraction exercised by London on young men of brains. They come here to be degraded, or toperish, when their true sphere is a life of peaceful remoteness. The type of man capable of success in London is more or less callous and cynical. If I had the training of boys, I would teach them to think of London as the last place where life can be lived worthily."

Don't get me wrong: I really love London. But how anybody can live here is beyond me.


mikeovvulcan, live long and whatever said...

The dubious pleasures of british TV? Where else could you watch the very final Star Trek Voyager on Tuesday and Wednesday night (its a two parter, silly) and the very first on thursday? In fact where else can you drown out the misery that is contemporary TV by watching the glories of Star Trek every night (weeknights only, tho') except on Virgin 1. And if life's too hard to take, by skilful use of your channel changer (and assuming that you aren't a German whose been left in charge of the country, and thus can actually use a channel changer)you can wtach Star treek for several hours every night by flitting between Virgin 1 and Virgin 1+1. And where else would you get a channel called "Dave ja vu"?

mikeovswinton and the Delta Quadrant said...

"wtach Star treek". Sorry, I switche dinto Klingon there, and told you to do something very rude. I meant, of course, "watch Star Trek".

The Wife said...

Mike, not all of us are Trekkies, you know ....