Thursday, April 21, 2011

Laughter on the R Train

I'm so deliriously tired right now that I can't even pretend I'm concerned that this revitalized blogging experiment has recently lacked a certain joie de vivre. (That's French for "good blogging.") One reason I'm not concerned is that I can make up for it in the coming days and nights, which promise to be less busy. Another reason is that I'm so tired that I could convince myself this blog, and even my material existence, is just a figment of some distant god's imagination.

Riding home on the subway tonight, around 11:15, after meeting a friend for a drink after work, I was reading Out of Sheer Rage by Dyer (see previous posts). I have about 20 pages left now. I was trying not to laugh out loud, because laughing out loud alone in public — even if you're reading, so the source of the laughter is relatively clear — is goofy, and perhaps even easily confused for psychotic. (Why I should be self-conscious about this when so many of my compatriots in this city are obviously, even flamboyantly psychotic is an issue for another time.) I was trying not to laugh during several different passages, one of which described the way everyone in London exaggerates their cold symptoms. ("If people have a cold they say they have flu; if they say they have a cold it means there's nothing wrong with them.") In another, he tried to convey the satisfaction he took and the time he saved by not caring about one of the arts. ("Not being interested in the theatre provides me with more happiness than all the things I am interested in put together.")

The 23 pages I have left could be a retelling of an episode of Mr. Belvedere in the voice of Katie Couric, and I still think the book would be among my favorites.


Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

I must read that book. I love having to stifle laughs in public.

Re the Arts: a friend when you buy a concert ticket, you are paying for the -- not inconsiderable -- privilege of getting up and walking out.

3:35 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

It is a good feeling. It was a fun train ride, which isn't always the case, of course.

Yes about the concerts! There's another section right around those I quoted where he talks about going to a concert by a singer he's seen 11 or 12 times already, and even though he loves the singer he's frustrated by the sight lines and the crowd, etc., and it becomes this whole meditation on why we do things like see someone for a 12th time.

4:13 PM  
Blogger ANCIANT said...

I think if the last bit were read in the Katie Couric/Belvedere way it might even improve it. Right?

I'm sure you saw this, but Dyer has a piece in the new New Yorker, about land art installations in the US.

The part I remember best about Out of Sheer Rage was about how he wanted to go back to the UK to 'watch telly.' About how that was his greatest ambition.... That struck a nerve (unfortunately).

4:28 PM  

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