Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reading _Alice_'s Footnotes

Maybe it's just me, but I find this a hilarious footnote in the heavily annotated edition of Alice's Adventures  in Wonderland that I'm now reading: "The Liddell children had a particularly distinguished drawing-master at this time, John Ruskin. . . ."  What an incredibly bizarre way to describe Ruskin, "a particularly distinguished drawing-master?"  Seriously?  Later on, the footnote says, "He taught Alice drawing in the deanery, lending her paintings of Turner to copy. . .," and I found that hilarious too, but that really is probably just me.  The thing is, most of my exposure to Ruskin was in my summer course back in high school on Victorian literature, where our big joke was that Ruskin suffered from profound lust for Turner because he just would not shut up in any of his work about how great Turner was. . . I suppose by this principle I myself suffer with profound lust for Byron, Shelley, Henry James, DWJ, Jenna Moran, Bowie and Kevin Barnes?

I also seriously had no idea that the Liddell in Alice Liddell was the same as the Liddell in Liddell-Scott.

Obviously, these are the kinds of things I am going to blog about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mists and Mellow Fruitlessness

I grew up in a temperate climate and spent the vast majority of my life in regions whose annual cycles were shaped by the passage of the seasons.  Living as I do now in the tropics, I obviously don't experience that so much anymore.  Of course, there are still annual cycles in my life.  Especially because I work as a teacher, the passage of time remains cyclical even without the drastic changes in weather and lighting that accompany such cycles further to the north and south.  And yet, of course, there's some visceral element that has been lacking over the past two and a half years, something that is not quite the same when the change you experience is only in your mind and not in your bones.

Except maybe not?  For a few weeks, unusual in the rain forest climate of the city where I live now, there was no rain.  The weather was unbearably hot and stifling.  And then yesterday, as August got over its hump and amiably ambled towards its close, the skies finally released their pent-up tension.  Once I saw the clouds and the inevitability of rain, I was already overjoyed that it would finally cool down.  And it was so pleasant to be outside yesterday evening and this morning after the rain, comfortable at last - at last!

Even in this tropical climate, November, December, and January form more of a rainy season when the frequent downpours and cloud cover keep the temperatures down a little.  Even before that, in October, rain is somewhat reliable, and the pollution from the burning of rain forests drifts over the city - something I suppose I should complain about, given that it definitely makes it harder to breathe, but that I can't help but partially appreciate for the cooling effect.  I guess now that I will soon achieve my third autumn in this country, I'm beginning to get used to the seasonal cycles, because I suddenly find myself, with this outburst of rain, looking forward more than I ever expected possible in a very visceral way to the advent of autumn.  I can almost feel it coming, just as much as I ever would in the more temperate countries I've inhabited in the past.  Although I suppose summer was my favorite season as a child just because of the absence of school, as an adult in temperate countries autumn has been my favorite season, especially the earlier autumn, September and October.  I'm exited to find myself transferring some of that affection to the tropical autumn in November, glad that I'm able to find some physical relation to life even in a place where the seasons as I know them are void.