Ambrose, like many biographers before him, is a man enamored of his subject. To him, Meriwether Lewis is the paramount, curious, bootstrapped Renaissance man of the early 19th century; this bosom buddy of Thomas Jefferson is the bold Yin to William Clark’s relevant but slightly duller Yang. His biographic sweep of Lewis primarily concerns the exhilarating rawness of the journey of the Corps of Discovery during 1804-1806, but it is at its core a story about the man, not merely the events for which he is yet championed.
I’ve always been envious of people who can memorize poetry. Or prose passages, quotes, strings of digits. I’m tolerable good at minute fact-based recall—hence the appeal of little historical anecdotes, dates, foreign languages, minerals, functions in programming languages—but I’m hopeless with literature or poems. Or so I thought.
I read five-ish books in January, 2011, and reviewed none of them. I’m going to give you a vapid grin now. My mind is empty. I have nothing to say. I name my hard drives after the muses (Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Urania) but it’s as if that made them shun me. Bah. The devil with it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading so many technical blogs. I also read this stuff.
Each evening as the pets wax needy, the caffeine wears off, and the house creaks as it cools, I think: I should blog. A pin-snip tightening in the solar plexus; I clamp down and I panic lightly and I know, for one, that I don’t have the margins of energy to tell the whole story of what January is or has been. For two, guilt. The longer I go blogless, the heavier the onus. Even this paragraph has made me lose a kilogram or two of psychic weight. So, in compromise, let’s slide narrower the window of recap to encompass only one subject: two presentations I gave this month.
There’s a problem. Or perhaps not a problem so much as an absence of anything actively useful. I read a lot. I pursue a lot of interests. I see a lot, I go to a lot of places (more now than before). So much that I have become overawed, and, in turn, passive where I should really be active. I’ve transformed into an absorptive entity. This cannot stand.
What good is pummeling my way through Plato, learning the art of frankincense distillation, taking weak little steps towards astrophotography, sampling weird Austrian wines made from the Zweigelt grape or solving confounding problems in the world of mobile Web development if I keep everything entirely to myself?
From the archive, a few random posts that you might not have seen before.