I read two fluff books in a row so as penance I decided to read Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. I’d never read Lawrence before. I was afraid of him. I thought his plots were too complex for me. I thought the language was too dense. Long, Joycean paragraphs without the benefit of a comma or period. But I think it’s important to gnaw on something outside of your comfort zone once in a while. It’s good for the aul’ grey matter.
Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is easily digestible. In fact, this book is closer to being cheap melodrama than it is inaccessible, high-minded literature. He constantly beats you over the head with same emotion, to wit:
p. 70: Paul hated his father so.
p. 170: Then sometimes he hated her.
p. 174: Once, he threw the pencil in her face.
p. 206: They hated each other in silence.
p. 213: …then he hated her—and he easily hated her.
p. 215: This, however, did not prevent his hating her.
p. 215: …she despised him… (Same page! I hit a double.)
p. 225: “I hate you!”
p. 229: And a touch of hate for her crept back into his heart.
p. 234: And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly.
p. 241: She sat crouched beneath…his hatred of her.
p. 244: He hated her bitterly at that moment…
And I’m only halfway through the book! This unrelenting tsunami of hatred is between people who supposedly love one another. In invoking “hate” so frequently—not just the word itself, but its essence, over and over again—he dilutes one of the two most powerful emotions of the human heart. When love comes along, you scarcely take it seriously.
But I’ll tell you one thing; they knew how to relax back in 1913. Paul’s boss, Mr. Pappleworth, arrived in the morning “…chewing a chlorodyne gum…”. According to the endnotes, chlorodyne gum was a narcotic and painkiller made from morphia, chloroform, India hemp and prussic acid. Prussic acid is also known as hydrogen cyanide—an extremely poisonous compound. Party in Mr. Pappleworth’s cube!
D.H. Lawrence isn’t so badass after all. But what do I know? The Modern Library placed Sons and Lovers ninth on their list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century. Maybe I should try Thomas Pynchon next. He’s always kind of freaked me out, too.
I have problems with my eyeballs. They constantly throb and ache because I stare at a screen for most of my waking hours. Sometimes, it’s so bad that I get a splitting headache. I’ve heard rumors that there are holistic remedies. I need to look into that. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
In the meantime, I eat aspirin and slather my eyeballs with eye drops. I’m terrible at dispensing the drops. Most of it ends up running down my cheeks. When I’m at work, I have to lock myself in a stall in the men’s room and have a tissue in hand to blot up the excess, least anyone think I’ve been in the bathroom sobbing hysterically.
Yesterday, I was going through this ridiculous procedure at work. I closed and locked the door behind me, sat down, tilted my head back, back, back…gently squeezed the bottle of drops…and I heard a loud snap. The toilet seat broke off its moorings and I slid off and landed flat on my ass. My legs were akimbo sticking out the front of the stall. My back is still sore from where it banged against the porcelain. At least it took my mind off of my sore eyeballs.
At this point, I’ve pretty much lost all respect for Roy Lichtenstein. I was a huge fan of his for many years. But there’s something about this latest example of procurement I recently stumbled across in MoMA that makes me uncomfortable.
This is Bauhaus Stairway by Oskar Schlemmer form 1932. A beauty, don’t you think?
Hanging on an adjacent wall is, you guessed it, Bauhaus Stairway by Roy Lichtenstein from 1988.
I know Lichtenstein built a career and made untold millions doing this sort of thing. I never minded before but I guess I’m over it. Ben day dots might’ve been an artistic innovation in 1963, but at this point it’s just lazy copying. It leaves me cold. Fail. I still like Warhol, though. There’s no rhyme or reason to this sort of thing. It’s all subjective emotions.
I saw this coming. The seeds of dissatisfaction were sown a couple of years ago.