Thursday, April 11, 2013

Short bits of reading in the midst of short spurts to the bathroom

Perhaps because of this event some of my reading has been an old travel story of Paul Theroux in Fresh Air Fiend telling of a trip in 1980 down the Yangtze. Then China was still primitive and suffering from the Cultural Revolution and other great oppressions. They were still wary of Capitalism. By 1999 Theroux was saying that it was an entirely different county and now, of course, nothing is the same as it was then. I liked the story. Theroux makes great fun of his fellow travelers, millionaires who are really not very engaged in China.
He talks to locals and gathers interesting tidbits. For example, it is an old superstition that if a fish jumps up on the boat it cannot be eaten, but must be taken to land and buried. And another had those on ships when the wind was down whistling to bring the wind.
Much was denied by the guides. Gambling was illegal but all over folks were playing cards and dominoes and dice. In one game the men who lost a hand had to drink a swig of gin and put a clothespin on their ears. This was in Shanghai. So the loser would be drunk and look like an idiot.
"I said that very little had changed on the yangtze. People still fished in the old way; the sailed, rowed and towed wooden junks; they watered their fields carrying buckets on yokes."

In one scene he describes men called trackers who pulled sailing junks up against the current by scrambling over rocks in their bare feet.

In ancient times these trackers were whipped.
Now, I read that they pretty much just pull boats for tourists.

After the first piece of writing, there were two more with a focus on China, but the second got too political for me and I abandoned it.

What an awful way to work!
Shorter bits of reading had me pulling out an old National Geographic from the bathroom bookcase and reading in more detail of just how terrible we were to the Lakota Indians, how disengenuous, how brutal, how easily we killed them with a survivor reporting a mother killed and her baby still suckling, not knowing she was dead. There too was the pride in their refinding old ways and coming back enough to feel Lakota again. Still, this was a terrible story.

And in the Insomniacs Dictionary I read list of words with the -cide suffixof like senicide, a permanent solution to old, sick and grumpy. I guess I should be less grumpy.
And -phobia words. If found out that montony in one sense of its meaning is a synonym for homophobia, and that seemed both odd etymology but like senicide seemed to hold a sliver of common sense.
Here too were -mania words and clinomania seemed to perfectly define part of my condition.