Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Struggle

 By Fred Owens
My Struggle

I'm reading My Struggle, a five-volume autobiographical novel by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. I am on page 297 of the first volume. I'm not saying I will read all  3,500 pages in five volumes.
That's not a good way to think about any book  -- Oh, it will take too long to read. You either like it or you don't.
What I like about Knausgaard is that he has no style, no writing style. Most writers have a distinctive style and you can tell who wrote it. Like Hemingway or Dickens -- they have strong styles, easy to identify.
But the very best writer, Tolstoy, has no style at all. He's not even  there. He's not in the way. It's all story and nothing else.
Knausgaard is like that. No style. All story.
But this is too dreary. This discussion, not the book.
I need to think of something that's more fun. It's a sunny day in Santa Barbara, a Sunday afternoon. We plan to take a semi-vigorous walk up the hill and around the Douglas Preserve and then down the stairs to the beach, and then down the beach back to the parking lot. Takes an hour or so. Laurie's doctor told her to get  more cardiovascular action -- climb a hill, ride a bike.
As it is, she puts in major time gardening, but the doctor wants something slightly strenuous.
She enlisted me in the project. I said my doctor didn't tell me anything. Didn't tell me what to do or not do, what to eat or not eat, no lecture, no hint, just a free pass, like you're getting older and then you'll die, but there's not much you can do about that.
Maybe women are willing to listen to medical instructions, so they get more of them. Doesn't mean they will act on the instruction, only means they will listen, or act like they are listening.
The male patient will have this look like nobody tells me what to do, so the doctor doesn't tell him what to do.
But that is a generalization -- that women act in a certain way and men act differently -- something I avoid writing about, because it encourages correction.
Like this friend of mine, an old classmate from the University of Toronto, will say, yes, some women are like that but not all, and some men are like that but not all.
You're supposed to qualify all your broad statements. You're not supposed to say Italians like to eat pasta, you supposed to say some or even most Italians like pasta but surely not all.
Then you get nervous and stop making any kind of broad statement. Santa Barbara is a wonderful place to live -- no, too broad, in fact some people around here are quite miserable.
Then you start splitting hairs and pretty soon you have said a lot of words that go nowhere.
Ethnic slurs. I get by fairly well without using any ethnics slurs -- only a dash of profanity here and there. Bitch is a common word, but I never say it. Hardly ever. Although saying heck or darn seems to be too much the boy scout.
I remember the only time I heard farmer Dave Hedlin lose his temper. This is a man who always smiles and never cusses, until that one day when he just let it fly. Goddam this and goddam that, and worse, It was over the cabbage seed crop and the contractor who was buying the cabbage seed changed his mind about the hybridization of various strains and so Dave had to change all the male plants to female plants -- we're talking acres here and many thousands of sweet little cabbage plants with blue stickers, if they were male, and pink stickers if they were female. But Dave and his crew had to switch them all per the contractor's instructions. Hence the profanity.
When you learn about seed crops, you get into the sex life of plants  -- how certain boy plants and certain female plants -- but I blush. Then the boy plants can turn into female plants and things start getting very progressive.
Eros. The life principle. Sex and Death.
Theresa May Be or Theresa May Be NotEngland, an entire country that cannot make up its mind. We should give them plenty of space and time. They seem like such nice people. Sometimes it's better to just wait and see, and things will fall into place and the right path will be chosen. My interest in English life is partly escapist. I cannot stand Trump.
He is a disgusting man. I have lost all detachment and perspective. Are you Republicans happy now? If your goal was to make half the country nauseous, you have succeeded.
Give me England.
that's all,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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