In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
--T. S. Eliot, East Coker
+ You all know I am a huge fan of Miss Manners. This note struck me with its practicality, grace, and wisdom:
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. We have set up a Web site for friends and family to visit for updates, but we need a polite way to ask that phone calls and visits be limited. We want to ensure that the time my mother and father have left together is not spent taking “prying” visits or calls.
GENTLE READER: Certainly you can tell would-be callers that your father can receive visitors only at certain times, and if they overstay, you can gently say that you appreciate their coming, but think your father had better rest now. You can even say that he is unable to receive visitors at all. But Miss Manners urges doing this judiciously. Of course your parents want time together. But when you dismiss visits as “prying,” you discount the strength that the compassion of others can provide, both now and later. Far more difficult than regulating visitors is being isolated by indifference.
I was actually thinking about something similar to this earlier this week. Myrna, Sidecar and I are watching Foyle's War (more on that next week), and in an episode, an local drunkard makes and unexpected visit to one of the local wealthy families. The lady of the house deals with the intrusion with such grace--she doesn't lie and say he's not there, or make excuses on his behalf, she simply says "I'll see if he is available." (Now that I think of it, Mom and Dad taught us to say that on the phone, too.) there are old standards of etiquette that allow us to act in charity (not lying) and graciousness, but still protect the privacy of individuals. I'd like to revive these standards, but I'm afraid I'll forget. Help me, will you?
+ My friend Noelle Daly reviews the new biography of Humphrey Bogart for American Conservative:
Bogart has been graced with so many biographies—from the academic treatments of film scholars to the personal remembrances of his wife, son, and close friends—that Kanfer’s addition might seem superfluous. But he takes pains to justify his project: Kanfer endeavors not only to introduce the legendary Bogart to a new generation but to account for his uncanny singularity and enduring appeal.+ Want to write the next Lord of the Rings? Or, more humbly, just come to understand Tolkien's great mind and imagination. Buy a pipe and start reading what he read. For the record, I have only read 1, 8, and 10. I have a lot to catch up on! (And, ps, Beowulf is one of the greatest works in the English language, and should be read and savored by everyone.)
+ Einstein's theory of relativity explained, to artist Isamu Noguchi, in a telegram! (Letters of Note)
+ The first Saturday of my first weekend in college I woke up, as usual, with the sun. I lay in my top bunk reading, and napping, and, suddenly, my roommate's alarm went off, loudly and for a full minute. She rose in bed, turned it off, lay back down and pulled the covers over her head, all in one swift mechanical motion--like the cuckoo in a clock. And she continued to do that every 10 minutes for three full hours. A new app for the iPhone makes you donate 25 cents to a non-profit every time you hit snooze (via Philanthropy Daily).
+ By the way: it wasn't the rat's fault. (Ancient Industries)