Thursday, October 26, 2006

enantiomorph A form which is related to another as an object is related to its image in a mirror; a mirror image.

pneumatology The science, doctrine, or theory of spirits or spiritual beings.

Nertz! A. adj. ‘Nuts’, crazy. Now somewhat rare.

1928 J. P. MCEVOY Show Girl iii. 47 You'd be plumb nerts.

B. int. Expressing annoyance, exasperation, incredulity, etc.

1931 B. MEREDITH Speakeasy Girl iv. 52 ‘Nerts!’ muttered Roy in disgust. 1975 J. ASHBERY Self-portrait in Convex Mirror 42 Aw nerts, One of them might say, this guy's too much for me. (OED)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1848

Saturday, October 21, 2006

unhappy returns

Coleridge was born on 21st October 1772, making today his 234th anniversary. Unhemmed probably wouldn't be marking the occasion if I hadn't just read this. It's no exaggeration to say that he didn't like his birthday much, or at least that some of his birthdays got him down, reminding him of all the things he felt he hadn't achieved. He celebrated - if that's the right word - on the wrong day, under the mistaken impression that he came into the world on the 20th. This mistake, for some reason, really appeals to me.

On the evidence of his notebooks, his 32nd birthday looks to have been particularly rough:

'O my God! or if I dare not continue in that awful feeling! yet oh whatever is good in me, even tho' not in the Depth, tho' not in that which is the Universal & Perfect in us, yet oh! by all the ministering Imperfections of my Nature that were capable of subserving the Good - O why have I shunned & fled like a cowed Dog from the Thought that yesterday was my Birth Day, & that I was 32 - So help me Heaven! as I looked back, & till I looked back, I had imagined I was only 31 - so completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month! O Sorrow & Shame! I am not worthy to live! - Two & thirty years - & this last year above all others! - I have done nothing! No I have not even layed up any materials, any inward store, of after action! - O no! still worse! still worse! body & mind, habit of bedrugging the feelings, & bodily movements, & habit of dreaming without distinct or rememberable ...'

According to Seamus Perry's commentary, the 'next four leaves have been cut out of the book'.

The following year was quite bad too:

'My Birth Day! - O Thought of Agony! O Thought of Despair! drive me not to utter Madness! -'

I thought that there were some more of these sad and extraordinary birthday entries, but I can't seem to find them. I was very pleased to discover (in the chronology included in this book) that on his 50th Coleridge took a dip in the sea at Ramsgate.


'Ernie Rogers, a twenty-three-year-old guitar player in San Bernardino, may represent the ultimate realization — and corruption — of YouTube's democratic ideal. Although on his user profile he bills himself as a “typical guy,” Rogers, who goes by the name lamo1234, has watched more than nine hundred thousand videos on YouTube since May. That averages out to approximately two hundred and fifty per hour, not allowing for sleep. What he watches, primarily, is his own guitar solos (or the first few seconds of them), over and over, to boost his view counts to levels that will make others take notice. His strategy seems to have been successful: one of his solos, a medley of Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, and Beethoven licks, has been viewed two hundred thousand times—and only sixty thousand of those viewings were by him. Unfortunately, this strategy leaves little time for actually playing music. “Next year, the No. 1 spot on YouTube is going to be me, every day,” he told me. “I just need to make my band.”'

'It Should Happen To You', Ben McGrath in The New Yorker, 16th October

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lon Chaney, Sr.

Hi, Lon. Have we met?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

the North Wall of the Eiger

This face of the mountain - it's in the Swiss Alps - has apparently claimed the lives of many climbers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

unsavoury business

"Around 1495 Henry VII made an important reorganization of his private living space in which he separated off a Privy region for the unsavoury business of doing his accounts and going to the lavatory."

Colin Burrow reviewing Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII by Alistair Fox in Essays in Criticism 41 (1991).