Thursday, January 22, 2015

Herzog : Book Review

Right off the bat, let me just say that I loved this book. I thought it was fabulous.

At a very basic plot level, Herzog is about a professor (of philosophy? - he works on Romanticism) named Moses Herzog whose wife has cheated on him and left him. 

It starts out :
     "If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.
      Some people thought he was cracked and for a time he himself had doubted that he was all there. But now, though he still behaved oddly, he felt confident, cheerful, clairvoyant, and strong. He had fallen under a spell and was writing letters to everyone under the sun."

It was never clear to me whether or not he really was going crazy, or if other people thought so, or if other people were trying to manipulate him and perhaps try to drive him crazy.

Anyway... whichever way you look at it, this is a very academic book. Herzog writes a ton of letters, some just in his head, to all sorts of people, but a lot of philosophers:
"Dear Doktor Professor Heidegger, I should like to know what you mean by the expression 'the fall into the quotidian.' When did this fall occur? Where were we standing when it happened?"

So many philosophers mentioned. Dewey and Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. There are quite a few sections in the book where he writes letters and I have only a dim understanding of what he's talking about. Basically, you either need to be like me, where you are fine with that, with not understanding every sentence, or you need to be much more well read and/or intelligent than I am.

So sometimes there's stuff I don't understand. But then there's something like this:

“I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And then? I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And what next? I get laid, I take a short holiday, but very soon after I fall upon those same thorns with gratification in pain, or suffering in joy - who knows what the mixture is! What good, what lasting good is there in me? Is there nothing else between birth and death but what I can get out of this perversity - only a favorable balance of disorderly emotions? No freedom? Only impulses? And what about all the good I have in my heart - does it mean anything? Is it simply a joke? A false hope that makes a man feel the illusion of worth? And so he goes on with his struggles. But this good is no phony. I know it isn't. I swear it.”

It's such a combination of humor and pathos, the yearning to be a good person, to do good things, to have a good life, to shake off the depression that is dogging you. It's this kind of thing that made me love this book.

I read it this fall and haven't posted about it 'til now, but it's the kind of book you just want to talk about when you're finished. So if you end up reading it, send me a letter! I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adding Machine and a Letter to Anna

Occasionally I send letters to my friends in town, even though I see them several times a week. I sent this one to my friend Anna while I was on winter vacation. It's made out of a promotional thingy from Cricket. Even the Cricket ads have beautiful illustrations. I love how Bumble is just hanging out, blending right in.

There's a store in my town called PACA - Preservation and Conservation Association. It's a non-profit that takes old building materials and sells them. They have tons of old doors, metal hinges, drawer pulls, etc. I went for the first time yesterday with my friend Anna (recipient of above letter) because she's helping me to refurbish the entertainment center our tv sits on. We found some cool old brass plates that we're going to use and I also spied this cool thing:

It's not a typewriter. It's some sort of adding machine. All the keys are numbers. Pretty cool looking.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Last Year, dog stickers

More things I don't think were posted last year. I believe that last year I received one of those little Dover books of stickers from my mom for Christmas... with old fashioned dogs. And I used a lot of them right away!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Last Year, winter mail

I've been looking through my photos and found some that I think I haven't posted before.

Here are some Christmas cards I received last year:

This photo below is of Olive, my niece-puppy! She graduated from training. 

And here are a few wintery things I sent last year:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Washi tape dispensers you probably already have

 Light shines gloriously on those who use tape dispensers.

 So these are the normal clear plastic tape dispensers that you get with scotch tape. The last time my scotch tape ran out I thought, hey, I could use these for washi tape!

Here's the deal: not all washi tapes will fit, but most do. The plastic dispensers make the tape much more bulky, so I only put two of my most used washi tapes in them. The dispensers also make it very easy to tear and you get this cool (I think) look at the end:

And you can pat yourself on the back for RE-USING!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Paging : Alison in South Africa

On the off chance that you read my blog...

Alison in South Africa... I got a letter from you in August this year, but there is no return address.
If you see this, please email me your address so I can reply!
Unfortunately, I hadn't written down your address from the first letter.

jouaient AT gmail DOT com

This is the last letter I received from you:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Your Best Face

I just put this envelope in the mail last night, but I'm pretty sure that the recipient doesn't read my blog, so here you go!

I started the New Year off right (write) with some mail making!

and the back...
 I got some really fun packing tape for Christmas that you can see on the back of this envelope (and a little bit on the front). It has several different patterns that repeat. I love the dark, rich colors.

I finally used the Twilight Zone stamp that I've been hoarding forever. It was just too cool to send.
The images on the envelope were taken from a Washington Post magazine. The reason for this letter is that I read an article in the magazine by Gene Weingarten all about puns. And puns are my friend Joseph's thing. So I just had to send him the article.

I made this on January 1st and I also wrote two long overdue letters to penpals. I want to catch up on all my mail from last year before the new semester starts.

Wish me luck!