Friday, October 28, 2005

A touch of blogging ...

It has been a wearisome week at The Inquirer. There is a buyout offer on the table and quite a few people have signed up for it. People I have worked with for 20 years and more are planning to exit. And no one can really say for sure what things will be like when it's all over -- except that it won't be the same.
And so, after a couple of very long days, I shall confine my blogging to noting that on this day, in 1903, Evelyn Waugh was born. Here is a fine piece on him by George Weigel. And this, from my favorite among his novels, Brideshead Revisited, nicely summarizes how I have been feeling of late:

How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long, summer days of unreflecting dissipation, Dresden figures of pastoral gaiety! Our wisdom, we prefer to think, is all of our own gathering, while, if the truth be told, it is, most of it, the last coin of a legacy that dwindles with time.


  1. Frank, you sound a tad melancholy today. Also sound as if you're leaning toward taking that buyout. Ah, we'd hate to lose ya. But, good luck and godspeed whatever you do. As to your Waugh reference, I sort of agree with you. "Brideshead Revisited" is not my favorite of his novels, simply because the "Sword of Honour" trilogy has given me more pleasure, but I have to admit that "Bridehead" is his best. "Sword" and "Brideshead" are the only ones I've read twice. But I have to ask whether his reputation doesn't sometimes let him get away with obscurantism. Take a close look at the last sentence from the quote, particularly the last clause ("if the truth be told, it is, most of it, the last coin of a legacy that dwindles with time"). Does it make any sense? What does it mean? That everything we know is but the vanishing remnant of something that grows less and less? Vanity, vanity, all is vanity? I mean, I know the old bird was depressed, depressive, curmudgeonly, and no fun to be around, but I suspect that borders on elegant B.S. With respect, of course.

  2. Not me. I'd have hung around at the Alamo. I guess I'm betting I'll still be involved with books and I want to be involved in whatever newspapers end up morphing into. Also, I have the job of a lifetime. There are readers, freelancers, schools, museums, libraries and other institutions I feel an obligation toward. You just can't walk away from that.
    I'm also an incurable optimist, the kind of guy who sees every challenge as an opportunity. If the pros start walking out on newspapers now they'll have no one but themselves to blame if newspapers die or become something unrecognizable. In short, I plan to stick it out for a few more years, if permitted to.
    As for the Waugh quote, a similar thought crossed my mind when I plugged it in. But it served my purpose. It reflected how I felt -- for I think it has more to so with conveying a mood of melancholy than anything else -- though what he is saying, as I understand it, is that we think we have earned our wisdom, when in fact the little we end up with tends to be at the bottom of a coffer we inherited from others. (I also think the Sword of Honor trilogy is simply magnificent -- but maybe what I need right now is The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold.)

  3. Or perhaps "Scott-King's Modern Europe." In a world going madly and badly awry (more than 50 years ago), the main character finds comfort in all that he has had, because it is so totally NOT what he encounters in this brave new world. It might cheer a chap with your view of the world -- at least what I can divine of it (probably imperfectly) from your writings.