Monday, September 29, 2008

Notes From Underground

Increasingly it seems that things fall into only two categories: good for TJAP or bad for TJAP. For example, reading.

Good for TJAP:
Novels written (in English) before 1820 or dealing accurately with this period. Books somehow pertaining to Regency-era England.

Bad for TJAP: All other reading material.

Reading has, in fact, taken a hit over the past few weeks as I have made the astonishing discovery (at least, it astonished me) that it is actually possible to write in the subway. I used to consider this time useful only for reading. Now I can work on my draft. It's crucial, of course, to get a seat; I also do better if I have enough space to freely move my arm and am far enough away from my fellow passengers that I don't feel they are reading over my shoulder. (And wondering what kind of sad maniac they are sitting next to, who is earnestly writing in neat print in a marble notebook, phrases like "You should have him bled, Miss," she said.) But really, the main thing is getting a seat. I can write standing up on the platform, but not on a moving express train.

All I am really reading these days are the newspapers, fascinated as I am by the continuing slide of the world economy. It's like watching history being made before my eyes. Which has nothing to do with TJAP (therefore, bad for TJAP) I suppose. Though I do find myself thinking about the collapse of Henry Austen's bank in 1816, as well as wondering about the world of 2089 from which Rachel and Liam travel back from. I like to think that 2089 humanity would have solved the pesky problems that beset us now, like climate change, financial panic, war and religious intolerance. Though, from only the most cursory glance at history, I can't imagine why that would be the case. Inventing a time machine, which would involve only a major rewrite of the laws of physics, actually seems likelier than that.

I don't really dwell on the world that Rachel and Liam live in because that isn't what TJAP is about. But one must suppose that only a world in which people have solved most of the big problems would there be the luxury to worry about little ones, like, what was in all those letters Cassandra burned?

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