10 January 2002

Susan decided yesterday that arguing about a set of books was a bad idea, and that personal attacks were the way to go. She referred to irreconcilable differences in outlook. That's pretty clearly true. I don't think that it's acceptable to make a discussion of literature into a discussion of someone's character deficiencies. I especially don't find that behavior acceptable when it's done publicly, by an editor, of an author who has submitted to her publication. That looks like a pretty irreconcilable difference in outlook to me.

How fabulous this is.

Tim has actually listened to my comments, and while he disagrees, he doesn't mistake "too bland" for "not bland enough" -- nor does he get personal. And on the subject of whether the Block characters are cookie-cutter rebels, we can agree to disagree. I'm not surprised; we've disagreed on such characters before, as in A Mask for the General. And it's kind of a whole-book-feel sort of argument: I could muster a list of things that the characters do that everybody trendily "different" does, and Tim could draw up a companion list of all the times they do something that seems perfectly individual, and it wouldn't decide anything for anybody. That's okay.

I also disagree with him that goat milk is okay, but I can let that one go, too. Heck, my own grandpa eats gjetost. (I am shocked, shocked that the Microsoft Word dictionary doesn't contain "gjetost.") I started talking to an old man in the grocery line just before Christmas because he was buying gjetost. (Gjetost and a bakery chocolate cake, which made me a bit curious....)

We were watching a stand-up comedian on Comedy Central the other day who was talking about how he smiles at really old people sometimes, just for being old. I do that, too, sometimes, but I don't think it's because they're old. I think it's partly because they're "safe" and partly because I really do want them to think that the world is going to be all right. I get all disturbed about India and Pakistan (that's known as "sanity," getting disturbed by India and Pakistan), but I think the world is generally going to be okay even after the current old people gone. People are going to continue to be decent to each other, most of the time, on a personal basis. Manners may be dying, but decency will stick around in some form or another. I hope.

Not my current old people, of course -- after they're gone, I mean. They're not going anywhere. They'd better not, if they know what's good for 'em.

I don't know why it's more vital to convince old people of the decency thing, though. I mean, I know some old people, and they're no more nor less decent than young people. And young people are more likely to be around to enjoy it if people do keep treating each other fairly decently, which is by no means assured.

Anyway. Timprov and I are going to go up to Berkeley to write this afternoon, if both of us feel decently up to it. Change of scene, lack of'll be good.

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