Friday, July 28, 2006

The Thinking Organ

From ye olde Light Reader:
It is not without reason that some writers have called coffee "an intellectual drink." The general use made of it by men of letters, scientists, artists—in a word, by all persons whose work requires a particular activity of the thinking organ—this use has become established only after repeated observations and reliable experiments. Nothing works better, in fact, than coffee for arresting the anguish of a difficult digestion. The stimulating action of this drink, which bears equally on the sensitive and on the motor forces, far from disturbing their natural equilibrium, completes it and makes it more perfect. The sensations become at once more acute and more distinct, the ideas more active and clearer: and not only does coffee have none of the disadvantages of narcotics, of ardent spirits, or even of wine; on the contrary, it is the most effective means of opposing their pernicious effects.

("Thinking organ" puts me in mind of the character Jane from Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means—she's the one who works in publishing and always demands that her housemates keep quiet, so that she can do her very important "brain work.")

* * *

Jeff Yang, founder of A. Magazine and all-around Asian-Am. mensch, archives his "Instant Yang" writings here.

* * *

MIAMI THRICE: A.O. Scott has a well-written, witty (¡Dios Mio!) appreciation of Miami Vice—but I must advise Dizzyheads not to see this movie! (John Ortiz's performance, as noted by Scott and Sweeney, is good—he definitely transcends the role and comes up with good, unexpected line readings.) But I must say that though I was trying to give the film the benefit of the doubt, especially with the visuals, it just never clicked for me (whereas Collateral's look really did make sense pretty much from the start). And Sweeney does a fine job capturing MV's standout sequence ("The sense of speed is palpable—and can there be any greater film fantasy than to be speeding to Havana with Gong Li for mojitos?") . . . but still . . . !

NABOKOVIAN NOTEBOOK: Yesterday, the Times ran a piece on an exhibit elucidating the importance of butterflies to Nabokov's development/strategies as a fiction writer (a variant of a story that appeared in other places a couple weeks back) . . . It was interesting to me, but somehow not that interesting . . . Nowadays I find myself a little less taken with the fluttering calling cards VN puts in his books (and the digs at psychology/Freud/etc.) than I was upon first reading him (when they seemed very clever). There are plenty of other pleasures to be found in the books, of course, plenty of things still to learn from VN . . . Oddly, yesterday another lepidopterological piece (!) was published in the Times—VN gets a mention . . .

UPDATE!!! Dave Kehr doesn't like Miami Vice—at last, a voice of reason!


Blogger Jenny D said...

Unless I am misremembering, you have forgotten the best part about the Spark novel (it is typically cruel of Spark): it's WWII, food esp. sweets are rationed, Jane is rather overweight and justifies hoarding and secretly consuming chocolate bars because they're "brain food"! Isn't that right? It's a million years since I read it, but that stayed with me...

11:27 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Yes! "Brain food"! Which is a term I use to describe my own diet . . .

12:34 PM  
Blogger Jenny D said...

I have a joke about "brain food" in the early pages of Dynamite No. 1, it is not exactly like in Spark but it was definitely inspired by that one. My English grandmother would (half-seriously) refer to fish as "brain food"...

9:19 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

View My Stats