Many subjects (very long)

Courtney M Eckhardt cme at MIT.EDU
Mon Jul 24 02:07:12 EDT 2000

In message <Pine.LNX.3.96.1000724131423.8792B-100000 at>, Pau
l Andinach writes:
>On Mon, 24 Jul 2000, Courtney M Eckhardt wrote:
>> I won't drink alcohol "socially", but I do drink alcohol for the
>> flavor.
>How odd. The flavour is near the top of my reasons for not drinking

Well, it depends on the flavor, of course... but I don't remember
disliking any of the wines I've tried (though I'm far from
"understanding" wine) and I love about a quarter shot of some flavored
hard liquors over ice cream (chambourd (raspberry) on chocolate is a
definate winner).

>> The thought of being drunk or high or in any other mind-altered
>> state where I don't have full control over what I say and do has
>> always bothered me... I always felt that there were things in my
>> mind that were very private that I didn't want to get out
>That's another of my reasons for avoiding mind-altering substances.
>I really want some of the things in my head to stay there.
>(Voice in Paul's head: Why don't you give up mailing lists and message
> 	forums, then?
> Second voice in Paul's head: That's different.
> Voice in Paul's head: Is it? How?
> Second voice in Paul's head: I've never completely lost control of
> 	what I let out on a message forum. 
> Voice in Paul's head: That's debatable.
> Third voice in Paul's head: Psst - you're gathering an audience.
> [Voice in Paul's head wanders off behind parietal lobe, looking 
> 	smug.])


>> And even now I read while walking places (if you've never barked
>> your shins on a fire hydrant and then apologized to it for running
>> into it you're missing out on valuable reading time!)
>We don't have fire hydrants here. :)
>Actually, I don't read while walking so much any more. I think I've
>decided that the quality of the reading time isn't good enough,
>because I have to keep dipping in and out.

Hmm, it's a good point... I do it more often in the summers than any
other time, for a variety of reasons:

1. Reading with gloves on is very hard, and it's harder in the snow of a
Boston winter
2. Reading in the rain dissolves your book (I have not actually tried
this exercise in book abuse)
3. I hate the heat around here, and if I'm reading I don't notice it as
much, so it's less unpleasant for me to go outside in the summer

>> Time City:
>> And to be an opinionated minority, I now want to loudly declare that
>> I *loved* A Tale of Time City and I thought the world there was just
>> wonderful.  ;)
>> It's like that horrible "trial" at the end where Vivian was to be
>> exiled for something outside her control because it would be
>> inconvenient to have her in Time City or in History (which they
>> thought they needed to maintain control of).
>It's possibly to love AToTC and dislike the trial at the end?
>I'm reassured. Thank you.

Er, you're not being sarcastic, are you?  I'm afraid I can't tell.  I'll
act like you're serious for now, anyway.

And now I shall insert a SPOILER WARNING.

It took me a little while to come to this conclusion, but I believe one
is not supposed to agree with Faber John's and the Time Lady's reasons
for exiling Vivian.  (Note: my copy of the book is lost, though I've just
ordered a new one, so I'm doing this from memory that's several years

I believe I remember Vivian yelling at Jonathan and Sam for abstracting
away the people who lived in History and caring more about the
maintanence of History the way it was rather than caring about the good
of the people involved.  She accused Time City people in general of not
treating people from History as, well, people.  Certainly her presence in
Time City and the things she and Jonathan and Sam do go against many of
the ingrained attitudes of the residents of Time City- and here we have
again the DWJ theme of children seeing through and around accepted truths
and attitudes to what is "real" or "good".  The fact that Vivian comes
from a interdicted Century and the middle of a war ensures that she
doesn't have a smug and complacent attitude like the Time City people or
the people from the Centuries they communicate with.  If I were to speak
of her as a plot device, I would say that this was for the purpose of
shaking up Time City.

It rather seems to me that the large amount of whatever-it-was that she
carried that was to get her thrown out of the City and Time was an
authorly joke, a play on all of the change she had caused and was set up
to continue causing when the Sempitern and his wife spoke up for her.

I think the main reason the reader is supposed to side with the Sempitern
and his family (I can't remember his wife's name) is that to do otherwise
would be similar to racism- exiling someone for a characteristic that has
nothing to do with their personality that they cannot help.  As people
have commented before, DWJ is very much about not taking things at face
value or judging by appearances or stereotypes, and it seems to me that
this was another instance of Vivian's presence forcing other characters
to break the habits of bigotry that they had been in for so long.  I
wouldn't actually go so far as to maintain that DWJ was moralizing in
this book, since I think that would be a rude accusation to make :), but
I do think it would be un-DWJ-like to expect the reader to sit back
calmly and watch Vivian be exiled.  Of couse, if other people don't agree
I'd love to hear why.

Whew!  That's a lot of opinionating... time for bed.

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