My Rich Society: Novels, etc.

I read several novels at once — well, side by side. At least four of them. In a way they provide me with a highly varied social life, as if I dined with different groups of people on different occasions, breakfast with a collection of W. Somerset Maugham characters, lunch with a group assembled by Philip Kerr and Daniel Silva, and so forth. All these people live their stories in these novels and I feel like I visit with them as I read the books, a bit here, a bit there. Quite a fascinating bunch, in different locations, at different historical periods, bring to my table different skills and talents. Often the novel’s locations are those I have visited in the past but now I don’t need to go through airports and train stations but draw on memories and the novelists’ imaginative descriptions.

 

I discovered this way of enriching my social life some time ago and continued the practice once its benefits became evident to me. It’s as if I had a pretty large selection of friends and acquaintances with whom I can spend time and whose experiences I can draw on as I live my relatively solitary life now. Aside from the nearby members of my family and a few local and spread out friends, I have all these fictional characters whose lives I share. There is tragedy, comedy, ordinary drama, political and military intrigue, history and adventure, what have you! Rome, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Budapest, San Francisco, and many more unfold before me with the help of the authors whose works I read.

Every day I have some time to spend with others, most of these others come out of the novels. I am told that it is actually good for my aging mind to be tuned in to such a variety of people and events and all of what they bring into my life.

It is also quite realistic since if I did have a wide circle of people with whom I spent time, they, too, would provide this kind of variety. There is, of course, what DVR technology makes possible, namely, recording a bunch of shows, programs, movies, etc. and watching parts of these when one has time to do so. Because it is possible to watch a bit and then pause to watch something else. And once one has had one’s fill of fiction, one can check out the news and some documentary — I am especially fond of wildlife and travel programs but because I don’t have the time to watch for the entire length of the recording, I can stop midway through and return later.

I think you get the point. Maybe my way fits you too. There are lots of options to select from.

 


 

 

 

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5 Responses to “My Rich Society: Novels, etc.”

  • Mark Humphrey:

    I’d like to add a comment that JasonEmery might want to skip. I don’t read novels, but sometimes I take long distance bus trips. I’m a cheapskate so bus travel works for me. I also enjoy talking to regular people who work and struggle, because I know first hand what their struggle entails. So I respect them.

    On one such trip, to retrieve a pickup I had bought several hundred miles away, I spent 4 hours conversing with a fellow who repaired houses in Montana and also lived in California. He was a hard working fellow whose Montana ranch family had ostracized and abused him. I liked him and admired his pluck.

    On another bus trip, I spent an hour or so talking to a younger man who had almost been killed years earlier when he was struck by a car when riding his bicycle in traffic. He was permanently crippled, although not wheel chair bound. This was a likeable responsible man, who gave himself a hard time about his crucial mistake that day that led to his permanent injury, and whose wife deeply loved and supported him.

    Most recently, in traveling from Montana to Walla Walla to get another pickup, I met and talked with a neatly dressed man, who looked tough as nails. His lunch cooler read,”Bronc Stomper”. I asked if he was a bronc stomper, and he replied, “I used to be”. Then he explained that he was blind today, for two years, but had rodeoed all over the US and Canada, as bronc rider, in all the big shows. We shared a small overlap in experiences in the bucking horse department, so I commented that staying aboard was partly a mental challenge. He agreed, commenting that he excelled because “I was fearless; when I was a young guy, I figured I had to toughen up and I did”. He also mentioned that he had noticed that many people are timid, even about conducting their day to day affairs. When I helped him off the bus at the first stop, he didn’t hesitate but walked right down the steps, as though he could see. I asked what he did for entertainment; he told me he rode his horse that he had trained to be ultra responsive to his cues. “I’m comfortable doing it, so it’s good”, he said. This guy had not a particle of self pity or whining in his makeup, which really impressed me. He asked for my name, shook my hand, and said “Have fun on your trip”.

    One of the most interesting of such encounters was with a cab driver in LA in the early nineties. I asked the driver about his background and learned he was a recent emigrant from Poland, which was still a communist dictatorship. He told me how he had managed to escape, through Spain. When I asked how people in Poland felt about the communist government that ruled them, he said no one believed any official pronouncements, ever, about anything. He said the state was an object of contempt and harsh humor and that people were leaving through Spain in droves. That’s when I realized the Polish communist state’s days were numbered. Not long after, it fell.

  • Mark Humphrey:

    Kudos to Tibor Machan, whatever you write about, here or anywhere. I’ve learned a great deal from your books: about the foundations and logical justification for ethics, concerning problems with the Holy Grail of value subjectivity in Austrian economics, and more. You resolved my confusion about important issues that bugged me for years, for which I’ll always be grateful.

    I was happy to notice your articles posted to this site, which makes it even better. I always read your stuff and look forward to reading The Pseudo-Science of BF Skinner, next.

    Many thanks for all you’ve done, Professor Machan.

  • HitTheFan:

    Don’t read them then. Simple.

    • JasonEmery:

      “Don’t read them then. Simple.”

      Fair enough. But what if they did a piece on the Kardashians, lol? You have to draw a line in the sand, at some point. Aw snap, I just lost my train of thought. Probably because a ‘Khloe and Lamar’ rerun is coming on.

  • rodney:

    May I insist once again that I do not understand how the topic of these posts fit in with the rest of the blog, or the blog’s title. In other words, I regard them as blatantly off-topic.

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