Thursday, 25 February 2016

Much Love, Terrible Connection

The House of Books has an abysmal internet connection. Nobody seems sure why this is, nor seems interested in calling the service provider to find out. This is why there have been so few posts.

In addition, it is difficult to write without the first person singular nominative while at home in one's native town because, really, it is all about me and mine: the reunions, the memories, the feelings, the conversations, the brush-offs, the pączki from "Chicago" on Roncesvalles, the mother-made cake....

*My mother makes really good cakes and always has. She knows how to ice a cake properly, too, and make designs and flowers with the different icing nozzles. So far we have had two cakes: pineapple upside down and birthday, for yesterday it was my brother Quadrophonic's birthday. My mother's pineapple upside down cake recipe involves melting the butter and sugar in a pot instead of whipping the butter and sugar together and smoothing the mix on the bottom of the baking tin. I recommend the latter method for a real caramel crunch to the top of the cake. But to "Black Midnight Cake" there can be no improvement.

*The pączki of "Chicago" are not as good as the pączki of Edinburgh's Tollcross. And--alas!--the placki (potato pancakes) of Café Polonez taste of burnt grease. However, their mushroom uszki (dumplings) are divine, so the barszcz czerwony is safe. Interestingly, the place of note on Roncesvalles is "Cherry Bomb", rumoured to have some of the best coffee in Toronto.

*The Toronto Public Library system is still its excellent self. It has an enormous selection, particularly at its North York Central branch. Sadly, all the Polish books are down at the Roncesvalles branch--the North York branch has, thanks to demographic realities, shelves and shelves of Russian books. However, it also has a relatively recent English-language biography of the Polish Shakespeare, Adam Mickiewicz.

*Adam Mickiewicz: Life of a Romantic is quite a good book, in part because Mickiewicz had a very interesting and glamorous life. He won early fame and was a handsome young man, so despite his cash-strapped beginnings on the lower fringes of the Polish nobility, he spent much of his time with rich people and important aristocrats--even Russian ones. So far even banishment by Russian authorities (to Odessa and then Moscow) seems not to have damaged him all that much; his friends, meanwhile, write him reproachful letters from Siberia. Astonishingly, he was pounced on by every rich-but-unhappy wife under 30 from Wilno (Vilnius) to the Crimea.  It is easy to lose count of the number of Mickiewicz's sweethearts, and so far he is only 28.

*The University of Saint Michael's College still retains an excellent collection of Polish books if it has stinted in recent years on buying new ones. (It has Life of a Romantic, however.) It has, for example, the complete works of Mickiewicz in crumbling bindings. It also has wonderful volumes of Polish poetry with English introductions meant for the throngs of Canadian students who seemed to be studying Polish in the 1950s. The elementary student of Polish can thus test her powers against such poems as Mickiewicz's "Ode to Youth" while reflecting that her own youth was really quite unhappy relative to now.

*The wonderful thing about married love--not to depress the Single--is that it can heal the wounds of the past. The person who was terribly unhappy at university can visit that university and reflect, "Well, anyway, it all led to X, so it doesn't matter." Probably this is what happens to those who, after a life of great suffering, attain heaven. The 'Problem of Evil' is thus solved by the Beatific Vision; no matter what happened, after seeing the face of God, all that just doesn't matter anymore. Someone or other once said that married life was a foretaste of heaven, and this seems to be true--at least for the happily married.

*The women who had affairs with Adam Mickiewicz probably had no idea that marriage can be a foretaste of heaven. They were high on Goethe and then Adam's good looks and also the temptations of being immortalized in verse. They seem to have been very silly women. So far his only intelligent flirtation--a very rich Russian aristo--kept him at arm's length; indeed, she made him a sort of Polish Pretend Son. Such fidelity to a husband seems to have been rare among the female admirers of Pan Poeta.

This internet connection has gone down five time while this post was written. Now to hit the button before the connection breaks off again.


  1. My internet connection in college was like that. I had "hmm, internet is like that," attitude, while one of my roommates said, " We are paying for this! I'm going to get to the bottom of it and make them fix it!" In the end, it worked.

    Thought you might find this interesting:

  2. The article is interesting but dishonest. It goes on about the sexual burdens Islamic societies impose on people, and especially on women, without mentioning what is surely one of its principle causes: the practise of polygamy. Religiously sanctioned polygamy leaves some men unable to find 'partners'; leads some to turn to their own sex; compels men to guard their wives and daughters fiercely to protect them from all those frustrated young men, and in general distorts all social and sexual relationships.

    The writer says nothing about any of this and blithers about patriarchy and the oppression of women instead. Islamic oppression of women is real enough, but it clearly oppresses men too, as the article itself indicates even while it avoids saying so plainly.

    Alias Clio

  3. Thank you for the article; I will read it with interest.

  4. Thanks for the interesting article, Anamaria, and thanks Clio for such an astute comment! He totally avoided polygamy...

    I had a Muslim Iraqi mate a few years back who trained in Germany and lived in the Anglo world. He once asked about Catholic views on sex & marriage, and giggled when I explained, then outlined how Muslim men could have 'practise wives', then up to 4 'actual wives'.

    Yeh, he never explained how he or Mohammed could reconcile that with natural 1:1 male:female birth rates, and the social destruction it causes, not to mention defying Jesus' instructions on marriage (which Muslims should take seriously if Islam teaches Jesus is a prophet, right?)


  5. Thanks for the observation Clio. I thought the article was missing quite a bit but I don't know enough about the situation to know what it was missing.