Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Scatological Query

I read recently that a man defecated in the stairwell at the Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr and it was captured on security video. I can honestly say that our university library does not have a brown bomber roaming the library. What was this man thinking? Were all the stalls occupied and it was do or die moment? I have done my fair share of diaper changes, kitty box cleanings, and backyard scooper patrol but I have no idea what I would do if I found a ‘lump of coal’ in the stairwell on my way up to pull a book. I don’t think library school covers this subject but perhaps it should. What should the course be called? 

Our library consists of three main floors as well as the lower level where I work and theology and philosophy are housed. The building was built in the 1970s and the architects poorly planned the restrooms. On the lower level patrons will find both male and female facilities. There are no restrooms on the main floor which in itself is strange but it gets stranger. The second floor only has a male restroom and you guessed it—the third floor only has a female restroom.  Even though our library has an odd restroom arrangement necessitating planning ahead for emergencies, our students and patrons manage to find their way to the correct facility without finding the need to drop his/her drawers in the stairwell.  

What about you? Have you had a stealthy or perhaps not so stealthy brown bomber? How was it handled or is the mysterious stranger still delivering packages?

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

On this day in 1813 Pride and Prejudice was first published and Jane Austen’s novel is still endearing itself to new readers. In its essence, it is a story about manners, marriage, and class and yet her vivid characters, witty dialogue, and engaging plot translates easily to the modern world. Austen skillfully pokes fun at societal norms of the day where women were powerless and doomed to an unenviable life of spinsterhood without a husband and uses the first lines of her novel to reveal what its primary themes will be.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of someone or other of their daughters.”
Jane Austen only wrote six novels in her short life and I have read each of them many times but Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite. No matter how many times I have read it, I still laugh, cry, scold, and cheer along with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy as they progress through the novel building up the anticipation for Mr. Darcy’s proposal.
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
                I’m with Elizabeth when she does a double take at this pronouncement. Say what? Weren’t you the one who said I was ‘tolerable’? Aren’t you the same man who didn’t want to dance with me? “The man who thinks my family is beneath you?” Of course, in this respect, I have to side with Darcy about the Bennet family and its relations. The idea of having Mrs. Bennet as my mother-in-law sends shivers up and down my spine and let’s not even mention poor simpering Mr. Collins.
I love Elizabeth’s response to Darcy’s proposal. It sums up quite nicely her feelings and doesn’t leave Darcy wondering if Elizabeth was simply playing hard to get.
                “From the very beginning – from the first moment, I may almost say – of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

What are your favorite Austen novels?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Curiouser and Curiouser

                Today, January 27th, is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s birthday. Charles was a prominent mathematician and logician of his time. He loved the sciences and languages and firmly believed in broadening the mind and cultivating critical thinking. What better way to broaden the mind than to read Alice in Wonderland. Yes, gentle readers, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is better known to the masses as Lewis Carroll. In honor of his birthday, take a moment to read the full text of Jabberwocky in addition this stanza. It’s a wonderful poem full of metamorphic nonsense imagery that is a joy to read.
 "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
~Lewis Carroll

                A display to highlight books that introduce us to magical characters, strange new places, and takes us on fantastic wonderful adventures should include Alice in Wonderland but what else should be included? What books open your mind to the wonder of a new magical journey? Here are some of my favorites.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
Xanth series by Piers Anthony