Friday, 29 August 2008

Nose to the wheel, shoulder to the grindstone

That essay, due tomorrow. Here's a sneak preview of a paragraph that may or may not survive the next twenty-four hours of editing:

The Victorian obsession with bowel functions and the Victorian obsession with thrift, hard work and laissez-faire social policy meet in few places so telling as the autobiography of Herbert Spencer. Two volumes and over a thousand pages long, the Autobiography, posthumously published in 1904, is a case study in Victorian literary incontinence (its nineteen appendices signaling the excessive prolongation of Spencer’s authorial digestive tract). In its thrifty recycling of letters, reviews and journal entries, it is also a testimony to Spencer’s remarkable capacity not to let anything go to waste. Simultaneously displaying Spencer’s tendencies to conserve and needlessly to overflow, the Autobiography reveals the analogous tension between its author’s faith in theoretical capitalism and his personal unfitness for success in a capitalist economy.

Speaking of incontinence, Ken the plumber popped round this morning to unblock my bathroom sink. Ken is a performance plumber - "Roll up, roll up, ladeez and gennulmen, and behold the plumbing of the vanity unit! Watch me put my arm down a toilet! See these leaks? Completely vanished!" I think he was a bit disappointed not to have a bigger audience.


lucy tartan said...

Lovely paragraph, I hope it survives(d).

I think I've seen those two voluminous volumes on the shelf at your last residence - and are they upholstered in a fetching shade of sludgy brown?

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

A sort of greeny blacky brown, with fawn lettering.

Still haven't decided on that paragraph. It's going to be quite a day.

TimT said...

I advise you to follow Oscar Wilde's dictum: "I spent the morning putting in a comma, and whiled away the afternoon taking it out again."

Alas, performance plumbing is a dying art form. Nowadays, all the young apprentices in performance plumbing quickly become surrealist electricians, or opera-singing glaziers.