It’s been a brutal week. I had two sets of papers to return, one last Thursday and then again yesterday. Those of you who already know what that’s like don’t need to hear any more from me on the subject, but if you don’t let me just say this: Hell is grading papers, perhaps while watching Shirley Temple movies.
Let me tell you something, though: it was such a beautiful dawn this morning. As I was typing away on my Henry Morton Stanley chapter, I watched the sun melt the darkness and ease its way into the edge of sight from my window, and when I opened the door to sally forward into the day, the smell of outside practically lifted me off my feet. This place is something special, just cool and wet and misty enough to make the sun and never-ending summer what they are, which there aren’t words to describe. And as I was riding my bicycle through that inexplicably warm morning breeze, smelling the impossible fecundity of California in October which my midwestern instincts insist are a grace from providence, I was awfully goddamn happy.
Henry Morton Stanley on what it’s like to have a fever and get over it:
“Oh! the racking anguish of body that a traveller in Africa must undergo! Oh! the spite, the fretfulness, the vexation which the horrible phantasmagoria of diabolisms induce! The utmost patience fails to appease, the most industrious attendance fails to gratify, the deepest humility displeases. During these terrible transitions, which induce fierce distraction, Job himself would become irritable, insanely furious, and choleric. A man in such a state regards himself as the focus of all miseries.
When recovered, he feels chastened, becomes urbane and ludicrously amiable, he conjures up fictitious delights from all things which, but yesterday, possessed for him such awful portentous aspects. His men he regards with love and friendship; whatever is trite he views with ecstasy. Nature appears charming; in the dead woods and monotonous forest his mind becomes overwhelmed with delight.”