Miscellaneous Notes:  D. H. Lawrence’s Essays and the Risks of an American Protest

WHAT I’M READING.  The Bad Side of Books: Selected Essays by D. H. Lawrence.  Last year I declared D. H. Lawrence my favorite writer on the basis of his masterpiece The Rainbow–though I admit his later novel The Plumed Serpent was trying, with excessive descriptions of drumming and dancing by Mexican rebels in an Aztec cult.

Fortunately, his nonfiction is fascinating.  In this brilliant collection of essays and criticism, my favorite piece is Memoir of Maurice Magnus, an account of Lawrence’s reluctant friendship with M–, a penniless German who became a professional sponger.  Lawrence first meets M__ at a cheap Italian hotel, where his friend D–  is staying; and M–  is so infatuated with D– that he runs the errands, ensures that the gourmet food is cooked properly, and is virtually a slave to him.  Later, Lawrence visits M–at  a monastery where he claims he wants to become a monk–until the police come after him for his debts. And from here all is downhill for M–.   Lawrence’s wife Frieda hated M–, who admittedly was a woman hater, and fumed at the top of the stairs when he came to beg Lawrence for money.  This sad, comic memoir reads like a novella.

THE RISKS OF AN AMERICAN PROTEST.  Like the majority of Americans, I am shocked by the racist police brutality that killed George Floyd. I wept over the video of his death.

But I cannot in good conscience support the continued protests.

Both blacks and whites are protesting, but we should remember that a disproportionate number of blacks have died of the virus.  According to the CDC, the highest death rates in  New York City have been among African Americans and blacks (92.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Hispanics (74.3 per 100,000 population).  A study by APM Research Lab in May found that African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

The virus is still raging.  Isn’t it time to move on and get the vote out for November?

Slamming the Doors of Libraries

You were there when the library closed, long a dream of many conservative Republicans.  You stood in the lobby, waiting for a friend, not daring to touch the books–you, the venturesome and fearless. The very few people in the  non-fiction section smiled from afar.  Inevitably, they were alone.  Perhaps anything was better than being alone.  

And so the doors slammed.  You hadn’t expected it.  You had received an official email explaining the library would stay stay open to serve the community as long as it was safe.

And so, you fantasized, you would take trip to the university library so you could check out some obscure books you would need in the next few weeks.

Slam. It closed, too. 

Thank God you have your own books.

Where do the bums go, as we used to call the homeless?  They sat at the library all day,  all winter long, except when the security guard kicked them out. Then they sat in a little park.

Meanwhile you begged, pleaded, with relatives to stay home from work.  Nobody took it seriously.  Or if they did, they hadn’t read about Italy and didn’t take it seriously enough.  “Please read this.”  You sent links.

Then they came home, one by one.  They came home with computers, files, and phones. They set up home offices in whatever corner they had.  

In a country where stores are never closed–not even on holidays–people are petrified.

And bored.  So very bored.

“Welcome to the occupation,” as R.E.M sang back in the ’80s (only that was about policy in Central America).

Only now it’s germs.

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