Friday, November 8, 2013

Aldous Huxley and me.

I'll say it.

I am not a fan of many of the effects of the modern world. Popular culture, from incessant cursing and gore in movies to Miley Cyrus' tongue, depresses me. Even most news media has been so dumbed down as to make me worry about the future of the world. 

Likewise, I have yet to catch on to many other crazes that seem to afflict so many. I love a good cup of coffee, but I refuse to pay $6 for one while having to wait in line for 20 minutes. I won't spend $195 on a pair of jeans. And think anyone who buys a $120 pair of canvas sneakers and a $49 wool hat should have his head examined. 

It's just not me.

It doesn't make sense to me.

If you conclude I hate popular culture, people who disdained such used to be praised. As Aldous Huxley said in 1935,  “I find the watching of horse races or football matches less agreeable as an occupation than the acquisition and coordination of knowledge...I . . . have never been able to understand why it should be ‘inhuman’ to use the faculties that distinguish us from pigs and geese and ‘human’ to use those which we share with the lower animals.”

Today I went to a new bookstore--a branch of the Strand--that's opened on Fifth Avenue between 20th and 21st Street. It's housed within a high-end coffee shop which in turned is housed within a clothing store that has nothing I can fit into.

The Strand is one of the world's great bookstores. Their main store boasts "18 miles of books." I haven't measured but going there is like setting out on a Polar Expedition. Who knows what will turn up.

This store has a small collection of books. A few thousand less than I have in my apartment. Nonetheless, they have well-displayed first-and-signed editions.

I picked up a signed first edition by Salman Rushdie and an expensive signed copy of "Up in the Old Hotel" by Joseph Mitchell. Joseph Mitchell, in my opinion (and I am not alone in this) will go down as one of the 20th Century's great writers. Accordingly I made a vow to myself decades ago that whenever I see a signed Mitchell, I must buy it, the devil take the hindmost.

But this was a lot of money.

I put the Mitchell back on the shelf.

Then I looked at the hipsters up front drinking $8 coffees. They spend more per week on coffee than I'll spend on the Joseph Mitchell.

I bought it.

I don't give a rat's ass that I'm not cool.


Abhishek said...

Hah. You, Mr. T, ought to be an honorary hyperlink to the OED definition of cool.

Anonymous said...

Why even care about whether one is "cool" or not?

Why waste your breath thinking about the fedora/unlaced Converse Brooklyn lifestyle?

I'm a Millenial and I don't give a sh*t.

God may or may no be dead, but he doesn't live in Williamsburg.


BTW, I prefer the old Strand. Just love the vibe in there. Some really stellar OOP and used finds.