[lit-ideas] Re: Crocodiles and The Slough of Doubt

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2009 15:05:44 -0700

One of the reasons I took up painting was to teach myself more about writing and how I write, so I now know that I have reached a stage you might call the slough of doubt. In painting it's a stage when you get past the initial, "I'm just going to do this," slap-on-the- paint-everything-can-be-modified bit and you realize that ultimately some of this is going to be on show. The developing worry is that though passages might be O.K., the whole thing could be ill- conceived, flawed structurally...all the things we're used to reading in "what on earth was he thinking" kinds of review. I mean how *can* you write a history of forgetting? How can anyone make any sense of such an amorphous topic? Who on earth thought this might be a good idea? Which stupid git put me in this predicament?


That kind of extremely useful traveling companion of a thought also occurs when I paint, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Fortunately I have kept in reserve the stuff I hand wrote in San Diego, and so today's task is to transfer this into the computer, staying calm by performing a simple task.

The problem with a slough (Slough, also, I suppose) is that you have no idea of its dimensions. I have not called this the Slough of Despond because he who names things gets to conquer them. Or is it the other way round?

Having watched last night a movie about Terry Gilliam's failure to make a movie about Don Quixote ("Lost in La Mancha"), I'm tempted to re-cast the project, to write about book about the impossibility of writing a history of forgetting. Instead I shall press on, wearing not a pilgrim's hat, but the funny one I picked up in Peru. Go indigenous people!

Here's a test, just for fun.  Who wrote the following:

"But Ensign Wellesley Mac, not having a shilling, ran off with Miss Crabb, who possessed the same independence; and after having been married about six months to the lady, was carried off suddenly, on the 18th of June, 1815, by a disease very prevalent in those glorious times--the fatal cannon-shot morbus. He and many hundred young fellows of his regiment, the Clonakilty Fencibles, were attacked by this epidemic on the same day, at a place about ten miles from Brussels, and there perished."

The crocodiles?

< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/in_pictures/8327748.stm >


Click through until you reach China's Walmart. I'd hazard they were caymen, but it's not K mart.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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