So, searching around on the interwebs today, and searching for news about Stoppard for the more-than-usual time this month (usually I’ll have a look once or twice a month, I guess, often when I’ve nothing better to do (or rather, plenty of better things to do, but nothing that I could be bothered doing)), I discovered that the auction had finally happened earlier in the day, or in the morning, or whatever time here corresponds to the time over there in England. The “First Editions, Second Thoughts” auction, where the authors annotated copies of their books, then auctioned them off for charity. Something like that.
I found a desire in me to bid on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Stoppard’s contribution – and found that I was willing to pay quite a lot (to me, anyway) or money for it. But I didn’t bother doing anything, because I assumed it would be too hard for me to bid remotely from Australia. A few days ago I found out that I could put in a telephone bid with Sotheby’s myself, but it had to be done 24 hours before the auction (not that that was a problem), and it had to be done for items which were expected to fetch at least a base price of 800 pounds. I can’t remember what my initial limit was, but I think it was either one or two thousand dollars, and 800 pounds, while being closer to the one thousand dollar mark, was still a big amount. And so I let it pass. I’m not rich. Life sucks. Et cetera.
Anyway, after doing some digging – as the reporting on the event didn’t bother to mention all 50 works being sold, but just the big ticket items (like Harry Potter for 150,000, if I remember correctly), I found on Twitter a picture confirming that it had sold for 13,000 pounds. Which makes me happy. You see, knowing that I had no chance of affording it means I don’t feel bad about not even trying. Plus, I managed to find some photos of quite a few more pages, and I guess I’ve seen at least a third or a half of the total annotations now, so my curiosity, while not completely satisfied, has had a good enough taste to stop my stomach grumbling.
Still. Would’ve been nice. It would’ve made me happy for more than a day, I reckon. Which is something.
I stumbled, out of bored curiosity, onto a site that has information about conventions it puts on – sci-fi type conventions, where the stars of various shows (like Star Trek, Supernatural, and so on) go to greet fans and participate in panels and whatnot (no space). On the site it had all the prices for tickets and so on, including ‘autograph tickets’, and ‘photo op tickets’, where you pay a certain amount to get an autograph with the actor you want, or a photo. The really popular actors, much to my surprise, could charge $90 (American, I assume) for the autographs, and $120 for the photos. My first thought was slight amazement that people would pay that much for the privilege. Then I thought that, assuming they really were fans, it’d seem like nothing to get to meet the person they’re a fan of. And then I thought whether I, given the opportunity to pay to meet Stoppard, would actually do so. (There’s no point thinking of anyone else, because Stoppard is the only one I’d even come close to considering it for.) Would I spend $120 for a photo with him?
I don’t think I would, to be honest. It smacks a bit of prostitution, I think. Not that it is, but the romantic in me likes to think that money shouldn’t tarnish a meeting like that. Then again, I did pay to see him be ‘in conversation’, but that’s a theatrical event, and that was for an hour long talk. (I mean, when you think about it, all actors are prostitutes, too, technically, but you have to draw the line somewhere, yes?) (Indeed, anyone who gets paid to do something – anything – is in some small way a prostitute, just non-sexually.) And I only paid thirty dollars, from memory. Or maybe a tiny bit more for a premium seat. I can’t remember.
So no, I wouldn’t pay for it. Now, put me in a situation where I have to pay ten dollars to get into a club that I can see him in, and then I might consider it. Or maybe he’d agree to have a chat with me if I bought him a drink (after we’d randomly met in London). Hypotheticals, hypotheticals. I’ve no idea what I’d do, I’m guessing. But $120 to have a photo with him the next time he was in Sydney? No.
I really don’t know what I want from him. Indeed, I want nothing from him, I think. I think I just want to, if I ever get the chance, to let him know that I’m thankful for his writing, which is perhaps why I have this distaste for paying to meet him. Why should you have to get your credit card out to thank someone, right?
I decided about a month ago that I wouldn’t send him a letter until I finished my play. Hopefully he won’t die first. (It’s not going to be done by my birthday.)
Finished Naruto Volume 2 last night. Been reading some of Bakuman Volume 1 today. Also, 17/ 502 in Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl. (Let’s get factual, factual – I wanna get factual…)
Finished reading Inferno by Dan Brown today. Meh. I’m actually a tad annoyed at it, to be honest. Well, not annoyed, but bemused. Or rather, I’m probably like someone who keeps chewing someone else’s ear off about a peeve they have, but they keep insisting that it “doesn’t matter to me, you know, I just think it’s so silly”. (Spoilers follow.)
I just – it’s just… Hmm. The whole idea of it being a thriller where the villain gets his way. And not just that, but that he’s gotten his way, as we find out, before the book has even started. And considering that it was a sterility virus that he released, and the protagonist, when he finds out that the entire population of earth has been infected, doesn’t even seem the slightest bit perturbed that he might be one of the one-in-three people rendered infertile… (Now, I can’t speak for every human on the planet, but I would think that even people who don’t want to have children would probably be very upset about having the choice taken away from them permanently…)
And it makes me wonder what the author will do in his next novels, especially if they go on for twenty years or so, and with the same character. Will he depict the worldwide economic crisis when the birth rates drop dramatically and the economy starts to shrink, for instance? (I don’t know if that would happen – I have a very basic understanding (that is – no understanding) of economics, but it seems like it might.)
It’s the worst book of his I’ve read, I think. I remember I wasn’t very impressed with his first two novels, though I liked the Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons. The Lost Symbol was better than Inferno but I didn’t like one of the plot points in it (where he was drowned, but in breathable liquid – urgh).
And it also felt like I was just reading it to get through it, you know? Like I wasn’t particularly involved with the story, like in other books of his. (The Lost Symbol, even though I didn’t think it was his best, had some memorable scenes, like the bit in the pitch-black bunker-thingy, etc.)
But let me not write more on this than I have on some classics that I’ve read… I will give his next book a shot. The next one after that, if the next hasn’t improved, might be the last.
And now what to read… Not the Tale of Genji, because I’m not in the mood for that yet. Hmm. HMM. HMMMMMMM.
So I watched the final of Eurovision tonight, and had it spoiled for me by a careless internet glance about an hour before the end. But that’s okay. I shall live. The world will continue to revolve around me.
Denmark won. Huzzah. Apparently I’m an eighth Danish. Possibly five thirty-sevenths strudel, too.
And I have a cold. Well, a slight sore throat this morning, and now my nose is running. Damn it. Damn it! At least this is the best week to have a cold, I suppose, considering that there’s no culture going on – having a runny nose or a tickly throat in a concert is not ideal.
Today, this Sunday, was the first day of a week of cultural barrenness for me. Live culture, anyway. Seven days off from having to see anything, I have. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it may be the most days I’ve had off in quite some time. It seems like it is.
308/whatever in Inferno. And The Tale of Genji, I have to admit, has fallen by the wayside – the right book at the wrong time, I suppose. I want to keep reading it, but I’m not sure I have the willpower at the moment, even though I was thoroughly enjoying it. Hopefully I’ll pick it up again with the next month, and I won’t have to read it all the way from the beginning.
Saw Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists at the Opera House today – rather good. Tchaikovsky’s serenade for strings was the standout.
Went home, had dinner and whatnot (no space) for about an hour, and then left for the city again, to university this time.
Saw the Australia Ensemble at UNSW, and that was quite good.
Though nothing eclipsed the Walton from last night.
290/whatever in Inferno. I don’t know if Dan Brown’s prose is worse than usual, or if I’m just noticing it more… But I’m noticing it more. Although it’s not like I’m reading it for the prose, obviously. There’s so much redundancy in it, too, so that whenever something from the past is referred to, it’s explained again. Which means you don’t have to remember anything for yourself, which is nice for this kind of story.
(I think I’ve found that I can handle two shows in one day much better if I can come home in between them, even if it’s only for an hour. It lets you let go of the facade, I find, and let’s you recharge a bit. The facade costs energy, you know.)
I reminisced ever so slightly about my day of graduation, sitting there in the Clancy Auditorium as I was tonight. Every time I go there I think about it, even if only for a few seconds. The thing is, dear reader, I don’t believe that what makes me think of it is the Proust-like resurgence of my memory of my graduation, but rather, suddenly in my head pops the idea “I haven’t thought about my graduation yet”. I seem to have this desire to not think about the graduation when I’m there – not because I want to forget it (far from it), but because I want to test, as it were, whether constant exposure can make a memory invisible (or can make a memory stop resurging). Whether the past can be rendered neutral by habit. (It’s a bit like me not noticing what a great building the Opera House is anymore, as I go there all the time, you understand?)
I don’t know why I have this desire, however. Hmm.
Saw Ashkenazy’s Favourites tonight with the Sydney Symphony. Nothing is wrong with the world when the music is right, yes? Discovered a new favourite piece of mine – Walton’s first symphony. Oh good lord was it good! Plus one to England and all that too. (I’ve been meaning to give Elgar’s Falstaff another listen to as well – I recorded the concert off the radio. I didn’t record tonight’s live broadcast, unfortunately, and I’m kicking myself for it. And it’s not like I forgot, or wasn’t aware – I’d heard about it on the radio throughout the day, and I just decided not to bother. Sigh!)
150/whatever in Inferno. I don’t know if there’s a reason for it, but the book has 102 chapters (and a prologue and epilogue). Clearly, if any book in the world was going to have 100 chapters (to go with Dante’s cantos), it should be this one, right? I’ll get back to you on that.
I want to hear the Walton again, damn it!
Saw G tonight at the Sydney Theatre. Rather a bit too loud for my liking, the music, but the show was good. Not boring, that is. (Which, much more than theatre, is the primary way I decide if the choreography/dancing is any good.)
Faced a slight dilemma afterwards, though, as there was a private function in the Richard Wherrett Studio (a room that leads off from the main foyer), and there was rows of glasses of wine on the bar in the foyer too. And I had no idea whether the rows of glasses in the foyer itself were for the people not invited to the private function (ie, me). So I spent a minute or two hanging around, trying to size it up, until I saw quite a few women go up and get glasses for themselves, and have the bartender happy for them to do so, and have them walk away (and not into the private function). I only stuck around for ten minutes, though – hopefully there were no speeches… I have a feeling there wasn’t. But that’s probably me just rationalising it. (I wasn’t particularly in the mood to stand by myself in the foyer for another fifteen minutes to find out, even if I did have a book to read.) Oh well – how morals fly out the window when awkwardness is involved!
Rather different crowd than usual, too, which isn’t surprising, obviously, as it was a dance show rather than a play. Although there were one or two people I recognised, but that’s a very small number to those I usually see. (It’s like taking a train to work everyday – you tend to get to know your fellow passengers by sight, yes?) Saw someone there I have an ever so slight crush on, too, but, given that this is a slightly public forum for such things, I’m not about to allude to any more details about her, dear reader. That is the good thing about theatrical opening nights, too – especially the ballet. It’s a chance to escape the nursing home that used to be my saturday matinee season ticket theatrical performances, and is still my concert-going milieu.
(First time I’ve used “milieu” in a while.)
But speaking of unusual, I happened to see a rather peculiar guy there, too. He had a nose ring and an earring – or perhaps they were studs or something – and he had three or four chains running between them. I think they swooped up to somewhere on his jaw as well, but I could be remembering it wrong (I didn’t exactly stare at him for three minutes). I’ve only ever really seen that type of thing on Indian women before. (This guy wasn’t a goth, by the way; one assumes he was gay.) Very curious. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, what would happen if one of his friends got drunk and tried to hail a taxi too enthusiastically beside him. (Ahh, ripping flesh – enjoy your meal if you’re having one, dear reader.)
What can one offer a girl, I wonder? I’m in the curious position of being able to take someone to the best seats in the house at the opera, but I would have trouble buying dinner for both of us beforehand. But poets must have managed to breed somehow, otherwise there wouldn’t be any left, right?
(Yes I realise that’s fallacious.) (Phallacious, even, if you wanted to get suggestive, what with me talking about breeding and all.)
39/463 in Inferno by Dan Brown, which I got in the mail today.