Last Samurai

movie starring Tom Cruise

unrelated book by Helen De Witt, ISBN:0786887001

Story about a Genius single-mother raising her genius son. Wanting male role models for him, they repeatedly watch The Seven Samurai starting when he's 5. At 11, he starts searching for his father.

The invention of the printing press lay as far ahead of them as the wonders of the 3700s from us; all books were copied out by hand. Mistakes crept in, especially if you were copying a copy of a copy of a copy; sometimes the copyist would have a bright idea and add bogus lines or even entire bogus passages, and then everyone after him would innocently copy the bright idea along with the rest. One solution was to get as close to the original as you could. The Library Of Alexandria paid the Athenian public record office a massive deposit to borrow the original manuscripts of the whole of Greek tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, the lot) and make copies. It then made sure of having the best possible version by the simple expedient of keeping the originals, returning the copies and forfeiting the deposit.

There are people who think contraception is immoral because the object of copulation is procreation. In a similar way there are people who think the only reason to read a book is to write a book. (Writing A Book)

One day you are lying on a bed in one of the motel rooms. Your mother is having a bad day: she is playing Chopin's Revolutionary Etude for the 63rd time on the piano in the adjacent room. Your father is having a good day: a member of the Gideon Society has come to suggest placing Bibles in the rooms, and he has been able to state categorically that he is not having that piece of trash in his motel. Each bedside table, he explains, has a copy of Darwin's Origin Of Species in the top drawer. In fact it's a really good day because that very morning one of the guests stole the Origin Of Species instead of a towel.

I saw in a flash that the time required to teach a two-year-old workaholic by the Look And Say method would leave perhaps 6 minutes a day for typing, and so (doubting my ability to make ends meet on 55p a day) I hastily went over a few principles of the Phonics system.

Breathless with adoration would Liberace (the travel writer) litter his work with gaping arguments and images knocked awry, stand back, fold arms, Ed Wood abeam at toppling tombstones and rumpled grass. Did he notice or not care? He liked I expect the idea of effortless excellence, and being unable to combine the two has settled for the one he could be sure of... Here was a man who'd learned to write before he could think, a man who threw out logical fallacies like tacks behind a getaway car, and he always always always got away.

He'd be quite friendly when he brought out the board, and he'd smile. That would last for a few moves and then sometimes he'd start to cheat, and sometimes he'd lose his temper and hit me with the gun, and sometimes. The friendliness was the horrible part, because he'd be hurt, genuinely hurt, when I wasn't pleased to see him or took offence because he'd beat the shit out of me the day before. And now that I'm back that's all I see. That horrible friendliness everywhere.

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