One-Year War and Peace 9.16 – Quacks, The Lot of Them

Reading for Saturday, 27 December

Now this chapter is rather amusing.  We switch back to the unwell Natasha and Tolstoy uses this as an excuse to spend an entire chapter taking a sledgehammer to the medical profession.

Granted, medicine has come a long way since the 1800s, and if history is any guide, there could be a lot of things that we do now that we’ll look back in 50 years time and say, “What on earth were we thinking?”

But is it really as bad as Tolstoy puts out?  That because every individual is unique, there’s no real way of treating anything?

Anyway, as long as you’re not a doctor, or can take all of this with a grain of salt, it’s actually quite amusing as Tolstoy tells us about all the placebo benefits of consulting doctors.  It makes the doctors feel special, it makes the family feel like they’re doing something rather than nothing, it gives Sonya a sense of purpose making sure Natasha takes her medicine, and it even gives Natasha something to do (trying to avoid taking the medicine).

All very amusing . . . but, in the end, it’s as her depression eases that she gets well.

Returning Tomorrow

Hi all,

I’m very sorry about all of this . . . a combination of an absolutely astonishing chamber music festival, which had me run off my feet from 9.00 till 10.30 (if not later) for five days and my computer monitor at home which blew up have kept me from blogging about War and Peace.  Actually, have kept me from reading it for that matter.

Anyway, I’m working on fixing that, so starting tomorrow, I’ll be back.  It may take me a week or two to catch up – so forgive the lag.  But there’s no more music festivals in my life between now and June 30 next year, so we should all be good.

While I’m on the Festival, can I just do a brief rave?  Sitting through five days of chamber music is an ordeal.  There were some parts in the middle where I had to really work hard.

But, ultimately, it was an exhilarating experience.   I won’t go on and on about it, but I’ll just say that the Jerusalem Quartet have got to be one of the world’s greatest string quartets – they’re going to be in Melbourne tomorrow night, Ian, by the way.

But the true rock stars of the chamber music world, with an astonishing ability to delight all ages, is the one and only Eggner Trio of Austria.  They were out here for five weeks – but they could move here and we’d all love it . . . can’t wait till they come back.

Okay, back with Tolstoy tomorrow.

A Word of Introduction

For those of you who’ve just arrived, this is my new, hopefully more private blog.

The idea of the word “private” attached to a blog is a funny one. In one sense, I quite like the publicness of a blog and putting things out there for other people to read. On the other hand, there are some things in life, which I would like to only share with a few people.

I like the idea of having an online website where I can put thoughts and happenings in my life, so that rather than try to compose an epic personal email for every single friend that I’m trying to keep in touch with, I can send them a link to my blog where they can read it for themselves.

But that inevitably leads to the kind of conversation with myself where I’m calculating, “Hmm . . . I don’t know that I’d want that person to read that. I don’t mind if everybody reads that, some people could read that, but really I’d only want him to know . . . ” etc.

I could write lowest common denominator posts that everybody could read, but then you’d be reading a rather much more artificial version of myself than you would get in real life.

So as an attempt at a middle ground, my ground rules will be:

1. I’ll make a lot of posts open to the public.

2. Some posts I’ll put a password on. If I’m happy to let you read private posts, I will give you the password. If I haven’t give you the password, then I’m sure you’ll understand that perhaps I don’t yet know you well enough to want to give it to you. So please don’t ask me. If and when I feel like giving it to you, I will.

Right . . . that’s the nasty housekeeping stuff out of the way. I think the only thing left is to briefly explain the title. The concept of the “cold shiver” is something that you’ll either know exactly what I’m talking about, or you won’t at all. The first time I ever came across one was back when I was about 16 or 17, and I’d recently acquired the soundtrack to Immortal Beloved. For some reason which I have yet to understand, whenever I heard the part of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on that CD, which consists of a march version of the “Ode to Joy” being sung by a tenor and basses, I found it so majestic and invigorating, that a literal cold shiver would pass through my entire body. Not only that, it would do it any time I played that track.

I soon learned that there was some music that would have this effect on me (and certainly a lot that would not). But it would be fair to say that I’ve spent a fair amount of time since then searching for music, films, experiences, etc. that give me cold shivers. It may not be your idea of a hobby, but it’s kept me occupied for the last 12 years of my life, so I think I’ll stick with it.

So, on that note, one of the goals with this new blog is to post a bit more about the music I’m listening to, the films I’m watching, and anything else that is remotely cold shiver-worthy. I’ll try to categorise them, but I think you’ll work out pretty quickly what is what.