Beach scatter: J. Austen, E. Jelinek, M. Mouse

The miracle (or the curse, depending on your point of view) of the Internet tubes is that they extend to the Oregon coast, and so, it is possible to share one’s vacation slides with the universe almost in real time. Not only that, it is possible to post from there/here, too. One suspects that it will be an excellent place from which to Scatter widely, if not consecutively, on such subjects as Jane Austen, Elfriede Jelinek and Mickey Mouse. So, having already 1) dipped nether digits into the briney Pacific, 2) ruminated on the pleasures the world offers while eating a smoked oyster from Karla’s Smokehouse (Karla is a genius of the delicate art of smoking), and 3) fought off the assaults of sand bugs attracted to smell of fresh meat from the city, we settle in to the broadcast booth to enter our code.

Previously, I admitted that I didn’t read Jane Austen, I simply waited for the miniseries. Of course, I made this confession in the middle of a half a hundred other confessions about various things, so you might have missed it. But I was right! British television (in this case ITV), undaunted by the exhaustion of Austen books to adapt and perhaps inspired by Becoming Jane last year, has come up with an idea that might extend the Austen franchise indefinitely, Lost in Austen: “A modern woman swaps with Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) from “Pride and Prejudice” and has to adapt to the relative simplicity of life in Georgian England.”

I don’t get the “relative simplicity” part. The behavior cues and patterns in Austen are WAY more complex than our own, which can often be reduced to the Dirty Harry aphorism: “Make my day.” Other Brit-TV classics debuting this fall include Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Little Dorrit. People, take my advice. Wait for the miniseries!

“Classical music is always acceptable to authority because it cannot overtly challenge power with subversive ideas or disturbing representations.” This quote comes near the beginning of Nicholas Spice’s review of Greed by Nobelist Elfriede Jelinek in the London Review of Books in the June 5 edition. The link won’t get you there — LRB restricts its content online, except for print subscribers, which I would be except that a Scatter friend drops me off four or five months-worth every four of five months. Consumer advice from Spice: The English translation of Jelinek’s book is not good. Which I took to mean: Wait for the miniseries!

Back to the quote. The context is that Jelinek, possibly the most radical and outsider of contemporary novelists, began her creative life as a classical musician at the urging (or insistence) of her domineering (“monstrous”) mother. Jelinek went to an important Vienna music conservatory to study organ and eventually had a nervous breakdown, from which she emerged a writer. Spice makes this make perfect sense — Austria “used” classical music as part of its efforts to cleanse itself after the Nazi year. I get that. But to me, classical music, some classical music anyway, is about the most radical form out there these days, and not just obviously “disturbing” modern composers such as Shostakovich, either. The Authority allows us to listen even to Mozart at its peril, because Mozart leads us to thought and thinking breeds dissidence. Let alone Mahler. Not to spoil Spice’s essay in any way because it couldn’t be more tasty.

“Who’s the leader of the club/that’s made for you and me?” We leave the Boomers among us with this bit of doggerel lodged in their heads. For those who aren’t Boomers, the answer to the singing question is “Mickey Mouse,” the venerable symbol of the Walt Disney Co. The LA Times’ Joseph Menn, however, has looked into the copyright on Mickey and found some reason to doubt Disney’s claims on Mickey’s earliest manifestation. He also reveals the corporate hardball Disney plays to “protect” itself and take from others. In general, I believe that restrictions on “intellectual property” tend to be too long and too limiting, that our copyrights and patents as they stand restrict creativity and inquiry and that the legal system being what it is, it allows the strong to run roughshod over the weak, no matter what the strength of the claims of the weak. We may be expanding that thought in the future. In the meantime, Menn’s story is enough to make you want to free the rat.

Over and out and off to the beach!