Thursday, April 14, 2011

Christopher Morley

I've professed before how Christopher Morley is one of my favorite authors. Although he wrote for a long period of time in the early 20th Century, he is largely forgotten now which is too bad. The things I have read of his, I've really liked. He was a lover of books and seemed like a very interesting person.

While I have read some of his works, I hadn't really realized how prolific and diverse a writer he was until reading Christopher Morley. This is a literary criticism of Morley done by Mark Wallach and Jon Bracker. I picked it up when I visited the York Emporium last year.

Morley was a novelist, an essayist, and, what he probably associated himself with the most, a poet. Wallach and Bracker cover all his works, provide examples of them, talk about Morley's life at the time he wrote them, and do it all in a way that I found quite fascinating. It was like a Morley tasting menu. There was a smattering of this and that. It wasn't all literary criticism which I would have found boring. It wasn't all biography. It was just a little of each. I would have liked more of both which is why I'll rate this one star but it was good. I wish more books were done like this. Maybe there are and they are just too scholarly to be something you come across but I've not seen many like this.

There's no picture because it is long out of print and, naturally, of limited interest. I say naturally. I shouldn't be that way. One of the books I'm reading right now is a collection of essays on books. One of the essays includes a list of the 100 best novels by someone notable (I'm in a library right now and not at home so I can't check. I'll note it when I finish the book and review it) and Morley is on the list which was originally published in 1928.

A lot of Morley's work is public domain now so check him out. He's on Project Gutenberg and I'm sure other things of his can be found online.

Training Update: I got to thinking about my unwillingness to be on the rower for a long period of time and the reasons behind it. I came to believe that it was because I was getting tired. If I'm getting tired after half an hour, how will I ever make three hours? Then I got to thinking, "Why am I so concerned with completing a marathon in less than three hours? Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?". In order to finish a marathon in under three hours, you have to finish a marathon. There is no B without A. Something called conditional probability or something. I'm no statistician. What do I know?

So after work tonight I hopped on the rower and set off at a relaxing pace. And I kept going and going and going. As I kept going I thought I'd shoot for ten miles. As I approached an hour, I was feeling pretty tired and started in with my mind games. Maybe I'll stop at an hour. Maybe I'll stop at a third of a marathon. Then something quite pleasant happened.

Greg Amundson is my Crossfit hero/motivation/inspiration. The guy is just awesome and a fount of positivity. He has trained a lot of military and was a former member of the Santa Monica SWAT Team. He tells the story about how he was going through a grueling multiple-day training with some military guys. Everyone was completely gassed, bent over, breathing hard, suffering. The fellow leading the training said to the Commanding Officer "Sir, pick a few of your men to do the next exercise". The CO straightens up, pulls his shoulders back, exhales and says, "Don't worry, boys, I've got this one". He proceeds to run off to do the workout. His men look at one another and race off after him.

Greg uses this as an example of the body/mind union rather than the mind/body union. Typically we think of the mind leading the body (I know I do). Greg thinks the body can also lead the mind. The CO in the story was just as beat as everyone else. But by changing his body position from hunched over, breathing hard, staring at the ground to one of being upright, shoulders back, breathing deeply, he was able to convince himself he could continue and also inspired his men to do the same.

So there I was on the rower. I figured I had fifteen minutes to go to reach ten miles. I am tired. I am breathing hard. The song changes on my iPod. It's LCD Soundsystem's Home:

I LOVE this song. It makes me happy. It makes me dance and sing. It's why I recently added it to my rowing playlist. It's also eight minutes long. "By the time this song is over, I'll complete over half of what I have left". I sit up a little more. And then I start singing. Why not? I'm breathing hard anyway. Why not breathe hard and use my vocal chords too? How much more taxing could that be? It's not an opera. All of a sudden I'm rowing better. I'm more relaxed. I actually got faster and carried it all the way to the end.

So ten miles. Just over 35% of a marathon. Two days ago I didn't think I could possibly be on a rower that long. Now I'm pretty sure I can.

And what of my pace? How badly did I destroy it? My marathon pace would have been under 3:07.

Oh, and today's row was my longest since I rowed a half marathon on October 9, 2008.

Quite pleased with myself today and thank you all for your continued encouragement.


--Transfixed Ingress said...

Got get 'em.

(I'm no statistician..... you slay me)

Mark A. said...

Thanks for reminding me about Morley. Because of this post I just picked up Parnassus on Wheels for my Kindle.

You can find many of Morley's works at: