Sunday, June 04, 2006

I knew that in the process of obtaining housing while 2,000 miles away, I would forget at least one crucial question. Since that question was, "Does it have air-conditioning," I spent much of the weekend driving around the city moving from place to place to avoid sitting around my apartment. Also, I take a certain joy out of what mastery of surface streets and shortcuts I've obtained in my years in the city. In my mind, the real heart of L.A. is not in any particular neighborhood nor in the freeways, but rather in the major thoroughfares--Sunset, Olympic, Wilshire, Hollywood, La Brea, etc. Even though it was primarily an exercise in getting from one coffee shop to another, I truly enjoyed reconnecting with the city in that manner this weekend; it also didn't hurt that I finally got an In N Out Burger in my system.

I spent a fair amount of the coffeeshop time reading Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, a heavily praised 20th-century political classic. I highly recommend it if you like checking classics off your personal list, because it checks in at a mere 216 pages. As for its contents, I don't see it as a book to love, but it is certainly a book worth thinking about--it portrays the Stalinist purges, yet with some sympathy (or at least empathy) for the original goals of the Bolsheviks, and with no great love for Western bourgeois capitalist democracy. Admittedly it was written in the late '30s, a pretty easy time to be cynical about all ideologies. It's a book that I'll probably continue to think about for a long time, which in and of itself is high praise I guess.

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