Re: Future Posts: on Jane Austen (and internet addiction)

(Image credit real quick: “Lyme Regis: Tourist Guide to the Historic Resort of Lyme Regis > The Cobb” …

I have been reading English literature again, for the first time in a long time (almost 5 months) and it is comforting to note how easily I can get back into it. That is, how readily my mind takes to the reading. However, there is one rather monumental obstacle in the way of realizing this completely: internet addiction. It is a real thing; I am not going to lie to you, reader. I have it! It absolutely controls me. I feel its pull after a pathetically brief amount of time away. My brother described addiction (to cigarettes, specifically, in this example) in an extraordinary way once, when we were teenagers. He said it’s like someone is tapping you on the shoulder every second, saying “Hey! Have a cigarette … have a cigarette.” It’s quite fascinating – uncanny, I wanna say – that he used this figure of speech. As I imagined it then, and still to this day I imagine it this way, that “someone” tapping him on the shoulder, is him. … Hmm, but I realize this doesn’t analogize too well with my internet addiction. The “someone” would be my laptop, lying there on the floor or the bed, where I left it, “tapping me on the shoulder” saying “pick me up.” Sigh. I don’t even know why, guys! It’s like, there is a semblance of a rational reason, I’m sure. Like, there is something on a site that I had recently visited which I am hoping changes – whether it is a social site, or an online store. (I am fond of buying tennis shoes – a sport which I am *healthily* addicted to – and I am almost always checking the online stores to see if there are any that are on sale). I also do what is a kind of circuit, of my sites: I will check them all (facebook, email, ebay, etc.) and more often than not this isn’t very satisfying.  Probably that is the rational reason, mentioned above, for wanting to come back onto the internet: I have a routine that is “supposed to” give satisfaction, and every once in a while does so, so whether I get that satisfaction or not, I am going back to it. It’s almost worse for me in the long run if I *do* get satisfaction from these sites. Whereas, if I don’t get it – for a long enough time – I begin to do what I am doing now: questioning why I do it, and questioning how to stop it.
OK! Wow, I did not plan on rambling on for that long upon *that* topic. To get back to what I was saying, I am reading literature again. The book, in case you are wondering, reader (bless you, if you were, indeed), is Persuasion, by Jane Austen. (I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan; love her!) I was reading one of the footnotes – in the excellent Oxford World’s Classics edition of the book; if you are a Literature buff, I highly recommend looking for your books in Oxford WC. It was a footnote that went with the setting (Lyme) in the book, where Wentworth’s friend is staying (no spoilers here, don’t worry), and, when I saw that Lyme was *’d for an explanatory note (not “foot” note, for the notes are at the very back of the book, which is why I am lazy sometimes and don’t turn back tthere to look it up), I assumed that it was a rather useless note just explaining the basics about the town of Lyme. But, as is often the case with these fantastic OXford WC’s (I love ’em, guys, really do; total ner here, so what), the best explanatory notes are oftentimes the ones least expected, if I explained that well. And here for this note, it was doubly interesting: for one, it says that the town had become somewhat abandoned. All because its industry – its reason for being there, really – had dwindled away, for an interesting and peculiar issue: the ships (it was/is a harbor town, for shipping) were being built larger in Jane Austen’s lifetime, to reflect the growth of mercantilism (shipping of goods), to the point where they no longer fit in Lyme’s harbors! How peculiar and fascinating a reason for a town’s entire industry to become defunct. It is kind of ghostly. However, it did not become a forlorn ghost town, but changed industries (and this is one of the things that makes England so great) – it changed to become a seaside resort town, much like Brighton (which I gather was the quintessential seaside bathing, resort town – of Southern England, anyways). And the second interesting and charming note (and this is one of my favorite aspects of being an English Lit student, and analyzing literature) is that Jane Austen, of course, went to that seaside resort town, of Lyme. And parenthetically, the note says that Jane Austen (I wanted to call herr Janey, I just love her so) most likely used a “bathing machine.” I will let you have the pleasure of looking up what that is. I must confess, somewhat embarrasesedly, that I just now realized that a bathing machine was not intended to help those who are physically weak (“infirm” as they would say it) to take a dip in the ocean. I assumed this was why Jane Austen would have used it, because, at the time of writing Persuasion, her health  was jsut beginning to fail. I missed the detail in the note that she visited Lyme about 13 years before writing Persuasion. So, upon first reading in the note that she most likely used a bathing machine, the imagery of a somewhat physically struggling dear Jane Austen was very affecting to me. My sympathy for her was really welling up; I was thinking about how it may have been a struggle for her to block out any feelings of shame that may be attacking her human dignity; and it somewhat troubled me that it always seems to happen that way: those who have the most human dignity, like JA, are oftentimes the ones that seem to have that dignity challenged in the eyes of the world. That is a subject for a whole ‘nuther conversation though.
Yeah so I just got inspired to write a quick entry on the topic. It was the imagery of Jane in the bathing machine that was most affecting and inspiring. But it turned out that the bathing machine was something differently  than i assumed it was. (Gotta stop assuming so much). Still, there were other internal struggle which this bathing machine connotes. It’s ironic that physicians at the time so often prescribed people to go to the sea for health purposes, then they give them bathing machines (I haven’t seen an image of it, but I gather that it is an apparatus that is carried out into the water which holds a shower curtain, basically, all the way around where the person is to be taking a dip; I imagine they were about 6 feet squared?) gave them bathing machines to take this “refreshing, good for the soul” dip, while repressing them and their nerves all the more. What they really needed was the freedom and enjoyment of swimming and connecting with nature, and the world, in comfortable, self-confident openness.

Eh. I am not explaining myself well at all tonight. I do hope I can continue to spend a little more time reading instead of going onto the internet, though. I know it will be good for the mind.

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