Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

I should be much more enamoured of Sebald’s Vertigo than I am, the way in which he writes about European places familiar to me, especially semi-desolate Italian train stations. Sebald has a knack for getting an atmosphere just right. But at the risk of coming it knit-picky, I still find myself unable to warm to the book wholeheartedly, much as I admire stretches of it here and there. In fact, I began waving the white flag about when it came to the book’s third section. Now I have skipped to the fourth or the last section entitled Il ritorno in patria. I figure that here, should I persist, the penny will drop and I will bask in a toastier intellectual clime. Still, is this any way to conduct a civilization, shortchanging one of the better writers of our time? Earlier this morning, I attempted to catch up on my political reading. I have been letting it slide of late. I confess to not making much headway, consigning myself to the tender mercies of, say, The Smirking Chimp or Informed Comment. That it is all so disheartening, and I am no less confused for the effort; and the writing is all so ham-handed and the sense of urgency stale, the discharge of a bevy of automatons. That mainstream media pretty much dispenses sensationalism and pap and little else is beyond question. Alternative media is also suspect. How many more Top Ten lists compiled under the aegis of this or that progressive scrutiny can you ingest? Do they amount to well-considered argument such as might peel off this little piglet from that side of the sty to come and muck about with little piglets on this side of the sty who see the light of day as per the embedded talking point?—A was in town over the holidays. Drinks at ‘bratwurst’ were mandatory. There she hugged Uncle Jamal and Auntie Flora after hugging me. She has defied my worry that Vancouver would ruin her. She extricated herself from the corporate world and has seemingly slid backwards: waitressing gig. But she is clearly happier and has a better grip on her life despite a diminishment of economic prospects. Otherwise, otherwise—Shakespeare in Henry V brings on the honeybee so as to explicate human derring-do. Aquinas suggests that the light of reason is in every man. What a dear. Montaigne simply says: The preservation of states is a thing that probably surpasses our understanding. I render myselfaghast, resorting to that wretched puritan Thoreau: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. Yessiree, Bob, I sense another episode at ‘bratwurst’ coming on, with or without the likes of A