Switching to Android; and reactions to Aldington’s DEATH OF A HERO

Hello friends. I got a new phone, and it’s an android. My wife said moving to android had impacted our marriage way more than me transitioning did. She’s not wrong!

I just wanted a change, and I got tired of feeling beholden to a hardware company. Nothing wrong with Apple, but I should be able to buy whatever phone I want, and in this case that was a really fancy folding phone. It’s the big samsung phone that unfolds into a small tablet. Not really something anyone needed or wanted, but I like it. Also the e-reader software I use (KOReader) isn’t supported on iOS.

I also got a new phone number to go with the new phone, so it’s been an adjustment. I still have the old number, so I’m not in a rush to switch everyone over. But it’s nice to not be bombarded with spam calls and texts. The hardest thing is the two-factor authentification systems a lot of online services use, including a lot of random ones. So I’ll want to, say, order something from Uber Eats and then I’ll have to dig up my old phone to input the code. I don’t really want to put my new phone number into the system bc then I’ll get spam calls again. Eventually I’ll move the old number to, like, a google voice app so it just becomes a virtual number or something. I dunno.

Android isn’t as good as iOS. I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it. Kinda like switching to windows, it works less well, but you can do more. With Android if there’s something I want to do, I can change it. Like the interface for the home screen wasn’t great, so I installed a new launcher, and now it’s really cool and customizable, and I can access my apps however I want to. Of course with iOS you don’t have these problems in the first place!

And one misses certain iOS features. Like when I was completely on iOS my headphones would switch seamlessly from device to device as I started using different ones. Now I have to fiddle with stuff to get sound from a new device.

But you know what? Maybe technology isn’t meant to be seamless? Because ultimately, all the seamlessness just led to more efficient consumption of Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or Netflix. Not particularly useful stuff. Like lately I’ve been using the Samsung Fold Pen to write my texts (bc I find the virtual keyboard a bit difficult to use), and it’s kind of fun to do handwriting, even though it’s slower.

Who the heck knows?

This is my last day of childcare before my surgery. Am cleaning up some odds and ends. I’ve been reading a new different books lately, but last night I started Richard Aldington’s Death of a Hero and found myself quite gripped. It’s a novel that at least attempts to be a social history of the type of young intellectual who died in World War I–the way they were raised, their attitudes towards sex and work and religion, and their various despairs and confusions. The writing is lively and aphoristic. The book was censored heavily by the publishers (apparently most books were back then) but the author elected to mark the censored bits with a row of asterisks, which is fascinating, as it leaves you to wonder what’s getting left out.

It’s like no other British book of its era, very personable, intimate and modern, with a far-ranging omniscient narrator–almost as if Anthony Trollope had written a novel, but in a modern voice, or maybe like if George Orwell had allowed more of his rage to show through in his books. Here’s a bravura passage:

How can we atone for the lost millions and millions of years of life, how atone for those lakes and seas of blood? Something is unfulfilled, and that is poisoning us. It is poisoning me, at any rate, though I have agonised over it, as I now agonise over poor George, for whose death no other human being has agonised. What can we do? Headstones and wreaths and memorials and speeches and the Cenotaph—no, no; it has got to be something in us. Somehow we must atone to the dead—the dead, murdered, violently-dead soldiers. The reproach is not from them, but in ourselves. Most of us don’t know it, but it is there, and poisons us. It is the poison that makes us heartless and hopeless and lifeless—us, the war generation, and the new generation too. The whole world is blood-guilty, cursed like Orestes, and mad, and destroying itself, as if pursued by an infinite legion of Eumenides. Somehow we must atone, somehow we must free ourselves from the curse—the blood-guiltiness. We must find—where? how?—the greater Pallas who will absolve us on some Acropolis of Justice. But meanwhile the dead poison us and those who come after us.

Oh, also, in case you pick up the book, this is one book where my habit of skipping prologues really got me in trouble. The prologue is a long set up to the book and introduces all the characters. It’s really essential. I only went back and read it after I went looking for the introduction. I got interested in reading more of Aldington’s novels after this (apparently he was a modernist poet, the husband of H.D. and a wrote a novella that’s a long send-up of T.S. Eliot) but this book of his is the only one that’s still in print! It was reissued by Penguin Classics.

I found the book because I have a terrible habit of just browsing the Penguin Classics on Amazon and impulse-buying the books that are currently selling for $5.99 or less (the prices of Penguin Classics tends to vary somewhat randomly, going from 4.99 all the way up to fifteen or even twenty dollars sometimes, though the latter is usually only for very long books that’ve been translated from other languages).

I am enjoying it a lot. You want to know my unpopular opinion about novels? They’re fun to read, and they can compete with any other form of entertainment, up to and including video games. I know nobody wants to hear it, but there it is.

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