Friday, January 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/20: Jack Gets More Complex, Chicken Soup Surprise, Nightcap

1. In the first few chapters of Master and Commander, even though the narrator tells the story from a third person point of view, Capt. Jack Aubrey holds the narrator's sympathies, I'd say, and the story draws a mostly positive picture of him. As the novel progresses, though, the narrator takes us into other characters' observations and attitudes toward Capt. Jack Aubrey, giving us a more complex picture. In particular, we listen in on a private conversation between the ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin and Aubrey's Lieutenant, James Dillon, two men who knew each other several years ago as Irish revolutionaries (and are keeping that shared history secret). I'm not going to give away why James Dillon has misgivings about Jack Aubrey. No, I simply want to note that as this tale's hero,  Capt. Jack Aubrey is flawed (we begin to see this even without James Dillon's intimations). The men in his service have varying degrees of respect for and doubts about him. Aubrey himself occasionally feels the worm of self-doubt gnawing away at his inward thoughts.

I wrote earlier that I thought one of reasons Patrick O'Brian writes in such copious detail about the ship, the Sophie, is to demonstrate what a comprehensive understanding Jack Aubrey possesses of this vessel and its physical complexities. I wondered if Capt. Aubrey would also have a similarly comprehensive grasp of the complexities of the men under his command and understand how to address their brokenness, the leaks they spring, move them in the direction he wants them to go, and deal with the challenges they present.

I'm two hundred pages in and, so far, an assessment of Capt. Aubrey's leadership and his understanding and treatment of his charges would be not only premature, but impossible.

2.  A week ago, I cooked a pot of chicken soup, using chicken stock I had made. This evening, I heated up the last pint or so of that soup. The soup took me aback. It was far better tasting this evening than I remembered it being last week -- a pleasant surprise.

3. I spent much of the day reading Master and Commander. Around 9:30 or so I put the book down and mixed myself a dry martini, up, stirred, with olives, in a chilled martini glass. The book had me a bit wound up and this single cocktail helped relax me and put me comfortably to sleep.

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