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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Middlemarch Done:

George Eliot is in my author's hall of fame list, but I haven't read all of her most famous works.  This should not, and will not, be allowed to stand.  Just as I've read all the currently available Baccano, I'll read all the famous Eliot novels.  Never let it be said that I recommended to others what I have not first undertaken myself.

Today marked the completion of Middlemarch, dubbed the greatest novel in the English language.  I wouldn't go that far, but I do think it's very good.  It's due to books like these that I have her among my top fiction writers in the first place.  I feel like discussing the plot would only spoil it for new readers, so what should I say to recommend it?  Perhaps how remarkable it is that a person can be crushed under simply by rumors traveling about the community, even when he's never done a single thing wrong.  Or how effortless it is for a woman to fall out of love with someone even when he's done nothing wrong.  Or how quickly want of money leads people into decisions they never would have made otherwise.

There are endless lessons to be gleaned from this remarkable story.  Perhaps the most important of which is not to get into debt.  It is the gadfly, the true nemesis, of the characters in the story.  And its power is frightfully higher than a mere monetary concern.  People treat debtors like lepers, including their own wives, their own family, everyone.  The endless harassment of people coming for money you don't have and can't possibly have, demanding it always like it was ready to give and you aren't providing it out of spite alone.  It shatters your pride and even your dog starts trampling all over you, because you have no confidence in yourself to gainsay it anymore.

There's also a lovely turn of phrase Eliot resorts to again and again, where characters who know they must make a hard decision choose constantly to delay, as if by some miracle the issue will be dealt with through some other means not of their knowing.  That if they can just deny and avoid the issue long enough, it will cure itself.  This was actually Tokugawa Ieyasu's entire strategy in life and it won him Japan, so maybe there's something to it.  But I found it humorous how ridiculous they were in their lack of courage, and how utterly fruitless their hopes of divine intervention appeared.  Usually, this appeal to magical relief didn't work for the characters, but sometimes it actually did, making their insistence in delay all the more humorous because sometimes their prayers were answered.

Meanwhile, I've reorganized my video game music lists into less flamboyant groupings: '1 star Tales,' consisting only of Tales music that couldn't find a home anywhere else, 262 songs strong.

2 star video game music (from all sorts of games), 700 strong.  3 star video game music, 700 strong.  4 star video game music, 700 strong.  5 star video game music, 700 strong.  And 6 star video game music, 700 songs strong.

3762 songs in all.

My 4 star video game music playlist still has a disproportionate number of Tales songs in it, (488/700), but I think these sorts of disproportions will pop up naturally so long as you concentrate on merit, instead of artificial quotas.  The 4 star list was as destined to host lots of Tales songs as the 6 star list was destined to host a disproportionate amount of Chrono Trigger songs.

Still, I got it down to nearly 2/3.  Which means the 'monotony' of Tales music will just be two in a row before I hear a non-Tales song again.  I think I can handle that level of psionic strain.

The best part is, I'm fairly confident the 4 star playlist genuinely is better than the 3 star list now, so my work swapping songs between these two lists is now done.

From here on I shouldn't need to be doing any intensive, mass-scale recategorizations.  Maybe a song here or there will annoy me and I'll trade it out for something else, but the construction work is done.

Middlemarch is done.  My video game music listening project is done.  Everything's done.

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