When you don't have a job, you can't complain about not having enough time. And yet, that is what I tell people when I explain why I haven't read a book cover-to-cover in about 4 years. However, since I have subscribed to Audible.com, I actually do have literature injected into my life, especially on days when I'm just caulking and painting the living room or sketching.
Lately I've been listening to Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. It was recommended in a 10-hour lecture about the history of London that I really enjoyed. Defoe was a little kid when the Black Death visited London, but he writes from the perspective of a grown man who stayed in the city throughout 'the distemper.' As you can imagine, it's chock full of grisly and harrowing descriptions of plague victims, but he also gives account of how the city government and population formed hasty policies to try to contain a huge, deadly disaster. It must've felt like the end of the world. It's interesting to hear the same questions laid to Ebola in 2014 as where made of the Bubonic Plague in 1665.
"It may be proper to ask here how long it may be supposed men might have the seeds of the contagion in them before it discovered itself in this fatal manner, and how long they might go about seemingly whole, and yet be contagious to all those that came near them. I believe the most experienced physicians cannot answer this question directly any more than I can ... it may lie dormant in the spirits or in the blood-vessels a very considerable time."
But calamities, no matter what year, tend to bring people together. Ebola and the associated hysteria hasn't produced these affects in America. It seems that conservatives and others are no closer to recognizing the humanity of Africans than they were before 'the distemper.'
"Here we may observe and I hope it will not be amiss to take notice of it that a near view of death would soon reconcile men of good principles one to another, and that it is chiefly owing to our easy situation in life and our putting these things far from us that our breaches are fomented, ill blood continued, prejudices, breach of charity and of Christian union, so much kept and so far carried on among us as it is. Another plague year would reconcile all these differences; a close conversing with death, or with diseases that threaten death, would scum off the gall from our tempers, remove the animosities among us, and bring us to see with differing eyes than those which we looked on things with before. "
View of downtown London from Franks Cafe (a bar on the top of a parking garage) in Peckham. Would've stayed here longer except it was darn chilly.