The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’

A Little Too Comfortable

What toilet paper does for people’s derrieres contributes considerably more to the abyss between the classes than a good many external signs.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

My junior year of college I found myself at a friend’s campus housing, loading my backpack with the free campus toilet paper. When the backpack was zippered up I looked like an industrious, hard-working student who had just spent a day expanding his intellectually curious mind with a backpack full of books. What my friend and I knew was that I was a cheapskate, and I had either just hit a new low, or discovered something great: a new way to not spend money.

It was toward the start of the year and I had my own apartment for the first time. When I had started the year my mom had driven down with me to SMU with all of my belongings and she helped me move in. We ran to Sam’s/Costco/Target/Bed Bath and Beyond/whatever (it’s all a blur) and she bought a lot of stuff for me. One of the things we got was a big package of toilet paper. The nice kind.

The campus toilet paper was obviously bought for quantity, not quality. Where Quilted Northern can describe itself as plush, this stuff would describe itself as vengeful and angry. “Dear spoiled college students, go take your naps and enjoy this carefree time of your life … I’ll bring you down a notch.”

When I got home I unloaded the haul – I would be set with toilet paper for a while, and when I ran out?, who cares!, a quick walk to my friend’s campus housing and wha-la, I was set yet again. I didn’t know how much toilet paper cost, but I felt like a champion of thriftiness.

Then, the dreaded day. The last of my mom-purchased, high quality toilet paper and the switch back to the campus stuff. WAIT A MINUTE!, my body seemed to say, I thought we’d moved past this stuff! Apparently, apartment life had spoiled me some (in other ways – the ants, the forgetting to pay the electricity that one summer month, it had not).

I was talking with a few friends and toilet paper came up, and what I said surprised my cheap self (and my friends for my over-sharing): “You know, I think one thing I don’t mind splurging on is toilet paper …” (This statement was greeted with surprised/confused/amused looks.) “WHAT?!,” I said not at all casually in defense, “it’s … I mean, come on!, it’s worth the comfort!”

Quotes of the Day!

The following quotes are from The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. (The last book club book.)


And you can tell from the way she’s moving: she is heading towards. Maman just went by in the direction of the front door, she’s going out shopping and in fact she already is outside, her movement anticipating itself. I don’t really know how to explain it, but when we move, we are in a way de-structured by our movement towards something: we are both here and at the same time not here because we’re already in the process of going somewhere else, if you see what I mean.


(Let me say, before this quote, that the book club is all female except for myself … But I still like this quote.)

Let me explain: if, thus far, you have imagined that the ugliness of ageing and conciergely widowhood have made a pitiful wretch of me, resigned to the lowliness of her fate – then you are truly lacking in imagination. I have withdrawn, to be sure, and refuse to fight. But within the safety of my own mind, there is no challenge I cannot accept. I may be indigent in name, position and appearance, but in my own mind I am an unrivaled goddess.


Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?


True novelty is that which does not grow old, despite the passage of time.


They have one idea in mind: to be intelligent, which is really stupid. And when intelligence takes itself for its own goal, it operates very strangely: the proof that it exists is not to be found in the ingenuity or simplicity of what it produces, but in how obscurely it is expressed.


And secondly, a teenager who pretends to be an adult is still a teenager. If you imagine that getting high at a party and sleeping around is going to propel you into a state of full adulthood, that’s like thinking that dressing up as an Indian is going to make you an Indian. And thirdly, it’s a really weird way of looking at life to want to become an adult by imitating everything that is most catastrophic about adulthood …


Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield where, on the eve, the battle was lost; but in sunlight does it not look like a territory ripe for conquest, a place where – even though tomorrow we will die – we can build empires doomed to fade to dust, as if the knowledge we have of their imminent fall had absolutely no effect on our eagerness to build them now?


For art is emotion without desire.

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