Saturday, September 08, 2007


A Most Unclubable Man?

It was Dr. Johnson, I think, who coined the word "clubable" (sometimes spelled "clubbable") to refer to a sociable man. When Sir John Hawkins resigned from Johnson's Literary Club, Johnson branded him "a most unclubable man." If I had to choose between the two adjectives to describe myself, I would not hesitate to select "unclubable." Paul Brunton's advice, "Study everything, join nothing," seems wise counsel to me. Nevertheless, I sometimes hear about a club I would like to join.

One of these is the Diogenes Club, of which Sherlock Holmes (in The Greek Interpreter by A. Conan Doyle) says:
There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere.
The Diogenes Club sounds ideal, except for the discordant "latest periodicals." I would prefer bookshelves filled with the "oldest periodicals," The Rambler, The Spectator, The Tatler, and the like.

The essayist and novelist Christopher Morley wrote much about Sherlock Holmes. Morley himself founded a club with a delightful name, the Three Hours for Lunch Club. A civilized notion — three hours for lunch. For dinner and for breakfast, too, I say! To judge from the references to the Three Hours for Lunch Club in Morley's essays, its members did not spend the entire time eating and drinking. They also visited bookshops during the three hours.

If the Diogenes Club and the Three Hours for Lunch Club are accepting new members, I would like to apply.

Related post: Join Nothing.

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