I'm still committed to finishing the series, but this is beginning to get tedious. Undoubtedly Goodkind gets paid by the word, because he keeps repeatI'm still committed to finishing the series, but this is beginning to get tedious. Undoubtedly Goodkind gets paid by the word, because he keeps repeating things. He repeats things over and over. Granted, in a series this long, one needs to repeat things that the reader may have forgotten. But one does not need to keep repeating things that were just repeated 30 pages ago in the same book.
You have no idea how annoying it can be to read something where the author keeps repeating things over and over unless you have actually read something where the author keeps repeating the same things over and over. I wish I could find some example online of this sort of writing technique—one where things get repeated, with tiny variations, over and over—but alas, it seems to be unique to books that are five times longer than they need to be because the author's overinflated ego and low opinion of his readers makes it appear necessary to continually repeat virtually the same text, over and over.
I have this sneaking suspicion that I've already read 90% of the last book, without ever having laid eyes on it. And yet, I'm going to read it anyway, but not before the library gets a copy. [EDIT: OK, so I had to buy it, but at least it was from the cut-out bin, which was hardly a surprise.]...more
While many of the techniques presented in this slim volume are entirely worthwhile and of great value in making oneself clear and defusing potentiallyWhile many of the techniques presented in this slim volume are entirely worthwhile and of great value in making oneself clear and defusing potentially tense communications, I still disagree with some of the author's fundamental categorization of "needs." While it may be useful, or even necessary under certain circumstances, to address the desires of another person in addition to, or even perhaps prior to, their needs, I continue to maintain that there is an important distinction to be made between genuine human needs and mere desires, and that kowtowing excessively to the desires of others, while entirely likely to smooth out an otherwise difficult conversation, is of limited value in the long-term. Reinforcing the legitimacy, to say nothing of the primacy, of such desires can go quite a way toward reifying them in the minds of their holders, and thence to create an increased sense of entitlement. All that said, I still find the techniques described to be extremely useful, especially in such cases as "arguing about the toothpaste" when there is clearly a deeper and more important issue underlying a given conflict. What flaws there are, in many instances, are more the flaws of novice to intermediate practitioners of NVC rather than of the author himself, as is shown in many of the included examples....more
One of the better popular-science books I've ever read, and certainly the best I've read recently. Well written, engaging, and well-referenced, it notOne of the better popular-science books I've ever read, and certainly the best I've read recently. Well written, engaging, and well-referenced, it not only improved my understanding of General Relativity, but made the very concept of time—both in terms of the experience of its flow and it's scientific sense as a dimension of unified spacetime—both clearer and more diffuse: what is time after all? How can it even be defined in any meaningful way? These questions may seem ridiculous on their face, as time is measured by every clock. But what exactly is that clock measuring, and how? Once you start scratching at that surface understanding, one finds rather little substance holding it up.
Naturally, I will go on to use this as a further justification of my habit of procrastination. Eventually....more
I almost wish I hadn't read it; I am at least glad I waited until moving through some of the O.T.O. degrees myself.
While the bulk of the book focusesI almost wish I hadn't read it; I am at least glad I waited until moving through some of the O.T.O. degrees myself.
While the bulk of the book focuses on the personalities and histories of Smith's associates in the world of Thelema, there come times when Starr, unrestricted by any vows surrounding the degree work, refers to information that some, particularly members of the Order, may regard as secret. Of course, since most of this focuses on the early history of the O.T.O. in North America in the first half of the 20th century, much of it no longer applies, or applies differently, today—even during the course of the narrative, while Aleister Crowley was still alive he re-edited or rewrote virtually all of the O.T.O. initiations. Still, for those of us who prefer to go into each initiation "clean," without having read ahead, this book may provide some unwanted insights and set up uncertain expectations. I would not, however, consider any of them to be outright "spoilers," and Starr includes precious little information regarding the upper degrees that wasn't already widely available, even within Crowley's more public teachings.
Apart from that, this is a fascinating look at the history of the O.T.O. in North America, and at one man's successes and failures in following out The Path as outlined by Crowley in his O.T.O. and A∴A∴ systems of High Magick. Since they were close associates, it also offers a good, if peripheral, view of the work of author:Charles Stansfield Jones (Frater Achad), as well as touching upon Jane Wolfe, Regina Kahl, C. F. Russell, Jack Parsons, and very tangentially L. Ron Hubbard and Phyllis Seckler, among others. It also represents the first publication of all three parts of Crowley's Liber 132 ("Apotheosis"), a specific instruction from TO MEGA THERION to Smith.
Finally, it is useful as a guide to anyone involved in the middle degrees of O.T.O., mostly as a handbook of what NOT to do in the running of a fraternal magical order, narratively outlining the problems and pitfalls that still plague some such orders and bodies today, as anyone familiar with Pasadena's Agape Lodge could have told you already....more
This edition is based on the translation of E. Allison Peers, itself based on the latest Spanish critical editions of the time. However, two chaptersThis edition is based on the translation of E. Allison Peers, itself based on the latest Spanish critical editions of the time. However, two chapters (3 and 5) pertaining directly to life in a religious order have been eliminated from this popular edition for lack of broader appeal. The present editor has further modernized the language, replacing archaic terms with modern English equivalents (e.g., Thou to You) and shifting passive to active voice.
This certainly makes for a livelier read and opens Teresa's text to a potentially broader audience, leaving it an excellent primer for those seeking an introduction to Roman Catholic mysticism in the Spanish tradition. Nevertheless, I find that the looser language is less useful for scholarship and a deeper understanding of the practices, while also losing some of Teresa's characteristic voice. I hope to have the opportunity to compare it more directly with the Peers edition in the future, and recommend that to more advanced students of religious practice in preference to this....more
This was my introduction to Vonnegut, and I'd say it was a good one. I've read quite a bit of 20th century short fiction, so it's hard to surprise meThis was my introduction to Vonnegut, and I'd say it was a good one. I've read quite a bit of 20th century short fiction, so it's hard to surprise me since the genre is given to certain formulaic tropes, but this one managed to do so if for no other reason that the twist at the end of several stories went in a completely different direction than I expected. I suppose this is a hallmark of what people call Vonnegut's inimitable style.
It's hard to really pick favorites here, as the quality of the stories was really very consistent—nothing had that seemingly inevitable flavor of filler so common to anthologies—but some of the one's that I suspect will stick with me longer than others were the opener, "Confido;" "F U B A R," a word that should be used more often IMHO; the rather lengthy "Ed Luby's Key Club," which ends nowhere near where I expected; and the chillingly clever title story. Considerably less impressive were the now somewhat obvious Soviet tale "The Petrified Ants" and "The Good Explainer," for which I did know the ending by the third page, the only time that happened in this book....more
This was a highly entertaining and rather original read. I've consumed a fair quantity of sci-fi over the years, and most of what I read these days feThis was a highly entertaining and rather original read. I've consumed a fair quantity of sci-fi over the years, and most of what I read these days feels derivative, or like "more of the same," which leads me to read progressive less of it unless that's what I'm looking for. So, while I grabbed this expecting "more of the same" after reading Lord of Light, the variance in tone, plot, and style was a welcome surprise. I particularly enjoyed the somewhat sparky humor of the protagonist, and his rebellious character, and that I guessed almost none of the plot twists before their time. Everything else I can think to say beyond that, and the few quotes available here, strikes me as a spoiler, so I'll just stop there and say read it if you like original sci-fi, and don't require it to be "hard SF." ...more
Should contain: Three dialogues / Samuel Beckett and Georges Duthuit -- The private pain and the whey of words : a survey of Beckett's verse / John FletShould contain: Three dialogues / Samuel Beckett and Georges Duthuit -- The private pain and the whey of words : a survey of Beckett's verse / John Fletcher -- Samuel Beckett : humor and the void / Maurice Nadeau -- The Beckett hero / A.J. Leventhal -- The Cartesian centaur / Hugh Kenner -- Watt / Jacqueline Hoefer -- Samuel Beckett and universal parody / Jean-Jacques Mayoux -- Failure of an attempt at de-mythologization : Samuel Beckett's novels / Dieter Wellershoff -- Samuel Beckett, or 'presence' in the theatre / Alain Robbe-Grillet -- Reflections on Samuel Beckett's plays / Eva Metman -- Being without time : on Beckett's play Waiting for Godot / Gunther Anders -- Beckett's brinkmanship / Ross Chambers -- Philosophical fragments in the works of Samuel Beckett / Ruby Cohn...more
While clearly one of the core texts of Crowley's system of Thelema, and key to understanding his cosmology, I found this particular edition of Liber 4While clearly one of the core texts of Crowley's system of Thelema, and key to understanding his cosmology, I found this particular edition of Liber 418 to be excessively confusing, even while it remained revelatory.
Part of the problem is the system of commentary. Since the text of the visions themselves is often rather opaque in its symbolism, especially for those not already well versed in the Thelemic Holy Books as well as Qabbala, Crowley added numerous footnotes some 15 years later. In this edition, these are supplemented by further notes written still later by his student & former secretary Israel Regardie. Some of those notes are signed "I.R." but others, while referring to Crowley in third-person, remain unsigned. In all, this makes it very difficult to determine what was written by whom, when. And even with all that, and the whole internet as a supplemental resource, many references remain obscure.
I am hoping that much of this will be further elucidated by the later edition published as Equinox IV:2. Meanwhile, I already have lots of fodder for processing from this one; the core text, after all, is the meat of the matter, and leaves this reader with plenty to digest....more
I read it because my girlfriend did, and because I really enjoyed Harris's Fatherland. The latter was by far the better. While Harris clearly knows thI read it because my girlfriend did, and because I really enjoyed Harris's Fatherland. The latter was by far the better. While Harris clearly knows the era, and convincingly creates the WWII atmosphere, the characterization is a bit thin here. It's rather a stock noir mystery novel set in and around Bletchley Park. It's entertaining enough, but Neal Stephenson creates a far more compelling use of the setting, among others, in his Cryptonomicon....more
I had a class on dystopian fiction in college with one of my favorite professors (W. Russell Gray, who also taught on Detective Fiction, among other tI had a class on dystopian fiction in college with one of my favorite professors (W. Russell Gray, who also taught on Detective Fiction, among other things) so between that and the fact that this is, essentially, a book for young adults, perhaps I am jaded. I mean, I see why so many people like it so much, but after Brave New World, 1984, 1985 and great heaping mounds of sci-fi, I find myself thinking "meh." I had all the big twists figured out by about page 60, and the biggest well before that.
So, bottom line: if you're just getting started in the genre, this is a great place for it. If you've been in for a while, I think you can skip it, unless you just want to be able to participate in the conversations knowledgeably....more
Because this is evidently the most popular book of the series, and because my ejoyment of the series has been trending downward for several installmenBecause this is evidently the most popular book of the series, and because my ejoyment of the series has been trending downward for several installments now, I was expecting to dislike this one. I am pleased to report that this is a rare case where popular and good intersect: this was definitely my favorite of the bunch so far, despite ramping up the explicitness of both the gore and the sex. In my opinion, the depth of characterization in this story was greatly improved over the somewhat soap-opera-meets-comic-book quality of several of the previous volumes....more
I still don't get why so many people I know cite this as the greatest graphic novel ever. Is it that the rest are so bad? Is it simply the normalizingI still don't get why so many people I know cite this as the greatest graphic novel ever. Is it that the rest are so bad? Is it simply the normalizing depiction of gender-non-conforming characters? Maybe I'm just more of an Alan Moore type, but I don't see it yet. I'll keep going and keep looking though. ...more
This is not only a good overview of the specific case at hand, but serves also as something of an insider view on how constitutional jurisprudence funThis is not only a good overview of the specific case at hand, but serves also as something of an insider view on how constitutional jurisprudence functions in 21st Century America: the behind the scenes work that brings a viable case to the Supreme Court in such a way that a centrally important issue can be adjudicated. In this case it is especially telling in that, for Lawrence to prevail, previous precedent would need to be overturned, which is never taken lightly by The Nine, no matter where they fall on the left-right spectrum....more