This is a very short book, best read in one sitting. I guess it originated as a Kindle single, at least going by the Goodreads information, so that maThis is a very short book, best read in one sitting. I guess it originated as a Kindle single, at least going by the Goodreads information, so that makes sense. I read it because I love Ruth Ozeki's books and will read anything she writes, and while I wouldn't recommend this as a place to start with her work, as an established fan I enjoyed it. She has this ability to take unlikely-seeming topics and make them very compelling, and this way of building meditations that circle from one thing to another and end up drawing in a lot of life. So the concept of this book is the author meditating on her face, literally sitting and looking at her own face in the mirror for two hours (it seems like this book is part of a series that asked authors to go through this exercise?). Which sounds odd, but is actually quite fascinating. In a short space Ozeki touches on aging, growing up as a biracial person in mid-20th-century America, relationships with one's parents, and Zen Buddhism, among other things. The face, after, all, is worthy of reflection: it's so much the point where we interact with other people, the identifying element of the self, so much meaning is tied to it, and yet it is not the self. ...more
This is a very dense and academic read, but worth it. I had the weird sensation of for the first time reading something that was really about, as JoanThis is a very dense and academic read, but worth it. I had the weird sensation of for the first time reading something that was really about, as Joan Didion put it, where I was from. I feel like this book helps me make sense of the place I grew up, that strange way that national and international politics lived alongside, and interpenetrated with, the experience of 'standard suburbia.' And it's full of info and histories that I didn't know, or didn't know in detail - many of them appalling - that pull the picture together....more
Possibly the best thing that finally caving in to acquiring a smartphone in the year 2015 has enabled me to do to date is downloading this book off PrPossibly the best thing that finally caving in to acquiring a smartphone in the year 2015 has enabled me to do to date is downloading this book off Project Gutenberg and reading it on the subway. After all it is a big influence on two of my early influences, namely The Waste Land and The Winter Prince, so it is great to finally read it and put a few more pieces together. And it's applying The Golden Bough to the Grail Romance, so how could it not be delightful? I feel a bit bad giving it only three stars, but she goes off the deep end enough that the empiricist in me can't quite stomach more. At least it's not as bad as The White Goddess, which I had to give up on out of outraged rationality. But that's not to say that this isn't a fascinating read. The connections she draws between the symbols of different myths and rituals are, if not always totally convincing, suggestive; her attempt to pinpoint a specific historical origin rather less so, but all engrossing. I am particularly fond of the idea of the suits of the Tarot being the same as the symbols in the Grail legend. And it makes a nice counterpoint to rereading Ms. Wein's whole sequence. Not that I don't love her newer books, but I hold out a desperate hope that their success will spur some publisher to take a chance on The Sword Dance so I can read it. Alas, not yet.
Anyway it is probably time to go on an Arthurian reading bender. Malory awaits....more