Ok, I'm officially giving up. Yes, I agree with my daughter that it's cool how the punishments fit the crime - like for theives, their own actual human...moreOk, I'm officially giving up. Yes, I agree with my daughter that it's cool how the punishments fit the crime - like for theives, their own actual human form keeps getting stolen and they are forced to shape-shift into reptilian form and back. Awesome.
But the payoff is insufficient.
How do I dislike these? Let me enumerate some of the ways:
Zillions of references to local politics of Italy circa 700AD - don't know, not that interested honestly.
Millions of references to mythology - don't know, so don't get it, and don't care very much.
Each bit of content is very short: a meeting, a conversation, a response, on to the next thing. All extremely episodic and lots of work digging in to all the meanings and allusions only to be suddenly finished. Blah.
In between that kind of content, these opaque place-descriptions and movement descriptions - lots of work, don't care that much.
Painting of Jews and Muslims as evil, by the way (unless I'm interpreting it wrong) - not surprising, since it's Christian-oriented. But unpleasant and off-putting.
Plus the whole thing about Virgil having been in Hell briefly due to living just before Christ was born. He was Roman though, right? The Romans didn't become Christian till Constantine (interesting story about that included - the leprosy and all); so he didn't really 'just miss' being born whole and living a life of grace. He just missed taking part of the gleeful persecution of Christ.
Which is fine, but it's like, the little bit that I do know of the situation underlying all this is out of kilter.
But I'm very happy to have been exposed to it. Honestly, I feel like - the people living then thought all these big thoughts? And wrote so ornately? And were that smart? And had that much history? It makes me remember how rich and textured human history is, going that far back.
So, there is that.
May use it for sleep-induction from time to time, or when feeling too content with my day or something. For the most part though, I declare myself finished with it. Bah!(less)
Ok, I didn't *read* this, but plays are meant to be seen, not read. And I saw it - well, not the play, but the uber-excellent film made my Mike Nichol...moreOk, I didn't *read* this, but plays are meant to be seen, not read. And I saw it - well, not the play, but the uber-excellent film made my Mike Nichols with Meryl Streep and everyone. Very luscious. I saw it again last week, while home sick. I'd been wanting to see it, as Tony Kushner is here opening a new work and having stagings of multiple prior works. It's all Kushner, all the time. It's wonderful. So, in case I get to fit in any of the performances, I wanted to see this of his again. And this time, I knew what to expect more. It didn't overwhelm me nearly as much. In fact, I was prepared to be overwhelmed, and I wasn't. It was almost like a micro-experience. Scenes I'd remembered as going on forever seemed very short. Speaks to the effect of surprise on one's viewing experience, I guess. But back to the words of it and all - in a review of one of his plays here, a reviewer used the word 'Proclamatory' to describe it. I was so relieved. That's how I'd felt about it, but hadn't known how to describe it. But that's exactly it. Not that there isn't a plot, and characters, and forward motion (on so many levels), but much of the action and dialogue and monologues do, in fact, proclaim. And, more in keeping with my prior reaction, much of it felt beyond my grasp. I mean, I just couldn't gain traction with parts of it. Much about America, and Freedom, and Love, and whatnot. Tony said things, and I couldn't disagree or agree, or even nod my head. There were collections of words I just couldn't add up the meanings to. One small example: A death, a request to forgive, a refusal to forgive, a suggestion that: perhaps forgiveness is where justice and love meet. Ok, I know what all those words mean, but, the sum of them in that organization, I can't get there. 'Where love and justice meet' - they meet? They're normally separate? Like parallel lines? Only, in forgiveness, these parallel lines cross? Or, the personal (love) separate from the public (justice).....?? Or love between people, justice for those who've done wrong...love prevents justice (lack of forgiveness) or love and justice as two different effects, meeting in the choice of forgiveness perhaps. A big part of my experience was that I wasn't all there, recovering from a sleepless night due to episodic illness. So, thinking powers were reduced. Clearly, causing me to miss whole impacts of this rich, essential work. Much of it still delighted me and was very wonderful. The part about how God does change - perfect. Lou's reaction to Joe's professional work, Mother Pitt about disappointment, Ethel Rosenberg's reaction with her eyes to one thing Roy Cohn says, the Rabbi's initial speech. That initial speech at the funeral alone is priceless, about immigrants and what they brought with them to the US. I tear up just thinking about it. Harper's piece towards the end about how nothing is lost, nothing is in vain; that too. How Belize gets the first few bottles of AZT from Roy fascinates. Mother Pitt is so awesome. Joe's perfect... what.. insanity? And such a great look at conservatism, and race in the US, and how the gay community dealt with the AIDS crisis as it hit, and the price paid by women married to closeted gay men almost most of it; except so much of the rest is also very fully related. But all of Lou's ramblings go past me - and I think some of them are supposed to, but that I'm also missing some. Next time I see it, with my faculties all in place, hopefully will gain entire additional meanings. My advice to you: see it when you're at your best, to gain the most from it.(less)
This book is three complete contents, perfectly interspersed. One: a loving immersion into Persian literature from ancient to modern days, as well as...moreThis book is three complete contents, perfectly interspersed. One: a loving immersion into Persian literature from ancient to modern days, as well as many warm embraces to literatures of other peoples and places also. This immersion includes not simply sharing of various literature snippets, but a great deal about the effect of fiction on the human psyche: what effect it can and should have on a people. The very power it holds over the human species. Highly recommend to any who writes, or reads, or is human (ok, slightly exaggerating, but not much. Really). In fact, literature is so much a presence in this book, her first addendum after the acknowledgements (there are four unique ones) is a suggested reading list, giving details of the referred-to content: Forough Farrokhzad, Golshiri, Ferdowsi, Gorgani, so many more.. all translated. This list doesn't include all the non-Iranian fiction mentioned.. really, this book calls out for an index- between the political content and the literary content, the family content also of course.
The second content: Iran's history, 20th century. Fascinating look from the inside at the motifs and textures of the administration of Iran, from a person on the inside who herself - and/or her family - had contact with a wide range of people at the core of the country. This part was very illuminating for me. And not just about Iran, but also I imagine it can be extended to other Islam-based countries. For instance, this section, about life in Iran in the early Eighties: "Since almost all aspects of public life had been restricted or banned, out private domains took on the function of public forums. Our houses became our restaurants, bars, movie houses and theaters, concert halls, public forums on literature, the arts, and politics. True, these free zones were threatened constantly by a state that could at any time of day or night raid our houses and confiscate the alcohol, gambling cards, makeup forbidden books, and videos. They could arrest us on charges of immorality.And yet in those days there was a suppressed excitement that belied the anxiety and fear-- or, now that I think of it, perhaps the two fed off and strengthened each other. While the country was torn apart by war and besieged by repressive laws, daily arrests, and executions, beneath the surface, just underground, there were mutinous acts and shows of resistence that constantly frustrated and subverted teh powers of the state. An act as normal and mundane as having a party with men and women where drinks were serve, music was played, and perhpas a movie was watched.. had to be undertaken with caution, curtains drawn, so that it became something very special, like a stolen eclair." - I can't help but wonder if that captures a flavor that - atleast in part - is also tasted at various times in countries like Pakistan, perhaps Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.. Azar also made clear how various forces came together to result in the overthrow of the Shah, nearly 100% of which were disappointed by the outcomes. Almost had echoes of Hitler's rise - people not listening to the clearly-available actual plan of the Ayatollah, instead hearing only that part of his mesage that suited their needs. Very dangerous, again. The third content of this book is Azar's family: and it could be said to be the core of the book. Any female who thinks she has a difficult relationship with her mother could try this one on for size, I think she'll find trading doesn't appeal. All the members of her family and close friends are well-drawn and complex. The pacing didn't always suit me, but I believe it did serve the content well.
So, three distinct contents, knitted together into an intricate tapestry reminiscent of beloved Persian artwork. All three are present from page one to the end, all three support the other two alternating with taking their own spot in the limelight. Really a fascinating work. (less)
Umm, very potentially fun - or not. Very curious! I think this is the first book that I've become aware of that apparently contains knowledgeable, res...moreUmm, very potentially fun - or not. Very curious! I think this is the first book that I've become aware of that apparently contains knowledgeable, respectful content about the pagan practices of Ireland. Just what I'm looking for on a day like today!
I have *a* copy of this, not sure if it's this one; but as time nears to read it, it's great to hear about different versions. And the more synopsis I...moreI have *a* copy of this, not sure if it's this one; but as time nears to read it, it's great to hear about different versions. And the more synopsis I come across the better, will really help me while reading it to absorb as much as possible.(less)
We caught this at a store around the time or soon after my daughter was learning about the Underground Railroad in school - so was excellent. The pict...moreWe caught this at a store around the time or soon after my daughter was learning about the Underground Railroad in school - so was excellent. The pictures are awesome, and I believe this one has allusions to the African-American theme of flying out of safety. It's a poignant mix of powerful/powerlessness; fear and safety; grief and joy. Highly recommend.(less)
I'd read Aesop's fables as a kid and really liked them - I remember one in particular about a young man who was traveling, and he came to a town and s...moreI'd read Aesop's fables as a kid and really liked them - I remember one in particular about a young man who was traveling, and he came to a town and stayed for a bit. Over time he became aware that the town had a huge problem - their bowls were getting to be too small to hold any food! He looked, and realized their bowls had food caked on them, and it was that caked-on food which was making the eating part smaller. He showed them how to remove the food from the inside of the bowl, and the problem was solved. Excellent metaphor for people who are caught in a way of looking at things, and it can take an outsider to see things clearly. Kind of in synch with a lot of 'Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance'.
Anyway, one thing I was reading about this said that Aesop's Fables quite possibly were descendents of this, so I'm interested in reading it for that reason, as well as general interest.
Although that same reviewer mentioned that some is lost in translation - perhaps one day I can get this in the native language as well and read it that way!(less)
Read it, loved it. It starts out happy and fun, then things go wrong (which kids enjoy, it's practically slapstick), then there is a decision (which k...moreRead it, loved it. It starts out happy and fun, then things go wrong (which kids enjoy, it's practically slapstick), then there is a decision (which kids can understand) and an excellent resolution. Speaks well against the escape mentality, so has great message-content besides being a pleasurable experience. (less)