I am really excited to read this book which I found on Terri Windling's fabulous blog. I grew up in Texas and have lived in two other border states, Ne...moreI am really excited to read this book which I found on Terri Windling's fabulous blog. I grew up in Texas and have lived in two other border states, New Mexico and California. Everyone I know has strong feelings about immigration--legal, illegal and otherwise. Mexican, Latina, and Chicana cultures are as familiar to me if not more so than my own ethnic heritages, so I would like to have a better informed opinion of the whole situation. I don't think it really dawned on me just how much things have changed in our post 9/11 world until I was in Big Bend national park last winter asking about the Rio Grande river rafting trip. Prior to 9/11 there was a place along the river where rafters would dock, and walk over a wooden bridge into Mexico, the borders were open and relations were good. After 9/11 and the changes on the border this stopped, now people will occasionally leave "care" packages on the other side of the border that disappear almost as soon as they are put down, but there is no connection between the two lands, interaction between the people, and I can't help but wonder, where is the care in that? So hopefully Mr. Urrea will be able to help shed some light on this fractured and sometimes non existent dialogue.
4/19/10-finished the book, it was both better and worse than I had hoped. This particular story documents in journalistic fashion the crossing of a group of immigrants from Vera Cruz looking for seasonal farm work in Florida. One of the biggest surprises to me was that the members of this group (which became famously known as the Yuma 14 because there were 14 documented deaths out in the middle of the desert) decided to cross over illegally for what I considered banal reasons. Most of them were not looking to stay in the US forever, rather they wanted to pick up some extra cash by picking citrus in the Florida groves in order to buy a new roof for their home back in Vera Cruz, or get their wives some new furniture or buy their kids school uniforms. The same type of economic reasons that I would say, take a second part time job--specific situations that require an extra bit of capital--nothing sinister or scary, they weren't even planning to stay in the country long-term. I learned about the grisly death of hyperthermia that each of the victims suffered out there in the dessert and I appreciated Urrea's own surprise that the Border Patrol guys came off much more concerned about the issue than he (or I) would have originally given them credit for. All of the usual things can be said about the book and the situation--its awful, heartbreaking, what to do, whose to blame--and this is where the book fell a bit short for me. I was hoping for more of an analysis of US/Mexico border policy, I need a primer on the economic decisions made on both sides of the fence that determine, augment, and in many cases damage our relationship with our neighbors to the South. I am confused about why we have companies that have jobs available for so-called illegal immigrants but then national policies that discourage immigration by making it illegal--that seems to have the same logic as printing out money, distributing it to the public but then saying that if you try to buy any goods with the currency you will go to jail--I'm sure I'm missing something here. So I am continuing to look, if anyone out there has a good suggestion hit me up!(less)
I read three essays out of the Portable Jung: Structure of the Psyche, the Relations between the Ego and Unconscious and the Spiritual Problem of Mode...moreI read three essays out of the Portable Jung: Structure of the Psyche, the Relations between the Ego and Unconscious and the Spiritual Problem of Modern Man. I recommend all three because Jung is like licorice--you either love him or you hate him with few people taking an ambivalent position.
In modern psychology he is grudgingly given credit for some of his insights (the role of symbols across cultures, the collective unconscious and the idea of archetypes) but he is also held at arm's length from the study of psychology today and especially from the therapy room. Psychoanalysis has been determined to be ineffectual, a waste of time, money, and resources, that culminates mostly in unhelpful navel gazing. On the other hand, for those who still believe in the benefit of psychoanalysis, dream interpretation, myth and story Jung is a figure of paramount importance, insight, and intelligence.
The three essays I mention above are helpful not because they confirm or deny these strong opinions, but because they allow the reader to get into the nitty gritty of what some of Jung's fundamental suppositions are. One example of this that plays out in all three essays is Jung's concern with the collective versus the individual. He uses the terms vaguely, sometimes using them to modify words like psyche, and at other times using them in what seems to be a political sense. I think the vagueness is intentional and that Jung really is interested in how these two notions play out against one another on a lot of different levels. His notion of collective is a departure from Freud, where it seems that every man is an island, perhaps plumbing the depth of his own individual psyche but in a fundamental way cut off from others and unable to articulate or express his experiences to others. Jung wants to address this problem and his assertion of the collective unconscious allows him to do that. The result is that psychic dysfunction, bad dreams, and even what we regard as good or positive is in some way shared among all people and in some parts of these essays he implies even shared beyond people. (less)
Islam is a tough subject for many Westerners and I am not speaking in a political sense, it is tough to even know where to start. Does one begin with...moreIslam is a tough subject for many Westerners and I am not speaking in a political sense, it is tough to even know where to start. Does one begin with the Qur'an for instance?
Well, a little research will tell you that the Qur'an is not put together the way that the Bible or the Tanakh is--the narrative style is very different so the Qur'an opens with some of the last thing that Mohammed wrote and said and initially deals with some interesting legal issues in Islamic Law which for a law scholar or devout Muslim is no doubt enriching, but for you average reader who is just trying to understand one of the great world religions, can be a little discombobulating.
Thank goodness then for Michael Sells work *Approaching the Qur'an.* Sells offers the reader a collection of some of the earliest teachings (suras) by Mohammed. Many of these were written when Mohammed was realtively unknown and Islam was just starting. Sells also goes to great lengths to help the newcomer understand the importance of the oral tradition in Islam and especially the sacredness of chanting the Qur'an. To underscore this observation the book comes with a cd in the back that actually has a number of the suras being chanted by both men and women.
The Suras themselves are beautiful, occasionally jarring, and often thematically intriguing. Sells does a good job of including Suras that speak to many different aspects of Islam.
I am pleased with this book as my first reading on Islam, but I would have appreciated an Introduction that dwelled less on the significance of Pre-Islamic poetry in the crafting on Qur'anic verse and that instead told me a little bit more about some of the rituals that were reflected and resonated with by the different Suras offered.(less)
Aristotle's Politics is an excellent book to read anytime, but its especially appropriate with the upcoming elections. He points out several obivous t...moreAristotle's Politics is an excellent book to read anytime, but its especially appropriate with the upcoming elections. He points out several obivous things that were not quite so obvious to me until I was reminded of them, like the possibility that you are in some part a reflection of the regime under which you live, that man is a political animal, and that speech, choice, and persuasion are in a unique relationship to one another. One of the best aspects of the book is the description of the three major types of regime and then their derivations or corrupted forms. As a teaser I will leave you with this: democracy is a derivation of...(less)
In my mind there are 3 Socratic Dialogues which I categorize as the "Death Dialogues." These are the Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.
In some ways the Phae...moreIn my mind there are 3 Socratic Dialogues which I categorize as the "Death Dialogues." These are the Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.
In some ways the Phaedo is the darkest of the three, as it is in this dialogue that Socrates is actually executed. The meat of the dialogue takes place minutes before he drinks the hemlock. People talk about Ancient Greek philosophy as being "cold." I think by this they mean that Plato, at least, seems quite fixated on reason (logos) and moderation and bereft of emotion and passion. I completely disagree with this view point for a lot of reasons that I won't go into here, partially because I think that if you read the Phaedo it becomes clear that whatever Plato and Socrates mean by reason and moderation, what they do not mean is living a passionless life like an automaton. Instead there is a sense that life and death are connected (hello), and that because the way you live is going to affect the way that you die, the point of philosophy is to learn to die well. At this point you can probably connect the dots and see that learning to live well is also of prime importance for Plato as it should be for all of us.(less)
This is an excellent translation of the book of Job; I highly recommend it. Job is a very confusing story and the last time I read it, I did so in con...moreThis is an excellent translation of the book of Job; I highly recommend it. Job is a very confusing story and the last time I read it, I did so in concert with Carl Jung's Answer to Job, which gave me some insight into Jung's mind but not into Job's.
For me Job is a story that I keep returning to, along with similar works like the Bhagavad Gita. Currently one of the more intriguing aspects of the narrative to me is the apparently two part answer that Yaweh gives to Job. The first part is what I have been thinking about lately. Here the rhetorical, where were you, question is first posed to Job. The examples begin with the most abstract, universal examples: where were you when I placed the foundation of the Earth? But by the end of this section they become very specific--is it you that hunts prey for the lioness' hungry cub or feeds the raven's fledgling?" I think that Jung is not alone in his interpretation that Yaweh's questioning of Job is both childish and cruel, but I find that this section is extremely powerful because of the obviously different levels on which Job is thinking and Yaweh is thinking. I wonder if what the first part of the question and response section indicates is in part the unlimited, unbounded nature of the divine, and the apparent (from our position in the world perhaps) detachment and lack of compassion, that is actually a much more comprehensive love than we could ever imagine. I'm not sold on this as an interpretation, but I find its what I keep returning to. (less)