Forgot about the importance of a commute to get reading done! I just finished this book on the commuter rail to Boston. This is the first book in theForgot about the importance of a commute to get reading done! I just finished this book on the commuter rail to Boston. This is the first book in the Stoned Philosophers Book Club discussion group happening at a local bar near you. I am sure that I'll have much more to say after bookclub meets, but in general, I found this book to be a great place to start delving into the philosophical tradition. Since I have never formally studied philosophy, I've had a hard time figuring out where to start. Ultimately, I decided that I need to begin with the Ancient Greeks. Pierre Hadot's "What is Ancient Philosophy?" is an accessible overview of the beginning of a formal philosophical life as it was conceived by the ancient Greeks. If you equate philosophy with theoretical discourse, this is a great book to help you parse through the true meaning behind the word and concept of "philosophy" and how modern scholastic teachings (aka - how philosophy is taught in the academy) deviates greatly from the intentions of the ancients (Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, etc.). The reader comes to understand that philosophy was conceived NOT as speculation/ discourse BUT rather as a way of life. It was amazing to me how much resonated with me today from 500BC - REMARKABLE! The connection of how living a philosophical life (practicing the love of wisdom) was seen as your civic duty and had a large hand in shaping the Nation. Also, coming to understand the centrality of ASKESIS, or spiritual exercises or meditations as meant to shape your intellect, and the importance of simple contemplation and convening with Nature was in incredible connection to these ancient philosophers. I'm rambling, more to come. ...more
Need to re-read this in the context of King Leopold's Ghost. Didn't have all this history first time I read it over 10 years ago; however, I do remembNeed to re-read this in the context of King Leopold's Ghost. Didn't have all this history first time I read it over 10 years ago; however, I do remember getting the impression that as an explorer, Stanley did seem a bit countryless. King Leopold's Ghost sheds light on this. ...more
This was one of the most tragic stories I've ever read. It painted so clearly the trials of living under racism, exploitation, and colonialism in a waThis was one of the most tragic stories I've ever read. It painted so clearly the trials of living under racism, exploitation, and colonialism in a way that didn't shy away from the horror, but also left room for inspiration and hope in the everyday acts of resistance....more
i just finished this book last night. it's a quick read (a few days) which i needed after finishing a book that took me 6 months to read. fitzgerald ci just finished this book last night. it's a quick read (a few days) which i needed after finishing a book that took me 6 months to read. fitzgerald crafts an interesting story that resonated particularly with me because of its weaving of small town politics, the plight of the independent business, and the "failure aesthetic." it's a good book if you've been a victim of any one of these things, nevermind all of them. ...more
This book was published by New Directions, and as such, it was pretty typical fare: experimental, challenging, and sparse. It was a bit tricky to getThis book was published by New Directions, and as such, it was pretty typical fare: experimental, challenging, and sparse. It was a bit tricky to get into the story, but toward the end I had a much better handle on the narrative and characters.
Any book that ends with this line was written for me:
And then the storm of shit begins.
It's been interesting reading Bolano backwards. I recommend it. ...more
I was determined to finish this book today. Unfortunately, my plan to read at the beach was foiled by rain, but I had a nice time reading under the awI was determined to finish this book today. Unfortunately, my plan to read at the beach was foiled by rain, but I had a nice time reading under the awning of the Cooked Goose in Watch Hill though. I am on a spree of reading Bolaño, and really, that's the only way to do it. All these earlier New Directions paperbacks I'm now catching up on are proving to be the trial runs for 2666. I am glad that I started with the latter and worked my way back. I can see where there are overlapping themes and characters that Bolaño likes to play with. Distant Star again centers on Chile's literary scene and the formations of young writers groups, whose members were systematically killed by the government (and more to the point - one of their own). The book ends with the hunt for this poet, a Chilean Air Force officer, an infamous killer who once flew to Antarctica to write a poem in the sky.
Reading Bolaño makes me want to start writing again.
Some interesting references to writers, journals and filmmakers that I need to follow up on. [e.g. Just Netflixed "Tis Pity She's a Whore" featuring a young - and apparently hot - Charlotte Rampling. And - the "barbaric writers", Arras Nightwatchmans Review, and I am in desperate need of a good French translation for "élan"......more
The used copy of this book I purchased has a handwritten note on the first page that says: MEN ARE WORTHLESS?, ALL SHOW, IRRESPONSIBLE Well, who couldThe used copy of this book I purchased has a handwritten note on the first page that says: MEN ARE WORTHLESS?, ALL SHOW, IRRESPONSIBLE Well, who could resist that teaser? Certainly not me. However, it didn't turn out to be exactly accurate as the major theme of the book, but maybe that's just because it's a sub-theme that governs all our lives, all the time...from Ghana to Providence. Okay, who's gonna be the one to call me out on this s--t?! ...more
I know many people in the literary world, but this book is the first novel I've read written by a friend. Allen's personality and idiosyncrasies ringI know many people in the literary world, but this book is the first novel I've read written by a friend. Allen's personality and idiosyncrasies ring throughout, e.g., la femme francaise. I loved how Allen portrays the culture of the library: Dewey decimal system smackdowns, pneumatic tubes transporting lost manuscripts, library trolls living in forgotten rooms, obsessive compulsive observations, uber rationalizations, etc. Every librarian and archivist needs to read this book! ...more
Read this book aloud last night with a crew of people at Abe's bar on Wickendon St. to mark National Banned Books Week. The event was hosted by NotAboRead this book aloud last night with a crew of people at Abe's bar on Wickendon St. to mark National Banned Books Week. The event was hosted by NotAboutTheBuildings.com, and was their 3rd "read-in." So far, I'm 3 for 3. Apparently, the book was banned in Boston once it was published for its violence and racy sex scenes. Another example of changed attitudes as this book is ridiculously tame by today's standards.
I was surprised that the book held up as well as it did, and now I want to go back and watch the film adaptations of the novel. I have seen the version with Lana Turner, but there are 3 others (one prior, one Italian, and one released in the early 80's with Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange). A surprisingly humorous motif involves cats.
We left the bar pondering the meaning of the title. Did Cain coin this saying? Or was it popular before this novel? ...more
I was fortunate to see Kenyan writer wa Thiong'o Ngugi at a recent reading at Brown University. Not only did I get to hear the proper pronunciation ofI was fortunate to see Kenyan writer wa Thiong'o Ngugi at a recent reading at Brown University. Not only did I get to hear the proper pronunciation of his name (!) but I was more importantly able to listen to him read from his newest novel "Wizard of the Crow." After that reading I was inspired to pick up my copy of "Petals of Blood." This novel suffered from a bit dated Marxist agenda and caricatured main characters. Not to say that there were not any complexities or meaningful storylines, but it was a rather dogmatic read that lacked the subtlety of many other African writers of the 1960 -70's. After the publication of this novel, Ngugi was detained by the Kenyan government. Leaves me wondering what a modern writer would need to do to risk arrest today. I know the answer to this question changes based on the nationality of the writer. I'm not sure Ngugi was worried about being jailed in today's geopolitical world for writing such a similar societal critique in "Wizard of the Crow". In fact, what sticks out as eerily sad is how the oppression has maintained a steady grip (at best) or more likely gotten worse.
A washed up freedom fighter (Abdulla) reflects on the destitution around him:
He walked along where dirt and paper and bits of oranges and other remains of rotten food were thrown. He stood and watched hordes of half-naked children with bloated stomachs as they fought it out, asserting their different claims to territories of rot and discarded rubbish. He shook his head. This eternal interminable cycle of destitution and deprivation amidst plenty!
This passage reminds me of several things: ++Darwin's Nightmare documentary film ++Chris Abani's portrayal of modern life in Nigeria through "Graceland" ++Charles Mulekwa's play about Uganda called "A Time of Fire" now running at the Black Rep
All of these works make you ask where's the hope for a generation? Is there such thing as meaningful resistance?...more