Okay, here's the funny part. The great philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (the author of Nausea, No Exit, and Being and Nothingness) referred to his true loOkay, here's the funny part. The great philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (the author of Nausea, No Exit, and Being and Nothingness) referred to his true love Simone de Beauvoir (author of The Second Sex) as "My darling Beaver" in virtually every letter he wrote to her.
As if that weren't bad enough, he ended his letters with thoughts like the following:
My dear little flower, I love you with all my might. I yearn to cover your face with kisses. I'm burning to see you again. I send you a warm hug. I love you so much, you little paragon. I'm almost there within your little paw, which I kiss fervently. We two are one, my little jewel. I send you a big kiss, face of the well-trod path. I send you a kiss for your little cheeks. I would so like to squeeze your little arm. I want to squeeze you like a lemon.
Now in between all of that, you would think two great philosophers would talk about something . . . oh, I don't know . . . say . . . philosophical? Unfortunately, no. Just sheer boredom. I learned almost nothing about either of them. Except that Jean-Paul is a dork.
Jean-Paul used the code name Emma to evade censorship.
Sartre was famous for lacking in personal hygiene. In another book, I read that it was Beauvoir who convinced him to smoke a pipe to cover up his body odor. Here his male friends refer to him as "too filthy." One man refuses him objects until "Once you've washed." Once he shaved and washed up, which "created quite a stir in the courtyard." And he kept unclean "despite the danger of catching lice."
Sartre wanted Camus to direct and play the male lead in No Exit....more
Any book on the brain written in the 70s is going to be outdated. For example, Sagan wasn't sure if different parts of the brain affected different thAny book on the brain written in the 70s is going to be outdated. For example, Sagan wasn't sure if different parts of the brain affected different things. But an enjoyable read.
He does make one important point clear early on: the "mind" is just a function of the brain. Dualists who think they are two different things are flat out wrong. I have had people look me straight in the eye without even blinking and say that if a person's brain were destroyed, their mind would still function normally. That's always an end-of-discussion comment for me. ...more
A collection of literature about death. The author's do an excellent job of collecting famous samples of death lit. As with any collection, there areA collection of literature about death. The author's do an excellent job of collecting famous samples of death lit. As with any collection, there are some works that I would have included. So here are five samples that were NOT in the book:
1. Song from Cymbeline: “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun” By William Shakespeare
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, Nor the furious winter’s rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great; Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke; Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The scepter, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan: All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renownèd be thy grave!
2. From Thanatopsis By William Cullen Bryant
So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
3. Speech from Macbeth (spoken by Macbeth): “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” By William Shakespeare
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
4. A Man Said to the Universe By Stephen Crane
A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.”
5. Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night By Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
A collection of parables translated by Anthony R. Ferris. I probably would have enjoyed these more when I was younger--a lot younger.
The preface is tA collection of parables translated by Anthony R. Ferris. I probably would have enjoyed these more when I was younger--a lot younger.
The preface is the most interesting part of the book. Gibran was a fascinating man who wanted a world free of oppression, ignorance, suffering, superstition. What he saw was a world where the rich and powerful abused the poor and weak. But if his solution to the problem is the nonsensical stories gathered here, we are never going to solve such problems. ...more
When a young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe learned of a man's suicide, he asked his girlfriend to find out all she could about him. The result was this fWhen a young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe learned of a man's suicide, he asked his girlfriend to find out all she could about him. The result was this fictional story based on an actual event. It is a classic study in depression.
It loses something over time, but it is also far ahead of its time. Consider the hero who looks at the world as a prison and life just "prolongs his miserable existence." But "however confused he may be, he always carries in his heart a sweet feeling of freedom in the knowledge that he can leave his prison whenever he likes." ...more
A nice book for young children who want to be writers. She rightfully points out that writers will look back on their young efforts with embarrassmentA nice book for young children who want to be writers. She rightfully points out that writers will look back on their young efforts with embarrassment at how awful they are. It takes a long time to learn how to write. She talks about rejection slips from editors, rewriting, importance of reading, and so on. I like her story about how she thought she wasn't poor because her family had books in the house. ...more
What a wonderful story. It is my second time reading it, and it just got even better. It reminded me of a recent novel I read: The Brief Wondrous LifeWhat a wonderful story. It is my second time reading it, and it just got even better. It reminded me of a recent novel I read: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Both books deal with the utter horrors of evil governments: the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Diaz novel and the excesses of Maoism in the Sijie novel. Sijie's story does it in a more subtle way. For example, when Luo goes to a "dentist," the wrong tooth is pulled out. That's because educated professionals were killed and shamed and brought to "re-education" camps. Tens of millions of people died. But we don't see that here. It's there between the lines. ...more
The nine-year-old hockey puck Bounced from the fender of an olive truck Now bounces a leather ballHere is one I liked:
t h e d e a d --- L I N H D I N H
The nine-year-old hockey puck Bounced from the fender of an olive truck Now bounces a leather ball on his forehead. The old lady who scrounged potted meat From foreign men lying in a mortar pit Now sells gold jewelry in Santa Barbara. The dead are not dead but wave at pretty strangers From their pick-up trucks on Bolsa Avenue. They sit at formica tables smoking discount cigarettes. Some have dyed their hair, changed their name to Bill. But the living, some of them, like to dig up the dead, Dress them in their native costumes, shoot them again, Watch their bodies rise in slow motion....more
A truly great book for those who can appreciate what it is trying to do. It was declared the "best book" of the 21st century by The Guardian which ofA truly great book for those who can appreciate what it is trying to do. It was declared the "best book" of the 21st century by The Guardian which of course means the debates start. No idea about that one, but it is a great novel.
The main character is an overweight Dominican nerd. The book is filled with references to all sorts of nerdy stuff. And some not so nerdy. But for me, it had great characters, great writing, and a great story. I loved it.
Some people found the language offensive. Really? Aren't we grown ups? You want to know what's offensive? Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican dictator who ruled for over 30 years. He played a prominent part in the many footnotes in the book. If you need to be offended, try that. ...more
One of our best poets at his best. Here is a famous example:
In the Library
There's a book called A Dictionary of Angels. No one had opened itOne of our best poets at his best. Here is a famous example:
In the Library
There's a book called A Dictionary of Angels. No one had opened it in fifty years, I know, because when I did, The covers creaked, the pages Crumbled. There I discovered
The angels were once as plentiful As species of flies. The sky at dusk Used to be thick with them. You had to wave both arms Just to keep them away.
Now the sun is shining Through the tall windows. The library is a quiet place. Angels and gods huddled In dark unopened books. The great secret lies On some shelf Miss Jones Passes every day on her rounds.
She's very tall, so she keeps Her head tipped as if listening. The books are whispering. I hear nothing, but she does....more
This is the true story written by the woman who was the historian helping out with the movie version with the great French actor Gerard Depardieu. I rThis is the true story written by the woman who was the historian helping out with the movie version with the great French actor Gerard Depardieu. I recommend both the movie and the book. I learned a lot about village life in 16th century France.
The peasant Martin Guerre goes off to war to fight with the Spanish Army. After being away for a few years, an imposter arrives. The peasant Arnaud du Tilh pretends to be Martin Guerre. He takes over Guerre's wife, property, and life. Finally, about three years later, the real Guerre will arrive on a wooden leg and denounce him. Arnaud will be hung as a result. Although the author leaves some room for doubt about who is who.
Here are two 16th century quotes about marriage in France: 1. "Femme bonne qui a mauvais mary, a bien souvent le coeur marry." A good wife with a bad husband often has a sorry heart. 2. "Amour peut moult, argent peut tout." Love may do much, but money more.
Another 16th century quote about the sex life of village boys: "I hardly knew what it was to be in love, but nowadays there is hardly a young man past fifteen who hasn't tried something out with the girls."
Here is a quote from the same time period about peasant homes: "they call themselves Lords and Ladies of such-and-such a house, even if it is only a pigpen."
And this one as well: "Throughout this country, the people are gay. They are always laughing, jokjng, and dancing, women and men both."
As far as Martin Guerre arriving on one leg, Horace once said that punishment comes on a limping leg. And there is a Languedoc curse: "Le maulubec vous trousse." May your leg sores turn you lame. ...more
As the great New Hampshire poet Donald Hall reached 80, he could no longer write poetry, but he could still write prose, so he wrote essays of an autoAs the great New Hampshire poet Donald Hall reached 80, he could no longer write poetry, but he could still write prose, so he wrote essays of an autobiographical nature. Here is that collection. Poems about love and death, about other famous poets. Wistful and entertaining. ...more
This book has probably lost some of its value over time, but it still holds some interest. I did have a few questions that I want to find more about.This book has probably lost some of its value over time, but it still holds some interest. I did have a few questions that I want to find more about.
I wondered about the veracity of all the stories. Can they all be corroborated? Has anyone questioned their truth?
Is it right to write about these people like they were some sort of freak show to make money? Or does it add to our knowledge and understanding?
Several stories though I do have to say that I could verify through my own experiences working with people who have developmental disabilities. ...more