Jack Jacobs won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. The first 100 pages deal with his early life. Then about 50 on Vietnam until he is injured. More person...moreJack Jacobs won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. The first 100 pages deal with his early life. Then about 50 on Vietnam until he is injured. More personal stuff. About 30 on his return to Vietnam. Then another 100 on his later life. What's missing is what most people would be reading this for: details about his combat experience. Most of the other stuff I didn't care about. His combat stories for the most part were amazingly dull.
He makes a great point about how all Vietnamese soldiers were lifers. The war never stops for them. It breaks my heart to think about all of those soldiers on both sides who went through such misery.
He speaks about the horrors of night fighting. More details please. I cannot imagine what that must have been like.
More people deserve a Medal of Honor than get one. It takes someone to see something and report it.
He complains about the assumptions that civilians make that all soldiers suddenly become psychopaths. I agree.
When the fall finally came, the North Vietnamese made one of the largest land assaults ever. But the South was by now being abandoned. He could sense the defeat in the ARVN officers.
I admire his willingness to go back and be an adviser to the ARVN soldiers. (less)
ON HIS DEATHBED THE ACROBAT TELLS HIS DAUGHTER TO BUY LAND by Suzanne Cleary
I see now it was never the sky I wanted
though for years I perfected leaps and dives, arching, curling tucking my chin hard into my chest to spin free far above my shadow.
Now I see it was always the earth its mysterious pull I was celebrating. It was always to return to the earth's hard bargain, on two feet my arms spread like wings.
There are enough birds, Edith. The air is full of seeds far better than we can ever be-- invisible, merciful. When I watched you pass the hat I wanted to crawl into our wagon and lie with my hands crossed over my chest. I wanted to count the potatoes and flour and find for once enough. I wanted to melt my father's gold watch and buy you a horse and shoes of thin leather.
Remember I never asked you to walk on your hands. I respected your fear of heights, of the fireworks we set off at the end of the show.
The hard-packed earth at the center of town where the people gathered, their thin shoulders touching, that was my passion.
Remember before each trick it was the red earth I rubbed into my palms.(less)
Third book I have read by her, same result. Outdated 1968-style poetry. And her stories just aren't that interesting.
Her poems about a group known as...moreThird book I have read by her, same result. Outdated 1968-style poetry. And her stories just aren't that interesting.
Her poems about a group known as MOVE are just too one-sided and simplistic. They show no understanding of what it must have been like for the neighbors living near them. No one should have to tolerate such behavior. The group needs to shoulder some responsibility for the tragedy that finally occurred. Just look up MOVE on Wikipedia to find out more. (less)
One of the poems was called "Fun." Turns out, it was made into Sheryl Crow's Grammy winning song "All I Wanna Do" in 1993. Mr. Cooper made money off t...moreOne of the poems was called "Fun." Turns out, it was made into Sheryl Crow's Grammy winning song "All I Wanna Do" in 1993. Mr. Cooper made money off the deal and was able to quit work and focus on writing. Good for him. I'm amazed that anyone thought of taking such an unusual poem and making it a song. They only added the refrain about Santa Monica Boulevard to set the scene in California. (less)
I totally expected to dislike this book and make a lot of smarmy comments about it. I have to admit I enjoyed the entire reading experience. It's a bi...moreI totally expected to dislike this book and make a lot of smarmy comments about it. I have to admit I enjoyed the entire reading experience. It's a bit of new agey, Buddhisty foolishness, but entertaining. I especially enjoyed all the quotes, a rundown of all of my favorites.
Here are a few:
Genius is "not a gift, but the way a person invents in desperate circumstances."--Sartre.
Image-making "is primarily a discipline of rightness."--Wallace Stevens.
"Just a turn of the doorknob, and there lies freedom."--Emily Dickinson.
"the capacity for a productive reaction against one's training."--Bernard Berenson's definition of genius in painting.
"Res tene, verba sequentur."--Cato the Elder.
"Perception is not whimsical, but fatal."--Emerson.
"Behind each jewel are three thousand sweating horses."--some Zen dude.
"Has this poet something to say, a little different from what anyone has said before, and has he found, not only a different way of saying it, but the different way of saying it which expresses the difference in what he is saying."--T. S. Eliot.
"How to Write Like Somebody Else"--The title of an essay by Theodore Roethke about modeling writers from the past until you learn your craft. The writer will become "more himself--or more than himself."
"Make it new."--Ezra Pound.
"Make it strange."--Leo Tolstoy.
"There are mountains hidden in mountains. There are mountains hidden in hiddenness. This is complete understanding."--Dogen.
"Traddutore, traditore."--Italian saying.
"Get rid of words, and get rid of meaning, and still there is poetry."--Yang Wan-li.
"The poetry is what gets lost in translation."--Robert Frost.
"The poetry is what gets transformed."--Octavio Paz's response.
"Unless there is a new mind, there cannot be a new line."--William Carlos Williams.
"Hearing the cuckoo, even in Kyoto, I long for Kyoto."--Basho.
"To generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the alone distinction of merit."--Blake.
"Death is the mother of Beauty."--Stevens.
"No."--Basho's response to a student who asked him, "Don't you mean too objective or too subjective?" after Basho had said the error in most poems is they are either objective or subjective.
In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce has Stephen Daedalus renounce family, country, religion, all things familiar to him to take up his new path as an artist with "the only arms I allow myself to use: silence, exile, and cunning."
"All perceiving is also thinking; all reasoning is also intuition; all observation is also invention."--Rudolph Arnheim in Art and Visual Perception.
He also says, "Eyesight is insight."
"Perceptibility is a kind of attentiveness."--Novalis
"Words are probes. Some reach very deep, some only to a little depth."--Ludwig Wittgenstein.
"We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are."--Talmudic saying.
"Result of chance; fruit of calculation."--Octavio Paz's description of a poem.
"I hate and I love. Ask, if you wish, why this is so-- I can't say. But I feel it and I am in torment."--Catallus.
"The more deeply we are our true selves, the less self is in us."--Meister Eckhart.
It's kind of like a thinking man's Dan Brown book. I don't like Mr. Brown's books at all, but I liked this.
It's a work of fiction based on the true s...moreIt's kind of like a thinking man's Dan Brown book. I don't like Mr. Brown's books at all, but I liked this.
It's a work of fiction based on the true story of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. The national museum of Bosnia was shelled by the Serbs, destroying so many priceless manuscripts. A Muslim librarian saved this book. Another Muslim had saved it in WWII from the Nazis.
The book was made in Spain, possibly in mid-14th century when the three major religions lived in peace. Later there would be the expulsion of the Jews. In the early 1600s, a Catholic priest saved it from the pope's inquisition fires.
The librarians made heroic efforts to save manuscripts. At least one, Aida Buturovic, gave her life.
Who knows what group will finally destroy the Haggadah. (less)
I admire Wilbur's skill as a craftsman, but I can't get too excited about these poems. This was a book I used going for my MA. I found it more interes...moreI admire Wilbur's skill as a craftsman, but I can't get too excited about these poems. This was a book I used going for my MA. I found it more interesting checking out the words I underlined that I did not know than caring much about the themes of the poems. "The Lilacs" is worth reading for how Wilbur managed to follow Anglo-Saxon prosody so accurately. (less)
Autobiographical stories by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of The Yearling, about her life in Cross Creek, Florida. She tells of characters like...moreAutobiographical stories by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of The Yearling, about her life in Cross Creek, Florida. She tells of characters like 'Geechee, who is named after the Ogeechee River. 'Geechee was a young black girl who was bought by the author for five dollars to do her housework. Seems like the girl's family was too large to care for her themselves. And there's Mr. Martin and his pigs. No fences in Cross Creek to keep animals in. You have to build them to keep other people's animals out. Rawlings has to shoot one of Mr. Martin's pigs, so she becomes in debt to him. Much of the book deals with the flora and fauna of the area. Stories about food and customs. (less)
Money and financial institutions grew during this time. Medici banking ledgers were headed with "In the name of God and profit." This money gave the M...moreMoney and financial institutions grew during this time. Medici banking ledgers were headed with "In the name of God and profit." This money gave the Medicis close contact with the inner workings of the Catholic church. Even Cardinals had expense accounts for their mistresses. The Bible unequivocally forbade usury. Leviticus 24:37: "Thou shalt not lend thy money for interest." Exodus 22:25: "Do not take usury." So the Medici covered their sins by becoming great patrons of the arts.
The greatest Renaissance philosopher was Pico della Mirandola. He was accused of heresy by the Pope. He died at 31. Machiavelli attended public lectures by him. Pico's thinking was scientific and he pushed for human dignity. He influenced Kepler's ideas on planetary motion.
The Pazzi family hatched a plot to assassinate Lorenzo and his younger brother Giuliano during Easter Mass. The Pazzis had taken over as Papas bankers and now wanted all of Florence in 1478. Giuliano was stabbed to death in front of the altar but Lorenzo was able to save himself. The rest of the plot was at the Palazzo Vecchio. The Archbishop of Pisa, dressed in full regalia, and other conspirators encountered the gonfalonier or leader of the city. He became suspicios and guards came. The Archbishop was bound and flung out the window hanging by a rope around his neck. Another conspirator was also thrown in like condition. They hung there desperately biting into each other trying to escape while a crowd tore apart the remaining conspirators.
The notorious Cesare Borgia, the Pope's son, used the papal army to carve out a new independent principality in central Italy. Borge's ruthless tactics dazzled Machiavelli. He looked as history as "an instruction manual on how to act . . . Human beings have always had the same passions and behaved in the same way." He believed in universal historic laws.
Borgia would lure leaders from their troops and have them strangled. He never wasted time and always used any method possible. It gave Machiavelli an idea for "a science of statecraft separate from, and independent of, every moral consideration."
Machiavelli was eventually subject to torture in the form of the strappado. His wrists were tied behind his back and the rope went over a pulley. He is yanked up and then dropped almost to the floor with all weight on his wrists. Causes excruciating pain with arms often being yanked out of their sockets. He has it done four times and is proud to say he stood up well to the torture. He believed a ruling prince should "be held in constant fear, owing to the punishment he may inflict." Pain and the fear of its possibility are what lie behind moral sanctions, laws, and even treaties.
In a few months in 1513 he wrote The Prince. It was intended to get him on the good side of the leader who was removed later.
He believed a country should send in people to settle a conquered territory. China has done that in Tibet. The Turks did that in Byzantium.
The welfare of the state is secondary to the prince continuing as a ruler.
One of his worst statements is "Fortune is a woman; and if you wish to control her it is necessary to restrain and beat her."
"Old Nick" derives directly from Niccolo Machiavelli. His surname spread through Europe as a byword for the evil.
There still seem to be no universal yardsticks for good government.
"It is necessary for anyone establishing a state and setting down its laws to presuppose that all people are evil, and that they will always act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they get the chance."--Machiavelli, Discourses
"The papacy, too, has never been in a position to carry on Christian politics; and when informers indulge in politics, as Luther did, one sees that they are just as much followers of Machiavelli as any immoralist or tyrant."--Nietzsche, The Will To Power
"Wars begin when you want, but don't end when you wish."--Machiavelli, Florentine History
"Much of the conventional obloquy that attaches to Machiavelli's name is due to the indignation of hypocrites who hate the frank avowal of evildoing."--Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy
"Machiavelli was the greatest Italian philosopher . . . the teacher of all teachers of politics . . . but he did not have enough contempt for humanity."--Benito Mussolini (less)
I actually used an old audio tape while driving. Shows you the kind of stuff I listen to.
A fair, even-handed biography. Very thorough. What a catastr...moreI actually used an old audio tape while driving. Shows you the kind of stuff I listen to.
A fair, even-handed biography. Very thorough. What a catastrophic failure Maoism was. How does it happen? Part of it is losing touch with reality. Part of it is a fear of being overthrown. Part of it is believing so much in a philosophy that all discussion goes out the door. He was willing to destroy all of the historical buildings in Beijing and would rather have had all smokestacks. So he nixed a plan to have the greatest park system in the world for workers.
At least "20 million people died" in the Great Leap Forward or Cultural Revolution. Enough said. (less)