Frost and Whitman, Muir and Abbey, alongside some bluegrass or country-folk-oldtimey music, make me miss America and home in a deeper impossible way t...moreFrost and Whitman, Muir and Abbey, alongside some bluegrass or country-folk-oldtimey music, make me miss America and home in a deeper impossible way than anything. Thanks so much to these great, great men, who captured the special something of this place, this New England or that expanse of Western space, so that I can remember and long and love it. Home will always be inside these simple pages.(less)
Oh my god, it's a story with all the boring or political parts taken out, a story literally against boring and political parts, perfect for what I nee...moreOh my god, it's a story with all the boring or political parts taken out, a story literally against boring and political parts, perfect for what I needed to read it for and a big shake of the shoulders in regards to my usual standards for books and art. More girl parts next time pleeeease.(less)
I picked and chose my way through this, reading Russell's context and synthesis of the main arguments of philosophers whose names I always hear but wh...moreI picked and chose my way through this, reading Russell's context and synthesis of the main arguments of philosophers whose names I always hear but whose ideas I've never read. Russell writes enjoyably, chatting and offering his own take on how to understand people's thoughts and the influence or importance of the concepts. It's not an encyclopedia so it doesn't quite work as a flip-through reference. Russell kind of expects you to have read his summary of the earlier philosophers by the time he's summarizing the later ones. It's very varied how easily he is able to clarify a philosopher's ideas and in how much space. I came away with some more knowledge, but not a lot more knowlegde and not much more interest in pursuing it.(less)
Everything I so desperately fall for and am totally bored by in artist people. Ugh, if only you were activists, Henry Miller characters. I get that it...moreEverything I so desperately fall for and am totally bored by in artist people. Ugh, if only you were activists, Henry Miller characters. I get that it would spoil the whole show for you tho.(less)
Fun travel romp through far-off places to look at cool animals. A little shallow, though-- not enough science to make it educational and interesting,...moreFun travel romp through far-off places to look at cool animals. A little shallow, though-- not enough science to make it educational and interesting, too little culture or political commentary to make it opinionated and interesting. Give me more of all of it, more descriptions of ecosystems and the roles of these animals within them, more discussion of the impact and interactions of different human economies and cultures on these ecosystems, and more hilarious travel dialogue of Adams realizing that just because some place is far away and exotic for him doesn't mean it's undiscovered and empty of other people.(less)
It is so rare to find a good short story story book, and this one didn't have the je ne sais quoi to make it truly compelling. Fine bedtime reading, a...moreIt is so rare to find a good short story story book, and this one didn't have the je ne sais quoi to make it truly compelling. Fine bedtime reading, a little spooky at times, but never leaving me breathless and paused at the end of the page.(less)
She’s a great writer but these stories just made me hate America.
And meh to white writers faux-addressing race without bothering to develop any Black...moreShe’s a great writer but these stories just made me hate America.
And meh to white writers faux-addressing race without bothering to develop any Black characters into humans— her African Americans never made it past props with which to mock white Southern gentility, which is in its way a manifestation of the same.(less)
I don't know why I felt compelled to read my first animal rights book in almost a decade after, first, the self-care decision made while getting a deg...moreI don't know why I felt compelled to read my first animal rights book in almost a decade after, first, the self-care decision made while getting a degree in agriculture that since I was totally on-board with, convinced by, and actively practicing an animal rights-guided philosophy I do not need to continue to expose myself to paralyzingly violent images of slaughterhouse suffering, and second, while I am working amidst atrocity as an aid worker in the Central African Republic, where I've been trying to limit my violent media exposure to that which is directly relevant to my job.
I read this in a day while in bed with malaria, feeling a little miserable about genocidal atrocities and the constant violences of poverty, colonial-aftermaths, and malnutrition. Amidst this human horror, there is no room in my being and certainly not in my words and outward action to give any fucks about animals. I tell myself this, but still I'm staying vegetarian. I told myself I'd learn to eat animals again, but even on a rice-and-boiled-greens diet, I just don't. (no qualms about eggs though; a girl's gotta survive).
Animals here in CAR are raised free-range; there is no industrial animal agriculture. Pastoral cattle herds are a key cause of conflict and a key towards the restoration of livelihoods and dignity of the Muslim people being ethnically cleansed from the country. Eating animals hunted in the forest or fished from rivers is one of the few reliable sources of protein for a settled population whose crops were destroyed last year and may not make it to harvest this year, a people facing famine. On an individual level though struggling goats are tied down straddling motorcycle handlebars, chickens are grabbed up by the legs and swung like bags, pigs are slaughtered in long, screaming ordeals. Though this book is certainly ripe with the descriptive violence from which I'm trying to media-fast, it felt really good to read an affirmation of kindness extended beyond humanity. Love is not a limited resource and doesn't have to be cut short just because there isn't enough in practice in a current time and place.
I read this book; I didn't talk about it, and I won't. But it felt good to commune with a favorite author on the complexity and importance of animal-based agro-ecoystems while also making a conscious, conscience choice to refuse all of it, to believe there could be something better, even in this world.(less)
I brought this book with me to the Central African Republic, and read it by headlamp in a dark room after they shut the generator off for the night ea...moreI brought this book with me to the Central African Republic, and read it by headlamp in a dark room after they shut the generator off for the night each night over about a week. I started the book about 3 weeks after I arrived in this northwestern town comprised of burned and knocked down houses, empty quartiers, and, at the time, two crowded tent cities, one surrounding the main church and its many outbuildings, the Christian camp, at one point some 40,000 strong when the vast majority of the town cowered under Seleka control, and the other the square block of muddied grass surrounding a primary school in the center of town, where the Muslims were confined behind armed guards after a pogrom five months ago following the Seleka departure drove them out of their homes and storefronts. Within this context of tired, displaced people my work took me outside the city limits on rural roads that hadn't been traversed by cars since the last Seleka pickup gunned it down the dirt paths, stopping to loot and burn and rape and burn, last fall. It's spring now, and I work with people who are offering meager help in the face of incomprehensible terror and hard times-- besides the violence there is the lack (of food, of seed, of tilled land, of tools, of clothes, of bedding, of anything one could have in a house that could go up in flames) to contend with, and it is just as hard.
The book is now in the hands of a 20-something Central African coworker who daily leads teams to rural villages, taking responsibility for their wellbeing in the face of constant roadblocks and hassling from armed men, who I think will be the friend I take away from this place in my heart in some many months from now when it's time for me to leave the people who were born here and will stay.
I'm writing this from a peaceful place in Bangui, the capital city where gunshots ring out across the night but there's fuel and food and places to go at night before curfew, to see other people and speak English, which is delicious. There are flowers and birds and a view of the Oubangui river and the Congo rainforest in the distance in front of me as I type. When I got to Bangui for a few days of rest, I felt urgent and sad and anrgy, at a loss for how to negotiate (a) people who didn't realize how bad it is in the northwest, (b) people who knew and also were able to set it aside and enjoy life and beer and each other, and (c) trying to sleep in a quiet, comfortable bed with AC instead of a hot, no-fan concrete box with a thin mattress and the constant sounds of animals and people sleeping in tents around my little enclosed private room all night. But comfort and happy, relaxed people are not the enemy and they are not causing the pain of the people I work with and for. These other aid workers are here to devote their lives too to help and cope with limits of resources and time and energy and everything, too. The anger I felt, unasked for, welling up at their ease was both erasing their own trauma and so misdirected. It was my first vision of how hard it is to do this work, when I was able to see that part of me in others that at this moment I can't access, that I have shut down: ease. Lipsky warned of 'persecution complexes,' and I felt one manifest. I was glad to have read about it so I could identify the feelings, sit with them, and move on.
I've read a lot of books and trauma and practiced care of secondary trauma. I've survived PTSD from sexual assault and worked/volunteered/practiced advocacy and support for other survivors; I've lived abroad where I spent isolated months immersed in malnutrition and agriculture where it is hard to grow food-- from these previous experiences and primary/secondary exposures, I've learned tools, techniques, practices, and sources of strength. I am implementing them here in CAR, I prepared. Some of what I got from this book was a feeling of strength and resilience, because I know and do already much of what Lipsky teaches.
Some of what I got from Lipsky was frustration. She directs much of the book to burnout and compassion fatigue, and so many of the stories and advice are about how to gently pry oneself loose from the work at hand. But what if this work is-- at the same time it is so, so harsh and hard-- giving me life and vibrant energy and the most deep satisfaction in action I have ever found? I had an Owen Meany moment when I felt the 10 years of study and research and lesser but related jobs finally come out in responsibilities into which I was able now to step. Lipsky, I needed more joy and embracing of the work itself, I needed more love and advice for how to continue the work through the trauma, not how to shy away from traumatic, traumatizing work. I am fresh, of course. I can tolerate a book that doesn't always speak to me.
In general, I think this is not the end of books for caring for trauma. I like some other books with more practical step-by-step guides. I like the lessons I've gotten from years of yoga classes with teachers, from a couple periods of time with therapists. I like the lists I've prepared for myself of herbal tinctures and writing and people to contact and small rituals and fantasy novels and a stock of yoga and high-intensity workout videos. This book is a very good introduction to self-care while giving care and it is good for those who have burned through their candle. I'll guard the burnout advice in my heart and try to cultivate ease.(less)
This would be 3 stars if I wasn't living in CAR right now-- meaning 3 stars of interest for the general public, 4 stars of useful for the Central Afri...moreThis would be 3 stars if I wasn't living in CAR right now-- meaning 3 stars of interest for the general public, 4 stars of useful for the Central Africa-focused.
Titley does a well-rounded job here of combining Central African history, politics, and economics with Bokassa's narrative. Titley's a story-historian before all else, and he says as much in the introduction. The Bokassa story is titillating, and the author seems to relish the dirty details: cannibalism, first-hand torture, child murder, all of it. Though his emphasis on the macabre may lead a reader to think otherwise, in fact Titley does a good job of carefully placing these atrocities in perspective. The historical record on cannibalism is mixed (while I feel Titley on the doubts about bodies in freezers, the ample evidence of common cannibalism [of bodies killed in violence] in present-day CAR limit my skepticism about whether or not Bokassa ever indulged). Bokassa oversaw no wide-scale slaughter of hundreds or thousands. His terrible prison was a small one and his iron-fisted rule extended not much further than the capital's boundaries. Compared to his contemporary co-dictators and the civilian-targeted war and ethnic cleansing going on in CAR today, the numbers of Bokassa's victims seem small, almost minor. Finally, Titley points out, the French media obsession with Bokassa's gore served a distinct economic and strategic purpose.
Despite the emphasis and limitations placed on the extravagant and grotesque, Titley also covers the pillaging of the country by Bokassa, the French government, and the mining industries. You cannot come away from this book without a deep appreciation for how thoroughly Centrafrique's economy was ruined through extraction, waste, and deliberate anti-development decisions that redirected funds out of the country and prevented infrastructure, agriculture, small-scale trade, and democracy. The martial and dictatorial political system is a direct result of colonial and later neo-colonial extractive economics, led by French companies, the French government, and the hand-picked Central African leaders installed by French-led coups. Right now (May 2014), the Sangiris (French soldiers) at this moment may be all that prevents the widespread slaughter of the last Muslim enclave in Lobaye or the Christian population in Bossangoa. Titley's book makes clear though that the decades of anti-democratic, extractive French manipulation leading up to today-- and of course the slaughter the French soldiers watched in 2013 as they disarmed the Seleka and ignored the rise of the Anti-Balaka-- damned the country.
I read Titley's book to understand the why of CAR's crisis. While I wish the book was written ten years later than it was so the epilogue would get us to today (Titley, if you come across this, consider a blog-post update?), I can recommend this as one of the few English-language sources in which you can find some answers. (less)
Third time's the charm. I've read The Golden Compass twice and The Subtle Knife once, but this si the first time I'm starting the series with all thre...moreThird time's the charm. I've read The Golden Compass twice and The Subtle Knife once, but this si the first time I'm starting the series with all three books at hand. WHAT HAPPENS??? I go this when it was first published; I've been waiting like 15 years to find out.(less)
I will have to come back to this for a real review, but it's beautiful, and it's simple, and hopeful, and it contains all the reasons why I'm here in...moreI will have to come back to this for a real review, but it's beautiful, and it's simple, and hopeful, and it contains all the reasons why I'm here in Central African Republic right now, too busy to write the strong book reviews that good books deserve, working alongside local volunteers to support farmers to plant food crops after horrific authoritarian/sectarian violence, the kind that lumps all people of one particular characteristic as guilty for the violence done by armed factions of another characteristic, destroyed homes and fields and lives. There is an alternative that sees people as individuals who we can work with and alongside and for, regardless of ethnic or national or (in this CAR context) religious affiliation, and we can choose to live it; some do, everywhere. This book captures that conviction and offers a vision. Also I liked it because some of the characters are thinly veiled crustypunks.(less)