This is a must read if you are interested in what they are now calling 'Language Philosophy' or 'Analytical Philosophy'. Kripke presents a strategy th...moreThis is a must read if you are interested in what they are now calling 'Language Philosophy' or 'Analytical Philosophy'. Kripke presents a strategy that is different from his colleagues' work. Whether of not you agree with him he is required to be dealt with in his discipline.(less)
I think I had to read this 6 times before I came to love it. I believe I have read it around 11 times.
"Walden" was required reading in 12th grade Ame...moreI think I had to read this 6 times before I came to love it. I believe I have read it around 11 times.
"Walden" was required reading in 12th grade American Lit. when I was in high school. We only had to read the chapter on 'Economy', but it was described in terms of dread and horror by my fellow students before my section even got to the classroom. I don't remember what the assignment was, but I do remember that a long period was set aside to get through it and that a lot of people struggled to complete it at all. I believe now, that I was so psyched out by what I heard that I didn't understand what I was reading, not because I didn't understand it, but because I thought I must be missing whatever it was that was so difficult and grueling. I remember turning in the assignment and being dazed and needing to be assured that I did in fact do what was required.
I talked with the teacher, described what was in the chapter and, sure enough, it was about a man who wanted to live simply by building a cabin in the woods. Then I was puzzled, because I thought the idea of the book was cool. It was about nature. What could be wrong with that? There was something about it that compelled me to return to it even though it was hard and it took a long time to understand what it was really about.
It helped not to have to read it once the assignment was over in class. I picked up an annotated paperback version in a used bookstore and read and reread that book until it fell apart. I still have it in a bag. The annotations kept referring to an edition of the book from the 1940s that had photographs in it. Once I had reached the point where I really loved "Walden" I remember wondering what was in the pictures that was so wonderful. I never expected to find out.
I would have been happy just to have looked at a copy. But one day I was walking by the sale books in the public library and the photographic edition from the 1940s was there for $1.00. I couldn't believe my eyes. I brought it to one of the head librarians and I explained what the book was and asked if they were sure they wanted to sell it. I was assured that yes, one dollar would do. What a prize.
Things I like in Henry David Thoreau's "Walden". I like the descriptions of nature and his philosophic, and poetic, and humorous voice in which he asks questions like "Do you own your farm or does your farm own you?" I loved the chapter where he describes being out on a boat and a loon plays hide and seek with him. I liked his description of making necessary trips into town and of his long walks across other people's property and of his description of the loud boom sound that the ice on the pond made when it broke in the Spring. His description of life lived deliberately provided much for him to discuss about life for all of us in a commercial society.
I once saw an Amazon review that said it was, "The worst book I have ever had the misfortune to read." Well, I get it, it is a hard book, but then at some point you see his gentle sense of humor, his love of nature and his human view of life that asks that nature be respected and that we don't work the joy out of life in pursuit of possessions. "Walden" is almost poetry, but not quite. It is almost philosophy, but not quite. It is almost nature writing, but not quite. But in the end it is a great piece of literature that defies being pigeon-holed as it gives the reader ideas for how to avoid being trapped into a life lived in quiet desperation.(less)
This is a perfect spoof of the Science Fiction genre. In 1981 I was a Freshman in college. I had a friend who told me about this book. He loved it so...moreThis is a perfect spoof of the Science Fiction genre. In 1981 I was a Freshman in college. I had a friend who told me about this book. He loved it so much that he had written a fan letter to the author and the author had written back. That is kind of neat. I can remember patiently listening to my friend go on and on about how much he loved the book and the author. It sounded pretty lame to me.
Eventually, I read it and was blown away. It is silliness from start to finish and I mean that in a good way. Characterization and the story are interesting. Dialogue and narration is nonstop funny. He leaves hilarious images in the readers mind.
Alas, Douglas Adams left us way to early. I just hope he has his towel with him.(less)
"His Dark Materials" is a highly imaginative trilogy. The people have animal familiars attached to them for life with an invisible metaphysical cord.
I...more"His Dark Materials" is a highly imaginative trilogy. The people have animal familiars attached to them for life with an invisible metaphysical cord.
It is a steam-punk world including a dirigible pilot.
There are creatures with a symbiotic relationship with a plant that they make hoops out of. The creatures travel in herds by rolling inside of the hoops. The hoops are so hard that the only way the pods can be broken out of them so they can reproduce is by being used as they are by the traveling creatures.
The heroine is a strong girl, child character that we see personal growth in throughout the series.(less)
This has been my favorite novel since around 1986 or so. It was love at first sight.
It is another of those books that are begging to be interpreted us...moreThis has been my favorite novel since around 1986 or so. It was love at first sight.
It is another of those books that are begging to be interpreted using Sartre's "Being and Nothingness" as a guide. I have thought from the beginning that someone could go through "V" and find every ontological structure described in "B&N" somewhere in the novel. That someone should be me, but it has been a long time since 1986 and I still haven't done it.
A principle theme of "B&N" is that "Existence precedes essence." Sartre says that we are not born with a predetermined nature. Our free will is such that whatever characteristics we develop are there because we have chosen them through the process of living.
Since our natures are not predetermined and we have the freedom to be what we will it follows that we do have to find our own meaning to life and we are responsible for the characteristics and actions of who we are and what we do. Sartre calls acts of denying that responsibility "Bad Faith". Examples include claiming we can't do a thing because we are not "that kind of person". Or, we can be compelled to do something because we "are a desirable kind of person." Similarly, because we only deal with people as physical objects in the world we do not experience their nonphysical, psychological, and free aspects directly. Cruelty and injustice is made easy by ignoring the humanity of others and treating them as only physical objects.
Pynchon's Novel "V" is almost a catalog of dramatic examples of the ways humans can commit cruelty by treating each other as objects. Conversely, we sometimes have inappropriate affection for objects that ought to go to other humans. (view spoiler)[An example is the character Rachel Owlglass who has a naughty relationship with her car. (hide spoiler)] There is a plastic-surgeon who is dedicated to bringing out the physical person that he believes his patient actually is but needs surgical help to be. Of course, these patients are objects of affection and require his surgical attention for him to remain interested in them. Love is dependent upon becoming an object.
Also in the novel is the bad priest who preaches that the sons of Malta should be hard as stones. (view spoiler)[The same priest is discovered to have replaced many of his physical parts such as an eye, his teeth, a leg with artificial prostheses in an attempt to be a pure object. (hide spoiler)] The backdrop of the novel is WWI, a time in which Westerners brutalized his enemy and himself with the machine of war.
Part of the novel describes the horrors that European plantation owners inflicted upon the native population in Africa previous to WWI.
"V" can be a disturbing novel, but it does not glorify the human obsession with objects and of objectifying other people. It is an exploration of the themes and ontological structures of human existence that is also found in Sartre's "Being and Nothingness". It is the novel that Sartre's "Nausea" ought to have been but wasn't.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It is hard to believe that I haven't written a review of this wonderful book. The "Atlas of Middle-earth" is one of those resources that help to open...moreIt is hard to believe that I haven't written a review of this wonderful book. The "Atlas of Middle-earth" is one of those resources that help to open up Tolkien's work for the reader in a way that adds to one's understanding of the original works. It is helpful to have multiple maps with explanatory material there to help the reader to visualize the geography and routes of all of the major works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
She provides floor plans for Bag End, Butterburr's Inn, the Beorn residence and on and on. The author was a professional cartographer trained at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Ok. I read the "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" many times before I read Fonstad for the first time. Despite having read Tolkien's works many times it is an entirely different experience to look at the interpretation of those works by a cartographer, who sorts out the information and presents it in a visual, uniform fashion. There is a difference between the loose imaginings of that information that one gets from pleasure reading and the well-developed understanding gotten from looking at the maps and reading the essays.
She also includes material on the changing of the shape of the world as described in the "Silmarillion" and of the battles fought in that great book. This is a fantastic user companion for anyone interested in any of the works of Tolkien.(less)
The big picture in this set of lectures is that he says there are two kinds of religion. One is the healthy minded religion and the other is the sick...moreThe big picture in this set of lectures is that he says there are two kinds of religion. One is the healthy minded religion and the other is the sick minded religion.
James would listen, with interest, to anybody as they would tell him what they believed, regardless of how crazy or inconsistent the beliefs where.
The psychological approach to evaluating religious beliefs explains his ability to listen to anyone. He was evaluating the role of peoples beliefs to their mental health.(less)
This is another Pynchon buddy book. It is set in the early 1970s and our hero is a pot-smoking, laid back version of the hard-boiled detective. Doc, o...moreThis is another Pynchon buddy book. It is set in the early 1970s and our hero is a pot-smoking, laid back version of the hard-boiled detective. Doc, our hero is a highly competent Private Eye. His current job is to find a kidnapped real-estate tycoon who has developed a conscience.
The tycoon's bodyguard is murdered and the police think Doc may have done it. Doc must clear his name while staying out of the reach of the law. In the process he uncovers layers of conspiracy that would make the earlier Thomas Pynchon proud. I like the book well enough to have read it 6 times since it came out.
Who are the buddies? (view spoiler)[Doc and Police Detective "Bigfoot" Bjornson, who has worked to arrest our hero throughout the story. They have a history going back to the beginning of their respective careers. Doc has uncovered and avenged the death of Bigfoot's work pardoner and would like to have Doc be the one to watch his back in the future. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love this book. Think of it as a buddy story. Two men who are quite different become very important to one another. Pynchon is brilliant as he pokes...moreI love this book. Think of it as a buddy story. Two men who are quite different become very important to one another. Pynchon is brilliant as he pokes fun with our obsessions with coffee and ketchup.(less)
"Nova Express" one of the novels in the "Nova Express" trilogy. Warning: William S. Burroughs is not for everybody. He is not for children and he may...more"Nova Express" one of the novels in the "Nova Express" trilogy. Warning: William S. Burroughs is not for everybody. He is not for children and he may be offensive to you. I do not want to mislead someone into reading something as though it were a book that anyone can benefit from reading.
The thing I like about the books in the "Nova Express" trilogy are the wacky voices. "Nova Express" begins with a statement from Inspector Lee, whose job is to disrupt the work of the Venusians (inhabitants of the planet) conspiring to cause a Nova event (their work is called a Nova Conspiracy) on places like Earth.
It is the voice of a crazy who is paranoid, who believes he can see directives all around him on public signs, everywhere. You don't have a traditional story in which anything is seen. It is routines of voices and descriptions of events from the world of a Junkie, living life on the edge.
I have talked with people who live on the streets and even read some things written by a person who was concerned about the Cybercops. Burroughs sounds like the person who wrote those flyers.
The imaginative place that Burroughs brings the reader to can be funny, it isn't a fun place to be and it won't make you feel good to be there. But it is interesting and I believe it has literary merit.
This is Faulkner's first book and the one his publisher would only publish if it was cut down to a third of the submitted manuscript. The excised part...moreThis is Faulkner's first book and the one his publisher would only publish if it was cut down to a third of the submitted manuscript. The excised part became "Soldier's Pay." This is the full manuscript and it is difficult why anyone would want to tamper with perfection.(less)
One of my all time favorite novels. In my top three favorites. Well, it is #5 on this list but that is because it includes philosophy and literature i...moreOne of my all time favorite novels. In my top three favorites. Well, it is #5 on this list but that is because it includes philosophy and literature in the same list.
Ellison's Invisible man moved me from the first time I read it. It is an instance of a book that lends itself, nay, it is positively begging to be interpreted using "Being and Nothingness" as a guide to its' themes. Of course I have never written said interpretation.
If I were to write such an interpretation I would focus upon the theme of The Look from "B&N". This theme describes: first, the internal verses the external attributes of individual human existence. Our internal being is free and not finalized by physical laws as are our physical beings. Secondly, the internal being both sees (has a conscious understanding or picture of) and makes or continually invents itself, but we do not directly see our own external physical bodies. Conversely, other people only experience us as an object in the would (our bodies) and can only know our internal selves indirectly, through body language, the things we say, and the interpretation they put to their cumulative experiences with the us. At the same time, they experience their own internal selves directly and not their external physical bodies, also, as we do. Third, though we are free in the ongoing invention of our internal self, it is true, that The Other has a stake in and influence upon who and what we are for all Others. Sartre calls that defining influence The Look.
The Look is empowered by way of the gaze of our eyes. All of us have feared that Other's would behave as though we were something we are not. There is no physical law of cause and effect to rectify an injustice or a ruined reputation once others have decided to treat an individual in an unfair way. To everyone a person becomes the thing they decide that person is because they treat the person as that thing and the propitiation of that judgement becomes adamant the more people who are convinced by the judgment.
"Invisible Man" is a fist person narrative. He is giving us his internal self as he knows it. Is life has moved from being promising to a state of social invisibility. He lives in the basement of an abandoned building and lights his living space with hundreds of light bulbs, but he is still not seen. The point of the novel is the same as Sartre's them of The Look. Society sees him as many things, but they do not see the real (internal) him because he is an African American.(less)
I have read this at least 13 times. My first time was in middle school during the 70s. My friends kept talking about "The Lord of the Rings" and "The...moreI have read this at least 13 times. My first time was in middle school during the 70s. My friends kept talking about "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" so I wanted to read them too. I loved "The Hobbit" and found "The Lord of the Rings" to be pretty stiff reading.
I pushed my way through it. It is one of those books that I gravitate back to even if the first reading was unsatisfactory. I read "The Hobbit" a lot of times in High School.
I think my break through reading was when I was an undergraduate in college. I had a course on Space Age Mythologies in the sociology department. We had one week to read "The Lord of the Rings". So I took advantage of the opportunity and spent those days reading in the library. I believe it was my 3rd reading. I had liked it before but that was when I started to love it.
Why do I love it? I don't know. It is unique and beautiful in so many ways and it is an imaginative space I like to be in. Also, it is a broad canvas to explore. Obviously, LOTR stands up to multiple readings, but with the Silmarillion and "The History of Middle-earth" there is the opportunity to explore and explore. I like reading Tolkien criticism. It interests me that the work stands up to that sort of examination as well.