When I do not remember who to be, or how to live, or what to think, then it is best for me to recall this book. But perhaps all the times I have not dWhen I do not remember who to be, or how to live, or what to think, then it is best for me to recall this book. But perhaps all the times I have not done so have made the moments where the mists clear and I do find it all the better.
I do not think it is possible to create a piece of art that could help people as much as this book. That is no loss, though. The same thing does not need to be said a thousand times - it only needs to be really heard, and then lived. This is, for me, the summation of human talent and wisdom. What is philosophy, or science, or politics, or art, or culture for, if not to live well? Almost every discussion I've seen of living well has lacked so terribly much. Thomas à Kempis illustrated it perfectly. It is difficult. It is, perhaps, impossible. But the path he points to seems, to me, to be the most true. And perhaps that is why it so hard, because we do not want to hear the truth. Still we can know it, for its frailest fruits are more valuable, peaceful, brave, and beautiful than the greatest cities of luxuries....more
Today I came across an article about how during the Cold War the US gov't had plans to blow up the moon to display American military superiority. It wToday I came across an article about how during the Cold War the US gov't had plans to blow up the moon to display American military superiority. It was a severe blow to my faith in moral sanity. Carl Sagan was involved! Our leaders are lunatics. And so, with distraught hands, I turned back to Kohak's great work.
It'd be fairest to quote the entire book in full, but alas, I cannot. I can only highly, highly recommend this beautiful, generous, profound piece. Kohak stands back from the world and weighs its beauty and pain, reflects on the philosophies which have hurt men and their world as well as aided them, and evaluates the destructive pathologies which threaten our ability to exist. His enormous breadth of knowledge enables him to see clearly and explain connections which are oft overlooked. There's space for hope, though, just as importantly, there's a condemnation of all that prevents us from communion and stewardship with the world. It's very wonderful, and also, full of small moments where a man stands outside on a winter's night and gazes at the moon. Our poor, fragile moon....more
Oh man, I am passionately devoted to Wendell Berry. I say too many things sarcastically, but I am dead serious. I can pinpoint the moment when I lookeOh man, I am passionately devoted to Wendell Berry. I say too many things sarcastically, but I am dead serious. I can pinpoint the moment when I looked up and said "Oh, I am in love with this author's mind.I am becoming a fucking farmer and moving to Asheville and growing my own vegetables and reading Wendell everyday." That is what happened to me, people. He is right about everything. It sounds weird, but I am so serious. Wendell Berry is excellent and fantastic and phenomenal and makes me want to play tag in the hayfield and then pluck tomatoes from the vines and homeschool my children. Weird, but true. ...more
Once I wrote a review of The Silmarillion in my head. I'll probably always do that. It is a perfect book. There are not many perfect books. It makes mOnce I wrote a review of The Silmarillion in my head. I'll probably always do that. It is a perfect book. There are not many perfect books. It makes me understand the term "divine inspiration." It has the ring of truth.
To make such a perfect work, which transcends art or myth-making, an author was needed who spent all his life paying attention to how people make stories and what makes a story important. It needed a writer who never ceased listening and learning. The Silmarillion had to be done by a man who was not writing only for a moment in time, but who was passionately concerned about the world and its peoples. It required a man with roots that went very deep, and who would be willing to allow his work to grow and change and strengthen for decades.
This is a book nominally about elves, but as a meaningful veneer. It's about Tolkien's dream of the great wave, of loss, of the pain of living, of The Gift of Death; just as all good mythology is never mere nonsense or distraction. I grieve that people read his stories and miss that they should be weeping, and also overjoyed.
My favorite line, I think, is still this:
"Though all to ruin fell the world and were dissolved and backward hurled unmade into the old abyss, yet were its making good, for this— the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea— that Lúthien for a time should be."
This book is incredible. The title says something about "Intimations of Christianity," which kinda maSimone. Simone! You are a genius! The real kind!
This book is incredible. The title says something about "Intimations of Christianity," which kinda made me think: whatever, dude, but I'll read it anyway. Afterwards I thought, huh, kinda, sorta, but it's more just one of the most complex, deep, and fascinating minds of the 20th century get all thoughtful about ancient philosophy and religion.
it's a real shame that as i was giving this book five stars i could hear in my head some of the many people whose opinions i don't ask for going "oh,it's a real shame that as i was giving this book five stars i could hear in my head some of the many people whose opinions i don't ask for going "oh, that tara, she's so spacey and mock-able. ha!" if they saw it, and then i think, well.. let's be sweet anyway. so last night my dad and i were watching the jimmy carter documentary and were all "oh, he is so awesome". then the dvd player started acting up. i grabbed another disc and put it in to see where the problem lay, and the dvd was The Last Unicorn. as soon as it began my dad said "whoa, i love this movie and haven't seen it in years! let's just watch this and finish jimmy carter another time". and so we did, and high-fived when it was over and talked about what a fantastic movie it is, and how Peter Beagle is a sorta lovely writer.
so when i got home, i was thinking how i've been reading another awful book by one of a cabal (truly, a devious cabal) of writers of whom I constantly swear I will never read anything by again until someone says "no, tara, you are an idiot, they are so amazing and relevant and just because you hate everything ----- or ----- have ever written or recommended on book jackets, you are full of nonsense so read this". and then i end up wanting to wring my own neck for not listening to my own judgment yet again. so i was all, oh man how am i going to read another hundred pages of this tonight, i need a break. thus i came to pick up the last unicorn again (after many such agains). and it's just fantastic and great and written by a man who i think i would actually like if i met him. and he would have a really long droopy moustache and little glasses and give me a thumbs up and then shoot off to the moon on a rocket. yeah, the book is spacey. and it's whimsical, and probably more serious and relevant than another hundred page description of families on too many prescription drugs and psychoanalyzing themselves. it's funny how some (not all) good writers get closer to telling what life is like by taking a step in the seemingly opposite direction and telling a completely impossible story. and a story which brings real joy is worth its' weight in gold. is this really a review? i don't think so. but the book stands for itself, so i'll just stand up for the book....more
Utterly endearing. The vision of Mr. Rosewater answering the phone, at all hours, and listening with complete generosity... marvelous. There are fictiUtterly endearing. The vision of Mr. Rosewater answering the phone, at all hours, and listening with complete generosity... marvelous. There are fictional portraits of many so-so figures which are deemed wonderful because they acknowledge the complexity of our lives. So how wonderful to stumble upon a fictional portrait which does a sublime service to the naive, the charitable, and the subsequently marvelous....more
i blew through about seven murakami books in a month, and forgot i had this one. when i found it i was super delighted. when i read it i was really exi blew through about seven murakami books in a month, and forgot i had this one. when i found it i was super delighted. when i read it i was really extra super delighted. also, though i love and adore murakami, it was much better than it's prequel of sorts, a wild sheep chase. i was depressed it was over, and i am contemplating finding murakami and making him write more books. just for me....more
This woman said some important things to me. I first read her in Iris Murdoch when she quoted Julian: "all shall be well and all shall be well and allThis woman said some important things to me. I first read her in Iris Murdoch when she quoted Julian: "all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well". Then I read of her in many medieval history and philosophy books. So I finally read this, and it was overwhelming. Here are all the prejudices of a moment, and then all-the-surpassing. I think that is what I liked best. I read things I disagreed with her on (obviously), but I could see her trying to go beyond that, finding something else. And pretty much every moment of human history is just that. Reading the recollections of her vision, her beliefs, her life, and her subsequent beyond... it's something special....more
There is no way to fairly review Gilead. It would be unseemly to adorn it with more words, when it expresses itself well enough. The only adequate revThere is no way to fairly review Gilead. It would be unseemly to adorn it with more words, when it expresses itself well enough. The only adequate review would be a reading of the book again. It's that important, that necessary....more
Reading Proust makes one grateful to be alive. It makes you want to pick up the various moments of your life and be full of ecstatic joy. This book exReading Proust makes one grateful to be alive. It makes you want to pick up the various moments of your life and be full of ecstatic joy. This book exudes love of life, and yet looks at life exactly as it is. There is no more precise, more accurate book. It celebrates human existence while remaining aware of all the tragedies and regrets in our lives, and how much gets lost to us. Then, Proust turns around and gives you everything back. Lovely, lovely, lovely. A book to fill you with a gratitude that will not disappear. ...more
Clement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks hClement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks he's in love with one sister, but he's actually in love with another sister. One sister is in love with Lucas. Lucas is Clement's brother. Lucas tried to kill Clement. But he actually killed Peter Mir. Only, Peter Mir isn't dead! Peter Mir is our beloved Green Knight, beheaded but still among the living. Who is Sir Gawain? Was there ever really a Gawain?
It sounds like tosh or a mass-market paperback mess, but it's Iris Murdoch, and the absurd tangle of human emotions is her means of probing our deepest motivations, ideals, sins, relationships, and loves. She was, to me, a first-rate philosopher, the kind who doesn't sit in ivory tower made of abstractions, but walks and pays attention to the world and makes philosophy not only coherent, but relevant.
On top of all that it's London in late-autumn with all sorts of peculiar characters sitting in cold rooms with fluttering fires. I adore it....more