books, books, books

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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:03 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:This one is giving me a laugh-

http://brooklinebooksmith.blogspot.com/ ... -with.html


Ha ha, funny stuff...it's quite a concept, ordering the entirety of your doings with an eye to polishing a posthumous image of yourself, and only undertaking actions which you can bear to leave unfinished should you kick off. Sounds like material for one of those short stories the blogger reads out of fear that he will expire before reaching the end of a long novel :wink:
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:05 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:
Poor Deportee wrote:I don't know how folks here feel about these sort of links, but I thought the literary types hereabouts might get a kick out of this...

http://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein ... -red-flags


Quite snarky but in a mostly good way- there are only two that I will take offense to- the Wallace and Kerouac. Even a supreme prose stylist such as John Updike has admitted his great debt to Kerouac. :wink:


I was just relieved he didn't slag my beloved Lord of the Rings. It's a juicy target but one he foreswore...thankfully for my dignity.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:04 pm

This one has me intrigued- as was the case for Ebert I am a long standing walker in and about London- these days more in my mind. Would love to try a few of these if I can get my hands on a copy of the book:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/book ... iewed.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:42 pm

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the translation by Simon Armitage. Brilliantly alive. He has managed to make me fully appreciate this first and only English epic poem. It is a ghost story, a sexy thriller, a morality tale, a political drama. I am in awe of the alliteration and skilled rhyming tht fills its pages. Armitage brings it all to life with a masterly colloquialism that sings on the page. All 'classics' should be so lovingly updated.

I also enjoyed this BBC documentary with Armitage on the poem and its unknown author:

http://youtu.be/74glI1lg1CQ
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:01 am

The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor. A solid 121 pages of subtle analysis that goes to the heart of what Lionel Trilling tried to tackle in his Sincerity & Authenticity lectures at the end of his life. Taylor takes on what he sees as the three major drivers of the 'malaise' modern people feel since the twentieth century began- the growth of individualism, selfish and self-centered behaviour, instrumental reason, measuring all actions based upon economic cost and subjectivism. Taylor's is a particularly spirited argument against "reasoned judgement" or relativism which tries to make room for a value of sincerity[sine and cere] 'true marble with the addition of wax' or honest being as a part of the polis. It comes down to this- self-examination is always, and must be, dialogic: we learn how to understand ourselves through conversation-through being variously perceived, understood, and judged by others, and in turn learning how to perceive, understand, and judge in our own right. Taylor is difficult reading- but if one is patient- he periodically provides guideposts to steer by- one comes away from his writing stimulated and enlightened. He is the most humane of contemporary philosophers I have encountered in my reading.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:40 am

This endpiece essay from today's NY Time's book review section has struck a common chord in my home: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/books ... ?ref=books

I feel several trips to the Strand are in order over the coming months. :wink:
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:56 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor. A solid 121 pages of subtle analysis that goes to the heart of what Lionel Trilling tried to tackle in his Sincerity & Authenticity lectures at the end of his life. Taylor takes on what he sees as the three major drivers of the 'malaise' modern people feel since the twentieth century began- the growth of individualism, selfish and self-centered behaviour, instrumental reason, measuring all actions based upon economic cost and subjectivism. Taylor's is a particularly spirited argument against "reasoned judgement" or relativism which tries to make room for a value of sincerity[sine and cere] 'true marble with the addition of wax' or honest being as a part of the polis. It comes down to this- self-examination is always, and must be, dialogic: we learn how to understand ourselves through conversation-through being variously perceived, understood, and judged by others, and in turn learning how to perceive, understand, and judge in our own right. Taylor is difficult reading- but if one is patient- he periodically provides guideposts to steer by- one comes away from his writing stimulated and enlightened. He is the most humane of contemporary philosophers I have encountered in my reading.


Taylor is far and away my favourite philosopher - he has been hugely influential on my own work - and I can't quite figure out why, despite his affable style, he doesn't seem to have acquired the public stature of 'stars' like Michael Sandel or Benjamin Barber (both of whom he reliably surpasses in both range and depth IMHO). Ultimately, Taylor is locked in multi-faceted struggles against any reductive system that tries to reduce ethics and meaning to 'baser' elements (such as self-interest, socio-biology, economic materialism, etc.), insisting that our identities and practices are inexplicable without reference to ideas about the good, as such; against monist accounts of the good that try to raise one idea to the status of absolute trump and dismiss the rest; and against ahistorical and decontextual understandings of human agency that try to separate us from the contexts that give our lives much of their sense. Along the way he discusses everything from God to modernity, multiculturalism to language. Ethics of Authenticity is probably his most accessible work - it originates in a set of lectures broadcast on the CBC "Ideas" program - and would certainly constitute a good entry point to his oeuvre. Nice call, Chris.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:11 am

Taylor seems to be a 'sweet' human being and I am so in love with his take on the 'self'- the notion that we are most authenticated when we participate with the world and its components- both historically and currently. I respond to his call to participate in the 'polis' to be most alive and authentically myself. I think I would love to have him populate my desert island for company. I would probably be lost in his conversation but it would not be for lack of trying to follow- his breadth of knowledge in history, arts, literature, science, religion,etc is breathtaking. I just purchased a used copy of his Philosophical Arguments. It will be slow going as many of the essays are on detailed Philosophical subjects like the thought of Hegel and Hiedagger or Merilou-Ponty. I struggle with that stuff.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Poor Deportee » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:57 am

Jack of All Parades wrote:Taylor seems to be a 'sweet' human being and I am so in love with his take on the 'self'- the notion that we are most authenticated when we participate with the world and its components- both historically and currently. I respond to his call to participate in the 'polis' to be most alive and authentically myself. I think I would love to have him populate my desert island for company. I would probably be lost in his conversation but it would not be for lack of trying to follow- his breadth of knowledge in history, arts, literature, science, religion,etc is breathtaking. I just purchased a used copy of his Philosophical Arguments. It will be slow going as many of the essays are on detailed Philosophical subjects like the thought of Hegel and Hiedagger or Merilou-Ponty. I struggle with that stuff.


Oh, so do I. My command of 'continental' philosophy is weak, and this is not a weakness I am likely to address because I find so much of it so intensely frustrating in its violation of the norms in which I was trained. For instance: write with clarity and precision. State your assumptions. Don't just mention a complex author without paying your reader the courtesy of explaining how you're reading that author, the use to which you're putting him. Avoid jargon as much as possible. And so on. (Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" isn't a perfect prescription - his injunction against using 'foreign' words always struck me as Puritanical - but it'll do in a pinch). Of course, this sort of thing can itself be carried to the caricatural point arguably attained by what is stylistically the polar opposite of continental philosophy, logical positivism and analytic philosophy, where one is often left being silent about 'that whereof one cannot speak.' As if we are a race of Mr. Spocks.

An interesting thing about Taylor is that he is schooled in both traditions. Indeed, if you follow his career, you realize that his most fundamental self-presentation is as a sort of mediator: between analytic and continental philosophies, between French and English Canada, between secularists and believers, between 'expressivists' and 'rationalists,' etc. And his overriding message is usually that we don't have to forego one for the other - living in authenticity demands not that we cleave to one 'pure' position but rather concede that we feel the pull of most, or all, of them, and avoid as much as possible excising one for the benefit of the other. Yet he manages to mediate while remaining partisan on key questions, which seems to be no mean feat.

Chris, I hardly think you'd be "lost" in conversation with the man they call Chuck. First of all, your deeply humanist preoccupations make you a better foil than I, with my callow suburban interests, would be, for instance. But secondly, this is a guy who has run for office and been politically engaged, along with teaching undergraduates and doing the media circuit. He is well-versed in engaging, if not exactly 'regular folks,' then non-specialists.

In any case, those looking for a gentle intro to Taylor should read Ethics of Authenticity; those wanting his most comprehensive statement, Sources of the Self. His essay collections, etc., are probably for the more committed.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:23 pm

I have found this series of talks with Mr. Taylor most helpful in my coming to grips with his thoughts and ideas. One also gets a taste, I think, of how gregarious, gracious, funny and human he is as a modern man:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... LtpnI2ZGzQ
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:52 pm

Well the order is into Barnes and Noble for the new Pynchon- 9/17/13 Bleeding Hearts $16.99 with no shipping costs- now the countdown for the arrival and the eager anticipation for some long fall nights of reading pleasure.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:30 pm

This one to be published this fall has piqued my interest and that of my wife who is the pianist in the family:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archive ... ts-a-to-v/
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:42 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:Well the order is into Barnes and Noble for the new Pynchon- 9/17/13 Bleeding Hearts

Whoops! (Edge, of course.)

The Brendel book is featured in today's Guardian's review section, along with Colm Toibin writing about Heaney on the front page. Looks innaresting (I'm just reading Shakey, whose opening chapter is 'Innaresting People'. Great book.

Toibin's Booker nominated The Testament of Mary is excellent. A 100 page novella which is slight but also dense. A serious attempt to imagine what Jesus's mother went through. Edmund White's quote on the dust jacket is about it being heretical, which it is in one sense, yet it also dignifies Mary by making her a believable character. It debunks the myths surrounding both Mary and Jesus, but in a very subtle way. It also cleverly makes you think that there is nothing new in our world of frenzied spin and hype. He's a very good writer.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:14 am

Well I guess I am anticipating some type of carnage in the new novel- at least societal. Caught this small feature in the Guardian[it would appear they do it with some regularity] on Heaney's study in Dublin- unassuming and 'functional' like the man. It appeals to the voyeur within me. Do not see a sign of the desk/table Mr Foyle sold to him:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/a ... mus.heaney

There seems to be a spate of fiction appearing these days with some biblical connection. Today's NY TImes Book Review section has a front page review of a novel allegorical in nature about the early life of Jesus by J M Coetzee.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:16 pm

Yes, that was a very enjoyable feature in Saturday's Review for a number of years, now sadly history. I used to take my glasses off so I could study them in micro-detail up close, read the book spines, etc. I thought the photo of him standing in the very same study they ran this Saturday had a ring of familiarity about it.

From the Republic of Conscience
by Seamus Heaney

At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.


Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.

Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office -

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.


I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs
woman having insisted my allowance was myself.

The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.

He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:49 am

A thoughtful and touching remembrance of Heaney from the poet, Robert Pinsky:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/201 ... _poet.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:23 am

The first review I have seen of what I hope will be many positive ones in the coming weeks culminating in a Nobel announcement in early October:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/book ... wed.2.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby invisible Pole » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:42 pm

Richard Schickel - Conversations with Scorsese
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:35 am

Jack of All Parades wrote:The first review I have seen of what I hope will be many positive ones in the coming weeks culminating in a Nobel announcement in early October:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/book ... wed.2.html


Today's NY Times review- quite mixed in its analysis:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/books ... l?ref=arts
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:49 am

This is promising if only because, ironically, I have been re-reading Frank O'Hara these days due to his unlikely appearance in the hands of Dan Draper on Mad Men in the form of a chap book from the early sixties:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/201 ... ether.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:57 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:Today's NY Times review- quite mixed in its analysis

Yeah, but what does Kakutani know?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/2 ... 34631.html
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:24 am

The Guardian follow suit with another Pynchon-agnostic dissing the new work:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/s ... hon-review

Very poor review. The comments on it are much more impressive. He's right about the divisive nature of TRP's work. So why not get someone who likes him to review it? And where is the child rape element in his past work?

The really inappropriate bit there is the flea circus bit about 'inhuman'. the flea circus I get - teeming detail, etc. - the inhuman, never. Pynchon is the most humanist of writers. His protagonists, invariably hapless victims of larger, sinister powers, are handled with warmth and compassion. This is just the usual Forsterian prejudice against 'non-rounded' characters. Haven't we moved on from that?

In a switch from my usual newspaper references, a satisfying counter is to be found in the Telegraph. A reviewer who obviously loves Pynchon, gets him in full, and is splendidly positive about the new book:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... eview.html

This one has me salivating.

That and the fact that protagonist Maxi(n) Tarnow's kids are called Otis and Ziggy.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:51 am

Here is perhaps a balanced approach and a 'fair' assessment of the book from Jonathan Lethem in tomorrow's NY Times Book Review magazine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/books ... ?ref=books

"In-human- TP could not be more humane in his assessment of the human condition in the late 20th century- basically I know through him that I need to tuck my head between my ass and hope for the best! :wink:

And Otis- did you see this?:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/a ... NETTXT3487
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:00 pm

Good review, at least he's not a prejudiced moron. No, didn't know about Joanna N, and just been checking out and commenting on her being sampled by the Roots. Excellent, can't wait to see. If PTA nails the distinct atmosphere of the era and the Pynchonic sense of goofball comedy mixed with a dash of pathos, this could be great. Still haven't seen The Master.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:04 am

Otis- a thoughtful bagful of retrospective pieces on Mr. Heaney from over the years as published in the New York Review of Books:

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/50-years/2 ... us-heaney/
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