Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday


Science is not only compatible with spirituality;
it is a profound source of spirituality.

-- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World --


Have a great Tuesday!
******

Monday, January 30, 2012

Serendipity Happens...

Have any of you ever had a sort of peaceful, fun interim period of your life that you like to look back upon from time to time?
I have many!
But today, for some reason [maybe because it was a Monday and I did NOT want to be at work] I was thinking of a particular few months of my life -- back almost twenty years ago now. I was living in beautiful British Columbia. My career path at that time had taken a sudden turn for the… obliterated. I found myself simultaneously unemployed and heartbroken. A bad combination.
When does this story get "fun" Cipriano?
Right now.
An old college friend happened to roll through town just in the nick of time. Because I have not gained permission to publicly speak of this story I will not use his name. So, in Kafkaesque anonymity, I'll call him K.
My dear friend K had found his place in this world as an itinerant seminar speaker. And so, he rang me up while he was doing a gig in my town.
I went to hear him speak that night.
The topic was Stress and Anxiety.
I sat and listened to him that night speak to a roomful of about a hundred really stressed out people. He was humorous, engaging, dynamic -- really knowledgeable and well-spoken. I was impressed.
Afterward, we had some drinks in the hotel lounge and I proceeded to fill him in on how horrid my own life was.
He then asked me if I would like to travel with him and assist in the sale of merchandise at his seminars. Would I like to do this?
I think my instant answer was something like, "Is the Pope Catholic?"
I was ecstatic. This seemed the perfect thing to get me out of my near-suicidal doldrums.
I packed up some clothes and the very next day headed out with him on the road.
For the next several months we were everywhere! Well, OK -- all over British Columbia and Alberta. Traveling in a rental SUV loaded with stress-related materials, we criss-crossed those provinces from Vancouver to Lethbridge, and everywhere in between.
My function was to wear a suit and welcome the stressed and anxious humans as they arrived at these venues, sit around reading a book over yonder while K disbursed his experiential wisdom, and then after the seminar, while he answered questions from a never-ending line of anxiety-sufferers, I handled the financial side of making sure that the forking over of extreme amounts of money was done correctly. People would line up and buy the tape series and instruction booklets, videos, and binders of whatnot.
Later in the lounge or hotel room, tallying up the results, I was amazed to find that some nights would bring in $10,000 to $15,000 in sales. Sometimes more.
A most hilarious side-effect of these adventures is that a few weeks into it, I myself began to counsel people. K being too busy, they would come to me and ask all manner of real serious questions. I would tell these people straight-up that I had never once suffered from any of their symptoms.
Never had a panic attack in my life. But they didn't care.
They still wanted advice -- so I gave it.
Thing is, it's true that I had become a sort of pseudo-expert in the subject, having heard K's speeches so many times I could have almost delivered them myself in his absence. Even so, I'm afraid that a lot of my advice was about as "deep" as the words shown in the image at the top of this blog posting!
Of far greater importance to me was the fact that K paid for all of my expenses on this hiatus, including meals and much boozing, plus an additional stipend on the side.
I would have gladly done it for the rest of my life, I think. It was such fun. It was just what the doctor would have ordered for me at the time, had I gone to see one.
The magnitude of his own expense account hit me one time when we were trapped by a snowstorm in Fernie, B.C. on our way to far-off Medicine Hat for a gig that very night. As we we were rolling across a treacherous mountain pass in the wake of a white-out blizzard, authorities literally CLOSED the highway behind us. In town, a similar roadblock on the western side caused us to return and grab the nearest hotel room, as were the rest of any travellers, that blustery day. In the room I rustled through my luggage to see if I had anything resembling swim-trunks, as there was an indoor pool in the place. But soon I overheard K on the phone with his employers. They were arranging for a helicopter to pick us up there and fly us out.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head.
When he finally hung up the phone I looked at him and said, "Who the hell are you? James Bond?"
As it was, no helicopters were available. So we had a night off. We ate non-Chinese food in a nearby Chinese restaurant, played billiards back at the hotel and drank ourselves into a delightful stupor. In the morning -- we set off in yesterday's direction to our re-scheduled event.
I was sad when all of this ended. But I'm over it now.
Why am I even relating this story in the first place?
I really don't know.
Except maybe to say the following:
Sometimes in life we can be going through a truly rough time. Things can be looking blacker than the tenth plague of Egypt. But then… serendipity happens.
As it did for me, that time way back when.
If any of the people that bought K's product received half of the benefits I got from selling it to them during those idyllic months, they got one hell of a deal.

******

Splash du Jour: Monday









Birds


One thing about birds.
Not a one of them smiles.
Not ever.

Yet, give me wings
and I imagine my face ripping
off from the smiling alone.

Not to mention the wind itself
hollowing out my jowls
as I swoop and dive.

Defying what I know about gravity
in a macabre smile
thinking thoughts

no bird, anywhere, has
ever thunk.

-- © Ciprianowords, Inc. 2012 --

Have a great Monday!

*****

Friday, January 27, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

Don't ever take for granted when people look in your eyes; you have no idea how important it is to be acknowledged. Even if it's an angry stare, because it's when they ignore you, when they look right through you, that you should start worrying.
-- Cecilia Ahern, in If You Could See Me Now --


Have a great Friday!
******

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I've never written a book, except my first, without at some point considering that I might die before it was completed. This is all part of the superstition, the folklore, the mania of the business, the fetishistic fuss… dying in the middle of a word, or three-fifths of the way through a novel. My friend, the novelist Brian Moore, used to fear this as well, though for an extra reason: "Because some bastard will come along and finish it for you." Here is a novelist's would-you-rather. Would you rather die in the middle of a book, and have some bastard finish it for you, or leave behind a work in progress that not a single bastard in the whole world was remotely interested in finishing?
-- Julian Barnes, Nothing To Be Frightened Of --


Have great Thursday!
*****

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Terrorist

I just finished another book by John Updike.
Did I like it?
Yes.
Should you read it, too?
Yes, I think you should.
So far I've read three books by this author, and I have liked them all.
In The Beauty of the Lilies [<-- fabulous] Gertrude and Claudius [<-- a behind the scenes look at Shakespeare's Hamlet characters, very very good]… and now this one. Depth-wise, perhaps the weakest of the three, but still -- I find Updike to be an author that deserves my continued attention. And I have many others of his on deck here amid the Bookpuddle shelves.

Terrorist tells the story of young Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy. The second surname is that of his red-haired all-American-Irish mother. Ahmad is the product of a brief liaison she had with a man of Middle Eastern descent. Growing up in post 9/11 [I hate that truncated phrase but use it here for brevity, as we all tend to do] New Jersey, Ahmad embraces the faith of his absentee father, and becomes as devoted as any high-schooler can be, to the stringent dictates of the Muslim faith. He exceeds the devotion of his imam-tutor, learning fluent Arabic, and constantly reciting the Holy Qur'an in his heart and mind.
When he graduates, Ahmad takes up the profession of truck-driver for a furniture company and becomes embroiled in, umm… a bit more than the mere delivery of sofas and ottomans.
Updike weaves together a thread of diverse, believable characters, some of them intent on hindering Ahmad's faith, and others -- very much urging him onward toward more than anyone should ever ask of another human being. Namely, the giving of their own life, for a religious ideal. Behind those willing to be martyrs, there is a long line of others that shrink not only into anonymity, but, continued life.
This last point is, I think, the real unique thing that Updike achieves with this novel. He shows us that those that we may call "terrorists" are not necessarily inherently evil people.
They are just deluded, as is anyone of any religious faith that succeeds in becoming convinced that others would be better off dead than alive, if different while living.
Well worth reading. The final pages keep you riveted until you finally exhale and say, "Holy shit. I think I understand a lot more about how this happens, now."

******

Splash du Jour: Wednesday











I recall an August afternoon in Chicago in 1973 when I took my daughter, then seven, to see what Georgia O’Keeffe had done with where she had been. One of the vast O’Keeffe ‘Sky Above Clouds’ canvases floated over the back stairs in the Chicago Art Institute that day, dominating what seemed to be several stories of empty light, and my daughter looked at it once, ran to the landing, and kept on looking. "Who drew it," she whispered after a while. I told her. "I need to talk to her," she said finally.
-- Joan Didion, The White Album --


Have a great Wednesday!
******

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I'm five I know everything.
-- Jack, in Emma Donoghue's novel, Room --


Have a great Tuesday!
******

Monday, January 23, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

The young people in the library talk out like they're in their own living rooms, it's the same at the movies, there are no manners any more, television has ruined everybody's.
-- Beth, in John Updike's novel, Terrorist --

Have a great Monday!
******

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wherein He Still Does Not Answer The Question...

Often, people will ask me what I love to read. Happens at work, even.
Co-workers always see me reading there, on my lunch breaks.
And it is amazing that I have never been able to adequately answer that question. I get all.... verklempt.
Yet, the question itself should be easy to answer.... hell, I almost LIVE to read. I desire to spend most of this day, as I did yesterday -- reading and thinking. And thinking about reading. Interacting with what I have read.
I often answer the question by saying "I like to read what I consider literature!" Or sometimes I will say "I like reading stuff that seems timeless." Or, "I like the classics." But all of those answers are not really hitting at what I truly love to read, or why I do it at all.
The truth is, I like to read stuff written by authors that are able to transcend their own limited place in this world.
I think of Margaret Atwood, for instance, and the way she can dabble so freely in the genre of dystopia, and then also write something like Alias Grace. I gravitate toward authors that have a broad scope of subject matter [like Updike, or Saramago] authors that give you that sense that they've tapped into something [the "something" is, I think, a wondrous fascination with life] and are able to speak beyond their own experience [isn't that what fiction should be, anything else being a memoir?] while giving us something that we all know to be true. A good author, I think, leads us along the path that he or she has chosen for us and all the while makes us feel like we have been here before. But we know that we, in fact, do need them to guide us. If they were to leave all of a sudden, we cannot finish the journey alone. Yet in a subtle way -- we've seen this path before, and we know it.
I think of this picture that I have hanging in, of all places, my bathroom. [Hey, I do some great reading, even in there!] I asked for it once as I was walking through a bookstore that was being run out of business by one of the new conglomerates. The proprietors were throwing everything out -- and I saw that picture and I asked if I could have it. The woman said, "Sure, take it." I was ecstatic, because I just loved that phrase, "I will go with thee and be thy guide." [photo, above]
I think that exemplifies what a good author does.
If you are reading this Bookpuddle blogpage, you are probably what I would call a true and genuine reader. With people like us, there is the added feature of what I would call cumulative understanding, when it comes to literature. One may not be able to recount every nuance, or even properly relate a plot outline from a book one read five years ago -- but there are actual cells in the brain storing that information and subtly drawing upon those memories with the result that a current read is illuminated by the faint flickers of the past. In this sense, reading [true life-long reading] is a journey, not a destination. This is why you and I will never finally read a book and say "Aha! This is it! I can now stop plodding through all these pages. I have arrived!"
It is also why novice readers cannot really appreciate the better books. There is not the wealth [the framework] of prior reading experience to buttress the interest level. It's like trying to paint the upper portions of a three-story building without having the scaffolding to climb the hell up there. It's why Shakespeare and DeLillo are not read as much in America [or the world] today as are Stephen King and James Patterson. Or Sue Grafton, working her way through the alphabet, A to Z.
I am not dissing these other writers -- I'm just suggesting that it's refreshing to see someone reading Robertson Davies, or W.G. Sebald, once in a while.
Nor am I suggesting that a good reader has to always be immersed in Tolstoy or Dostoevsky!
For instance, some of you may be aware of my own penchant for delving into what I call juvenalia every Christmas time. I truly love those times -- because, in keeping with the holiday season, it's sort of like throwing an extra scoop of gravy on a pile of mashed potatoes [stay with me, we're talking about Cipriano-fantasies here, which nearly always involve food…..] it's like a "treat" is what I am saying. Reading Winnie-the-Pooh or Wind In The Willows or Peter Nimble, etc.
But even there, in these gluttonous moments, astute readers like you and I can read such books with one eye on the nutritional value of things without which we would not be healthy, the rest of the year.
To sum up -- it is evident that I still do not quite know how to answer the question in any simple fashion.

******

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Winter of My Dickenscontent

No, this will not be a blog about a newly found posthumously published Steinbeck novel. Rather, I thought I would say a few words about a certain fantasy of mine.
But first, I digress.
I would describe myself as being somewhat of a loner.
And all the people who know me would say, "Amen!" [Followed by, "Did he really say, 'somewhat'?"]
OK, I am an extreme loner.
I've always been introspective, since birth, really. Sometimes I feel it's as though I've spent a lifetime trying to rationally comprehend the fact that I was born at all!
Being introspective does not necessarily lead to being an introvert, but in my case I think it has. I enjoy people for the most part and I don't think any one would describe me as being socially inept, but overall, I have become somewhat of a hermit. And again, the word "somewhat" is a bit of an understatement.
Returning to the main subject matter [my fantasy] -- for the longest time now I've entertained in my mind a vision of what would constitute a sense of peace and happiness for me.
The scene is quite simple:
A deep winter's night, snow silently falling outside. There are houses nearby, little wisps of smoke exiting their chimneys, but these houses are as quiet and self-contained as my own, where I'm ensconced in a comfy chair before a fire in the grate, a cat purring next to me, deeply engaged in a novel by Charles Dickens.
[That is to say, I am reading the novel, not the cat].
A vital component of this fantasy is that I have all the time in the world to keep doing it. No agenda, no curfew, no interruptions. And an endless supply of coffee.
Some interesting things emerge from this.
Firstly, why is it, in my fantasy, that I am always reading Dickens?
I have no idea. I am not an aficionado of the author, having read only three of his books in my life. Maybe it's because most of his books are so lengthy? And they always seem so… Dickensian?
Secondly, [and with apologies to my feline friend] I admit that being alone is not the best scenario possible. Not by far. For even in my fantasy there does come a time when, satiated, I put the book aside.

*****

Friday, January 20, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.
-- Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem --



Have a great Friday!

*****

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Be Still My Heart

So tonight at Chapters I discovered the magazine of my dreams!
<-- It's called [be still my heart, be still…] Ground Beef.
I grabbed it off the rack like a wolf nabbing an injured rabbit, and trotted back to my table with the thing. Let me say the words again -- GROUND BEEF! Arguably the greatest invention since sliced buns, which, incidentally, were invented so that we could put ground beef between them!
I sipped my coffee and leafed through this magazine. Feeling guilty about the drool stains I left on the pages, I bought it.
The recipes in here are amazing -- and the magazine as a whole is just so… frigging comprehensive. And you should see the centerfold!
It's everything a domesticated carnivore could ever want!
I love it so much I've already cancelled my subscription to Better Homes and Burgers.
The only problem? One day ground beef probably will "still my heart" -- in a way that has little to do with recovering from former excitement levels.
But in the meantime, my rallying cry shall remain, "Bring on the condiments!"

*******

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.
-- Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close --



Have a great Thursday!

******

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

He read political books. They gave him phrases which he could only speak to himself and use on Shama. They also revealed one region after another of misery and injustice and left him feeling more helpless and more isolated than ever. Then it was that he discovered the solace of Dickens. Without difficulty he transferred characters and settings to people and places he knew. In the grotesques of Dickens everything he feared and suffered from was ridiculed and diminished, so that his own anger, his own contempt became unnecessary, and he was given strength to bear the most difficult part of his day: dressing in the morning, that daily affirmation of faith in oneself, which at times for him was almost like an act of sacrifice.
-- V. S. Naipaul, A House For Mr. Biswas --


Have a great Wednesday!
******

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Books Do At Night

Have you ever wondered what books do at night? For instance, when the bookstore closes for the day and everyone goes home?
I have.
Admittedly, I'm afflicted with a few fairly serious mental issues, but I've always imagined that books left to themselves have little parties -- or at least conversations. A few years ago, I even wrote a poem about the phenomenon. I guess it's hard for me to imagine that something that brings such joy to my own life can have no joy or life of it's own.
There's probably a little shindig going on right now in my apartment, books running around all over the place. I just hope they don't drink all my beer.
I'm sitting in a bookstore as I write this, and I'm just looking around, imagining the mayhem that will ensue when the humans leave and the lights go out.
Recently a fellow Ontarian blogger [Melwyk from The Indextrious Reader] solved the mystery once and for all by posting on her site some actual footage of what goes on after closing time.
This particular party, captured by multiple video surveillance cameras, took place at Type, a bookstore in Toronto. It's well worth watching.

NEVER UNDER-ESTIMATE THE SHENANIGANS OF UNATTENDED BOOKS!

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Heaven and hell are nothing more than the assertion that the mind of God, as we human beings have created it, is still operating to reward or punish us after our death. Religion almost inevitably creates God in the image of the human being and then tries to force all of the reality into that frame of reference.....That is why there is no religious system that is eternal. That is why when human experience can no longer be interpreted adequately inside the traditional religious framework, the framework itself begins to die.
-- John Shelby Spong, Re-Claiming The Bible For a Non-Religious World --


Have a great Tuesday!
******

Monday, January 16, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
-- Agatha Christie --


Have a great Monday!
******

Sunday, January 15, 2012

5 Things That Shall Outlive Me

Recently I've taken notice of certain possessions of mine.
More specifically, the unaccountable longevity of their existence.
Admittedly, I'm a person that loathes change, in general. And I figure if something ain't broken -- why fix it. Why replace it?
But certain things of mine...
OK, let's start with my alarm clock.
I have had the same alarm clock -- how do I even describe the thing… I'm almost sure that Noah received his summons to build the Ark just after being awoken by the very same Candle© alarm clock.
I've been rudely awakened from slumber by this damn thing my entire adult life. I've had it for over 30 years. Even the very store where I bought this clock does not exist any more. [Consumers Distributing. You ordered stuff from a catalog and then went and picked it up! How ancient is that?]
Secondly, my tooth brush holder. I've had the same one for about 30 years. Thankfully, I change what it holds a bit more frequently.
My wallet? Pushing 30. It is like legendary. [I've written about it before]. Certain parts of it are held together with tape. Still, I do not buy a new one.
Fourthly, my favorite comb. I stole it from my girlfriend when I was just out of high school. I still use this same comb. [and have much less hair to sweep through it, nowadays].
Fifthly, my coffee scoop.
My first coffee maker was a Melitta. Circa 1986. It came with a plastic scoop thing [see image, above]. Since then I have had many many coffee makers…. but I have never abandoned this one scoop thing. I've kept it around.
Who does these sort of things?
What is wrong with me?
Should I see a therapist?
For a horrid example of what I hear every weekday morning, long before I myself want to hear anything, click
--> HERE!
******

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where I Live...

















Hey, is there still time to get in on the Saturday Snapshot?
I'm afraid my entry this week is not only late, but also -- not all that super-exciting or anything. It's a moonlit picture of where I live. Not really, but almost.
In all seriousness, I spend so much time at this particular bookstore, [mostly in the Starbucks inside it] that well, yes, I might as well live here. I've considered getting my mail forwarded. When it comes down to it, my cat is the dominant tenant in my apartment, time-wise at least! [I wish he would help with the bills!]
For those who may not know, Chapters / Indigo is Canada's biggest bookstore chain. It's the true north Walmart of book-buying.
This particular store opened in 1996, and I've been here pretty much every day since. It's my hangout after work. Over the years I've gotten to know so many "regulars" -- people that also frequent the place.
But I remain, by far, the regularest of them all.
They come and go -- but I have outlived even all of the staff! Many times over!
I'd love to know how many thousands of gallons of coffee I've consumed here.
How frequently do I visit? Well….. I'm writing this blog from the place.
And you can't be more here than that!

Many thanks to Alyce from At Home With Books for hosting this Saturday Snapshot meme.

******

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Re-Thinking The Bible

I am in the beginning stages of reading what is turning out to be an absolutely fascinating book about the Bible.
John Shelby Spong, a decade into his retirement as an Episcopal Bishop in New Jersey, shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, in one footnote he refers to a subsequent book, scheduled to be published in 2014. This current one is called Re-Claiming The Bible For A Non-Religious World.
My initial reaction? One word --> Wow!
For those of you who may not already know, I myself have a bachelor degree in Theology. I studied full-time in college, for four years, [1987-1991] and graduated with Honors -- which is to say, I took it fairly seriously. Since then, though, all I have really excelled at is…. being a bachelor.
All that aside, my interest in the Bible has not waned. But my focus has shifted, largely in part to authors like Spong, who have taught me that the Bible is a book that is not meant to be interpreted literally. In my opinion, only when that fact is fully understood can the Bible become a relevant text, worthy of true study.
One would have to be fairly ostrich-headed to have not noticed in the past decade or so the plethora of books that have been written about the Bible and/or the Christian religion in general. Writers like Tom Harpur, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens come to mind. I've read them all.
The difference with Spong is that he is someone who still considers himself a "believer." But his perspective is so astute, so NOT nonsensical, that he succeeds in bridging a gap that these other writers seem only to widen, at times, with their own brand of fundamentalism.
Spong says, on page 15 -- When I read books written by the new breed of militant atheist writers, who have become both best-selling authors and household names, I find myself perplexed as to how to respond to them. I have no desire to attack them or rise to God's defense. The religion, the Christianity and the Bible that they reject are the same religion, Christianity and Bible that I reject. My problem with such writers is not located there. It is rather in the apparent fact that they do not seem to know that there is any other way. Why should they, since the church has worked so hard not to allow other possibilities to become visible? My desire is to work in that very arena and to close that gap in knowledge at least in regard to the Bible. I am not the enemy of the Bible. I am the enemy of the way the Bible has been understood and the way the Bible has been used. I do not think for one moment that the Bible is in any literal sense the "Word of God."

Having read many of his books, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that I have learned [infinitely] more from John Shelby Spong than I've learned in all the years of my formal study.
This book is a gem. It begins, just like God did, in Genesis, and finishes off at Revelation. Thing is, with every chapter, Spong respectfully shows the reader how incredibly foolish that phrase "just like God did" really is.

******

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Flaubert was right when he said that our use of language is like a cracked kettle on which we bang out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we need to move the very stars to pity.
-- Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22 --


Have a great Thursday!
******

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Warmth










Warmth


Not that I saw them, but I felt them. Ice crystals
on my upper lip. Steam preceding me, wrapping
‘round my frozen thoughts -- boots breaking an
endless row of bones against a dog’s distant bark.
That’s how warm it was, walking home tonight.

“Warm”?
The coldest we have ever felt, is warmth.
Lingering effects of an atomic blast, without which
we walk few steps further. Have the sun go out.
Speak to me eight minutes later, about cold.

The shaking key let me in to the building’s glow.
Pressing 14, I melted in the elevator. How
vulnerable we are -- how utterly dependent upon
things none of us fathom, much less think about.
The door opened, to ever-increasing warmth.

-- © Ciprianowords, Inc. 2012 --

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

The church is like a swimming pool. Most of the noise comes from the shallow end.
-- John Shelby Spong, Eternal Life: A New Vision --

Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Monday, January 09, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson --


Have a great Monday!
******

Saturday, January 07, 2012

My Saturday Snapshot






















I received a terrific book (t.y.L.i.I.) for my birthday in December, and I've finally gotten around to reading it.
How To Live or A Life of Montaigne: In One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.
That's quite the subtitle, I know.
Montaigne was a French philosopher/essayist of the 16th Century, and this biography by Sarah Bakewell explores his life and ideas. For Montaigne, learning to live "appropriately" (a propos) is the "great and glorious masterpiece" of human life.
I took this photo with my little statue of Rodin's Thinker, looking on -- as this is most exemplary of my own posture and attitude as I turn these pages.

Many thanks to Alyce from At Home With Books for hosting this great meme called The Saturday Snapshot.
*******

Friday, January 06, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

There are things in this universe that we cannot control, and then there are the things we can... Let fate, coincidence, and accident conspire; human beings must act on reason.
-- David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars --

Have a great Friday!
******

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Something tells me this guy is still wishing he had checked the height of his trailer, sooner.

video

Have a great, accident-free Thursday!
*******

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The word war itself has a kind of glazing abstraction to it that conjures up bombs and bullets and so on, whereas my goal is to try to, so much as I can, capture the heart and the stomach and the back of the throat of readers who can lie in bed at night and participate in a story.
-- Tim O'Brien --



Have a nice Wednesday!

******

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Sorry the man, to my mind, who does not have in his own home a place to be all by himself, to pay his court privately to himself, to hide!
-- Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) --


Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Monday, January 02, 2012

Better Than Hamburger












Well, here we are at the beginning of a New Year.
When I was a kid, if someone had talked about life in the year 2012, I would have thought the story should include riding around in spaceships on a daily basis.
But here we are. And we still have cars!
Looking back on 2011, I acknowledge it as a fairly un-prolific year for me, as to both my reading and my blogging about reading.
I blame three things -- Firstly, a bit of emotional turmoil that took my mind away from pages for a while. Secondly, early-onset senility. Thirdly, hamburger.
Too much hamburger in my bloodstream, resulting in abject laziness.
All in all, I read only 39 books in total -- considerably down from my usual 50+.
Even so, there were so many memorable books among those. I'm going to try and choose five here as the ones I would most recommend to my friends.
And once again [I can literally feel hamburger clogging my valves…] I'm going to be customarily lazy and just sort of mention them without going into much of a defence of my reasonings. In other words, no reviews, nary a dust-jacket blurb.
In no particular order, here are the best five novels I read in 2011:

1) The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
2) Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.
3) In The Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike.
4) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
5) The Little Friend by Donna Tartt.

As soon as I place those five books there I feel guilty, because…. what about The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor? Or Tomcat in Love by Tim O'Brien? Or Rules of Civility by Amor Towles? Or Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler?
Choosing is such a fickle business.
But in all seriousness, let's narrow it down to the one criteria of…. when you set the book down you literally are dying to pick it up again? The book that can make you forget your need for another burger?
For that I must say that The Line of Beauty by Hollinghurst, read back in a prior January, was all of that and more.
Wishing you all a terrific year of reading great books!

******

Splash du Jour: Monday

As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into the mirror… And the novelists in future will realize more and more the importance of these reflections, for of course there is not one reflection but an almost infinite number; those are the depths they will explore, those the phantoms they will pursue.
-- Virginia Woolf --


Have a great Monday!
******