Friday, August 29, 2014

Splash du Jour: Friday

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance?  If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
-- Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost --


Have a great Friday!
*****

Monday, August 25, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

I'm not against religion in the sense that I feel I can't tolerate it, but I think written into the rubric of religion is the certainty of its own truth. And since there are 6,000 religions currently on the face of the Earth, they can't all be right. And only the secular spirit can guarantee those freedoms, and it's the secular spirit that they contest. 
-- Ian McEwan --

Have a great Monday!

*****

Monday, August 18, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday


I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt --


Have a great Monday!
*****

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday


Liking is probably the best form of ownership, and ownership the worst form of liking.
-- José Saramago, The Tale of the Unknown Island --


Have a great Thursday!
*****

Monday, August 11, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

I don’t think it is worth explaining how a character’s nose or chin looks. It is my feeling that readers will prefer to construct, little by little, their own character—the author will do well to entrust the reader with this part of the work.
-- Jose Saramago, The Paris Review: Winter 1998 --


Have a great Monday!
*****

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Thinking of Jose Saramago

As most of you reading this will already know, one of my favourite writers of all time is Jose Saramago. He died in 2010, and was the author of some the best novels I've ever read. Books like Blindness, All The Names, and The Cave [from which I purloined my own blog-alias, Cipriano] just to name a few.
I'm thinking of him tonight because well, he was Portuguese.
And tonight I sat out on my balcony while all around me things from Portugal exploded in the air.
See -- there is an annual event in my city called The Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light show. For a three week stretch in August there are fireworks competitions every Wednesday and Saturday night and it's really spectacular. Each night is hosted by a different country, and tonight it was Portugal's turn to blow up! In the past, I used to have to take the screen out of my kitchen window and sort of wedge the top half of myself out there [14 stories up] to watch the fireworks over on the Quebec side, at Lac Leamy. But beginning this year they relocated the event to the Ontario side of the river and now I can see them perfectly from my balcony without even risking my life. It's grand.
So, here is a bit of what went on as the homeland of Saramago lit up my back yard.


video

video

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday

"The court was never really interested in my youth," Albert Speer said decades after the Nuremberg trials. "Why should they have been? What does it have to do with what happened?"
This was true enough for the judicial matters before the Nuremberg court. But it can never be true if one wishes to evaluate a human being, his development, motivations, conflicts and emotions. If there is one thing all psychologists now agree on, it is that the denial of love in childhood almost invariably leads to a damaged adult. And in that sense, Speer certainly had more than scars -- he bore the wounds of an emotionally deprived childhood.

-- Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth --


Have a great Thursday!
*****

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Hardcover vs. Softcover: A Bookpuddle Poll

I am just early into the reading of what is already a terribly intriguing and well-written book. Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth, by Gitta Sereny. In 1978, the author began a lengthy series of personal interviews with Albert Speer, the enigmatic Nazi war criminal who escaped a death sentence at the Nuremberg Trials. His penalty for being the overlord of Hitler's entire war economy was twenty years in Spandau Prison. I look forward to providing a full review of this already excellent book somewhere around 2017 when I will finally finish it. The thing is about 20 pounds, the size of an average slab of concrete, and makes Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries look like… The Little Prince. Hence, the topic of tonight's blog. Hardcover vs. Trade Paperback.
Which do you prefer?
The only negative thing I can say about this book by Gitta Sereny is that it's giving me lower lumbar problems. It's so big and heavy and unwieldy. I'm considering devising a pulley system, attached to my neck. I prefer trade paperbacks myself. Not only are they lighter, but the covers bend.
I guess I'm also revealing the dinosauric nature of my reading style at any rate, because a lot of people would probably answer that they prefer their e-readers to either type of book that contain actual paper!
But humour me for a moment. Given that the battery in your Kindle or Kobo dies [or something] and you have to read either a hardcover or a softcover book, which do you prefer?

*****

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Although we are taught the Copernican astronomy in our textbooks, it has not yet penetrated to our religion or our morals, and has not even succeeded in destroying belief in astrology. People still think that the Divine Plan has special reference to human beings, and that a special Providence not only looks after the good, but also punishes the wicked. I am sometimes shocked by the blasphemies of those who think themselves pious -- for instance, the nuns who never take a bath without wearing a bathrobe all the time. When asked why, since no man can see them, they reply: 'Oh, but you forget the good God.' Apparently they conceive of the Deity as a Peeping Tom, whose omnipotence enables Him to see through bathroom walls, but who is foiled by bathrobes. This view strikes me as curious.
-- Bertrand Russell --


Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Monday, July 28, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
-- John F. Kennedy --


Have a great Monday!
*****

Saturday, July 26, 2014

From One To Ten

How adorable is my cat, from one to ten?
You already know my own opinion on this subject, but I want yours.
[NOTE: No fractions or decimal-points in your answer are allowed, because there is nothing half-gorgeous, about my cat! Only whole integers will be accepted.]

*****

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some Recent Reading...

Just a few words about the last five books I've read.
The Sea, by John Banville. I can never get enough of this guy's writing. The Sea won the Man Booker Prize [2005] and I finally got around to reading it. It is written in a first-person memoir style -- the story of an aging man who has just lost his wife to cancer. He returns to the seaside resort where he spent his formative years as a child and there reminisces about his first loves, trying to make sense of his present via reviewing the past. It is a deeply moving novel and probably my favourite among the many Banville books I have read.
Room, by Emma Donoghue. Five-year old Jack and his mother are imprisoned in an 11' X 11' shed in the backyard of the psycho-pervert who abducted her.  "Ma" has been in there for seven years and the outside world has given up the search for her. Due to her abductor's… visits, she has given birth to Jack while in her confinement, and the only world he knows is that of "Room". The story is told in his voice, and at first I felt like I was going to really get sick of the baby talk, and everything being seen from his perspective. But amazingly, the thing really takes off and we get to know the backstory in unexpected ways. Ma concocts an escape plan -- but it can only be successful through her son Jack as the principal actor. Wow, when they set it in play, I literally could not put the book down. It's an amazing, relevant, but disturbing story. Riveting, and all-too believable. Not recommended for claustrophobics.
The Sea Is My Brother, by Jack Kerouac. My first Kerouac book happens to also be his first one. This is considered a "lost" novel, written when Kerouac was a mere 21 years of age. It's the story of two adventurous guys who sign up with the Merchant Marines. It's got that whole Kerouacian "let's run away from the world of responsibilities and see how much booze we can drink and how many parties we can attend" feel to it. It was fun to read, but not something I am about to croon about. Maybe I need to read some of the later Kerouac to appreciate him better.
When Nietzsche Wept, by Irvin D. Yalom. Oh, truly a great book, my favourite of the five shown here. In 19th Century Vienna, Josef Breuer, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis [a real life person] is approached by a beautiful woman with a strange request. She wants him to counsel a friend of hers who is lost in a state of suicidal depression. The friend is none other than Friedrich Nietzsche. And wow is he depressed! The meeting takes place, and all the while Nietzsche is not aware that it has been all arranged and orchestrated by his friend. The reader is aware that this all takes place at a time when psychoanalysis [or "the talking method"] was not practised. And an interesting thing happens. It turns out that the doctor, [Breuer] has some very debilitating  issues of his own to deal with. And as he begins to divulge these to Nietzsche, the tables are quickly turned. The doctor becomes the patient. And a friendship is born. Now Breuer is fraught with the knowledge of the duplicity behind it all, in its beginnings. Each man receives what they need in the way of wisdom and counsel, by way of the friendship that develops. It's a very worthwhile story, with cameo appearances by none other than Sigmund Freud. It makes me want to read everything Yalom has written, or is writing.
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. I think she is one of the best writers out there today. The book "weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia." I took that from the dust jacket. Kingsolver, a biologist, always laces her novels with gorgeous descriptions of nature -- natural things, in the wild -- and this book is no exception. Sorry to be so vague about the book itself, but maybe I will just end with this -- "I really liked it."

*****

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

People in general attach too much importance to words. They are under the illusion that talking effects great results. As a matter of fact, words are, as a rule, the shallowest portion of the argument. They but dimly represent the great surging feelings and desires which lie behind. When the distraction of the tongue is removed, the heart listens.
-- Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie --

Have a great Wednesday!
*****

Monday, July 21, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there's only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on the next bit.
-- Emma Donoghue, Room --


Have a great Monday!
*****

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Rant About Texting

I've said it before and I'll say it again [apparently] -- but I am a real techno-dinosaur. It's amazing that I even know how to blog!
I still do not own a cell-phone, hence I do not text. I do not Tweet and/or Twitter. Instagram does not intrigue me and I'm not on Facebook. As I've said before on Bookpuddle, I have real issues with social media in general. I admit that there are certain [positive] capabilities with our current state of over-connection with others, but it seems to be one of those things that do not lend themselves well to "moderation". It's the addictive nature of over-connection that I tend to criticize. It seems to me to be something we should be wary of. [Read Dave Eggers' novel The Circle -- 'nuff said!]
And I'm convinced that there are subtle dangers inherent in the willful self-abnegation of one's privacy.
But enough about me and my issues.
I love Louis C.K.
I think he is the funniest comedian on the planet, really. And recently I discovered these two clips where he echoes my exact feelings about social media in such a hilarious way -- well, I just think you should watch it, too. They are from two visits to the Conan O'Brien show. I always love it when astute comedians like George Carlin or Louis C.K. hit upon things we all know to be true, and make us laugh about it. Trust me, this **** is funny!






Friday, July 11, 2014

Splash du Jour: Friday


What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
-- Jack Kerouac, On The Road --


Have a great Friday!
*****

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday

“What? 'Borderline patients play games'? That's what you said? Ernest, you'll never be a real therapist if you think like that. That's exactly what I meant earlier when I talked about the dangers of diagnosis. There are borderlines and there are borderlines. Labels do violence to people. You can't treat the label; you have to treat the person behind the label."
-- Irvin D. Yalom, Lying On The Couch --

Have a great Thursday!
*****