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The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The Gods of Eden by William Bramley

A Fine and Private Place by Ellery Queen

Amigoland by Oscar Casares

Candide by Voltaire

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Member: brian5764

CollectionsFaves (41), Read (164), Currently reading (3), Rarin' to go (7), Try, try again (3), Not so great after all (5), Dude, forget it (3), To read (34), All collections (260)

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TagsPostmodernism (51), Realism (47), Esoterica (33), Magical Realism (24), Social Commentary (23), Endurance Test (22), Metafiction (21), Mystery (21), Bildungsroman (20), Epic Novel (20) — see all tags

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About me       Old school, Upper Midwestern by upbringing; new school “spiritual journey” type by nature; teacher of English as a second language by day job. I love teaching: there’s no greater satisfaction than connecting with motivated students and seeing them grow and change. And the middle-of-the-roaders and the slackers? I set the bar as high as I can get away with and let ’er rip, because if you set the bar medium or low, that’s exactly what you get: medium or low.
       This is my third time living in Mexico, and I’m giving some serious thought to staying put and becoming an expatriate of the arrogant New Atlantis. While both the ubiquitous we’ll-get-around-to-it-mañana mentality and the collectivist we’ve-no-concept-of-nor-respect-for-others’-personal-space mindset here in Mexico drive me up the wall and dance me across the ceiling, everything in the “homeland” has become so polarized and so obnoxious that I can hardly stand to live there anymore: these days, the games played by the System—by the government and by employers, for starters—are way too outrageous for my money.
       In my world, it’s all about reading—novels and lots of other stuff as well, except, of course, fluffy bestsellers. Yikes. And where’s the beef? At one time I thought the beef was in the “classics,” realistic novels beginning with the second half of the nineteenth century. Then I took umpteen semesters of literature and saw the light: the beef is in serious, challenging-to-read, kick-you-in-the-[expletive deleted] postmodern fiction. That’s where it’s at. Oh, it’s also, in my world, all about linguistics—(Linguistics is life! No, wait! Literature is life!)—particularly grammar, phonology, and second language acquisition theory.

About my library       So, these books from my all-time must-read list? You should read ’em too, ’cause you’ll love ’em! Here are some snippets of synopses sans spoilers.

                                                                   All-Time Faves

       Why Americans Hate Politics by E. J. Dionne, Jr. (1991): a very sophisticated yet pragmatic book which will help almost anyone gain a better grasp of the “false polarization of false choices” that Americans are still struggling with today;
       The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939): a Great American Novel candidate, contrapuntally alternated with a skillful rendering of the loss of the American dream en masse is a supremely vivid depiction of one family of have-nots and their ever-worsening descent into penury and desperation;
       The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929): another Great American Novel candidate, the degeneration of one family of haves set against the backdrop of the cruel and complex postbellum South, it’s easily understandable after you figure out the stream of consciousness technique and the varying narrative styles;
       Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth (1969): in this brilliant satire, the funniest laugh-out-loud book I ever read, a neurotic man can’t seem to escape his sex addiction or his hilarious but relentlessly nagging New York Jewish mother (yeah, I know, it’s a stereotype, but who cares if the author, Jewish himself, doesn’t?);
       Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922): the quintessential epiphany for anyone on a spiritual journey just might be found in this novella because the protagonist is the only journeyer smart enough to realize that since enlightenment comes from within, clinging to a teacher/guru/sponsor/mentor or to traditional religion (or converting to any new one of the above) will always be a stumbling block to true spiritual progress, because no one can ever hammer out his own answers to life’s seemingly impervious questions and thereby secure his own release from virtually interminable reincarnations by studying and following the answers of someone else;
       Independent People by Halldór Laxness (1935): in this mindboggling epic that most readers have never heard of, a simple-minded, grumpy shepherd subsists in dire living conditions yet sedulously toils to be debt-free while being pitted against obstacles, manmade and supernatural, that he can never quite grasp—this morose, complexly plotted, intense, slow-going rare gem of a book from Iceland is worth every minute it takes to trudge through it;
       Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996): another Great American Novel candidate, over-the-top, hysterically realistic, recherché madness with a myriad of funny-as-all-get-out narrative voices and finessed plotting and backstory (some of which occur in the endnotes, for cryin’ out loud), this weighty tome is the consummate hit-the-nail-on-the-head indictment of how pathetic postpostmodern American society has become as pretty much everyone is hooked on consumerism and escapism—(like mind-dumbing boobtube-watching or mind-numbing alcohol-and-other-drug using)—and deluded and stymied by ubiquitous “solutions,” like Alcoholics Anonymous, which is both bizarre and cultic, and which this novel—better than any other, ever—excoriates as being every bit as wacked out as the problems and their consequences;
       The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988): the author, condemned to death by so-called fatwa by close-minded fundamentalist extremists merely because their part of the world has yet to go through some semblance of an Enlightenment, pulls out all the stops in this multicultural, anti-religion, flawless postmodern magnum opus—complete with hysterical realism, magical realism, intertextuality with the qur’an, and contrapuntally structured subplots—which is easily conquerable with the accompaniment of a good annotated guide (unnecessary though, if you’re an expert in the cultures of India and the pop culture of Bollywood and fluent in Hindi, Farsi, Urdu, and Arabic), which turns the tables on both the Brit colonization mentality and on small-minded, anti-immigrant, racist Brits (and, by extension, Yanks), and which, most delightfully, mocks the bejesus out of Islam in particular and religion in general;
       Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (1967): fantasy or sci-fi or syncretistic blend of both my foot, this super-ingenious tour de force is a big ol’ multitasking pomo allegory, a picture of the E.T. “creator race” and their global establishment, right here on slave colony planet Earth, of myth/religion—(Does the research of James George Frazier, Godfrey Higgins, Zecharia Sitchin, and Alexander Hislop resonate, anyone?)—the “cast of characters” of which may be likened to the Hindu pantheon of “gods” or to the cryptically-referred to “Anunnaki” in the old testament as well as in The Epic of Gilgamesh or take your pick from among the “gods” of any of the other “belief systems” which are the opiates of humans, because they’re all the same beings, albeit with different names—this masterpiece is complete with a wild-ride metanarrative structure in which the chapter sequencing is itself indicative of flashbacks of past lives, reincarnation, and eventual escape to Nirvana, and it plays out, no less, with the “gods” trying to make up their minds as to whether we humans should be granted the Life and the Knowledge so that we may be like unto them, plural: “Then the fit hit the Shan,” and, “It’s a long way to Tipperary,” indeed; and
       Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984, 1993): with multiperspectivity and disjointed yet interconnected fragmentation (don’t worry, her work is less complex than that of Thomas Pynchon or James Joyce!), this postmodern composite novel about life on the rez should be required reading, especially for those of us who are from the Dakotas or Minnesota.

                                                                       On with It

       I love to get interesting suggestions from synchronicity and from other readers and put them on my I-haven’t-read-yet-but-I’d-like-to-read-soon list, which these days includes House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa, and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (yes, the entire boxed set).
       Oh, and maybe someday I’ll finish reading the Reese Chronological Bible. (I’m thinking of the bible as literature, not as religion, because all religions are Looney Tunes, complete with ridiculous rituals, rules, traditions,¹ customs, and costumes. And all of this nuttiness has been deliberately designed to keep people in the groupthink mode of a particular culture or subculture so that they’re alienated from humanity as a whole and/or discouraged from individual critical thinking and/or encouraged to continue fighting and warring other fellow humans over who has the best imaginary friend.)

1. “If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic simply because it rarely appears sinister.” —Zadie Smith, White Teeth

                                                              Making Sense of It All

       While there are plenty of books that we don’t like, we finish most of them anyway, right? And then there are those that we dislike enough for one reason or another—perhaps for some aesthetic downfall or structural flaw—that we refuse to finish them. But there is no “this doesn’t make sense.” I have learned this truism about literature. That I did not understand a novel or a short story or an epic poem at some point is not the fault of the author or of the writing itself, so to speak. It’s mine. Or, let’s just say that at that time I was not ready for that particular work. Sometimes, it’s a maturity issue (speaking in general here, about everyone, myself included). Maybe the reader simply lacks the knowledge or the wisdom necessary in order to figure out that work. But does this mean that he or she subsequently gets to declare “this doesn’t make sense” about that work? Nope. Invalid. Copout. So say, for instance, The Sound and the Fury is easy schmeezy for me, maybe, because I did the requisite pre-reading and investigating (and stuck with it); but for somebody else, it is as yet inaccessible. And perhaps, Gravity’s Rainbow is incomprehensible to me at this time; but for someone else, Ulysses is a piece of cake. (Who is this person? And could he or she please give me the URL to his or her blog?) There is no “this doesn’t make sense.” In the world of published fiction, everything makes sense. To someone, somehow. If such were not the case, the authors would never have been successful at getting these works published. So, when I realized this—Sigh. Groan. Grunt.—I decided it was time to un-one-star a few of my unfinished non-faves (Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, for starters—yikes!) and hoist them over to my Try-try-again! list. When the time is right, I need to go back to them and tackle ’em. That is how the game of learning is played, right?
       Oh, and Thomas C. Foster (How to Read Literature Like a Professor) is right: All fiction is part of the same story. I have come to appreciate this truism as well.
       By the way, regarding my tags: corrections/constructive criticism/comments are welcome! I’ve made an effort to get ’em categorized with correct and consistent nomenclature in terms of literary periods (which will, of course, vary by the nationality of the author), literary genres, and selected literary characteristics. But if you see an error or disagree with something—some of this stuff is a little ambiguous and therefore debatable—por favor, give me a shout. Heads up with tags, though! E.g., magical realism is not a literary period. Thus, not only certain works originally written en español, like Cien años de soledad, are in this category, but there are German, Russian, British, and American books in this category as well, for example. However, the English translation of this novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude—despite its metafictive and other postmodernist (or debatably modernist) literary characteristics—cannot correctly be tagged as “postmodernism,” because, in Latin American literature, the Spanish term posmodernismo refers to a different time period than the term postmodernism does in English literature: World War II’s end is pretty much the demarcation line as we transition out of modernism and into postmodernism in English literature, but such is not necessarily the case in the literatures of other languages/countries/regions. In fact, the correct literary period tag for Cien años de soledad—(Although I’d read it in translation because it’s difficult enough in English and the original Spanish would probably take me a hundred years. Ha!)—is “Latin American Boom.”

                                                          Much Ado about Everything

       You know, great novels aren’t everything. I have also learned a lot by reading up on history, spirituality, mysticism, and the occult. (Interestingly enough, while the word occult means secret, not evil, the actions of the Illuminati most certainly are evil.) I have been studying the New World Order conspiracy, the oligarchic power elite’s web of deception and illusion—not to mention the global, corporate takeover—since 1997. (Figured out that the Hegelian dialectic of problemreactionsolution is used repeatedly by the big leagues yet, have you? Yes. Problem–reaction–solution—all of it pre-planned, that is—as in, for example: pull off crashing planes into imploding skyscrapers–talk propaganda swallowers into kissing more rights and privacy goodbye–ramrod through a bill with a euphemistic title like “Patriot Act” and set up a mammoth bureaucracy with a fascist name like “Homeland Security Department.”) Reprehensible, nefarious though it is, this vast topic of the occult—this gargantuan mass of ugly sludge—has nevertheless lead to some mighty interesting tangents along the way. I was fascinated, for instance, by Zecharia Sitchin’s and Erich von Däniken’s implications that Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Judeo-Christian concept of creation are both absurdities—(Talk about the “false polarization of false choices”!)—because humans were brought into being by a higher-order species of extraterrestrials who manipulated DNA and used anti-gravity technology to build pyramids, William Bramley’s hypotheses on why this planet’s wars and religions have been complete shams, and G. Edward Griffin’s and Ellen Brown’s research into why the entire monetary system in the New Atlantis is a colossal scam. (Looked into the implementation of the Federal Reserve System yet, have you? This disaster was concocted and instituted, again, with the problem–reaction–solution ruse: manipulate “bank scares” and perpetrate “runs on the banks”–convince the public that it consequently needs a “centralized bank” that everyone thinks is “federal”–establish an unconstitutional, privately owned money system which could eventually put a stranglehold on the government of the United States or that of almost any other country.)
       Bramley’s writings are particularly enlightening because in them he documents how debt and inflation have intentionally been contrived in order to shore up fake money-and-lending systems—giant Ponzi schemes, really—the byproducts of which include wage slavery and poverty. He also demonstrates, notably in The Gods of Eden, how wars and religions have been used to reinforce such spurious monetarism. And as far as my studies of ancient extraterrestrial events are concerned, I’m not so sure about von Däniken’s legitimacy, or lack thereof, but I am now among those folks who have come to realize that Sitchin was either full of it or he had been deliberately trying to get people off on the wrong track by casuistically mistranslating ancient texts. This is not to say that pseudoscientific evolutionary theory and fairytale religions² are not full of holes and non sequiturs—it’s plain to see that they are. Frankly, he probably had some reason for wanting us to fail to understand who or what our true enemies are, or even why we’re here on this godawful slave colony of a planet playing this ludicrous game in the first place. Such deception is, of course, part of the game. Which is precisely why—when investigating recondite information—I do try to sift through it carefully, by keeping in mind that there is also a lot of misinformation out there.

2. E.g., one component of the tripartite-yet-there-is-only-one god incarnated into human flesh to take part in a blood sacrifice (read: pagan rite) to appease another component of the tripartite-yet-there-is-only-one god? And “believing in” this ritualistic nonsense—despite the fact that there is absolutely no credible evidence in the historically coterminous “secular” literature substantiating the existence of any such person—gives mere humans a shot at a “get-out-of-fire-and-brimstone-free card” due to the eternal consequences of “sin”? So-called sin, as it’s concomitantly defined in the partly self-contradictory “sacred” literature that conveniently accompanies the religion? Seriously? (Is it any wonder that the vast majority of humans are sheeple? We have virtually no discernment!) And all we mere humans must do is “accept” a hedonistic megalomaniac who wants to be “worshipped”? How many friends/supplicants does this god need? Not to mention that widespread belief in this ridiculous fable has accounted for the murder of how many millions of innocents by followers of this “loving” god who’s allegedly “omnipotent,” “omniscient,” and “omnipresent.” And colossally bad with money management for a sentient being who is omni-everything: “He needs your money! Send in your money, folks! Can I get an ‘Amen’?” Thought it through that this myth/religion is the greatest story ever sold yet, have you?

                                                                      The Matrix

       This pain-in-the-assets matrix that we’re in (you know, the one that a few of us non-sheeple are actually painstakingly trying to get out of), making sense of this realm—yeah, pretty much this entire realm; everything on this whole planet is a game—is like figuring out one ginormous jigsaw puzzle. Naturally, the pieces don’t fall into place by reading books alone. Some of the knowledge, of course, comes from enduring life’s trials and tribulations. But there are websites that can help, too. In fact, I’ve learned almost as much researching the esoteric from this groovy Borgesian, Gibsonian cyberspace that we have available to us nowadays as I have from studying books. And Mouravieff, Gurdjieff, and Castañeda? Maybe it’s time that I actually read the books by these dudes that’ve been sitting around for a few years, huh? Just for a little light reading, that is. Ha! Because I’d like to learn more about Gnosis and shamanism and how they might foster further spiritual awakening.
       By Gnosis or Gnosticism, I don’t mean “esoteric Christianity”; rather, I’m referring to the enlightened knowledge that comes from within and above. Within, as in, the Higher Self, or the “future,” more “complete” you who is “retroactively looking back” from a dimension that transcends linear time and is helping you through the matrix of, or the games of, incarnations in this or other dimensions/world systems where we temporarily experience physical bodies while we’re learning these pesky lessons; and above, as in, Prime Creator, or the Creator, or the “Energy Source,” but not “God” if the word God connotes the stereotypical Western notion of “religion god” or “bible god” or anthropomorphized “cartoon god” (you know, the one who both loves and smites and all), because the hybrids (the “royal” bloodlines, the ruling class, the Nephilim, the “giants in/on the Earth,” the demigods) and the interdimensional and hyperdimensional “negative” entities came up with this idea (and lots of other limitations, some of which we rationalize with, “Oh, that’s just how their ‘culture’ is” . . .) in order to keep us non-shapeshifting humans oppressed and “believing in” religions—aggregately nonsensical but interspersed with hidden knowledge and truth in their literatures—so that we don’t advance or evolve to a higher level of consciousness. And when we don’t advance or evolve—when we fail to grasp that this particular version of “reality” is an illusion—they can continue feeding off of our energy. You see, they need our energy because they are polarized so far to negative that they can’t receive positive energy from the Energy Source. And they can’t feed off of our energy unless it’s attuned to their level of negativity, which explains, in part, why everything on this planet—you know, the constant war, disease, famine, poverty, pestilence, “natural” disasters, the constant lies, and all the other general mayhem—is so rigged and miserable. (Prefer to believe in the cartoon-like fantasy that this is a “fallen world” and the “devil made ’em do it”? Be my guest, but you’re never going to move up to your next level of understanding with this approach.)
       Please be sure, by the way, that you do a little research before you write this worldview off! Hint: lots of the puzzle pieces under the huge umbrella of the esoteric fall into place when you stop gathering arcane information and start focusing on the rationale behind the whole mess. And you might bear in mind that discernment is crucial when you’re investigating an ism or a schism, or a book, or a website, or a speaker’s content on a YouTube video for that matter, because—almost always—x% of the material in question is true and y% of it (where y = 100 – x) is bull crap, be it inadvertent or intentional, often to get us on the wrong tangent or stuck on some plateau, you know, like Sitchin probably did, by design. (The Energy Source is the Creator of souls and spirits, not typically of flesh bodies. Perhaps, though, Sitchin and others—reptilian shapeshifters themselves?—wanted us non-sheeple humans to think that the “Anunnaki” or god-knows-what entities are our flesh body creators, when in actuality they’re nothing but nasty ol’ high-tech manipulators and dumbing downers, guilty—post–Atlantis, post–Lemuria?—of cutting off access to some of our chakras and DNA helixes, not to mention ninety percent of our brains’ potential capabilities.) So, at the risk of beating the metaphor of the jigsaw puzzle to death, don’t be inhibited about chopping off y, as it were, pounding x into your ever-growing big picture, and seeing how the piece, or what’s left of it, matches up against previously positioned pieces, some of which can now, in light of your new piece, be thrown out. There are, quite deliberately, lots of tangents and many plateaux. And our job is to figure out which ones go nowhere and which ones lead to the next level. None of this arduous task, though, can be accomplished without sedulous comparative analysis. You might also take into account that, sometimes, big ol’ clues—which are nonfiction—are purposely plopped right down into certain fictional movies and books. (There are two reasons why They do this stuff, but I won’t mention them or elaborate on them here, because I’d like to keep my “About my library” section in the neighborhood of a nice svelte six thousand words. Ha!) It’s the “hidden in plain sight” thing, you know, like the occult logos and symbols that are everywhere around us for those who have eyes to see such things. This cute little trick, though, unfortunately tends to confuse the sheeple, who blindly follow the herd, who usually refuse to question or challenge norms and traditions, who typically betray themselves as anti-intellectuals, and who rarely make much spiritual progress. Frankly, this stuff is flat out beyond their ken—“It’s just a movie! It’s fiction, you idiot!”—but there’s absolutely no reason to let ’em pull this particular wool over your eyes, no atrocious play on words intended. Learning how to refuse to be brought down to their level is quite a piece of work, but it’s doable nonetheless.
       As I continue to research, study, read, and forge ahead spiritually, I have come to realize that some of the concepts of certain religions, especially those of Buddhism—like Karma, Samsara, Nirvana, and “all is illusion”—are way more sensible than other ideas found elsewhere, such as crucifixion for the “payment of sin,” so called jihad, and the treatment of women as second class citizens, for starters. (If you’re on the same wavelength as I am, an enlightening, well-written, scholarly article that ties Gnosticism, Buddhism, and The Matrix together can be found here: “Wake up!”) Perhaps the same could be said for the New Age movement, in the sense that some of its concepts mirror or at least attempt to mirror reality, as opposed to the “thou shalt believe such and such” modality found elsewhere. Yet these Eastern schools of thought are still religions, and they and the New Age movement still have partially off-the-wall and/or let’s-bow-to-statues mindsets that, to varying extents, keep people in groupthink mode and discourage them from questioning and challenging so-called authority. And despite its good points, so to speak, the New Age movement is almost as fraught with deception and system control as Christianity is. So I’m leery of it; moreover, I try to steer clear of the Western bifurcation of “Christianity versus New Age.” Frankly, I don’t buy into it. Why stay stuck in the false dichotomy of one lie (or partial lie) being played off of another? It seems to me that getting to the next level or the next plateau by discerning what’s above and beyond this rift is a far more sensible and rational approach.
       Searching for that next level can sometimes be filled with some pretty kooky twists and turns. I was digging around or linking to god-knows-where, for example, and, somehow, I came across a book entitled You Are a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience. Hey, this sounds great! This thing could be a treasure trove, right? Then I clicked on the little pictogram of the cover, and it was a blatant one-eye-themed cartoon. (Anyone who has an iota of discernment knows that displays of one-eye symbolism and Luciferian and Masonic hand signals—which are rampant if you open both eyes and have a look-see around—are pretty much screaming red flags, right? The one-eye symbol is even built right into the text of The Sound and the Fury, for cryin’ out loud. And if you don’t know by now that it’s plastered on the back of the American one dollar bill, you haven’t been paying attention! So, again, like, “Wake up!” already.) Anyway, I immediately knew that this You Are a Spiritual Being must be a dud; or, possibly, it’s very enlightening for x% of its content but, somewhere along the line, we’re talkin’ red herrings, probably deliberately and deceptively implanted to try and make this particular plateau that the spiritual journeyer has arrived at the last one that he or she hangs out on. Oh, what the heck. Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye, no pun intended, so I decided to dig a little deeper. I wanted to find out a bit more about the author of this book, one Bob Frissell—(Who?)—and he’s going on and on somewhere else about how “Merkaba meditation”—(Your what hurts?)—is like a Kundalini energy flow, but more quantum physics-y, and with the multidimensional super-complicated propellerhead geometric shapes yet. And forty clicks later, in some YouTube vid of mentor dude who allegedly taught the aforementioned Frissell this stuff, I watch mentor dude explaining away and, at some point, something that is not human happens to one of the eyes of mentor dude. Sigh; here we go again. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not claiming or implying that Merkaba meditation is necessarily bad and must be avoided at all costs. Frankly, I don’t know Merkaba from a hole in the ground. I do know, however, that, just because of these clues, these tip-offs alone, I would avoid this particular approach to this so-called Merkaba meditation—(which is evidently misspelled all over YouTube if it has anything at all to do with the Merkabah of Kabbalah)—like the plague. Do you see what I’m saying? And may I respectfully suggest that if spotting these red flags is not intuitively—nay, screamingly—obvious to you as you come across them, you don’t need a level-seventeen meditation lesson or a read-through of a book in which you can’t differentiate a red herring from a warm fuzzy, but rather, a good ol’ level-one or -two spiritual awakening? Because being all New Age-y in and of itself doesn’t cut it, folks. It takes more discernment than that here in the matrix if one wants to successfully navigate the labyrinth and fly out of it someday, like Daedalus. (Or Enoch, if mixing metaphors and switching myths are permissible.)
       At any rate, I would very much like to connect with compadres who are on the same wavelength as I am, who feel this vibe! And as to the vibe, if your mindset is in synch with one or more of these questions/comments—
       a.) “Where are you getting this stuff?”
       b.) “God bless our troops.”
       c.) “You don’t believe in the two-party system? What are you, some kind of Communist?”
       d.) “You didn’t watch the Super Bowl?³ Why, that’s un-American!”
       e.) “You don’t watch TV at all? How can that be?”
       f.) “You must’ve been watching too many movies.”
—you’re probably not in tune with it yet.

3. Exercise is for almost anyone who is physically able and who is inclined to participate, right? Spectator sports fanaticism, on the other hand, is for children, not for adults (who often unknowingly experience their obsession as some sort of low-level religion):
       When I was a child, I played as a child, I ran and got fresh air as a child, I learned the rules of games as a child, and I learned good sportsmanship like a child should. But when I became an adult, I put away childish things, such as:
       —“My team is better than your team! Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah! How can you not know what the score is? You don’t like my sports small talk about blahbutty-blah? You’re not interested? This does not compute! How dare you? It’s our right to assume that you’ll chat with us about the blahbutty-blah game! Didn’t you get the memo on that? What! You didn’t watch the Super Bowl? Why, that’s un-American!”
       (Pardon us while we get in a snit and insult you and maybe even threaten you with fisticuffs for your lack of worship, er, um, interest, but doncha know that it’s our god-given right to take it for granted that you participate in the observance of the State festival rites with us? After all, this is no mere pastime or hobby, you nonconformist heathen; it’s our public creed, and we demand fellowship! We sheeple groupthinkers get very upset if you won’t join in and play our reindeer games with us, and—if you let us—we’ll bring you down to our level so we can scold you or grill you with twenty questions on our turf.)
       —“Yeah, we admit that it’s obscene how much money the players rake in, but we keep on watchin’ ’cause doin’ anything else would be just, like, crazy! We really do love ’em, ya know!”
       (Pardon us as this foolish expenditure of time and energy resources negatively impacts those few unbelievers and the unindoctrinated out there, because when we combine the time of the announcers running off at the mouth and the commercials droning on and on forever with the time that the players chase the ball around the field, you know it’s gonna add up to a total waste of about three and a half hours per episode, and god knows how much money. Not to mention that everyone’s gonna be a little grouchy the next day at work if their city’s beloved team happens to lose the State festival rite du jour.)
       —“Dude, pass your buddy Joe Schmoe here another brewski! Check out the line of scrimmage on that one! Woo hoo! Go team!”
       (Pardon us while we memorize the minutiae of as many plays as possible. That way we’ll have something to babble on and on about around the proverbial water cooler. And don’t mind us as we pursue macho bonding rituals, because . . . well, it’s just what we do. We don’t really know why we do it because we’re too busy whooping it up and exchanging useless trivia, so we’ve never really thought it through. We just do it, is all.)
       Still think that the adoration of teams and players and spectator sports in general is only a pastime or a hobby and not a religion, do you? Let’s say that you have a green thumb and you just love gardening. Would you get all snippety or angry or verklemmt or perplexed if someone told you that he or she is not interested in gardening? Would you keep on talking about it or interrogating him or her about it anyway? Repeatedly? Of course you wouldn’t, because that wouldn’t make any sense. So why do you all react this way when it comes to sports? Could it be because that someone isn’t “rejecting” your leisure activity, but rather, part of your core belief system?
       Yeah, so no one’s moving along to any greater good here if I’m ruffling feathers. And I truly don’t want to do that. Yet, at the same time, I calls ’em as I sees ’em: we humans cannot collectively evolve to the higher level of consciousness that we so desperately need when, among other things, so many people are spiritually asleep due, in part, to the virtually constant desire to be entertained by childish, counterproductive, noisy drivel. Sorry, sports fans, but it doesn’t work that way.

                                                                      Infinite Jest

       Have you ever noticed that there is a distinct pattern to the occult/esoteric/recondite references that are all over the place in literature? Or have you been too busy boobtube- and/or movie-watching to see them? (Did you miss the forty thousand references there as well?) How many occurrences of shapeshifting are there, for example, in The Sot-Weed Factor? How many times does the word reptilian occur in this tome by John Barth? Five? Six? Seven? How many times does it occur in Infinite Jest? Three? Four? Five? Why did Dashiell Hammett work this same word into the first page of The Maltese Falcon? Why did Thomas Malory work the word Pendragon into the first page of Le Morte d’Arthur? And why did Fyodor Dostoyevsky place a similar reference into his famous nine-and-a-half page paragraph that begins on page eight-hundred-and-something of The Brothers Karamazov? Yep. It’s in there. Can you see that they’re trying to tell us something? The upper echelonites—fantastic, set apart though their writing may or may not be—surely can’t expect that all (or most of us) mere mortals are blind, can they? Evidently, they can, and do. In any case, the bottom line remains: the jest—multi-tiered in its infiniteness—is on all of us collectively and on you individually if we don’t wake up, take the blinders off, and see it. It is right there, right in front of our faces.

                                                                      More Faves

       Wow, so like, if you’re still with me—(Most of you have, of course, bailed before this point.)—here are some more awesome reads that you might check out if you haven’t already: The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; David Copperfield and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens; Dracula by Bram Stoker; The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann; Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse; Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton; Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell; The Glass Village by Ellery Queen; Lord of the Flies by William Golding; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Chosen by Chaim Potok; The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules by John Irving; Loon Lake by E. L. Doctorow; Empire Falls by Richard Russo; You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates; Under the Dome by Stephen King; The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald; Blindness by José Saramago; Underworld by Don DeLillo; and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

                                                                     Who Knows?

       It’s like this: according to my not-so-precise calculations, I’ve read about two thousand books, but ¡Ay, dios mío! ¿Quién sabe what they are? I have no way of remembering all of them. Obviously, there were no spreadsheets or websites for tracking such things when I was a young’un devouring books. So my numbers here on LibraryThing are small, but you gotta start somewhere, right?
       I consider myself to be not too awful at HTML formatting tags, and I can do a minimal amount of CSS coding, but I’m having a heckuva time getting my headers to center. Does anyone know what the workaround would be for a deprecated or disallowed center tag? Oh well, they’re in there kinda so-so now, depending on how wide your screen is, I guess. Ha! If you’re nerdier than I am, please get in touch with me.

Updated January 24, 2014. Thanks a lot for reading.

Groups1001 Books to read before you die, 18th-19th Century Britain, 50-Something Library Thingers, African/African American Literature, American Postmodernism, Arthurian Legends, Books that made me think, Deep South, Dystopian novels, English majors!show all groups


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Real nameBrian S.

LocationTuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México

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Member sinceJan 28, 2013

Currently readingOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis by Vicente Blazco Ibáñez
Gnosis, Book One, The Exoteric Cycle by Boris Mouravieff

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Hey Brian!

Doing much better now, thanks. Husband had a heart attack a few days ago but he's as good as if it didn't happen. Haven't been able to get online for a while with everything going on, tho. We're both slowly getting back to normal however and should have internet in our new apartment pretty soon.

Hope you're having a great time still!
Have you read the new Khaled Hosseini by chance? I'm trying to get a hold on it through my library's ebooks but I'm on a huge waiting list.
I have to get back in to scheduled reading. Lately it's been cookbooks and other things. I haven't found an actual discussion group on here yet, but that's always a good excuse to make one. I've had a couple on Goodreads that worked out well and we used the hangouts on Google+ for realtime discussion. But haven't been able to roust anyone on here for discussion.
I wondered which edge of the earth you fell off of! At least you're headed somewhere you like, on the good hand. I never got around to Rushdie either. Good caught up in more cookbooks and housework. Just gets too busy this time of year to really sit down and read.....yeah, I know, actually said that.
I tried so very hard to read Rushdie a number of times. He just starts out so slow and dry for me, which is odd considering how easily I get in to textbooks and boring historical treatsies. I'm eventually going to retry,though. Right now I'm on an India binge so Satanic Versus might make a reappearance on my list.
It was better than I expected,I admit. You get to a point where you think "oh no, something's going to happen now" but you still want to find out what it is. I'm on a Middle East binge lately, mostly cookbook and food related but still.
Just finished up Thousand Splendid Suns and saw you have Grapes of Wrath on your list. I've read that book over and over at least 7 times and yet STILL haven't been able to finish the last 3 or so chapters. I've either lost the book, got caught up or simply put it down and forgot. It's odd. So now,seeing someone who's finished it, I'll have to restart.
Fragility was a decent book as far as subject matter, nice for an intro in to the subject. Past that, it wasn't anything too good. But I was expecting new information or research on the whole.
HAHA, don't we ALL? Finally finished The Fragility of Goodness about the saving of Bulgaria's Jews in WW2. Not nearly as good as I thought it would be,unfortunatly. Haven't heard of yours so I'll have to look it up now. I've also got to get back to cataloging my library. Waaaaay too many ebooks.

Gaiman was one of the people who really got me in to seeing comics and graphic novels ( or whatever the new buzzword is) in a new light. Never was one for the whole superhero thing, but's just....Gaiman.
Haven't had a chance to read American Gods yet, but I'm itching too. I'm so backlogged on the early reviewer stuff and advance copies that my "need to read NAOW" pile is growing. But if Gaiman's other works are anything like AG then I'm going to love it.

Lately most of my time is either housework, nerding around SecondLife and more housework. Siiiigh.
Thanks for the add!
Welcome to LT!

I'm sure you'll find plenty to talk about around here. Love your collection,btw. Seems we have a few in common. I love language myself, though I pretty much only speak English and Penn German with a spattering of Italian. Really have to bone up on that Italian.
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