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kat's sea of song, 2020

Club Read 2020

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Edited: Apr 2, 7:14pm Top

Happy New Year Club Readers.

My thread from last year is here - a bead in the bowl of a sea's horizons

I completed more last year, for two or three reasons, and hope to carry that on into this year. Once again I hope to start with completing some part reads. But it never seems to work for me to list these, in fact it seems often to put me off. Let's see how I go. I also may have less time to read for a while.

I think I will make more comment on poems and things part read, in part just to track when it is I do these things. But it is hard to do so wih commitments - look what happened to my trying to do so as I read Emily Dickinson.

Edited: Jan 9, 7:20am Top

"Our future is guaranteed, automatically determined, by the fundamental fact that we failed to honour our sacred source."

Peter Kingsley, Catafalque: Carl Jung and the end of humanity, p11.

Edited: Jan 20, 2:51pm Top

Catafalque: Carl Jung and the end of humanity vol. 1 by Peter Kingsley

Not marked as entirely read yet as I've only read volume one. Volume 2. contains abbreviations and the notes/references, some of which he promises are book-like. My plan is to reread vol.1 this time going to each note. But first I will let this staggering book be with me.

Readers of my thread will know how much I enjoy Peter Kingsley's writing. He's a scholar as many dream of being, and for me seems to ask questions that have been begging, open to how much did not seem known, explorer of the past. Whilst at the same time I love how he seems to have developed his style after Ancient Philosophy Mystery and Magic to very clearly communicate narrative - no less scholarly, very clearly researched and referenced but with a style and format that allows you simply to read before then deciding if you want to share in the journey of those sources. An act of generosity and humanity in the spirit of shared communication, for human good. And as a scholar I trust very much how he reasons and differentiates on trustworthiness of sources, explains their contexts, empathises and understands texts and subjects - and showing how he reaches conclusions is open, and so clear, if inevitably there are points that may be added or amended, it seems to me.

This book was much more than I expected and very powerful. It is about Jung, but also about Kingsley and his work and Henry Corbin and Reality/truth and religion and prophecy and how humans tend to box these and interactions and history of these things. And where we are as a culture now.

I'm amazed he tells a story of how he came to Jung which I think I heard once long ago, maybe on the radio and had not realised that was he. A drive just following his nose/heart, itself fascinating. He's so very good on wisdom. It is inspiring and makes me want to study.

Much is very hard to read - how we may all be trapped. Certainly I have found foolishness myself - yet he's always generous, shows how this is a struggle for all, even Jung. It is a book that does its best to turn Jung loose, though he states he feels he cannot succeed - he is arguing for Jung as prophet and how prophets are misunderstood, inevitably, by other humans. This can be very difficult to read, and great care must be taken not to be misunderstood and cause offence. I have already seen reactions that seek to close such argument down, out of hand, as disgraceful. He seems to me to show great care and concern but is clear what he means. That seems to me very brave, but as he is so clear in his thinking I think this must help, clearly civilised and caring - to me anyway. And concerned for humanity. But in a way I do not know and have much to learn of some viewpoints - and am acting to do so. Jung said that perhaps at any one time we are all doing our best, one of his many gems of succinct observation.

In a way he seems to point out how humans need to seek the divine and finds that curious paradox in how this gives life, this search, but in many ways is something we also close down to accept certainties in established views as it also involves much discomfort and engagement with death. But he points out how that essential human search continues, morphs yet remains consistent. His consideration of Jung considers his relationship to alchemy, gnosticism, Sufis and of course his beloved Pre-Socratics - and more. And now may also consider Jung's Red book and the reaction to it so far that often he argues, as with Jungians on Jung he says, in fact falls into this human paradox and somehow contains his raw encounter with reality and presents it in ways he argues Jung tolerated as inevitable but frustrated him. All of this being about rebalancing world view, what we see, how we see, what we know, how we know. It is music to my ears, but also in some ways something I am highly cautious of in this modern day so rooted in conflicts and offence -- from being stuck in the material, as ever -- and whilst this is the way of the best knowledge, it is hard and something to be careful in seeking. I have learned a lot of the traditions of seeking here, "whom does the grail serve" - and of many things I hope to learn more of and much that helps me understand my own mistakes and think on, feel on, try better.

His openness to share thinking and feeling is a delight. It is easy to see such a title and assume a dry academic choice of his title as meaningful - but it makes much more heart-sense to me how he explains it came to him and what he knew of Catafalques at that time.

I find it curious that whilst identifying the death of our culture he seems to me to have written from a great meeting of high scholarship with the wisdom of life not encumbered by lostness in academic labyrinths and is part of how we may more fairly understand where we really are. As it seems we shall have to, or some shall.

I don't know if I am explaining well, I hope I don't just gush and I hope I am doing so respectfully. I cannot claim his clarity and that I have read even a fraction of such sources to agree or not, but he makes sense to what I know so far. All his work will inform my own further study which I hope to focus and do better now. I have to have some reserve as I am only a toe dipper in so much, but his way and what he has argued in this and all his books speaks to my heart's wisdom.

edit - he is also very careful to explain how prophecy is not mainly involved with prediction but with understanding the past, especially he points out that Biblical prophets pointed out the role of God in the past, and doing so is relevant to understanding the present. He also recognises how difficult a burden this was.

edit 20/1/20 - found this today, posting here to remind me - I wonder what Kingsley would say to one point near the end, but an appreciative review - https://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/the-cry-of-merlin-carl-jung-and-the-insan...

Jan 6, 1:39pm Top

Just caught up with your 2019 thread and now your commentary on this Kingsley on Jung (as a representation of the death of culture?). I haven’t read Jung, but whenever I read about him, it seems to demand that I rethink how I think. Have a stumbling in the dark feeling.

Wish you another great year. I’ll be following, always something to think about here.

Edited: Jan 6, 3:35pm Top

Hi Dan, Jung as a prophet of the end of humanity, Kingsley wholly laudatory of him, and in ways he argues others are uncomfortable to be.

As I understand it that’s probably a good feeling to have. Kingsley points out Jungs frustration with ‘Jungians’ who he may have seen didn’t wholly get it. I think Jung felt he struggled with it never mind people who told him they got it, from his own work.

Thanks for your good wishes and glad you follow me. I have a way to go to catch you up, mainly as I need to read Dante but also need to follow my paths right now, so maybe not stayed up to date as I’m simply jealous.

Jan 6, 3:48pm Top

🙂 a side effect of following all these other people reading good stuff. Sometimes I wonder how much of my reading is driven by jealousies. (!) Alas, Dante will wait for you to be on one of the many paths that go there.

Jan 6, 4:07pm Top

hopefully heavenwards

Edited: Jan 7, 1:46pm Top

>8 tonikat: look at me Kingsley fan and all saying that, stuck in my old conventions/misunderstandings of the Christian. Need to think on that road down first for Dante in light of Kingsley.

Jan 7, 1:43pm Top

>9 tonikat: 🤣 I took it as wry humor. Funnier now, though

Jan 7, 1:48pm Top

that's true, don't know if funnier though.

Jan 16, 8:52am Top

>4 tonikat: I probably won't pick that up, since my library doesn't have it, but it's a good reminder to read some Jung/things about Jung as one of my favorite psychologists to read started as a Jungian (James Hillman).

Jan 16, 11:58am Top

>13 mabith: that sounds a good thing, Kingsley has some interesting things to say about Hillman. I've not read him though he often gets mentioned in reading and in conversations, and I shall have to, none of us are perfect, something to stay with.

Edited: Mar 14, 9:55am Top

I've managed to return Close Quarters to the library before typing in a quote, so let me describe some - there is a quote from our oh so unreliable narrator as to how when level headed people lose it to passion boy do they lose it. Needless to say its nicer written than that. I both tend to agree but also see him as unreliable - a young man that can take bad news on the chin and speak the speak of level headedness before a delayed reaction that cannae handle it at all cap'n, but then he has had quite a few wobbles thrown at him.

There was another quote I might have used that has gone right out of my mind right now, grr. Also a couple of mentions of 'genius' I'd like to look at again - so as the year develops I may take it out again and put down the actual words here.

I've decided to try to add quotes the post before my comments instead of having the large entry with all my quotes as in my last few years, at the top of the thread.

edit - I remembered the other quote -- at one point in his being hit on the head some of the female passengers were tending to edmund and he heard a comment that he had 'a much greater sensitivity than he realises' - though that is not an exact quote, the word used may not be sensitivity, may be sensibility or a better word yet, but it made a lot of sense.

Edited: Mar 14, 7:17pm Top

Close Quarters by William Golding

Further adventures of Edmund Talbot on his trip to the antipodes in Napoleonic times to work for the governor. Our well trained, well patronised nobbish common but gentleman continues to show signs of great potential despite his education and upbringing. During this section of the trip he is busy having those things well knocked out of him.

Literally knocked out of him - he gets several bangs on the head here and delayed concussion. Amidst which during a remarkable encounter on the high seas he manages to fall in love - emotions on full release and on separation and amidst concussion ends up swinging from the rigging howling at one point, which just may be the sane way forward really, it's just we squirrel it away.

We have a ghost who shockingly embraces ghostness -- and more trauma for Edmund. We have him learning the true view of the common man of him. We have immediate threats and we have slow lingering threat of death nothing can be done about. We have him growing up.

I like it very much. It does seem to me that in some ways this is a writers education to the real world. Our ghost his is former 'servant'(?) Wheeler - who in some ways seemed a bit of an authorial voice last time and I see what happens to him here as a bit like the author giving up the ghost. And in a way that is what happens with our ending here, it is as though all the trauma leads edmund and maybe Golding in trying to make way in his established method to give up - so I have taken out the third volume immediately. These thoughts also influenced by how we began in which I felt Golding almost teased us about his process in writing more. But I say that now without the volume to refer to and having read the first half some months ago and was on pause until this week. His genius comments also interest me from this point of view and we have edmund much clearer about his own literary interests by the end.

It really speaks to a version of Edmund (less of a nob, really, though not in a couple of sadly spectacular ways) in me and to my writerly self too - and idea of letting go of education in some ways, taught sense, sense maybe. It also speaks to that age somewhere inside me - his account of meeting this lovely young lady was very vivid and reminding of young love. I'm very glad to have read so far and hope to finish the trilogy. Though in many ways it is challenging and painful to read - something in his tone hurts and this harsh healing of the breach between what he thinks he knows and what he knows, which is something I must be far from alone in recognising in our educated world.

Some of the hurt may also be as much of this is comic, edmund wholly serious and quite barmy when not ignorantly deluded, and others dryly polite but aware of just what he does not see. There is also a theme of being overheard (journal read? possibly?) and misunderstood by those not reading as generously in understanding as he may, and that definitely resonates for me.

Jan 24, 5:56am Top

If you follow this link you will find poems 'Mother' and 'Remembering my Father' by Zbigniew Herbert in the translation I read by John R. and Bogdana Carpenter


Edited: Jan 26, 2:08pm Top

Selected Poems by Zbigniew Herbert translated by John & Bogdana Carpenter

I went to the library looking for Milosz poetry after rereading some Heaney and especially with the wonderful 'the soul exceeds its circumstance' line in mind. I'd have bought his collected with a book token but the shop doesn't have it in at the mo. A browse of the uni library shelf had a current lack of Milosz poetry but had this and some Szymborska and I know I want to look at both. I opened this at poems on Procrustes and hmm another Greek thing (forget which, again I have managed to return the book before writing this, beginner!), it may have been about Anabasis - maybe - whatever his words and view of the ancients struck me immediately, a style I liked very much, so it was borrowed and read pretty sharpish. A nice introduction, not too long, translations seem good (including one of a poem on translation that likens it to just getting as deep as getting covered in pollen, but not really getting the poems*).

He is of course well known, very successful and rightly so, I wholly agree, a wonderful poet. Highly approachable. I'd been a bit put off by the idea of his Mr Cogito poems from that name, but his approach to it very much chimes with my own way of looking at things, he's warm and humorous and self deprecating in his observation, including of himself, a delight. Not that I claim that all for myself, just think i recognise something I like . Also, very much unlike myself he is shaped by war. He therefore takes no nonsense.

For many years until the post-Stalin thaw he was unable to publish. He seems wholly engaged with poetic tradition - I think it is remarked he sits somewhat in a classically informed tradition and yet he is wholly relevant to the modern, which in fact may be a mark of why classical thigns are classical (I think). In that he also is somewhat like Heaney maybe, in his own style.

I have bought his collected poems, for kindle, I think I got a good reduction and look forward to them very much. Another poem from this collection, one of his Mr Cogito poems, 'The envoy of Mr Cogito' - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48501/the-envoy-of-mr-cogito .

I'm delighted to have read this and him now, a little.

* edit - not understanding the roots I think, the whole being of the flower.

Jan 27, 3:40pm Top

Interesting on Zbigniew Herbert. Enjoyed the linked poems - they’re curious enough they lead me to want to read more.

Jan 28, 12:45pm Top

he's well worth trying Dan.

Edited: Feb 10, 3:20am Top

january films -- no particular order, as and if i remember them -- el Topo (cinema) -- A Hidden Life (cinema) -- Last of the Mohicans -- Heat -- The Straight Story -- The Thomas Crowne Affair (v2) -- The Day of the Jackal -- The Shape of Water -- Gladiator -- The Insider -- Alien Covenant (most of?) -- The Colour of Pomegranates -- Devil in a Blue Dress -- The Name of The Rose -- Roman J. Israel esq. -- probably others, all but three (four?) re-viewings

Edited: Feb 8, 6:09am Top

some poems from District and Circle:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/apr/01/poetry.seamusheaney :

" At the back of a garden, in earshot of river water,
In a corner walled off like the baths or bake-house
Of an unroofed abbey or broken-floored Roman villa,
They have planted their birch grove. Planted it recently only,
But already each morning it puts forth in the sun
Like their own long grown-up selves, the white of the bark
. . . "

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v27/n09/seamus-heaney/three-poems - two of these poems are in District and Circle, 'After the Fire' and 'The Apple Orchard' - you'll need a lrb subscription to see them, I don't have one now myself but am sure two of them are there from memory - Heaney's translations of Rilke

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/apr/16/poetry.seamusheaney - three of the sonnets from The Tollund Man in Springtime

Edited: Feb 10, 2:36pm Top

District and Circle by Seamus Heaney

I read this last year and wrote on it - http://www.librarything.com/topic/301415#6903972

I almost fear trying to write about poetry now. You can never say it all, reflect all it might start to open up -- and some of that may be wholly idiosyncratic or false. Then there is all you don't see, or seem not to as you don't say. Then there is all the offence you may cause saying what you feel. Especially of beloved late poets. When I started to read him I was asked to write on his first volumes and whilst doing this he passed away. In a way I no longer wanted to write it at that time and had to and it wasn't my best.

My reading group went back over this again in the autumn, a great idea, though I missed almost all of it. But we've completed again now this term. It's brought so much back. My last words missed so much, but they weren't meant to be it all.

I realised in a way how that Milosz quote in 'The Tollund Man in Springtime' ("the soul exceeds its circumstance") seems related to the Martin Luther quote on Grace that I used in the poem I put on my thread late last year, they seem to say something similar. On a tangent it makes me think how profiling people and nudging them accordingly is the opposite and seems to bind us in to the way we are and dismiss change, an inherently conservative force (? - an hypothesis I need to think more about). And in Heaney's poem he then finds a release for the Tollund Man.

One thing I did not say last year is how this collection seems full of sacred things. Maybe it would, it is Heaney. But it struck me very much rereading. Respecting as he so often does the sacred everyday and in the everyday. I reflected that I felt 'The Birch Grove' was full of the sacred, and in some ways sometimes wonder if some things are better not said. I want to respect something and some people that were obviously tremendously important to him. A poem about close friends. And beyond that in the collection an assertion of things personally sacred/important - in the final poem he may consider death in a blackbird, but I think it is also interesting he asserts 'Hedge-hop, I am absolute / For you . . . ' - we considered this may relate to death and Measure for Measure, but to me is also a statement on a folk knowledge or personal knowing which I find touched on in other poems. A knowing very poetic and very classical. In a way it's a bit like he validates his personal eye, and that of others throughout, whilst respectful of the eyes of greats and traditions he has learned so well, but not trapped by ropes of their received orthodoxy, as I said last year he gets through that to respect something underlying but works to make it live again.

I do hope these words are not clumsy - the poetry is anything but that and embodies all these hints and much less certainly, more delightedly and full/knowingly than my pea shots can.

It is hard to write on poetry. So I suppose I'll have to try better. But the best thing is to read it and let it sink in and think about it, feel it, maybe try to write some or listen for some and cast off into its wave as best you can as and when you can and whilst doing so by living well and not reading or writing anything right then, except your life. Heaney seems to know this and respect life, very fully.

There's more that can be said - 'The Apple Orchard', a translation of Rilke seems to get that the orchard is far from just being about the apples. So with that let me get on with what I can, for now, content I get and show a bit and work on it and figuring what is best to do, what is possible, what impossible to the good I may I try, and what must I do.

Feb 10, 3:22am Top

february films -- Cast Away -- Yesterday -- Yesterday

Edited: Mar 2, 9:55am Top

Life takes its turns, strange February, find myself with more time for now, but not as near myself in some ways. This book was more transportable in recent weeks than Blake and Tradition.

“All Blake’s most characteristic and beautiful images are of the minute; the wild thyme and the meadowsweet - ‘And none can tell how from so small a centre comes such sweets.’ ‘The little winged fly’, the worm, the ant, the grasshopper and spider; the little bird - lark or nightingale or robin redbreast; the ‘moment each day that Satan cannot find’ in which the poet’s work is done; and, above all, the supreme symbol of the multum in parvule , the Divine Child. Life is neither great nor small, and the dignity of every living essence is not relative but absolute. Childhood - innocence - was for him not a state of inexperience and ignorance, but the state of pure being.”

William Blake by Kathleen Raine pp50-51

There are many sections I could quote, of course, and often supplemented with Blake’s own wonderful words and knowing.

Edited: Mar 9, 6:01pm Top

William Blake by Kathleen Raine

I’ve overlooked this book with Blake and Tradition in my sights. This is lovely, well illustrated and with her understanding of this lovely man, often with fantastic quotes from him.

It’s led me to look at Boris Johnson afresh, really, as I see a likeness with Urizen. But I must be polite, and who can really match an archetype. But seriously it charges me to go on and in fair expectation of wonder at Blake’s further works.

Sadly I did not get to the Blake exhibition at the Tate recently, and see now my good reasons were most Urizeny myself.

What can I say. What an inspiration.

Mar 4, 5:17pm Top

March films -- Letters from an Indian Clerk

Mar 4, 10:43pm Top

>4 tonikat: What a great review! And so well thought out. I have already been impressed by your reading at this point, and I'll be following you.

Mar 5, 4:35am Top

>29 sallypursell: thanks Sally, as you can see I'm a huge Kingsley fan. Appreciating skills are developing, I hope though under a bit of challenge, butbest when it's fun amongst kind hearts (not least my own). Welcome aboard

Mar 6, 3:42am Top

Since the discussion over on Dan's thread on hell and heaven they've been on my mind a lot, so here a choice from my latest completed book:

"In standard theology, Hell is a place that exists somewhere, external to us. For Blake, it is something that we construct inside ourselves when we close ourselves off from other people. In Milton, he describes Satan building Hell inside himself as he turns opaque and hides his inner light from those around him. Even in the secular twenty-first century, this is an idea that still resonates. We may not believe that Hell is a real place that exists somewhere, but we have probably all met someone who is living in hell."

William Blake, why he matters more now than ever by John Higgs, kindle ed.

(Wow copying in this version of kindle isn't doing the reference forces anymore :( )

Edited: Mar 26, 6:36am Top

William Blake, why he matters more now than ever by John higgs

That jungley book selling turned everything selling place kept offering me this and it's short and was quite cheap, so try it I thought. And I'm glad I did. It has a nice tone, a bit like listening to an enthusiastic friend who is better informed than you but discovering together. It's central thread is always making relevant to today, today's Britain, whilst clarifying Blake in all his opposites. (Blake's relevance today and looking at ways he is present for us, from the recent gravestone to his use at the 2012 olympics opening ceremony.) Glad I've read it.

(Only able to post on phone for now so all comments brief at present)

Mar 10, 10:43am Top

>33 tonikat: Oh, that is lovely. What a great project!

Mar 10, 11:54am Top

>33 tonikat: I ought to go and have a look at that, it's not far away and it's been posted several times on every social media platform I follow...

Mar 10, 3:19pm Top

>34 bragan: it is a nice idea, a nice thing :)

>35 thorold: - I hadn't realised it was written 11 months ago, hope you like it in person

Edited: Mar 10, 6:04pm Top


will someone be adding it to their LT library? no isbn to scan . . . beauty though

Edited: Mar 10, 6:25pm Top

a little too much time on my hands tonight - and in some ways I am also back to my earlier days here. I've broken my own rule and given how my books I have been dipping into I am trying to specify some books to focus on to finish and even updated my currently reading list - usually a no go to me to do that, takes my energy from just doing it, we'll see, maybe things can change. I also read that as someone else's reading as a hobby tip recently, so it is not just me.

it goes along with my quest to focus on what I need most, which I totally fail at. except in the last year I did focus on Peter Kingsley's work, and I am well on with reading Seamus Heaney these days. Another tip you get a lot is to read all of who you like. I tend to avoid that one - when I was young I felt if I read all of anyone it would give me nothing new by them to read later in life, but that was silly of me.

I am breaking with trying just to follow my interest / heart but then I usually break any rule I set on these things pretty easily - but this is a flexible rule there are 8 books on the list, another one I'm not adding and there isn't a maximum, this is the lightest of chains I hope that just will mean I complete more, and the gestalt of my process I hope, to help me feel I'm getting where I want generally and obey some convention that is needed as finishing is kind of important with books.

I even tried to make a widget - but they never display as anything but a link in posts and I keep my blog separate, so don't want to put that on there.

Too much time for tonight, try a book instead . . .

(also prompted as lookig through my kindle books I made a quick collection of more than 70 books to finish - it is no joke.)

Edited: Apr 2, 4:32pm Top

March films -- The Admirable Crichton -- Miles Davis: birth of the cool -- Jack Ryan s. 1 -- Letters from an Indian Clerk

Mar 14, 6:47pm Top

>16 tonikat: Wow! This sounds great!

Edited: Mar 15, 7:13pm Top

>41 sallypursell: it is, I think, though I haven't been reading the third volume so far, I must.

thx for stopping by :)

recent reviews were a bit brief, was limited to just my phone for input for a bit.

Edited: Mar 18, 4:26pm Top

what are people's experiences of reading and having an idea to type in but not having finished the book- do you resist it (I am resisting right now as in space of 14 poems I have reversed direction on a reading and then disintegrated directions and have another 16 to go) . . . really i know it means my ideas will ferment or distil more (distil if any good, ferment too but it may account for hot air at times when it all goes wrong) -- but do you choose to write at the end of the process, must i, or could I play more, sometimes (it'd be a pain otherwise)-- and may work better for poems than fiction where the last page could change everything, whilst poems all about process (? yes?).
I'm also at a pitch of enthusiasm -- when i leave that pitch often those thoughts are just lost.

Mar 19, 3:25pm Top

>43 tonikat: I don’t think there’s a good answer: to know whether or not it’s worth posting your intermediate thoughts, you have to be able to decide whether it’s an interesting spontaneous reaction or a half-baked gush, and mostly you can’t tell that until you’ve waited long enough for the enthusiasm to go off the boil, by which time you might well have lost the original inspiration if you didn’t commit it to paper. There’s nothing wrong with writing a review in stages, as long as you make it clear what you’re doing. Process can be interesting in itself.

Mar 19, 6:36pm Top

yes, i agree - i do process a lot, blog poems in process -- but good advice, good to hear others aware of such in similar ways

Edited: Mar 19, 6:38pm Top

Dan - i have had nearly a bottle of wine as it is my birthday tomorrow, BUT, if hell is other people then must we not also say that heaven is too!
I love you all

(no not that bad, honstly)

Mar 19, 9:42pm Top

I often take notes half-way through a book (assuming I don't finish it in one rush) - sometimes those notes take the form of a Currently Reading entry in my thread, sometimes a Google Keep entry in my Book List note, sometimes just something scribbled down. It's more common on short story collections (which is what a poetry collection is, really). I don't put them into the Review field - oh, I have a few times put them into Private Comments. But I don't put anything in Review until I'm ready to write a complete review. That's my preference.

Mar 20, 8:00am Top

>47 jjmcgaffey: interesting, I've been thinking restarting paper notebook for all this, workings out. when i started posting on threads i deliberately said i would not review, just give my reactions, and also not star books (that came later), I hadn't even realised that we have that review space -- i like how you're using all that though, may be tidier than yet another notebook.

Edited: Mar 20, 10:11pm Top

I'm really good at losing pieces of paper - even ones bound into notebooks. So I try to keep anything I'm going to want to refer to electronically. It's fun to find an old notebook and see what I was thinking about a while ago, but it would be really frustrating if there were a half-completed review in there and I couldn't find it...

Also, I started reviewing when I did 75 Book Challenge a few years ago (eek! 12 is a few?). At first they were just in my thread, but I found that I was not remembering that I had read a book, or what it was about - so my reviews are a little bit for other people and a lot for me, so that a few years later I have a chance of remembering what was in _that_ book (and what I thought was important about that book, too - sometimes on a reread I don't recognize what I thought was important the first time around).

Edited: Mar 21, 10:36am Top

I may go back through all my threads and add my comments to my private notes. May. They're mostly not meant as reviews though, I don't summarise or explain a lot of the time except for my reactions that may only mean something to someone else reading or who has read (and remembered it), I try to focus on how i feel/what it means to me. It's a bit of a reaction to reviews and media, my perception of them a bit, and how summarising is repetitive somehow, I'm not sure I quite have the words for it, whilst not critical of individuals. Maybe critical of myself and tones I can adopt or knowledge claim.

- but maybe as I go through I'll occasionally be tempted to add one as a review, 'kat waz here'.

Edited: Mar 25, 3:50pm Top

Cain by Luke Kennard

i was recommended this by a good teacher, who seems to be aware of our, my, range between worst and best - in a way this collection has that too (of all of himself). But I really hesitate to say too much - it is clever, yet also very clear - anything i say may not do itself credit -- and anything i say may sound hypocritical given my own varying worsts and bests - and such is it for us, and maybe worse and in redundant ways better for me, always destroyed.

The book has three parts - a first section of poems exploring a collapse on end of a marriage (not autobiographical) and the protagonists encounter with a community nurse (CPN), Cain, who appears on the doorstep behind an inflatable Frankenstein - it captures a strange sense of competitive, distrustful intimacy that speaks to my own experience, never as full as this, of such people. Which is doubtless unfair of me - and yet not in my own case. I read these poems a while ago - they often have a piercing lyrical truth to them - an early poem in which he switches control of a bullying situation to himself as strange for allowing it to happen to him are startlingly good - that poem reminded me of my sense of the first chapter of a portrait of the artist as a young man. Really to write this I should review those poems better again. I read them at a sitting and some several times since, but I don't want to get too sure or say too much, I should digest more, but do need to say something now - but my view of them is obscured now by the mountains of the second part, the anagram poems.

Imagine maybe this strange CPN (or imagainary CPN friend) spending time with the author maybe watching a boxset -- a boxset perhaps in which they both are portrayed, fictionally. The anagram poems are 31 poems that I understand (I've not checked) are anagrams of Genesis 4: 9-12, on Cain's fate. These poems surrounded in smaller red text by a social media forum writer's appreciation of the poems (tv episodes) which in fact are boxset episode summaries of our story -- and so is the author Abel? We also have Adah - they are all adrift n the world, refugees -- and you can see interpretation of all this can get complex.

First we have the poems in black surrounded by the red text - and suddenly it all looks like a telly set. Then we have a tone to the poems which can have a zaniness and sometime lyricism that reminds me of Pynchon and also David Foster Wallace of Infinite Jest (says she who has read Gravity's Rainbow once and a bit and has two failed attempts to Infinite Jest (due to its sadness and my reaction later to having laughed)).

At first I found the anagram poems exhilarating - but got tired having got to around xiv. I finished in another binge - and whilst I admired much and do so, was more tired of the format then. Not that what he was doing ever tired, he's way ahead in what he does, it is coherent and this playing stays valid, even when the meta goes up itself he's showing how it does. Maybe my mood was less zany -- I got the airs of a poet and started thinking how section one's poems did not need the red surrounding text, and that increasingly reminded me at my worst of my certainties and sense makings of others' texts - and how poems did not need that with them, they say what they mean. I also do get a bit sick of that high tone, the anagrams can have the air of a pitch with cryptic crossword cleverness -- and for me that is part of what I react against in Infinite Jest, much as he himself is drawing attention to this, as here I think, and the dead end of commentary (a bit like this one itself in my sticking these meanings to it). I also remembered the red text is against the white page, and the other sections poems have that relationship immediately - to all meaning and to none.

In a way though as soon as I reached such perspective I started again recognising all the ways this interaction of poem and interpretation and suggestion allow him to play and play he does. It's full of social and political points and psychological points - some very relevant to where the west is and prescient as you can be when you see what is present and has been. All playing off the Biblical reference and its deep resonance with experience. I started thinking of the symbol for infinity in what could be said, I'd type it here if I knew how. Amongst it some wonderful lines, one about the season's writers being hard on writers 'a world wide coven of narcissists self diagnosing as empath' and another which he gets to interpret himself as 'killer' - "My head besieged, my heart the trebuchet".

So there, I've said quite a lot whilst trying not to and hardly touched the content of these anagrams. But they do flag up a difference in the sort of poems they are and the lyricism of his others -- which returns in the third part and seems to weigh what he's been doing, still able to be zany as some of those reviews see -- and also able to be human, real, realist in tying it back to maybe where some came from in the murder (or did he learn this later) of two ancestors.

I feel it would be possible to get interpretive and portentous about those middle anagrams and I totally don't want to - I have to keep them distant, I don't want to be that sort of fan (any more) -- the interpreter himself may become the target of one of the episodes -- and that sort of closed certain knowing about life seems very much the target overall and what happens when it comes apart -- of how we live in a narrative and how it can be discombobulated.

As a quirky aside in January I rewatched David Lynch's The Straight Story which has a lovely interlude on two arguing brothers (within its larger brother story). And between binge one on the anagrams and binge two I got a poem which begins:

sometimes i feel i've the depth of a screen
and the best it gets is a script with depth
or an actor who's learnt what background means
something i wonder if i've done myself

and now I wonder if i'm getting background better as i'm more careful about my red surrounding interpretations, though some of it has meant being lost. But it may also be part of this that is narcissistic and morose to claim to know too much of that, we're all in it somehow. I think again of learning that classical phrase in Kingsley - 'alone to alone'.

Mar 21, 1:03pm Top

>43 tonikat: I generally hold off on commenting on books here when I'm only partway through reading them. It's not so much that I'm afraid my opinion will change, but more that I want to hold my fire in fear of repeating myself when I'm ready to offer a full review upon completion. As my Uncle Harry used to say, "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times. Don't be redundant!"

Edited: Mar 21, 1:18pm Top

i often write now with a lot of redundancy to prose i have to edit out. But its not redundancy of content I'm worried about - its missing what is not, like the neatly ended end of process may missing the switchbacking process of the reading - and yes I may be thinking of Cain (above) even as I've not clarified my thinking of it yet to say anything. It's a very stimulating book.

>53 rocketjk: and :) to your Uncle's joke.

Edited: Mar 24, 8:39am Top

"Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at the red fire and listened to the wind "wutherin'." It seemed to be "wutherin'" louder than ever. At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one."

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden with Biographical Introduction (p. 46). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

Edited: Mar 26, 6:45am Top

(not my cover but one i remember, mine is much plainer)

The Secret Garden By Frances Hodgson Burnett

A children's book I'm sure I didn't read as a child, though maybe I am wrong. I remember a tv series I felt I did not see, but in both cases I have to say some parts of the story were familiar.

It's a lovely story of course, most moving. Touching tale of social isolation in a way, of grief and the force of life.

I did find some of the early language about India very dated, and about Indians. Though overall with people its heart in a good place.

Reasons I might not have read it are gender based. I remember girls in my primary class loving it, together and not being part of that.

I'm glad to say I've spoken with robins a few times, but would have tried more consistently if I'd known the story better, but again what I have done may be because i did - and its open to us all to know.

I did feel we began with Martha and ended with another focus - and many a woman may sigh at that, and maybe not even feel too bad abut it, or maybe many have in some way. But Martha clearly is an enzyme and is changed. I might also look at it all as an ecological or holy process perhaps, and any shift in subject to show a bigger picture and at the end it has that wonderful momentum.

But really it's lovely, and just what I've needed for forty odd years.

Edited: Mar 26, 6:40am Top

In other 'as i go' news I restarted my emily Dickinson quest, this time not with Johnson, nor Franklin even but with Emily Dickinson's poems as she preserved them and got to ten fasicles in before the spell over that reading was broken. I was but 300 poems into Franklin I think, if I remember right. She's such delight, and a lesson. I half wonder what impact it would have on a body to be so good and not to be really understood, where would the adrenalin go, it's no wonder that Higginson got her in full on connection mode - to others it may look strange I guess. Especially someone not acquainted with how such things happen.

I'm also reading Rumi selected poems translated by Coleman Barks - I have read dismissals of Barks and some english versions as new agey. But this book seems to pay attention to the wisdom of sufism and presents in interesting chapters following a path. One chapter I found long and hard on controlling desire, since then easier, but the present chapter on rough metaphors, and apparently a focus on intimate processes i may find challenging, but maybe not. I thought of Dostoyevksy -- for some reason as I imagine him able to give us stream of consciousness with a morning pee and epiphany -- but then I know Joyce covered such. But it is a lovely thought at the end of the preceding chapter to find joy in disappointments - plenty for us to engage with (even in not). But Rumi's so lovely. I have lot's else lined up as no doubt I'll always be thinking on this dismissal of some translation - there are those I guess that might not want such wisdom known.
I think on process a lot - after counselling MA, as a poet, mental health wise too - I often think the best understanding is the best narrative, complete but properly balanced and its interesting to me that Rumi in being free, and finding freedom in loss, should be interested in such rough metaphors. I thought of Rimbaud's later experiments with being, though maybe without as theological cushion as Rumi (maybe?), and though part of the point seems to be that any claims of cushions are illusory, and there is no sign of one by Rumi. Rimbaud's father translated the Qu'ran I think. And do I remember did Rimbaud too in his silence?
But time spent with Rumi may well have been so very good. Time spent with his writing certainly is.

There's more -- but I'll stop - though Luke Kennard in one of those interviews speaks of a calculus (not that he plays it) of autobiographical writing in that whose confidence's do you betray. I guess at least you get to choose if you're writing and not being outed or betrayed yourself. But it is hard to know where you can process such things - journals may be read, secrets spoken (even in honest innocence) -- Rumi was close to his good friend Shams who may have ignited such jealousy he was got rid of. But it is important, as it seems linked to being free, but must always be done carefully (even Rimbaud rejected it?? - but in a way how can you be genteel with it, smashing some false gentility) -- also it's not for gain from it, except to be free, it must retain the care of others, for me anyway. remarks otherwise may be misunderstood and abused. and must be clear on context and non judgement as judgements weighed. Generous, as often is the case for his protagonists in the end. Generous to mistakes and ill will. Generous as connected to joy, love, all those moments of process.

I just mean that done right, and when not stolen from you, it can be framed best, as what it is, being human, beings that can connect with the divine, that can do good though they may be mistaken in beig understood they may move on, do good.

Edited: Mar 25, 3:51pm Top

If you've seen my threads over the years you'll know I sometimes speak of focus and finding it. My demi grounded theory analysis of what strikes me most. My trying to follow my feeling of interest or love. It was on my mind again - I think I have noticed not reading Tolstoy and Nouwen every day. Their lack may have been very important. And I still want to follow the moment - last night I read the first chapter of Time's Arrow which I previously dissed, have had it years. But it does lose me force of process, focus.

But the other day I came upon some 'science' of learning that advocates interleaving your learning to really embed it. wow.

It is an art. But I do need to focus - may try to put something in daily, maybe to finish à Kempis. Something sacred. Shunryu Suzuki had this sort of affect for me too. I've not been wholly without it, bu a practise may be the thing. I just read this, wow, great photo and nice article - fits with that idea above of joy in disappointment. Makes me wonder if others have reading as a kind of ritual, or wha else - breath of fresh air in the garden?


Of course many spiritualities advocate focus - but they often interleave not just book learning but other activities.

Mar 25, 7:59pm Top

in these last few posts and the reading round them, I began book 4 of à Kempis (which is before book 3, I think I have heard why) which opens with words from Christ on suffering and helping it with his own.

and it struck me -- this is what the Rumi was talking on in joy in disappointment and presence in all things

and it is some of the article above about impermanence and loss and suffering

and suddenly this evening my reading and much felt focused, and grateful

it's not direct equation, i don't mean that bu i think growing together - and maybe aspects of Time's arrow come in, which seems to have a sort of soul dialogue, or a reverse soul dialogue.

Mar 25, 9:08pm Top

>58 tonikat: >59 tonikat: Wait, Kat, which Time's Arrow? It doesn't sound like the one by Martin Amis--or is it? He was an awesome writer, it is true.

Mar 25, 10:47pm Top

BTW, for the last several reviews I haven't seen the covers - the last one I saw was >27 tonikat:. That one is an LT URL; the others I've checked have been Amazon URLs and show me a broken image (empty box).

Edited: Mar 26, 6:47am Top

>60 sallypursell: hi Sally, it is Amis -- I once idiotically dissed the whole book having failed to click with it, the concept. I'm still wary, but I'm getting more from it than I ever expected. It is like his reverse soul speaking, it makes me think of his shadow as Jung may have it, kind of there before, or a negative, or maybe in fact a positive or ground/figure thing toward wholeness --i don't know, and still not much more in so will be quiet and find out. It may be otherwise.

>61 jjmcgaffey: - thanks for saying, these are the addresses LT images on the books gave me - they've been comign and going for me too, will search LT for other addresses again.
(updated most covers, where not it's as there isn't a LT image, may add myself when i get a chance - I have often used amazon images in the pst was it always a problem?)

apologies for more typos than usual my apple keyboard is a problem, have to past ee's in and other keys not always working, have to edit a lot. battery going too. but still prefer to type on it than a windows laptop.

Mar 27, 2:11am Top

I'm seeing the covers now - they're a little small, but present. Thanks!

Yeah, I do a lot of adding covers, including getting them from Amazon (open Information on the Amazon cover, right-click and Copy Image Location, paste it into another tag, clean up everything between the base number and the .jpg, copy that and put it into the Grab field on LT's Change Cover page). They're small (500px high) but functional, if there's no other cover.

Mar 27, 9:51am Top

thanks - I just don't know why my amazon covers were not working, is it as they are from amazon uk?

Mar 27, 1:06pm Top

Amazon is picky about where it lets its images show, as I recall. That may be the problem.

Edited: Mar 31, 8:15am Top

a lovely lady here once turned me on to David Whyte - I am three collections and one book of prose and a bit in. This is the title poem from the next collection which I have ordered, how have I been so remiss? I hope you have fb to see this - https://www.facebook.com/PoetDavidWhyte/videos/1415152545321592/

also to be found here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMxg5rIZI0Q

Edited: Mar 27, 6:24pm Top

>65 jjmcgaffey: and thanks :)

Edited: Today, 10:28am Top

sad to add this https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30727-3/fulltext

no idea why that link does not show properly - the article is there entitled - COVID-19 and the NHS—“a national scandal”

days of yore - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/28/road-trips-yoga-and-lsd-with-the-d...

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/29/youve-bollixed-up-my-book-letter-r... - sometimes gotta love him, especially on critics and poses of all knowingness

https://www.insidehook.com/article/books/bookshop-independent-bookstores-amazon - no mention of the uk, or of LT for that matter

Apr 2, 4:33pm Top

April films ** Picard s.1 **

Group: Club Read 2020

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