kat's sea of song, 2020

TalkClub Read 2020

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kat's sea of song, 2020

Edited: Dec 28, 2020, 3:40pm

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, 2020, 7:20am

"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: Apr 28, 2020, 2:55am

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...

another - https://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/grieving-the-gods-spirituality-at-the-end...

Jan 6, 2020, 1:39pm

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, 2020, 3:35pm

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, 2020, 3:48pm

🙂 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, 2020, 4:07pm

hopefully heavenwards

Edited: Jan 7, 2020, 1:46pm

>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, 2020, 1:43pm

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

Jan 7, 2020, 1:48pm

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

Jan 16, 2020, 8:52am

>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, 2020, 11:58am

>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, 2020, 9:55am

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, 2020, 7:17pm

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, 2020, 5:56am

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, 2020, 2:08pm

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, 2020, 3:40pm

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

Jan 28, 2020, 12:45pm

he's well worth trying Dan.

Edited: Dec 27, 2020, 4:53pm

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. -- The Legend of the Suram Fortress (cinema) -- probably others, all but three (four?) re-viewings

Edited: Feb 8, 2020, 6:09am

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: Jul 4, 2020, 3:20pm

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, 2020, 3:22am

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

Edited: Mar 2, 2020, 9:55am

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, 2020, 6:01pm

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, 2020, 5:17pm

March films -- Letters from an Indian Clerk

Mar 4, 2020, 10:43pm

>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, 2020, 4:35am

>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, 2020, 3:42am

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, 2020, 6:36am

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, 2020, 10:43am

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

Mar 10, 2020, 11:54am

>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, 2020, 3:19pm

>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, 2020, 6:04pm


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

Edited: Mar 10, 2020, 6:25pm

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, 2020, 4:32pm

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

Mar 14, 2020, 6:47pm

>16 tonikat: Wow! This sounds great!

Edited: Mar 15, 2020, 7:13pm

>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, 2020, 4:26pm

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, 2020, 3:25pm

>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, 2020, 6:36pm

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, 2020, 6:38pm

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, 2020, 9:42pm

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, 2020, 8:00am

>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, 2020, 10:11pm

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, 2020, 10:36am

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, 2020, 3:50pm

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, 2020, 1:03pm

>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, 2020, 1:18pm

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, 2020, 8:39am

"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, 2020, 6:45am

(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, 2020, 6:40am

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, 2020, 3:51pm

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, 2020, 7:59pm

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, 2020, 9:08pm

>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, 2020, 10:47pm

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, 2020, 6:47am

>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, 2020, 2:11am

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, 2020, 9:51am

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

Mar 27, 2020, 1:06pm

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

Edited: Mar 31, 2020, 8:15am

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, 2020, 6:24pm

>65 jjmcgaffey: and thanks :)

Edited: Apr 25, 2020, 2:17pm

April films ** Picard s.1 ** The Professor and the madman **Jack Ryan s2 (how unbelievable was that and cf s1) ** The Report (another thing alogether)** Homecoming s.1 ** The Conversation ** Devs **

Edited: Apr 6, 2020, 7:16am

"I moved forward out of the blackest sleep, to find myself surrounded by doctors . . . American doctors: I sensed their vigour, scarcely held in check, like the profusion of their body hair, and the forbidding touch of their forbidding hands - doctor's hands, so strong, so clean, so aromatic."

- Martin Amis, Time's Arrow or the nature of the offence p11.

I mentioned above, or was it on another thread about this book whose theme is the reversal of time and following a life backwards (not really a spoiler that), I mentioned that it was about a dialogue with a soul, but really it's not that at all. It is a soliloquy of a soul maybe, the observations of a soul. Or it might just be the observations of the author somehow trapped inside for the ride to see what unhappens/happens.

A long time ago I derided the book when I didn't get into it (was not ready for it, not sure I am now as a matter of fact), that was daft of me. In this book things really do go backwards and Amis gives us that, plays with it, the opening half is longer as he plays - though he does not wholly go for graphic descriptions I think he has some fun. Reading the book has a curious impact, I caught myself thinking things through backwards a bit - I want to make the phrase, which he of course goes nowhere near, phenomenological teleology -- it's not used by him. This observer/soul experiences the whole reversal as going forwards and doesn't realise, or hides from themselves, the direction - it is hinted at a few times, but dare not think.

Our hero starts off as Tod Friendly ('what kind of name is that') - himself a doctor, or will become one, though maybe he does not deserve that name. Curiously his experience as a doctor is of course to harm people well in a sense. His name I wonder about in relation to where he is heading, isn't the german for dead todt?

I won't spoil the book, Tod has a curious past/future, in which he is close to death, which becomes an undeath. I'm not sure his soul whilst seeing things this way wholly sings of that. The first parts of the book are much longer - I wondered if Amis tired a bit of giving us details of events backwards - it is hard work in some way to follow and like I said it impacted how I was thinking a bit, maybe when sleepy if I'd been reading. But I also wonder if the move away is as we witness his soul's crisis that might have left it talking to itself/us/judgement(?) and after that there is not as much to say, just those occasions that maybe relate to the story.

I'm left a few days after finishing wondering about it - the first half surprisingly engaged with me when I had dissed it and had not enjoyed what I read previously. It does make me think of reading one of the books he names as an influence. It made me think about soul as well, which fits a lot of my other reading, and Jung -- I was thinking, not quite what I have written here which may be more accurate, of this as a sort of negative of his own soul, a move to completion and the reversal of wrongs and evils also such -- some of that I still like as I type, but I did suspect it is too generous and what I have written here of his disconnection with his soul is part, or maybe both things have something to them. But it was that I found stimulating, almost like Jung's shadow, and thoughts of how what we do may be far from it - this commenter enjoys one person's company especially yet for Tod that is hard to make happen, so true. So at times I got an idea of the story being the completion of what he was previously oblivious to, there is something I like about that, but I do think it is far too generous? But wonder, maybe I judge, which is a path hard to get off in the circumstances you learn of. Earlier in the book I liked the path of non judgement and completion more, it is unspeakable later. So he still has a soul, it may feel but it seems alone to itself. It's an interesting comment on souls, in some ways as removed from actions except in many ways I can't quite say here, from everything important perhaps.

I am not saying where things develop to, deliberately not to spoil, but reason for his soul to be broken/missing.

edit - the more i think about it the more i think the narrator has so much to say as Tod doesn't speak with him, quite frightening.

Edited: Apr 5, 2020, 6:47am

"I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that . . .

hear/watch the poet recite this beautiful poem here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMxg5rIZI0Q

David Whyte the house of belonging

I saw that recital published, another person's contribution to these self isolating times. This one he wrote without printing repetitions, though he repeats when he says it and I find this recitation very beautiful. There are others in the series including from this book.

It is a beautiful book - this title poem really is a gift. Overall of the others by him I have read I find it the most direct somehow and pared down. I read it in a sitting and now go back to it. It has a sense of healing and completions. I was very glad I read it after the above, and am glad Time's Arrow is sandwiched between it and The Secret Garden in my images, two beautiful, joyous, faithful books containing that (backwards and forwards).

Sometimes I do find his poems self conscious, but this is mostly just in the best way here. As I read it I noticed he was not writing in any repetitions. That self consciousness is part of what has made me wonder at times about poetry for him. But I have no doubt of it here, there was one poem that was wordier, but overall it is lovely and felt. I will save my pennies for more. Though I do have one of his prose works to get to, and this series of micropoems he posts -- ahh not in that series he is posting on facebook, but one of the poems he reads there and also in this volume, The Journey:


Edited: Apr 9, 2020, 3:16pm

The Gospel according to Matthew in The Bible RSV

I was thinking about this last night, how I get stuck (twice I think) in this Gospel in the KJV about half way through. Yet it is not long. It occurred to me I was brought up with the RSV, which is what was read in our church. So I thought, a bit like Jung on going back to your childhood faith, that it may work to go back to the RSV. And it has, though I also had a day to give it on and off. A good day at a good time, and whilst I am at it I may proceed now, as I have wanted to for a long time.

The KJV stops me a lot with language I recognise, but I think doesn't fit with all of my background, though we probably got KJV at school. It is quite a complex thing, I don't usually think of myself with such bias. It reminds me of reading Hamlet that also stops me with recognitions of language all the time and which I've never read all through, though have seen. Something about it, and Shakespeare and those times also makes me think of my background as being a bit different, though it's not been an issue for a long time, but can be. But gives me mixed messages, of not fitting in that is linked to language.

This was a more straightforward read and am very glad to have done so although I'm in a different place again now, but good to have recognised this constant and also these sensitivities.

Apr 12, 2020, 6:20am

>72 tonikat: ...and now listen to Bach and get Luther's text running around in your head as well!

Apr 12, 2020, 2:25pm

>73 thorold: - the version I bought of the Bach long ago was the one I could afford once, not the one I knew (and not well), and I've never entirely clicked with it, but, one day maybe. I don't know the Luther - maybe if I can make progress elsewhere in the NT.

Apr 15, 2020, 8:53am

you know i was thinking of the B minor mass, now - i - see ---- and yes i must

Edited: Apr 21, 2020, 2:06pm

Edited: Jul 4, 2020, 3:25pm

A selection of Rumi's poems as translated by Coleman Barks in this volume:


and an essay i once read on translation of Rumi, I'll reread before writing more:


Edited: Apr 30, 2020, 3:54pm

Rumi selected poems translated by Coleman Barks

I have read that New Yorker piece again now. Nearer its publication date it made me very wary and I remain so now. As I read this Barks version it has felt wonderful and opening as he hopes. However I did wonder at times, it was so modern and light and dancing. Before I took it on I did try book one of Mojadeddi's translation of the Masnavi which was wonderful but slower somehow.

Chapter 21 of Barks presents the stories that frame the Masnavi at beginning and end and I had of course now read that first story and could compare. I read Barks' version totally enjoyng it, feeling it clarified but I had a sense that I had struggled through more in the Mojadeddi version and on checking yes I had, and much that seemed more said in the tones of and in touch with ways of the past. I'm not saying there is a right and wrong, but I want to respect this about Rumi and will seek multiple versions and to learn more of the Koran and his context. It may partly be my History background, wanting in a way to know more of that context. It's also respect for this wonderful poet and man, who of course was quite able to call one of his books 'In it what's in it' which is quite zany and wonderful enough for any century. Mojaddedi seems to present some of how Rumi was part of an academic life. Liberation as Bly suggested to Barks is an interesting idea and is not wholly wrong, but why liberate wholly from the seedbed in his own culture (not that I am saying such is Barks' aim, it may be part of the effect of stepping into the space offered but coming from somewhere else, which brings this dynamic dancing work.

But I must learn more.

As to the book, it is quite wonderful and so is Rumi. And the organisation of this volume is too in offering a turn to heart and opening it. A great start for me as I go on with reading this Great. Immediacy, a dance of being. What would a walk around Konya have been like with this man bursting with love and poetry.

Love it, highly recommend it, but in awareness that there is part to him you may also need to seek elsewhere, and gain from by doing so.

edit - one of the things I like about Rumi most is his engagement with people in extremes and showing their error and / or also what they learn - in matters provocative not to say scandalous even now -- and I very much like his view of underlying commonality and love and joy, aware of how it is hidden from us, often by ourselves.

Apr 30, 2020, 3:36pm

http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/poems.htm - Jackie Morris' own site about her Barefoot book of classic poems

A beautiful book of classic poems selected by Jackie Morris and with her lovely illustrations. I am very glad to have read it as an adult, been introduced to many poems I did not know and wish it had been about when I was a child.

Edited: Jul 4, 2020, 3:29pm

"The truth is that while logic compels no belief passion does so quite easily . . . " p221

Fire Down Below by William Golding

The further adventures of Edmund Talbot towards Sydney Cove. The journey makes many turns and all the time he's turning in himself, sometimes quite beside himself. Many moments to remember, the middle by moonlight, ice, thoughts on a certain young lady, a strong friendship and that friend himself and his care of the world - and the ways of go getters. It ends very satisfactorily, honestly in a way and with hope that rotten things may change.

Apr 30, 2020, 3:48pm

All this time to read but little done. I did re-read the last section of The Manticore and have restarted World of Wonders to try and clear up that business begun six years ago. At times I find his style noticeable, but it's also a powerful story at the end of The Manticore that I remembered readingn but had forgotten.

May 2, 2020, 6:37pm

All this time, and I knew nothing of Robertson Davies! Thank you for the introduction, Kat.

May 3, 2020, 7:14am

Hi Sally, very pleased to do so. Sometimes his wording annoys what I have learned since, but that may be his protagonists, sometimes makes things neat, but overall its strong and good I think. I'm back to where I'd gotten to and will go on next.

May 3, 2020, 9:48am

"DEAR FRIEND, being the Beloved is the origin and the fulfilment of the life of the Spirit. I say this because, as soon as we catch a glimpse of this truth, we are put on a journey in search of the fullness of that truth and we will not rest until we can rest in that truth. From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. Augustine’s words: ‘My soul is restless until it rests in you, O God,’ capture well this journey. I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always struggling to discover the fullness of Love, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love and of Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found. . . "

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Life of the Beloved . John Murray Press. Kindle Edition.

May 3, 2020, 10:08am

Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

I first heard of Henri Nouwen on a grief counselling course - his book The Wounded Healer is a standard. But that was a very hard course and I was completing my MA at the same time. I enjoyed his book, but it was a stretch for me. I may get him better now and will try it. But sometime in 2018 I came across more of his work and The Way of the Heart was a right book at a right time for me. Last year I read You are the beloved which is a day by day series of short quotes from his work and helped me very much last year. So I am hoping to read his other works.

This is a very beautiful book, to my mind. Written for secular friend of another faith to try to share the joy of life he knew as a christian monk, to share that knowledge, faith, hope and love and make it relevant to his friend and others. We learn his success was limited, but to me this is a wholly successful book, when I have the ears to hear it.

He argues we are all beloved of God, and asks us to consider this. I do wonder if any limitation on his success is in finding ways to help people get that sense. Those I think his way of being and writing may suggest it, I get a sense of going beautifully slowly and carefully with his heart and what he does -- and himself sharing that he gets that wrong yet how he learns and is open to learning that. Maybe it is whether people link such senses to apprehension of God, maybe it is many other things.

However he goes on to write of how each of us is taken (or s he may prefer chosen) and what feeling this may mean for how we feel -- and then how each of us may be blessed. I find his words on that very moving and make sense to me in my few interactions with people with disabilities such as those he came to live amongst and learn from. He then goes o to discuss how we are all also broken -- and how we may heal in acceptance of our pain and conceptualisation of it within our overall chosenness and blessedness, a glass half full or half empty difference. He then speaks of how we may all be given, or give, both in life and movingly in death - how possible this is in dynamic with being taken/chosen, blessed and broken. How this is a path of the spirit towards a fullness and openness, tending to remove blocks to that.

The whole book is tender and loving and moving, to me. I also wonder how the way it may not have done what he set out to may also change, it may not, but maybe. I don't know and it's not for me.

A very beautiful book I'd heartily recommend. Another right one at the right time, and quite short (for me and my putting down-ness)

Edited: May 3, 2020, 4:03pm

Today's one of those days of sense and perspective. I've learned a lot and now need to move Swedenborg and Goethe up in reading, me the well read woefully unread, or maybe just or as well, untrained -- and what training would let me loose on apprehension, maybe my own has, and me. But certainly short of having read much I'd have liked to in youth and may have helped. But, back to the clarity - in all my many-books-at-a-time letting go of more than actually reading, it occurred to me today a simple (but new for me) tactic, or is it an old one reborn, well, I thought, drum roll, I might try to read like this for a while:

1 novel
1 poetry
1 bio/auto bio
1 non fiction

and but be disciplined about it, maybe like constructing my own little course, that will of course take a bit more thought, but I thought I may try it for 3 months, and for it pre-select possible reading. It is one of those days though, of course, and I have had a good meal and half a bottle of wine, but maybe a way to stay in touch with this feeling, and my aims, a little discipline like this may be good and focused.

Very quickly and not finally I got this list, what I'll do is challenge myself to complete a work and then consider focusing for rest of month on author, or for a time (but not if they are not kicking it for me right now). Letting poetry have leeway. It's like a lit MA of my own, tracing my own path, but will work on that path, see how it goes, will always be working on it - also need to allow myself earned treats off path.


Milton, Paradise Lost

Shakespeare - poems

Dante - Inferno . . . and on

Homer - Iliad





D. Thomas
Heaney, Burnside & others I have on shelf

Novels & plays

Goethe - sorrows of young w

Shakespeare - any play

Robertson Davies - complete Deptford



Muriel Spark


Tristram Shandy

Bios / auto

Rilke - a ringing glass

Yeats - autobiographies

Goethe - autob

Dickinson - lives like loaded guns
Keats - the living year
George Herbert, music at midnight

non fiction

Heidegger Iamblichus Plato

need to balance with more women

May 3, 2020, 4:40pm

so - current focus

poet of month - Dickinson
novel - Robertson Davies, world of wonders
bio - lives like loaded guns
non fiction - on the pythagorean life, Iamblichus

all already on the to be completed pile I was tryign to focus on

Edited: May 7, 2020, 4:24pm

I've been reading Emily Dickinson, fasicles 9, 10, 11, 12 in emily dickinson's poems as she preserved them and I had a thought that I've had before and relates to another piece of reading earlier this year - the epigraph for van Gogh's ear comes from Love's Labours Lost and got my attention to read the whole quote, Act 1 scene1 Berowne speaking (the speech on vain delights). I read it as I never had (I've seen it) and put it on the arm of my chair and tapped my collected works and said 'you beautiful person' (Shakespeare), and that (again) is my reaction to emily Dickinson in this reading. I'd need to think if it is what I think of all writers I like, and maybe distance from it is a self reflexive question of my own distance from beauty. These pieces, for all her slant are more direct than some writing - but if i understand what they are doing can i think other authors the same? There are writers known for not being so, but are they in refuge so in their writing? It makes me wonder if others have this sort of reaction to authors, who makes them think it (or the reverse) or do we get passed such judgements, is it illusion?

is all my reading about love of the writing and some appreciation then of the author as loveable? is it why I write?

Just writing of this, remembering it, warms my heart and thinking of my recent reading.

I suppose I've been thinking similarly of Rumi and Heaney, Kingsley too -- am I just becoming clearer in love? (reading-wise anyway). (Writing wise too.)

Edited: May 30, 2020, 7:40am

May films ~~ Kingdom of Heaven (director's cut) ~~ Mr. Robot s.1 ~~ Mr. Robot s.2 ~~

May 30, 2020, 7:39am

The questions for the avid reader page has made me think back - great to recall all that (though not entirely) - but good to think of things I forgot I'd read. It's made me think of my personal reading whose time I was protecting and went wrong. I wish I had read poetry (maybe had a message 'twas for 'sissies', which meant not giving anyone any reason to think that) and also now wish I'd read Dickens (persistently put off this by some in my life as old fashioned) -- so it was safe to read science fiction, so annoying now, read anthologies of it, Asimov up to age 16, but found I robot too dry. Reading trailed off I think at 14, 15, 16 - lots of school work, lots to do myself outside, lots of music to listen to, all the usual. Prior to that I did go to library more - encouraged to read - think I read complete Sherlock Holmes, but then remember hearing it for spending too much time in and not getting out (a kids life). Also Tolkien, but gave up on LOTR, won't explain again - did Legolas die, that may have been start of putting me off, when the group split - I both loved and found twee the ents. Other Tolkien too in that phase.

I'm writing this to try to remember. When ill once or twice I read a lot of Le Carre - Tinker Tailor was on tv i think or Smiley's people, it was in the air. I liked Call for the dead his and my first best, also Tinker Tailor, Small Town in Germany too I think and the spy who came in from the cold -- though still wonder if I got that one, why it was necessary to say cold, when surely all of them were out in it, oh and looking glass war. Also read Len Deighton and Alistair McLean. And bleeding James bloody Bond, whom i know far too much about, even some of the film novelisations and was confused why scripts departed from books so much. The 39 steps too, but don't think i liked other Buchan.

At one point I realised about 11 or 12 I'd not read Narnia and read the first three I think, but again decided to grow up. Also read Watership Down and The Plague Dogs and loved them, but could not make sense of Shardik. I read about half of Shogun but got fed up with it, arigato v. much. I loved Capricorn one. Read some other sf and film related stuff.

I think my reading was really constrained by what some others thought of it and what was appropriate, and I was lost in it and myself hiding sensitivity, often falsely as feminine or seeming so and it makes me sad now to have missed what could really have helped me develop -- and mystified a bit at a bit of a cultural desert here at times, though it didn't feel like it, i can see impact of not learning sort of things i'd have really gained from. When doing sciences 16-18 I don't remember reading much, did read my first Woodehouse. Did read all of Dune and other Herbert. After A level exams the first thing I did, knowing I was about to do badly, was go to library the next Saturday morning -- it opened my reading up a bit, though some classics i left thinking without the teaching I'd misconstrue / not get (i did find some old fashioned style slow and there was the social/teen view of it as dull, which is not me really)-- and also fell into the maleness trap again after reading and liking Hemingway, was still stuck in what I could show interest in. The balance to that did come from film and music which did not have quite the same barriers in my mind.

Just wrote this for myself to try and understand and also as i think there is stuff I don't remember at all and didn't really speak to others about. i did read bits of lots of my Dad's books, History, bios and some novels (source of Le Carre). The thing about just reading the school books at school and having my own interest, not sure where it came from, maybe family a bit, but also a girl at primary school who was a phenomenal reader and always seemed ahead of me definitely gave me that idea. She went far too fast, I also went far too fast at lots anyway, I got pulled on by her, doubt she'd say that of me. There was a big sense in the times that lots of th standards were old fashioned - remember being encouraged to new things, computers, science, which is not my main love. mistakes.

Edited: Jun 2, 2020, 12:14pm

>92 tonikat: All sounds very similar to what I was exposed to :-)

I'd have to scrub most of the science-fiction and add Greene, Waugh, Forster and some of the 50s/60s working-class writers (Stan Barstow and the rest), prominent on my parents' shelves. And German books, which I was seeking out by the time I was in my mid to late teens. Lenz, Grass, Böll, Andersch, and so on. And I started on Wodehouse ridiculously early, when I was still at primary school. Managed to stay away from Bond, but I had practically a complete set of Biggles when I was too young to know any better.

I was struck by what you said in the other thread about regretting that you did sciences at "A" level — it's something I've often wondered about too. Left to myself I'd probably have done either modern languages or classics, instead of following the good advice to do physics, but I suspect that I wouldn't have enjoyed studying literature in my teens anything like as much as I did coming back to it in my thirties. And I ended up in a job where I could use both sides, more by luck than planning.

Just noticed the other day that Max Frisch started out studying German, didn't like it, went back to qualify to study architecture and made that his career instead, and did well at it. Except that he then started writing novels and plays in his spare time... There are lots of ways to get to where you are going, and there's probably a lot of luck involved for most of us.

Jun 2, 2020, 2:57pm

>93 thorold: yes its very true there are many paths - in some ways it helps not to have fitted myself into orthodoxy on lit. I also may have driven myself away from lit. But the science option for me was not a happy one, not right at all, was very unsuccessful and kind of stopped me thriving for a bit.

I think you've challenged yourself in teens more than i did. goodness knows why I didn't just cast off into all sorts. even now though - and i see my sir andrew ague cheek tendency haunting me, 'I should have done the arts'.

'done' says it all -- but i do art a bit now.

I often think we're a bit plagued by media with so many experts -- I'm not against them at all, but we don't get to see as much of their own gaps and misunderstandings, the ways they are incomplete (just as with CVs) -- i think that's one reason for the anti-expert thing socially, as we're not doing them/us the justice of a bigger picture -- but then just yesterday i was thinking of writing something on process and hesitated, due to vulnerability exposed.

It did occur to me that I may revisit more of these books from the past - one or two to finish. I also remembered I think it was Boromir that snuffed it not Legolas.

Yes, luck -- and staying true to the muse, then the honour of her company.

I can fear writing creative prose, I do wonder if more knowingness about it would help, but it may have killed it.

Edited: Jun 5, 2020, 12:46pm

I completed reading the forty fasicles, or pamphlets Emily Dickinson sewed her poetry into up to about 1865. That's about 800 poems I think, maybe a bit more. There are more besides though - loose sheets of poems, individual poems, those others had an also those she didn't retain. So, a lot more reading to go. I've read more of My emily Dickinson as I've gone but mostly avoided further writing on her so far, I have a bit to do. I'm supposed to write something on her and want to have read thoroughly before doing so.

I was feeling a bit full of her for a day or two and did not relish this task - but I think I've digested a bit more. Such a lovely poet. I'm smitten.

The avid reader thread had me remember enjoying those few D. H. Lawrence short stories read in class so I bought the selected short stories. I'm not sure we would have read The Prussian Officer due to its themes, but then also wonder if we read a part and never finished it due to the end of term. I do think we read the Rocking Horse Winner and some others, I remember one about living in a cottage, maybe one about a miner and the title 'the man who loved islands' seems familiar. I'm amazed I've not come back to them before as I so enjoyed reading them - though explaining I was reading DH Lawrence at home may initially have been a thing. England, my England may sound familiar too. But as I read them maybe my memory will come back a bit more. I've read The Prussian Officer now and bits do seem familiar. But I don't want to divert my Emily D binge too much with others.

Edited: Jun 17, 2020, 3:26pm

Maybe I say too much on avid reader threads and especially over my confusion as to how i haven't read more of what I wish I had - I'll shut up a bit and just do it. There is something about expectation to have read these things and how that is used, maybe. But, yes, just read kat, just read (and write). it's no joke.

Edited: Jun 13, 2020, 2:31pm

The Gospel according to Mark in The Bible, RSV

"But he who endures to the end will be saved"

Very glad to have read this all today.

Last night I realise I read an interview with Bob Dylan in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/arts/music/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways.htm...) which mentioned the Gospels. It wasn't why I read this at all, but comes to mind as he spoke of how they are good news in these times of so much bad news. I must read some commentary on this. it is interesting in comparison to Matthew, it does not have quite the same approach to language and understanding that comes from that, it is not without it, but to me, today did not come through in quite the same way to me today, not wholly absent either, but a sense of showing the process was slightly different.

Why I read it - I sat down to read and followed my heart's interest.

Edited: Jun 21, 2020, 5:32pm

June films ~~ Mr Robot s. 3 ~~ The Colour of Pomegranates ~~ Mr Robot s. 4 (how beautiful)

Edited: Jun 18, 2020, 2:59pm

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/gold-by-gerad-de-nerval-ned-denny-andrew-mccu... - a very loose translation, i think, interesting poem of its own

Jun 20, 2020, 10:51am

i think i shall move my thread to a private group, its never generated much chat, and sadly lost some of those that did, my fault, but maybe that whole story is far worse than those that see the too funny in stuff and poke, so long - anyone genuine is welcome to say hi

Jun 20, 2020, 5:26pm

AW! don't go

Jun 20, 2020, 6:04pm

>101 baswood: thx, let me think

Jun 20, 2020, 11:54pm

>100 tonikat:

Some of us just lurk and enjoy the thread - we have very different reading styles so I rarely (if ever) post in your threads (partially because I don't have anything to add, partially because things are above my head occasionally) but I enjoy your posts. Will try to remember to post occasionally :)

Jun 21, 2020, 7:55am

>103 AnnieMod: - thanks Annie, it's not really that though. Maybe even it is unrelated life, or seemingly so, and lots of hostile actors in the world.

Edited: Jun 23, 2020, 3:20pm

concerning my post on avid readers and the 'humiliation' game:

"We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations. People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did. Just as we need to stand library logic on its head, we will work on standing knowledge itself on its head."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb'


Jun 23, 2020, 6:11am

I did make a start on World of Wonders, the third of the Deptford trilogy - I came to a halt again - the magician's account of his childhood abuse is shocking, and maybe also in his tone too -- and it's fine for him to have whatever tone he likes on this, but somehow alongside his supposedly Jungian partner in crime and all her wholeness, something about it just rankles with me -- maybe it will come together if i read on, but this is the second time I've not felt inclined to and have let it lapse. Of course there is also being engaged in other reading. I will read on, I hope, and see what the wholeness gives. Maybe its not just him but the swedish director chap that also feels just too much, but then, maybe that's it.

Jul 9, 2020, 6:46pm

So what if we chat? I'm leaving my calling-card to tell you that I am one of the lurkers.

Jul 11, 2020, 6:39am

thanks Sally :)

Jul 11, 2020, 8:14am

I'm reading your thread, Kat! I don't have much to offer, but I enjoy it.

Jul 11, 2020, 9:34am


Edited: Jul 30, 2020, 7:29am

July ~~ Homecoming s2 ~~ Mad to be Normal ~~ Homecoming s1~~ The Way ~~ A Month in the Country ~~The Post ~~ Sicario ~~ The Post

Edited: Aug 11, 2020, 4:58am


"When she died, she was working on a survey of literature she considered calling “Reading at Random”; the plan was to “range at will” through literary history, with no fealty to anyone’s value system but her own. As she worked, she delighted in the process, writing to Ethel Smyth “I am almost – what d’you call a voracious cheese mite which has gnawed its way into a vast Stilton and is intoxicated with eating”. When she died, she was still in search of a form, relentlessly seeking an “internal order”, how to lead from one chapter to the next, what the boundaries of the book would be, where the emphasis would fall. It is some consolation to me, as I struggle to structure my book, that even Virginia Woolf had trouble with her transitions."


- Not the final paragraph, but as to that final paragraph I can only agree, and as here too think it true not just of writing but of becoming ourselves as a reader.


"In 1835, he wrote in his journal, “I still accept an imperative of knowledge, through which men may be influenced, but then it must come alive in me, and this is what I now recognize as the most important of all. This is what my soul thirsts for as the African deserts thirst for water. This is what I need to live, a completely human life and not merely one of knowledge”. "






i sometimes found this very one dimensional, literalist maybe, for example its interpretations of space toward the end, but maybe there is something to that and K only dabbling in some things, but then he might say that, some do.


so i can find this



and another








Edited: Aug 22, 2020, 5:49pm

August ** Official Secret ** Mad Max: Fury Road ** Arrival ** Official Secret ** The Pelican Brief ** Knives Out ** L. A. Confidential ** A Dangerous Method "" Trumbo ** Face to Face: Carl Jung ** The Beatles, The Rooftop Concert

Edited: Sep 1, 2020, 12:00pm



" Eliot is dead right. For all his failings and prejudices he was right about a lot of things. I do think there are such things as facts that have an objective reality apart from our consciousness of them but that we are most likely to experience them through our consciousness. The haunting of memory is real but that is all it is: a haunting. Memories haunt us precisely because we know there is something actually there that we are unlikely to know.

We are our own ghosts. . . . "



"Heaney altered the weight of the play to place great emphasis on Neoptolemus, the go-between figure, an honourable, decent man, so the play is in many ways about negotiation,” Foster said. The former senator has quoted it at least five times before, including at the tail end of his nomination campaign, when he again turned to Heaney’s “longed-for tidal wave of justice”.

Biden was deliberately using it as a reconciliatory metaphor, Foster said, adding: “America is an immensely divided society at the moment. So for him to use it as what – for some Americans – will be an arcane poetic tag is an interesting, highly literate and culturally ambitious approach. It was unexpected from him.”



"I was intrigued by your assertion that there is a “bias against depth”?
The dominant associations of underland are negative. This “depth-bias” also expresses itself in language: a “catastrophe” is literally a downwards turn, “depression” is sunken ground and sunken spirits; one “stares into the abyss”. But what came to interest me was the shadow-narrative – the ways in which the underland is also a realm of wonder, revelation, protection."



"Her work now, as then, is a provocation, where goodness is real, and love is seeing aright."







Edited: Aug 24, 2020, 8:29am

‘It’s OK, just put your mind to it. You can do it,’ said George. ‘Just throw yer head back and let ’er rip!’

Brown, Craig. One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time: : The Laugh Out Loud True Story of the World’s Most Popular Band (p. 208). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

George Harrison encouraging Ringo Starr through a vocal recording.

Edited: Sep 3, 2020, 5:13am

one, two, three, four : the beatles in time by Craig Brown

I really enjoyed this.

I've never been much of one to read about music - not an NME or Rolling Stone reader as a kid. I do read Rolling Stone sometimes now.

I was born in the late 60s and remember them splitting up. They were my real way into pop and rock, catching up later, mainly interested in their mid and late career. This takes an interesting approach sometimes looking at the impact of others swept along on their wave. Occasionally I found it a bit journalistic and judgemental, especially of John and also Yoko.

But overall it showed me a lot - reminded me of the intensity of Beatlemania -- reminded me in the USA that that came after the assassination of JFK and gave a healing aspect to their popularity, some say. It gave me a bit of hope at a time I read about things changing to their opposites that human nature can't be contained as some like to.

It's also good at recognising the friendship between these people and how that held them within such a whirlwind. The quote above typical of that.

It's led to quite a bit of re-listening to albums and seeking out solo albums and also interviews that are available online and I am very glad to be doing so. It showed me lots I just didn't know having not been around then, made sense of a lot, made me yearn for more of their tone amidst all our rubbish (not talking music there), think how much we lost with John and also George and appreciate just how excellent they were together as well as are alone.

Not my usual, but very good - and interesting too on creativity.

3/9/20 - I've got a feeling there is a different ration of rubbish talked int eh average Beatle interview, somehow less than in so many others. And today I enjoyed this much better and more thorough review, I do agree about the drop in standard as the book goes on, some of that for me is that focus on John & Yoko -- but yes it is an interesting method, I don't know if I can hack reading of Princess M, I did wonder if he was inspired at all by the book on the hours of Emily Dickinson, but I've nto read that at all to know if its content and aproach is similar, it's just a bit of how i imagine it.


Aug 24, 2020, 7:11am

"Any step taken is likely to be a mistake, so take it with style to distract from the probable shit."

Berger, John. Confabulations (p. 35). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

from a list recognising the attributes of a very famous film star

Edited: Aug 25, 2020, 5:02pm

Confabulations by John Berger

I have a friend who when we studied counselling together fell in love with ways of seeing and leant me his copy for months, years maybe, and it just did not click. But then I have dim memories of having seen the program as a child. I've never managed to get far with the book, kind of feel its not telling me something I don't kind of know and am not sure I want to be told maybe, but then I've only read a bit. I found the tone a bit painful. But I have enjoyed watching Berger over the years very much, for the change of pace he usually brought and change of focus.

I have an arts degree, but probably the wrong one, as in not with the focus of everything that really interested me. In my difference I didn't wholly click with the cool people at uni. (mostly so shy I didn't even try). On leaving I drifted and became ill. A curious mixture of clarity and confusion. I read a bit and tried to fill in a gap I wasn't wholy aware of, watched film. Training as a counsellor validated a lot, not least a lots of the arts background that in the world I was in just got overlooked and not engaged with - or that I wasn't able to engage others with as I'd have liked. Around then I must have started to pick Berger books up in bookshops, I remember a poetry book once, or was it translations or a foreword, I don't know, I remember the shop and warming to him and meaning to come back but I didn't, not to that. I bought a novel I haven't read. The Ways of Seeing experience put me off. Some of his tone I associate with my friend, an insistent gentle knowing (my friend is very bright) that can almost annoy me a bit sometimes if I don't connect with it. And whilst I felt his warmth I suppose my own openness to it can come and go, allowing it, finding it - and was very impacted by more ill health and mistreatment, and the further confusions. There is a way in which in many of these things my own response to these confusions can be to feel such contact with books and others is not me, not always possible for me, that I am not cool enough maybe, a fake in some ways, I touch not being so but then retreat into seeming inauthentic, in my eyes and sometimes those of others (haters, nonhaters in their own confusions), I've always been bad at making social contact in some ways.

Recently confusions have had consequences. On the other hand I've taken many steps for a while with gender, which really help. When clear, or much of the time, I also connect -- someone said to me the other day that when I speak it comes over as authentic -- and yes I had said something important to me the other day -- I thanked them (they've only heard me a couple of times) -- and even going back a way that side could always be with me -- i should have said to them that no one can be in such a space all the time, that I most definitely am not -- yet I am also nearer to such a space, and open to wandering within my spaces (and aware of how that can be taken away medicinally for example, to make me rigid and dull to myself).

So last night I bought a copy of this going cheap -- based on that/those warm bookshop experiences and very much enjoyed this. I hadn't meant to but maybe this entry apes his tone a little, honest and open, sharing process, confabulatory -- so much that is important in his book and behind it but not trying to be a product, confident it is somehow whilst it is just what it is and in that not soiled as a manufacture (more true of him). Maybe its come at a time I start to feel change, some of it painfully enforced. He has an interesting line about Chaplin, about how loss was his prologue.

This is a lovely collection of essays confabulating with people and things he loves/d and with ourselves, maybe that is what I ape a bit.

Coincidentally, yesterday I was thinking of how I tend to speak of loving things, music, film, books (people too, less easy to speak of) - even in a review I wrote this\ year. And how some seem to be brought up by the word love, I feel they look at it with a bit of amusement, sense they feel it naieve and unclear (unrigorous -- not wholly educated maybe). I can see it may hang over from childhood. But also think it keys into my counselling and that world view -- or maybe the very deepest wisdom. It occurred to me that as soon as we preclude it (in anything) then we are making love conditional, taking a first step to not loving and congratulating ourselves for it at the same time. There may be gradations or just uniquenesses in my love and what is loved, but being open to it really can be a first step to love, I hope -- not that I have wholly found it, or claim to. But I defend that possibility against cynicism and knowers and critics. So it is interesting on the day I wrote that I started to read this and sped through it last night and this morning and loved it and felt much more in tune with it in my life than often, not just in moments of connection but more in where I have moved to or am, and aiming for again. A grain for this raindrop amongst some other rain. Maybe I will find that poetry again now, or try that novel, or even get beyond the first chapters of Ways of Seeing, or maybe I don't have to. Maybe I will make more friends, write a little and draw a bit, communicate a bit, accept.

Sep 3, 2020, 5:24am

"Like all good poets he could not just sit down in front of a blank piece of paper with a blank mind. His poems formed in his head and were committed to paper when they were ready."

Green, Laurence. All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: A Biography of Charles Causley (p. 161). The Cornovia Press. Kindle Edition.

Edited: Sep 3, 2020, 7:09am

All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: a biography of Charles Causley by Laurence Green Kindle ed.

In a way I've been quite unknowing of Causley as an adult and since I was writing poetry. Reading this reminded me I must have had some awareness when a child and younger person -- I was familiar with some of his story and also some of the poetry I have looked at so far, but somehow had not filed him away thoroughly in my mind.

A friend and fellow writer suggested him to me in recent years and when I said I didn't know of him filled me in on what a big deal he is and also on the writer's residencies now offered through his Trust. I still don't really know his poetry, though as I say I recognised what I have read and listened to so far - and his voice, which I hear and hear someone I tend to trust. I liked his comments on what I have listened to on The Poetry Archive.

I read this due to my friend. Also as Amazon kept showing it to me. Also due to that title, from one of his lines of course. And due to curiosity. I don't know Cornwall well coming from the other end of the country, but I liked it (does anyone not) and maybe respond a bit to that far flungness from London, being on the fringe.

I enjoyed reading this -- it seems thorough and well researched. It seems very committed to local loyalties that were so important to Causley. In some ways it felt a parochial read not just in content but also tone. It does make interesting points. Sometimes it makes them in a way I wouldn't, but somehow I did not sniff at it but accepted it, somehow part of its charm and true to such a human man -- which really does make me wonder what gets removed from so much high flown writing. Here is an example:

"It was inevitable that as Causley grew old his thoughts turned to the survival of the soul. Having the example and friendship of devout Christians past and present must have helped to answer some of the important questions that preoccupied him."

Green, Laurence. All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: A Biography of Charles Causley (p. 224). The Cornovia Press. Kindle Edition.

I can't and would not argue, but want to know more. Stylistically I'd also like to know more, how was it "inevitable" and where does the "must" come from -- it's conversational of course and I can see it in many ways, I just want it shown to me more. And what about exactly what those questions were. Some answers may come as I read the poetry.

But overall I quite happily steamed through the book, despite such and at the start of one chapter wondering if he had the right date -- but it has told me lots. It is gentle and knowing, especially appreciative from a local angle, and like I say it seems quite thorough. Though it does mention him being a prolific broadcaster that side is not explored and I would like to know more of it. It also makes a good argument in understanding his heterosexuality, though in some ways that reminded me of school in tone. I shall read more of Causley as soon as possible.

" He now wrote poetry at a more leisurely pace, often returning to classical poetic forms. As he told John Walsh in November 1998:
‘It’s a good discipline not to go sprawling on. People remember you better that way. And a poem has to match its subject. But really, the whole thing is just as much a mystery to me now as when I started.’"

Green, Laurence. All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: A Biography of Charles Causley (p. 226). The Cornovia Press. Kindle Edition.

It has made it clear to me that Causley is a person for me to listen to further. In some ways it madde me think of the memoir by George Mackay Brown that I enjoyed so much,and also makes me think a bit of R. S Thomas on the fringe and Dylan Thmas too, especially early and before he went to London.

Edited: Sep 27, 2020, 5:57pm

September -- The Bridge s1 -- Paddington 2 -- Ted Hughes: stronger than death -- Seamus Heaney, Somethign to write home about -- The Bridge s2 -- The Real Dr Zhivago -- Bladerunner 2049 -- Snowden --

Sep 4, 2020, 5:38pm

Enjoyed reading your review of the Charles Causley Biography. I have read some of his poetry in Penguin Modern Poets 3 where he is grouped together with Martin Bell and George Barker.

Sep 5, 2020, 4:58am

Thanks Bas. The Penguin Modern Poets gets mentioned, I think there may have been a typo to say Baker in my memory, but I assumed it was Barker. He's interested me since I read The Chymical Wedding in which a protagonist is based on him if I remember right. He also gets mentioned towards the end of the biography - Causley's assistant is off to see Barker and asks Causley if he'd like to come, apparently Causley replied not "a little bit of George goes a long way with me", which from what I have made out so far of Barker and now of Causley, made a lot of sense.

Edited: Sep 29, 2020, 7:03am

"Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator in a child's future success (OECD 2002)"

I just came across this on twitter - it made me think how I did read for pleasure, and though many would describe me as a bookworm then maybe even then (as a child) I wasn't entirely, and there were ways the subject of what I read was circumscribed by mistaken adult guidance over gender and what I should have been reading. Then a boyish teenage which definitely intervened as it does for many, on top of those confusions about what I should be reading (and lots of having to hide all my feelings and thoughts on gender) - and also definite pressure to do many other things. Suddenly the seeds of how my reading can be disrupted or struggle are clear again. My interests again and again clashed with what was allowed -- or took me in directions unwanted or seen as inappropriate, leaving me lacking for this reason amongst others, as I have been frustrated time and again, in having read what I am really interested in and needed -- and thoroughly confused as to how this could be, why it should be when apparently I had every opportunity, it's maddeing the ways I'd taken inside me some of these pressures and despite recognsiing good advice that may have helped swas unable to follow it as I wish I had.

It also made me think how important it is to read for pleasure to have stability and space in life -- and in addition to be able to switch off other things to let yourself focus on just one text -- and that is something I struggle with as I have so many things to think about, my own concerns, the misuderstanding of them by treatments and mistreatment, the world is full of things to worry about (especially the lack of understanding and understanding of context of others and lack of compassion) -- and then add to that gender issues for me. And nto to mention the cognitive imapirment of meds that do not help flexible thinking and action.

I suppose it is all that that makes the things I do read special to me, that they've broken through to a space I have afforded this consideration, time, enjoyment -- a reflection partly on the books, partly on where I am at that time on my path to have found a way to them.

I've often posted abotu my wish to focus on this or that -- but focus in another way then comes up, to let myself drop so much else to pour upon the books a bit, not forgettign Shakespeare on that and its limits to living a good life and finding and giving a fuller love.

Sep 29, 2020, 9:10am

>126 tonikat: "and in addition to be able to switch off other things to let yourself focus on just one text -- and that is something I struggle with as I have so many things to think about, my own concerns, the misunderstanding of them by treatments and mistreatment, the world is full of things to worry about"

Beautifully stated. I miss the intense reading focus of my youth, the feeling of falling so completely into a book.

Sep 29, 2020, 10:32am

>127 ELiz_M: I'm trying to let myself make it a gift to myself a little more, along with just doing some stuff

Edited: Oct 7, 2020, 5:41am

I was thinking about Nabokov the other day -- and should be cautious in what I say -- but I thought again of an impression I have of him as clinical.
I've only read Lolita, some short stories and a failed attempt at Pale Fire.
But there is this in how I see him -- he is so good of course. And he spent Lolita constantly contradicting me on the clinical bit and yet I was still left with it.

I've remembered I was thinking about it as I just saw, I'm not sure I knew, but that he hated Dr Zhivago whilst he loved Pasternak's poetry. I'm thinking of a try at Dr Z.

But what occurred to me about the clinical bit was whether this was influenced (in me approaching the writing and as I read it and after) by his method of mapping the structure out in index cards, Does that transmit somehow? But then it occurs to me that that in itself suggests a knowingness I am relating to clinicalness -- and something he in writing may then be having to assuage in the writing as he goes.

And whilst his method sometimes appeals to me to brainstrom a structure like that I never do it as I am uncertain of it - naturally I'd prefer something more organic -- which of course also condemns me to not doing anything.

And I don't want to underestimate Nabokov (how could I) -- you could organically come up with the cards? But then I think of his butterfly collecting and taxonomy (more clinical-like boundaries?)

Who knows -- he's a great like obviously. Dr Z I think is often sentimental and coincidental - almost like it's not been planned enough, I wonder if I'll find it organic and true despite that, a finding itself maybe without knowing in the same way in advance? (now I wonder about Pasternak's process with it which I don't know a lot of in the detail of the writing.)

It's not really even a criticism of him, just something I have wondered about in my small reading of him, like a flavour I'm trying to identify and leads me to wonder about the dish. I might also wonder if it is a very defended method -- which may of course have many pluses to it, consideration, knowing what he is talking of (and look at how I can fall into not that). And maybe there was much mroe to his process -- hence him defying my idea thoughout Lolita, though I did still feel it in the end -- and not really critically at all, and maybe it suited that mental cage of HH.

Do any of you care? Nonsense?

I could wonder if it eases the Banville like concern of the wading in deep sand at night by giving a path -- or maybe it doesn't?

(I could think a bit of my sense from The Comforters of Spark automatic writing a bit and then making a sense of it, maybe if the processes are as i wonder that is somewhat opposite of this one I wonder at here)

(crossposted to fb)

to think on and who knows when I will get back to Nabokov.

Banville source on writinga novel - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/03/writing-a-novel-is-like-wading-thr...

Hilary Mantel seems to agree - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/04/hilary-mantel-wolf-hall-mantel-pie... (plus some other fantastic questions and answers)

I've never tried to write one, though i have thought about it a lot - and liek many people the thogught ot if it so enormous it is hard to think of in some ways. Poetry doesn't have to have quite the same headaches.

(just my reading diary wonderings -- usually basic seeming to many, but important to me -- read more Kat and test the idea)

edit -- and then i read Pasternak a little and see again a translation of his poem February, on poems as it closes:

"New poems are composed in tears, -
The more unplanned, the more compelling."

(written in 1912!) (translation by Andrey Kneller) -- so need to learn if he saw novels differently, i hope not.

(hmmmmm -- http://lib.ru/NABOKOW/Inter22.txt -- not holding back here

and more -- including some I agree with - https://lithub.com/the-meanest-things-vladimir-nabokov-said-about-other-writers/ )

Edited: Oct 29, 2020, 3:18pm

October ^^ Fair Game ^^ The Beach (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11603528/ ) ^^ Mystery Road II ^^ Captain Phillips ^^ Three Days of the Condor ^^ Sylvia ^^ A Streetcat Named Bob ^^ And So it Goes ^^ The Personal History of David Copperfield

https://emergencemagazine.org/story/blessings - short David Whyte film and essay


Edited: Oct 30, 2020, 4:37pm

A conversation prompted me to reread 'Everything and Nothing' and 'Funes the Memorious' by Borges.

Borges who can be so dry -- 'Everything and Nothing' always humanises him to me. One of my conversationalists said it is perhpas the greatest tribute to a writer by another writer. It could be. As he also said it does not get better than that - but then we have Borges writing God's words to Shakespeare. Beautiful, so beautiful. I'm tempted to type its ending in, but shall not lest I spoil it for anyone. It is something I wish I had seen in childhood. It's one of my most favourite passages of writing, to be grateful for, short yet with insight and depth that nourishes.

And Funes, also altogether remarkable as possibility, as being awake maybe to everything. A glimpse of that.

Edited: Dec 6, 2020, 7:40am

November ~~ Lucy in the Sky ~~ Red Sparrow ~~ The Woman in the Fifth ~~ The Martian ~~ Rocketman ~~ The Godfather III ~~ No country for old men ~~ The Big Lebowski ~~

Edited: Dec 30, 2020, 7:22am

Supergrooviness by Christopher Mulrooney

A fellow writer showed me the poem 'sweet bob and ha'penny' as part of an exercise. He's (my friend is) from Yorkshire, the language appealed to us both, it is an enigmatic poem redolent of much without precisely saying, highly skilled. Maybe not naturally a style that appeals to me but as I sat with it in the exercise I was appreciating it and its decisions and especially how it expressed without nailing things to a wall. So I asked about it and he leant me this pamphlet collection.

Christopher Mulrooney was a poet from Los Angeles who died suddenly in 2015. I found this appreciation of him written by his partner https://hesterglockpress.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/sad-news-regarding-poet-editor... . So, learning of his death I read with a sense of sadness. I'd no idea of him before -- it made me think about what passes for success in this world and what is real. It was all a learning experience, my fellow poet is from yorkshire and this is a very British phrase (sweet bob . .. ) so I hadn't expected it from an LA poet, maybe it has transmitted through literature or other art. Just reading his partner's words and it is clear how engaged he was. Oh and there is playfulness to his lucidity, apparent even where I struggle for the lucidity -- and I have a sense that this playfulness and cleverness is not for any lack of heart, rather it is showing that lack sometimes elsewhere as diversion from what is important, which is what he is feeling and showing (I think of the last poem, 'Kit').

This collection (and I have still to make my way through more of his work that is available online) shows a very refined poet. His style unlike my own I think - I have a sense of great care given to each line, each word, a spare style, knowing. I struggle for the words, it is a style I associate with some, it is not that it is clipped in a bad way, I'm not sure clipped is the right word for it -- but it says a bit, suggests and leaves the rest to the reader. The poems were all quite short. You feel they are speaking very clearly, maybe to people with more clue than me, though for me too they speak of lots. It's not that it reminds me of Pound but in a way it does make me think of him. There is sometimes the sense of a riddle, and beautiful clarity promised when you start to see. It strikes me they are very confident, not just in themselves but of the reader/s.

I wasn't hopeful when in introduction it explained the theme was the Resurrection. But I enjoyed it and entering this different mode of expression that I felt from him, some of the poems very much.

I am usually very careful of posting whole poems due to copyright - here is the poem that attracted me, posted for educational reasons and may it draw much attention to this poet, happy to withdraw it should anyone feel it improper to post:

sweet bob and ha'penny

what you got right I've got that

and what's then gone for an all right holiday on the Continent

then eh what? give me some small change to contemplate

medallions of the road

Christopher Mulrooney in 'Supergrooviness'

(And having typed it in again I think maybe more clearly than ever of that theme of this pamphlet, wow.)(typed with double space to refect the presentation in the pamphlet.)

Edited: Nov 20, 2020, 12:34pm

Human Chain by Seamus Heaney

For obvious reasons my group stopped meeting and has not taken a cyber route. It's a shame, for now, but for good reason. Our facilitator was talking about going on to read some of the prose and plays and translations. Hopefully that may happen. But I think my jounrey with this all started before I was in that group read through, so it is just another turn in life to have reached the end of the collections like this.

It is a little while since I read through, so I'm refreshing my memory as I go.

This collection starts with a moment of vividness in the night with a wind ('Had I not been awake'). It is as we go that maybe we see there may be more to this moment of presence than we knew. The collection emerged to me as reflections of someone perhaps having had ill health in their later years at least very aware of their mortality. I do not know the details of his illness, maybe it is private, but at times it felt it had a tone of knowing time was very limited. And it seems to consider some ill health and of course the poem 'Human Chain' itself mulls on being at the end of it maybe, thinking about a last lift. And of course the final image in the book of a kite as windfall.

The second poem 'Album' reminisces it seems to me and after a discussion in the one meeting we had I realised finally what it was it reminded me of -- it is of the scenes of the old man viewing his reveries of his past in the summer house in Bergman's film 'Wild Strawberries', to me it has a hint of such reverie and the tenderness.

It is all wonderfully Heaney, but at the same time it struck me when I was reading it as having a different tone to the other collections which I have not quite placed. It may have something to do with freedom. There is also certainly also a great peace that transmits in these reveries and thoughts, to me anyway.

I won't go on further, at least until i hope I may reread it with my group, or maybe by myself, in either case if I get the chance, or maybe I will take it and do so this weekend.

I do reread several times as i go usually, and go back and forth in the books, sometimes with poetry I've read it all two or three times, that's normal I think. I also find that reading in the grouop may force me to spend more time in consideration than I may have, to really slow to the poem's pace and be with it in ways I don't always on my own (or maybe that emerges more slowly as I live with poems and turn them over). But I do find my memory, which I always find excellent for story is poorer for the structure of poetry books, and even narratives I can go a kind of blank on until some things have jogged my familiarity, and I am not necessarily unhappy at that now.

Edited: Nov 20, 2020, 12:33pm

A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. I think I'm quite bad at keeping up with contemporary poetry, more 'must try harder', but this was a collection to read that was a pleasure not hard work at all. It was good to read this voice, these voices. Of course I must temper that properly, as it opens with considerations of the Grenfell fire and its victims and survivors - all so shamefully mistreated by authority both in their attempts to tackle the safety issue before the fire and in their experiences of the night and after. It was good to hear such voices though.

And good to hear the other voices throughout this collection of parts. I'm a northern white person with little experience of the windrush generation and children, of black British experience, and enjoyed hearing those perspectives and in poetry (and again that may be my lack of reading that is in part related to that . . . if anything Roger Robinson has enthused me to open up to more). And it is a collection of tenderness, my favourite of all may be 'Grace' about a nurse who thoroughly cares and from a very personal place for Robinson. I'm glad he won the T. S. Eliot prize. I also enjoyed very much an interview I saw him give online in which he shared some of his journey as a poet which also spoke to me, there is a sense of someone finding their way about him, open about that and exploring that I enjoy, but very very clear on much he has explored and experienced and learned.

I have just wondered to myself (after my initial post of this) if his openness to experience somehow transmits in the poems too. I'll need to think about that - even when he is being very sure of some things. It is something I am left with from him, maybe partly due to the interview that I saw first, part of the Hay festival I think, before reading the book.

I see he has a website -- and on it there is a film of himn reading his poem 'The Missing, for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster' https://rogerrobinsononline.com/

Edited: Nov 29, 2020, 5:45am

I read this last night https://www.wired.com/story/the-black-hole-information-paradox-comes-to-an-end/ -- or at least made as much of it as I could.
edit - I deleted some of my very unscientific metaphorical parallels. I do find it interesting, what it says about information and may look into that a bit, it seems so relevant in so many ways, and how wrong info or misinformation kind of develosp a realness until its bubble bursts.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-54906863 Barrie Cooke, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney - I'm not sure why this should be so surprising.

whoa - https://www.wired.com/story/karl-friston-free-energy-principle-artificial-intell... - I could think of reading in this way, maybe -- does my stopping books happen when i don't want them to change a bit -- and what does not minding a surprise mean? (maybe much more than reading in that -- maybe it reflects a sense of security?) I'd have also liked to read of potential exceptions that may prove the rule, at least on one level that on another may then still be true.
Edit - though I have to say I did not like the treatment of the seriously mentally ill in this article in some ways.



https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/nov/19/my-mother-was-like-a-steel-fist-... film on Audrey Hepburn by her son.



The second Celan article is quite hard on Joris' translations - the first is kinder on the probloems of translation and translation of Celan especially but makes a telling comment on Joris' approach, compared to the experience of reading the German. I don't read German but I do get the impression the poems are meaning heavy in Joris' approach -- I enjoy his translations very much, but when reading them a lot I wonder what they are not conveying of other aspects, its a sense of that missing and it is good to know that it is there in German. But translation of course.
I was aso very sorry to learn of his psychiatric experiences in the second article.



https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/sylvia-plath-myth-book-review-ted-hughes/ - review of Red Comet on Sylvia Plath, and related

Edited: Nov 18, 2020, 6:57am

I've had a thought, it's something that I kind of know but largely keep to myself, it's personal, but I wonder if in never saying it, for obvious reasons, it therefore becoems cloudy to me, whilst true and therefore also a bit of confusion. It may go to explain some of the nature of my quest to read more and in fact also I think my posts trying to understand this. It is a factor affecting just about every day for me, though there are short periods, especially one at the end of last year and the start of this when it was absent - but then in May is just when it really was hitting again (and I was workign out my reading again). In short it is the impact of medication on my reading. I had a great day yesterday, for practical reasons I hadn't taken any the night before -- but this morning wake up as ever reset, groggy, in more of a fog and lacking direction and chilled about the idea of self starting. This must definitely impact my reading as I get what passes for clarity to varying degrees each day -- one recent theory is that it really is impacted by how well I live, so daily exercise really helps and doing chores, but it is easy to get stuck in contemplation. So saying this in a way, whilst not a revelation is something of a clarification. It is a vital topic for me, and maybe understandably not something to share without thought - but hey, if you can say you're trans maybe its not so bad. I am reading Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and amazed how it fits the ways of working of Psychiatry (it's analysis of the banking model of teaching and ways of oppressors), it seems to me Psychiatry enacts it's dehumanisation with medication to make you less yourself (the meds are no cure, they simply dampen experience) -- or that is certainly part of the experience to which it is totally deaf. There is much else to this, I do feel thoroughly oppressed by it -- and have taken over many years what I can from it - but they don't even deign to believe me about basic things I am not mistaken about, nor was the matter of medication presented as choice (illegally) -- and so you can see maybe I am bursting with indignation. But yes, being kind to myself, it is certainly a factor, if only in defining what I can manage each day (and how much I have to sleep) -- and I won't be oppressed now into not being able to factor this in. It may also impact how my link to books can be broken as maybe due to my daily reset it strikes me this may make me more vulnerable to that, when my reading rhythm with a book is challenged or I am diverted I reset more than others anyway each night and so find a new track more than I might have before. It is a risk to write this somehow, but it is true, there is much much else that could be said, and clearly I have not gone into detail on this filth. I can see how it can help at some times, but it is an issue of great sadness to me in the face of automatons and/or oppressors who I feel have used me as a guinea pig (I was told at the start that I was "an ideal test subject", despite not wanting to take it -- I have even wondered if they have modelled responses to tyranny in me). Anyway, enough said, maybe this will get me going a bit today. (edit -- edited some of this for flow and sense -- also must point out this issue of how this medication is used is a scandal waiting to become far more known, it is wrecking lives and the misuse of these meds is a nightmare.)

Oh of course it can also impact what I say on books -- the main example of that for me is undoubtedly Housman whose poetry fits so much to my memory of challenge in the past, but whom this medication now gives me a very different experience in relation to, kind of beyond the doom of depression and living passed it (and much more, worse). That feels relevant to me -- of course as an out(ish) trans person I am also living passed some other aspects of my previous landscape which may also impact this sense, which I think is also maybe unlike some views of him. (edit to clarify - Housman reminds me of my own view in the past now of when I was much younger and before a lot happened, what i am saying basically is that my experience, with the support of meds, has moved beyond at least my version of that and makes it look no longer me to me, innocent somehow -- in some ways what i am saying is that his ways of feeling are lost to me, and less relevant, and I associate that with living the fan having been hit and supported in that with the meds. I need to reread him and think about this more). It also impacts my poetry -- relating to both that and my reading as in some ways it reduces me to a more primitive self I think it gives my writing an aspect of bursting back to presence that in fact is an overcompensation as it is not that it is not there, but simply that I don't feel it as much -- and at times this bursting goes too far and, to me, may have a sort of emotional violence to it, not raving but less couth than me (whose lack of uncouthness a doctor once charaterised as meaning "there must be something wrong with you"), so clearly I stay sensitive but links to and feeling for it all are a bit less than I'd expect at times. Maybe this too has an aspect of that. I always disliked feeling dull, in fact did not feel that way much, and all my education was about coming to presence -- and yes this drug is like a portable dungeon, it makes me less present, quite a thing.

You may understand why I'd not post this - truthfully I'd usually never consider it, far too personal, why share. Yet when I realised that not doing so, not being able to say it, to try to be a stealthy med taker, in fact partly confuses me and makes me less clear and in some ways renders those posts trying to understand why i don't read as much as I'd expect a bit pointless, this is so fundamental. It is also amazing how much shame has been used to manipulate me - I won't even start on that - but you may understand, and some people with experiences that may take them away from the norm may understand, why finally myself who was always known as a highly private person, would in fact think to speak such truths.

I think usually a sincere person, it also in my mind increases that and dampens any litheness to tone in some ways, dancing on a theme is rarer and again bursts out when it can, I used to be much different.

edit - I suppose the reset (like a good night's sleep +++) can disrupt some consistency, I think relating to that idea of free energy in the post above it is that that energy is below that of clicking with the book, beyond the book maybe . . . yes the security to deal with the surprise, or stability, is an issue, but maybe it is a stability or a focus that undercuts that but then seeks narratrive out again in a different form, or from writing.

Also the filth impacts appetite, I put 2-3 stones on in a month when first on it (bye bye playing weight) -- and it has occurred to me recently that that impact on appetite may affect other things. it was not in my nature to over eat. In the past i was quite rigorous on finishing every book i read (almost) -- and also as to buying books, i kept that minimal, whilst in the last twenty years (for other reasons too) it reached an extent that is clear in my finances.

A consistent theme in my mistreatment is that I have been asked to swallow someone else's narrative - it has the effect of distancing a person from truth, a warping effect especially when this concerns matters such as those They do not wish to know about and their own culpability. I think in some ways I have sought life and truth through books and also in my own writing.

Nov 17, 2020, 4:23pm

Well you seem present today tonikat - good to know a little more about you and how your reading is affected.

Edited: Nov 17, 2020, 5:13pm

thanks baswood my LT friend, it is amazing what the truth can do.

Edited: Nov 29, 2020, 6:06am

"Something happened to Vincent van Gogh in Arles, something had made his painting reach its greatest expression and yet had also pushed him to utter despair. One day, i thought, I would try to better understand what had taken place that December night in 1888." p6

Van Gogh's Ear by Bernadette Murphy

I saw the tv documentary that went alongside this a few years ago and it enthused me to read the book, which was given to me as present. I think some of the conclusions are slightly different here, there seems less speculation as to whether he had seen Rachel/Gaby in Paris, but maybe. But it is a beautful book.

Yes it opens up new insights. As a History graduate I have nothing but admiration for how she as a so called amateur has gone about her research. She's lived with it. Her database of Alresiennes is a beautiful thing, her hard work at times (sometimes aided by injury that drove her to do things she may not have from time spare healing) is wonderful. It makes a person think how many other bits of research coudl be re-researched, cold case like if yyou like. She makes some startling discoveries and I can love the book for that, clarifications and workings through. But what I think I like most of all is her overall empathy for this man so shrouded in myth and gossip -- how she brings his life in Arles to life. In some ways it gives me many many more questions, I feel it feels decidedly shady what happened with Gauguin, though she is quite kind to him in the end. The clash of these two very different personalities speaks to me. And that it was vital in its impact on Van Gogh's health, after driving himself so hard, not looking after himself perhaps in some ways (diet), Gauguin seems a perfect person to confront him with of a very different temperament, to challenge him. That they were also driven together by the weather for those few days before the incident, so strange. I won't go on with my speculations. Above all that it shows Van Gogh's ability to move to a new town and make friends and find his art speaks of a man much more rounded than often shown, as his letters show. It brings to life the people he painted too, people as she says who meant something to him, some of whom he gave the grace of a decorative background in his paintings. Also that it shows some truths to the legend of how he had to leave Arles is most helpful, betrayal indeed, but not as often thought. It was a beautiful idea followed through beautifully, I hope she is still busy if not on this then in these ways, I trust she must be.

edit - I meant to say, as it struck me whilst I read, that of course this is a female author, and again her approach made a gentle sense.

I've not been good at keeping to my better gender balance targets, yet it never seems to let me down.

edit edit - gentle yet incredibly robust

Nov 22, 2020, 8:17am

Great review of A Portable Paradise, Kat. I absolutely loved it, and I really should get around to reviewing it before the end of the year. I was on holiday in London on the night of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, but I was staying in a hotel in Waterloo, close to Lambeth North station, couldn't see the fire in North Kensington from there, and didn't find out about it until the following morning when I watched Breakfast on BBC One. I did see the burnt tower on a daily basis later that year, as I stayed in a hotel in Shepherd's Bush and the tower was easily visible on the elevated Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines between Latimer Road and Ladbroke Grove stations.

Thanks for the reminder about "Grace". I keep meaning to ask my friend Bianca (drachenbraut23) if she has read A Portable Paradise, as she is a senior sister in the NICU at King's College Hospital in South London.

I may reread A Portable Paradise, either next month or in January, and post a review of it on my thread. It's one of the best poetry collections I've ever read.

Edited: Nov 23, 2020, 9:26am

Thank you, Darryl, it's good to get comments. It's a good book, and I need to read through some more to think about this openness factor. Clearly it may be related to race and inclusion or not, and more, maybe it is just him. Of course the title and that poem say a lot about carrying something inside in the face of the world. I don't think I have been to London since Grenfell happened, so terrible.

I'm not sure about knowing more of 'Grace', I wonder how she herself took it, not that I guess much can be put upon that lady.

I don't know if you can view the Hay interview in retrospect but it enthused me - there were aspects where you could see how he'd striven to be a poet, and does, but when he lapsed into being himself I enjoyed listening to him and that quality of openness I found striking and very likeable. I want to try his earlier work and that of others too, Lemm Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah. Also I've had Ben Okri's poetry recommended to me.

Look forward to your review.

Edited: Dec 4, 2020, 4:43pm

"He understood that Rilke was a fellow artist, and so he framed his stories as lessons that the young poet might take as examples. Above all else, he stressed to Rilke, Travailler, toujours travailler. You must work, always work, he said. “To this I devoted my youth.” But it was not enough to make work, the word he preferred to “art”; one had to live it. That meant renouncing the trappings of earthly pleasures, like fine wine, sedating sofas, even one’s own children, should they prove distracting from the pursuit."

Corbett, Rachel. You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (p. 85). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

You must change your life: The story of Rilke and Rodin by Rachel Corbett

A biography that is more slanted towards Rilke than Rodin I think, which is fine by me, though it covers a lot else of the times and the people around them, some even only distantly - it gives a very good view of some Parisian Bohemia before World War One.

The book begins with both their backgrounds. Rodin's snubbing by the establishment that he worked through and against and Rilke's childhood of polarities, dressed as a girl for long passed the time that was usual, to then be sent to military school, I can hardly imagine the shock. But then those words don't tell us so much of him. But I think this book suggests he was left with questions as to identity and often sought this through powerful older figures, sometimes women, the intriguing (to some extent) Lou Andreas Salome and the other main protagonist here, Rodin.

Rilke was already a published poet several times over when he decided to seek Rodin's wisdom. Yet he was seeking some blessing or recognition perhaps. He'd visited Tolstoy, twice and been given short shrift, as also with attempts to contact Chekhov. It's very interesting to me this search for recognition - but also maybe to find a master to apprentice. I see it in others at times, often it is a friendship that empowers. In ancient times I was interested to learn from Peter Kingsley that Pythagorean circles had seen an apprentice actually adopted by the master and think this seems a recognition itself of some powerful feelings of being seen to seek genuinely and also be checked out and guided towards the arts in the right way. Some deride Rilke's early lyricism, I have not read much of it, The Book of Hours was completed when he was in Paris, and the book of Images also was around that time. Earlier work i haven't read - though Wittgenstein gave him a grant (unasked for for once I think) before world war one, according to this book on the strength of that lyricism. I often think we have to find such a lyricism in ourselves in order to move beyond it -- and simply denying it I also think can be like denying ourselves a good hot bath. I like both the book of Hours and the book of Images. I came to this book as I was at a webinar with a poet (who I think is fab) and they mentioned what Rodin said to Rilke and also said the poem 'The Panther' was his first great poem (nn the New Poems). I've heard that before, of course it may predate some individual poems in those other collections, though not by publication date, maybe. I do tend towards Ted Hughes' response - and ironically whilst Rilke seems to capture the defeat of the panther I wonder at it speaking of Rilke really, and of the objectivity question therefore. But, what do I know.

So, they spend some time together, Rodin a bit dismissive, but does share his wisdom to 'work always work' (I'd heard it as this and also as 'work, work, work' before -- there was no story here as to Rilke having to ask three times before being sent to the zoo. Rilke goes away after a few months with Rodin and writes a very florid monograph on Rodin that on reading in the end a translation of this ignites the friendship further and Rilke ends up moving in chez Rodin and also becoming his secretary. In process of which he and his wife live very loosely married and she is left holding the baby (or others do so at times as she also, as a sculptor, spends time with Rodin and he and in Paris alone too). It's a famous story.

I enjoyed its tellling - it reminded me of the story of empathy and I learned a bit about art at the time. I was very happy to realise as I was reading that the Hotel Biron is where the Rodin museum is now cited and so to realsie I had visited this place of those times where Rilke had written before Rodin ever moved a studio there -- again in a way I seek something in myself connecting to this recognised person. It's interesting Cocteau also had rooms there but never knew Rilke at the time, so much did he keep himself to himself, but did notice the candle buring in that window when Rilke was writing, and he too had some sense of gratitude to have been there in his case at the time.

Of course Rodin was the older and we see the impact of change with age upon him and I thought what we were told of Rilke's reaction to this was a bit non-understanding of the changeability of another artist with life, when that mask of greatness had slipped to this intimate friend. In that they seem different and Rilke seems to have made peace with mortality in a way we are shown the later Rodin was challenged - maybe he had been so busy with his work (and in these years it seems catching up a bit on the joys of success).

I found it a very enjoyable book and hope to broaden my reading on all of this. I did find it seemed to hurry and be briefer towards the end when I would have liked to read much more of the elegies and sonnets and their writing, there was a lot on that missing (for me), but I suppose it was less directly linked to Rodin. I do have another biography, in fact two, of Rilke and must get to one of them.

On realising how badly I've been doing with female authors this was another to balance better and again did not let me down.

edit - I should add the sincere young poet seekign greatness did seem to take the work imperative to heart and deny himself some of life in his quest, which this book also then suggests he corrected somewhat later in life -- I am not sure what i will ever make of his ability to distance himself from others, it can appeal, it can not.

I was also struck by something that reminded me of reading Edwin Muir's autobiography, of a sense of being overwhelmed by his senses that also speaks to me in some ways and many other sensitive people, but which gets so overlooked sometimes. Which may of course account for this seeking of a sort of therapy in how he lived, at least in part.

further edit - of course the title (which doesn't get referred to as I remember it, and St. Augustine) also speaks of an element of human experience and seeking some thing/s holy. I can also empathise with that, does it suggest the quest for art was holy, which may relate to Tolstoy of course and maybe to the theories of art considered. I didn't reread the Introduction but a quick look now doesn't seem to consider this phrase, maybe I have missed the discussion in the text, or maybe I have not, that I must wonder about for now.

Dec 4, 2020, 7:03pm

>143 tonikat: Interesting also reminded me of the Rodin Museum one of my go-to places in Paris.

Dec 5, 2020, 4:52am

>144 baswood: it is a lovely spot, full of interest too

Edited: Jan 2, 8:48am

"IF YOU ASK ME HOW I REMEMBER the island, what it was like to be stranded there by misadventure for nearly three months, I would answer that it was a time and landscape of the mind if I did not have the visible signs to summon its materiality: my journal, the cat, the newspaper-cuttings, the curiosity of my friends; and my sisters – how they always look at me, I think, as one returned from the dead."

Spark, Muriel. Robinson . Canongate Books. Kindle Edition.

Robinson by Muriel Spark

A plane crash and three survivors pitch up on Robinson's personal fiefdom, a small island in the Atlantic. The story is told by January (not Jan!) Marlow, a sometime writer and a woman amidst the survivors. She's been concussed, another Jimmie got off lightly and was on his way here anyway as a relative of Robinson to discuss family affairs and the third is an Englishman, Wells, dabbler in occultish sales of amulets and writer on these matters who was hurt with some broken ribs.

Robinson rescues them. Himself alone but for a young boy he's adopted, Miguel. And himself a former catholic seminarian who has split from the church due to the move towards what he seees as Marian doctrine and practice. The survivors start to recover from the shock, the bodies (some number) are buried, and they find themselves stuck as there is no radio and weather conditions meant search planes missed them - at least until the annual August boat to pick up pomegranates, so they have three months together.

I enjoyed Spark's first novel The Comforters about a year ago. Again we have some interest in Catholic matters and again some supernatural aspect as a sideline, though it has a small place here really other than to define a character. We see some interest in these characters and how they interact, and in many ways do not.

As I thought to write this I thought of Terrence Malick's film The Thin Red Line in which one of the many memorable voiceover lines (I find not from Witt but from his comrade and interlocutor Sgt Welch who had been so cynical): “If I never meet you in this life,” he says, “let me feel the lack. A glance from your eyes, and my life would be yours.”

Here people meet, and yet do not. Robinson seems to want a radical aloneness that in a sense disables him from being able to interact. There was something I did not like in how he was pictured as not being open to others in that we are told he is gay, and for a moment in the book that seemed to fit with a Catholic view of his personality as not open somehow towards love -- to some extent, I am interpreting, but it seemed there for me -- and of course also seemed there in January's assessment of him (does her position as a woman involve such assessment of all these men). That somewhat changes with a plot turn I won't go into and she reassesses quite sharply and is less judgemental -- she had also of course had a bang on the head and was quite concussed, plus Robinson's care (undoubted) came with this edge of keeping people away.

There are two references to a line of Scipio's I think, 'numquam minus solus quam cum solus' - which I see translated as never less alone than when alone, though that bothers me as my admittedly failed and dodgy Latin tells me cum is with, which I quite like and may have seen used in this or a very similar statement to make 'never less alone than with the alone'. Robinson seems to be majoring in investigating that, and yet it seems to have made being with others somewhat painful, or a disturbance perhaps that having saved them becomes difficult. Though it is not really understood or explained in the book, we are left to wonder at it. I quite like that. I also liked getting a woman's point of view in it all, though of course I don't like her powerlessness in some arguments here. I do like that she is presented, with flaws.

January seems not unknowing of need for solitude herself (her observances of how free some men's interactions with her leave her to self define) but is more practically engaged with others. Perhaps in fact it is a sad story of where doctrine left (leaves?) some who do not fall within its norm, leading to isolation, though there is also the possibility that Robinson is just in touch with something more and also the possibility that for whatever reason he's just a bit touched. Maybe he especially finds the probing/interest of January difficult.

Anyway - the characters are thrown together and we are presented with how their personalities react under stress, a bit Lord of the Flies-ish in a way.

A quick but enjoyable read. Though as in The Comforters she seems to write plot turns and observations and then go away from them before bringing us back to them in the full or a fuller sense of them. It's not as pronounced as a technique as I found in that earlier novel, but I notice it (it's like she explores the story she will tell for herself and then finds a way to write it more fully in the rest of a chapter)-- I could see it almost as a conversational and informal story telling, repeating herself, and I can also find it slightly annoying (which might even annoy me as, hell, let the lady tel it her way Kat). Onto another, sooner than in a year I hope.

I suppose overall it is a nice meditation on personal ethics and boundaries and what we assume about the world which is obvious to ourselves and how we go about it but may be the one mystery to others, and as such it is a nice mental exercise, that will stay with me I think. Whilst at the same time seeming light and entertaining. I also think that we are given January's judgement's throughout and it may in fact be showing us this as a trap and how it reflects back on us, which makes me think more of how hard Robinson found her gaze, and I notice how she hates the way she is represented by some (inaccurately), it seems to be suggesting a social trap of mutual judgement with little hope of escape or self definition and advocating a need for distance maybe.

edit - and for me makes me wonder about non judgement, though that is hard outside of therapeutioc encounters - so maybe a very careful judgement that in some ways you try not to have impacted yourself by imposing it on others to then find what you think you saw, or more of it.

another edit - of course that question of distance and being left to ourselves also seems to have a very obvious theological parallel too. I also think more and more of how what happens is driven by expectations of each other and socially and the more I think of it the more pleasure it gives me -- but oh, isn't it so hard to escape.

Edited: Dec 31, 2020, 4:10pm

December ** Munich ** Salinger ** Dark Waters ** The hermetic Jung ** Educating Rita ** The Passion of Joan of Arc ** The Midnight Sky ** The Queen's Gambit **


Once again simplistic assumptions of homgeneity in the past fromn the small amount we know are shown up - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/dec/10/stunning-dark-ages-mosaic-found-...

https://www.lionsroar.com/the-root-of-zen/ very interesting David Hinton on his book China Root, on the roots of Cha' an (Zen)







https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/black-book-sybil-oldfield-book-review/ -- would we?




https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/george-orwell-the-writer-as-moral-litmus-pape... - good review of a book on Orwell's wife

https://aeon.co/videos/jim-hall-78-has-a-blue-body-but-his-outlook-on-life-is-mo... -- I did not see this coming, which is uplifting, and good for him on the trees and whatever he seeded

great article to finish the year with https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/dec/29/i-was-bored-of-chats-about-...

Dec 6, 2020, 8:57am

>146 tonikat: Interesting—that's a Spark I don't know anything about. Some far-flung friends and I—former members of the late lamented online book forum Readerville, and we've been friends for more than 15 years—started up the Iris Murdoch Fan Girls Book Club in April. We have a video meeting every couple of months, and though our first few were, obviously, Iris Murdoch books, we've branched out a bit and our last read was Spark's The Girls of Slender Means. That was a good one for discussion—short, super concentrated, and a lot of moving parts to talk about. We want to go back to her at some point (our next pick is Sylvia Townshend Warner's The Corner That Held Them) and Robinson might be an interesting suggestion.

Edited: Dec 6, 2020, 12:20pm

>148 lisapeet: well I do hope I'm not over reading, but I did quite enjoy those thoughts, I wasn't entirely expecting some of them. Your book club sounds fun, I've bought The Sea, The Sea in my gender balance quest. I enjoyed an article on Iris Murdoch recently that explained her thinking a little and interested me and thought I'd try her more. I didn't entirely like the one I'd tried before, but this is praised by so many.

edit - this was the article (if you can view it) I found it very interesting on her view of love, something I could agree with I think, and love - https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/iris-murdoch-power-love/ , silly of me not to include a link.

Edited: Dec 10, 2020, 3:06pm

Today is Emily Dickinson's birthday:

The Poets light but Lamps —
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference —

(Fr 930)

Edited: Dec 11, 2020, 3:18pm

"While the problem of humanization has always, from an axiological point of view, been humankind's central problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable concern. Concern for humanization leads at once to the recognition of dehumanization, not only as an ontological possibility but as an historical reality And as an individual perceives the extent of dehumanization, he or she may ask if humanization is a viable possibility. Within history in concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and dehumanization are possibilities for a person as an uncompleted being conscious of their incompletion.

But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is the people's vocation. This vocation is constantly negated, yet it is affirmed by that very negation."

P. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p43

Although I studied History and Government for my degree I don't remember reading Freire. I don't think he was on my Political Theory courses. Maybe it was due to the educational aspect. And yet that aspect is fundamental to his idea of revolutionary change. I hope I can start to explain, and why he is relevant to me.

The book is made up of four chapters - the first introduces us to his idea of the oppressor and the oppressed, and how this works psychologically too from both points of view - the second looks at his idea of the 'banking concept' of education as opposed to his own of faciliating individual's learning by listening to them -- the third develops this idea with a methodology (which I found the weakest chapter in some ways, but his developing world situation was very different to my own, I have zero experience of illiterate non european peasants) -- the fourth comes back to look at some characteristics of oppression and then what may therefore be helpful to encourage liberation.

I found the first two chapters of this book to be highly lucid, with something of the characteristics of revelation. I greatly enjoyed the analysis. Although I haven't studied it, the air of the 70s and 80s was imbued with such thinking. I wish I had read it when I did that degree. Personally I think that what has happend under neoliberalism in this country has been to bring to bear policies that went with colonisation to ourselves, to some extent (the fought off poll tax was a classic tool of colonial government, I might wonder about Brexit too in some ways). I think he is right to characterise us all has having internal oppressors and opressed - and in fact my working hypothesis is the right wing uses such analysis to refine methods and become more of what has been identified as effective. He's very good on the disctinction between a way of life as humane and a way really of death as not - and it does make me think of how at odds with neoliberal society my left wing arts education has been). I certainly think neoliberalism has encouraged people to engage economically with an illusion they are developing on a model that is basically that of the oppressor (yet in the eyes of the elite they remain small and objects of manipulation). Then in chapter two there was his 'banking' model of education - which sees us as empty accounts into which knowledge is placed (and in many ways thinking discouraged) - and his own more egalitarian approach of stuent and teacher learnign together, focused on the subjects they learn. It seems so true, it especially seemed relevant to me in light of oppressor and oppresed in the context of psychiatric models of understanding and treatment compared to counselling models. The theory of course fits well with my person centred outlook, his egalitarian model - as he argues to listen to where learners are and engage with them in facilitating their own development of learning. What can be wrong with any of this? Not much I think - and it is still influential in education.

The third chapter outlines a method to put this education into effect. But he is thinking mainly of Latin American peasants I think - I found this the weakest part. I found the process of seeking themes to be possibly reductionist and also thought that the role of the educators to then devise the coded images that allowed for learning to be in some tension with the egalitarian approach (and experts though introduced as experts still that - a lot would be in how it is done). I often think that when Socratic questioning is taught as a method this is to often forget that the people using it are usually far from a Socrates -- and I think Freire's method could also have a weakness in how it might be used by others. But having said that I have to acknowledge my total lack of experience in working with illiterate peasants, and may not have grasped some of what he is addressing. It was whilst reading this that I found this article - https://medium.com/@arta.khakpour/the-problem-with-paulo-freire-78778806c43f - which has a politics of its own, but reading of 'cultural revolution' is something to be careful of, again in how practice actually became in China, something he must have had some awareness of in writing when he did. But I suppose my idea of this is more on a personal basis of enlightenment and revolution than on any other, or mutual intellectual liberation and a return to such values publically instead of what has come to dominate and seek to change national culture to fit a single side of the political dynamic.

The final chapter returns to some of the lucidity I enjoyed earlier and breaks down further his idea of how the anti-dialogical oppressor approach works in society (and this again was very relevant to how I see neoliberalism in the last forty years) and how a humane dialogical approach may work to help us (who are not oppressors) to retain and work towrds humanity. I'm not really a revolutionary -- though I'd see the growth of enlightenment as a good thing, which may also allow some of the things that seem no lonher able to be mentioned in society, like greater fairness, liberte, egalite, fraternite etc (oh maybe I am a bit of a rev) increased. A key point he makes is how oppressors cannot give such enlightenment - some may move towards it and so change thier own stance, but it is the oppressed who in an act of love must allow it. I like his analysis very much and just hope to stay as close as I can personally to it, in art and education. I will also be reading Lave on Situated Learning - I had come to this book as I began a very basic education certificate, though it has proved to only repeat an introduction I did before -- but this tutor was much more open to these influences.

Dec 11, 2020, 6:46pm

Thank you for that review >151 tonikat: A book that will certainly interest me

Edited: Dec 25, 2020, 6:12am

Happy Christmas

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

― Emily Dickinson

Edited: Dec 28, 2020, 9:54am

"Works of art are infinitely solitary and nothing is less likely to reach them than criticism. Only love can grasp them and hold them and do them justice."

Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to a young poet, 23rd April 1903.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

The quote above could in a way stand as a motto to all my threads -- though I have of course never said it quite so well. I wanted to write of my emotional reactions to what I read. Sometimes I drift towards a review. But it is appreciation that I like to give, hopefully generous. A generosity that might kick start my own heart or keep it ticking.

I reread this having read the biography above, which covers the time in which these were sent. I should close read them a bit more, regarding the circumstances Rilke found himself in each time he wrote, but that would only be a half a step towards understanding, and maybe half a step away into false understanding.

This quote is well known of course - and on finding it this time quite near the start I wondered if he could reach the same pitch again, and of course he does, several times with lyrical passages.

Last time I read it I think I wondered at him sharing any of these thoughts as possibly deflecting a young poet instead of letting them discover it themselves. This time I think more, and I did not dare say it last time, it made me think how much he was talking to himself -- at least from himself, and I very much thank him for that, as ever. No doubt I feel more confident to say it having read of his years with Rodin, above, and how he stepped away from the life he had in a way.

Edited: Dec 28, 2020, 9:52am

Reviewing the year

The year began in clarity and quicker reading, me with no meds. As soon as certain people learned this they sought to misunderstand and confuse me into needing them and so co-constructing their usual shadow narrative of me as things I am not. It didn't immediately slow my reading but was a reset that clicked into place over months with meds. During Lockdown here I read Emily Dickinson's fasicles (Emily Dickinson's poems as she preserved them) which took my attention from wider things. When I moved from the fasicles to the loose sheets I got bogged down, but that was when I was getting bogged down by meds, by lockdown lifting and a change of rhythm to my days, summer! and in my memory by meds. Though there was a difference to reading the little pamphlets she had made up herself to the poems at large, I found - certainly to how I moved through them. I'd also been asked to write an article on Dickinson and that suddenly became a weight (one I have still not managed to shift) and I went away from her mostly for the rest of the year, only recently reading around her again and planning to get back at those loose sheets. I feel a need to have read right through before writing on her.

Going back a bit the highlight at the start of the year was Peter Kingsley's Catafalque, though in some ways I have cooled for Jung a bit, maybe I am just letting him settle. I've still not counted the work as wholly read as I've not completed the second volume made up of footnotes yet. I greatly enjoyed Zbigniew Herbert too. Books just after that got me through a difficult time that made so little sense - Blake's example (they'd have to diagnose him now I think) and that also of healing in The Secret Garden were most helpful. Time's Arrow was a bit of a sticking point, though it was a time i was unstuck with it and read it, but not one that really moved me, maybe, though there is something about it that stays with me. Reading more David Whyte did move me and has also gone well with listening to his webinars through Lockdown year.

It has also been a good thing to discover how much more readable I find the RSV of the Bible, which I have dipped into beyond the Gospels above. As a child I never saw myself actually reading this present on its thin paper, now I can see it.

Completing Golding's trilogy was good, though in my memory I prefer the first and second novels to the third. whilst in a way resepcting the thorough tumbedryer he's portraying that the protagonist emerges from to live in the antipodes.

Rumi, what can I say, amazing and has me reading around him and Sufism too. But this was all around that time of feeling stuck - and in August that shifted with reading One, Two, three, four about the Beatles. In the past I never read much on pop and rock so it was a change of course and I think it's let me lighten up and vary my reading a bit more and that's helped it to start to be more productive again.

Aside from med issues also had a major move to help someone close with, so in a way probably at least 3 months of the year have been very challenged for reading and that time of being stuck was also a time of having a lot on.

I think my more recent reviews have said a lot already, I won't add to them. All of my last six read have felt in some way special to me, coming amidst another challenge. It strikes me after my post about meds that in a way all the books I complete stick around for a reason, have got through to me for me to stay with them and so may all be special in some way, singing of a connection to where life was, for me.

I'm very glad about the focus I got on female writers for a while there -- it has not gone away. I worked a bit more on Lives like Loaded Guns by Lyndall Gordon which I stall with as I'm not looking forward to moving passed Emily Dickinson's own life into the disputes on her legacy. I'm also reading Wild by Jay Griffiths. And there are many more now on their own special pile to go with my new focus, new liberation, with this. Another focus which i hope to take into next year is to complete some of the many set aside - we'll see, I often end/begin a year with this on my mind. But I'm definitely also just letting myself follow my heart, my feeling for what I am reading, which might also help help lead me back to books and authors I have sampled or half sampled.

The end of the year also has me thinking back on all my past years of reading and maybe having reviewed that a bit again this year, and then my realisation about meds, has me thinking about my focus and also about revising almost, or dwelling on where I've got to from it, what it gives me, which may be best not entirely expressed, if it even could be.

some notable books left unfinished this year -
Catafalque - still to read most of volume 2 (the footnotes to vol.1)
The Shadow of the Wind - I drifted from this, not long after the episode of the mistreatment of a local trans person
Dr Zhivago I was loving this, but had taken on too much at the time - I Hope to come back to it soon.
Emily Dickinson's poems - also to get back at these soon
Answer to Job by Carl Jung - I see what he means about a God that is growing perhaps (not least for the people), but I'm struggling with that in light of omniscience and omnipotence
My Emily Dickinson - not far from finishing, may push on very soon.
The Imitation of Christ - have not read much further at all this year.

Dec 27, 2020, 1:04pm

I don't know how I have missed your thread in my rounds, but I'm sorry to have done so. I really enjoyed your review of the Heaney volume. I read Heaney early but then years have gone by and I haven't kept up. May have to think about that one (but much might depend of the nature of 2021)

>137 tonikat: Interesting and intimate post.

>146 tonikat: How interesting! I just read Robinson because it was discussed in a slim book I have been reading: Female Maturity from Jane Austen to Margaret Atwood: When Bildungsroman Meets Zietgeist. It discusses six other books (I thought I should read all those discussed, there were three I hadn't read, I have two more to go). I tended to read Robinson with the impending essay in mind. Loved your review, very thorough and insightful.

Edited: Dec 27, 2020, 1:50pm

>152 baswood: sorry not to reply before - I hope you do enjoy it, a lot of food for thought.

>156 avaland: - thanks for catching up. Thanks for your feedback, especially on Robinson (I remember it as a very clear review, but reading back now find it a bit hard to follow, must try harder. Usually I am a clear writer but I'm not sure this year's thread bears that out, and wonder about others now too). I will keep an eye out for that book I imagine I probably have four or five to go. It seems a very interesting topic.

(edit - there is something about posting on the net that might prompt to hide full clarity, lurking probably in my mind -- I do like to kind of freewheel in my posts, but I am also being a very bad proofreader.)

Dec 28, 2020, 3:31pm

>157 tonikat: The review was fine, really. I have probably been too much emphasizing that one female coming of age book, but I have two others on the shelf about the same subject. I hope to get them eventually.

Dec 28, 2020, 3:38pm

>158 avaland: I looked the book up, especially when I saw it was by a man. I've added it to the list of possible purchases, I'm cutting back, especially till i have read more. Maybe still some maturing to do, at my age. And I do have four and a half of those books yet to complete.

Edited: Dec 29, 2020, 10:14am

I'm wondering what it would be like to go back and read all of all of my threads since 2007. I tend to just go back to see when I read a book, sometimes to read what I wrote about it or for a certain exchange or recommendation. I'm bad with journals too, I don't read back over them much, or essays too. Maybe I will try a read through with New year. Is it possible I will outrage myself with an opinion or an omission? I may even get to tidy some typos etc.

Edited: Dec 29, 2020, 10:57am

>160 tonikat: I do occasionally go back and read through my old threads going back about as for as yours do, usually late at night when I can't sleep. I'm reminded of books I've read that I don't necessarily think of often, and of times in my life, like vacations my wife and I have taken over the years that are either reflected in my reading of the time or in comments I've made about them in the posts. Also, the old conversations with other LT members on those threads are fun to look back on. As for typos, yeah. I will fix them, even if I know that the chance at this point of anyone ever reading my 50-Book Challenge thread from 2011 is fairly, shall we say, slim.

Edited: Dec 29, 2020, 12:00pm

>161 rocketjk: now that sounds good -- my meds usually zonk me though, otherwise yes i could be up late at night doing such fun things. I do think about my reading and what I've said, and what others say, but I don't go back and those early ones may be a bit faint in my memory now. I'm not sure what made me think of this, probably preparing for another year, and I always link back to them, yet I don't read back in whole years by any means (and maybe it says something of some of my prose). A typo, as I can see you know, is a typo. And I am wracked by them, I so wish I had some real typing skills.

It's an aim for the NY then, I will start reading through. It will be interesting what I might find I have held back in my posts, and maybe a bit less interesting what I have actually said.

As to whether anyone else will evetr back read thee or me, well, who knows. Your mnention of your 2011 does make a person wonder what you got up to . . .

edit - I've said before but i also now wish i had recorded when i was reading the many unfinished books i have -- it all does bring back thoughts of certain times.

Edited: Dec 30, 2020, 2:46pm

The Truro Bear and other adventures by Mary Oliver

Something made me think of reading some Mary Oliver, I'm not sure what, a reference or mention somewhere. In 2008 and 2009 I read six or seven of her collections, then despite having more to read I went away from her, I had to listen to other tones of voice. It would be silly to characterise that as a lack in what I found in her, more liekly it spoke of a lack in me. I had taken in a lot of her tone. It's also a time I was busy workwise and also in my own writing, so broadening makes sense -- but also some diversion from some things that are core to me.

I think this volume would have been the next I had lined up -- and maybe I also knew that it republished some poems I already knew -- on this read it was only slowly that I became sure of that and then seeing the acknowledgements at the end. I'm quite glad I picked up on it (slowly) as memory broke in to confirm itself.

It is a lovely selection, plus poems that would have been new I think (I can't find acknowledgements for some) and also it has a collection of a number of her poems about her dog Percy.

It may be silly of an Oliver book to talk about a focus on nature, but these are very much a selection of poems of creaturely encounters. I've enjoyed it very much its freshened up my valuing of her voice and poems. They are decpetively simple - but that is a simplicity of depth and decision, and they always seem to turn from observation to greater depth (do those turns often show the wisdom of the decisions she makes, share it?). I may read more of those I have unread by her, and also may go back to her books on writing poetry. I've not bought the late collectin fo essays she brought out in my budgeting, maybe if i read what i have then, though it has tempted me. The story of how she came to embrace poetry in itself is wonderful, and a great example, especially to me at this time with choices to make in several ways. As she says in 'The Summer Day':

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

It may be because I was thinking of her that I started to think of my past threads. I do think in the time since I've had a sort of renegotiation with my take on her, I may say it is silly to characterise a lack in what I got from her, but I have definitely thought of that and that was definitely impacted from working in highly cognitve-behavioural environments, which is not what I most believe in and which I think is quite characterised by scepticism of humanist perspecitves. So, I am very glad to have come back to her writing.

There are of course many other voices and tones or modes, I know some of them much better now. In all that time I have this developing sense less of top tens and favourites as of individual recognitions in works and of authors (or further development of this, it fits my counselling studies and maybe has had to find itself as I read more literature). Given my struggles to write about Emily Dickinson at the moment, it strikes me as quite odd how we so often think of the work as a life in a way, lose the disctinction from the author or confuse the boundaries. It also strikes me as odd in some ways that we can think to have read the complete works of someone, and in that undoubtedly have some views of their trajectories, when in a way that must have been beyond them somewhat (though it is always easier to seem to have clarity on others than on ourselves). I'm not quite saying it clearly, but it may also relate to reading quickly in a way, a sort of feeling of how dare we (I!) hold this work and feel towards it lightly in comparison to what it may have cost, or (especially of Dickinson) unknowing of what place it had in her heart in some ways (maybe less so with some that are in letters or mentioned somehow) -- maybe it is just a sense of what it is to have this privilege of holding a life in poetry, something that must have helped them hold their very lives. And as ever is that entirely new to me, no, just insistent to me at the moment.

Here is the full text of 'The Summer Day'


edit -- yes, that is it, a sense of awe really in reading through, of holding so much of significance for an author, that has taken a very great deal of their attention at some point -- and a sense of how dare I read that through quickly (even though I may dare) when it is that weight of meaning and experience, no matter how lightly it may dance on it. At the progress I was making I thought I'd read Emily Dickinson through over the summer, I heard of someone that did that once, but I think in a way I don't want to -- I've been letting her sit with me, slowly. That's no judgement of someone that does read through in that way, more just where I am. And also maybe it is a reply to being commissioned to say something, it is a challenge to all the ways I feel validated to speak in such ways, a whisper in my ear to value carefully and weigh my words, which may be no better as a rssult, that is not my claim, but I hope more weighed, more thoughtful.

edit 2 - Strange too, having written that, I think of how often Mary Oliver writes of some apparently small wonder of the natural world, easily overlooked, and gives it a fuller depth and dignity, brings the world and herself to life with it and the reader, if they allow it. Weighing wonder carefully.

edit 3 - i think i should speak to this man about my issues with writing about Emily Dickinson, or maybe just read this again


Dec 31, 2020, 1:59pm

I know I recommended this somewhere in LT, but can't remember where—so apologies in advance for repeating myself in whatever fashion—but Mary Oliver did a lovely interview with Krista Tippett on On Being a few years back that they recently re-aired. Something about it was very soothing and inspiring to me when I listened to it on a walk last month.

Dec 31, 2020, 2:02pm

Ohhhh, thanks. I like On Being but often don't get to it properly after everything else, must manage that better. I'll look out for that.

Edited: Dec 31, 2020, 2:40pm

2020's films and tv

january -- 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. -- The Legend of the Suram Fortress (cinema) -- february -- Cast Away -- Yesterday -- Yesterday -- March -- The Admirable Crichton -- Miles Davis: birth of the cool -- Jack Ryan s. 1 -- Letters from an Indian Clerk -- April ** Picard s.1 ** The Professor and the madman **Jack Ryan s2 (how unbelievable was that and cf s1) ** The Report (another thing alogether)** Homecoming s.1 ** The Conversation ** Devs ** May ~~ Kingdom of Heaven (director's cut) ~~ Mr. Robot s.1 ~~ Mr. Robot s.2 ~~ June ~~ Mr Robot s. 3 ~~ The Colour of Pomegranates ~~ Mr Robot s. 4 (how beautiful) July ~~ Homecoming s2 ~~ Mad to be Normal ~~ Homecoming s1~~ The Way ~~ A Month in the Country ~~The Post ~~ Sicario ~~ The Post ~~ August ** Official Secret ** Mad Max: Fury Road ** Arrival ** Official Secret ** The Pelican Brief ** Knives Out ** L. A. Confidential ** A Dangerous Method "" Trumbo ** Face to Face: Carl Jung ** The Beatles, The Rooftop Concert ** September -- The Bridge s1 -- Paddington 2 -- Ted Hughes: stronger than death -- Seamus Heaney, Somethign to write home about -- The Bridge s2 -- The Real Dr Zhivago -- Bladerunner 2049 -- Snowden -- October ^^ Fair Game ^^ The Beach (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11603528/ ) ^^ Mystery Road II ^^ Captain Phillips ^^ Three Days of the Condor ^^ Sylvia ^^ A Streetcat Named Bob ^^ And So it Goes ^^ The Personal History of David Copperfield ^^ November ~~ Lucy in the Sky ~~ Red Sparrow ~~ The Woman in the Fifth ~~ The Martian ~~ Rocketman ~~ The Godfather III ~~ No country for old men ~~ The Big Lebowski ~~ December ** Munich ** Salinger ** Dark Waters ** The hermetic Jung ** Educating Rita ** The Passion of Joan of Arc ** The Midnight Sky ** The Queen's Gambit **

I've been looking forward to seeign how this would all format together, but meant to be more varied in the symbols used. Not a bad haul, usually i see over a hundred films, but obviously mostly no cinema and my excelletn tv has a known issue that no one seems to want to fix, so I am reduced to my Mum's when i see her or else my laptop except on the odd occasions the telly does allow itself to be swicthed on so i can watch it's beautiful screen.

But maybe because of this one highlight has been some tv that saw me through lockdown - Homecoming is wonderful, slightly prefer season 1, Sam Esmail, but looking forward to the next. I also binge watched Mr Robot, how had i not seen it, also of course M. Esmail. And at the end of the year I've watched The Queen's Gambit thsi week, fab, I have the book to read now. Another hightlight that aussie series The Beach. So a very good telly year for me.

In films I've caught up on quite a few films base don soem fo the weird happenings of this century - The Report, Official Secret and Snowden and Fair Game. Maybe Dark Waters even more so -- all these things so important. Also The Post from last century. New highlights otherwise include yesterday and also The Personal History of David Copperfield. Another highlight was seeing The Colour of Pomegranates and Legend of the Suram Fortress on consecutive days, very inspiring, poetry.

Oh and I have watched Arrival many more times, in parts as well, its a sort of comfort movie for me, or has been -- and a great theme of seeing us passed these ludicrous boundaires and jealousies and hatreds we have of ourselves.

Jan 9, 11:51am

Closing up my 2020 thread. It's been another good reading year, closing as opportunity to read increases a bit, focus and commitment to do so too, so onwards into 2021, whose thread is here: