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Read Any Good Books Lately?

 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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19 April 2015 14:19
 

The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. (Frederich Hegel)
gregory

 
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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20 April 2015 15:59
 
LadyJane - 19 April 2015 11:39 AM

This is what we do.  We deny the history or gloss over it and reduce everything to some superficial foot note that minimizes its effect and informs us of nothing.  All the while it stews like a pressure cooker and everything aligns in such a way that, the next thing you know, we are right back where we started repeating the same mistakes, feeling caught unawares.  We are, once again, at this very precipice.  It happens in an instant and maps are changed.

Well written.  History is perception, a subjective point of view with objective results.  Learning how to study history is at least as important to studying it, just as having a tool is not the same as knowing how to use it.

LadyJane - 19 April 2015 11:39 AM

I never agree with banning books.  It makes them more attractive once they lift.  It gives them more credibility than they deserve.  The distribution of this book has been met with the emotional responses one would expect but lacks the reason one would hope.  It makes people fear and hate and judge.  People who haven’t even read it.  It’s easier to avoid its presence.  It’s easier to deny its existence.  Very much the way I glanced away from its home on the shelf all these years. 

No book should have that much power.

Because of this and the above we’ll keep you around for a while longer.

[ Edited: 20 April 2015 16:34 by Skipshot]
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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20 April 2015 16:09
 

Fun fact: ‘Mein Kampf’ is extremely popular in India as a self-help book. Or as one mayor from there put is “all you have to do is replace the word ‘Jew’ with ‘Muslim’.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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20 April 2015 16:15
 
Twissell - 20 April 2015 02:09 PM

Fun fact: ‘Mein Kampf’ is extremely popular in India as a self-help book. Or as one mayor from there put is “all you have to do is replace the word ‘Jew’ with ‘Muslim’.

Which is exactly what Muslims did in the Quran.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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21 April 2015 13:03
 

We all seem to be pointing at the same thing.  The dangerous, and present, combination of xenophobia and nationalism.  Examining what it means is the only way through.  You can cherry pick any book.

 
 
Bugs Bunny
 
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27 May 2015 00:38
 

The Tyranny Of Guilt:  An Essay On Western Masochism - By Pascal Bruckner

We live in a time when men, driven by mediocre,
ferocious ideologies, are becoming used to being ashamed of everything.  Ashamed of themselves, ashamed to be happy, to love and to create….

So we have to feel guilty.  We are being dragged before the secular confessional, the worst of all. 

-Albert Camus

 
 
LadyJane
 
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27 May 2015 11:14
 
person - 26 May 2015 10:38 PM

The Tyranny Of Guilt:  An Essay On Western Masochism - By Pascal Bruckner

We live in a time when men, driven by mediocre,
ferocious ideologies, are becoming used to being ashamed of everything.  Ashamed of themselves, ashamed to be happy, to love and to create….

So we have to feel guilty.  We are being dragged before the secular confessional, the worst of all. 

-Albert Camus

The time we spend wrapping our heads around events as they happen seem to rob us of the opportunity to learn from them.  Considering it has taken three quarters of a century for us to come to terms with recent history suggests it may hinder our ability to face the future at this pivotal moment in time.  That looks like interesting reading material and an Albert Camus quote is always a great start to any day.  Thanks.  Here’s another:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”  - Albert Camus

 
 
Bugs Bunny
 
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01 June 2015 13:10
 
LadyJane - 27 May 2015 09:14 AM
person - 26 May 2015 10:38 PM

The Tyranny Of Guilt:  An Essay On Western Masochism - By Pascal Bruckner

We live in a time when men, driven by mediocre,
ferocious ideologies, are becoming used to being ashamed of everything.  Ashamed of themselves, ashamed to be happy, to love and to create….

So we have to feel guilty.  We are being dragged before the secular confessional, the worst of all. 

-Albert Camus

The time we spend wrapping our heads around events as they happen seem to rob us of the opportunity to learn from them.  Considering it has taken three quarters of a century for us to come to terms with recent history suggests it may hinder our ability to face the future at this pivotal moment in time.  That looks like interesting reading material and an Albert Camus quote is always a great start to any day.  Thanks.  Here’s another:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”  - Albert Camus

Sometimes I can begin a book knowing that it will take a couple times in to gain an idea of what the author is trying to convey.  He reminds the reader, during one portion that history carries with it as much a collective forgetfulness, as well as a memory that holds onto the resentments and grievances.  Even quoting from Ernest Renan.  “Someone who has to make history has to forget history.”

From the author, the message I thought was at the heart.

“We cannot go on forever using suffering to make demands on the future; the time of prosecution has to come to an end after a few generations, once the biological duration has been respected, and to make room for the work of the researcher.
  There comes a time when we have to let the dead bury the dead, taking with them their dissensions and their woes.  Focusing on what separates us rather than on what unites us is always dangerous.  Oblivion is what makes room for the living, for newcomers who want to wipe away the obligations of the past and not bear the burden of ancient resentments.  It is a power of beginning again for future generations.”

Irresponsible to say?  Maybe so.  Aren’t these our obligations as a society?  To carry the past in our collective memory so we do not repeat the same mistakes.    He offers some insight into what I think hinders our ability to face the future.  It can also be asking too much to expect the human mind as capable of imagining a world without resentment.

Thanks for the quote of Albert Camus.  I spent a little time reading up on his other quotes,  found this one thought it worth hanging onto.  “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

 
 
sojourner
 
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04 June 2015 02:22
 

On Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Um. I do not get it. Like a lot. An American iconic classic? One of the best selling philosophy books ever? My not getting it knows no bounds. As this is a public forum, I feel the need to apologize profusely if Robert Pirsig ever reads these words. (A .00001% chance, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m sorry, I mean it, I’m sure you’re a great person and you’ve been through a lot.) It seems extremely questionable in terms of empirical reality and whether events the author describes actually took place (a lot of them seem way ‘too cute’), but as he’s supposed to be losing his mind during parts of the narrative, maybe that was intentional. Not the way it read to me (he’s writing it in retrospect with a regained mind, so it reads as if he’s describing real events while in this state) but maybe I missed that subtlety. Then he basically rebrands the Tao in a way that is somewhat more confusing and way more aggressive, as it involves him getting egregiously pissed off at everyone he meets including ancient philosophers. Some interesting insights that were probably fresh and illuminating in the 70s but read as baby boomer tropes in 2015; as well as some genuinely interesting insights - if I’d have found this book hidden on a back shelf somewhere I would have considered it the interesting if esoteric and often dramatically overwrought journey of one quirky character, I don’t understand it in the context of what many people call a life-changing bestseller though.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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04 June 2015 12:36
 
NicLynn - 04 June 2015 12:22 AM

On Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Um. I do not get it. Like a lot. An American iconic classic? One of the best selling philosophy books ever? My not getting it knows no bounds. As this is a public forum, I feel the need to apologize profusely if Robert Pirsig ever reads these words. (A .00001% chance, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m sorry, I mean it, I’m sure you’re a great person and you’ve been through a lot.) It seems extremely questionable in terms of empirical reality and whether events the author describes actually took place (a lot of them seem way ‘too cute’), but as he’s supposed to be losing his mind during parts of the narrative, maybe that was intentional. Not the way it read to me (he’s writing it in retrospect with a regained mind, so it reads as if he’s describing real events while in this state) but maybe I missed that subtlety. Then he basically rebrands the Tao in a way that is somewhat more confusing and way more aggressive, as it involves him getting egregiously pissed off at everyone he meets including ancient philosophers. Some interesting insights that were probably fresh and illuminating in the 70s but read as baby boomer tropes in 2015; as well as some genuinely interesting insights - if I’d have found this book hidden on a back shelf somewhere I would have considered it the interesting if esoteric and often dramatically overwrought journey of one quirky character, I don’t understand it in the context of what many people call a life-changing bestseller though.

I read it once, in the 80s, found it mildly interesting at best, and have never been interested in re-reading it.

I did get a couple of insights out of it, but I suspect that’s mostly because I’d read absolutely zero about Zen by that point so I was bound to learn something. The only scene I really remember was about the friend who was uncomfortable with a fix Pirsig offered—using a soda can to wrap about the rod/shaft which connected handlebars to front wheel. This person didn’t feel comfortable improvising like that, and so therefore he wasn’t really in control of the bike since he relied on others to fix it “properly.”

So give the book credit—a quarter century after I read it once, I still remember one scene.

 
 
sojourner
 
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04 June 2015 16:05
 
bigredfutbol - 04 June 2015 10:36 AM

I read it once, in the 80s, found it mildly interesting at best, and have never been interested in re-reading it.

I did get a couple of insights out of it, but I suspect that’s mostly because I’d read absolutely zero about Zen by that point so I was bound to learn something. The only scene I really remember was about the friend who was uncomfortable with a fix Pirsig offered—using a soda can to wrap about the rod/shaft which connected handlebars to front wheel. This person didn’t feel comfortable improvising like that, and so therefore he wasn’t really in control of the bike since he relied on others to fix it “properly.”

So give the book credit—a quarter century after I read it once, I still remember one scene.


I remember that scene, the guy didn’t want to use it in part because it came from a beer can, even though it’s the exact same metal he would have gotten elsewhere. I thought the first half of the book (where that scene is from) was the best, actually. In the second, when he talks about Phaedrus, all elements of the narrative become increasingly self-referential and self-aggrandizing. Everyone’s reactions to everything involve him, and more specifically, involve this sort of Trojan-warrior philosophical quest that he envisions. Often with elaborately inferred intentions and motivations (you kind of get the idea that if you could actually interview his colleagues and students, they’d have no idea what the hell he was talking about and remember his as that quirky guy who never trimmed his beard and talked a lot about philosophy, but he describes them as taking part in this ongoing drama.) By the time he has a breakdown, you’re not sure if he actually had a breakdown or some kind of manic episode that spun out of control; or if it was psychosomatic because he convinced himself that true geniuses must go insane when they see The Truth.


Again, not sure if that was supposed to be a reflection on the descent into mental instability, but that same style appears in the ‘current’ narrative (where he’s looking back, remembering,) in the book. I.e., he sees this wild, deep, philosophical struggle going on with his 12-year-old son (who, tragically, was stabbed to death during a mugging in San Francisco, years after the book was published,) largely because the kid keeps having temperamental snits, which is what 12-year-olds are prone to do. Interesting character study but I don’t understand how so many people found it life-changing.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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06 June 2015 14:54
 
NicLynn - 04 June 2015 12:22 AM

On Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Um. I do not get it. Like a lot. An American iconic classic? One of the best selling philosophy books ever? My not getting it knows no bounds. As this is a public forum, I feel the need to apologize profusely if Robert Pirsig ever reads these words. (A .00001% chance, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m sorry, I mean it, I’m sure you’re a great person and you’ve been through a lot.) It seems extremely questionable in terms of empirical reality and whether events the author describes actually took place (a lot of them seem way ‘too cute’), but as he’s supposed to be losing his mind during parts of the narrative, maybe that was intentional. Not the way it read to me (he’s writing it in retrospect with a regained mind, so it reads as if he’s describing real events while in this state) but maybe I missed that subtlety. Then he basically rebrands the Tao in a way that is somewhat more confusing and way more aggressive, as it involves him getting egregiously pissed off at everyone he meets including ancient philosophers. Some interesting insights that were probably fresh and illuminating in the 70s but read as baby boomer tropes in 2015; as well as some genuinely interesting insights - if I’d have found this book hidden on a back shelf somewhere I would have considered it the interesting if esoteric and often dramatically overwrought journey of one quirky character, I don’t understand it in the context of what many people call a life-changing bestseller though.

Like BRF I read it in college, also never understood the point.  I own it. Its a 75 cent yellowing paperback.  I am staring at it as I reread this post.  In fact, I wrote my name on the book.  That was the time I wrote my name on every book I owned.  Wow memories.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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16 June 2015 20:42
 

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

That’s about the tenth time I’ve read it and it somehow holds more significance than ever.

I read what some of you write about language, where you pretend words don’t mean what they do, and it makes me wonder why anyone would be so eager to disregard the only way humans have been able to establish a way to communicate amicably and reach understanding.  It seems the moment we fail to comprehend something we lazily render the words meaningless while hiding behind semantical fantasies that we invent along the way.  What a cop out.  When we agree that nothing means anything yet expect everyone to speak our own individual language that only we understand, we remain stuck spinning around in confusion, lose our ability to communicate and leave everything hopelessly unresolved.  It is retarding.

I, for one, will be hanging onto all my books.  And saving all my maps.

 
 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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17 June 2015 22:21
 
LadyJane - 16 June 2015 06:42 PM

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

That’s about the tenth time I’ve read it and it somehow holds more significance than ever.

I read what some of you write about language, where you pretend words don’t mean what they do, and it makes me wonder why anyone would be so eager to disregard the only way humans have been able to establish a way to communicate amicably and reach understanding.  It seems the moment we fail to comprehend something we lazily render the words meaningless while hiding behind semantical fantasies that we invent along the way.  What a cop out.  When we agree that nothing means anything yet expect everyone to speak our own individual language that only we understand, we remain stuck spinning around in confusion, lose our ability to communicate and leave everything hopelessly unresolved.  It is retarding.

I, for one, will be hanging onto all my books.  And saving all my maps.

Words are ok as long as we agree to use the same definition. That seems to me to be the first step in an “argument”  - define the word/s, We may disagree as to the definition, but using the word as you have defined it is a part of communication. ey?
gregory

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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18 June 2015 00:30
 

Started reading Smarter than You Think by Clive Thompson.  I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  The book is about the integration of technology with human brain power.  While some other writers have been negative and alarmist on this topic, Thompson looks at the positives, though he also brings in some balance.

Appropos of this forum, he talks about the need for a good moderator, or what he calls a “tummler.” This is a delightful term from the Yiddish word for the person at a wedding party responsible for keeping the crowd engaged and dancing.  I think we have good tummlers here on this forum.smile

Anyway, lots of though-provoking ideas on this inevitable integration.  BTW, did you know that Plato was quoted as denigrating the advent of writing?  He believed that only good conversation, the give and take, could flesh out great ideas.  However, just think, a forum is like a conversation, but with more people, and time to ponder and fact check.  A new development that can have very positive consequences.

 
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