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In addition to being a long-standing (and upstanding) multi-talented dynamo here at the website, Ann Ellenbecker remains a reserved and humble brainiac the calculating cool kid who made her philosophy professor really earn his salary back during those first-year college lectures on Hobbes and Descartes. She can also belt out an impressive rendition of Come Together by The Beatles and looks terrific in a silver wig.
"To be sure, one thing is necessary above all if one is to practice reading as an art in this way [by exegesis], something that has been unlearned most thoroughly nowadays and therefore it will be some time before my writings are 'readable' something for which one has almost to be a cow and in any case not a 'modern man': rumination." Friedrich Nietzsche in his preface to On the Genealogy of Morals
Nonfiction That Falls Into My Category of Innate Passions: Physics, Philology, Philosophy, and Phun (I mean, Fun)
You're Joking Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard
Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures By Noam
This work is a transcription of five lectures Chomsky gave at the Universidad Centroamericana in 1986. The lectures cover US foreign policy ("the overall framework of order") and its dictatorial power over the domestic policies of other countries, in particular those of Central America. They also delve into our own domestic and security policies.
Here, reality is brought to light. When Chomsky remarks in the fifth lecture, "The Domestic Scene", "…if anything is freely discussed, it is probably unimportant," he is referring directly to the censorship placed on the press, in terms of limited jurisdiction, after the US invasion of Grenada. A big deal was made about this; the press threw a public tantrum, making it seem this was the real injustice. What about all the information that was available that the press chose to suppress? The unreported information included Cuba's stance and the US Government's betrayal toward that understanding. This is quintessential Chomsky.
Another interesting aspect of the book is its relationship to one of his later works, Manufacturing Consent, in which he shows that big business and the media have a blatant conflict of interest. "In a country where the voice of the people can be heard, it is necessary to ensure that that voice says the right things." Chomsky is a must-read for anyone living on this planet today.
the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich
I've read and reread this book so many times I could write pages on the importance of the work. The website gurus here, however, have to impart some boundaries, thus I will limit myself to a few juicy comments. In the first section, the master/slave dichotomy and its place in the idea of good vs. evil/bad sets the stage for the current "understanding" of morality. When Nietzsche moves into the second section, this is tied to the Christian ideal and its progression (or lack thereof). Here, he states in plain language that the origin of a thing does not necessarily define the current utility of that thing. The third section then brings us to the importance of asceticism. The ever present "will" in Nietzsche's work is no stranger here. He explores the depth of self-discipline/self-control. Yet, to understand fully is to see that by no means does he suggest that one wallow or remain stagnant in this practice. Rather, this should bring about a more complete comprehension of life, very closely related to his Dionysian ideal (first introduced to the reader in The Birth of Tragedy).
One final point I'd like to make is the importance of translators. This is the case in most anything you read, but in my opinion it is of the essence when picking the right edition of a philosophical work. Walter Kaufmann has consistently come out on top, being the most comprehensive and true to form, of all translators of Nietzsche. This opinion comes from many years of study in philosophy and a few in German. Danke shön, Herr Kaufmann.
Curse by Jon
Scieszka & Lane
One day at school our protagonist is told that everything you encounter can be broken down in terms of a mathematical problem. From here on out, her world tailspins into a polynomial purgatory. It's great fun, if not a little too true, and the illustrations are a scream! They make you appreciate even more the emotion behind the infinitely irrepressible Cartesian conundrum she has stumbled upon. Fun, fun for the whole family.
Nonfiction of a More Recreational Birth
Northwest Camping: The Complete Guide to Campsites in Washington and Oregon
Leibovitz and Susan
This book is especially important in that it brings together the varied lives of many ages, races, and occupations and poignantly showcases them in one volume. The interconnection lies in the fundamental understanding and collective emotion of sharing a gender.
This is also one of my favorite gifts that I've given. Aunt Catherine, I
hope you're enjoying it.
Inordinate Fondness for Beetles By Arthur
V. Evans and Charles L. Bellamy
My Tendency Toward Strong Women Writers (Or How I Turned Out, After Being Raised by My Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother)
Byatt's use of language is lyrical and poignant. It drips from the pages like honey from a lover's tongue. She evokes the passion of a new crush and the comfort of the sofa you would nap on as a child. This power of her writing never ceases to move me. I'll forever return to favorite passages only to feel the initial chill. My skin is no longer my own.
Possession is the sheer essence of Byatt's work. She weaves the tale of a pair of literary scholars studying the lives of two Victorian poets. As the research progresses, their lives become more intertwined along with their interest and love of the work and, of course, each other. But, this is not your average romance. I remember the first time I came upon this book. I contemplated the subject matter without overwhelming enthusiasm. However, after reading a few chapters I became engrossed. It's not what she's writing about, but how she writes it.
Butch Blues By Leslie
on the Body by Jeanette
The first three pages of the book make up the most beautiful passage I have ever seen used to describe the state of love. The story unfolds, revealing a love triangle. Less important is the dynamic of this triangle and more the underlying emotion: the delirium and pain, the rapture and lust of falling in love, and the impossibility of understanding it. I become entrenched in the depth of bittersweet torture that circles the main character. True happiness is rarely admitted. The romanticism lies in the eloquent longing. A selfless decision is misconstrued and selfish ideas are wielded all crumbling on the side of contempt. This is heartfelt writing. This is a woman who understands. Winterson is truly a welcome voice in contemporary fiction writers.
I can't leave the opportunity to promote some of her other titles, as well.
Top recommendations go to The
and Lies, Gut
Symmetries, and her latest, The World and Other Places, a collection
of short stories. Mind you, I am the consummate avoider of short stories;
this collection is the definite exception. The standout is "Disappearance
I", the story of a society that doesn't allow/need sleep; dreams are seen
as an unnecessary luxury to be purchased at snooze bars or by mail order.
It's very timely in its virtual realism, and quite eerie in the reality of