Kat turns the page, 2023

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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Kat turns the page, 2023

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 31, 2022, 7:15 pm

Hello. Happy New Year, and wishing health and peace.

My 2022 thread is here - https://www.librarything.com/topic/338049 (Kat, my blank pages 2022)

My introductions post may have made me sound obsessed with numbers, the quantity of my reading. I'm not. Though I do see it as a measure of my reading and getting it to where I want it to be, but it is only one dimension of that. Before LT and the 50 book challenge I'd never thought to count my books read - though having said that a teacher at Uni did have me count pages read for a while before I rebelled. As I said in the introductions post fifty does seem like a reasonable amount to complete each year to me, you'd think, a book a week, but adult life is just not so simple. It's come up as I realised I was approaching a certain figure over the years on LT as I have been reviewing my threads, that figure is quite arbitrary in a way though an apparent landmark and maybe also I am ahead of myself. So I will try to desist from the numbers, so un-Club Read of me and simply focus on what my reviewing my reading since I joined LT tells me (and why not before that as well).

One thing the reviewing of past threads did bring up were memories of unfinished books which I will think on some more, maybe, if I can avoid hot air. This time of year always seems to bring up unfinished books to me and a wish to tidy them up. At this point it would take years to complete them all. Though I am sure I would not want to complete all of them.

I usually try to follow my heart with what I read - which may be one reason for drift, and given my changeability. Reviewing my reading seems to help me clarify exactly what my heart does want. Which may also lead me to find which unfinished books to focus on, why and actually do it - the start of a plan, though as anyone that reads my threads would know, I don't usually do plans.

I also have a feeling that my talking too much about my reading can put me off it -- especially whilst i am doing it, though it is sometimes tempting (and yes I have been tempted) to say something about something you are in process with. I don't even like to post what I am reading as it curiously seems they then become unfinisheds.

edit - there is something I am trying to say in all this that seems a bit out of reach. I want to be clear, or reach it more clearly. But it may also have to do with things I'd not post about mostly and in detail. Reviewing my first LT thread I remembered being much more careful of expressing my feelings and it led me to reaffirm I had to in some way, despite this being the interweb, though maybe at a certain point it is for a different type of writing and sometimes private, which can bring a danger of confusing spaces. I'm again questioning how open to be on the web, which may have led to some of my recent posts, but again it's pointless unless I try to say what I feel.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 9:47 am

completed 2023

~ Super-infinite: the transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell kindle ed. - my comments
~ The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark - my comments
~ The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie - my comments

~ Touching the Rock by John M. Hull - my comments
~ Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg kindle ed. - my comments
~ The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill - my comments
~ Leaves of Grass: 1855 edition by Walt Whitman kindle ed. - my comments and a few more

~ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - my comments
~ Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse - my comments

~ The Misanthrope by Moliere translated by Tony Harrison my comments
~ The Personal History of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens Kindle ed. my comments
~ Halfway up the Tree by Peter Ustinov my comments
~ Fear of Flying by Erica Jong my comments
~ Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen my comments
~ Harmonium by Wallace Stevens in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens my comments

~ The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century by John Burnside some comments
~ A Dead Secret by Rodney Ackland my comments here

~ Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
~ My Girl by Barrie Keefe (compiled with Frozen Assets)
~ Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
~ two other short books not on LT (E and TToT)
~ The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
~ The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

~ A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf Kindle ed.
~ a poetry collection
~ The Paris Review Interviews, Vol.1 by The Paris Review

~ Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey
~ The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
~ The Paris Review Interviews, Vol 2 by The Paris Review
(~ Nature in The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

~ The Paris Review Interviews, Vol 3 by The Paris Review
~ A Friend of Kafka by Isaac Bashevis Singer
~ The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash
~ Love's Labour's Lost in The Oxford Shakespeare, complete works by William Shakespeare

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 13, 11:42 am

joulukuu 30, 2022, 12:07 pm

>1 tonikat: I will try to desist from the numbers, so un-Club Read of me
Well, not all of Club Read. I'm personally not a fan of keeping track of numbers, though I know it works for plenty of other people. For me, it's antithetical to the whole idea of reading for pleasure, like notches in a bedpost vs. a good, friendly/loving roll in the hay. But I do think I'm in the minority on that.

Anyway, I enjoy your associative reviews, and look forward to following along in 2023.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2022, 5:47 pm

>4 lisapeet: thanks - I don't think I have made a big deal of numbers before, but it has been there for me in some way since starting LT. I gave up numbering my lists - and in fact gave up making an overview list at all in some years. I agree about the notches on bedposts feeling.

On the other hand maybe I have put my finger on something in that when I was studying a very high figure for pages read was given to me that I achieved for a while before rebelling. I'm not in academia but that left an imprint, although it was for study reading not just for myself.

Thanks for what you say, I'm going to try to continue and grow into the year and the posts. Happy New Year to you, I've been resisting posting that but I will now, maybe I should have resisted another 30 hours or so.


What that first post has made me realise more clearly, and what I hedge around saying in a number of ways is that in some way my view of my reading is wounded. The Wounded Reader you might say (I do like Henri Nouwen).

In a way that I think is quite a common theme amongst some readers and those getting back into it or into it anew. There can be an eagerness to say something to show authenticity and be recognised. I've had both high recognition and its polar opposite, worse in fact. This has to do with education and choices made badly (and despite my wishes on three occasions) and the consequences of that, despite what was seen as ability. But it goes far beyond education in terms of taking my own ability for granted but allowing others to move me away from what I might have liked best - and that has a gender expectation aspect for me along with some other personal aspects. And beyond that are some reasons to do with some very bad misunderstandings and experiences on top of my own. So this thing I value so highly I don't stand where I'd like to with and it became quite a confused journey. But then if I did stand where I might assume I could have would I write as I do, maybe not, maybe it would not have helped - but also as a writer maybe it maddens me a bit not to have done what I wanted. Anyway, as I say such feelings I do not think are uncommon in some ways and are often implicit in interactions between readers and their perceptions of themselves and those they are in discussion with. No need for more detail here.

On with the healing.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 4:11 pm

Hi Kat. I can relate to this: “I also have a feeling that my talking too much about my reading can put me off it … I don't even like to post what I am reading as it curiously seems they then become unfinisheds.”

I find I want to capture my state of mind now, whenever now is. But if I capture it, the act changes it. And my relationship to my book changes. Which isn’t usually desirable (although sometimes it is). But if i don’t capture it, I forget it and it’s gone. Unretrievable.

Also, trying to capture it takes time and effort - and trial-and-error. And that takes away from something else I can be doing. And then - even if I get it all right, I might feel uncomfortable posting it. 🙂

Oh, also, I like that your reserved posts are “politely reserved”.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 5:05 pm

You are making me think about the whole numbers issue. I love lists and data, so numbering things comes naturally to me. I have spreadsheets and wishlists and planning lists and lists of books I've acquired. Making lists can give me direction and can give me a sense of accomplishment. (Sometimes I add things to my to-do list, just so I can cross them off!). But now I'm wondering about how others perceive my lists. Does it seem like I'm oversharing or being pushy? (rhetorical question) As I think about how to start my 2023 thread, I'll be pondering this issue more. Your thread always gives me things to think about. Thanks!

joulukuu 30, 2022, 5:20 pm

I love lists, too. And it's not about numbers. It's about giving myself some direction, narrowing down the choices - though I still can read books on a whim that aren't on my list - everything is subject to change! I agree that 50 books in a year sounds reasonable, but yeah - adult life. 2022 was my worst year in a long time, and I started it by wanting to read 60 books - that got lowered to 48 by June, and I ended up with 41 (at least as of right now). In fact, I've only hit 50 books in 3 out of the last, well, however many years I've been keeping track. I don't think I have set a number for 2023. So this may be my first year without a quantity goal.

Anyway, I loved whoever said that Club Read was set up to be a group that focused on quality rather than quantity.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2022, 6:08 pm

>7 labfs39: now I am sorry in a different way, that my comments may have seemed to judge others - I used to take better care to be clear they are coming from me and of relevance to me (another reason i don't post reviews claiming to be reviews as such). Lists are fine for all those reasons if you like them for that. I never feel anyone here is pushy really. I always like to remember that for Shakespeare numbers could be his lines.

(and I also now have a spreadsheet of my completeds -- and oh the potential)

>6 dchaikin: Yes I can relate to that, that big nexus or cloud of understanding in me, most of which remains unshared and just rains down inside me and presumably waters my mountains and plains somehow to become known amongst other sources in other things.

A lot of my impetus comes from counselling and I can believe in sharing - but it is the interweb of course. But gains are made from doing it in the way right for us, facing the uncomfortable.

deleted comments on the uncomfortable for me, they should have gone on and on really, not least maybe being too open, and seeming to assume my version is the same as others'.

I think I have touched on this theme before - i amy even have stopped myself from my rewrite of Nouwen before (in my memory) as it is maybe too direct. But I feel good for having said it and maybe it waited until i had a thread by this title. Maybe all readers in some way are wounded in their reading and so much for my little sob story. But I do feel a bit closer to just doing it having said it more clearly.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 5:29 pm

>8 WelshBookworm: I read and practiced The Artist's Way this year - one of the quotes in it was about taking care of the quantity and letting God take care of the quality, which was about writing, but maybe it can be reading too and may help me resolve these two areas a bit. I like the idea that focusing on the quality reported on here may be some sort of spiritual (not necessarily God) report back from the graft.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 5:54 pm

I like lists and keeping track, after all that's why I joined LT in the first place. But not keeping track or numbering things is also equally valid and the fun thing is that we get to find what works for ourselves and enjoy seeing what works for others. I look forward to following your reading in 2023.

joulukuu 30, 2022, 10:51 pm

Yeah, I don't want to sound judgy about anyone else keeping track of numbers, just that it's not a good thing for the way I operate. I love a challenge—I closed all the fitness tracker rings on my watch every day of October, and I drew in my sketchbook every day in November, and I've only missed two days of meditation in four years—but that means I need to pick and choose what disciplines I want to impose on myself, and otherwise give myself super explicit permission not to care.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 31, 2022, 7:21 am

>11 RidgewayGirl: thanks and for your thoughts and I'll look forward to your thread too
>12 lisapeet: and for yours too Lisa, that makes a lot of sense.

I think I had a bit of cold yesterday, everything was a bit more intense. But I'm really glad, I think I have clarified something I've been trying to say. Maybe the deeper stuckness will remain to stick me in its bog. I don't know, doesn't feel like it at the mo.

I used the word resolve yesterday and another occurs to me, like this is a reconciliation, both in a book keeping and an emotional sense. It also occurs to me it has resonance with my reading of Iain McGilchrist and the brain last year and may be I'm analysing whilst also trying to sublate in his sense and keep the feelings fresh and connected to the living world. And that may be something, each in our own unique ways, we all have a sense of how to do for ourselves.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 7:37 am

>9 tonikat: Not at all, Kat! I enjoy thinking about my reading, its importance to me, and how I share it. For me, reading is a good indicator of my emotional state of being. When I'm struggling, I also struggle to read. One year, a few years ago, I only read 10 books all year. A tough year. I didn't even make an appearance on LT. Being able to share about my book life with others makes me happy, but also requires (of me) a certain level of calm. Which is odd, since I often process my thoughts best when writing. But writing and sharing are two different things, I suppose. Anyway, I appreciate these types of conversations which make me think about my relationship to my reading. As Kay says, "the fun thing is that we get to find what works for ourselves and enjoy seeing what works for others." I'm glad you are here!

joulukuu 31, 2022, 2:34 pm

>14 labfs39: thanks Lisa. I have had some times like that whilst here. Reading is a gift, completed, incompleted or whatever and the chance to be around some people that love it too.

joulukuu 31, 2022, 9:35 pm

Happy new year, tonikat! I never got the impression that you were obsessed with stats--you are a deep diver, a Perlentaucher in my view, and that's antithetical to bean counting.

For my part, I started keeping track of what I read in my teens because I wanted to have references to what occupied me when. And as I have been using the same format of notebooks for decades, I know the numbers almost without counting. Over time my numbers were astonishingly stable, so a freak year like this one really pops out. Could be the start of a new trend (is my eyesight getting worse?), could be the proverbial exception...

Reading is a gift


tammikuu 1, 7:22 am

>16 LolaWalser: Morning and a Happy New year to you too and to all. Thanks for what you say - I have an image of those Japanese girls in You Only Live Twice (in my dreams). I have a couple of notebooks from my 20s, but nothing in my teens, sadly. But onwards and any questions about eyesight, i'd say in my experience to address swiftly, as that is something that has had an impact for me.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 5:16 am

January links


I was thinking I'd make a separate post for each interesting link i come across, but that will make the thread expand too much - so instead I thought I'd start saying a bit about each link.
I've not got very far with being kind every day. But I try. I offer a smile more often than i ever did before.


I really loved McGilchrist's book The Master and his Emissary but did have some problems with it, especially the history side of it (as a history graduate - hsi sources do seem much thinner on the ground in that area, though he is far better versed than me in philosophy and maybe poetry in some ways), so some of these comments in this review make sense to me. I was disappointed in the first book how he dismissed (without real consideration) Peter Kingsley's work which I feel is also relevant. This is an expensive book, and will have to go on a wish list for now. Though the first one still has me thinking about it, and me and the world.




then there are the things you can't really say anything about.


https://www.theguardian.com/media/2023/jan/24/black-teachers-trans-women-cleaner... the 70s seeming ahead of us?

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2023/jan/24/three-minutes-a-lengthening... second time i have read about this documentary, i must see it

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/26/advising-others-on-crucial-life-ch... -- yes, with you on that one

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/26/madrid-exhibition-tells-story-of-s... another it is hard to speak of, especially briefly - I think I knew this, i think i forgot about it, and yet how could I.




https://www.santafe.edu/news-center/news/ted-chiang-joins-sfi-miller-scholars - interesting it would have seemed he'd have been more in touch with scientists, yet maybe distance brings perspective and space to think and hold ideas that may seem bad-- edit 'it would have seemed' my lazy language for lazy thinking, sort of an easy guess would be that, an ignorant one too

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/feb/17/gender-trolling-women... - more than alarming, in some ways the institutionalisation of the very things we're supposed to be against










Short stories and some individual poems

Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf, reread (at https://www.virginiawoolfproject.com/collected-short-stories-by-virginia-woolf/)
The Green Man by Jeanette Winterson
Rapunzel in Grimm Tales: for old and young a new English version by Philip Pullman

tammikuu 2, 3:29 pm

>18 tonikat: Interesting. I like the idea of structure without pressure

tammikuu 30, 5:29 am

>20 labfs39: not sure why I didn't reply to you Lisa, but yes, take pressure off, where does it come from anyway, does it have any purpose in this area really? does it have anything to do with the tone of the book/s or the tone in which the writer lived? (some of them maybe, can i think of one churning out stuff to deadlines under pressure, I'm not sure). and also an idea of liberating fun.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 11, 5:47 am

The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark

I started this maybe in November and found the first two chapters or so very claustrophobic and wondered if perhaps I did not like this presentation of people as so stuck in a small social game. But picked it up again in the new year and liked it much better, am not wholly sure why, it does get very playful with that small world.

So what am i talking about - well our young protagonist, an arts man out of Edninburgh University has coem with his fiancee to London. But she has been ill and decides he's not for her, that nmostly happens before and at times during the book, by phone. I don't think we ever see them meet except maybe in flashback. However he goes and gets himself a job in HR as an arts man for a manufacturer in Peckham and finds lodgings nearby.

In the process we are treated to a slice of Peckham life and all those social niceties and rules and relationships that are in play. A good deal of people like Dougal Douglas (or was it Douglas Dougal) and a good deal of people have quite a strong aversion to him. he meanwhile may be coming apart at the seams with his lost love, or is it an act, or is he just comign apart at the seams or is he just free and different and odd? Wole essays could be written on that. he challenges some, he manipulates some, is free and easy and good company, on the other had he tells some people he's had his horns removed and he may be somewhat supernatural.

That is at the core of it for me. But not in a simple way. My copy came with a foreword by William Boyd who very clearly says that he does not believe the supernatural is in play at all and this is a story that is just about these real people in this oh so real world. I think that is a very good comment and something that really empathises with the story and characters. And it may be that such a comment leads quite easily to another thought - for me - and that is that that such comments about horns, mention of visions (on Peckham Rye where Blake has such a vision!) and many of the situations that occur lead to an obvious question. People are stuck in these social games so clearly and the difference with a more religious past seems to be that in addressing them they stay very material, kind of prisoners of this material world - that they are prisoners to so very many modern answers and to not looking beyond somehow. And Dougal in trying to break out of it in his way may also avoid such a question, maybe it is inevitable in making a challenge there may be a flirtation with what would traditionally be seen as just plain bad - as he too does not open out to something bigger but simply challenges, plays, rebels. The question it would seem to me would be one of faith, of opening up to the possibility of much more. And that of course also resonates with what I have read in Sparks' earlier novels and it really makes me like her quite a lot. Though it is a pity if it is not understood. But maybe i am wrong. I do also still feel, looking back on it that giving these people such limitations does sit uneasily for me and also insofar as it may seem to give models that do not see ways out of their maze.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 24, 1:54 pm

Super-Infinite: the transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell

I saw this on offer and read how it was lauded and bought it and read it really quite quickly from Christmas holiday-time. Shortish chapters. It was really very readable.

I've not really read much Donne. I love the Sun Rising poem and maybe know a few others a little. There is also something about him I find thorny somehow and needing work on my part to see properly (as with so many of his time -- and they usually reqard a full reconciliation of what they are saying, but they can seem so difficult, not so much just intellectually as facing difficult things). Maybe I know some people that found him hard too when they studied for exams. I suppose in some ways I don't have him in view -- and whilst this no doubt told me what it could I am wondering if he is yet in my view -- and so I will have to try and read him. I wonder if the reality of him may be too much for me, may he be a bit scary (? as in fact some of those others of his time can seem in a way, as in fact those times were of course), I don't know. There are ample things pointing to his humanity of and I think I have wanted to read Izaak Walton on him even though he may not be reliable. Maybe there is much that is not known, the talking through of these transformations somehow. But it seems a good introduction I'll have to make better by learning more.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 24, 1:43 pm

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

No, I've never seen it. Really. Now I have read it I may not. And no no one had given the ending away to me, though I did kind of guess it towards the end. I've never read Christie, I think. The way she twists plots is a thing, but I prefer her just for her observation, from this and what I see of how her adaptations are given. I also find her interesting in terms of how solid everything is and yet able to become quicksand in an instant I suppose, again largely from film and tv, but also here.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like if I were to time travel to the period, maybe somewhere between 1885 and 1935 and act like a stock character out of Conan Doyle or Christie or many a movie. I suspect I'd get as short shrift as it would today and that maybe the characters that would not would be, maybe, out of H.G. Wells or Conrad. Or is this nonsense and of course Miss Marple could travel to any time (probably post 1800)? But so might Watson or the cricket lovers in The Lady Vanishes or Hannay. In fact is there a stock character in this play at all, maybe not quite - and in fact there are two interesting possibly lgbt characters and sympathy for one of them although of course their subject is never spoken quite directly. Maybe I should read her to know more. Though I can feel overwhelmed by the genre that is so dominant and somehow demands a certain sort of attention, maybe that is what it is all about and in the right hands it is ok, maybe I'm just a bit saturated by lots of it. I like Chandler (not read them all), I found Hammett tougher, I liked Eco. I read a lot of Holmes when young. It may be something of how the quest for the truth becomes reflected into a quest for certainty socially, and a collective knowledge of types in a way even when things seem to go against type, I read one or two of Elmore Leonard's and liked them. I always meant to read Ed McBain (didn't he write The Birds?). But the structure of a crime that is outed feels a bit claustrophobic or like a straight jacket maybe. But maybe I've become feckless and loose.

edit -- oh and my dislike of them may also be to do with having read some Dostoevsky.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 24, 2:31 pm

Touching the Rock by John M. Hull

I saw the film Notes on Blindness a few years ago and loved it and followed upo by buying this book it is based upon.

John M. Hull was an Australian scholar and teacher. He came to the UK to study further. As a child he'd had some health issues and detached retina. This book is his account of about three years following his complete loss of sight in his forties (he'd lost sight of one eye almost theiry years previously). An episodic account dictated into tape entries in an audio journal way as he progresses in a transition into total blindness.

My edition has a foreword by Oliver Sacks who rightly acknowledges John Hull as a philosopher and as a poet. A book that has touched me deeply in its human awareness of himself and his world in transition. He is a man of faith and wisdom always seeking understanding and has helped me understand much in a way to be grateful for, not least in sharing experience as a blind person - but in doing so exposing so much that may be hidden as a person to ourselves, and taken for granted. Beautiful.

I was drawn to it at this time, and am glad I listened to myself and let myself listen to him.

helmikuu 24, 3:23 pm

>25 tonikat: Added that one to my wishlist

helmikuu 24, 4:04 pm

>1 tonikat: I had a very nice message here, but hit the wrong key and "poof"... gone. Thus, in short, that first post of yours is extremely thoughtful. Be yourself, I say.

If we had answers for all our questions what a perfect world it would be!

I read less that I used to. I read somewhat differently now than I did a few years ago. One thing, poetry seems to have replaced crime novels, if that makes any sense. Maybe I might have "soft intentions" to read this or that but at this point in my life I don't assign. I'm not out to impress anyone and even myself. I love to see what others read and what they have to say about it, but I am often drawn to other books (I would love to see a correlation of what one might be attracted to in books/how one reads, and their Myers Briggs profile...just out of curiosity. I like some of the thoughts Lisa left with you.

Will be stopping in from time to time to see what you are reading and what you think of it.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 12:23 am

enjoyed catching up here, Kat, especially on Spark's The Ballad of Peckham Rye. I'm also very interested in Katherine Rundell's book on John Donne, Super-Infinite

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 12:59 pm

>26 labfs39: hope you enjoy it

>27 avaland: oh yes am all for being myself these days. I'm wondering if answers to all questions would be too much to bear.
I read the Mousetrap with others or would not have gone near.
I'm always cautious of Myers-Briggs as I don't think Jung liked it too much himself. But then sometimes that sort of thing appeals a bit.
But will be pleased if a few books and thoughts are of interest to you.

>28 dchaikin: I'm not sure what I think of Rundell's book - I think it may be that just not enough is known to know too much of Donne, but i also wonder if I'd know a bit more if I knew his work better.}
Are you reading through Spark?

helmikuu 25, 4:31 pm

>24 tonikat:

Sometimes there's a sort of comfort in stock characters. I do always laugh when people tout Christie as a great psychologist.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 6:07 pm

>30 LolaWalser: yes can understand that.

I can also understand presenting as a stock character to keep the world at bay, though its never seemed satisfactory to me.

I hope I wasn't making Christie a great psychologist, there was a bit more than i had realised - but somehow within a structure, a conformity. Sadly I think that also may be a truth, that is asserted not just in her.

edit - in fact the more I think about it the more interested I may become in stock characters in life and in fiction -- there are a few that have spawned in fiction further utterances, the woman in the attic, Flashman, probably more.
But in life, is the appearance of a stock character actually a reflection of a lack in myself? and what about all the times I've seemed one. even here?

helmikuu 25, 6:35 pm

>29 tonikat: “Are you reading through Spark” - not systematically, but I’ve gotten to 3 over the last couple years. I have one more in the house. I wouldn’t mind reading through her novels.

helmikuu 25, 6:40 pm

>32 dchaikin: I was reading one per year -- but she is growing on me, the consistencies between them is interesting and so I bought The Bachelors today, so hoe to read that in the next few months and then that opens up Miss Jean Brodie by the end of the year. I think i started due to Mark/thorold lauding her a few years ago and wondered if you had too, but no clear memory.
She has quite a clinical interest in looking at the impact of things/people upon a group. I imagine it is linked to some of her work, but that may be my imagination informed by le carre.

helmikuu 25, 9:30 pm

>31 tonikat:

I hope I wasn't making Christie a great psychologist

Not at all, it was the reference to Dostoevsky that reminded me of that. In fairness to Christie, I think she had no pretensions about her books being in any way "deep" (and she did have enough of a sense of humour to send up herself in the character of Ariadne Oliver). She plotted well intriguing tales with stereotypical characters, and made millions of people enjoy them for what they were.

>33 tonikat:

Funny, I'm in the middle of The bachelors. All the Spark talk seeped into my subconscious too. It's all right but I don't seem to be able to catch real enthusiasm for writers like Spark, Thirkell, Pym, Mitford etc.

helmikuu 26, 7:04 am

>34 LolaWalser: I've not read Thirkell, Pym, Mitford etc. Spark has grown on me reading her in order. In some ways there are some things I don't like, but she does seem to have a perspective on the big picture that intrigues me and reading her in order has made that clearer than it otherwise would have been, I suspect.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 11:01 am

>34 LolaWalser: this comment about Christie and being a great psychologist - stays with me and annoys me a bit (my comment). I don't want to put her down in a way - I found the characters in this (the only Christie I have a read I think) to be both engaged in stereotype and engaged in playing with that type in a way, in some ways for the time and for her public quite forward thinkingly. And as I said I found it interesting how in some ways everything opened up, so many foundations were suddenly on quicksand, before resolutions came that allowed them to be secure again (apparently), that was a really nice effect, a bit like vertigo. Perhaps it has a reactionary intent of scaring us about the chasm beneath and scrambling for the social certainties - I don't know, that may be my imagination and I've not read more of her, and go from what i have seen on tv and film really.
One thing it does leave me wondering is if it remains apparently less as psychology because it is framed through the types, that that is what it explores and maybe individual relationship to type / need for it. Not individual relationship to self or to Self come to that. Though I have a sense that more is touched on somehow, can't think of it now though.
But in a way her approach is the psychology of many in our times and what is publicly allowed as psychology - at least I wonder about this. And I guess i am annoyed with myself as I find it dangerous to seem to sniff at it. And I think that those that are stuck in it are often just that and may not like it at all.
And in the end, what are we all left with? I will try notto be drawn to judge that differing path from some of my own interests.
(I'm speaking of myself not judging your comment)

huhtikuu 1, 10:40 pm

>39 tonikat: Not bad suggestions for how to incorporate books into your life, but I wonder why he wanted to read more. I wasn't clear about his motivation. Was it a numbers game? Wanting a new habit? A self-challenge? It didn't seem to be for the love of reading per se.

huhtikuu 2, 4:13 am

>40 labfs39: I didn't see that as the goal of the article, you're right -- I also saw he is a writer, which sort of answered it to me in as much as i really wondered . . . and looking at it again I read all of his author info at the bottom and see what he is researching now, I bet that has something to do with it. His 'why did it take me twenty years' bit spoke to me in my own meanderings over years despite keen interest.

huhtikuu 2, 4:21 am

Whilst i am here i was thinking more about that Christie comment just now -- I had an idea that her psychology was sufficient somehow for her work, and sufficient to us -- and with that I had an idea, not especially about her as having not read her I am not sure that this idea is true of her, but that that is a horrible idea, to think psychology sufficiently explains people and things, that would be kind of closed and neat and must beg questions really and then saying that made me think about Crime and Punishment and I wondered if that was the point there.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 24, 8:36 am

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Two months or so since I finished this I think - some of it is fading in memory, but maybe not in what I took from it overall. It is a famous book on writing, justly famous. It's quite infective with enthusiasm and generous in how it shares process. Any readers of my threads may remember I enjoy reading of Buddhism and Zen, so I enjoyed the references to her meditation practice.

As I read her, and Julia Cameron for that matter, I imagine being deep within a process of writing what I want (need) to. Her points are all apposite to that. Of course! And as i say her enthusiasm felt infectious. Though having put it down I have to admit I am not writing as much and have stopped writing my Artists' Way Morning Pages. Though I don't feel far from writing overall. I think I'm thinking something through.

Part of me from the writing I do do knows that really I am only happy with the answers and freeing of my flow that I find myself, from letting that flow happen. It'd be nice to think i am preparing for that -- so, as i am sure she'd say, get down to it!

Part of me is also cautious that in just flowing I'd lose a sort of super ego to it (good is usually the answer to that, but lose quality control in a way, just blah on . . . and I know in a way she addresses this I think to advocate just doing so and then finding what you get to . . . and yet I feel in some ways I have done that and its not that i want control, I just don't want directionlessness . . . and that may be a phantom of my own making . . . I also want to be doing some other things at the mo). I also think I dislike that I write stuff, it can have a very powerful personal helping impact - but I often don't ever review it unless it's a poem to work on: that is important and may link to direction.

So, we'll see. I think she and Cameron have both added to my resources and helped me feel free and will help me get on with getting on.

edit - this may make more sense when you know I don't really write prose much these days. The poems I do reread and work on more than the prose. Maybe I just need a project. I do sometimes write essays. Anyway, the Morning Pages and this idea of just letting go, that's why i am getting my head around them, and also the idea of rereading, I don't even reread my journals much, and maybe it would be a good thing, if I can read my writing.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 3:52 pm

The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill

I found this heavy going and wordy. It may play better if seen, there is quite a lot of humour to the interplay of the characters emerging from drunken stupors, walking the streets, pimping the walking the streets etc. But I think hard humour.

I especially struggled with the first act (or was it the first two?). It is tempting to me to just think of it as a miserable play - but there is a lot more to it I am sure and as I suggest above maybe a lot of nuance I have not wholly picked up on.

But a hard hitting play - as I thought about whether to continue with it it occurred to me that maybe what would happen would be that we'd get to see that these characters who have reached the end of their chances in life really, with no more options and mostly drinking themselves to oblivion to hide it, would come to see their lives differently, even whilst accepting them as they are. maybe we have a bit of that. Into their midst comes Hickey who they always have a good party with on his birthday -- and his birthday is due.

Hickey's a salesman and drinker and his story includes an unfaithful wife, that no one is at all subtle about letting him know about. But Hickey appears transformed - and off the booze, but here to see his friends have a good time -- and on a mission to help them (insist) that they face their blocks and nightmares. It seems he has faced his issue and dealt with it - but I don't want to give away what has happened even in the vagueness that surrounds it for most of the play.

It seems unlikely he can have much success with this mob. And I had growing suspicions of what may have happened to him - partly I am sure as I must have heard about this play. The bar owner is encouraged to go outside and make contact with former friends, it seems he has some panic and agoraphobia (linked to trauma maybe) - panic can be so easily helped now (though I am not suggesting that it is easy for anyone to face it), it's understood better for the most part and that helps sufferers, together with the right support. He is not getting the right support here though and fails - as it is obvious the others will to taking on their demons as Hickey would have it.

My emerging reading was that Hickey had lost the plot by understanding his problem as he did and acting on it - but in a way tied to the attachments of the problem. I hoped the others might see the error of that and whilst still tied to their situations may in fact be somehow freer in themselves in accepting them, that they know them but are less defined by them - that there was a goodness in being themselves and out of that they may be able to move in future. I'm not saying that very well two months later. But anyway, No, in a muscular realism (is this play so realist it is super realist? it might remind me of the thump of that Sartre i read) - they are just further traumatised by these efforts and rather than thanking their stars for their freedom maybe are harsher than ever. Lives might collapse amongst them and outside and they are stuck and do not care. As I write that I wonder if I am right to see it as miserable - and yet somehow there is some of that turn of drama/theatre at least in me as an observer. But I am be being very optimistic.

As I conclude that maybe it is just right that any illusion of health in Hickey is just that - illusion, false promise - and maybe that must affect how he would inspire the others - and so poison what may happen for them and ultimately remove more hope from them. I hadn't thought of that and I like it. But I still believe although their approach seems confirmed that there is possibility. Though none, and just the opposite, on the horizon, given what is happening outside.

edit - Having written the above I think its helped me develop my thoughts a bit more and see it as a condemnation of certain ways of seeing the world, of being in the world - inaction, frozen in fear, allowing ourselves to be defined by fear and labelling, uncreative. Or maybe that's just me. But it may motivate a person to try and see it otherwise. I understand that he had a hard time understanding some of his father's actions or inactions, in some ways it seems a report from hopelessness observed.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 11:12 am

I said I was going to read through all my threads, but I still haven't done that. Maybe it occurs to me again now having written above about how I don't go back and read some of the things i write much, but kind of take what i take at the time and press on.

It's also on my mind as I realised that whilst if I count up my collections of completed books year by year I've read 430 odd since March 2007 (the start of my threads). But, I did go through and add the works I've completed to a spreadsheet at some point and really I'm in the 460s. I've not reconciled the discrepancy, but I think it's from reading e.g. two of the Deptford Trilogy in a copy of all three but not finishing the third to finish that book, or a single play in a larger collection etc.

So, I'm hoping to get to 500 this year and as the whole process has been gradual then maybe its inevitable I start thinking about it now.

Perhaps the thoughts on numbers at the start of this thread put it on my mind, but I've been steadily confirming to myself how little numbers matter in a way (yes despite thinking about the 500). It may not sound much to some, but it's a journey of seventeen years, well into middle age, and with some huge changes - and has been a focus of those years. The part reads count as much and whilst some of my 455 part reads must be from before my threads began, there are more again, as in recent years I've not been adding books as I get them but mostly only when I complete them. Some of them are very important in this journey and call to be completed.

It occurred to me that my wish to read more, completing is nice, but simply to read, isn't really about the numbers, nor even perhaps entirely about what I learn from reading them - but is perhaps a yearning for the clarity of reading, not that I expect life to be clear in plot, but of finding my way towards my best and being with my reading. I say that having faced some severe challenges at times and also the dampening of medication (but it is also more than that due also to taking wrong directions too, and away from such focus, before some of that and yes maybe feeding into it). So, a yearning to find a way to focus and being with that focus (and of course the better the reading experience the better that may be). A sort of mindfulness? In fact there are many ways I may think about that draw to books and what it gives (as also to my own writing). Two of my completeds this year so far have made me think very much of a transmission of energy from a book to the reader (Leaves of Grass and Fear of Flying). And then some books can be strangely synchronistic with our lives - a coincidence that maybe gives us hints at the clarity of a plot for ourselves, or else maybe help us - Me - let go of that and just be in the chaos.

In some ways - as I was most definitely at the start of all this, but now with other flavours - I am wary of saying too much online. I think I'll probably try and write about all this and maybe the notes I put into here will feed into that. And to do it I need to reread my threads too, I'll try not to be too dull about that. I keep using the word focus here, but writing these threads also brought focus.

I'm also trying to focus on some big books that I really want to know, in a way that I haven't before, or did not had time to. And also in a way may have been cautious of. A useful part of that is completing some of my part reads which I decided to prioritise a bit a month or two ago. But without becoming a reading machine - in a way implicit in all this is recognising ways in which I mix my labour, my living, with my reading, and another focus definitely needs to be doing so in ways that are good in many dimensions.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 10:48 am

Leaves of Grass 1855 ed. Walt Whitman

I completed this in February in a week or so. It was very good to read after the emotional challenge of The Iceman Cometh. I was also reading the first chapters of The Confessions of St Augustine and as Spring showed some early signs (my hope certainly needed them) he was a very positive, healthy read for me together with Augustine. I loved it.

Yet now I feel far from the poems in detail -- and I don't like trying to write in detail of poetry here anyway. The sense of a man who has lived and lives and observes life and has an idea of it in the round - it very much transmitted a being in the world, a way of being and also recognises the world he is in. It did strike me amidst his positivity in a way (not an easy positivity) that of course his world would be torn by war not long after. I am half considering trying to read how the collection expanded edition by edition as he lived through that.

I'm sure his world was not perfect -- his response seemed to find a way towards being, being true, being whole, in an imperfect world. But some of the imperfection of that world, that in some ways still made some sense I felt, I was sentimental for.

I have read some of the 'Death Bed' edition before, but reading the first poems as he presented them has really helped me see him. As I said on the group read thread, in a way it struck me as a great american novel itself somehow. I wonder how he'd respond to the turns taken since.

I mentioned energy above - and maybe some of that came from that context I mentioned at first, of having read the O'Neill which I found so challenging, of the time of year (before those signs of Spring so cold and flat), of also reading St Augustine and the character of that man and his book that come through -- all of that energised me to pick up Jane Eyre again and to address my gaps and lettings go and all, and Whitman was a huge part of that. He transmits freedom.

edit - I wrote - a world 'that still made some sense', but not if you were a slave or, as now in many places still, even simply black. And other things too. I suppose what i did think about in that comment was how it was before industrial war in a way, yet also of how industry was still on a more human scale mostly, technology too . . . though there will be ways those ideas are wrong.

huhtikuu 26, 3:46 am

Interesting to read that you plan to visit your old threads. I have started to re-read my old reviews some of which are a bit embarrassing, because some of them are over ten years old and I am wondering what I was thinking when I wrote some of them. Probably no harm in looking backwards.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 26, 4:38 am

I'm totally sure that some of my old reviews are a bit embarrassing - though of course I don't see myself as aiming to review but to respond (and sometimes I veer towards reviewing when i am not clear on that). It will be interesting to read how my style emerged. Equally I fear my interactions with others may embarrass me. I think there was one dispute where I bridled at something for some reason. And much has also happened in this time which may bring a lot back to me.

I might also be embarrassed at much more recent posts than 10 plus years ago.

I find some of my posts to be quite wordy and unclear --- but I know that writing them helps clarity to emerge. I write spontaneously here for the most part and don't work to refine the writing or edit much, that happens bit by bit with later posts as my thoughts develop (and often I go backwards as though I had made no progress).

I may look at others too as I go -- and I'm interested how you find your process with this.

I often think of Grounded Theory when I think of looking at my posts, both in a very specific way (wonder what a word cloud of my posts would look like) and in a general sense of grasping after whatever it is that I tend to grasp after.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 26, 12:22 pm

Something I didn't say about reading Leaves of Grass -- as i read it I often thought of the 1970s and a sense of people knowing where they stood in some way. Maybe some resonance of that idea of society making sense (even as i know how much chaos there was in the 70s). But I often think neoliberalism has an edge that knocks a sense of security about society (maybe this is a UK thing) and Whitman's writing made me think of someone who knows they can survive and appreciates how their society works and can be responded to . . . that idea of people in the 70s being able to do that resonates for me there, and that this is harder now, that you have to fit the demands of neoliberalism more.

I may not be saying it well and it may be a very idiosyncratic quirk of mine that is unfair -- but it is also a reason why I am interested to read his development as his society was challenged by the Civil War and on. i wonder how much his sense of this was also something that may have offended detractors he had. I suppose I am saying he is very egalitarian and seems hopeful of such a future - which is one that many people, then and now are committed to complicating(?).

edit - it may also have been the remaining pre-digitalness of the 70s I thought of.

huhtikuu 28, 6:33 pm

>47 baswood: I was thinking about this again as I was reading tonight and I was thinking of Keats being sure of nothing so much as the 'holiness of the heart's affections' -- and I think I tend to trust that for my responses to what I have read. In fact given my lack of formal study of literature it may be a reason, together with my counselling study, that I hope to tend to focus on my response in feeling and also in idea (from related arts studies but not of literature), but on my response instead of claiming a comprehensive eye and tongue as review. Where I fail in that I think would often be out of a misapprehension of to whom I am speaking (or of a general audience) or else of how I may be judged -- and so I would be warping my words somehow to seem appropriate/right/acceptable maybe or else challenging what is my own misapprehension to start with. And part of that would also be in light of misunderstanding, which I understand as part of what you may refer to as embarrassing --- I think I can tolerate misunderstanding where I am not sort of selling myself to trying to be more than I am, and after all I may learn from it, if somehow my heart is true in it, then it is a hard heart to laugh at it. But where and if I am pompous and affected - yuck. But also speaking or responding to apparent flights and enthusiasms of others might also be a flaw of mine . . . and in the imperfect way we may do it here (and generally on the net) may lead to postures and ill consideration, a vulnerability to a wish for inclusion and acceptance. Maybe I do need to consider my words carefully -- less so for my reactions as much as the discussion that may arise. As a counsellor, in the past, given how careful I am with words with others in how I have used those skills in employment etc., I have been quite bad at sort of deliberately not doing it in other areas of my life and not being seen to be working in that way (as some may not trust that - and have told me so, to lay it aside) - but that has largely been a misapprehension when it happens, as if you are not trying along those lines then what are you doing and error can creep in, all the things as a counsellor you may wish to avoid. But we are all imperfect.

As an aside it also occurs to me that I am not sure how much I have ever spoken of that, of how reading sets off the thinking on quite varied tracks, maybe we all take that aspect of it for granted, at best with the good stuff (I was reading Milton and of Milton) - how it prompts at least some of the sessions of sweet silent thought -- how that is one of the best aspects of reading (and may also be a reason not to read too fast), for how it may occasion tying so much together, other reading, other authors, other knowledge and maybe best your own experience and memory and hopes and dreams.

huhtikuu 29, 6:37 pm

>50 tonikat: Oh! you have put that so well in your first paragraph. There is a danger that if you consider things too carefully then nothing gets written. I can be embarrassed that is not so bad, there are plenty of worse things.

huhtikuu 30, 6:50 am

>51 baswood: yes there are, and there is something about the eyes of the beholder in this to me, and yes, maybe there is beauty to it.

toukokuu 2, 8:42 am

>48 tonikat: I have the opposite reaction, reading old reviews of mine—they feel a lot more insightful and sharp than what I write now. I think at least some of that is because I saw review-writing as a bit of a rung up the ladder of the practice of literary writing—a way to put myself out in the world, and also to get better at doing it—and, ironically, because that strategy actually worked, I now don't have the time and critical energy to sit down and write 'em like I used to.

I also worry about getting older, and the fact that words and associations don't jump to mind as neatly as they used to. I feel like my edges are a little blunted, just a bit, but still... not a thought I love. But not anything I get to argue with, either.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 2, 3:46 pm

>53 lisapeet: makes sense to me, I didn't mean to impossibilate that possibility.

I'm now less sure of my own embarrassment at my appreciations, but I may expect some for my interactions with others (and maybe any neologisms).

I did want to develop my writing, or at least my expression of what interested me (and see how others resonate or not with it -- though I am quite a chicken at really saying what I think/feel, there has been learning I haven't discussed). But mostly I've not tried to do that in a serious/academic type way, except in certain points made and expression of them -- so overall I may seem random maybe (but maybe if i do look at them all there will be some coherence). I actively avoided trying to write anything that seemed, or tried, to take some cloak of comprehensiveness or authority and still would, they are just my responses (and sometimes i drift from that I know).

I try not to worry about cognitive impairment with age, it strikes me as a knot that I'd be expending energy on and may make tighter rather than letting it loosen of itself. Instead trying to do the good things in living and that help (not that I am great at them).

As i write more though i do recognise the edge writers are on as they start to establish reputation or have had some successes, of how to be that person again maybe, or at that point --- and I suppose also, and a good thing about age, is we are all in various waves, going up and down with all this -- and I think, for me, a key thing is to be consistent in openness/honesty/congruence, or try to be. I have had soem things in 10 of the years i wrote on that really challenged such core values for me, and at the moment they feel somewhat refreshed.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 11:31 am

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

There is a bit of a story to my reading this - firstly as with so much in childhood I have no idea why I, a good reader and a curious one, did not read this as a child. Or maybe I do. I do have a memory of reading the first chapter with my first year senior school class and liking it - and yet the rest of the class (all boys) rejecting it as it was about a girl. It may have been a cue, not least one followed for survival. And it may have impacted other choices, as did that whole trend of getting by there.

I kind of worship great literature in a way, or did, and as I didn't go on to study it as I might have expected, that can get in the way of me actually facing it. Amongst other things.

So it kind of loomed and then in 2017 or 2018 I read the chapters on her school days up to arriving at Thornfield. I think I reread those parts later and got as far as the marriage proposal or just after, am not sure which year that was. Whilst I remember commenting on putting it down the first time, I don't remember why I stopped this second time. No particular reason. Maybe as it was so blissful and yet there were harbingers of challenge. Anyway this year I went back a few chapters and completed it.

So what can I say? A lovely book, she is a good writer, it is a first book which I think shows to some extent - maybe in some sentimentality. But for all that sentimentality it has such muscles underneath. Though I did predict what would happen with Rochester's visual outcomes at the end, that was very her.

It occurs to me to see it as a sort of fantasy of virtue - and that may be a sort of sexual fantasy, but a very virtuous one, one of great hope. And then muscles - as it occurs to me that that virtue is given an aetiology in great suffering initially and becomes a character trait born in trauma and tempered by it. It is linked to survival in a way and of course beyond that, for someone that knows what it is to have nothing and no one, to have faith in true virtue as the only means of salvation. This may make more sense of how she comes to act at the great reveal. Also it seems to know a lot of the challenges of virtue and the struggle to be true to it, it is not naive in that really. Anyway, I love it for that knowingness it has despite apparent sentiment at times. I'll have to try her sister soon. I once tried chapter one of that (myself this time) and didn't get any further but I'm better prepared now.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 12:36 pm

I commented on energy from my reading and of course Jane Eyre also gave a lot of energy - though in some ways that was not new to me, her energy, though the forms it took (and yes her actions at the reveal took some thinking about beyond just accepting them within a normal range as they went beyond that and were particular to her and wholly reasonable for her). But it occurs to me look at my reading now that it is very interesting I turned to the books I did whilst we read The Iceman Cometh. I nearly bailed on it after the first act, and doing it in January/February was a big test - I did describe it as miserable after the first act, but it does live in my imagination as something that provoked change in me and outside of the theatre, a real challenge to face -- and what did i turn to read? Whitman (whom I knew a fair bit about and whom I had read, though not in the 1855 edition i had promised myself for exactly what it turned out i got from it, it as a key to reading later editions), to Jane Eyre, To david Copperfield again and to St Augustine -- do I have it right? Is The iceman Cometh a presentation of the loss of hope and inaction in light of no hope? I don't think I could face reading it again to see, but it has stayed with me and I find what I then read in response to be most interesting - including deciding to finish books i had started, including 'big' books or famous ones, it helped me find focus, or to act towards hope maybe.

But I also have to look at my reading before it too - and read Touching the Rock which is so beautiful in facing challenge and full of hope and belief. So it is a deeper theme. It must also have influenced some of those choices, and then there is life outside of books too. Its interesting I read Touching the Rock, which may have overlapped with the O'Neill even and finds its own turn.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 12:40 pm

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Goodness knows when I started this book in the last ten or fifteen years, maybe more. I'm not wholly sure why I chose it to finish - I did look at the 1001 books list again and it is on there and I make such useless progress with it the shortish length appealed to me. I simply began again from the start.

That start I made on it before did not even finish the initial section on a sort of duality between man and wolf. I think I rejected that thinking, disliked it is putting it mildly, at the time. I may even have been reading it when a counselling student. I also think there was something I did not like about it in terms of resonance with myself as person moving into middle age (younger then than the protagonist). Anyway, I was somehow stronger and differentiating myself more maybe as i read it and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the treatise itself got beyond the duality between human and wolf and into the multiplicity idea.

So I went on. I greatly enjoyed it -- though I very much disliked part of what he does, or does in the dream theatre, for all his talk and experiment in love. I think it left me with questions as to how much love was really in the book, for all that it is so clearly a theme. But that may be the nub of the book - and maybe i need to understand it more. It's not as though we don't contain paradox and maybe he faces or starts to, some of his . . as Hesse said in his intro, for all of that, he sees it as hopeful - and better to do it in the dream theatre, I'd hope, though it leaves me sad. (though just what the dream theatre is and where reality starts/stop sis also a question - but one I don't plan to angst over as a groupie.)

A long time ago I read my only other Hesse, The Glass Bead Game. I think I quite liked it. But i remember reacting to it similarly somehow afterwards - a sense that something had been missing from it, somehow most reasonably. But it is so long ago, and whilst i noted reading it i didn't make any other notes at the time. But there is a familiarity of feeling about where I'm left after reading Steppenwolf I think (imagine?).

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 3:03 pm

deleted, dull

toukokuu 5, 6:55 am

Very thoughtful reflections on your reading, Kat. Your posts are a nice change-up from the more typical reviews that I write. They challenge me to be more personal in my own reflections about what I read.

toukokuu 5, 4:22 pm

thanks, I may be overdoing it a bit at the mo, but it's how i like to do these.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 3:29 pm

May links etc.

https://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/the-third-policeman-a-classic-abs... - Barry I read this and thought of you and went back and read what you said and (maybe) one day I'll try reading him (maybe). (Bear in mind the spoiler warning given in the piece.)

I saw J. G. Ballard's daughter posted this i.m of Martin Amis https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/apr/25/jg-ballard-martin-amis

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/23/recycling-can-release-huge-q... omg

June links

https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/article/gnostic-science-and-literalist-scie... very nice article

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2023/jun/18/mark-rylance-questions-readers-f... beautiful interview

July links

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-brontes-secret/480726/ interesting bio perspective




https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/05/the-mother-of-neurodiversity-how-j... - Interview with Judy Singer who coined the term Neurodiversity





https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/12/the-first-troll/505844/ de Quincey


toukokuu 20, 9:38 am

>61 tonikat: Thanks for posting this. Interesting, but I would advise would be readers to consider carefully before reding the review, they might want to work out what is happening themselves. I would have liked to have read the review first.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 20, 9:57 am

>62 baswood: thanks and fair enough. Signposted the spoiler warning now. I often think about how much may be missed in some books by not knowing the author and their turns of phrase, dialect or inflection, to hear when their tongue is in their cheek for example. To miss some key to understanding that we may be missing somehow. I've been very taken by, as I understand it, how Socrates did not want to separate his words from himself by writing them down. I noticed the reviewer pictured an audiobook version and I could wonder if that helped address this. I also know how I can be quite a bad listener these days - which may in part be a result of my counselling and therapy type work, crazy as that may sound, am working on that again now.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 20, 5:50 pm

edit -- deleted the longish meanderings having read my first two threads, will think on that to myself fora while and post (if I do) more succinctly.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 2:25 pm

I'm a bit behind with my comments -- and yet getting a fair bit of reading done, and very enjoyable it is.

The Misanthrope by Moliere translated by Tony Harrison

A very modern version (translated in the early 70s) that read beautifully.

What is to say - man stuck on his principles and view of the world is funnelled down a series of situations from which there is no escape unless he change his principles (or the world does) - leading to exile. All told with great humour as what is effectively non communication in the world of wits leads to sparks flying all over the stage.

I suppose it may be an origin myth of Sartre's 'hell is other people'. But I am not sure the label of misanthrope is correct at all. I also think these days we'd very likely have considered a certain spectrum of difficulties. But I'm minded to notice that i am wondering if our own social times, since the early 70s, have moved closer to the conventions of Moliere's time and it is even more relevant.

I learned recently that there are five main theories of truth, of which the first three are easiest to grasp - the correspondence theory (e.g. this either is or is not an apple, facts as it were), I think the coherence theory (the world may not be at the centre of the universe, but it was handy to accept it was in Europe for hundreds of years) and the pragmatic theory (maybe one certain populists resort to ?) -- and it seems to me in a way this was a clash of styles that could not admit any of the relevance of different points of view -- if Alceste is limited in some flexibility then so is the social world in its own way.

I found it especially interesting that this obsessive person with a certain type of speech and behaviour is so besotted by Celimene despite her behaviour at the other pole - almost like a message he is sending himself. I didn't know the play and something made me expect it to resolve with them together, so it shocked when he left alone (for now). Maybe such a resolution, a sort of whole mindedness he'd have to resign himself to against his own principles, is a lesson of the play we put together ourselves -- and maybe in the real world we also learn how hard such a balance may be, and indeed may be far from so much of our lives.

It also speaks to me of the power of a certain success with words, and how it may also play a role, as clarification is gained for himself, in bringing distance and hardening conflict, as clarities worked towards have not been gained by others -- or perhaps very different clarities are gained in other ways, and the privileges of a way with words are not understood or respected, even as you are told they are, maybe especially to those who also expect it.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 1:21 pm

The Personal History of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I began this early last year with the CR22 group read - and made a fair few comments.

But I was thrown - maybe by changes in life, but also very much by David's first marriage. Thinking about it now I wonder if a good way to characterise what I felt is that there seemed a lack of appreciation of her inner life -- and in fact the caricature we are given seems to try to justify that lack. And that made me wonder where the lack lacked. It also stood out to me as Dickens is so good at loving people -- and here in the midst of love there seemed lack of love, which seems his point. Like Pip in Great Expectations Dickens is very good at showing a flaw in his hero without lecturing on it. But at times i wonder if he'd have seen it as such, as the flaw seems so put upon Dora.

But then having finished A Room of One's Own just today I also wonder how much the picture hurts as it may have so much to it -- and I wondered that last year too.

When I came back to it I felt he was still grappling with this sort of fracture himself and it did seem to me he recovered some of his ground in how that narrative played out.

I wondered at times almost as if the text showed at times his struggle with where to go -- and also Dora's own reflections on what might have been her future I wondered if they mirrored his own lack of ways forward for her (and lack of interest in them?).

But anyway, obviously it is such a wonderful book in so many ways - including this in which perhaps David is not so unlike Steerforth except somehow socially accepted (though the following home and walking around outside also looks very different now).

But yes - I'm quite stuck in my own way with this side of the book which does after all paint such a picture that is not really focused on within the book itself - whilst others are. And those others as I keep meaning to say are so wonderful, memorable and true. And maybe this is too, Dora, somehow, not least in how she bothers me (and him?).

And so much more to say, but, for other times.

heinäkuu 3, 2:00 pm

>66 tonikat: Very interesting comments on a book I read a very long time ago.

heinäkuu 3, 2:13 pm

>65 tonikat: You are behind on reviews, but serious reading is happening!
I like your comment on Le Misanthrope. I watched a play on TV a year or so ago, and did like it a lot. As you said, I felt it was very relevant to our time.

Interesting link between Molière and Sartre, and great comments in general!

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 5:55 pm

>67 labfs39: >68 raton-liseur: thanks both.

I was thinking something I probably have thought before but seem to rediscover - and that is that in Great Expectations and David Copperfield, as first person stories then I guess it is deliberate and appropriate that the I of the writer is unknowing of making the same sort of characterisations of himself (/herself in others) and sort of shows that through the interactions and observations of others that are never as clear of the self, like an eye that never sees itself. This is probably lit theory 101 but I have never done lit theory 101 - and I might have said it in the past but this is it in greater conversation at least with Dickens' style with this. It stands out for DC and Pip just as they seem to have quite a good eye for others which is so much of their narrative, instead some of their narrative (of themselves) is a sort of absence from their own ways of seeing usually and is inferred (maybe?). I'm not even going to start to try to compare that to Jane Eyre or Nelly Dean right now. I'm thinking of Dickens' short story The Signalman though which seems to throw so much into doubt (and a narrator that I think starts off especially sure of themselves) -- and I'm thinking were a first person narrator to start saying a lot of themselves that that must soon become quite difficult, unless they are like the Buddha maybe - this method whilst it may hide itself a bit, and other things too maybe, has a lot of wisdom and sheer practicality to it. It makes me think as the story is written, by that first person narrator, it must also take quite a lot of restraint not to have them impose too much of what this leads them to discover of themselves as commentary - which also makes me wonder if both DC and Pip may perhaps not be too hot on such introspection, and so to wonder that of CD too, who observed others so well. I have no idea really, all hypothesis. More reading required.

edit - that was a post that led to google and I discovered a book on Dickens, Victorian psychology and introspection -- though I better read more Dickens first. It may only be realistic, and politic maybe that a narrator would not say as much of themselves as of others, but that in itself seems to say a lot.

edit again - the precision of what is not said of themselves (compared to what is) is itself wonderful. and who am i to think they are not introspective, when they are subtle, he is, and not crass. And they are also very capable, by showing not telling, of showing us something of who they are, the whole pursuit and marriage to Dora for example, Pip's whole expectations thing and loss of contact with Joe.
And maybe that is a very great wisdom too - for whilst they do tell us things of others, this shows us how inaccurate all those words are of anyone when looked at as themselves, from their point of view. I like that, and will have to think about it more (and keep in mind more as i charge on in a world i make too sure).

(and it makes me want to read Wide Sargasso Sea soon, to hear her speak back.)
(and isn't so much of life being put into roles and plot points by people without the care of Dickens to show at the same time how imperfect it is?)

heinäkuu 4, 5:13 am

Halfway up the Tree by Peter Ustinov

Written in 1967. I don't own a copy so am going to forget names of characters now.

The protagonist is a senior army man (Brigadeer?) who has been away a long time as part of the suppression of an insurgency in the Far East (Indonesia). He comes home to find the home not quite in the shape he'd have hoped, in the form of his wife, son (with long hair), daughter also rebelling, and a new Swedish nanny/housekeeper who is very young but quite a character.

It was written in 1967. Reading the first act I found it very interesting, I wondered if it sort of pursued an alternative yet conservative line and when we came to it the next week expected more in that way (which was really quite interesting) -- but it then seems in tune with the times and became quite madcap and i was even more charmed. He ends up literally living half way up a tree -- and a lot of sense that makes really . I've not read Ustinov before but would now.

heinäkuu 4, 5:25 am

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Another book I bought quite a long time ago and had not got passed the first chapter. The famous 'zipless f***' maybe put me off -- but as with other books (and one I've not written about yet) on this list what that implies from the words and the talk around it, its common reputation, seemed far from the whole truth of the book. Reading this time I remembered why I was interested in her from interviews over the years on tv and radio. As such best sellers go it is a corker of a book, full of learning, poetic and honest -- do they write best sellers like this any more? It often is compared to Portnoy's Complaint which I've also read and yet stretching my memory back, whilst there may be points of similarity it seemed a much fuller book. Its another book that energised me and I'd happily read it again -- and I think there may be sequels so will look forward to reading her more and of this odyssey -- as well as other work by her, may have to sample some poems. She's not flawless, but again that is the thing, and is brave too to show this character as she does. Loved it.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 4, 6:34 am

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

I saw this film a long time ago and the story lodged - though I wonder if an aspect of the plot was different, the tone of the context was well done and interested me.

When I read it I felt like something brief. Something by a woman (at one point this year I had a 50:50 gender balance that has gone astray in the last 2 months). From my choices available this fitted. Late last year, I think, I read John O'Donoghue's book Sectioned, a life interrupted on similar territory and which I had seen him when reading note that the publishers had felt the subtitle suggested by Kaysen's book was a good thing - another reason why this was in my thoughts to read.

Again it is a brave book - it is accompanied by facsimile's of doctors notes and hospital records of her stay in hospital, what would have been called a mental hospital, int he late 60s. It seems brave not just to share that - and in a way that is a political act, and given what she can say of her side of those stories and their presentation as notes. It also seems brave to me just to approach such a story in herself never mind to be able to write about it with such clarity.

I can only take my hat off to her - she seems to summon the spirit of the time and place so well, and of people she was with. It speaks directly back tot he abuse of power so often experienced in the misunderstandings of mental 'health' and is true to her own process which is what was really carrying her through for all the diversions of doctors and medication and the situation. Not to mention how young women of spirit seem so often taken to challenge the authority of others or the norm and have frequently been controlled with the excuse of mental illness.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 4, 6:35 am

No not the whole collected poems but his first collection, Harmonium, found within, which I understand was complete in itself in this book, by Wallace Stevens.

You may have noticed I am writing these recent notes without my books to hand - so another overview that talks around the book maybe. I prefer to do that of poetry anyway. You could write endlessly about this.

I have a memory of once getting a copy of his 'complete' poems from a library and falling asleep reading the first poem about a wildcat. In that memory that first poem is very like it is in this but was also slightly different. Though reading up on him, I don't have access to that library these days, I find no record of there ever being a 'complete' poems. But anyway I never got much further - the Emperor of Ice Cream poem I did not get on with. I'd read a book by Simon Critchley on the later poems and maybe my approach was in too much of a hurry I wonder now. It could also be that I was wary of him given his reputation for atheism (or was it agnosticism?), and then there is the matter of the claimed deathbed conversion (or not). I have a feeling at that time it was a bit too much for little old me.

Then in recent years I was reading about Paul McCartney and about the Beatles - and at one point some comment was made about the tonal changes between songs on Beatles albums, which give me no trouble at all, Revolver comes very much to mind and something in me clicked about The Emperor of Ice Cream -- I think I was reading it trying to impose some register maybe of a sort of Romantic sort and it was lashing about in my mind being just what it is and not what i sort of thought it should be. That is a simplification -- and I wonder now if there was a specific Beatles song I had in mind -- but I'd made this connection to let myself be freer in reading these poems (and which I very often was usually, just was maybe a bit lost at the time) and so they'd been on my mind to try again.

So, I read most of this last year in fact and came back to it and completed it and went back over somewhat around March and April. And it of course knocked my socks off like a Beatles album.

Along the way I forget which famous poet it was that said to another, having seen some of Stevens' poems before publication that there was 'one out there greater than all of us' - so that comment had intrigued me, and other references to him.

I read some criticism too (Oh I hate that word). It may have been Randall Jarrell suggested there was about half a dozen poems in the collection as good as any by an American. I've meant to go back through and note my top poems/favs and then to try and see if he listed this six of his and compare lists. Suffice it to say I can stomach the Ice Cream poem now. I did always like the wildcat poem -- it may be when i read that one I wasn't very well and fell asleep with the book open, this may be why its different in my memory, due to a dream.

As i don't have the book here I can't refer back to start that process on favourites - and there are definitely some I love more than others. But if i can listen to Revolver (and the other albums) somewhat endlessly, I hope to come back to these poems and to go on to others very much.

edit - the thing about those changes of tone, really spoke to me of playfulness and music and that is what I was letting happen, rather than it need to be a tone I was listening for (and maybe more in the mood for in my earlier attempt), maybe also influenced by other factors for me too.

heinäkuu 4, 9:07 am

Books to hand or not, these were excellent (and enticing) reviews. I thought I had a copy of Girl, Interrupted, but it's not in LT. Will keep an eye out.

heinäkuu 5, 4:25 am

Thanks again Lisa :) Hope you find it and enjoy.

heinäkuu 28, 11:12 am

I've wanted to read Girl, Interrupted since it came out—never saw the movie. That was a great review, so I'm officially nudged now.

Fear of Flying I pulled off my parents' shelves when I was 13, and I maintain that it was a very good, sex-positive thing for me to read at that age. I was still probably a bit too young, though that was OK—case in point: the line I remember best, to this day, is the narrator comparing an erect penis to a Kandinsky painting (at 13 I'd seen Kandinsky paintings but no penises, so I guess that's not surprising, but it's kind of delightful that it's stayed with me this long).

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 29, 3:59 pm

>76 lisapeet: it's funny the things that stand out at one. Sorry. Fear of Flying is such a good book, I'd forgotten about that bit but I guess I could see it.
I read some adult things as a kid, but the wrong ones as I see it now, mostly, except Le Carré and a few others. Reading David Copperfield and his early childhood reading of his dad's books was another reminder how I wish I'd just dived into such things more and not been put off in various ways, I totally get how it can be a good thing. But Fear of Flying was also better in this I'd guess than many adult best sellers of the 70s, its just a good book. I suppose I wish I'd read or found more good books, and good ones for me.

I also am all for the sharing of delight, thank you for that . . . it is beautiful and my humour may not be entirely fitting. I'd like to respond with something half so good, but my mind is blank for now, I'll try and remember. (best for me, as you may know too, when I don't try.)

edited this several times for my badly conveyed humour - and as I really want to say how much i believe in communicating which often seems caught in spirits that don't understand. I always want to.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 3:53 am

The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century by John Burnside

I enjoy reading John Burnside. Though I've not made more progress with his collections of poetry since the first few I read about ten years ago, i should try again. There was one volume I found denser than the others and I lost my way. I loved reading his novel Ashland & Vine more recently - maybe three or four years ago now. He has a political aspect of a left leaning sort, or coming from the post war consensus that is being destroyed now, at least so I interpret him.

I picked this up in a bookshop on my birthday and it seemed a good idea and I read it fairly quickly. It has a nice way with it in that these essays mostly include some personal observations of where he is or has been and observations of the world. I'm writing much later now and a lot is not right with me (EDIT -- oops how does that read, I mean a lot of it does not come to mind immediately, its not right there with me in my mind), but i remember well especially his observations of Berlin and of walking in Switzerland. Its a nice way to approach his reading or thoughts on poetry. He then interweaves thoughts on twentieth century poets, many of whom I have not read, and some I had not heard of. It worked best for me when i was on familiar ground with a poet I have read e.g. Rilke or Owen -- and one reason it perhaps did not work as well otherwise was that he quoted segments of poems at other times, not whole works. That I think accounts for some of my vagueness in memory about some things. It will take me time and resources perhaps and a decision, if I were to try to follow him more precisely on each poet.

He also notes that the book itself developed in his intent as he wrote it and maybe that too explains some of this meandering sense I have of it. It's a keeper. I don't have it to hand right now or I'd be skimming through it right now. It closed with a nice ending that I enjoyed, made sense to me and seems rarer in view now. Maybe I will experiment with committing time and resource to some of these chapters. (I think he says himself they are not meant to be comprehensive overviews of poets or even poems, they are often a sort of meandering argument, they do get somewhere and they seem to assert some rights or stances that seem so overridden now, and they give interesting perspectives . . . but really I should reread or have it in front of me.)

elokuu 13, 11:03 am

A Dead Secret by Rodney Ackland

A play about a famous murder - the Seddon trial. Here we see events around the murder and the preparation for the trial.

The play was written in the fifties, a few decades after the trial - it seems to suggest a revisioning, that the home owner/ landlord was not in fact guilty, but had merely flirted with the act and spoken ill advisedly whilst someone else, a maid had in fact committed the murder and had a track record of it. Someone I read it with suggested they'd seen a documentary that had concluded that such mid century revision was in fact itself wrong and that it had concluded he was guilty. In itself these aspects are interesting - and I also wondered if the uncertainty had fed into the moves towards ending capital punishment in the sixties.

It was very well written and observed - I have a feeling I may have seen some of it on tv before as the claustrophobic atmosphere of the house that is created especially in the first act seemed familiar. I enjoyed it -- though that does not seem the right word -- the closed and certain world it portrayed seemed a nightmare. And I remember noticing that i felt what was strongly suggested for Dyson/Seddon in his somehow small world view that he tries to escape in small ways (usually focused on money) is that he had somehow contained the possibility of the world to the material and to what he could know; even when he is interested in the horoscope he acts with certainty towards that. Exactly what his father i think tries and fails to open him up to possibility. As such this anxious certainty - and an anxious certainty he seems to create for himself in response to his interpretation of what the more highly placed or successful do seemed a very sad commentary on society and one that is not unknown now, I felt.

the play does give is reason to doubt what it seems is going to happen to him - and dangles the possibility that it could quite easily have been seen that there is more to the story and if it had been approached rightly that story would have been discovered before the mid century revision. I don't know the rights and wrongs of this myself -- but it definitely makes one wary of speaking badly and of the willingness of some to act on what some may only speculate about and also on what a poor microscope society destroys lives by in judgement --- and judgement it seemed, as with his own giving of certainty in his speculations, seemed to be the real target of this very skilfully, beautifully, written play. No matter that its not one I'd have chosen to read myself, at all.

elokuu 13, 11:18 am

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring

I've never entirely got the movie of this, I think I miss the set up which is essential. I think I've only seen it in snippets. How modern it is in a way - totally knowing about the bloody past and the part of older generations. Just a great laugh and lots of fun to read out loud I must watch the film through now. But also in a way awful at the same time and with its open ending, very knowing of society and also of theatre critics and would be playwrights.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 13, 12:15 pm

My Girl by Barrie Keefe

A play about an idealistic social worker in Thatcher's 80s who is learning how much the world has changed in that decade and who cannot seem to achieve what he wants in the job -- there is simply too much in inner city Newham. A play about the emotional toll on him and his pregnant girlfriend (wife?) as they approach the birth of their first child, struggling themselves and deciding in the end on their own future in this new world. Its not very cheery, though it was enjoyable to read through and feel with them in a way. It was pared with another play I missed and which I think Keefe felt was more optimistic (or was it the other way round?). Very glad to read it and learn of him and would read another of his in a flash, or see one.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 13, 12:21 pm

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I've had this book maybe twenty years. I tried it once and maybe meds and also the Yorkshire accent meant I struggled for some reason. But this time no struggle. I bought it I think as I'd seen several quite lurid references to it and what happens. I was (and am) sure I'd not read it but I did have a view of it that made me wonder if the sort of lurid overblownness of some of the reactions I was hearing was true and I wanted to read it. Reading it now though I was utterly familiar with it I realised at many turns - e.g. Heathcliff waiting under the tree, the resolution with younger Catherine and Hareton and the significance of that - I may have seen some of the famous film, but I think the familiarity comes from a 70s tv production that I would like to see now and is known for being true to the book. So all this time I was thinking I didn't know it, but the descriptions were rankling with me even if I didn't know why.

But what a book - one of my favourites ever. If her sister wrote a sort of odyssey of virtue as I think I suggested above it can seem to me this is a book at which the author was determined, at every step, that something should go wrong or something bad should happen -- and it is this which must undoubtedly make it so loved, as surely we all know how life can be.

I also loved it for setting it through the eyes of Nelly Dean, implicated and imperfect eyes with their own judgements and deeds (changing and changeable too) -- a moment that stood out to me was one in which Cathy was Mrs Linton and full in her roll and Nelly clearly did not quite get her, with grace in few words (and none directly of Nelly) we'd been told so much - what a dramatist Emily Bronte was. I can imagine the two sisters setting out to have these opposing views of life or of a story (a bit like the competition that produced Frankenstein) or I can imagine it emerging out of two such wonderful sisters differing characteristics, but of course it could be anything. I'm also going to read, though have had to shelve for now, Anne to see if I can relate a third way of seeing things in such ways.

It occurs to me that it might be argued the Romantics could not write tragedy despite wanting to (was it George Steiner I've seen say this or Harold Bloom, probably Steiner whose book on Tragedy I've part read) and she's utterly got it . . . and maybe even more than just tragedy, there is an overview of awesome perspective.

I think it is a misunderstanding to highlight the lurid, rather like Nelly Dean reporting on Nelly Dean - Heathcliff and the grave reminds me of Twin Peaks and as a portrayal of grief throughout, and what a grief, it is stupendous. What a book, what a person - am reading her poetry more fully now.

elokuu 15, 2:04 pm

Enjoyed reading your thoughts on Wuthering Heights. I read it some ten years ago, but did not write about it, I gave it 4 stars.

elokuu 19, 10:37 am

Thanks Barry :)

elokuu 26, 8:04 am

elokuu 26, 4:44 pm

>85 tonikat: Interesting. Lots of unpleasant things to ponder, like how liberals end up in that camp, how people get targeted on social media, etc. Sigh.

elokuu 28, 5:26 pm

academic subjects of the future no doubt