Jul 18, 2018

What We See When We Read

Images We Can Read 

By Peter Mendelsund
Non-Fiction, Literary Criticsm, Graphic Novel 

Main Attractions

Peter Mendelsund
1. Bookish Book from a New POV
2. Intelligent Essay of Images
3. Densely Packed with Theory    
4. Lures you into Reading Classics
5. Exquisitely Designed Illustrations
6. Essays Arranged Thematically
7. Many other Books Referenced
8. Can be a Bunny Slipper Read
9. Invitation to Reflect on Reading
10. Can Spark Discussions

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Hearty Veggie Burger
As a non-fiction, it’s on the lighter side of the menu but not because 1/2 of the book contains pictures.  What We See When We Read is combining a few styles of writing to explain the philosophy of reading but is so much more than a mere philosophy book.  

Why Visit Here

As a graphic novel, it’s filled with references to those many classics that are familiar to us but  most of us have probably never read.  Perhaps these images could spark a renewed interest in picking up these dusty old books and giving them a chance.  For example, I could bet most people haven’t actually read Moby Dick, but everyone is keen on making jokes about some aspect of it.  The stories of these classics have become a part of our culture in more ways than we give them credit.  So if this book leads to them being read, that’s a great reason alone!

Of course, the actual goal of this book is to introduce a philosophy of reading to the general reader.  Avid reader’s often love bookish books, books about books and books that lead to more books.  Anything that leads us to read more is ok in our books!  Once we’ve gotten our fill of the bookish reads, it’s interesting to read about the experience of reading.  Reading about books is fairly common subject.  But to read about an experience of reading is very existential one indeed! 

Destination Summary

Mendelsund basically wrote some essays about the philosophy of reading and wove them into imagery that demonstrates the points he brings up in his essays.  It makes this a book to experience or to be aware of while reading it.  It’s certainly pretty and can be read as a light summer book.  But to dig deeper and really meditate on the experiences he’s outlining for us makes it a more immersive book.  Because so many of the pages are imagery, the essays are a little short on data and explanations.  So if you’d like more text and less flowery imagery, check out the Alternate Books, he references these 

Off the Beaten Path

Husserl & the Adventure of Phenomenology - In 12 Minutes
By Eric Dodson
In this video, he defines some key terms for understanding phenomenology and provides a brief history of this concept.  With his imagery, he makes this video clear & accessible.

Packing List
✓ Any Well Loved Classic Novel
✓ Also in a Graphic Novel Format
✓ An Open Mind & a Love of Reading

Recommended Resources
Some Books that are Referenced by Mendelsund
✓ Phenomenology of Reading (1969?) By Georges Poulet  - A more detailed account of the ideas brought up in Mendelsund’s book.
✓ Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) By Julian Jaynes  - A book about how the mind developed into consciousness from our more primitive animalistic mind.  Hotly debated & perhaps debunked for different theories.
✓ Theory of Colours (1810) By Goethe - Goethe  broke tradition by not relying on science to explain how colours work.  
✓ The Uses of Literature (1980) By Italo Calvino - A writer's meditations on what literature is, he includes many well loved works such as Ovid's Metamorphosis

Link for his blog, this page shows some of his very iconic designs.

Jul 15, 2018

Duelling Cabins = A Fun Camp

Atten: Fellow Campers!!

We're at the 1/2 point for July's Camp Nanowrimo.  So this means you have a cabin already & a project to work on.  The 1/2 point is often when folks run out of steam. So, what better way to light up the 'ole inspiration tank but with the duelling cabins.

Not this kind of duel!!

This kind!! 

If you see this, your cabin is cordially invited to join in for July Camp's 2nd half push to the finish line!  

How or where can you join in? It's being hosted over at the official Nanowrimo Site, here's the discussion thread:

Rally your campers & let's jump in!

Our cabin's at 58% ... we've got some bigwig heavy hitters.  If your cabin's tougher than ours, we hereby challenge you to a duel!

Jul 2, 2018

The Mahabharata

World’s Longest Epic

By Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa
Translated By John D. Smith
India, written c. 400 BCE
Epic Poetry, Foundational Myth

Main Attractions
Translated by John D. Smith
1. Many stories woven into one.      
2. Ample philosophical discussions.
3. Endless supernatural elements.
4. Begins w/ origins of the world.
5. A few legendary, iconic characters.
6. Contains Ramayana & Bhagavad Gita.
7. Gruelling,detailed battles. 
8. Lots of philosophical commentary.
9. Many surprising scenes of wisdom. 
10. Amazing main story arc.


Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Han Jeon Shik
This is the world’s longest epic and is said to contain all of the world’s knowledge.  There’s such a vast number of stories, characters, schools of philosophy, nuggets of wisdom & surprising outcomes.  The unabridged edition is about 13 encyclopedic volumes long, so it’s quite an undertaking to read it all.  Since quantity doesn’t always mean quality, this abridged version is brilliantly translated so it contains the heart & soul of the original.  Smith painstakingly numbered each of his translated & summarized paragraphs so the reader can easily find the unabridged section for a closer reader later.      

Why Visit Here

This is one of India’s most beloved epics and after reading it, I can certainly understand why.  The more well known, Bhagavid Gita is actually a brief scene within The Mahabharata.  While the Bhagavid Gita does contain some of the heart of Indian Philosophy, it can in no way give a comprehensive understanding of the elaborate philosophy.  The other well loved epic, The Ramayana is also contained within The Mahabharata.  It represents some of the idealistic characters that people can live up to.  It provides a detailed guide for each type of relationship; kings & their kingdom, parents & their children, brothers, friendship and love within a marriage.  The Mahabharata contains all of this and so much more.  It begins with the creation of the cosmos, concludes with the breakdown of our current age & the final outcome of everything that took place.  Within this lengthy story, we have examples of every crime, battle outcome & even some redemption.  We also have philosophy, magic & supernatural characters who drop in their opinions.  We also have the most beautiful descriptions of setting, character & philosophical ideals.

Off the Beaten Path

Decoding the Gita, India's book of answers | By Roopa Pai | TEDxNMIMSBangalore
A 17 min. TED talk, she gives some lighthearted insight into why the Gita's so applicable to any situation.

Packing List
✓ Dash of familiarity with Indian Philosophy
✓ A Red Lotus growing in your backyard 
✓ Exquisite Indian Artwork on your walls

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ Bhagavad Gita, Unknown Author (C. 400 BCE-200 CE) - This book is a short chapter from the heart of The Mahabharata.
A Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy (1957) Edited By  Radhakrishnan & Moore - Provides a great overview of the development of Indian thought & many cornerstone texts.
✓ The Ramayana By Valmiki (written C. 500 BCE)- a love story that's widely celebrated in India, Sri Lanka & many South East Asian countries.

Jun 12, 2018

July Camp Nanowrimo Calendar

Welcome back to Camp fellow Wrimos!

I blame the internet for my double booking this July.  I signed up for the #hotandsticky 4 month long summer writing extravaganza.  Feel free to join in the fun or mark your calendar for next summer.  Details for that craziness can be found on this blog post and here’s a link to their youtube channel.  The hashtag is great fun on Twitter.

Ok, back to camp!  This time the calendar is all about keeping the summer groove, classroom style.  It features expert level procrastination, a writer’s must do.  It also features high level randomness also known as ‘I’m not procrastinating because it adds a creative element to my WIP.’  No class of people can whup us when it comes to creatively finding ways to procrastinate.  We invented that ninja in our psyche!

My quote for the month, in honour of our awesomeness & libraries: 
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man [& a woman] will turn over half a library to make one book.” ~ Samuel Johnson

So, enjoy, write till your heart’s content & when in doubt, creatively procrastinate!

July 2018 Calendar

Jun 11, 2018

On Poetic Depression

My views towards depression have changed a lot in the past few years.  I see it now as a symptom of modern society.  Our world today encourages it for all walks of life to prevent meaningful progress.  I also think it's a sign of a healthy soul because of how wacky our world is.  

Anyone with good sense & who is still aware of their compassion can look around and wonder why things keep going the way they do.  We haven't made a lot of meaningful progress since we left the caves.  We still base much of our economy on war & unsustainable life.  Any rational person would feel crushed when examining these things from this point of view.  Rather than depression being seen only as something tragic (which it absolutely is) it should  also be regarded as part of being an intellectual human.  We are lucky to feel incredible joy & to create mundane miracles.  Yet we don’t acknowledge these moments as meaningful progress.  What is meaningful progress?  Is it the same for everyone?  

Naturally, there's different causes of depression.  Bookish folks have so many reasons to experience it of course.  There's also poets who feel a unique type because there's no community for them in popular society.  I discovered recently, there's never been a community for poets.  I think this because defences for poetry have always existed.  

Poets seem to love writing about their craft. Poets and depression co-exist because thinking deeply has never been popular, therefore, they'll never find company in the majority.  Actually thinking deeply and looking into your heart to learn what's in there could be lonely when there's a desire to share those discoveries with others.  It's exceedingly rare to find a listener who'll listen to understand rather than listen to reply.  For poets to look into their heart just to pick at it & learn all of what being human means is profoundly rewarding.  

My solution is to just keep looking in my heart because it's simply amazing.  Yours is too.  When you meet others who genuinely want to hear, share it with them.  Otherwise, let your discoveries become a blissful discovery of your own core.  I truly believe finding that core in yourself will let you see depression and happiness as 2 necessary parts of being an emotional human.  I don't think our core is either sad or happy.  It just is, simply.  Then when things happen along the outside world, we can check it with the core to recenter ourselves.  

A moment of being cosmic since I'm already pouring out my life's philosophy: Earth is a classroom for our souls.  That's all, we're a bunch of teenagers acting out against a teacher who doesn't exist.  Because that teacher is our core.  We have to look inside ourselves to discover what we need to learn, no one out there can teach it to us.  We think they can.  But it's impossible to teach someone what their own spirit is.  That's a process of self discovery with guides to help.

For book recommendations,  I find a validating solace in poets writing about poetry, often when they're defending their craft.  Peacock's The Four Ages of Poetry is a great introduction to the subject.  I'd recommend that one for high school students because Peacock's writing is such fun!  Shelley's Defence is more sophisticated & beautiful.  To me, C.S.Lewis' Essay on Shelley proves Peacock's original point.  Cancer Ward is another one that's so amazing because of all my Russian books, it feeds my soul the most.  The way he reveals different points of views makes understanding other people seem truly possible.  On the surface, we all look a certain way & every person has far more going on than we can ever understand.  

Since grocery shopping doesn't involved elaborate discussions on poetry, I turn to books to feed that hunger.  And of course, George Carlin still makes me laugh when I need a good shaking up!

*This post was prompted by a video from a fellow booktuber.  Inspiration is always waiting to be discovered.

Jun 2, 2018

The 4 Month Writing Summer Party

It’s only 410 Words per day for the #hotandsticky writer’s extravaganza hosted by the Youtube Sensations: Stripped Cover Lit!!

So ...  

... while I think of an idea ...

If you see this post, consider yourself invited to join in the madness that is a 4 month novel writing adventure; from June 1 until September 30.  This marathon is for endurance rather than NaNoWriMo’s awesome power of sprinting!  (I’ll still be camping this July, blame #yearofwriting for that creative overbooking)

#yearofwriting suffers from too many project syndrome, wait a minute.  #hotandsticky is the perfect project for writing about having too many projects on the go & perhaps for  this blog!

As of this post, 190 words down, 630 more to go.  Ok, I’ll use #hotandsticky to shake the crickets out of my blog.  So each Book Destination can equal 1000 words because they take about 2 hours to craft, #hotandsticky should be a challenge ‘cause well, we’re hot and also so sticky. Bleh!

What'll your #hotandsticky project be?  Let's get to work!!

Drop what you're doing, get out there & start your novel with a slow 410 words per day for a leisurely 4 months. 

May 28, 2018

Tale of Heike

Multi Elemental Battle

By Anonymous
From Selections from Tale of Genji & Heike
Translated By Helen Craig McCullough
Japanese, (c. 1010, before 1330), 1994
Ancient Epic 

Main Attractions

Helen Craig McCullough Translator

1. Society Breaking Down
2. A Monk’s Pilgrimage
3. Leisurely Country Life
4. Warriors into Battle
5. Monks & Ladies, too
6. Supernatural Scenes
7.Beautiful, Timeless Philosophy
8. Many Buddhist Themes
9. Peace Amongst War
10. Moments of Sublime Beauty

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Dessert Bar
This one is tough to rate because it could be complex with a lot of variety like a Han Jeon Shik.  But it’s atmosphere is breezy like a summer salad.  So I have to go with the variety that a Dessert Bar can provide.  Tale of Heike would be at the delicious ice cream end of the desert bar, with all the toppings to select from.  The footnotes can provide even more variety and lead to a journey into Japan’s rich literary past or the vast collection of Buddhist Scriptures that have been translated into English.  The story of the Heike cast such a calming spell that can be so light and airy to read.  But then the philosophy of it can inspire you to sit up and take notes.

Why Visit Here

This tale was composed in the 13th Century as a historical chronicle that tries to give some ethics for how to live in this age of war & honour.  Originally, it was meant to be told through lute playing bards.  The Buddhist themes slowly crept in as the bards faded out from the way of telling this story.  This brief explanation is a tiny snippet from this fantastic video:

The Genie War and the Tale of the Heike, Japan’s Greatest War Story
By East Asian Studies Centre, Ohio State University
A 17 min. Clip explaining the historical context and brief summary of the epic.

Destination Summary

The Tale of the Heike begins at the end of the Heian Period.  This tale is about the Genpei War that occurred for 5 years, 1180–1185 and is a conflict between two clans: Taira and Minamoto.  The outcome resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192.

Off the Beaten Path

This exquisite calligrapher recreates the opening lines of Tale of Heike:
"The Tale of Heike" performed by Masako Inkyo

Packing List
✓ Tea & Instrumental Music
✓ Lotus Sutra or other Buddhist Text
✓ Cherry Blossoms Drifting in the Wind

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ The Mahabharata By Vyasa (c. 400 BCE) - Like the Tale of Heike, this epic is also about the break down of the social order but because of a breakdown in the Dharma or natural order that governs life.  An epic war also breaks out in this epic from India.

Alternate Movies
Heike Monogatari (Full Version) - Duo Ueda-Offermans, Miyoshi, Japan
A 26 min. Traditional Japanese musical adaptation of Tale of Heike

The Tale of Heike, Bio & Historical Context