An Eco Never Fails to Resonate

January 9, 2015 at 5:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

serendipitiesTitle: Serendipities

Author: Umberto Eco

Eco never fails me.  Except once… I didn’t care for Baudolino. But even after that epic let down, the work stayed with me – if only to prove that even a genius can manage to disappoint from time to time, because reading is a two way street.

The author must deliver, but the reader must be receptive.

Sometimes capturing the magic of that relationship is consistent, sometimes it isn’t…

Nevertheless, Eco never fails to resonate.  I remember his name always.  His words always mean something.  His thoughts and opinions are ones I value and take into great consideration.  He moves me.

He speaks of language and sounds, ideas that arbitrary and ones that are not.  He writes about the things that speak to my soul every time.  Eco and I, though of course he doesn’t know it, have a trust relationship.  I trust him to deliver something that will mean something to me, and I suppose that he trusts that what he has to say needs to be said – what he writes is meant to be written.

Authors and books have a way of being there when you need them most.  That comfort stays with me always.

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The Rural Life

November 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

The Rural LifeTitle: The Rural Life

Author: Verlyn Klinkenborg

Genre: Memoir/ Essays

Length: 213 pages

I don’t remember when I acquired this book, but I do remember the moment I first picked it up.  I can’t place the moment in time or identify my whereabouts, but I distinctly remember being drawn in by the off white matte finish and the rich colors of the font.  I remember seeing the house and the tree in the circular image, thinking “I want to live there.”

More than ever, I want to live there.  We are saving for land and to build our own house.  It still feels like a pipe dream, but it is a pipe dream in action.  We have little choice but to make some version of it obtainable.  We’ve dreamed of 40 acres, our goal is 10.  We’ll take just 2 if that’s all we can get.  But in all this dreaming and planning and saving, there are a fair number of doubters in our midst.  It’s ok, I doubt myself too.  But I do know my own mind – no matter how much work it is and whether I can make it happen or not – I want the life Klinkenborg describes in his memoir.

L’Engle sold me on Crosswicks… land and a 200 year old house.  Klinkenborg sold me on his gardens, the work of an amateur ‘farmer’ who isn’t a farmer at all but a man who lives as self-sufficiently as he can.  He talks of pig farmers, of an Iowa homestead he grew up on, he talks of Texas, and all corners of rural America, and his little journal of country life is endearing.

On lunch breaks at work I’m plucking through a Popular Mechanics publication about how to build log cabins and small houses.  Practicality by day and soul searching by night, I may know my own mind but I do like to be sure of things on a fundamental level beyond my desires.

I want to build something that lasts for years to come.  I want to work with my hands and create.  These are things I’ve always wanted, except before I mostly sketched pictures and wrote books.  Before I was sloshing paint on a canvas and writing very poor poetry.  I want to continue to slosh paint, write, and tinker with things that are pretty… mosaics are a dream of mine… but I want to build a house that will stand for 100 years.  I want a green house where I can watch things grow and dig my fingers in the dirt, eat the vegetables that come out of it.  I want to milk my own goat and drink fresh milk while I contemplate character development.

I want my child to have fields and forests to romp in, chores in a barn to do, and chickens to pester.

I want space and fresh air.

I was laughing at work the other day, “I’ve already lived in the city ghetto [Oak Cliff], worked downtown as a server [West End, Dallas].  I did the suburbia routine [enjoyed a number of different sorts of neighbors, had block parties and dinner parties, exchanged mail in the street when our mail-woman proved a useless turd in Spring, TX].  Now, I’m ready to be OUT.”

In short, I want a full resume of human experience, but I want to end on the cozy bits.  So when I’m old and gray, would it be too much to ask to be living the rural life like Klinkengborg?  I’ll definitely be looking for his other books in the future.  I may need them if my dreams don’t come to the fruition I’d like them to.


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Literary Journal Monday

February 25, 2014 at 1:42 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

P1010137Today, I picked up The Arizona Quarterly.  It was Volume 37 from the Winter of 1981, Number 4.  The ISBN is 004-1610.  I chose this one for the first essay listed on the cover – one on Montaigne, Melville, and The Cannibals.  It’s by one Gorman Beauchamp (what a name) and spells out what I now realize it is that keeps me coming back to Melville time and time again, even though I’m always slightly dissatisfied with his work.

“[…] being a work of intrinsic interest and inventiveness as fiction-autobiography-anthropology-travelogue […]”

Beauchamp identifies all my favorite subjects and genres, then attributes them to Melville.  Ah, I see now.

This entire installment is dedicated to Melville – every essay.  A poem by a Housman piqued my interest, briefly, but it wasn’t A.E., it was another Housman.

If I were to purchase this (roughly $5), I’d house it next to The Secret of Lost Things so the Melville cronies can bond… so it can be near something else that reminds me to tackle Melville with more zeal. After all, it is something to revisit once I have tackled Melville more thoroughly.

Until then, I’ve tucked it back on the shelf at Good Books in the Woods – with the rest of the A’s in the Literary Journal area in the back of the Gallery – to be revisited as long as it remains there while my child frolics in the rock garden out back.


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Conspicuous Consumption by Thorstein Veblen – Lost in “Education”

June 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Veblen was a famous sociologist and economist in his day (roughly turn of the century, writing his most well-known essay in 1899).  He even had his own movement! (Institutional Economics Movement).  Whether someone agrees or disagrees with his theories and how the world should be, there is no doubt about the fact that his observations on how the world is, carries a stunning amount of accuracy.

Why did we never read this for school?  The relevancy is uncanny.  The way the times haven’t changed is disturbing.  I am definitely adding this to my required reading list for when I home school my child.

This book in reality is a 100 page essay or so, not long in the slightest and should take the reader a mere hour or two to digest and properly process (depending on the reader).  What I plan to have my child address when I require this to be read are the following questions (and I’d like to know what you guys think too, if you’ve read this):

How do Veblen’s ideas tie into Darwin’s evolutionary theories?

How do they interact with Marxism and Capitalism?

How are his ideas relevant today?

How are the leisure class and ownership related, according to Veblen?  What are the roots of conventional ownership and of marriage?  Consider contemporary phrases like “trophy wife.”  (How does this affect gender roles?)

Veblen sees “emulation” as a key feature of social life in “predatory societies.”  How do the patterns of emulation change as predatory societies change?

What fundamental criticism does Veblen make of standard economics?

I actually have quite a few more that I have borrowed from other sites, essay questions and discussions to be had are all noted in a journal I am keeping of projects and assignments to remember.  My point in posting the blog today, however, is this:

How did something so famous, so moving and so relevant – something Penguin even published in their Great Ideas series – get neglected in my own education?  Not just high school with basic history, social studies, and economics, but also in college when half my life was filled with economic theory and consumer behavior as I earned a Marketing degree?  I am realizing more and more the importance of not just reading about movements and theories, not just getting summaries from textbooks, but reading the original documents!  How can your education be complete without going back to what started the ideas in the first place?  How can you presume to know anything about anything if all your information comes from a summary in a textbook and you’ve never even heard of the essay that initiated the need for that summary?

Buy Here:

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