Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's reading list

Blah, blah, blah...
More narcissistic navel-gazing, I'm afraid.  Days of short sunlight will do that to me.

Ever am I plagued with fears of excessive complacence.  It's true that I love my life, every bit of it, and I never tire of reminding myself  (and everyone else) of that truth.  But, the danger of succumbing to comfort and contentment must be guarded against.

Hey, people, the springtime may be a memory, but there is still some sap in the tree.  (Don't take that metaphor anywhere you think you shouldn't.)  I dislike the idea that I have let life soften me.  I deny it.

Rather, I believe I have come to a better understanding of which battles are worth fighting and which are pointless and futile.  Of the former, there is that a man should not become a bigot; or, if he finds that he has become one, that he not remain so.  Of the latter, there is the attempt to change the mind of a bigot; experience teaches that only himself can do it.

I have found two endeavors that are perfect antidotes to encroaching bigotry:  travel and reading.  Both will open windows in the psyche and cleanse away bias with the light afforded by dilated perspective.

Times being what they are, it will be a while before I can manage any overseas travel.  So, today I took a walk down to Powell's Books on Hawthorne and picked up three titles:
  • In Evil Hour - Gabriel García Márquez

  • Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman

  • Poems and Songs - Robert Burns
The Burns compilation is annotated with modern English interpretations of the Scottish dialect that I find delightful.  I haven't read much poetry, and since I occasionally dabble on this blog, I feel I ought to have a look at what the masters have done.  And Don Márquez always imparts gifts of wisdom and compassion.

A reading list is a wonderful thing to have during winter.  If you're looking for something to read, I'm always happy to suggest titles.  I suppose it is no secret by now that I'm always willing to offer an opinion!



Dan Binmore said...

Ironically I'd love to fall into happy complacency, that's pretty much what I've been searching for in my life.

In the area of not being a bigot I find the most useful thing I have found in Texas is the appreciation of how unpleasant it must be to be a conservative in Portland. All those years of unthinking assumption that the people around me shared my "Clearly correct" opinion.

I don't know how much you've traveled within the USA, but it's a huge place. Perhaps this would be the year for the coast-to-coast classic American trip?

Eugene said...

ROBERT BURNS! RABBIE! Burns Night is coming up later this month, January, that is. The pipes, the haggis (rather good considering what it's made from), the Scotch, the mouse in the field, the ode to the haggis...yeah...Rabbie Burns!

Currently I'm reading "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell. Just finished "War Against the Weak" by Edwin Black, a book about the Eugenics movement in the U.S., how it was in alliance and envious of Germany (before, during, and after WWII) and some rather disturbing details missing from our current discussions of the history of WWII.

Also on my list:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black

Banking on Baghdad by Edwin Black

I Loves my history, as you can tell. Especially the stuff you don't read about, which, makes me think of "1984." Lots of history just ignored, not erased. Folk are taught to ignore it, I think, in a big part.

I wanted to read "1984" (which I didn't in school) because of the speech Obama made in acceptance of the alleged peace prize on December 10.


He who controls the past controls the future, he who controls the present controls the past.

Orwell, the man could see the greater patterns in the world.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, I'm reading Mona Lisa Overdrive and Gibson is about as incomprehensible in this as the others in the series, but this reading gives the story a dreamy overlay of the scenes from the related stories. -jeanine