No Nook: The Fire Kindling Beneath Paperbacks and Tangibility

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In about 10 years I will regret this. Maybe less…

I don’t doubt that marketing ploys and manipulation tactics will slowly break my political opposition to e-readers and netbooks.

I consider this my personal reminder. When the day comes and consumer temptation has almost broken my rational resistance, I can come here and find my sanity.

I am nook-less. The only kindle I possess is in the backwoods of Pennsylvania on a chilly fall evening. I have an ipod but, alas no ipad. My smart phone (which outsmarts me on a daily basis, a continuously humbling effect) automatically set me up with virtual copies of the necessities, Alice In Wonderland, Treasure Island, and The Three Musketeers. (Who decided these were the necessities?)

There is something…initimate… about holding a book in your hands and feeling the pages running through your fingers. Smelling the fresh print or dusty decomposition while you soak in every line creates an ambiance of reading. Flipping pages and weighing the horror as you get closer and closer to the middle, now the end, now the last 10, 5 pages in your hands. The act of cracking and beating each spine to hold your place or to be sure that secret lines aren’t buried past the text area. The front page curl that means that this book has truly be read, loved, and studied. Everytime you pick it up you see the cover art, the author’s name, and you flip through the accomplished part of your tale. No back lighting or touch tones to get in the way of the most important portal the world has to offer. No ready made highlights or note clips. You bend the corner of the pages, you press the pen frantically into the margin, you physically flip back a few chapters to check, re-read, rediscover.

Reading is natural. The leaves that have been printed and copied for your use. The human work applied to the novel is there in your hands. No pdfs, no digital downloads. Just you and the ideas navigating through this clip of life or product of imagination.

The taste of the page from the pointer finger you’ve licked a hundred times begging to solve, resolve, explore, exploit, find and be found.

The shelves of novels discovered and yet to be uncovered surrounding you like an embrace from walls and rooms. The harmony of picking up one story in your favorite chair but another from your bag on the daily commute. The zen of knowing that this simple act is organic. As organic as you can get in our contemporary time. No ads, gimmicks, flashing lights, batteries to be charged, not a single button waiting to be pressed.

Just you and the leaves bound together in search of a story. An escape and a mirror that is both product and creator.

I want to be offline and out of the office when I open the cover and hear the spine begin to buckle under my force. It makes me feel alive. It reminds me that I am a part of this universe, making waves and changes.

Reuse, Recycle, Borrow and Steal. Save pages and leaves. Take the time to search instead of letting something do it for you. FUCK NOOKS. READ BOOKS.

“Re-examine all you have been told…
Dismiss what insults your Soul.” Walt Whitman

Happy Birthday to my favorite Brontë

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Ellis Bell

To celebrate the life of the creator of my favorite romance (and the woman who can make me spiral into a prepositional tizzy), here are some fun facts and theories:

*Disclaimer- Some of the following theories are complete speculation and opinion and some are factual pieces of Emily Brontë’s life founded by solid evidence. Please enjoy knowing the difference.

  • Emily Brontë was the middle sister between novelists Charlotte and Anne.
  • Emily wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell. Charlotte = Currer Bell/ Anne = Acton Bell
  • Emily’s novel Wuthering Heights is the greatest romance novel of the English language. This is due to the high realism produced in the heart of the Romantic period and the unconventional love affair of Cathy and Heathcliff. Her lovers are both a product of the morbid beauty of romanticism and a realistic mirror to society’s flaws.
  • It took over 150 years for a feature film interpretation of Wuthering Heights to properly cast Heathcliff. I implore you to interpret the following:                        “He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose.                                                                                         -Though Lawrence Oliver and Ralph Finnes are both beautiful actors, the proper casting of Heathcliff is Gary Dourdan, Harry Lennix, or a younger Idris Elba.
  • The critical theory surrounding Wuthering Heights includes (but is not limited to) Marxism, feminism, and social commentary on race, religion, and class.
  • This is one of the greatest lines from Wuthering Heights and western romance literature:  “May she wake in torment!’ he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. ‘Why, she’s a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffens—Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”
  • This is one of the most successful displays of imagery and character driven metaphor in the English canon:  ” sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor: the middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton’s only harmonised by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff’s still bare.”
  • Emily died one year after her masterpiece was published of tuberculosis as a result of unclean conditions and water supply.
  • Her poetry is often under rated. For example,                                                        ‘I hear its billows roar-
    I see them foaming high;
    But no glimpse of a further shore
    Has blest my straining eye.                                                                                    – From “A Death Scene”
  • And this:  “But long or short though life may be
    ‘Tis nothing to eternity
    We part below to meet on high
    Where blissful ages never die”From “Lines”

    So, today go out and mourn eternity without your soul mate. Find a moment to stand on the moors and allow the wind to billow through your hair as you weep with the dew. Dig up the grave of your beloved … on second thought, just read some Wuthering Heights and spare yourself the jail time.

Free Books

Yes, free books! Not at all like that free lunch you took once….

I just heard about this absolutely amazing and impossibly cool book warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s free.

You give books and you take whatever books you want. It is a true book exchange. A massive literary community. Books can be mailed in, dropped off for tax deductible donations, and you really can run away with any books you want.

Open on all Saturdays and Sundays.

I smell a weekend binging trip ahead….

FYI: The Book Thing has never heard of me or my blog. They didn’t ask me to write anything. This is pure paying it forward. I offer whatever knowledge I find to you!

Follow the link below to see more FAQ and information:

http://www.bookthing.org/faq.html

My Letter to Tony Kushner

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Dear Anthony Robert Kushner Tony Kushner Tony,

How do I address in writing a writer whose words I have poured over in the past five years? May I begin by stating the obvious? I am clearly a devout fan of yours. Prior Walters was my late goldfish’s name and I truly believe I can get through anything with “wee little fistfuls of Valium.”The only thing better than Brecht is a Kushner Brecht translation. Changing mediums hold no obstacle for you, as your screenplays have shown (and in the future are sure to show).

I, I, I, consider myself to be a humble reader and most of my celebrity idols have been dead for centuries. You, however, I have a chance of meeting. A 1,402,367,253 to 1 chance but, an opportunity no less. Though I doubt I would be capable of constructing an intelligent sentence in your presence, my desire to shake hands with you and remind you that through your writing you touch peoples lives everyday overwhelms any insecurities I may have.

It is possible that, for me, you represent all of my literary idols. Your social relevance and philosophical commentary rival any author that has inflated from antiquity. Your one liners of inspiration have become mantras. Your characters have become personifications of the shades of society.

You have given the underdogs hope and the afraid courage.

Through this, at times, painful progression of the literary world with nothing but longing for what is left behind your writing embodies the dream ahead.

Thank you for inspiring me as a writer and as a human being.

To anyone that may come across this and read this, I share with you a piece of Kushner’s writing. It is out of context but, the most spiritually uplifting and motivating plea for life I have ever read:

I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes – Part Two: Perestroika.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

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François-Marie Arouet doesn’t exactly sound like a rebellious voice that sparked revolution and challenged the status quo, n’est pas?

Understandably, François-Marie Arouet became Voltaire after a prison stint in order to up his street “cred” (though many scholars believe it was to separate from family ties and his nobel past). No record of a badass tribal tattoo on Voltaire’s beefy bicep has been recorded but, couldn’t you imagine…..

His satirical polemic Candide only furthers this bad boy rebel persona of the Enlightened thinker.

His protagonist is thrown, beaten, whipped, and given essentially every type of physical and mental torture the world can offer. Throughout Candide’s journey, he sees the best and worst of life. Everyone has their own story of woe. Some places are nothing but suffering and some…some are El Dorado.

The episodes lead the reader to the old conclusion that an optimist believes that our world is the best of all possible and the pessimist fears that it is true. However, there is a common connotation to both sides and of course, one can never forget the realist.

All three in that case, the optimist, the pessimist, and the realist, see the world with radically different perspectives. Optimism clings to faith and hope. Pessimism plans for defeat and deterioration. Realism attempts to see past bias and represent actuality.

So, is Candide an optimist, as Voltaire slyly proposed, or is he more pessimist/ realist.

Candide’s conclusion on life, living, society, etc… is that we must “cultivate our garden.”

While by itself it does seem to have a rather optimistic tone, the line for me is much more realism than anything else.

Pessimism- definitely not the mode of Candide despite the unfortunate events that degrade and denigrate the characters because, the ending gives them what they all wanted throughout their journey.

Optimism- probably not considering that they end up content and they way they had “hoped” but, along the way got thrown around more than their fair share. Candide’s girl looses all beauty. The prize he had worked so hard for had become ugly and beaten by the troubles of the world.

Realism- my vote says yes. No, it is not realistic that your red sheep from El Dorado will show up floating beside you as a result of the pirate-who-conned-you-for-almost-everything-you-had’s ship being wrecked. Odd metaphors for reality still count as realism.

hope-fear-truth

Happy Birthday Thoreau!

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Viva la simple living and civil disobedience!

The following quote is supplied in order to celebrate the life of an inspirational writer and activist. Today, leave the office and take a walk among nature. Pay attention to your thoughts and contemplate everything as you get lost in forests, gardens, or parks.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

 Try Walden to get you inspired for action! Maybe you’ll even feel the need to build a cabin…..

She-who-will-not-be-named

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I do not want to fuel the frenzied fire behind the recent success of a sensationalized work but, I need to get this out. Perhaps other people feel this way. Perhaps I will stop glaring at people pool-side and telling them they are destroying literature one page at a time.

Hoping this helps….

Pornographic literature has been around for ages. If you think this new thing is steamy try The Miller’s Tale from Canterbury Tales or Gilgamesh. Serious heat and raunchy descriptions galore.

My only problem with this new devolved formation is that the writing is less than intelligent and the blatant content lacks real passion. Granted I only read about 20 pages before I grew tired or killing my brain cells at the syntax and diction of such an undeveloped writer.

Yes, this is extremely judgmental. Yes, I am jealous that this housewife has made the best sellers lists I only dream of. But, truly it is more than envy and pride.

I feel that this kind of writing that has swept the masses is a dangerous development in society. The same species that once anticipated the next edition of Household Words for the next installment of relevant Literature (note the capital L), is now clamoring the shelves at local mass production marts to get their unfulfilled fingers on the pages of garbage writing.

Fuck it. It’s not entertaining unless someone outright says something.

This work is utter garbage. It is the twinkie of the English writing world.

If you have the need to read about sex to replace the fact that your not actually having it, read Playboy, or rather to match the correct demographic, some type of Playgirl. Plenty of blatant visuals and, to be honest, the writing is actually superb.

It’s not a case of I can write better (despite the fact that I am of the delusion that I can). It’s that I know good writing. If nothing else I have a talent for knowing talent. This is probably why I identify with Prufrock….

Anyway, I am of the opinion that this sensation is bad for the future of literature. If nothing else, I hope that this poorly written novel can inspire some to read a well written novel.

Ever the optimist, even in such times as these…..

DFW explains life…simply

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There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’

David Foster Wallace that is, not to be confused with one hell-acious southern airport. This quote is best used when people have trouble seeing past cultural differences or even just personal differences.

This quote opens a commencement speech given by DFW to Kenyon College a few years before his (untimely seems too understated) untimely death. This comic opener has more philosophy in one word of it than many writers could even dream of. It is perfection’s essence.

The simplicity and the multiple applications the quote has makes it a favorite of mine to twirl around in thought every so often.

In conjunction with this, I once had a fantastic professor who taught sociology and psychology and history and philosophy all at once. (This works; I promise.) He would always remind us, before unleashing some world view shattering morsel of knowledge, to “get out of our fishbowl.”

It seems two brilliant people, DFW and my professor, both have same idea. This is not a coincidence, I assure you.

Uh oh….it’s rant and preach time.

The relevance of this quote in our current world (A bit broad, I know. Think Western over developed society…) is in relation to the effects of globalization on a species that has evolved to be egocentric. In a world where my thoughts can reach people I’ve never met and most likely never will meet, the cultural bias and categorization of living things is fundamentally hindering our development as a global society.

Next time you hear something unusual from your habits, think about getting out of your fish bowl. Think perhaps you are a fish that doesn’t realize water because water is all around you.

If it’s still unusual….call for help.