Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday! Bear Creek and The First Circle

Monday is here! Well I had a moderately long list of things to do today, most of which I didn't get done. I did however finally finish The First Circle by Solzhenitsyn. So it was a day off my mark, but nonetheless, I am quite pleased. I've been struggling through it for several months now! It is indeed a long work, but it is by no means boring or difficult to read.  But we all know how it can be after working long days, reading a thought-dense book can sometimes become slow or even be put off. When I read, I want to really read, to be active, to think, not just to skim a story, and so for some weeks this 500 or so page volume has gathered dust beside my bed, being read little by little.
Ah these Russians!  The way they work the old and new philosophers into the words, thoughts and actions of their characters -- so subtle, so deliberate, so masterfully. The gift is in the embodiment of a philosophy within the character it seems to me.  Before you know it you are seeing an application of thought which perhaps before you only knew theoretically. And again you find yourself sympathetic towards a character whose philosophy of life is absolutely contrary to what you know to be true.  Here you are convinced of the innate goodness in man, there you feel intensely that man is at heart a selfish creature. And just when you think you might have it all sorted out, can recognize each prisoner by his three or four names, can match tones and skills to each, can perhaps even guess what will come next for each, how their characters will play out,  the circle closes and you are shoved unceremoniously out into the snow again and reminded that this "novel" is not quaint and is not fanciful, but a brief glimpse into a reality not that far off. Oi! I'm sort of dying to go through it again with The Inferno by my side to do comparisons, but that shall have to come some other time... for now I have to continue my quest for 35 books. Next up: Poe Short Stories. Supposed to have finished yesterday, but only about halfway; perhaps this evening.
Seeing as it as Monday, however, I remembered that I haven't posted any music here in quite a while.  The other day Brandi Carlile came out with a fantastic new album called Bear Creek. The entire album is really quite wonderful -- introspective, melodic, harmonic.  Certainly as good if not better than her previous albums which, frankly, at this point, were they on tape I would have worn out by now.  There is something so honest and human in her lyrics, it's difficult not to like even if you are not a fan of the folk genre.  It also helps that she has one of the most incredible, controlled yet malleable voices I have ever heard. Yeah, I'm a little bit of a fan ;) Here is a little taste of one of the more known tracks off the new album; enjoy!



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer!

Well Summer is finally here! Despite all the rain this last week, I am nevertheless quite happy with the thought of coming afternoons filled with sunshine and perhaps some swimming.  I find it very difficult to write anything during the school year; teaching can be so draining -- physically and mentally. Next year I will have to find a way to continue reading, writing and drawing even during the sometimes tedious weeks of the school year.         Last summer I had a goal of reading 35 books, both thick and thin, light and serious. I got to 19 before September rolled around, I think.  Let's see, what did I read? Tintin (got it as a surprise gift from my Principal), The Great Gatsby (been meaning to really read this classic, beyond skimming it for my Comp Exam), The Prophet (many thanks to William Michaelian), Mere Christianity and A Grief Observed by CS Lewis (Lewis is so incredible, I need to reread The Silent Planet trilogy again), Literary Converts and The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde (by Joseph Pearce, so grand! Can't wait to read his bios of Belloc, Solzhenitsyn, and Shakespeare; he blows me away!) Huh, well, I can't remember any others, and I'm too lazy to turn on the light to look at my bookshelf. More on those later, perhaps? Ha.
Speaking of bookshelves, you would think there would be more being given away on Craigslist etc., what with the declining state of bibliophilia.  Come on people! I know you don't love books as much as you used to! Give up those unused bookcases! I have stacks and boxes of books that need a good home besides my floor! Please? :)
Well, this summer I have a plan to read 35 books as well. Hopefully I can do better than last time? I've finished Lord Jim and am in the middle of The First Circle. Up next I need to finish Essays by Tate and Essays by Milosz, then finish the collected works of Yeats, and finally get through Hirsch's How to Read a Poem. But first I have to find Poe's Short Stories and finish that.  I start a lot of books during the school year if you couldn't tell! It's the finishing I have trouble with!  It can be so difficult just to sit down and read sometimes! It's not that I do pointless surfing when I'm on my computer -- I read over 100 blog posts a day and follow every post of various design sites -- but it can never feel as comprehensive as reading an entire book.  I suppose the remedy would be to set a reading schedule, but I think we can establish the fact that I am not very good with schedules.  Ah well!  I should be able to get through Solzhenitsyn and Poe by Monday methinks.
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