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Posts from the ‘essays’ Category

24
Sep

Classic: Pensées

 

 

Conclusion:

  1. Difficult, difficult..very difficult to read in French!
  2. I realized the edition I had was more than just Pensées.
  3. Of the 736 pages I read the first part (pg 5-257)
  4. …and that was enough!
  5. But, no matter how difficult this book was
  6. …I never gave up.
  7. I knew there had to be some ‘gems’
  8. of wisdom waiting for me.
  9. Pascal was a genius in his time.
  10. He excelled in science and mathematics
  11. …before his turn to religion.
  12. Pensées captures his insights in elegant
  13. pithy (difficult) phrases.
  14. His words at times went over my head (existential)
  15. …but at other times his words went straight to my heart.
  16. I will end with one of his most famous quotes:
  17. “Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point”
  18. The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Yes, I had thoughts….about Pascal’s thoughts!
  2. Here are a few things I jotted down while reading.
  3. This is a  #Classic…and I am glad I can
  4. …say I have a general idea what it is about!

 

Humor: (pg 51)

The causes and effects of love:
… if Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter
….it would have changed the face of the world!

 

Faith: …beautifully said! (pg 55) 

Faith is in our heart and
makes us NOT say I know….but I believe.

 

Literary devices:

Chiasmus: (pg 66)

The sentence is grammatically the same, even when it is reversed!

Peu de chose nous console parce que
Peu de chose nous afflige

A few things console us because
A few things distress us

 

Confession:

I skipped a few long discussions
about imagination vs reason….it was just too long
too complicated. (pg 66-73) Forgive me
pyrrhonism – I skipped pg 113 – 119… Forgive me…
disproportion of man – I skipped pg 161 – 171… Forgive me…
These are not ‘short thoughts’ (pensées)they are small essays!
that are difficult in English…not to mention in French.

 

Style Pascalienne:

Pascal uses (…what I call) 1-2-3 — 3-2-1 logic!

The words are reversed to give another meaning.
This ‘redoubles’ its complexity!
I have to read these fragments very slowly and let the thought sink in!
Here is an example:

Il soit force (1) d’obéir (2) à la justice. (3)
Il soit juste (3) d’obéir (2) à la force. (1)

It is forced to obey justice
…it is just to obey force.   (pg 93)

 

Amusement (pg 121)

Men attempt to forget their misery
rather than find true happiness.
Only amusement permits him to flee
…his tragic existence.

Religion: (pg 151)

  • There are a few true Christians.
    There are those who believe
  • …but through superstition.
    There are those who do not believe
  • through the lack of moral restraint.
    Few are in between

Religion: (pg 154)

Faith says what the senses cannot say

….but
not the contrary of what they (senses) say.
Faith is well above…and not against.

 

Thought: (Pensée) (pg171)

Our dignity is contained in the mind (pensée)
It is there that we pick ourselves up again….
Try to think.

 

 

19
Sep

Non fiction: Worst book 2018!

 

Quickscan:

I cannot for the life of me understand the high
scores this booked has accrued on Goodreads.com

Reading books that numb my soul
teach me to appreciate how
a good book can change a life!

This books wins the prize.
Worst non-fiction I read in 2018
and here is why…

 

  • If you have the time….here are my notes.
  • If you decide to skip this review
  • …I understand completely!

 

At Table In Paris:

  1. Liebling studied in Paris 1925-1926 and
  2. traveled around Normandy etc.
  3. The stories are filled with references
  4. to buildings and streets he knows well.

 

Paris the First:

  1. Liebling describes his visit to Paris with his parents in 1911
  2. He was 7 years old…and I wonder if a child is a reliable narrator.
  3. While Liebling’s parents dine on French food and wine “en ville’
  4. …he was firmly in the care of a dreaded nanny ‘fraulëin”
  5. This chapter was quaint but awful.
  6. It was an overblown narrative about childhood memories and
  7. fantasies with nanny and family in Paris.
  8. I lost interest about half way through the story.
  9. I hope the dispatches from the WW II years will be better.

 

The War and After:

  1. Unfortunately the reports written during Liebling’s time in Europe
  2. during WW II were disappointing to say the least.
  3. He is still gushing about food and wine and not
  4. enough storytelling about the people. Unbalanced.

 

Letter From Paris June 1940:

  1. Clinical tone…I expected more emotion describing the dread of
  2. invasion of Paris after Holland and Belgium’s swift collapse.
  3. The images I remember from Suite Française (I. Némirovsky)
  4. …are still vivd in my mind.
  5. Liebling did not come close to
  6. describing the angst the Parisians felt with the
  7. Germans standing ready to pounce on the city.

 

Westbound Tanker:

  1. Trip from England in convoy sailing to
  2. …Port Arthur Texas during WW II.
  3. This story was just pointless
  4. …waste of my reading time.

 

Quest for Mollie:

  1. This was not a WW II dispatch…..it was a novella!
  2. I just cannot understand the praise given to
  3. Liebling’s WW II correspondance.
  4. His stories are too long…and I cannot find a moment
  5. the hook ” that captures my attention.
  6. This is yet another chapter that I have started in good faith
  7. …and ended up being disappointed.

 

Days with the Daydaybay:

  1. Long description of Liebling’s
  2. ….walk around the streets of the Sorbonne.
  3. He recalls his student days there.
  4. Long description of Liebling’s entry into liberated Paris.
  5. The narrative includes his fellow reporters from other
  6. newspapers: Jack Roach and A. Morrison.
  7. This was one of the better stories….but still too, too long.
  8. Details, details and more details that numbed this reader.

 

The Hounds with Sad Voices:

  1. Liebling returns to Normandy (1957) and is
  2. searching for a chateau. All he can remember is
  3. the sound of hounds with sad voices near the building.
  4. But as always Liebling’s days end in restaurants.
  5. This is yet anothr gastronomic exposition….ho-hum.
  6. It is no surprise that Liebling loved his food and drink.
  7. He drank and ate excessively and reached a weight of 250 lbs.
  8. He sufferd gout in the later years of his life.
  9. He died at the young age of 59 yr.

 

City Life: The Jollity Building …and the rest of the stories

  1. The last half of the book describes
  2. …colorful promoters, boxers, trips to the
  3. ….Place Bar & Grill.
  4. Liebling loved the horses so we also
  5. read about the Turf & Field Club and Belmont Racetrack.
  6. Eating again…

 

Conclusion:

  1. Libeling wrote for The New Yorker magazine so
  2. we can assume he was a good writer.
  3. But in my opinion the stories were too long and
  4. the pace was slow because of downpour of
  5. details that inundated this reader.
  6. Liebling’s vivid descriptions of boxing matches
  7. and other sporting events are of a bygone era.
  8. It did not interest me at all.
  9. In truth…I read 60% of the book…then skimmed the rest.
  10. I was glad when I could close the book.
  11. #SoDisappointed
  12. Reading books that numb my soul
  13. teache me to appreciate how
  14. a good book can change a life!
  15. This books wins the prize.
  16. Worst non-fiction I read in 2018….so far!
6
Aug

Classic: Seneca Letters From a Stoic

 

Conclusion:

  1. For more information about Seneca and Stoicism
  2. …I refer you to the links in the header.
  3. This book is perfect bed-time reading.
  4. Tone is casual.
  5. Focus is on practical moral advice.
  6. Your mind can relax after a hectic day and let
  7. Seneca  bring  you back to basic thoughts about:
  8. mercy, anger, kindness, fate, happiness, and peace of mind.
  9. Strong points: writing style is full of brevity and sparkle.
  10. There are so many quotes that have lingered
  11. …too many to sum up.
  12. At the end of the book…the last letter (letter CXXIII)
  13. Seneca left me with these thoughts I use daily:

 

  • Nothing is burdensome if taken lightly
  • …nothing need arouse one’s irritation so long as one
  • …doesn’t make it bigger than it is by getting irritated!

 

  • It is in no man’s power to have whatever he wants
  • …but he has it in his power not to wish
  • …for what he hasn’t got.

 

  1. And as a person who struggles with an aching lower back
  2. Seneca spoke to me with these words:

 

  • I’m deriving immeasurable satisfaction from the way  my
  • …tiredness is becoming reconcile to itself.
  • What was brought on by exertion
  • …rest is taking away.
29
Jul

Victor Hugo: Romancier de l’Abîme

Travailleurs de la mer

 

 

 

Introduction:

  1. If you are interested reading any books by Victor Hugo
  2. ..it is always nice to have some back round information
  3. …you might not know!
  4. I’m reading Les Miserables  at the moment
  5. …and want to read Hugo’s
  6. Dernier jour d’un condamné
  7. Travailleurs de la mer
  8. Here are a few notes I made after reading these essays.

 

Structure:   11 essays

7 essays  in French
4 essays in English

 

Ch 2: Dernier jour d’un condamné

  1. Victor Hugo abandons ‘romanticisme noir’
  2. …in Bug-Jargal and Han d’Island.
  3. ..for romantic realism in Dernier jour d’un condamné.
  4. Hugo creates a character
  5. who presents arguments against capital punishment. (voice of V Hugo)
  6. Hugo uses the first person narrative.
  7. Trivia:…character never reveals the crime committed
  8. Trivia:…character reveals sarcastic bravoure
  9. ….rather than remorse for his crime.

 

Ch 6: Travailleurs de la mer

  1. In this chapter Delphine Glees draws my attention
  2. not only to Hugo’s writing Les Travalleurs de la mer
  3. but also to the drawing he made to accompany the book.
  4. Drawings do not represent the reality
  5. …but the fluctuating conditions of the sea and ships.
  6. Hugo stresses the impossibility of remaining stable in the world.

V. Hugo was also an artist

 

Ch 8: L’Homme qui rit

  1. This was a difficult chapter to understand
  2. because I have not read Hugo’s L’Homme qui rit.
  3. In this work Hugo uses costumes to reflect
  4. the personalities of the characters
  5. …and at times a sense of danger.
  6. Clothes are iridescent, opaque, white, black
  7. …and at time sparkling with lies!
  8. Themes Hugo often uses are:
  9. Gullibility (crédulité) of people (easily fooled)
  10. Poke fun at the grotesque – Quasimodo- in
  11. Notre-Dame de Paris …to forget their own misery.
  12. Manipulation of the aristocracy
  13. …sometimes court jesters are smarter than the king!

 

Ch 10: Barriers

  1. Hugo is fascinated by barriers…they are
  2. fragile, arbitrary and at times not ‘watertight’. (étanché)
  3. Barriers of the elements: Travailleurs de a mer
  4. Barriers of the social classes: Les Mis and Quatrevingt-treize
  5. Barriers that keep things out and keep thing in: Les Mis
  6. These frontiers exert pressure on the exterior and interior.
  7. The struggle between these frontiers will help humanity to advance.
  8. Hugo is interested in the shells people wear…their homes,
  9. their geographical shell (land of birth)
  10. …that may reveal their true identity.
  11. Hugo spends a great deal of time describing shells:
  12. constructions, edifices, scaffolds, walls, clothes that people wear.
  13. Shelters with barriers can be found in Les Mis:
  14. Gorgeau’s shack, the Petit-Picups convent, the house on rue Plumet
  15. …and ’l’éléphant de la Bastille.

 

Ch 11: Suicide

  1. Suicide is widespread in Hugo’s novels…
  2. …with the exception of Dernier jour d’un condamné.
  3. Some say Hugo’s obsession with suicide
  4. stems from the trauma of his brother’s suicide.
  5. Javert: commits suicide in Les Mis
  6. Valjean: places himself in a potentially suicidal position ( on the barricades)
  7. Trivia: Dante places suicides in the 7th circle of hell:
  8. … above Judas but beneath heretics and murderers.
  9. Suicide: the character is in an intolerable position
  10. no other way to make amends
  11. no other way of fulfilling a patriotic duty
  12. no other way of remaining faithful to one’s principles
  13. no other way of avoiding dishonour
  14. Javert: suicide represents
  15. the triumph of the spirit against the letter of the law.
  16. the triumph of humanity and love
  17. …against the blind and rigid principle.

 

Conclusion:

  1. This book was like a box of chocolates
  2. …you never know what you’re going to get!
  3. Not having read all the works of Victor Hugo
  4. …some of the references went over my head.
  5. But I did manage to lean one or two things.
  6. The tone of the book is academic.
  7. Personally I think  some of the
  8. illustrious authors still need to ask themselves:
  9. Is this really good writing?
  10. Chapter 9  by Yves Gohin was an example.
  11. His  analysis is impressive
  12. …but his style of writing left much to be desired.
  13. Gohin  creates never-ending sentences that are
  14. impossible to read and grasp his concepts.
  15. He uses too many independent clauses.
  16. Gohin had something worthwhile to say
  17. …but his  thoughts ramble clumsily from one to other
  18. …using sentence fragments that
  19. left ‘this reader’ exhausted and confused.

7
Jun

Essays: The Australian Face (editor Catriona Menzies)

  • Title: The Australian Face: Essays from The Sydney Review of Books
  • Published: 2017
  • Editor: Catriona Menzies PikeEditor Sydney Review of Books.
  • She holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Sydney.
  • Editor: James Ley –  Professional literary critic. 
  • He holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Western Sydney.

 

What is the Sydney Review of Books?

The Sydney Review of Books was launched in 2013 out of frustration at the diminishing public space for Australian criticism on literature.

 

What is this book about?

To celebrate the Sydney Review of Books first five years online Ms Menzies and J. Ley have selected the ‘cream of the crop‘ out of more than 500 published essays over the years. This anthology contains  essays on Australian fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

 

What are essays for?

They are for thinking about things that need to be thought about. This book highlights several popular Australian authors ( H. Garner, A. Wright, M.B. Clarke and Les Murray (…could win Nobel Prize!). But I enjoyed discovering a forgotten Australian poet, Lesbia Harford, the literature scholar John Frow (impressive credentials!) and Moya Costello.

This book not only reveals the mainstream writers….but also  extremely talented essayists like Jeff Sparrow, Julieanne Lamond and Ben Etherington.

 

Here are some of my notes:

 

#ExcellentEssay: Gut Instinct by James Ley

  1. James Ley is not only editor but has contributed a
  2. brilliant essay about H. Garner’s House of Grief.
  3. He examines Garner’s style in this book about a slow
  4. grinding process of two court cases the
  5. provide the narrative spine of the book.

 

#ExcellentEssay: The Brain Feign by Ben Etherington

  1. Ben Etherington’s essay was a refreshing critical look at a number of
  2. Australian book reviewers
  3. ….offering a ‘chorus of weak cheers’ about recent publications.
  4. Etherson’s complaint in his essay is that critics
  5. summarise the content, recapitulate the blurb,
  6. describe the author’s reputation but none of the critics work
  7. to demonstrate WHY the novel deserves a prize or not!

 

#NotAFan: Sings for the Soul by Anthony Ullmann

  1. Unfortunately I gave up on Anthony Uhlmann’s essay.
  2. This my be very well MY problem…and not reflection on the writer.
  3. But read the essay yourself…and let me know what YOU think!

 

#ExcellentEssay: Render It Barely – Jeff Sparrow

  1. Impressive essay by Jeff Sparrow about a forgotten Australian poet
  2. Lesbia Harford.
  3. I knew nothing about Jeff Sparrow or Lesbia Harford.
  4. Ms Harford’s poems are worth reading
  5. …especially her love poems and factory poems
  6. …but Sparrow emphasizes
  7. that they should be read with the
  8. …knowledge of what was happening in
  9. Australian society (rise of Marxism and the Communist Party,
  10. the working class demanding rights, the world WWI and
  11. in the poet’s own life (lovers Guido Baracchi and Katie Lush).
  12. I am eager to read more articles written by Jeff Sparrow!
  13. Jeff Sparrow is a writer, editor, and broadcaster.
  14. He writes a fortnightly column for The Guardian and was the contributes
  15. regularly to many other Australian and international publications.
  16. He was the immediate past editor of literary journal Overland.
  17. I enjoy is style:
  18. …he does not want to preach…. he wants to teach.

 

#ExcellentEssay: The Australian Face by Julieanne Lamond

  1. Ms Lamond discusses The Barracuda by Christos Tsjolkas.
  2. She compares it to the author’s popular novel The Slap.
  3. Australia in The Slap: why hatred can hold communities together.
  4. Australia in The Barracuda: shows the absurdity of
  5. …the idea that Australia is a classless society.
  6. Sounds like these books are filled with some ‘fireworks’!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. This is one of the best anthologies of essays I’ve ever read
  2. Another  collection of eassys I enjoyed
  3. …was Zadie Smith’s  Feel Free.
  4. I’m including The Australian Face review on the
  5. Australian Women Writers Challenge. #AWW2018
  6. I feel Ms Catriona Menzies-Pike should enjoy some praise for
  7. guiding The Sydney Review of Books and together with J. Ley
  8. …selecting some great pieces of writing.
  9. Discover the rest of the essays  yourself!
  10. #GreatRead 

 

 

14
Apr

Feel Free Essays by Zadie Smith

 

 

Fences: A Brexit Diary

  1. This essay is about a topical issue: Brexit.
  2. But was written in August 2016 and much has happened since.
  3. The facts: The UK will leave the EU by
  4. automatic operation of international law on 29 March 2019.
  5. The UK government does not know what it wants
  6. …and there is no UK Brexit policy worth the name.
  7. Working-class Brits voted without understanding the stakes
  8. …and fell back on their inherited  fear of England’s invasion by  foreigners.
  9. Despite the fact that many people in London there are
  10. multicultural and cross-class aspects in their lives
  11. …...that is actually represented by their staff —
  12. nannies, cleaners, people who pour their coffee and who drive the cabs.
  13. The painful truth is the fences are being raised all over London.
  14. Conclusion:
  15. Smith lambasts wealthy London.
  16. We walk past ‘them‘  very often in the street and get into their cabs
  17. …and eat their food in their ethnic restaurants
  18. …but the truth is that more often than not they are
  19. …NOT in  our schools, social circles, and very rarely enter our houses
  20. …– unless they’ve come to work on our endlessly remodeled kitchens.”
  21. Excellent essay

 

 

In the Audience  (very good!)

  1. Generation Why? – review of the movie “Social Network” (Zuckerberg and Facebook).
  2. Seems surreal to read this review by Zadie Smith while
  3. Facebook is in the midst of turmoil (Facebook vs Cambridge Analytics scandal).
  4. Zadie Smith quit Facebook 2 months after she started.
  5. She admits FB has been the greatest distraction from work she has ever had.
  6. In FB life is turned into a database and this is degradation.
  7. We use the FB software to behave in a certain, superficial way toward others.
  8. We know what we are doing ‘IN’ the software
  9. ….but we don’t know what the software is doing to us? 
  10. Zadie Smith quotes Lanier a software expert:
  11. ” be attentive to the software into which we are ‘locked in’.
  12. Is it really fulfilling our needs?
  13. When a human being becomes a set of data on a
  14. …website like Facebo0k, he or she is reduced
  15. …our networked selves don’t look more free
  16. they look more owned.
  17. It is scary reading this essay published in November 2010
  18. …8 years ago…and feeling it could have been written today!
  19. It does not matter who you are, as long as you make ‘choices’.
  20. Zadie Smith gets nostalgic at the end of the essay
  21. “I’m dreaming of a Web that caters to a kind of
  22. person who no longer exists” …a private person.
  23. NOTE:  I have DELETED  Facebook and TWITTER
  24. …a waste of my reading time!

 

The House that Hova Built

  1. Starting  The House That Hova Built. (2012, New York Times Magazine).
  2. Reading this in 2018 we already know Jay-Z
  3. will have an extra marital affair (2013 – 2015).
  4. His wife made the 6th best selling album
  5. …by a woman in all timeLemonade” in 2016.
  6. Beyoncé reveals explicitly her  progress through the discovery,
  7. detonation and aftermath of the affair.
  8. Album is divided into chapters:  Intuition, Denial, Anger, Forgiveness, Redemption.
  9. Rapper Jay-Z mentioned in an interview with Zadie Smith:
  10. And when it comes to talent,
  11. ‘You just never know– there is no guage.
  12. You don’t see when it’s empty.’
  13. IRONY: Speaking about his then 4 month old daughter, Ivy Blue,
  14. She doesn’t have to be tough […]
  15. …she has to be respectful and be a moral person“.
  16. Hmm…just like her daddy!

 

Brother from Another Mother 

  1. I had to look up who Key & Peele are.
  2. I needed to watch some Key & Peele on You Tube!
  3. The first two seasons of Key & Peele on Comedy Central 
  4. ..received positive reviews, maintaining a score 74 of 100.
  5. The third season of Key & Peele received
  6. …critical acclaim, receiving a score of 82 of 100!
  7. The series won a Peabody Award in 2013
  8. “for its stars and their creative team’s inspired
  9. …satirical riffs on our racially divided and racially conjoined culture.
  10. THANK YOU Zadie Smith…I finally discovered Key & Peele!

 

Some Notes on  Attunement –  very personal, touching

  1. I loved this essay.
  2. There was a quote that made me stop and think about
  3. …my determination to find out ‘What Makes Poetry Tick.
  4. I think Zadie Smith has given the key I was looking for.
  5. Quote:
  6. “Sometimes it is when you stop trying to understand
  7. …the new art  that you become more open to it.
  8. Put simply: You need to lower your defenses.

 

Flaming June

Zadie Smith starts her essayI’m trying to think of the first bits of art I ever saw.”  Now that is a good question.  My  Dad had some prints in his den of Revolutionary War 1776 soldiers hanging around a cannon. I don’t consider that art. But in my uncle’s house there was one painting (print) by Renoir I remember...I liked her hat.

But Zadie Smith  in this very short essay tells us which poster she choose to hang in her college apartment: Flaming June by Leighton. From now on she was not going to pinch pennies like her father or take up political commitments like her mother. No, Zadie was going to live for art!  “I’m going to spend three years on a sofa thinking about truth and  art…” “I was going to live for love and art and food[…]….and sleep, lots of sleep!”

 

Crazy They Call Me: On Looking at Jerry Dantzic’s Photos of Billie Holiday

  1. In this essay (New Yorker, 06.03.2017) you inhabit the world of Billie Holiday.
  2. Zadie Smith is writing the story from the singer’s perspective.
  3. “…after the clapping dies down,
  4. …there’s simply no one and nothing to be done.”
  5. “…you’re grateful for your little dog…”
  6. A dog don’t cheat, a dog don’t lie.”
  7. “This little dog and you? Soulmates. Where you been all my life?”
  8. “You never sing anything after….’Strange Fruit
  9. This song, written by Abel Meeropol and performed
  10. by many artists (but most notably, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone,)
  11. …is a dark and profound song about
  12. …the lynching of African Americans in the
  13. …Southern United States during the Jim Crow Era.
  14. In the lyrics, black victims are portrayed as “strange fruit,”
  15. …as they hang from trees, rotting in the sun, blowing in the wind,
  16. …and becoming food for crows upon being burned.
  17. It was a protest song that Billie Holiday
  18. ..very bravely performed under grave threats and at high personal cost.
  19. THE BEST ESSAY

 

  1. Essay: A Bird of Few Words  by Zadie Smith (The New Yorker, 19.06.2017)
  2. I thought this essay was going back and forth
  3. ..describing the art of  Lynette Yiadom Boakye (British- Ghanaian artist) and
  4. …then comparing it to the comments of the critics.
  5. But Smith went in another direction.
  6. Boakye creates compelling character studies of people who don’t exist.
  7. The paintings are of people with no name.
  8. Boakye  can finish a portrait in 1 day…
  9. …and Smith sighs from a novelist’s point of view both the
  10. ..speed and clarity of Boakye is humbling.
  11. This painting I found light as if the person was about to take flight!

  12. But this painting just was full of  ‘color politics’ and
  13. …shows Boakye’s talents and Smith’s insightful interpretation.
  14. Mercy over Matter”  a man holds a bird on this finger.
  15. Notice “…the underplumage: those jewel-like greens and
  16. …purples and reds you can spot
  17. beneath the oil-slick surface of certain bird-feathered birds.
  18. …the man’s jacket magically displays this same underplumage;
  19. …so does his skin; so does the bird.
  20. He is often thought of as a nothing, a cipher.
  21. But he has layers upon layers upon layers.

 

 

 

 

27
Mar

Essay: Dancing Lessons for Writers

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor fred astaire and gene kelly

 

  • Author: Zadie Smith
  • Title essay:  Dancing Lessons for Writers
  • Book:  Feel Free (collection essays)
  • Published: February 2018

 

 

  1. Chores  and grocery shopping are done!
  2. Now I have time  to read…Zadie  Smith’s essay before my coffee break.
  3. Dance Lessons for Writers
  4. I see directly that this essay is laying the groundwork
  5. …for Smith’s  newest book Swing Time (2016)
  6. She wants to investigate the
  7. …connection between writing and dancing.
  8. Quote:
  9. What can an art of words take from the art that needs none?”

 

  1. This essay was written 29.10.2016 in The Guardian.
  2. Her book was  written in 2015 and released 1 month after this article.
  3. Dance lessons for writers would include:
  4. position, attitude, rhythm and style.

 

  1. Smith makes a wonderful comparison between
  2. Fred Astaire (free-floating, aloof, appears to skim across the surface) and
  3. Gene Kelly (low center of gravity, bends his knees, hunkers down).
  4. Now Smith  lays this comparison over language!
  5. Gene Kelly: commonsense language, language of TV,
  6. …supermarket, the advert, newspapers, the government.
  7. GK- type writer? One whose natural talents are
  8. ….combined with hard-earned skills. (Raymond Carver)
  9. Fred Astaire: (poetry in motion)
  10. FA- type writer? One who barely puts a toe in
  11. …daily public conversation, prefers the
  12. …literary language a literal aristocrat. (Vladimir Nabokov)

 

  1. Smith goes on to find what  the
  2. …writer can learn from the dance moves of
  3. Michael Jackson and Prince.
  4. Prince is an ode...try to capture a passing sensation.
  5. Jackson is a graphic novel, all very visible
  6. …and sometimes ALL CAPS.
  7. But there are many more comparisons
  8. …this is a essay worth your reading time!
  9. #MustRead
24
Mar

Essay: Fair Australia Prize 2017

  • Author: Julian Bull
  • Title: Aussie Albert
  • Published:  2017
  • Trivia:  Read essay in link  Overland Literary Review
  • Trivia:  Julian Bull studied natural resources management and
  • landscape architecture at the Universities of Adelaide and Melbourne.

 

 

Conclusion:

  1. What do you say when an essay leaves you speechless?
  2. Julian Bull gives a  snapshot of Albert Namatjira
  3. …and  a glimpse at the  injustices befalling Indigenous Australians
  4. who are still denied a voice in
  5. …determining their destiny in contemporary Australia.

Julian Bull uses this photo to show the reader Aussie Albert’s  situation:

“…Albert, standing there alone, crowned by a fan. A cord tangles its way between Albert’s hat and the back of one of his new mates via the uncirculating fan rendering their need for dialogue superfluous, given such a manifestation of electrical connectivity symbolising their unspoken accord.

“Albert’s been let into the boys’ club, the first, the one and only Indigenous Australian allowed in, but no-one’s talking to him, he’s not part of the forum, he’s not in the team.”

 

  1. I try to discover voices that don’t
  2. …seem to pop up on Goodreads.com.
  3. Julian Bull is one of these voices.
  4. The best way to  find gems like Aussie Albert
  5. …is to read literary reviews:
  6. Overland (Aus), Dublin Review (Ire), The Sun (US),
  7. The Malahat Review (Canada)

 

 

 

13
Mar

Quarterly Essay Australia: ‘Without America’

 

ReadQuarterly Essay, vol. 68;  White, Hugh,  28 November 2017  (Australian)

  1. This is worth the time it took to read….2 hrs!
  2. Essay: , ‘Without America: Australia in the New Asia’
  3. Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies
  4. ….at the Australian National University.
  5. Stop assuming that USA is going to dominate Asia forever
  6. Stop  assuming that USA will keep Australia safe.
  7. China is now so strong and ambitious that USA under Trump..so weak
  8. that USA will cease to be a  significant player in Asia.
  9. Australia must prepare itself for this transformation.

 

  1. I loved White’s explanation of two world powers put their rivals to the test!
  2. “classic power-political salami-slicing”
  3. “…each slice of the salami might be insignificant,
  4. Washington looks weak if it can’t or won’t stop China taking
  5. …one slice after another, and China by contrast looks strong and resolved…”
  6. OUCH!

 

  1. “Rex Tillerson has proved to be the worst secretary of state in living memory,
  2. ….and the overpraised General James Mattis in Defense
  3. ….has failed to bring coherence to the administration’s strategy.”
  4. WHAT?

 

  1. Who would have thought that Indonesia will be a
  2. ..VERY POWERFUL country, second only to China?
  3. Thank you, Hugh White for opening my eyes….about China and Indonesia!!
  4. I think TRUMP should put this essay
  5. ‘Without America’ in his bedside night table….
  6. his TBR!!

 

  1. Conclusion:
  2. 40 years ago Australia managed
  3. …a ‘post-alliance’ transition with Britain.
  4. Now Australia’s task in the next few years will be
  5. …doing the same with America!
  6. China’s rise is a fact and isn’t going away.
  7. This will require Australia to rethink a lot of things,
  8. to make some hard choices, and perhaps
  9. to pay some heavy costs.
  10. Excellent… #MustRead essay!

 

19
Jan

Quarterly Essay: Enemy Within

 

ReadQuarterly Essay, vol. 63;  Watson, Don,  16 September 2016  (Australian)

  1. I’m trying to read a back-log of essays…and this one caught my eye!
  2. Enemy Within – American Politics in the Time of Trump  by  Don Watson
  3. This essay was written BEFORE Trump won the US election.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. This is one TOP NOTCH  piece of writing!
  2. I am amazed how Don Watson (Australian) has written such
  3. clever an insightful observations about a
  4. complex and chaotic American political landscape.

 

  1. Strong point: D. Watson is well read.
  2. He uses this information…to support his conclusions.
  3. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (W. A. Williams, 1988)
  4. America’s War for the Greater Middle East (A. Bacevich, 2016)

 

  1. Strong point: writing style
  2. Don Watson is cheeky and at times irreverent.
  3. For example calling  John Foster Dulles
  4. …and his brother Allen door-kickers
  5. hitmen for the cause of US world supremacy. (ouch)
  6. Watson  gives us a refreshing look
  7. at the divides in America (Blue-Red sates)
  8. zooms in on the ‘purple state’ of Wisconsin,
  9. the circus  we call the US elections,
  10. the TV news media and the candidates.
  11. …especially the appeal of Bernie Sanders!

 

  1. Strong point: Best chapter: 6
  2. Watson makes remarkable comparisons between
  3. Trump’s campaign….and fascism
  4. …fanning the flames of rhetoric to win votes.

 

Last thoughts:

  1. I am very, very impressed with Don Watson’s essay.
  2. He is one of Australia’s foremost writers and intellectuals.
  3. There are so many Australian writers who we must discover!
  4. After reading this thought provoking essay
  5. …I think of a phrase I saw on the internet:
  6. Obama is the America…it thinks it is
  7. Trump is the America….it knows it is.

 

Here are a few gems:

  1. US:
  2. The United States is a concatenation of sulky tribes provincial
  3. …ignorant and seething with ambition…. [OUCH!]

 

  1. US TV NEWS:
  2. The pundits are not there to judge the quality of thought or action
  3. An election is a horse race and
  4. …no one cares what horses are thinking. [OUCH!]

 

  1. TRUMP vs TV NEWS:
  2. Donald Trump understands the news channels
  3. better than they understand themselves.
  4. His “outrageous” tweets push people toward the media
  5. and the media towards him.
  6. He dominates the news.
  7. He wins every day.
  8. Even when he loses, he wins!   [HOW TRUE….]

 

  1.  TRUMP vs EVANGELICALS:
  2. Americans want a president through whom God can act.
  3. But as well as the right president
  4. …it must be the right god.
  5. Trump understands this too.
  6. [DE TOCQUEVILLE…wonders has TRUMP read my book?]
  7. Personally…I don’t think Democracy in America is on Trump’s TBR.

 

  1. BERNIE SANDERS:
  2. Sanders never had to worry about an “image problem,
  3. …because he didn’t have an image.
  4. When he appeared on television he did not look like
  5. …a man in search of a camera;
  6. …more like a man  just retired
  7. …who  stumbled in on a talkshow  [LOL]