- Twitter: @burns_nancy
- Trivia: List of challenges 2018
- Trivia: #DealMeIn2018
Read: Quarterly Essay, vol. 63; Watson, Don, 16 September 2016 (Australian)
- I’m trying to read a back-log of essays…and this one caught my eye!
- This essay was written BEFORE Trump won the US election.
- This is one TOP NOTCH piece of writing!
- I am amazed how Don Watson (Australian) has written such
- …clever an insightful observations about a
- …complex and chaotic American political landscape.
- Strong point: D. Watson is well read.
- He uses this information…to support his conclusions.
- The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (W. A. Williams, 1988)
- America’s War for the Greater Middle East (A. Bacevich, 2016)
- Strong point: writing style
- Don Watson is cheeky and at times irreverent.
- For example calling John Foster Dulles
- …and his brother Allen door-kickers
- …hitmen for the cause of US world supremacy. (ouch)
- Watson gives us a refreshing look
- at the divides in America (Blue-Red sates)
- zooms in on the ‘purple state’ of Wisconsin,
- the circus we call the US elections,
- the TV news media and the candidates.
- …especially the appeal of Bernie Sanders!
- Strong point: Best chapter: 6
- Watson makes remarkable comparisons between
- Trump’s campaign….and fascism
- …fanning the flames of rhetoric to win votes.
- I am very, very impressed with Don Watson’s essay.
- He is one of Australia’s foremost writers and intellectuals.
- There are so many Australian writers who we must discover!
- After reading this thought provoking essay
- …I think of a phrase I saw on the internet:
- Obama is the America…it thinks it is
- Trump is the America….it knows it is.
Here are a few gems:
- The United States is a concatenation of sulky tribes provincial
- …ignorant and seething with ambition…. [OUCH!]
- US TV NEWS:
- The pundits are not there to judge the quality of thought or action
- …An election is a horse race and
- …no one cares what horses are thinking. [OUCH!]
- TRUMP vs TV NEWS:
- Donald Trump understands the news channels
- better than they understand themselves.
- His “outrageous” tweets push people toward the media
- …and the media towards him.
- He dominates the news.
- He wins every day.
- Even when he loses, he wins! [HOW TRUE….]
- TRUMP vs EVANGELICALS:
- Americans want a president through whom God can act.
- But as well as the right president
- …it must be the right god.
- Trump understands this too.
- [DE TOCQUEVILLE…wonders has TRUMP read my book?]
- Personally…I don’t think Democracy in America is on Trump’s TBR.
- BERNIE SANDERS:
- Sanders never had to worry about an “image problem,”
- …because he didn’t have an image.
- When he appeared on television he did not look like
- …a man in search of a camera;
- …more like a man just retired
- …who stumbled in on a talkshow [LOL]
- Author: G.B. Shaw
- Title: St. Joan (1412-1431)
- Produced : 29 March 1924, New Theatre London
- Three-time Tony nominee Condola Rashad will take on the title role.
- Shaw wrote the play when he was 70 years old.
- The title role had been written with Sybille Thorndike specifically in mind.
- Trivia: Nobles Challenge
- Trivia: Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for Litrature 1925
- Trivia: This play helped Shaw win Nobel Prize for Literature 1925
- Trivia: St Joan will open on Broadway on the 25th of April 2018.
- Trivia: Monthly planning 2018
- St. Joan
- Robert de Baudricourt (local squire where Joan lives)
- Richard de Beauchamp (Machiavellian English Earl of Warwick)
- Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, tried to find Joan a loophole in the Inquisition.
- John De Stogumber is Warwick’s chaplain (religious fanatic).
- Dauphin, Charles (heir to the throne)
- Archbishop of Rheims
- Dunois, Commander of the French troops at Orleans
- ..and God and France are also major players in this play
- We all know the plot: (1 act with 7 scenes)
- Joan of Arc, claiming to have been told directly by God to
- flush the English out of northern France.
- She was granted control of the French army in 1429.
- She went on to break the siege of Orléans, only to be captured by the English.
- In the end she was tried for heresy and burnt at the stake.
- scenes 1-5 (February – July 1429);
- scene 6 (May 1431, trial and burning at the stake)
- scene 7 (25 years later…1456) epilogue
- This is a tragedy …with comic moments.
- Shaw’s melancholy attitude in part the result of his reaction to WWI.
- It took the Church of Rome nearly 500 years
- ….to decide whether she was a heretic or a saint.
- It took the Church of Rome only 30 minutes to burn her!
- Shaw wrote the play 3 years after St. Joan’s canonization.
- The play contains some of the playwright’s most acerbic writing.
- It is not an easy role.
- Joan gushes sentimentality and melodrama yet she must…
- make Joan believable with her passion for both soldiering and religion.
- Strong point: epilogue
- This is THE most powerful part of the play….magnificent!
- #MustReadClassic …once in your lifetime!
- I read the play (free online)
- and listened to an audio version.
- I highly recommend St. Joan with Siobhan McKenna.
- It is available at Downpour.com
- I was surprised to learn that Shaw made specific notes about the play.
- He did NOT want it to be preformed in a medieval setting!
- On opening night…..faced with medieval stage decor, Shaw said:
- “They’ve killed my play.”
- National Theatre London broadcast on 16th February 2017
- St. Joan with Gemma Arterton live from the Donmar Warehouse.
- Here is a short trailer just to give you an impression.…
- I hope this performance will be available on DVD soon.
Update: 10.01.2018 – ch 10 …very long reading today!
- I was glad I read the notes before I started this chapter.
- Two characters have a long conversation.
- One is L’évêque de Digne and the other is
- le conventional G. (luminère inconnue)
- It seems Hugo has put much of himself, his own thoughts
- and feelings about his exile into the mouth of
- …le conventional G. (luminère inconnue).
After a debate with ‘vieux scélerat de G. Climax: Myriel’s political conversion. Irony: Myriel came to give a blessing but he receives one from G redoubling tenderness for ‘les souffrants’ Moral: Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
#lesmisreadalong ch X
Update: 11.01.2018 ch 11 …flashback 1809-1815
This was a difficult chapter to follow in French.
Metaphors: Hugo uses the metaphors between light and dark. M. Myriel had his bitter moments (heure d’amertume), his clouded thoughts (son nuage). But he never lost sight of the three pure lights: truth, justice and charity.
Napoléon: was a surrogate father chosen by Hugo to replace his Royalist general father.His father deserted the family for a mistress.
In this chapter the great writer in exile (Hugo) lets M. Myriel give a touching analysis of the great fallen emperor Napoléon.
Symbol: Imperial Legion of Honor medal created by Napoléon 1802 was changed by the Louis XVIII. The images of Napoleon and his eagle were removed and replaced by the image of King Henry IV.
Hugo relates the anecdote of a porter of the town hall. He refused to wear the medal adorned with 3 fleur-de-lys (les trois crapauds = toads).
I tried to figure out why the comparison with toad? I think this picture will explain! You see the curved petal of the flower resembles the legs of the amphibian!
Late Empire Légionnaire insignia: the front feature Napoleon‘s profile and the rear side of the medal , the imperial Eagle. An imperial crown joins the cross and the ribbon.
Louis XVIII era (1814) Knight insignia: the front features Henry IV‘s profile and the rear side of the medal the arms of the French Kingdom (three fleurs de lis). A royal crown joins the cross and the ribbon.
Update: 12.01.208 ch 12 ….this was a puzzle!
- One of the shortest chapters….but one of the most confusing chapters.
- This chapter adds nothing to the narrative.
- It was inserted after the original publication date in 1862.
- Les Misérables was expensive book and
- …not accessible to the general reading public.
- The critiques were the first ones to print their reactions.
- Harsh criticism came from Alexandre Dumas.
- Trivia: In 1833 Hugo supported the accusations of plagerism against
- Dumas and his book The Three Muskateers.
- At that point friends became rivals.
- Dumas was quick to seek revenge.
- He described reading Les Misérables “like wading through mud“
- In ch XII Hugo alludes to Dumas
- “ils appellent Beauté la figure de Mousqueton…”
- But the last sentence ( in my opinion) is a direct jab at Dumas!
- He confuses the chasm, the abyss of constellations and stars
- where Hugo lets his thoughts as a poet and novelist roam…
- …with the imprints left in the mud by ‘canards‘
- ….simple animals that plod along (Dumas).
- Dumas was a feuilletoniste who wrote
- …serials because he was pressed for cash.
- Hugo thought Dumas wasted his talent.
- Hugo was haunted by shadows but the
- …darkness of the cosmos was his source of inspiration.
Update: 13.01.2108 ch 13 and 14 …end vol 1 book 1 – end of week 2!
- I read these chapters and they were probably inserted to
- …guide the narrative away from a contemplative ‘saint’.
- George Sand deplored the use of a bishop of Digne to open a book
- …concerned about socialist issues.
- Hugo closes volume 1, book 1 and we are ready for the real action!
- This was the most difficult chapter to read…so far)
- M. Myriel and the senator discuss their philosophy.
M. Myriel ‘twists’ wise sayings to make his point! For example: “You’ ve made your bed now lie in it”. Now M. Myriel says to the senator: You’ ve made your philosophy now lie in it”. Color: “Vous êtes sur le lit pourpre” = symbol of riches and upper class
Play on words:
The senator tells l’évêque that he has all the philosophers ( books) with gilded edges [dorés sur tranche]. M. Myriel responds… subtly “Comme vous-même..” (as yourself = rich and superior in quality) 1. Having gilded edges, as the pages of a book. 2. Very wealthy
The senator boasts of having books by renowned thinkers in his library. Here Victor Hugo has some fun with a list of philosophers that are so different. What will the senator’s philosophy look like if he combines these wise men?
- Marquis d’Argens – famous for his pornographic novel Thérèse Philosophe!
- Pyrrhon – founder of scepticism…true wisdom and happiness lie in suspension of judgment
- Hobbes – political theorist the only way to secure civil society is through universal submission to the absolute authority of a sovereign.
- M. Naigeon – French materialist philosopher and atheist.
- Levé la jupe d’Isis [dress] – It took me a long time to find something I could understand about the myth of Isis. It seems the expression is ” levé la voile d’Isis” [veil] and Hugo has used some editorial license and tweaked the words to accomdate his writing.
- The metaphor of Isis’ veil continued to circulate through the 19th century. By lifting the veil (or dress) of Isis it would reveal spiritual truths about nature that science could not.
- M. Myriel congratulates the senator because he has a philosophy that is truly his own!
- M. Myriel is happy that the belief in God is the philosophy of the people.
- pour les grands seigneurs: oie aux marrons ( goose stuffed with chestnuts)
- pour le peuple: dinde aux truffes du pauvre (turkey stuffed with the poor)
Fitness training has been cancelled today….so I have 3 extra hours to read! Cats are snoozing and coffee is brewing, outside is spectre grey….as I start another day.
- This chapter was easy reading in comparison to yesterday!
- Hugo uses a letter written by M. Myriel’s sister to
- help us understand how to view his character.
- Mme Baptistine tells us her brother is good….but has his quirky habits.
- Her greatest fear is still the unlocked doors...
- “Il s’expose à tous les dangers.”
- …but she is used to it [..le pil est pris]
- Foreshadowing: Hugo give a clear indication in his sister’s letter
- …that something will happen soon:
- “The devil would enter the house, as one would let him do it”
- ‘Le diable enterait dans la maison, qu’on le laisserait faire’
- I’m trying to keep up with my subscription of the New Yorker.
- Abandoned the hope of reading it in the week it arrives…
- I’ve settled for ….reading it in the month it arrives!
Who is the cartoonist George Booth?
- Cartoonist George Booth has spent four decades at the
- …New Yorker constructing a distinct universe.
- In Booth’s world a bare lightbulb dangles precariously . . .
- a frayed carpet barely covers the living room floor…
- flies buzz . . .
- a man looks up from behind his newspaper.
- And somewhere, in the foreground or off to the side,
- a crazed dog twitches involuntarily and there is an
- …unruly profusion of cats.
- Here is one of my favorites:
- Today I took time to learn more about the cartoonist (94 years) George Booth.
- Finally after all these years of laughing at Booth’s cat’s and dogs.
- …I now know the man behind the cartoons!
- George Booth (born June 28, 1926) is a New Yorker cartoonist.
- Over time, his cartoons have become an iconic feature of the magazine.
- In a doodler’s style, they feature everymen beset by
- modern complexity, goofballs perplexing their
- …spouses, cats, and very often a fat dog
Teens trapped between a gang and the law – J. Blitzer [shocking…]
- I am left speechless about the situation in Long Island, NY
- ….that you never hear about.
- Gang violence is seeping over the border
- ….and terrorizing innocent young immigrant Hispanics.
- There are roughly 400 MS-13 gang members on Suffolk County Long Island.
- MS-13 has more than 50.000 members in Central America and 10.000 in the U.S.
- Unsurprisingly, MS-13 has become an obsession of Donald Trump.
- He talks incessantly about the gang,
- …portraying it as representative of a wave of immigrant crime.
- After reading this article….I’m not surprised Trump was elected.
- People are terrified and fed up with this situation!
A Tech Pioneer’s Final, Unexpected Act by J.B. Stewart [heartwrenching…]
- Upon receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer
- …Eric Sun set out to achieve some lifelong musical goals.
- After reading this article….I was very quiet for a few moments.
- My worries, complaints all vanished before my eyes…
- It was this that hit me the hardest:
- “..it is hard to accept that modern medicine isn’t able to fix me.”
- At the same time, he wrote, “Every day I wake up not-dead is a gift.”
- I couldn’t read anymore….I had to go to bed and have a long hard think.
The Dark Bounty of Texas Oil by Lawrence Wright [Ho…hum…yawn]
- Situated in west Texas, eight miles south of Midland,
- …the 26,000-acre Yates field still holds the largest oil reserves in US
- outside of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay.
- If TEXAS were an independent country
- …its economy would settle in around 10th
- larger than Canada and Australia. California!
- 50% of this article recaps the history of 3 important oil fields in Texas.
- The rest tells us that fracking gave Texas an economical boost...
- …that Hurricane Harvey had little impact on the oil fields.
- Nice to know…but not that interesting.
- Author: S. Moss
- Title: Wild Kingdom
- Published: 2016
- Trivia: Short list The Wainwright Prize 2017
- Trivia: pg 280 S. Moss cites that the Netherlands (my country!)
- …as a prime example of creating a habitat of 22 sq miles
- to bring back lost wildlife !!
- “Oostvaardersplassen” near Lelystad, the Netherlands.
- Ecologist Frans Vera wants the 56 square kilometres of
- nature reserve to be made a Unesco world heritage site.
- Stephen Moss travels the length and breadth of the UK.
- He wants to witness at first-hand how our wild creatures are faring and
- …ask how we can bring back Britain’s wildlife.
Moss writes about the house sparrows….and I just look outside my window and see some familiar friends. I started in September to feed the birds. Well, those sparrows as Moss said are social but also fussy!
- I moved the birdseed silo…and only saw 10 ‘angry birds’ sitting on my hedge.
- I bought some blueberries ($$) especially for the sparrows… they did not eat them
- I bought a bird feeding table…would not go near it.
- I finally wedged the little table into the hedge….then they were satisfied.
- There is no pleasing sparrows!
- But anyone who has watched the behavior of birds
- like me from my front room window knows
- …that doing so is good for the soul.
Strong point: the descriptions of the wildlife, hares sprinting, roes popping their heads up, bumblebees floating over the hedgerow. I just let my mind wander throughout the English countryside with S. Moss.
Strong point: the book made me curious and ask questions what the state of wildlife is here in The Netherlands? I just never took the time to investigate our situation.
Strong point: Moss does mention the silence in the fields. Now, I used to set the clock when the blackbirds started chirping late in the afternoon. What is more relaxing than the chirping of birds? But now I only hear silence.
The Usutu virus has recently been detected for the first time in the Netherlands. The virus has been detected in captive great grey owls (Strix nebulosa) as well as in wild, dead and living, common blackbirds (Turdus merula)
Now I have to listen to blackbirds (Turdus merula) via You Tube….how sad is that? Just listen….
Strong point: The only way to really enjoy this book is reading it and regularly looking at the the birds and other animals with Google images! This foto of a dragonfly took my breath away…just look at that delicate latice work in the wings!
Their four gossamer wings move independently of one another, giving them the ability to fly forward, backward, and sideways, or to just hover in place. Bead-like eyes provide 360–degree stereovision, allowing them the ability to spot insects in any direction without turning or moving their heads. (In fact, dragonflies have the biggest eyes in the insect world.)
The colors of the king-fisher are breathtaking!
- I really enjoyed this book because it made me aware of the
- wildlife…..that is disappearing.
- wildlife…..that I don’t take the time to appreciate!
- Walking along the fields I stop and stare at a hare hopping along or
- …watch a coot family with their chicks in our canals.
- If you like birds and trees…look up
- …if you like plants and insects…look down!
- But whatever you like…
- relax, meditate and #TakeAWalk in the countryside!
Genre: non-fiction (natural history)
Usually when I walk to the train station I keep my eyes glued to the pavement. Today while listening to The Hidden Life of Trees I just kept looking up!
When I heard that trees can communicate sending warnings for danger to other trees, feed other trees via a root system if one is needing support and can even ‘murmurer’….every time I let out an audible “Oh!”
But really made me laugh was my uncontrollable urge to touch the bark of the trees on the way home. People must have thought I was crazy.
Natural history is a genre that I often forget about…but this year I am going to try to read many more books about the wonders of the world …right under my eyes.
I listened to the audio book 7,5 hours….and it was so interesting that I would listen to it again!
01-07 January: weekly summation of my thoughts.
- Nick Senger @ onecatholiclife.com is hosting a year long
- …read-along of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.
- I have been reading French for the past 5 years
- I started with the 20 book by Emile Zola
- …the Les Rougon-Marquart series.
- That took me two years to finish.
- Often I try to find a really good book French Book
- … but even Goncourt Prize winners are lacking.
- Now I have decided to return to the classic Victor Hugo.
- I have never read anything about this novel, not seen movie or musical.
- This is a read-along with a writer I expect will not disappoint!
- I will follow the informative posts that Nick will publish
- …downloaded the reading schedule and
- …hope to finish this book by the end of the year!
- I will be reading it in French….nothing lost in translation, 🙂