Life after death, life without bodily desire, as modeled by computer simulation, but what are the moral implications. Sawyer always raises compelling questions and has the science to support his theories.

Quote p68: Wilder Penfield who did work on directly stimulating the brain...found it easy to elicit vivid memories of long forgotten things.

Neural nets firing, flooding the brain with images and endorphins as a result of anoxia explains sense of peace.


5 models for senescence and death:

1. Stochastic theory--bodies as machines that break down

2. Hayflick phenomenon--human cells only divide 50 times

3. Smudged Xerox hypothesis--DNA introduces errors every time its copied

4. Toxic Waste Theory--aka Free radicals are at fault

5. Autoimmune hypothesis--our cells become confused and attack themselves


The soulwave discovered leaving the body at point of death raised imolications for inutero and is discovered in 9 or 10th week of pregnancy, providing justification for early term abortion.


Without our memories, our pasts, what we were, it wouldn't be anything we'd recognize as a continuation of the same person.


"Humor is the response to the sudden formation of unexpected neural nets."

Laughter is the response that goes along with new connections forming in the brain, with synapses firing in ways they've never fired before...

When the joke wears thin, the neural net has been established.


Lawrence Kohlberg

Still Alice

By ivy league neuroscientist Lisa Genova is a novel about loss, aging, letting go, in the context on a psycholinguist with early onset alzheimers.

Informative: Stroop, Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices, Luria Mental Rotation, Boston Naming, WAIS-- Picture Arrangement, Benton Visual Arrangement, NYU-Story Recall...tests for diagnosing and charting dementia.

Brains of Alzheimer's patients had reduced levels of acetycholine...and the hippocampus, critical for the formation of new menories became mired in plaques and tangles...anomia a pathological slip of the tongue was a symptom

Affects parietal lobes early on (where we keep our internal sense of extra personal space representations


 Ellen Ullman

By Blood quotes:

...understanding a feeling is no protection against actually feeling it.

...we might have seen the future, but of course one lives drenched in the past, that wet cloak that weighs around one's shoulders.


Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour-Bookstore

There was lots of buzz in calligraphy class about Robin Sloan's "24 Hour Bookstore." Though not overly-impressed, I liked it. It was an easy read, a bit contrived, but still a good story. The font connection was a nice touch: Gerritszoon aka Aldus Manutius a famous typesetter from the Fifteenth Century. The stuff portraying politics at Google was also fun though somehow unconvincing.

A few titles recommended in the text (along with everything by Murakami and Gibson) include The Information and House of Leaves.


Cory Doctorow's Homeland

In the sequel to Little Brother, we find our hero amping up, politicking with a purpose. And with the same theme: things are bad and might well get worse. Marcus gets wise advise from his childhood friend Jolu, advice easily usable, harder to actualize but worth mastering:

"Jolu was right: I just neede to take a step in the direction I wanted to head and stay flexible enough to keep moving that way no matter what happened."

For all ages, the young, the still young, the once young-Doctorow informs, entertains, educates us and keeps us hungry for more. A prolofic writer, he makes every effort to satisfy the obsessive/compulsive reader. But my appetite is only whetted...can't wait for the next one. Doctorow twitted Down & Out Magic Kingdom might be due for a prequel. Bring it.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter "You define a tree and you do not see what it is; it becomes its name. It is the same with woman and man. Everywhere ... one or the other, male or female, abandoned by the other." Canadian author explores gender and "otherness" in story of hermaphrodite identity crisis. Do we know who we are apart from how we are defined by others? Winter lyrically deconstructs "know thyself."

Cory Doctorow's Chicken Little
Happiness. Our eternal quest. What if we knew exactly what would make us happy? What if we could see how every action's repercussions would affect us? We could choose to be happy. What if we already have this ability? And we choose not to use it? As always Doctorow makes me think. His ability to define universal issues in the context of modern mass dilemma is uncanny. His voice is full of confidence in human nature even while revealing to us the flaky crust we each want to call our soul. He makes me feel like we are all baked in this pie together, 40 and 20 blackbirds; that this is how we might have our pie and eat it too. We are the pie.

Reader's Block
The whole impetus behind my inspiration and intent for bibliotherapy is that creativity heals, is a healing process. But in reading Readers Block with all the notes of creatives who have committed suicide or have been locked up in looney bins, I am reassessing and thinking it is not so simple. Feeling deeply is dangerous even when those feelings are transmuted through an artistic medium. So therapeutically accessing feelings requires filters, thus art's structural confines and the importance of taking the time to develop skill sets related to the chosen medium. Reading what someone else has written is a filtering by the author.i.e., the work has been done for the reader. It is only by fleshing out the work in relation to personal references that there is access and process occurring in any meaningful way for the reader. The most meaningful reading experience being to in turn become an author and make yet more meaning. Until my pain or pleasure or peace is looking back at me, I am not fully conscious of its worth and able to integrate the feeling in a healthy way, whether re-experiencing or learning to move on.

 Reader's Block by David Markson

A novel, hmmm, definitely novel but not narrative. Rather an accumulation of trivia, flotsam and jetsom, from a lifetime of reading and study. One reads as if reading one's personal notes, discontinuous and disjointed, all the while aware of a unifying consciousness.

I don't think I could have read the book without my smartphone handy. I looked up most of the entries in foreign languages and some of the people whose names were linked to topics or other people of interest. But lots was just ignored, reminding me of the way I would skip over words I didn't know the meaning of when I was learning to read. Sometimes in order to get through a text you just have to accept that you may not get it all.

Reading READER'S BLOCK suggests following a thread, somewhere in the warp meaning is loosely woven. Nonlinear narrative? Are we experiencing a new literary genre? I felt a cross-link between memoir and journalism (think tweets rather than editorials.)

For bibliotherapeutic purposes, I can see the benefits of collecting random bits from reading in a journal for purposes of cross-referencing themes in the same manner as in dream journaling. "Know thyself" by themes revealed while reading.

Dora : A Headcase by Lydia Yuknavitch

Quote: People are like books and movies. There are about a gazillion different interpretations.

Revolution World by Katy Stauber

First novel by a biochemistry/mathematics major. Dystoptian comedy? Only Texas setting could satisfy sustained disbelief that makes for this delightfully weird Mona Lisa Overdrive meets True Blood, but with comedic layerings, bio/cyber scifi adenture.

1Q84 Haruki Murakami

Quote p. 178 "No matter how clear the relationships of things might become in the forest of story, there was never a clear-cut solution. ...The role of story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a single problem into another form. Depending on the nature and direction of the problem, a solution could be suggested in the narrative. ...It was like a piece of paper bearing the indecipherable text of a magic spell. At times it lacked coherence and served no immediate practical purpose. But it would contain a possibility. Someday he might be able to decipher the spell."

The Book of Promethea by Helene Cixous

Quote from page 27

Writing is miraculous and terrifying like the flight of a bird who has no wings but flings itself out and only gets wings by flying.

From page 53

Our drama is that we live in a state of mutual invasion.

 Joseph Gold THE STORY SPECIES quotes
Note: Minor editorial changes have been made to the original text to make the quotes here more readable. If a significant amount has been changed it will be noted as paraphrased. Preface xxiii We are rapidly reaching a time in human history when reading Literature as an antidote to depersonalization could become a subversive activity. xxiv If we do not read, we do the work for them. xxvi Human beings are supposed to use Literature to assist them to create a personal identity and to help them manage this identity's encounter with the world. Literature...a systematic feedback loop, continuously self-generating and cumulatively growing. p. 4 What is story? What role does Literature play in human evolution and in individual lives? What role do the transferred words play in the biological and social life of readers? How is the product of reading stored in the body of the reader? Why is it that if a painting is burned it is gone forever, but a poem... can be memorized intact, unaltered and transmittable as long as a human brain retains it? What has taken place in the event that you take a novel off a shelf, read it, and return it? What "being" does the book (or rather its words) have, there on the shelf while not being read? Where does the power of a book lie? How is the process of transference achieved when it is being read? Why is some particular arrangement of words more effective to a particular reader than other arrangements? p. 5 Oddly enough, linguists, neurolinguists and psycholinguists have virtually ignored Literature in their researches into language. ...The answers to the sample questions I have posed above will only be found in a multi-disciplinary effort. p. 7 We need to recognize and accept that language is a biological code that achieves molecular change in brain tissue; that organization of this code into stories is created by selection, transfer and association of data through immensely complex brain processes; that this happens both internally i one brain and in transfers from one brain to another; and that we need to consciously work for the expansion of this code in the service of our own selves. Works of Literature are coded models of experiential patterns in the brains of writers. They are specialized forms of neural potentials and never achieve physical mass, weight, dimension, colour or texture as do other works of art. Such words, of course, are used to describe literary works, but these words can mislead. A book is not the words, the marks on the pages, and he marks on the pages are not "things" either, but symbols of sounds. The sounds behind the words are, in turn, a code for sensory registers of data, data being the brain's responses to neural signals of incoming "out there" information. It is easy to be deceived by the "thingness" of a book, but "the map is not the territory." We will have to realize that qualities attributed to Literature, but borrowed from objects, are metaphors describing the mind of the reader decoding the text. p. 8-9 ...the human organism is a collection of information made flesh, organized and energized into cellular activity, and continuallly modified by more and more information. The individual arrangement of this information is called identity. Identity is never complete because it is a process of response to, and accommodation of, new information which cannot stop until sensory activity itself stops at death. We must learn to remind ourselves continually that language is at its root metaphoric. ...Terms like "identity" and "information" are themselves metaphors for our awareness of internal change, our sense of being someone and knowing something. When we learn or know something new we have a mental and body sense of owning, internalizing that "something." We call this neural registration "information." p. 13 Referencing Gregory Bateson: A story is a little knot or complex of that species of connectedness which we call relevance. p. 18 The collection of kits we acquire through life experience, including the experience of our reading, becomes the "i" we carry around with us and into which we try to fit all new experience. It is this model version of ourselves made up of stored, coded experiences that seems to take on a powerful life of its own, our life story. This is our identity, and on the basis of this identity all our thought and behaviour take place. All its parts must be connected, and this drive to connect the parts forces us to work continuously to organize and reorganize the parts into a whole, a whole that is ever changing. In fact, the principal activity of human minds, moment to moment, is the fine tuning, the adjusting of this narrative. p. 19 Referencing Terrence Deacon: At the level of what an individual knows, a language is very much like one's own personal symbiotic organism. ...this narrative "organism" is a second self that w create, layered over the first. the freedom to create this second self, this "i," lies the key to our well-being. It is this freedom that is the source of all effective therapy. Threats to our identity are the source of what we call noxious stress, experiences we live through that are difficult to incorporate into our "I." p. 40 It is well-known in clinical therapy that if patients can be persuaded to write about their negative emotions, thoughts and experiences, they feel better and become healthier. ...Why is this? ...the writing step increases the sense of having externalized, put aside, filed away the negative emotional material carried in the body. Expression in writing is purgative. ...writing creates distance between first-hand experience and memory. The negative experience and its consequences are not forgotten, it is distanced and "objectified." It can now be viewed by neocortical processing, managed and integrated as part of a "filed" narrative. ...Putting the language of thought and feeling "out there" also involved a generalized sense of dissociation. ...useful for dysfunctional mental states... p. 61-62 Reading Literature constitutes a very efficient behaviour for acquiring experience. ...reading story as experience is to realize experience imaginatively, in a pre-formed, pre-managed package.Literature is peculiarly suited for integration into the "I" formation by virtue of its story format...In the encounter betwen the self and the world, the "i" is created out of necessity, out of the need to adapt, to be effective. Success for human identity is really success at adaptation. ...reading story is the most powerful method for assisting change. p. 63 Referencing Oliver Sacks: We have, each of us, a life-story, an inner narrative whose continuity, whose sense, is our lives. It might be said that each of us constructs and lives a "narrative," and that this narrative is us, our identities. If we wish to know about a man, we ask "what is his story--his real, inmost story?"--for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us--through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically we are not so different from each other; historically, as anarratives--we are each of us unique. p. 64 The "I" is our living, breathing, ever changing autobiography, the story of our lives. What we need to learn is that we can actively participate in the construction of this narrative of who we are. In composing this story each of us is inescapably an author and each creates the one living "book" that is our guide to everything. This guide gets "written" by taking in information assimilated by all our senses and converting it into a complex language code by our brains. This code is sequenced into stories of incidents, experiences, and responses involving both emotion and rational thought. Feeling and thought are in turn woven into a larger running narrative that creates identity, a composite account of the thoughts and feelings that become a filter through which we see all new experience. We come to rely on the stability of this filter. We count on the fact that we will wake up each morning with this narrative intact. p. 70 ...a well-integrated identity must take account of and accommodate its emotional experience. Literature, born from the process of integrating thought and emotion, can be important to readers who can use it to assist their own such integration. p. 71 The construction of an adaptive, functional identity ought to be much more prominent in psychotherapy than it is. The therapist would then function as an editor to the writing of the patient's story. p. 81 Emotion is intimately involved in storing memories. Emotion makes events important and ensures that what is remembered best is stored along with its emotional associations. Stimuli, perhaps from reading, may evoke emotions related to past events. ...The stories that were important to us have (lost text...will have to reinput aghhh!)

GLACIERS by Portland's Alexis M. Smith

Quote: We do not last, she thinks. In the end, only the stories survive.

Quiet story of longing by a Tin House New Voice author.



Left this short work wishing there were more than 26 letters in the alphabet. Short prosaic entries capture moments of a developing relationship and like good poetry say more in fewer words.

Quote: The key to a successful relationship isn't just in the words, it's in the punctuation. When you're in love with someone, a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and a deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.

Quote: Knit me a sweater out of your best stories.

Bellwether by Connie Willis (1996)

"Poincare had believed creative thought was a process of inducing inner chaos to achieve a higher level of equilibrium" or self-organized criticality, as we learned earlier in the novel.

Diagram-Map-Story color coded for date vector and incidence is the solution our heroine stumbles upon while interacting with a recalcitrant child to find patterns in massive amounts of data.

The storyline reminds me of many of the themes W. Gibson has explored in his more recent novels. Willis has written a light novel (bit of romance, bit of humor) built on examining scientific theory, just the way my science illiterate brain likes to learn it. And I may try a diagram-map-story myself sometime.

Literary Seductions

Though I don't agree with many of ideas presented in chapters following the intro, there are some good references and quotes in Frances Wilson's opening. She is obviously a good researcher, though I think somewhat narrow in her analyses.

Anyway, some of the good bits:

"Reading, Barthes observes, is like those other solitary acts, praying and masturbation. ...We all indulge in the psychic dissolution of space when we read, the experience of being neither 'here or there', as Michele de Certeau says of the reader straddled between the inside of the book and the outside of the other world, 'one or the other...simultaneously inside and outside, dissolving both by mixing them together'. ...Freud felt hysteria was a loss of one's place in one's story, the letting-go of a narrative structure vital to one's sense of self. The task of the psychoanalyst is to enable the patient not to distinguish between fiction and reality but to recognize - and to read - the shape of the fiction she gives to experience. ...Laura Riding said 'poems are born of the tension between saying everything and saying nothing.'"

 Zazen by Portland author Vanessa Veselka
Reading ZAZEN was not comfortable, not reassuring, not simple. Compexity in thought and language. Sensitive approach to universal angst experienced especially for today's youth. Defining quotes:

"It was like the world had broken open and nothing was hidden anymore, like we were crawling all over it like salamanders."

Published by Cursor


An interesting & innovative "publishing community" worth checking out

"I also knew what it was like to be somewhere foreign, waiting for the person you used to be to show up."

"...symbols...the only real language...history is really just a map of the destruction and creation of symbols."

Distrust Trust that Particular Flavor

William Gibson's collections of essays may not be new to diehard fans as they have all been previously published over the course of the last few decades, the oldest being "Rocket Radio" from 1989 Rolling Stone. But there is one quote that you may not have noticed that speaks beautifully to our topic of bibliotherapy.

At a talk give in NYC at Book Expo in 2010, Gibson said: "A book exists at the intersection of the author's subconscious and the reader's response." And later goes on to thank his audience of readers for shaping his career. Very cool.

Shakespeare quotes - Much Ado About Nothing & Twelth Night

"There was a star danced, and under that was I born." - William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 2.1 Twelth Night "If music be the food of love, play on." "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". - Act II, Scene V "Better a witty fool that a foolish wit" “In nature there's no blemish but the mind; None can be called deformed but the unkind: Virtue is beauty, but the beauteous evil Are empty trunks, o'erflourished by the devil.” ― Shakespeare, Twelth Night "Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better" Act III, Scene I

Shakespeare quote - As You Like It

"Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.1 "And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, And then from hour to hour we rot and rot; And thereby hangs a tale." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.7 "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard; Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.7 "Can one desire too much of a good thing?" - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 4.1 "Your 'if' is the only peacemaker; much virtue in 'if'." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 5.4 "Hope is a waking dream." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Epilogue

Shakespeare quotes - Hamlet

"All that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.2 "Give thy thoughts no tongue." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.3 "Brevity is the soul of wit." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2 "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2 "What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!" - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2 "To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to,-'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come," - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3.1 "O, woe is me, To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!" - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3. 1 "Our wills and fates do so contrary run That our devices still are overthrown." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3.2 "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3.3 "Assume a virtue, if you have it not. That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat, Of habits devil, is angel yet in this." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3.4 "A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 4.3 "Let Hercules himself do what he may, The cat will mew and dog will have his day." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet 5.1 "There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet 5.2 "If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet 5.2 "The rest is silence." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet 5.2 

Lesser known Bronte

Finished reading Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Emily and Charlotte's lesser known, though more prolific, sister Anne Bronte. This is an excellent resource as a preventative measure for misaligned or misdirected affection. Our heroine falls in love with the intention of improving her beloved spiritually and ethically, i.e., to save him from himself (where haven't we seen this before), only to find herself dredged through the mud of intesifying levels of degradation. I found it comforting, oddly enough, to learn that the women continue to take on this sisyphean task diametrically opposed to their own well-being generation after generation. The nobler sex is not just hype, though we have our share of debasing examples, women aspire to inspire in proverbial ranks of musing angels.

Anne Bronte wrote a feminist treatise that still speaks to us through centuries of a steady trickle of women who demand quarter for their worth (not a quarter, but recompense in equal measure.) At 3/4 the wage earning power of men, we continue to gain independence from perhaps ourselves and our own charitable intentions as much as anything or any one else.

Scarlett Thomas

The End of Mr. Y presents us with many questions about the present. Asks us to imagine a world created entirely from our imaginations. Leads us through a looking glass and lets us choose if we want to stay and play on the other side or return to mundane reality. Though return we must, as with all good stories the novel comes to an end. But treasure troves from the author remain long after the last page is turned. Like Olbers Paradox, who knew Edgar Allan Poe was a thought scientist, describing "infinity as the thought of a thought" in his poem Eureka in response, anticipating Big Bang theory 100 years before the experimental scientists. Or that hyperreality has been mapped by Derrida but we can't get there from here, i.e., language will always circumvent and we will find ourselves in a feedback loop. Or in considering "emotion" as metaphor, a symptom of something set in motion, a movement from one state to another but never the state itself. Thomas attempts narrative in a world of the infinite possibilities of poststructuralist physics in order to arrive at the conclusion realized by her protagonist, Ariel, who has "so much free will that nothing means anything anymore." But Thomas counters the only way she, or we, know how: Language creates causal connections between things aka beginning, middle, end. "And the middle is only there because the beginning is; the end is only there because the middle is. And in the beginning was the word..." BTW, Ariel's romantic interest in the novel is named Adam. As with her other novels, Scarlett Thomas is reading as educated entertainment.

For anyone interested in bibliotherapy, this is The place to start.

Tad Williams OTHERLAND

KAABA !XABBU (Dream of a Black Stone)
devoid unchangeable yet simulated desire
warped and scrambled as an avatar (orator) to persona
anodyne filtering of the Other
complex disruption rationed claustrophobia
ritual journey framework
happy to drown but empty floats
callow yellow light infused water ecstatically
sleeping when nonexistence
goes going gone sluggish worshipers
microcosmic god a firefly's luring luminescence
an incomprehensible answer
god, not mystery, is dead.

The above is a bibliotherapeutic exercise, the words lifted from Williams' novel while reading, then combined in juxtaposition to create a kind of poem. My next step will be editing amalgamation for meaning. Or not, at any rate, the process has been started and I have creatively engaged with the text.

quotes from the the novel:

"...people believe things which can be measured are true things, and things which cannot be measured are untrue things. What I read of science makes it even more sad, for that is what people point to as a 'truth,' yet science itself seems to say that all we can hope to find are patterns in things. But if that is true, why is one way of explaining a pattern worse than others?"

"There was no discrimination between 'real' and 'unreal,' not at the most basic, instinctual levels of fear and desire and self-preservation." 

Some poetry books from the library

from Writing Your Rhythm: Using Nature, Culture, Form and Myth by Diane Thiel
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the following with each line depicting the meter it describes:
Trochee trips from long to short;
From long to long in solemn sort
Slow Spondee stalks, strong foot, yet ill able
Ever to come up with Dactyl trisyllable
Iambics march from short to long;
With a leap and a bound the swift Anapests throng.

had to return the book at page 180. Will recheck it later.

Same with The Everything Writing Poetry Book: a practical guide to style, structure, form, and expression by Tina D. Eliopulos & Todd Scott Moffett that had a nice list of schemes of repetition to look up later: anaphora, epistrophe, epanalepsis, anadiplosis, antimetabole, chiasmus, polyptoton 

Louise Rosenblatt's Literature as Exploration from bibliography

Clifford, John, ed. The Experience of Reading: Louise Rosenblatt and Reader-Response Theory, 1990.

Farrell, Edmund J., and James R. Squire, eds. Transactions with Literature, 1990.

Probst, Robert E. Response and Analysis, 1988.

Rosenblatt, Louise M. "The Transactional Theory of Reading and Writing." in Theoretical Models and Processes Of Reading, 1994.

Dewey, John. Art as Experience, 1934.

Dewey, John and Arthur E. Bentley. Knowing the the Known, 1949.

Polyani, Michael. Personal Knowledge, 1964.

Rosenblatt, Louise. L'idee de l'art pour l'art, 1931.

Goldschmidt, Walter. The Human Career: The Self in the Symbolic World, 1990.

Bruner, Jerome. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, 1986.

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, 1983.

Bateson, Mary Catherine. "Composing a Life" in Atlantic Monthly, 1989.

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. Understanding Poetry, 1939.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Poetical Works, 1912.

Dewey, John. Art as Experience, 1934.

Eiseley, Loren C. The Immense Journey, 1957.

Farrell, Edmund J. and James R. Squire. Transactions with Literature, 1990.

Horney, Karen. The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, 1937.

Huxley, Aldous. "Wordsworth in the Tropics" in Do What You Will, 1929.

Ogden, C.K. and I.A. Richards. The Meaning of Meaning, 1923.

Purves, Alan C. and Richard Beach. Literature and the Reader: Research in Response to Literature, Reading Interests, and the Teaching of Literature, 1972.

Rosenblatt, Louise M. "The Poem as Event" in College English, 1964. 

The Reader, the Text, the Poem by Louise Rosenblatt

Walter Pater's first step for the reader...primary goal when meeting the text is to have as full an aesthetic experience as possible, given own capacities and the sensibilities, preoccupations and memories brought to the transaction...the reader needs to slough off the old self-image as passively receiving the electric shocks of verbal stimuli. Then the quality of the work as experienced is seen as a function also of his close attention to the qualitative nuances produced by his own handling of his responses.
...the ephemeral personal evocation which is the literary work cannot be held static for later inspection. It cannot be shared directly with anyone else; it cannot be directly evaluated by others. Its ineffable and inward character undeniably present problems. Yes, in talking about the literary work we must have recourse to introspection and memory--anathema though they be to those who simplistically seek the objectivity...
p. 137
Whatever the reader may later add to that original creative activity is also rooted in his own responses during the reading event. His primary subject matter is the web of feelings, sensations, images, ideas that he weaves between himself and the text.
...the ordinary reader must refuse to abdicate his own role as a creator, or evoker, of a work from the text, per transactional reality: no one else, no matter how much more competent, more informed nearer to the ideal (whatever that might be), can read (perform) the poem or the story of the play for us.
p. 143
The reader needs to realize fully, to honor, what he is living through in his evocation of the work. This can spark a sense of the same kind of creative enterprise as the expert, the critic. The emphasis should be on the creative transaction, a coming together of a human being (with all that implies of past experience and present preoccupations) and a text (with all that implies of potentialities for participation.)
The sense of personal identity comes largely from self-definition as against the "other," the external world of people and things. Literary texts provide us with a widely broadened "other" through which to define ourselves and our world. Reflection on our meshing with the text can foster the process of self-definition in a variety of ways... What within myself, the reader may ask, what temperamental leanings, what view of the world, what standards, made it less or more easy for me to animate the world symbolized by the text? What hitherto-untapped potentialities for feeling, thought, and perhaps action, have I discovered through this experience? the possibilities are infinite: the insights derived from contrasts with my own temperament and my own environment; the empathy with violence, the sadistic impulse, that may now be faced and perhaps controlled; the compassion for others formerly felt to be alien; the opportunity for trying out alternative modes of behavior in imagined situations...
p. 151
...psychological patterns or complexes of each reader may be revealed in characteristic responses while literary transactions free him to give utterance to underlying biases and obsessive attitudes. increasing self-understanding and consequent mis- or divergent interpretations may provide clues to the readers' preoccupations.
p. 153
In the last analysis, it is always individual readers evaluating their own personal transactions with the text; we must recognize the uniqueness that derives from the individual's particular selecting-out of elements from the cultural milieu, and the special value-demands due to the unique moment in the reader's life in which the literary transaction takes place. ...As with the evocatory and interpretive aspect of the reading process. reflection can lead to clarification and to confirmation or revision, of those primary evaluative responses.
p. 157
Literary transactions are woven into the fabric of individual lives. Personal meaningfulness should be recognized as at least one of the possible criteria to be applied by a reader assessing the reading event. of course, powerful personal reverberations and moments of intensity or illumination may be the result of the coming together of the reader and the text at an especially propitious moment. The reader, it can be said, provides at that point in his life or in that social situation, particularly receptive context, a kind of amplifier, for what he derives from the text. We should of course recognize the extent of the reader's projective contribution. Nevertheless, we should honor the intensity of fullness of consummation of the experience.
p. 173
By means of texts, the individual may share in the funded knowledge and wisdom of our culture. For the individual reader, each text is a new situation, a new challenge. The literary work of art is an important kind of transaction with the environment precisely because it permits self-aware acts of consciousness. The reader, bringing his own particular temperament and fund of past transactions to the text, lives through a process of handling new situations, new attitudes, new personalities, new conflicts in values. These he can reject, revise, or assimilate into the resources with which he engages his world.
...the essence of a work of art is precisely that a consciousness is a living through, a synthesizing evocation, from a text which involves many levels of the organism.
p. 174
With the aesthetic transaction as his fulcrum, the reader-critic can range as far as he wishes, bringing to bear ever wider and richer circles of literary, social, ethical, and philosophical contexts., achieving a certain objectivity through reflective self-awareness, through understanding that the work envisaged is a product of the reverberations between what he has brought to the text and what the text offers. He seeks to understand how his own sense of life, his own values, coincide with, or differ from , the world that he has participated in through the transaction with the text. ...The transactional concept can only reinforce interest in the dynamics of the relationship between the author, the text, the reader, and their cultural environments.
p. 175 Walt Whitman quote from "Democratic Vistas" in Prose Works 1892:
Books are to be call'd for, and supplied, on the assumption that the process of reading is not a half-sleep, but, in the highest sense, an exercise, a gymnast's struggle; that the reader is to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay--the text furnishing the hints, the clue, the start or frame-work. Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does. That were to make a nation of supple and athletic minds, well-train'd, intuitive, used to depend on themselves, and not on a few coteries of writers. 

Louise Rosenblatt

"The reader brings to the text his past experience and present personality. Under the magnetism of the ordered symbols of the text, he marshals his resources and crystallizes out from the stuff of memory, thought, and feeling a new part of the ongoing stream of his life experience, to be reflected on from any angle important to him as a human being?"

From The Reader, the Text, the Poem (1978)

"Only if the reader turns his attention inward to his experience of 'the journey itself,' will a 'poem' happen. The reader of a text who evokes a literary work of art is, above all, a performer, in the same sense that  pianist performs a sonata..." (p28)

From The Reader, the Text, the Poem

Dostoevsky's Last Night by Cristina Peri Rossi

In light of my bibliotherapy research, I used a readers advisory database (see entry Find Books) to purview what came up on a search for addiction as a subject heading for fiction. Dostoevsky's Last Night was one of the titles that was recommended.

The addiction addressed in Rossi's novel is gambling. The gambler protagonist is in therapy, which suggested a good fit for my intended use. Did reading result in a self-awareness on gambling addiction? I can't really say, as this is not something from which I suffer. I think the premise is an application of bibliotherapy, in that having read Dostoevsky, the protagonist has been made aware and gained insight into his compulsions.

As a novel, I found the work readable but not compelling. 

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

I'm new to poetry. Even with a MA in English Lit, I've somehow managed to more or less avoid poetry. Sure, I've read representative classics from the major literary traditions (in English, not much attention paid to poets who write in anything other than our mother tongue in academia unless you can read and translate from the original.) But contemporary poetry has been as foreign to me as Portuguese.

There were haikus; there were musings with rhythms suggesting lyrics for songs I did not know how to play or sing, but no poems. Poems were precious things for writers of purple prose with inflated egos, all that white spacing wasted on the page, just spit it out.

Then I started a certificate program in poetry, because that's the way bibliotherapy is legitimized these days. I wrote some poems, and felt better, more whole, more myself than after 100 hours of Jungian psychoanalysis.

And I started reading poetry. Reading in fits, armloads from the library, pulling anything that might look interesting off the shelves until the weight was maximum capacity for seeing my way down the stairs.

And I found BLOOD DAZZLER, poems by Patricia Smith, about Hurricane Katrina. And I don't have words to tell you. Just as we were struck dumb by the travesty, by both man & nature, unable to watch TV coverage without thinking, no this can't be, we woke to find the nightmare played out over weeks and we had to turn it off to get back to our own jobs, our own realities. Because what was happening down there wasn't real, it couldn't be, we couldn't be that inadequate in saving our own; we couldn't be that vulnerable here in the blah blah of blah.

Patricia Smith doesn't get political. Doesn't point fingers, lays no blame, though how can we not? Surely accountability is at hand? Mother Nature can't take all the blame.

Instead, BLOOD DAZZLER is reported. Journalism, a reporter's personal POV and interpretation of events not covered by the media. Quotes from correspondence between officials and counterpoints of the Bushs' day-to-day while the greatest crime of the century was being perpetrated provides insight covertly. We don't have to cry, we don't have to suffer humiliation, we don't have to care. But we do, because Patricia Smith has made the unimaginable accessible? In her poems, we can let our selves feel, just a little, of the horror and recognize, just a little, of the despair. Because frail humans we be, and a little is all our hearts can hold. Our minds take it all in but there's only a little our hearts can hold, providing a little help as part of the larger container needed to hold all the sadness of those who lived to survive a loss that overflows those old worn out levies still. 


 1044 page blockbuster 

Neal Stephenson's REAMDE has been occupying most of the past weekend. Fortunately, I was sick in bed and could do little but read which got me through the first 500 pages. In true Stephenson fashion the plot's intensity started early and kept climbing. A bit shoot'em up for my tastes through much of the middle, but that's what sells these days.

On page 791, with major players finally face to face. I'm wondering if it's going to get predictable at this point. I miss the old cyberpunk where new worlds were opened. Cyberthrillers are less interesting and definitely less inspiring.

The stuff about gaming is new for me since I don't play. And, since I rely on fiction for most of my news on politics, the terrorist theme seems timely. Sort of feels like that bit could have been written by any number of bestseller list authors. Reader expectations are hard to satisfy. But, I had hoped for more than a thriller. Still, Stephenson is an excellent craftsman and I intend to sail through the last few hunfred pages.

Ready Player One finished

Entertaining. Not very enlightening or particularly thought provoking. Kept waiting but never happened. Basically it's a YA novel dressed up for grownups. Cyberpunk has not found its renaissance in this writer. Sounds like Warner optioned it so maybe the movie will be better.

 Anais Nin "The Writer and the Symbols"
Quote: "The creation of a story is a quest for meaning."

In one line, Nin has written the reason for my life. Melodramatic? Maybe, but I don't think Nin would think so.

Continuing to quote: "The meaning is what illuminates the facts, coordinates them, incarnates them."
  Anais Nin "On Writing"
Quote: By following rigorously and exclusively the patterns made by the emotions I found that in the human unconscious itself there is an indigenous structure, and if we are able to detect and grasp it we have the plot, the form, and style of the novel of the future."
  Nin's novel of the future
Quote Anais Nin from essay Realism and Reality: "...the unconscious creates the most consistent patterns and plots of all."
Anais Nin
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” – Anais Nin

Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

Not the kind of book I normally read. Lame duck betrayed goes back to philandering husband in anticlimatic end. And yet, there is something here. Stories of women and girls within the context of the novel tell a bigger story, one of cruelty and catharsis.

Oh, and one quote: "Only the aged have access to life's brevity."

A list of "mad" poets: Torquato Tasso, John Clare, Christopher Smart, Friedrich Holderlin, Antonin Artaud,

Paul Celan, Randall Jarrell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ezra Pound, Robert Fergusson, Velimir KhlebnikovL Georg Trakl, Gustaf Froding, Hugh MacDiarmid, Gerard de Nerval, Edgar Allan Poe, Burns Singer, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, Laura Riding, Sara Teasdale, Vachel Lindsay, John Berryman, James SchuylerL Sylvia Plath, Delmore Schwartz

And last but not least, a bit of bibliotherapeutic support: "A book is a collaboration between the one who reads and what is read and, at its best, that coming together is a love story like any other."



Carl Jung's THE SPIRIT IN MAN, ART, AND LITERATURE "Psychology and Literature"

The psychologist should constantly bear in mind that his hypothesis is no more at first than the expression of his own subjective premise and can therefore never lay immediate claim to general validity.
The phenomenology of the psyche is so colourful, so variegated in form and meaning, that we cannot possibly reflect all its riches in one mirror.
p.87...the psychologist must content himself with widely ranging descriptions of psychic processes, and with portraying as vividly as he can the warp and woof of the mind in all its amazing intricacy.
...the more unconscious the author is of (psychological assumptions), the more (psychological intentions) background reveals itself in unalloyed purity.
a true symbol is an expression for something real but unknown.
...our intuitions point to things that are unknown and hidden, that by their very nature are secret.
...the psyche is a door that opens upon the human world from a world beyond, allowing unknown and mysterious powers to act upon man and carry him on the wings of the night to a more personal destiny.
...the poet now and then catches sight of the figures that people the night-world...p.96 he catches a glimpse of the psychic world that terrifies the primitive and is at the same time his greatest hope.
Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.
Participation mystique is the secret of artistic creation.
To grasp the meaning of a work of art, we must allow the work to shape us as it shaped the artist.

Gaston Bachelard's THE POETICS OF SPACE Introduction

"The poet, in the novelty of his images, is always the origin of language. To specify exactly what a phenomenology of the image can be, to specify that the image comes before thought, we should have to say that poetry, rather than being a phenomenology of the mind, is a phenomenology of the soul. We should then have to collect documentation on the subject of the dreaming consciousness...
before the interior poetic light was turned upon it, it was a mere object for the mind. But the soul comes and inaugurates the form, dwells in it, takes pleasure in it...can therefore be taken as a clear maxim of a phenomenology of the soul."

"...the poetic image is essentially variational, and not, as in the case of the concept, constitutive.

Good argument for poetry therapy:
"A consciousness associated with the soul is more relaxed, less intentionalized than a consciousness associated with the phenomena of the mind. Forces are manifested in poems that do not pass through the circuits of knowledge."

This is why the self-help book type of reading is not to be confused with bibliotherapy. And though the argument here is strongly poetry based, I propose it is comparable to reading fiction when the criteria of a relaxed mind, an open and aware consciousness, rather than the critical mind, is active. This can also be understood by reading Jungian works on "active imagination" (See Marie-Louise Von Franz.)


" A book is not shut in by its contours, is not walled up as in a fortress. It asks nothing better than to exist outside itself, or to let you exist in it it."

"the book is no longer a material reality.... It has become a series of words, of images, of ideas which in their turn begin to exist. And where is this new existence? Surely not in the paper object. Nor, surely, in external space. There is only one place left for this new existence: my innermost self...dependent on my consciousness."

"Language surrounds me with its unreality."

I have thoughts which are part of a book I am reading, the thoughts of another.
"I am thinking the thoughts of another...
But I think (it) as my very own...
My consciousness behaves as though it were the consciousness of another."

The work lives its own life within me; in a certain sense, it thinks itself, and it even gives itself a meaning within me."

In this essay, Poulet argues that we cannot know the author by the work, but I disagree. We can know the author's mind at the moment in time when the work was being created and as such know as much about the author as the author is likely to know about herself. Do we know the author's biography? Of course not, but we know the author's mind, as fleetingly as thought based language will allow.

Check out Mallerme's opinion in "THE BOOK: A Spiritual Instrument"


Zero Summer

Still reading Caitlin Kiernan. Did I mention she's singlehandedly turned me into a short story reader.

Quote from above mentioned:

"There should be a word for losing something that was never yours to begin with."

Caitlin R. Kiernan

I never knew horror could be so beautiful.

P175 from To Charles Fort, with Love

"The mind exists only in a moment, always, a single flickering moment, remembered or actual, dreaming or awake or something between the two, the precious, treacherous illusion of Present floundering in the crack between Past and Future."

Art Journal Workshop by Traci Bunkers

With DVD. How fun. Traci shows how fun art can be if you just Go For It. She's obviously not overthinking. It's clearly about the process. What is she thinking while she's playing with color, balance and form. It's not about a "marketable" finished product. It's about the experience. I love the new book arts movement. Books as a personal art form have entered the mainstream.

Bunkers' visual journaling is an excellent call to arms for silencing the inner critic so we can hear the soft whisper of our own creativity so often drowned out by commercial media.

Let the play begin. Even grownups need to color, cut & paste. I've been doing altered books and collage for about 12 years and am only recently beginning to understand the therapeutic benefits of art as a way to self awareness.

Good introduction to the world of art therapy.

Grave Expectations by Bailey & Flowers

At 56 1/2 I'm shopping around for my post-death experience. My mother thinks it's macabre and even friends think it's one of stranger of my offbeat interests. But I think it's a topic that has lots of potential for those of us who like to plan, especially if those plans are prone to off the beaten path preferences.

I'm not alone in this as Bailey & Flowers attest in their book Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There's No Tomorrow. The only thing I wasn't particularly keen on was the lined white spaces for adding your own plans, though a web link with these as forms that could be filled in and printed out for filing with important papers might be useful. As it is, it just kind of seems gratuitous and gives the book a kind of cheesy look. Having said that, I want to share some of the really cool stuff I found in book.

One of my favorite is the Ecopod, an Egyptian-shaped sarcophagus made from recycled paper, which I'd really like to buy now and design interior and exterior myself, do-it-yourself creative adventure of the "in between" as life is referred to by Robert Thurman in his works on Tibetan Buddhism & death.These only recently have become available in the States. Other fabulous ideas that deserve some serious consideration include:
and I also liked


Characters in the Story of our Lives

On holiday at my mom's I've picked up something I wouldn't normally read, though the author is best-selling and well-reviewed. The novel, The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks, is a good story, not particularly compelling or challenging, but an entertaining, somewhat sentimental and so far predictable story. However, I did find a good quote that I think fits nicely into the bibliotherapy vein:
"People come, people go--they'll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures."
Who are the characters at play in your life?

 Deep State by Walter Jon Williams

Recently stumbled upon an old cyberpunk reading list from the 90's. Walter Jon Williams was on the list and I'd never read him. Though more of a techno-thriller than what I normally think of as cyberpunk, Deep State has a lot of similarities to early Gibson. He makes the usual political statement, in this case it's a Turkish regime, of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" while tossing out a number of gamer and hacker premises.

Of course, I love the fact that the main protagonist is female. There's just enough espionage, gadgets and romantic interest to keep the pages turning. No brilliant insights, but telling, in the same way that Wag the Dog reminds us that war isn't just about the military any more. 


 E.Moon (2003) via K.Wilhelm (1976)

The Speed of Dark, winner of 2004 Nebula Award for Best Novel, this was the book that set the bar too high and resulted in my not being able to find anything worth writing about for months.

I project autism is a next stage in evolution for all of us (as a species) as we overstimulate ourselves into multimedia stupors, myself included, don't get me wrong. I'm one of the worst. Plus, I already much prefer my privacy to dealing with people and would be benefit from a happy "bouncing room" like the one made available at work for our gifted narrator and protagonist. Even the little spinning fans might serve a purpose in helping to quiet the churning thoughts under bombardment from the incessant stream of interruptions and the Sisyphean task of rolling that boulder of email, listservs, twits, and posts up the mountain day in, day out.

Total identification with the quiet voice of our author, who speaks volumes:

"If they aren't going to listen, why should I talk?
I know better than to say that out loud. Everything in my life that I value has been gained at the cost of not saying what I really think and saying what they want me to say."

The book (one our narrator is reading on neurology) answers questions other people have thought of. "I have thought of questions they have not answered. I always thought my questions were wrong questions because no one else asked them. Maybe no one thought of them. Maybe darkness got there first. Maybe I am the first light touching a gulf of ignorance."

"Maybe my questions matter."

"I do not know what the speed of thought is. I do not know if the speed of thought is the same for everyone. Is it thinking faster or thinking further that makes different thinking different."

Must check out more Moon. See Remnant Population, a finalist for the Hugo Award.

In Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang we see a post-apocalyptic world where cloning strips the ability for creative, independent thought.

There's something about the eyes they just don't have. Theirs only see outward, I think, and yours, and those in the other men in the picture, they can look both ways.

Perhaps the greatest threat from floods of media input isn't how much we take in, but whether or not we take time to process and apply what we learn, that we look inward to test what we see and hear against our own internal, pattern-forming awareness.

And this is what distinguishes therapeutic, or the active reading that I think of in terms of bibliotherapy from passive reading, in general. In finding the right book at the right time, the one that speaks to us in the quiet whisper that we must be still and quiet to hear, we come a little closer to finding ourselves able to be the protagonists in our own stories.

 Time Must Have a Stop by Aldous Huxley
"Perhaps dirt is the necessary condition of beauty."
"Perhaps hygiene and art can never be bedfellows."
"Remorse is pride's ersatz for repentance, the ego's excuse for not accepting God's forgiveness. The condition of being forgiven is self-abandonment. The proud man prefers self-reproach, however painful--because the reproached self isn't abandoned; it remains intact."
And because knowledge, the genuine knowledge beyond mere theory and book learning, was always a transforming participation in that which was known, it could never be communicated--not even to one's own self when in a state of ignorance.The best one could hope to do by means of words was to remind oneself of what one once had intuitively understood and, in others, to evoke the wish and create some of the same conditions for a similar understanding."
"But whereas any particular manifestation of beauty--in art, in thought, in action, in nature--is always a relationship between existences not in themselves intrinsically beautiful, this was a perception of, an actual participation in, the paradox of Relationship as such, apart from anything related; the direct experience of pure interval and the principle of harmony, apart from the things which, in this or that concrete instance, are separated and harmonized. And somewhere, somehow, the participation and the experience persist even now as I write."

 Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
"Everything is biographical, Lucien Freud says. What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross."
"We would study ourselves in this evolving portrait. It made us secretly competitive."
"We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell."
"...retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and lines, making up a single monologue."
"...what is most untrustworthy about our natures and self-worth is how we differ in our own realities from the way we are seen by others."
"We relive stories and see ourselves only as the watcher, or listener, the drummer in the background keeping cadence."

Have you ever wanted to personally thank an artist or writer for giving you something so exquisite, for adding to your being by way of their wisdom tethered to life. Aloha nui loa, you kind, beautiful, brilliant man.  

My Kingdom is a Book

Douglas Coupland Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!







  Curtains by Tom Jokinen

Adventures of an Undertaker-In-Training.
Inside scoop on post death rigamarole, including multitude of new options and trends toward green burial. Interesting read by Canadian author who spent six months behind the scenes, hands-on. At 55 1/2, I'm glad to know
There are cheaper alternatives for my final funereal purchase. For those who stand on ceremony, Robert Anton Wilson's send off celebration ushered in a cyber-mystic new age of dying. If I had some extra cash, I wouldn't mind investing in an artisan urn from Graton California. Will add links to sites offering such goodies when I have a chance to do a little surfing. 



by the bed

Curtains by tom jokinen; dreaming in chinese by deborah fellows; vamped by david sosnowski; house of many gods by kiana davenport

The Road to Oceania - William Gibson & Zero History: Reading had likely been his first drug.

In NYTimes, June 25, 2003, Gibson presents an idea that may have seeded ZERO HISTORY.
Read: "The collection and management of information, at every level, is exponentially empowered by the global nature of the system itself..." I.e., In every moment, our lives shape the world order and in turn are shaped my it.

As our lives become open books, the transparency of our collective lives creates a new relationship to time. Past and future exist simultateneously in the present. Knowing the present, being fully present, allows us to know and thus shape the future albeit in our own small way. Characters in Zero History embody extremes of influence, from the mild-mannered protagonist to the arms trading antagonist and many, many levels in between from FBI to fashionista.

Gibson, roughly: Ideas have lives of their own; the "order flow" wants to happen; we need to move with the flow or get out of its way, as stasis presents potential problems for simultaneous awareness and realization.

All this aside, my favorite line from the book was a one-off reference to the mediocrity of professionalism.
You've just gotta love Gibson for those underlying glimmers of the man behind the magic. Gibson invites us to see not just the man behind the curtain, but the curtain. 

Like being in love: Reading

In skimming some of the sites earlier today, it dawned on me. (I love that saying "dawned on me.") Reading is like being in love. As in love, for a short time, we are taken out of ourselves and feel connected with something larger. Whether it's a character, the author, the setting, it's the connection to something that expands while encompassing (a magical word) our being.

Have you fallen in love lately? 



Cory Doctorow's FOR THE WIN and Alex Shakar's THE SAVAGE GIRL

Every now and then, synchronicity strikes and I find myself reading two books that dovetail thematically. Such is the case with For the Win and The Savage Girl. Both novels endeavor to awaken our sensitivities to the out-of-control influences extant in our late stage capitalism.

Doctorow's book is being marketed to young adults and the style and pacing is perfect for his market. Loved the book and the message: Solidarity! but missed a more adult approach to character development. That's where Shakar's book came to the rescue: slower plot development, but we have the opportunity to develop a little insight into the main characters.

Doctorow's book has been published recently and Shakar's in 2001. Both books voice a strong concern for our devolution as a species brought on through our enslavement to consumerism. Doctorow's gamers fight for standards, such as those safeguarded by unions. Shakar talks of a "post-ironic" society where we as consumers no longer exist outside of our "purchasing power" and constantly buy to self identify.

We are each alone unto our credit rating... "But," Shakar says, "hell is not necessarily other people, no, not necessarily; hell is being surrounded by people who share no solidarity, it's like dying of thirst on the bank of a contaminated river."

Why is this we may ask ourselves and Doctorow answers, "It's the stupid questions that have some of the most surprising and interesting answers. Most people never think to ask the stupid questions." And I would add to that the many are not asking for fear of being perceived as stupid because the question IS stupid. But, the stupidity rests in the question, not in the asking which is simply part and parcel of the inconceivable path we are all on that brings us to this "post-ironic" point in time, smug in our knowledge. Because, are we not spoon fed up to the minute news stories from all over the world? Do we not have access to mindboggling POV from diverse media as well as individuals, through social networking? Are we anything if not informed? BUT, can we take the information we receive and translate it into an understanding of the forces around us that governs our lives? There lies the rub.

My bathtub book during this same time frame further supported the theme. (This has been a very, very good week or two of reading.) One of my favorite authors, Aldous Huxley, touched on some of these same subjects in his TIME MUST HAVE A STOP. However, in true form, Huxley leads us to the subject from a more philosophical frame of mind: "...there's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." A principle that is in direct contradiction to his character of rich uncle Eustace who surmises, "So long as one was alive, death didn't exist, except for other people. And when one was dead, nothing existed, not even death. So why bother?"

Little does rich uncle Eustace know that no sooner than the words are uttered than he has a heart attack and dies, primarily from apathy and overindulgence. But this isn't what's of interest, rather Huxley's description of the death experience on pp.125-129, or most of chapter 13.  

there are cheaper alternatives for my final purchase. For those who stand on ceremony, Robert Anton Wilson's send off celebration ushers in a cyber-mystic new age of dying. If I had some extra cash, I wouldn't mind investing in an artisan urn from Graton California. Will add links to sites offering such goodies when I have a chance to do a little surfing.

Joanna Russ's On Strike Against God 1980

"I've lost my awe of the library completely: this vast, defunct megalith over which we little mammals wander, nipping and chewing bits of its skin." p.91

And yet, I wouldn't have been able to read this out-of-print book without interlibrary loan. I appreciate the metaphor by Russ, but I would have to say my awe of libraries remains unblemished.

 Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger
With Rebecca's Mandalay ambience and Jane Eyre's psychological complexes, Waters' newest novel is good for being derivative. Not as compelling as her trilogy Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith but readable. The jacket describes it as "thrilling" but that stretches it more than a little. Rather than read her, I would recommend the film versions of her trilogy. Very hot.

 Write Or Die : Dr Wicked's Writing Lab
Using a timer the following took about 15 minutes to Write Or Die : Dr Wicked's Writing Lab
Octavia Butler's Fledgling is not bad. Always looking for new vampire renditions. I like that the vampire is a little girl, who is older than she appears and sexually active. I think this speaks to something we all know intuitively to be true. Little girls have an innate awareness of themselves as sexual beings long before boys and become aware of their power at an early age. Butler makes the simple but often ignored truths core elements of her narrative. Simple facts, no moral or ethical judgment, just the way things are in this alternate world of creatures who feed and form symbiotic relations with their food.

Lots of excitement. Thriller plot line. Could be more earthy. Something sensual in the feeding experience is suggested, but misses the mark. Analogy to wine might bring in a lexicon for why one blood tastes better than another. If it's just a question of chemistry and palate, why? Genetics are mentioned but not in way that brings anything new to the reader, more as a teaser. Our protagonist is an genetic experiment. Use a bit of the lingo, make me believe it's possible. So much of the premise is just background.

Still, readable for undemanding fans of the genre.

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

This is a YA novel by theme, but also a fun read for any adult who has ever walked on the weird side. Portman includes lots of legitimate information and resources on magical traditions both pre and post Crowley. Tarot archetypes give shape to the narrative and even define characters. I'm looking forward to seeing Portman tackle something targeting adults using the same ideas. How about a series watching Adromeda Klein grow up, sail through college and become a librarian. Maybe she could even correspond magically with the great akashic librarian in the aether. Just saying...Adromeda could be our answer to the death of Potter. 

Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

Interesting approach to the vampire tradition, combing feminist themes with settings ranging from the Deep South to the Wild West and all the excitement of untold historical possibilities, were it "her"story, rather than "his."

R. Scott Bakker 's Neuropath

"...precious little distinguished the neurochemical profile of love from that of obsessive-compulsive disorder."
"Everything you live, everything you see and touch and hear and taste, everything you think, belongs to this little slice of mush, this little wedge in your brain called the thalamocortical system. The neural processing that makes these experiences possible__we're talking about the most complicated machinery in the known universe __is uttterly invisible. This expansive, far-reaching experience of yours is nothing more than a mote, an inexplicable glow, hurtling through some impossible black. You're steering through a dream..."
"Consciousness is an end-user... Out of all the information our brains crunch every second, only a tiny sliver makes it conscious experience--less than a millionth, by some estimates."

Aren't you just loving the novel of consciousness trend and the proximity it underlines between real and surreal? 

 Lyda Morehouse mirrors early W.Gibson
Strong cross-gender personalities, whether self-identified as male or female. Interesting bits of info on Muslim back story. Vatican envoy sent to determine if AIs have souls. Yakuza interest and involvement. Angels, Devils, Demons and other everyday miracles.
p.133 Does God have a plan for us all? and how boring would that be?
Fractals & Free will, Order and Chaos
Or is the whole thing just a creative experiment in phenomenology.
A little heavy on the religion references, but informative, nevertheless and Lyda has a strong writing style that drags you along on what is proving to be more than a little archetypal quest.
Fallen Host is the one I just finished. Will go back and read Archangel Protocol to get the back story. I see on amazon she has two more. Lovely.

Head Case and Radiant Cool

Radiant Cool by Dan Lloyd is rich and tasty philosophical fiction with the subtitle A Novel Theory of Consciousness. I'm still reading it and am reading it slowly, not only to savor it, but also because there is much to ponder on the way. A few treats so far:
1. ...time leaves its mark on my now.
2. ...harmonics of meaning attach to every object in the knowable universe.
3. The instant has to be long enough for consciousness.
4. Meaning takes time.
5. 100 trillion modifiable synaptic connections in the brain
6. How we love the hidden order...moronic chaos of reality transfigured.
7.The Aleph
8. Multiple drafts model of consciousness (See Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained.)
9. The mind is a text.
10. The text is stored in memory, accessed and updated all the time, even in our dreams.

Dennis Cass's Head Case is a much lighter approach to mind and consciousness, as his subtitle suggests: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain

Bees: Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood and Douglas Coupland's Generation A

"Time is not a thing that's a sea on which you float."
Atwood's prose, timeless; her zeitgeist, cryptic. Yet, interesting that two Canadian authors would publish works with bees in 2009.

"People who think that dying is the worst thing don't know a thing about life" (Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd) may be a connecting thread, but I can't really say, as I haven't read it. I did see the movie, though it didn't make that much of an impression, and I pulled up the "look inside" version from Amazon for the first few pages. I think Kidd's "bees" in 2002 may have sparked something in these two Canadians culminating 7 years later in their own metaphoric explorations of bees as magic messengers between worlds.

I'm just finishing Coupland's Generation A and am stung by the viral nature of stories. As physics proves that softly batting butterfly wings change the course of history, in a simpler world, we recognize that stories are the bread and butter of metaphysical sandwiches around the world.

The experience of bees swarming is as disturbing a force of nature as a violent storm. The buzz starts softly below the level of awareness, growing in volume as their disturbing and unexpected quickly moving black cloud is spotted. Still not registering on consciousness, as the phenomenon is most uncommon, we are given a few moments to consider sheltering options while yet unaware of the origin of the threat. And thousands of bees, moving as a single unit, are most certainly a danger to be avoided even if the likelihood of drawing their attention away from the swarm unlikely.
Atwood's bees are somewhat less central to the story than Coupland's and yet the mythology and relationship to human psyche form a pivotal point for both novels.
Atwood's bees represent collective consciousness, while Coupland's bees are seminal in their sting which Coupland correlates metaphorically to communication between/across mammalian neuropeptides.

Read them back to back, or simultaneously, for a rich Canadian rush.


Powers, Rucker, Gaarder, Sawyer, Griffith, Doctorow

Life versus simulated life rights? (ROLLBACK, Sawyer)

"How programmed are we?" (GENEROSITY, Powers)

Can a/the Maker be created or destroyed considering Higgs boson, the latest in a long list of names for God?

Opt out of procreation to eliminate aggression or individual psychological variation versus hive mind in moral instruction (ROLLBACK, Sawyer)

"Causal stories for a causal universe" (MAKERS, Doctorow)

John G. Cramer: Transactional Interpretation, or TI (FLASHFORWARD, Sawyer)
Planck length applied to time (ROLLBACK, Sawyer)

Aleph-null: First level of infinity (HYLOZOIC, Rucker)

Runaway branching feedback, i.e., everything caused by everything else (GENEROSITY, Powers)

"Causality run amok." (MAKERS, Doctorow)

Block universe = NOW = Illusion(FLASHFORWARD, Sawyer)
Mirror neurons: Hunches, intuition, adviser, interpreter (ALWAYS, Griffith)

Without conscious beings anywhere, does reality break down, all possibilities exist in a shimmering whiteness as in the Copenhagen interpretation?(FLASHFORWARD, Sawyer)

Physical nature of the universe: external material for its own self-awareness (ORANGE GIRL, Gaarder)

Quantum physics = "By-product of the level of resolution of our simulated world" (ROLLBACK, Sawyer)

Mirror neurons re-create experience of others inside ourselves...our own cortex/body. (ALWAYS, Griffith)

"Will and words make a difference." (GENEROSITY, Powers)
Evolution favors the pessimistic aggressor. (ibid)

Tulpa, lazy eight & think infinite thoughts (HYLOZOIC, Rucker)

New Work: Authors of our own destiny (MAKERS, Doctorow)

Information at speed of light while meaning at speed of dark (GENEROSITY, Powers)

Chaos Theory (small changes have big effects over time) versus Block Universe (timelessly existing four dimensional world)(FLASHFORWARD, Sawyer)

"The secret of all imagination is theft." "The secret of survival is forgetting."(GENEROSITY, Powers)

"Threatening images get our attention faster, and we have to work harder to look away." (ibid)

Sweeping and tagging with the unconscious to envision prioritizing the gestalt for later analysis by the conscious mind. "Panic is a system conflict" between conscious and unconscious mind, much like a robot trying to compute a human saying 'I always lie'. Aligning the conscious and unconscious mind engenders power and awareness of intention of the other reveals opportune moment for action. Apologies, explanations and/or threats equals TMI. Information is currency, power, a tool. Love = loss of autonomy. We tend to believe what is convenient and ignore the rest. (ALWAYS, Griffith)

1.base 2.torque 3.movement on the out breath; rest on the in breath 4. Speed>weight 5. Don't stop at the surface. 6. Range 7. Repeatable & sustainable action preferred  

Philosophical Phiction, Phriction and Reading for Phun

If there were a genre of fiction that I enjoy above all other reading matter, it would be philosophical fiction. Not a genre? What falls into the category? Who are its recognized authors? Where did it originate? Are we the when of philosophical fiction? It's a category applicable to fiction only via the reader's ability to process what s/he reads on a level other than superficial entertainment? Why is this important, not only to me, but to our conscious evolution as a species?

Some of the authors I've been reading lately might have some answers to these questions. I certainly see the underlying thread in all their works. And that's the beauty of fiction, or any art form really, it can really only ever be a reflection of the observer. Whether the observer is the creator, co-creator through the act of perceiving, or simply subject of the art object.

Flash Forward's author SAWYER

The 09 fall tv line up includes Robert J. Sawyer's Flash Forward.
Who knew? Probably most people won't ever.
Sawyer's examination of consciousness, relativity and an infinitely self-aware universe poses a simple analogy, "...time is like a bunch of motion-picture frames stacked up, and 'now' is the currently illuminated frame."

A few things to look up in Wikipedia to enhance your viewing and/or reading pleasure:
Many-worlds interpretation MWI or block-universe concept (no point in time is any more important than any other), transactional interpretation TI.

Tipler The Physics of Immortality

The butterfly flaps in China and a hurricane forms off the coast of Africa:
"In chaos theory small changes have big effects over time."

Higgs boson

And the proverbial tree falling in the forest:
"Without any conscious beings anywhere, reality breaks down."

"The strong anthropic principle said the universe needed to give rise to life and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics said it requires qualified observers, given what was now known about the interaction of neutrinos and consciousness, the solar-neutrino problem seemed to be evidence that the universe was indeed taking pains to foster the existence of such observers.



Sawyer's WWW:Wake

From the first mention of Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind, it was a kind of "he had me at 'hello'" kind of reading.
The young protagonist asks in the paragraph immediately preceeding the mention, "And who decides what to leave in and what to leave out?" An interesting query to be followed by an helicoid reference to a study of human consciousness.

Caitlin reads Homer noting he, like she, is blind. Iliad and Odyssey not withstanding, Sawyer's brief reference to the importance of self-reflective thought as mirrored in western literature's two early representatives, speaks to the layering of ideas that makes Wake worth more than a cursory read.

Autism, Helen Keller, AI, and "I know I exist...because you exist" becomes Sawyer's invitation to participate in the ongoing philosophical question of Being aka ontology.

As Caitlin learns to apply her experiential awareness to its corresponding words, Sawyer works very hard to repeat his theme in different ways to present thoughts and ideas difficult to communicate because the thoughts and ideas themselves and words used to discuss them are the subject of discussion. To think in terms of colors as "flavors of light" requires a combination of sensory understanding and logical reasoning and gives us "insight" into the mechanisms involved in processing reality.

, Penrose, cytoskeletons, microtubules, tubulin dimer, cellular automata: this is the reason I read sci fi. Shannon entropy, Zipf plots, Doug Lenat, synsets on WordNet and information theory: this is why I love cyberpunk.  

Thinking and Perceiving

Still Alice by Lisa Genova. A 50 year old cognitive psychology professor faces early onset Alzheimers. The author has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard and tells a good story.

Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief, which you read, right? Happy to see Coupland back up to his own standards. His remark, "I think it's better not to know the lyrics to your life" made me think that reading has been the soundtrack of my life. His recommendation for Running Wild by J.G. Ballard may well follow this blog.

Jostein Gaarder, author of Sophie's World, one of my favorites, The Ringmaster's Daughter is good but not as good as some of his others, as it feels a bit contrived: "It's a post-modern misconception that you can write first and live later...Writing is the fruit of life. Life isn't the fruit of writing." Still, good advice. "I've always had the need to unload my thoughts...a kind of mental incontinence..."

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf was nice surprise from Russian novelist Victor Pelevin. The Times Literary Supplement compares him to Murakami, but I found Pelevin more readable.
Quotes from Pelevin: "I couldn't really say what I care less about, the appearance of the things around me or the opinions of the people I meet." "Reading is human contact, and the range of our human contacts is what makes us what we are." "Transformation can appear by two routes...perception of transformation or transformation of perception." "Sex is more than just the simple conjunction of certain prats of the body. It is also a connection between the energies of two beings, a joint trip." "Love was absolutely devoid of meaning, but it gave meaning to everything else." 

Bruce Sterling...yawn...
Have been trying to read B.Sterling's latest The Caryatids this weekend but kept falling asleep. Read two pages, nap two hours, read two pages, nap two hours...etc. I'm about half way through the book and still waiting for the excitement Sterling usually engenders. The link to his speech at a recent conference somewhat explains it: Sterling is out of the loop, no longer pushing the envelope, past his due date. He's talking, and writing, like one of the been there done that generation; there's no flash in his pan. Can someone point me to the new generation of forward thinking cyberpunk authors? Or maybe post-cyberpunk? 

Consciousness, Reading and Forgotten Plots

My reading has been somewhat disappointing this year. I don't know if I'm becoming more critical in my old age, or if my selections have been poor. I have even taken to re-reading some of my favorite titles, something I at one time could have sworn I would never do: There being "so many books and so little time." Then there is the book that I remember reviewing once for the library newsletter and was very moved by the story but, upon stumbling upon the book again, I can't seem to motivate myself to re-read it. The latter being a novel by Sandra Shea, Philadelphia journalist, The Realm of Secondhand Souls. Checking on Amazon, unfortunately, I found nothing else attributed to her. Too bad. Sometimes a body of work is necessary to get at the soul of the novelist.

This could be said of Caitlin R. Kiernan. I have enjoyed her novels over many years and feel as if I am a part of her maturing process. Her writing hasn't necessarily matured, it was and remains good, but her sense of "being in the world" or gestalt would seem to be struggling with more of the complexity of our humanity. Her works are less dependent on the clear demarcations between good and evil. The graying out of morality colors her newer stories. I enjoyed a feeding frenzy a few months ago and zipped through Low Red Moon and Daughter of Hounds. Her work has yet to offer the insightful kernels of philosophical self awareness that I crave in a novel, though there was a breath of it at the beginning of chapter eight, Intersections, in Daughter.

And from the starry place, all things are possible, and, perhaps, all things are also probable.
Possibility is infinite here, and possibility collides, in spiraling space-time fusillades, with probability
at every turn. The unlikely and the never-was become, for fleeting instants, the actual and the
inevitable and the black facts of a trillion competing histories, each entirely ignorant of all the
others, each confident that it's the only 'true' history.

Though I have enjoyed all Kiernan's novels. She's unlikely to be someone I would re-read, not to say she won't yet write something to relish more than once.

Not so with Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age, I read it again and there may be a third read in its future. Stephenson's steamerpunk classic continues to compel evolutionary thought. His ideas, like the worlds he creates, are multi-dimensional and convoluted, woven with vibrant threads of one who sees between the cracks, reads between the lines, hears the pulsing of nature's heart. Stephenson, as Hackworth, describes Fiona, the daughter's curiousity: "The universe was a disorderly mess, the only interesting bits being the organized anomalies." Fiona, for whom the "young lady's illustrated primer" has been created by a father with the imagination and means to give his daughter ready access to wisdom beyond her years. The primer ends up in the hands of one who has the greater need for understanding in order to survive alone and after a interacting with the primer is asked by a friendly constable, "Which path do you intend to take, Nell?...Conformity or rebellion?" To which she astutely responds, "Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded--they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity."

And it is this very ability in Stephenson, which deepens the consciouness while reading so that "the story (is) anfractuous develop(ing) more ramifications the more closely" (we) read it. "

 His latest novel, Anathem, is excellent, though not one of my favorites of his (favorites being Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon with Snow Crash in the running.) In Anathem he writes, "Consciousness applifies the weak signals that, like cobwebs spun between trees, web Narratives together. Moreover, it amplifies them selectively and in that way creates feedback loops that steer the Narratives." In this description, I see the key to his technique and genius, the patient weaving of word over word, under and over, repeating and repeating patterns and ideas in kaleidescopic ways to invest breath in his characters by virtue of their need to find meaning in their being, whether reality or fiction is called home.

Rudy Rucker, another cyberpunk master, has a similar ability to create worlds of fantasy filtered through his own refined consciousness of abstraction and mathematical theory. Unlike,Stephenson, however, Rucker doesn't seem to take himself or his insights seriously. Absurdity being his stock in trade, Rucker challenges the reader to drop all pretense of understanding in order to fall, like Alice, into a rabbit/worm hole of surreality. In his latest, Postsingular, Rucker toys with a new medium, not unfamiliar to those who read the genre. Rather than describe it, instead I find his depiction of the authors of this new genre more suggestive, "(Metanovelists) were more like cartoonists or directors, assembling blocks of mental states, creating networks of glyphs. Their works were embedded as teep-tags within handicraft items: tie-dyed scarves, bead necklaces, carving bits of wood."

This short passage is a perfect example of the whacked out ideas making up Rucker's novels. I'm often left feeling like I'm either stupid, uninformed or out of the loop. His terminology, such as "teep-tags" may have some meaning discernible to academic mathmeticians or computer geeks, but to me seems like a nonsensical term in the tradition of the Jabberwocky. My mind gives meaning, correct or not, in order to make sense of the story, because the story is worth making sense of.

Story, narrative, consciousness--all only slightly more complex terminology for the same sense of mapping meaning. Such is the theme in Justina Robson's Mappa Mundi, in which she writes:
" Consciousness is the emergent product of a complex and discrete set of actions
in the brain. It is the narrative story that comes a fraction of a second after the
subconscious mind has already made its decisions and taken its actions. It is a
macro-level event. But the quantum manipulation...Fermions are the stuff of matte
and bosons the stuff of fields, together forming the fabric of the universe."

Like and yet unline Rucker's higher mathematics, as I'm totally science illiterate, fermions and bosons could be anything, but at least have a ring of familiarity. Robson's character's yoga teacher is closer to my preponderance for metaphysics: "The universe came and sat inside you, the ocean poured into the drop, the drop didn't dissolve in the ocean."

And, it is exactly this kind of insight that draws me into cyberpunk, which isn't science fiction though that's where it's shelved in bookstores and libraries. Cyberpunk fiction is a search for meaning in new medias, metaphorizing McLuhan's philosophy into art forms. Such as in Robson's: "...underneath the shell of your self, all your defining moments, there is another entity that isn't bound by your human lifetime, it's an eternal, immortal thing, and the maintain that by bringing the mind to stillness, while conscious, you can make contact with it.'s the resonance."
It's the "ghost in the machine" that seduces us in the genre, they mystery of consciousness that shapes the story. "...all understanding is a story and no more. ...a construct of reasons and connections and ideas tethered together by narrative links..."

These links, novels, give me more in the way of understanding than math or science teachers who insisted that they couldn't answer my questions because I had to learn the basics first. Looking back, I wonder how they would feel if they had been told that they wouldn't be able to read and appreciate a work of fiction unless they could first grasp the underpinnings of transformational grammar, phenomenology or synchronicity. Which leads me to the accidentally omitted of Caitlin R. Kiernan's Murder of Angels whose ideas fit here like the single letter inserted in a game of scrabble that giving triple points: "We call it syncretization, taking elements of older stories and putting them together in new ways, or combining them with other stories to make new and more useful myths."

But back to Robson who began her Mappa Mundi with Charles Darwin, "Free will is an illusion caused by our inability to analyze our own motives." The only way we can question ourselves is through fiction, when we question and find proof in the real world it's non-fiction. Memetic theory plays a large role in Robson's novel and inspired me to pursue the topic in Wikipedia:
Memes are copied by imitation, teaching and other methods, and they compete for space in our memories and for the chance to be copied again. Large groups of memes that are copied and passed on together are called co-adapted meme complexes, or memeplexes. In her definition, thus, the way that a meme replicates is through imitation. This requires brain capacity to generally imitate a model or selectively imitate the model. Since the process of social learning varies from one person to another, the imitation process cannot be said to be completely imitated. The sameness of an idea may be expressed with different memes supporting it. This is to say that the mutation rate in memetic evolution is extremely high, and mutations are even possible within each and every interaction of the imitation process. It becomes very interesting when we see that a social system composed of a complex network of microinteractions exists, but at the macro level an order emerges to create culture.
Fascinating in the implications for what we may be creating with social networking, this blog being an example of a social evolutionary contribution and not just another masturbatory undertaking. Robson makes Game Theory matter in the way that only information can matter in the web 2.0 world: "As the shadow is seen in the light so the emptiness of energy alone is animated by information, and all life is a supercollation of informative points... Because the spaces and the forms ar part of one thing. Like a jigsaw. There is no division between space and form, the void and the illusion of dense matter. Matter itself is an energy vibration. Reonance derives shape, property and gravity. Matter is information. Every one of us a unique product, constantly evolving along a narrative storyline that chooses us, as we once chose it, without knowing."

From what I can tell a first time author, Adam Felber, wins the NYMLibrary (not your mother's) prize for Schrodinger's Ball and his definition of humans as "spatiotemporal origami" and that yes we may be the "end product of history" but that we must "bear in mind that history is more or less a digestive tract." Puts me in mind of one of Marilyn Monroe's mentors whose advice when addressing her artistic aspirations was reputed to have been "Make good shit."

Schrodinger's Ball consists of string theory (or even suggests M-theory M might stand for maybe) with "the power of the observer" versus the "understanding of the observer" and reality being permeable from both sides but most importantly in pointing out that "what survives and propogates is the story itself, not what the story's about." And, that "to talk about a 'thought pattern' is redundant. Thoughts themselves are patterns--huge, multilayered patterns built on custom-tweaked operating systems, no two alike. The idea of a single, expressible 'thought' is a lie. But believing that lie is the only thing that makes communication possible."

Whoa, I've got to think about that in context of my upcoming book on bridging the communication gap between techies and non-techies.

So, I'll end on a now for something completely different note with Alain de Botton's Kiss and Tell. (See earlier reviews.) de Botton's prose is so seductive that if I weren't a confirmed spinster, I'd be tempted. He speaks the language of women without patronizing the gender. I learned much of myself reading his On Love (reviewed April 06) and again here: The process of intimacy therefore involved the opposite of seduction, for it meant revealing what risked rendering one most open to unfavourable judgement, or least worthy of love." And communication, expression of our thoughts verbally, is no less than a breakdown in communication and a reminder of our aloneness as a lover's fantasy is to "be understood without needing speak" but rather through an intimate level of intuition.

Though de Botton's biographical novel of his lover doesn't profess any cutting edge science, it is a still a part of the exploration of new uses of media in that the biography takes us into the life story of a woman remarkable only by virture of the fact that a biography is written about her, and yet, her story is one of meaning and an individual's evolutionary consciousness through the simplicity of being. In Kiss and Tell, the ocean comes to sit in Isabel Rogers.

Cory Doctorow, Matt Ruff,, John Robert Marlow

Cory Doctorow has done it again. Less speculative than his last and more dystopian. Little Brother is post 9/11 paranoia realized and thwarted, so utopian in the sense that there is a happy ending (but not a permanent solution, rather an ongoing fight for personal privacy.) The setting is San Francsico, which is fun because it's all familiar territory for the past 5 years while I've lived not too far away in the Sacramento Valley. I especially like the bibliography in the back: and Adam Greenfield's Everyware on arphids of special interest to me at the moment because we're implementing them for the first time in my library. I've avoided them as long as possible, but it would seem that the world is going in that direction for the sake of convenience regardless of the longterm implications of their potential as tracking devices.
Then there's 3D printers!??? Must look into this: Neal Gershenfeld's MIT Fab Lab with the book titled Fab and online at
Because I think all those listed in the bibliography would agree with the premise that information wants to be free, I'm including the lot for my own as well as your edification. as well as Sterling's Shaping Things
Bruce Schneier's Secrets and Lies with his blog at, and are more generic intellectual freedom sites worth visiting. You never know when you might need support. sounds hot and like much of the stuff mentioned, I must admit, is over my head, but still, I like to be informed, inquiring minds and all that.
Oh, I didn't mention that Doctorow's latest was written for YA's, though as most anyone in library land these days knows YA is just as much for us grown up kids. Cory recommends Daniel Pinkwater's comic series Alan Mendelsohn and Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, that is good enough to put them immediately onto the top of my must-read list.
I'm really looking forward to the possibility of hearing Doctorow at ALA 2008 in Anaheim in a few weeks. Maybe in the meantime I'll have a chance to google "spoof caller id" (though I'll actually probably ixquick it, as I prefer it as a metasearch engine 90% of the time.)
Because I think it's worth repeating,I'd like to point out to any patriot act trawlers:
"Governments are instituted among (wo)men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it..."

Nano by John Robert Marlow is also set in San Francisco, and posits a future where we repair remap neural networks which brings up many questions of how this would play out. Marlow mentions Hazel Henderson's Creating Alternative Futures that considers economic implications of such a world. A cover blurb by Vernor Vigne suggests Nano would make a great movie and I would have to agree. Kind of a Bill Gates dreams of master cyber race kind of thing to be caught out by techno journalist Bond, James Bond.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff is far-fetched in a kind of whacked out, psychiatric mystery kind of way. Amusing and better than his Sewer, Gas and Electric which I tried to read a number of years ago but couldn't get into it. Bad Monkey's Jane Charlotte is quite endearing and makes me again think whether or not all the loonies and bag ladies on the streets are more or less sane than the rest of us in the larger scheme of things.

Living as Contradiction

MOLOKA'I, by Alan Brennert, calls up the stigma of leprosy for anyone with even a remote knowledge of the Hawaiian Islands. Just the name hints at contagion, suffering, fear while for those who have visited the island know it as a contender for paradise on earth.

Brennert's book tells us of Moloka'i immediately post Father Damien, of an island that becomes a community of the disenfranchised, but not unloved. It's a novel that reads like history and stays with you like a familiar stanza of a favorite poem.

Why does this story feel so familiar, when I've never been to Moloka'i, never suffered from a lingering disease? I think it's because it touches that place in me that reminds me of the contradiction of life: We all carry death around inside of us. We turn towards all kinds of mirrors to get a look at this little bit of death: sex, drugs, rocknroll (well maybe the last isn't an appropriate analogy unless listening to loud music could be seen as a death wish by loss of hearing.)

"Fear is good. In the right degree prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master."

These words are said from one sufferer of what we now call Hansen's disease to another in reference to going for it. Going for love in the shape of a lighthouse keeper on the island, a non-sufferer.

I don't know that fear has ever kept me from making a fool out of myself but it's certainly kept me from being open to love. In the next paragraph, Brennert mentions Jack London's novel, MARTIN EDEN. Is this a clue? Will I find out why I run from love? How to stop running? I'll keep you posted.

History of the Dead, Boomsday

On the bestseller lists for weeks, Daine Setterfield's THE THIRTEENTH TALE lives up to the hype. A reader, a writer, a ghost, a father with an antiquarian book store, an orphan--what we have here is a gothic romance thoughtfully written and artfully implemented. The author even warrants a "readers club guide" in the back of the book with "discussion points" and an interview. Not particularly impressed with the first two pieces of the afterword, the interview is well conceived and the glimpse into the author's personality reinforces the novel's underlying theme of writers' atonement being readers' redemption. Setterfield asks "I'd be interested to know just what happens inside the brain, chemically and structurally, when someone reads. Like me and you, she wonders if she is "addicted" to reading. She describes her reading experience as "hopping into another mind," sort of like hopping a train of thought. She asks how can people stay inside one head all the time, but reader or not, there are a million ways to explore someone else's point of view (any of the art forms really) but I must acknowledge that my taste for the written word in general and the novel in particular runs on the same track as hers. Like most bestsellers, the novel engages and reads quickly. The unwritten book is at the heart of the novel's mystery, just as the unexamined life not being worth living.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD by Kevin Brockmeier is an intriguing title and tale. What if, the author considers for his reader, we each live on in a similar reality after death but only as long as we are remembered by the living. In this similar but alternate reality, what if only one person was left to remember, struggling against a hostile antarctic environment. And when she lets go, one becomes none.

On a lighter note, but only if you harbor a sense of humor on the dak side. BOOMSDAY by Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking (made into a hilarious movie), is another tongue in cheek political spin fest. This time Bucklely takes on social security, the national debt and proposes tax cuts for those baby boomers willing to "transition" into the next world by 65 for the good of national debt reduction.


Recent Readables

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
Note: free downloadable at
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Who's who in Hell by Robert Chalmers
Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle
Tales from the Blue Archives by Lawrence Thornton

None of these novels are amazingly good, but they are good, worth reading.
Cory Doctorow has a new spin with magic cyberrealism in Someone Comes to Town...
Set primarily in Toronto's Kensington Market, one of my favorite spots, characters weave in and out of shared surreal experiences, sort of schizo-realities. Not fantasy, not cyberpunk, it's published with scifi insignia but it's not. It's something else, something new. Not as plot driven as cyber-punk, not much so much magical but not reality either. More like a surrealist painting, where the author has said to himself, Hey, I can do whatever I want, so I will give them wings, make them sons of mountains with golden gifts from father's creatures to pay the rent. There's a mythic quality to the story line, the heroes want to give away free access to the internet by installing wireless devices on rooftops in the Market. Noble pursuit, all hail freedom of information warriors.

Nick Hornby entertains with a dark comedy of suicidal wannabees who bolster one another through a difficult time in their lives. One of the nice things about living in a city the size on London, there's bound to be others who are just a fucked up as you are even if sometimes you have to go to the favorite local jumping off place to meet them. I like the theme of sanity through solidarity.

Whose hell is probably the appropriate question to ask if you want to read Chalmers' Who's Who...
Because of short stint working in publishing, I can relate to Chalmers' hot spot as the obit department of a London newspaper. The point seems to be that anybody can write but few have the balls to write anything really worth saying. So much of the media is sensationalism and so much of the potentially sensational is glossed over to accommodate societal expectations. It kind of made me think of Doris Lessing's essay, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside but funny and fiction.

I have read a couple of T.C. Boyle's novels. I found him in my local library. He's been writing for ages and has an honest grasp of California then and now. I think I may have reviewed DROP CITY in this blog, if not I'll add it later as I intend to read more of his stuff. They made a movie of his Road to Wellville that sort of flopped. Haven't read it, but I can see how this latest novel TALK TALK would make a great film. It's very edge of your seat, with characters you sometimes want to strangle. Timely topic too: identity theft. Someone at work said you can't change your name if the only reason you give is because someone is using your identity. That can't be right? In the 80's people were changes their names left, right and center for no better reason than the cool factor. I must research this further.

Finally, Thornton has written another lyrical novel of Argentina's tragic history. Same theme as IMAGINING ARGENTINA but didn't have the same punch reading about the horrors of "the disappeared" the second time around. You may have seen the movie. It was quite well done, but not as good as the book. The whole premise of writing the story on the walls of the prison cell wasn't used in the movie at all and it was one of the most compelling metaphorical devices I have seen used in a long time.

I've got a few books on the go at the moment. One non-fiction that is going to be my little brother's xmas present. I'll definitely be writing a blurb on it when I'm done. I'm also reading a couple of Jungian shadow self-help, or "individuation" type titles that might show up here eventually, this site's purpose being a therapeutic one. 

Marge Piercy's He, She and It

Since getting involved in Second Life, reflecting on some of the best cyberpunk I've read since my first exposure back in the 80's to William Gibson. Marge Piercy isn't known as a sci fi or cyberpunk author specifically, but He, She, and It fits the genre to a T.

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, Piercy is golden. No matter what she commits ink to paper for is worth reading. She's one of those artists who made me aware that the secret to good writing is an open and honest approach to your material, regardless of the subject matter. Without it, the most highly crafted work is lifeless.

Piercy explores her Jewish ancestry in the novel in a golem narrative that runs parallel to the main story. Wish she had named the technique which she describes as a method by which small Hebrew letters are used to create calligraphic designs in silver of leaves and flowers. Might try this with pen and ink in English for my own entertainment.

And I do know how to self-entertain, much as Piercy's character Malkah who describes her relationships in a way that I identify with wholeheartedly: "I never wanted to belong to anybody; I only wanted to borrow them for awhile, for the fun of it, the tenderness, some laughs."

And speaking so beautifully to Second Life: "In the image world, I am the power of my thought, of my capacity to create. There is no sex in the Base or the Net, but there is sexuality, there is joining, there is the play of minds, like the play of dolphins in the surf."

The honesty and clarity of Pierce's vision revealed in a world view encapsulated in a few short paragraphs: "What's wrong this week? What minor or enormous catastrophe are we striving to stave off, or failing that, cleaning up after? Yet the teeth that grind us fine in the end are the slow deaths we cause through our greed, our carelessness, our insufficiency of imagination. The news is never given in full stimuation mode. None of us want to know that intimately about other peope's problems. We want the remove of viewing a screen or reading print. We prefer not quite to believe until death grabs us, as I was seized by the nape.
My problem is that my despair dyes everything a sullen gray. I have always viewed despair as sinful self-indulgence; perhaps I truly believe that relinquishing hope is the inevitable result of sitting still. If I do not keep moving, if I do not have projects and the heady clamor of problems to be solved, I will subside into a state of near-fatal clarity in which I will begin to doubt the value of everthing I normally do. The result is a personal ice age in which I lie embedd in my own glacier that is burying the landscape I usually love but to which I am now as indifferent as the ice I have exuded."

Yet it is the love of work that grounds us, as she describes to her granddaughter, Shira, "You love too hard. It occupies the center and squeezes out your strength. If you work in the center, and love to the side, you will love better in the long run, Shira. You will give more gracefully, without counting, and what you get, you will enjoy."

And Piercy's cyborg Yod gives a good pitch for bibliotherapy: "Your curiosity's like mine. I read novels as if they were the specs to your makeup. I study them to grasp the forces underlying your behavior."

I'm on page 369 of the 444 page re-read, which is a huge commitment of time when there's so much new stuff out there yet to be explored. But, who knows, as I am nearing the end of this second read through, I consider the possibility of reading it again in another 15 or so years. (published in 1991)

Misc. titles read recently

Ian Sansom's The Case of the Missing Books is light librarian entertainment.

Justina Robson's Silver Screen shows cyberpunk is alive and well in 2005.

Timothy Egan's The Winemaker's Daughter blends ecology and the art of winemaking into a thrilling romance full of tragedy and recuperation.

Richard Powers

The Echo Maker is one of my favorite authors at his cerebral best (see earlier posts). As I prefer to let authors speak for themselves, a few quotes: "He wrote for the insight of the phrase, to locate, in some strange chain, its surprise truth. The way a reader received his stories said as much about the reader's story as about the story itself." (p.221) "We told ourselves backward into diagnosis and forward into treatment. Story was the storm at the cortex's core." (p.414)

"Confabulation: inventing stories to patch over the missing bits...the fabric of reality rewoven by a vitamin-B deficiency...humans probably being the only creatures who can have memories of things that never happened." (p.101) demanding that we each "...question the solidity of the self. We were not one, continuous, indivisible whole, but instead, hundreds of separate subsystems, with changes in any one sufficient to disperse the provisional confederation into unrecognizable new countries." (p.171)

Or quote within quote, quoting the work of the cognitive neurologist protagonist: "'Consciousness works by telling a story, one that is whole, continuous, and stable. When the story breaks, consciousness rewrites it. Each revised draft claims to be the orginal.'" (p.185)

"As she shrunk and the sea of grass expanded, she saw the scale of life--millions of tangled tests, more answers than there were questions, and a nature so swarmingly wasteful that no single experiment mattered. ...Nature could sell at a loss; it made up in volume. Guess relentlessly, and it didn't matter if almost every guess was wrong." (p.75)

"The brain that retrieved a memory was not the brain that had formed it. Even retrieving a memory mangled what was formerly there. ...the mind's eye cannibalizing the brain's eye, social intelligence stealing the circuitry of spatial orientation. What-if mimicking what-is; simulations simulating simulations. ...The self bled out, the work of mirror neurons, empathy circuits, selected for and reserved through many species for their obscure survival value." (p.383) 


Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Queen of Dreams bibliotherapeutic quotes: "I heard my mother say that each of us lives in a separate universe, one we have dreamed into being. We love people when their dream coincides with ours, the way two cutout designs laid on top of the other might match. But dream worlds are not static like cutouts; sooner or later they change shape, leading to misunderstanding, loneliness and loss of love." (p.157)

"The story hangs in the night air between them. ...In the mind of each, different images swirl up and fall away, and each holds on to a different part of the story, thinking it the most important. And if each were to speak of what it meant, they would say things so different you would not know it was the same story they were speaking of. But the sharing of the story has created something that stretches, trembling like the thinnest strand of a spiderweb between them." (p.192)

Divakaruni's cultural background tints the novel in the soft light of maya, she quotes the Brihat Swapna Sarita: "The dream comes heralding joy. /I welcome the dream./ The dream comes heralding sorrow./ I welcome the dream./ The dream is a mirror showing me my beauty./ I bless the dream./ The dream is a mirror showing me my ugliness./ I bless the dream./ My life is nothing but a dream/From which I will wake into death,/which is nothing but a dream of life.

The story hovers in the reader's mind like Rikki's dragonfly, not resting on one theme, rather flitting from the first and second generation immigrant experience to mother/daughter-father/daughter relationships to 9/11 flashbacks to arrive unselfconsciously, "Thoughts thud through my head like a herd of elephants. ...But these are not my real thoughts. The real thoughts are the ones I'm staving off by filling my mind, as fast as I can, with unnecessary chatter." (p.315) When, a few pages earlier, Divakaruni summed up for all of us why the chatter is there: "A wild bird shrieks somewhere. We all flinch. But it's not the night that is frightening, nor its birds, however wild they may be. There's nothing out there that's worse than human beings." (p.300)  

Virtual Love by Avodah Offit

Emailing depth analysts explore mutual self-analysis and discover they share more than a profession. Offit is a psychiatrist who has pretty good storytelling faculty. Dialogue driven plot in emails is a bit of a different spin on the novel written as shared letters. Both analysts share experiences with significant patients. And yet it is the whole premise of reading and writing as a means of self-examination and active imagination that raises the novel above rhw norm and the following quote shows Offit has made a conscious effort toward a new definition of bibliotherapy.

p. 120
"Theorists of deconstruction say about stories that it is not easy to distinguish what is in the text from what is in the reader. So, in practicing psychiatry, it is not easy to distinguish what is in the patient and what in the analyst. Even more complex, in writing about doing analysis, it is virtually impossible to know whether one is the imagined reader, the patient, the self as psychiatrist or the self with its own personal history. Furthermore, in the interest of confidentiality as well as with a view to improving the story, one may combine cases, elaborate on the nugget of an interesting plot or fabulate one's own past. Is what emerges fact or fiction. How is it to be presented? How can I best tell the story...and why do I want to tell it?" 

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Well worth reading if you can sympathize with a precious adolescent mind coming into its own. Always a painful prospect, with or without crazy parents. Kind of a coming of age, adventure, who-done-it. My favorite passage, "I knew how complementary it could feel when Hannah talked to you, when she singled you out--opened your meek cover, boldly creased the spine, stared inside at your pages, searching for the point at which she'd stopped reading, anxious to find out what happens next. (She always read with great concentration, so you thought you were her favorite paperback until she abruptly put you down and started to read another with the same intensity."

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas

Somewhere between William Gibson's Microserfs and Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon; yet clearly a voice of her own, Thomas brings global ethical concerns into her narrative in a fresh and honest examination of individual responsbility. Commercial/capitalistic practices such as sweat shops or marketing scams are under fire as she questions why we work for someone who exploits the short-sighted masses? Are we in effect buying into the whole totem system? Are we lost in a forest of corporate camouflage where our buying power, (which we are told by advocates is one of our social conscience tools), is fated to eventually flow into the same multi-conglomerate pockets, regardless of our best efforts to read the packaging.

However, don't be put off by the seriousness of the sub-plot, the primary story is an infectious mystery tale of secret treasure and espionage left over from her parents and grandparents and a love story that is closer to the bone than most any I've read lately. In this day and age, love isn't the simple "happily every after" prince charming, will he won't he, that it was for women of a "marrying age" a few short decades ago. Thomas has a new version of the happy ending for intelligent, well-educated women with choices for whom being "together" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with another person. The story for post-modern women is the existential issue made manifest: What am I committed to in my life and how can I take responsibility for my own happiness without selfishly ignoring the rights of others to happiness.

Or something simpler: if I'm not part of the solution, am I part of the problem and can I live happily ever after, alone or with anyone else, with that knowledge?

On a side note: Love the contradiction of social conscience that doesn't extend to smoking. Yes, I smoked for 10 years, but gave it up as one of the few socially responsible things I've ever done in my life.

A few quotes of note: p.65
New friendships can also be like a children's birthday party; a big table laden with cakes, sweets, crisps and multi-pack chocolate bars wrapped in foil. It's as if there's just too much sugar there, all at once, piled on the table. You stuff yourself but it's too much and you just can't think about sweets again for a long time. Or sometimes new friendships--the ones destined to be focus-grouped but never launched--can be like playing an out-of-tune string instrument: when you find yourself carefully fingering the chords for your favorite song but hearing the sound coming out all wrong. Your input is the same as always, but the thing responds erroneously, playing you back an unfamiliar non-tune which gives you a headache.

Deleuze, Baudrillard, Virilo are tossed out as "thinkers" linking science and art. Food for later thought.

Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter

Beautiful. Prosaic. New Orleans father of jazz, whose genius ultimately drives him insane. Ondaatje IS Buddy Bolden. We feel the brilliance of mind tortured by life's quintessence.

California's Over by Louis B. Jones
Worth reading if only for the references to California then and now.

(Much later...Not sure which Coupland's books was a disappointment. I'm thinking Girlfriend in a Coma. Because, I've loved his stuff.)

Coupland disappointment 

Just as you should not judge a book by it's cover, you shouldn't review it before you finish it. From the point in the story Coupland becomes a character, the story turns to mush. "Just fill the pages to meet publisher's contract obligation" is how it ended.
Unfortunate. I read on and on, page after page waiting for it to all come together in some way that would validate the hours I had spent so far. To no avail. 
Douglas Coupland "master of everyday insanities"
If you are readersanonymous addict in recovery, do not read Douglas Coupland. He's dangerously compelling, demanding on one level (makes ya think) but chewy toffee obsessive on the other. Thinking while reading tends to begin to develop along non-linear lines, e.g., list made while reading Jpod:
A-"eh", B-bee, C-sea, D-"death", E-ecstacy, F-fuck, G-"gee", H-heroin, I-eye, J-joint, K-"'k" (okay), L-el, M-thousand, N-"'n" (and), O-oh, P-pee, Q-queue, R-are, S-sss (hisss), T-tea, U-you, V-"victory", W-double you, X-"omit", Y-male (xy), Z-zzzz (sleep).
Post-mcluhan deconstruction defined reality predominates Coupland's worlds. Some of us live here today and most of us believe consensual reality isn't far behind. And, yes, we shape our worlds as assuredly as we shape ourselves. Whether we consciously choose the shape, is another question altogether.

on love by Alain de Botton

de Botton numbers each paragraph in each chapter starting with one. I've included them to give a sense of the author's rhetorical device in bringing order to an incredibly disorderly subject.
29. There is usually a Marxist moment in most relationships [the moment that it becomes clear that love is reciprocated] and the way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare that the beloved [on some excuse or other] is not good enough for them [not good enough by virtue of association with no-goods]. But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they themselves have turned out to be.
Ever decided that you're not good enough for the person with whom you're 'in love' and what they really deserve is a short sassy blonde?
3. ...Because the "I" is not an integrated structure, its fluidity requires the contours provided by others. I need another to help me carry my history, one who knows me as well, sometimes better, than I know myself.
This is absolutely the clearest and most rational explanation of why love is indeed a desirable experience, especially if the thinking person's 'know thyself' is more realizable through the knowledge of oneself by another.
11. ...It is an active mirror that must 'find' the image of the other, it is a searching, roving mirror, one that seeks to capture the dimensions of a moving shape, the incredible complexity of another's character. It is a hand mirror, and the hand that holds it is not a steady one, for it has its own interests and concerns--is the image one wishes to find really the one that exists?
Totally my experience the last time I succumbed to a deluded sense of having "fallen" into "love" with what turned out to be a disappointing reflection of what I thought I wanted and that turned out to be exactly what I've been avoiding my entire life (read psychoanalytical theory-projection.)
13. Everyone returns us to a different sense of ourselves, for we become a little of who they think we are.
(read psychoanalytical theory-introjection)I.e., be careful who you invest your time in or you may end up getting a negative return on your investment.
16. ...Overcoming childhood could be understood as an attempt to correct the false narrations of others, of our story-telling parents. But the struggle against narration continues beyond childhood: A propaganda war surrounds the decision of who we are, a number of interest groups struggling to assert their view of reality, to have their story told.
10. The unknown carries with it a mirror of all our deepest, most inexpressible wishes.
Somewhere in the Electra/Oedipal complex neighborhood perhaps?
23. ...What is identity? Perhaps it is shaped around what a person is disposed toward: 'I am what I like. Who I am' is to a large extent constituted by 'what I want.'
24. Life for the emotional is very different, comprised of dizzying revolutions of the clock, for 'what they want' changes so rapidly that 'who they are' is constantly in question.
10. But longing for a future that never comes is only the flip side of longing for a time that is always past. Is not the past often better simply because it is past? ...anticipation in the morning, anxiety in the actuality, and pleasant memories in the evening.
12. The inability to live in tbe present perhaps lies in the fear of realizing that this may be the arrival of what one has longed for all one's life, the fear of leaving the relatively sheltered position of anticipation or memory, and hence tacitly admitting that this is the only life that one is every likely [heavenly intervention aside] to live.
14. ...We wanted to test each other's capacity for survival: Only if we had tried in vain to destroy one another would we know we are safe.
Wouldn't know, I've never made it past the battleground stage.
6. "I think therefore I am" had metamorphosed into Lacan's "I am not where I think, and I think where I am not."
And on that note, I will defer to the Canadian band whose name I cannot remember who sang "I think I better think."


Joyce Carol Oates' MISSING MOM

Some of Oates I connect with, others not. This one worked for me.
"If I look back, it's to look forward."
"'Parts of you that go out from you and into other people.'"
"Most of 'writing' is 're-writing.'"
Simple words, ideas stated lucidly, gracefully. Oates' Missing Mom is effortless prose, dealing with a subject that could easily become maudlin in less capable hands. The twist of a murder plays well against sibling rivalry and inter-generational communication gaps. Much of growing up and growing old results in the old adage, "If the young knew; if the old could..." (Which reminds me, I must do a blurb on the Doris Lessing novel by the this same title.)

Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning

Sometimes reading, and the guilt that goes along with lying in bed for days on end with no more ambition than to finish one novel in order to get to the next, has uses not obvious in physical reality.

For instance, does reading perhaps prepare us for death by allowing for an experience of living outside of the body or occupying another's thoughts.

Tan's book prompted the notion and a memorable passage:
"I was stuck in these thoughts, unable to leave my breathless body, until I realized that my breath was not gone but surrounding me, buoying me upward. ...every single breath, the sustenance I took and expelled out of both habit and effort...had accumulated like a savings account. And everyone else's as well, it seemed, inhalations of hopes, exhalations of disppointment. Anger, love, pleasure, hate--they were all there, the bursts, puffs, sighs, and screams. The air I had breathed, I now knew, was composed not of gases but of the density and perfume of emotions. The body had been merely a filter, a censor. I knew this at once, without question, and I found myself released, free..."

However, all in all, I was disappointed with the novel. This has happened to me before with Tan. I think KITCHEN GOD'S WIFE was the only book that met its promise. Seems like Tan has insight and experiences to share, talent to do it, but something is missing in the follow through. Sustaining a level worthy of the ideas may be the problem. Curiously, a term from her latest "insufficient excess" comes to mind "too much that was never enough."

I really liked the dead narrator's POV. The justification for reading as a means to a deeper awareness of the eternal questions came to me very early on and I had hoped for more AHA, intuitive leaps of imagination, from the protagonists's metaphysical experience. 

Pat Murphy

THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER is an apocalyptic story of San Francisco with cross-over worlds of the spirit and cyberpunk art. One of those novels that keeps you going until the last page, a few quotes of ideas underlying the narrative give us more substance than most genre fiction:

"When you make something beautiful, you change. You put something into the thing you make. You're a different person when you're done."

"While you change yourself, you change the world. Make it more your own."

"Do you know how to tell if a work is art?"
"True art changes the artist. The artist puts something into the work and he changes. That's how you tell."

(Change Quotes Collection)

Watching the William Gibson documentary after reading this novel reinforced the aptness of the word "cyberpunk" to define an art movement as much as Renaissance or Romantic ever did. It's the impermanence of art in today's disposable society that makes it so different from that of our ancestors. The virtual worlds of cyberpunk are, in effect, ephemeral, and thus all art, real or virtual, in the mode are defined by this quality as being of the dawning of the 21st century.

 Melissa Scott
TROUBLE AND HER FRIENDS (1994) was entertaining cyberpunk. Strong lesbian characters give a sense of the loss women must suffer in order to reinforce their personal power. It's not the loss of femininity, but more a loss of validation, of the reinforcement men grow up with to be strong.

Read BURNING BRIGHT but don't remember it particularly, may deserve a revisit but truthfully, Scott is dessert, to be enjoyed but not to be relied on for sustenance. 


May Sarton

Can't believe I've not posted since the Spring. Job cuts into personal, to the quick. Every waking moment spent either working, thinking about work, or recovering from work. Have had a week away from the library, sort of. Conference Friday through Monday, in briefly Tuesday night, then off through today Saturday. Only beginning to get a complete breath. Doubt enough of a breather to do all the creative things I wanted to do when looking at the five days from the other side. So, mostly read the whole time. My best source of recovery. Without reading, and the opportunity to spritz my "rich inner life" with nourshing ideas, I would shrivel, a walking talking dry husk of humanity.

Have read many of May Sarton's books, though not much of her poetry. Just finished reading AS WE ARE NOW (1973), a short novel of the power of self-determination. We would seem to agree, May and I, that it is only with our acceptance of responsibility for our own death are we ever truly able to give definition to our lives. This book is really too beautiful to review and must be read to be appreciated. A few quotes to savor:

"The tide goes out, little by little; the tide goes out and whatever is left of us lies like a beached ship, rotting on the shore among all the other detritus--empty crab shells, clam shells, dried seaweed, the indestructible plastic cup, a few old rags, pieces of driftwood. The tide of love goes out."

"It was as though we were the last people left alive on earth. I do not really know what happened, why it was like that. I felt I was speaking to someone very far away, yet someone who would hear a whisper, and perhaps I did whisper, Can you forgive me now?"

The one thing that May doesn't convey to my satisfaction is that by having to ask for forgiveness, we exhibit the most crucial inability to forgive ourselves.

 2 SciFi but neither either
The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter and Sunshine by Robin McKinley are two novels from a recent splurge at for my library. As usual I'm reading many things at once, but these two were the kind of novel that you don't want to juggle with the rest of the list, prefering to stay up into the wee hours of the night to finish.  

Sunshine is a vampire comedy, if such a thing is possible. There are laughable moments and the tone is less goth than most of the genre. McKinley writes a lot of fantasy and the overtones resonate. I don't really think it's quite up to the Anne Rice standards but it was a good read none the less. The Fortunate Fall is cyberpunk, complete with AI paranoia. Again, not up to William Gibson standards but readable, enjoyable.

classic erotica/southern gothic
Was amazed to discover in our library full of very dated books, EIGHT MORTAL LADIES POSSESSED by Tennessee Williams. Fabulous short stories, and I'm not usually fond of short stories but was enthralled with the ladies of the William's South, even finding myself compelled to self-orgasmic-stimulation by one. The stories: "Happy August the Tenth"; "Inventory of Fontana Bella"; "Miss Coynte of Greene"; "Sabbatha and Solitude"; "Oriflamme"--are a wealth of imagery and sensual reading. Few passages are explicit sexually, but the language itself is erotic suggesting Southern heat, sweat, and the undercurrent of denial so much a part of a women's life in the South. Read it again and again.

Full moon, too many books and too little time

Have been so busy looking for something incredible to read, I haven't been up for recording the less than amazing stuff I've started. However, a few deserve recognition. For instance, TANTRIKA by Asra Q. Nomani, THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE and THE CALLIGRAPHER by Edward Dock.

TANTRIKA is written by a journalist and is fact rather than fiction. Setting out to do a story on "tantra" the pop sex yoga craze of the new new age, Nomani rediscovers her spiritual and genealogical roots. Raised a Muslim, her family once had ties in Sufism. Hindu links to Sufi spirituality are uncovered from deep beneath the socio-political divide of modern India. With "tantra" there would seem to be no "there" there, and Nomani's inability to define tantra is part of the success of the book. Yes, it would seem tantra is about mysticism and sex, magic and our darker instincts, making it a no-no in traditional Hindu society the same way Kabalah is in Judaism today. Noman's exploration of the many western attempts to package and market tantra through workshops, etc. is interesting in that it reinforces an instinctive awareness that you can't buy the kind of "awareness" necessary to a true spirituality, regardless of the school of thought.

(Tantra Links 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Dock's CALLIGRAPHER tells a good story, but the best part of the novel is the nod to John Donne's poetry. That and the fact that it inspired me to get together the tools to learn calligraphy myself.

(Caligraphy Links)1 2

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is difficult to describe. The story proceeds slowly and I'm only about half way through it. There is magic in synchronicity. There is a sense of an insatiable curiousity kidnapping the cat that propels the story from one unlikely situation to another. Murakami requires that we respect kidnapping of cats has no relationship with catnapping.

(Synchronicity Links) 1 2 3 
Unread, undead
Titles mentioned in post before last have not been given up on, merely set aside. This, for me, is always indicative of a less than perfect match for my current reading needs as well as the possiblity that the reading matter in question is not the best of the best.

I read lots of stuff that is only mediocre. Mediocrity doesn't necessarily mean of no redeeming value. I probably review at least 50 books a month for readability. Of those 50, I may actually start 10 and finish 5. Needless to say, there is never a lack of reading matter. But, the search for THE book of the moment is a neverending quest and when the right book is found, the quest ends fleetingly as I lose myself completely in the author's world, only to begin again, and again, and again: each new book a new consciousness to explore.

Books left lying about while I dissolve into the charmed creations of gifted writer of the moment are much like the undead, living in limbo until I return to infuse them with blood.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka

Behold the Many is life-affirming and inspirational. The characters are imperfect and vulnerable. Consumption claims the life of sisters who in term claim the rights of sisterhood beyond death. The individual sisters, upon reflection, read best as representing parts of the whole. We are each the wicked & wild, rebellious sister, the gentle sister in our weaknesses and the heroine in the combination of these qualities. We all haunt the ones we love, possessing one another through assimilation of qualities rather than projection of best and worst.

Men have obviously been a point of contention for Yamanaka. Damaging relationships with a father and/or lovers has required binoculars to bring into focus the potential good that can be had from an equal relationship between the sexes. Actually, we are challenged to provide our own positive examples upon reflection when reading as Yamanaka seems willing, though unable, to come up with anything remotely resembling equal when it comes to the sexes. The differences, resulting from biological functions and anatomy, seems to supercede the possibility. There is not getting around the physical facts. Segue here into re-reading the reviews on fiction by the father of the Pill for general direction of mental tangent.

Yamanka is still quite young and writes with wisdom and vision. Her work is bound to deepen in wisdom, as she ages. Have read BLU's HANGING and HEADS BY HARRY, both charming and original re-creations of life in the Islands as seen through the eyes of its children (often multi-ethnic & minimally bi-racial). For anyone quesitoning the influence of Indo-European VS Asian values, Hawaii has been and continues to be geographical litmus paper testing ground.
Father of the Four Passages...
I just learned Yamanka has also written some children's boks and am ordering them for our library. Also, another novel: Saturday Night at the Pahala Theater.

 Unread, undead
Titles mentioned in post before last have not been given up on, merely set aside. This, for me, is always indicative of a less than perfect match for my current reading needs as well as the possiblity that the reading matter in question is not the best of the best.

I read lots of stuff that is only mediocre. Mediocrity doesn't necessarily mean of no redeeming value. I probably review at least 50 books a month for readability. Of those 50, I may actually start 10 and finish 5. Needless to say, there is never a lack of reading matter. But, the search for THE book of the moment is a neverending quest and when the right book is found, the quest ends fleetingly as I lose myself completely in the author's world, only to begin again, and again, and again: each new book a new consciousness to explore.

Books left lying about while I dissolve into the charmed creations of gifted writer of the moment are much like the undead, living in limbo until I return to infuse them with blood.

new moon, new titles
Something new and different by Ellen Ullman called The Bug.

Finished tetralogy by Djerassi see below. Would say NO was best of the bunch. Now reading his Marx, Deceased. Plan to go on and read his non-fiction book about the Pill.

Carl Djerassi

Started with NO, even though it wasn't the first novel in his series, but it was enough to convince me to find the others and get up to speed. Since I would rather wait for the movie than see it on the news, learning about science breakthroughs in fiction is painless learning (sort of like getting a MA at the University of Hawaii). The title, NO, stands for nitric oxide BTW.

Djerrasi being the hailed as the father of the Pill, the implications of "no" to the whole feminist movement is a sort of undercurrent that isn't really addressed but is unavoidable for those of us who grew up in the 70's. The issues surrounding a woman's right to choose is here given a new dimension in relation to scientific progress in the field of reproduction.

The classical question of "What do women want?" is addressed by Djerassi by giving them what they want, power over their own biology as well as control over the male's ability to perform. Women have been between the proverbial rock and hard place, when it comes to sex. If we are aggressive, giving into our desires the same way men have historically, we risk intimidating the male to the point of erectile dysfunction. If we are passive, we lose the ability to take our own pleasure and must be dependent on the expertise, or lack thereof, of the male, once again feeding into a machismo that has little or no basis in a male's actual ability to please.

Djerassi has wedded his female characters to scientific advances giving birth to a woman of power and a male willing to rely on viagra-type methods to maintain erection; thus not being dependent on a feeling of superiority for gratification.

And yet, as we all know, the largest erogenous zone is the brain, so merely tackling the physical problems does't quite solve everything. In his fictional approach to addressing the problem, Djerassi doesn't let us down. He explores the psychology of role reversal and gives a believable resolution, though perhaps just a bit too romantic for reality. But, hey, that's part of the beauty of fiction. They can all live happily every after, or at least until the final period on the last sentence.

This weekend I started The Bourbaki Gambit, another of this tetrology, again not in sequence. More to come on this one, but suffice for the moment to say I am not disappointed.


Exit to Reality or Proteus and Euclid: A Love Story

Edith Forbes is new to me though she's written two other novels that I will be reading. Exit to Reality is a ghost in the machine type utopian novel. Characters uncover State secrets that reveal a world, thought to be real, instead to be virtual. Interesting philosophical questions are raised and explored: Would one rather have a virtual life free of the horrors of over-population etc or live wallowing in excrement known as the reality.

The brain's response to neuropeptides and stimulus as recipient of computer programming creates an interesting backdrop for a metaphysical question historically posed by both Hindus and Buddhists regarding maya, or what is real and what illusion.

Met Piercy at a library conference in New Orleans a few years ago. Well, met is an overstatement. I introduced myself when I was getting her signature on her book Sleeping with Cats. I'm not much on celebrities, but I wanted to share with her that my astrology tutor had named her daughter after her character and novel by the same name, Vida. I mean, if I were an author, that would be something I would want to know.

Piercy had a quiet, almost haunted demeanor. You could tell she would rather have been almost anywhere than at the center of attention of a room full of people. Not a particularly strong speaker, I do remember her sustaining my interest, but that's about it. Mostly, I had the sense that she had one foot out the door from the moment she mounted the podium. But that was ok, I would feel the same, were I in he same position. In fact this probably endeared her to me more than anything she might have said in a speech.

Anyway, I've just finished her 2003 novel The Third Child. I've read it over the course of two days, which is always a sign of total and utter engagement. There is something in Piercy that reminds me of Doris Lessing, a favorite author. Her writing is so personal, as if the entire novel were a letter between friends.

Other works of hers I've read include Vida, Woman on the Edge of Time, He She It, Small Chanes, Braided Lives, Summer People and City of Darkness, City of Light. She's written more and I look forward to ingesting the lot. I've been saving her autobiographical Sleeping with Cats. There are a few books that I know I will love but don't read because I enjoy savoring the idea of the book and the anticipation of reading it as much as I know I will enjoy actually consuming it. And, let's face it. That's what we do. We gobble. If reading were eating, I'd be obese. If reading were a controlled substance, I'd be faced with ongoing interventions. Viva la livre!

Bruce Sterling

The Zenith Angle deserves some recognition, as do all of Sterling's books. This latest was especially interesting as he mentions the SR71, or Blackbird (secret US spy plane).

At our library last year we had a fundraiser, compliments of a former Blackbird pilot, in honor of the centennial of the year of flight. Not really expecting to enjoy it, I was there because it was work. Was I ever wrong. What a treat.

Incredible shots taken in flight on a plane that can make it across country in 45 minutes. Sterling's story didn't really have anything to do with this plane, though he mentions it more than once in relation to a special tool made of titanium (the SR71 was made of the same, allowing it to sustain phenomenally high intensity heat).

In his latest novel, Sterling relocates us to a reality so multidimensional that it could really be real. So far of all his novels the only one that hasn't played out inside my head just like watching a movie was The Difference Engine, which he co-authored. I had a discussion, an argument really, with the guy that turned me on to cyberpunk some years ago. He was in awe, enthralled with Gibson and Sterling and aspired to write as well as they did. Having an English lit MA, I was sure that his goal was shortsighted. I delegated his favorite cyberpunk authors to popular fiction and advised him to read "real" literature for inspiration for his writing.

The question in my mind now is the old one of "what is art?" Perhaps literary artform for the 21st century will be novelists who are able to show us movies inside our heads, incorporating high tech improbabilities with world politics, and a little romantic humor thrown in just because. Even in the new millenium we are still strangely human after all.


Reading SHARK DIALOGUES by Kiana Davenport reminds me of another book set in Hawaii, Linda Spalding's DAUGHTERS OF CAPTAIN COOK. Having lived in Hawaii for five years, I am especially sensitive to descriptions of locale and characters unique to the Islands. In fact, this brings up a noteworthy point regarding my personal reading addiction. I've moved around quite a bit in my 49 years, and each new environment has allowed deeper levels of access to worlds not my own. I don't think one has to visit Sri Lanka, for instance, in order to enjoy Michael Ondaatje's RUNNING IN THE FAMILY. However, if one were to spend time there, his writing would awaken memories for the reader. These memories are what enrich our reading of fiction, and whether of place, character or emotion, when reading we draw from an immense warehouse of images and feelings that lend shade and hue to the words on the page. Of course, we learn from our reading what the writer experienced, but simultaneously we learn about selves as we compare the writer's experience with our own.

I'll be writing more on Shark Dialogues later along with further mention of Linda Spalding and Michael Ondaatje (once husband and wife, BTW), as I'm also currently reading Spalding's The Paper Wife and Ondaatje's Running in the Family. The Paper Wife isn't as satisfying as Daughters of Captain Cook, although of all of Ondaatje's works (including Booker Prize winner  

The English Patient) this short autobiographical work about his family is the only thing of his I've been able to sink my teeth into.

Perhaps more later also on reader as vampire (see children's book The Ink Drinker for amusing example.) 

John Fowles
Have been reading Fowles' Daniel Martin in the bath lately. Was assigned The French Lieutenant's Woman in undergrad Modern British Lit and later saw the movie. Reading companion has mentioned Fowles' The Tree as being a book read in high school that dramatically affected all future thought processes. (The Tree is nonfiction, so not something that has prompted me to indulge thus far.) Daniel Martin is similar to FLW in that Fowles uses a structural twist to create an effect of pure genius. In FLW the twist comes at the end of the novel when we are given alternate endings. It's been quite some time since I read this novel, but if memory serves the perspective changes with the ending so you get two points of view on how the story ends. Fowles uses the same effect in DM to create a cat seat for the reader from which to judge the psychological growth and maturity of the characters. Fowles' characters are roundly portrayed so that the overall sense of familiarity the reader is invited to bring to the text becomes kaleidoscopic when combined with the added dimension of roving point of view.

How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z by Ann Marlowe was facinating, even prompting me to want to try the same method of alphabetizing some aspect of my life into manageable vignettes. Somehow, however, I think success at this would be somewhat dependent on the kind of obsessive-compulsive personality to which Marlowe attributes her addictive personality. I.e., I don't think my life can be measured out in coffee spoons...

Still, a good read. I tried recommending it to a friend with a husband, at that time, in successful rehab. I thought it might be enlightening to read about the junkie mind set. But she was quite disgusted by the book and I got the feeling she intended to get it out of the house as soon as possible. We don't really want to analyze this too closely, as she is my best friend, analysis being best performed on strangers at a party as a parlor trick.

The book I'm currently reading, same topic, Ellen Miller's like being killed, has more the masochistic as opposed to obsessive-compulsive junkie heroine (pun intended.) Quite painful to read, Miller's novel is well-written but her character, unlike Marlowe's, is disgusting, wallowing in self-degradation. I must have started this book before and put it down for this reason. Episodes in the first part rang familiar, specifically a little section where she is subjugated to s/m humilation in a brief fling with her plumber, complete with Freudian overtones. Second time around, I'm still reading now over half-way through, though I have been surprised with myself. Suprised that so much of the novel I didn't remember the first time. The whole book has become an exciting exercise in conscious repression. If this novel is in any way autobiographical, Miller's courage in dredging up the slime in her unconscious to write about it is the secret to the strength of character I at first read missed. 

Joyce Carol Oates

What I've read by Oates has been good, although I can't really say I'm enjoying this novel. It's beautifully written but not the kind of subject you can enjoy. The characters aren't the kind you want to identify with, all being emotionally crippled in one way or another. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, with that great heroine played in the movie by Angelina Jolie, has been my favorite of hers so far. The first thing of Oates I ever read was On Boxing, nonfiction and somewhat autobiograhical. I've shared it with a number of people and the feedback even from non-avid readers has been positive. The YA book, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, I read after listening to the book on tape. Strong 'be yourself' message. Oates has written so much that I haven't read. Given the sampling I have, I would say it's all good. The only question would be choosing the titles that appeal to you, as she seems to be all over the place in subject and theme. Blonde will be the next of hers on my 'to read' list, as I've just noticed on the inside flap of The Tatooed Girl that it's a novel. For some reason I thought it was a Hollywood starlets bio of some kind. Hmmm, definitely, can't judge a book by it's title. 
 Richard Powers
Just mailed the above title to my little brother for his 40th birthday. We are a reading family. This novel is about the power of story to heal. One of the reasons I wrote my first novel, was writing fictionally is a way to talk about things that don't fit into ordinary, rational frames of reference. I've read all of Powers, though I haven't finished his Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance. Goldbug Variations was probably my favorite. It's about a librarian and the computer world, plus a mystery told via hindsight. Everything my little heart could desire. (Although I did give this book to a friend whose opinion I value and he didn't like it. Said it was too informative for his fiction tastes. Takes all kinds.) Galatea 2.2 was cyberpunkish though a little too dry to appeal to most cp fans.

The Time of Our Singing was slow going but about half-way through I became obsessed, especially as I have bi-racial extended family.  

Gain was a politically themed novel on environmental health issues. Liked it but it didn't make as big an impression as some of this others.  

Plowing the Dark was another cyberpunkish novel. Since I'm a devotee of the genre, I liked it immensely. Briefly, to recap the two cp novels, Plowing was virtual reality and  

Galatea 2.2 was AI. 


My dessert for the week is Mark Fabi's Wyrm. Very cool. With all the grief I get from our IT department about security, it's fun to read about "real" issues, like in the novel where a wyrm/virus type program has become sentient. Fabi raises questions of what makes for consciousness or how we define conscious awareness. I love books that make me think and entertain me at the same time. It's sort of like working vacations.  


Read the final page of Mark Fabi's Wyrm to discover in the brief author's bio at the back on the book that Fabi is a practicing psychiatrist. Is cyberpunk now that mainstream, or is it just now upstream. Anyway, a couple of ideas that were notable from the novel: ...just as the churches were intended to take the place of the older pagan holy places...the brain...structurally and functionally, the newer part of our brains like the neocortex cover over the older reptilian brain underneath, just like the old megaliths covered over by later churches. But the snake is still there, biding its time. And, emotions are a rather primitive form of communication that is essential in establishing and maintaining social interactions.

 One of the more interesting books I've read recently is Hallucinating Foucault. The author is Patricia Duncker. An appropriate title for the first post to this site, Duncker brings to life the love affair between writers and readers. I've almost finished another of hers,  

The Deadly Space Between, and am going to track down The Doctor as well. Reading for gourmands. Tastes like more.