Reading Notes

“Monthlies” are dated the first of the month and redated each month: so they’re always “current”.
Place to jot notes while I read a book: notes to be moved to appropriate posts as they dome into existence or get remembered:
A worthy ambition, one more easily promised than delivered: I read continuously, always have, or, have since the seventh grade anyway: been punished for it the whole time. Now that my son gave me a kindle and many hundreds of books for it, me plunging into the midst of a few dozen of them, and rejoicing to have digital versions of old favorites, it becomes more ridiculous to try to keep up.

Gotta say something about the many I’ve yet to mention in my Reading Notes.

2014 10 09 Movies and books, reading, watching. As a kid I tended to read one book, finish it, start another. In school you have to move on, so I’m not the only one in the “middle” of this book, then that book. You finish some, digest some, never all. Since college I’ve been perpetually in the middle of hundreds of books; but movies one paid for for a given time: you watched till the end; or bailed out, left the theater, didn’t go back, not for that stinker.
Ah, but with streaming I’m now catching, I’m in the middle of several dozen movies: I do intend to go back and finish, by that time I’ll be in the middle of a few dozen more.

I love ebooks, now I can be in the middle of dozens of books where the device mostly, not perfectly, remembers my place!
I’m proud of the books Jan and I have finished together, proud of the many we’ve begun. And with her up north I’ve begun a bunch more myself. Movies too: we watch together, I’ll introduce her to some I’m in the middle of. I’m introducing myself to some she already knows.

Books I’m very pleased to be recently in the middle of:
The Brothers K.
Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe is reminding me thrillingly of Catch-22. Robin rescues then enslaves Friday, fetters him at night. Then Robin teaches Friday English. Robin is not satisfied with Friday’s studies in theology: Robin narrates Genesis, Friday substitutes his tribe’s cosmology, Robin gets furious.
Delicious: war of rote “causes”.

In Catch-22 Yossarian is in bed over Thanksgiving with Lt. Scheiskopf’s wife. He’s making her cry with his unkind theology: he doesn’t believe in a hateful god; she doesn’t believe in a loving god, benevolent, merciful, kind. Hysterical.

Images from the story have been with me all my life. Part was read to me, maybe some also by me, when I was a kid. I held the book and read at least some of it as a junior in college. I vividly remember some things Professor Knabbe said about it, but I myself didn’t get far. I thought about Crusoe when teaching college because my office mate’s PhD thesis at Berkeley was on Robinson Crusoe: sounded brilliant, and likely true, to me. But this just watched DVD is the only whole version I’ve seen beginning to end. Shameful. I’m tempted now to read the novel to check something I found ludicrous in the film: Robin decides after a while that Friday is his “friend”. We’re English based in our culture, we know what he means. But Friday seems to respond to the concept, takes it serously, goes gaga over loyalty between friends. Uh, I don’t think so. No, no: English friendship, romanticized, idealized is not universal, not found I don’t believe in Polynesia.

We lack imagination and repress it in others.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2011

Personal memory:
In the early 1970s when I and my family were wrecked for my having founded the
Free Learning Exchange, I was hired, then fired, as the assistant director of Continuing Education for Stone & Webster, engineering (nuclear power plants). On firing me, John Dennis Constance, the director, said I had “too much imagination”! Yes. That’s why I’ve been beaten, jailed, censored …

Make sure I develop notes on Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln and also his Organized Crime. Dribs and drabs area already here.

I’ve started more than one version of this post: I’ll merge, edit:

Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History

Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Henry, Culture Against Man!


Arthur Schopenhauer I first heard of Schopenhauer when as a freshman in college my genius friend Myron, fifteen years old to the eighteen or so of the rest of us, kept referring to him. I was a fairly confident young stud, except when around Myron: Myron scared the shit out of all of us.
I’d talk with Myron about things, writers, ideas, Nietzsche say: and then not dare read or think much further. Much of my most important thinking about Nietzsche took place over the narrowest of bases. My thinking about Schopenhauer simply never occurred: I never read him, never read about him, till yesterday. Finally, hearing Schopenhauer referenced in a piece of Wagner, I said, pk, you’re 74, about to be 75. You’re going blind, you’re already deaf, these days you’re half stupid, more than half crazy: it’s time to see at least what wikipedia says about this ogre in your life.
Hooey, what a load lifted.

First, I see some funny quotes:

Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.

Marrying means to grasp blindfolded into a sack hoping to find an eel amongst an assembly of snakes

I put them in my quotes section: where I find that I’ve already quoted a little Schopenhauer: so much for my sense of how much or little I’ve read.

Then I tackle the meat, what’s he supposed to have said? how far do I want to take this? Hard, especially while my senses are reeling with Wagner!
Immediately I see something I gotta scribble on. Decode the best you can, I’ll translate someday.

theoretical versus actual, observable

Schop defended capital punishment. first get rid of murder, then get rid of capital punishment.
But: the cap-pun then is justified only where the state is correct in its judgment, where the executed actually murdered the victim in question. Can we murder the state that wrongly murders a person falsely labeled “murderer”?
the individual’s crime is punished, the state’s crime goes unidentified.
So: in theory, I agree with Schop, where the conviction is true; in practice I don’t trust the state to get “D” right when it’s already fucked up with “A”, “B”, & “C”.

Monthly posts are being reverted to scrapbooks. I’ll make a single monthly, feeding a dozen scrapbooks.

Reading Notes

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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