Books I’ve Been Reading. . .or not
Machiavelli’s Discourses. Lo-ooong and very informative introduction. But a little dry for my taste at the moment. He again notes that the person not to lead is one who reacts the same way to every problem, every crisis–as he noted in The Prince. Maybe notable in Trump but most certainly with the new director of Midland PACE Lawrence: she has one behavior–get rid of ’em! In three months, she canned seven people, three were “participants.” In any case, the end product with these people in charge is total destruction. More of PACE Lawrence’s behavior is in. . .
Hannah Arendt’s On the Origins of Totalitarianism. Amazing! I’m not finished yet; just getting into the last section of the last section/chapter, on totalitarianism. Communism/totalitarianism is for the East; Fascism is for the West. Germany, part of France, Italy, Spain. Fascism was noteworthy in the US in the 1920s; but especially now as one party rule is the opening gambit. This is, however, falling apart, despite the Republicans’ bent for doing nothing, because the Democrats now see the opening to regain power. However, it ought to be noted that the Democrats voted right along with the Republicans since George II. However, Arendt notes that the name of the game of politics is power. Trump fits the Fascist leader to a T; Putin seems to be supplying the propaganda.
I’m rereading–to help with a story of my own–Penelope Doob’s Nebuchadnezzar’s Children, Conventions of madness in Middle English literature. Once again, fascinating; though very slow going reading Middle English. What I did not expect to find was the reiteration today of the ideas of madness/insanity/mental illness from the Middle Ages. The run on mass shootings in schools is nothing new, as it were. In both ages, people do not ask just what it is that pushes people over the edge, either temporarily or permanently, personally or socially destructive. In the Middle Ages, the Church held sway, so the deduction was you were mad. Today, there is so much confusion in diagnosis of “mental illness” due to the greed of Big PHRMA and psychiatrists that damn near every slightly off behavior, including just plain normal “being a child,” is an insanity. There is a pitch for what is normal, here; in the Middle Ages, it was more akin to “not that way.”
Steven Levingston’s Little Demon in the City of Light. I do not know why this was shelved in Fiction–it is not. It is a long and highly detailed reporting of the murder of Toussaint-Augustin Gouffé by Gabrielle Bompard and Michel Eyraud. Hypnotism played a role in this murder trial, there is a great deal of information context here, especially including Charcot. I’m not finished yet. Not quite up to the trial. It’s a good read, well-written. I’m surprised I’m getting on with it as I was not in this kind of mood.
Cornelia Steketee Hulst’s Perseus and the Gorgon. A hard read. Very academic (1946). Concerning the why and history of the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon. Egyptian history. Greek history. The Goddess Isis, though not much in the way of following upon my reading of the history of Hatshepsut. I made it all the way through, only to find the Greek’s were derivative and that I needed a rest from over-exertion.
Melville’s Typee. Must be in 3-pt font. I had forgotten how intensely, even obsessively he paid attention to detail. Even when something exciting happened, it was slowed down so every wrinkle in the shirts of the protagonists was discussed. But what came out of this was through the forced psychiatric evaluation at the behest of the above-mentioned PACE director-dictator. (Took the wind out of her sails.) For one Rorschach blot I noted it looked like a couple of witches brewing something up or cannibals stewing their dinner. Although we spent more time talking about the witches, I knew he’d pick up on the cannibals. He did. The cannibals came from Typee. (The witches came from a mystery type story I’m writing.) Even so, his analysis was correct. (I have the eval.)
Abe Kobo’s The Ruined Map. This book wraps itself around itself until it is what it’s about. Abe’s writing is about identity, identity within society. The Ruined Map is a detective story. I kept seeing the neighborhood I lived in in Kanazawa-ken. How do you keep your/keep up your identity? Especially when there are several intersecting points. It reaches a point where you just have to go with it and, in this case, escape. You already have the map.
Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. I got bored half way through. I’m having a garage sale in early May–the entire neighborhood, in fact.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel’s Game. I think I ought to finish this one but can’t bring myself to pick it up again. . .yet. A gothic mystery, I’m led to believe.
Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho. An occasional read, so not finished yet.
William Eamon, The Professor of Secrets. Not finished. Interrupted by my move.
Michael Ennis, The Malice of Fortune. Interrupted by my move. Novel treatment (pun intended) of Machiavelli, da Vinci, the Borgias and Damiata the whore. Most interesting because of the sociopolitical context.
Vincent Wing Chung Chan, The Divine Victim. MA thesis, Asian Studies. He never read my dissertation. He knows nothing of kabuki, especially in the late 18th century, and nothing of the playwright, Tsuruya Namboku IV. His focus on religion in the play is his own. The Kwannon imagery at the end, when The Scarlet Princess rehabilitates herself is solely there to satisfy the censors and not at all religious or a parody thereof. However, there were notes on relationships between characters that were interesting. The Asian Studies division at BC should be ashamed of themselves for letting this pass. This play, The Scarlet Princess of Edo, is a good example of the rot and corruption and lack of any ethics of our own 21st century government, the Princess as symbol and example of said Tokugawa government. Being of royal blood, she sinks into whoredom, including with a Buddhist Priest, murder, including of her own child, thievery. . .yadda yadda yadda. All around her are two-faced retainers. She begins by just wanting to run away from her responsibilities. Other than the general rot of religion, there is no religious parody in the play because the religion was tied tightly to the rule of government. All of Vincent’s own making. It is, nevertheless, a well-written thesis.
Poe’s The Lighthouse. I don’t know why this is said to be unfinished. It’s written in the first person; the character can’t tell of his death. And he quite clearly says he’s stopped writing in his journal. Knowing that Poe wrote on more than one level and did not much care for the aristocracy, there is an element of just what he thinks of them, especially when taken out of their milieu. The doctor who sent “I” here, for money, wasn’t of the most wonderful personality. But, then, he was curing an aristocrat of a problem, using him as a guinea pig, for money. May be. . .Poe did not like doctors either.