I don’t claim to understand Shakespeare to any great depth; I just can quote and recognize quotes, as I can recognize quite a few bird songs. That’s all. Repetition will do that, if you don’t mind it.
Reading Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth. Shall I call it poppycock? Or shall I call it another fairly crappy model? In either case, I don’t see much use for myth as a source of knowledge. Inspiration, yes; but not knowledge, not “power.”
My idea is to take cultural icons for the Major Arcana, and other bits of modern life as the other features, to remove the need for study and make richness of association readily available. I settled on Marilyn Monroe, Henry Thoreau, Muhammad Ali, the Automobile, the Atom Bomb, Adolf Hitler, Laurel & Hardy, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, and so on, as the Major Arcana, as I tried to adapt my personal interests and existing knowledge to the standard structure of the tarot deck.
Woke some time after midnight and it’s now 1:20 AM. I was reading Wing-Tsit Chan: A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, just getting started and enjoying it, but I looked at the three books on my bedside table and saw Eugene Thacker: Infinite Resignation. And had this thought that I wanted to record here: how can I go back to that book while I have not read this one yet?
“Columbus discovered America in 1492.” This paradigmatic bit of knowledge was taught to me in the innocent 1950s (were they “innocent”? Or was this just another of the Lies My Teacher Told Me?). It might still be taught this way somewhere in the U.S., perhaps in a few schools in Tennessee or South Carolina as required by state law, but a likelier formulation might be...
Finished Bateson, and I must confess that I got a lot out of this third reading, as the wealth of quotes above make clear. She is no [Rabbi Harold] Kushner, pushing for his “authoritative” absolutes, but a rich and mature mind fertile with ideas. Her writing is sometimes troublesome, but there was ample reward in wrestling with her prose. An author to read again.
What I most like here is the idea that we learn to be bored. It may be possible to study our boredom to learn ways to turn it into something positive, either to increased self-understanding or as a cue to something subtle. [Mary Catherine] Bateson suggests, when bored, taking a closer look at what’s happening in the environment. But then, she wasn’t in jail. How about the Perfect Moment?
A Stack of Books: Prison Diary Excerpt. Comments on Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, Huxley's Brave New World, quotes from Goethe's Faust, and stuff about other books, mostly novels.
I keep starting projects and neglecting them, or even worse, forgetting about them. There was a time not that long ago when I wrote a note to myself to the effect that I needed to do certain things every day, like playing music, exercising, whatever. As often happens, writing a note is a nudge in the direction of forgetting all about it. Well, last night I piled on top of my recently-acquired tray-cart a few books related to such forgotten projects. Specifically, books on the Chinese language, and Sinclair Lewis: It Can’t Happen Here...
Comments on Robert Pirsig: The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel, Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway, and a bit more on Henry James: The Turn of the Screw. Lots of quotes. Plus, some thoughts on thinking and writing after reading.