2nd Quote of the Day: Philip K. Dick

The Philip K. Dick quote is from p. 147 of The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, by Ben Ehrenreich:

  • I am telling you what happened. If there is vicarious pain in knowing, there is actual peril in not knowing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: THE WAY TO THE SPRING

Normality is the essence. It’s our secret weapon.

— Yigal Kutai, Director, Hebron Heritage Center

THE WAY TO THE SPRING, p. 117

Self would really like to thank Ben Ehrenreich for The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The book’s been well-reviewed (She got interested in it after reading a featured review in The Economist) so Ehrenreich certainly doesn’t need self’s approbation or anything like that. But it took courage to do what he did, write from the point of view of an encircled, really powerless people. Who seem to be operating out of sheer nerve.

Ehrenreich writes:

  • From a distance, it was easy to mistake velocity for hope. (p. 117)

She cannot get an image out of her mind: the image of a house in Gaza, cut off from its neighbors, completely encircled by Israeli-constructed fences and barbed wire. The occupants of the house were told they could have fifteen-minute intervals in which to come and go. The rest of the time, they were virtually prisoners. The owner of the house at first refused to accede to this, but then the Israelis kept the locks on the gates for two weeks. So they learned to accept the new restrictions.

A few Palestinian villages are organized enough to keep up a sustained program of resistance, one of these villages being Bab al-Shams (The name means “The Gate of the Sun”). There is a lot of hope in the first months of resistance. But when Ehrenreich returns to Bab al-Shams after an absence of several months, he finds that the village was not, after all, “the beginning of a new stage of resistance, but the climax of an old one. Everything goes in cycles.”

Self picked up a copy of The Economist, a few weeks ago, and in it she learned that the occupation in Gaza, which has dragged on for seven long years, has no end in sight.

Still, despite knowing that most of the characters in Ehrenreich’s book are as oppressed as ever, despite how very depressing this knowledge is, she has sworn to finish the book, and to read all the way to the bitter end.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Isolation Leads to Extinction

Reading Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death In Palestine, which is mainly about land. Land, stony land. Homeland.

She remembers reading, a couple of pages back, something about settlements. That it is natural for settlements to expand.

She also learns the meaning of the word Intifada: it means shaking off.

Which brings us to “isolation leads to extinction.” Which is something she read in a book, long long time ago. A book about extinction. She thinks it was The Beak of the Finch. Or maybe something by Stephen Jay Gould.

What self is trying to say is, from that book read so long ago, self learned this vaulable lesson: that when earth’s land bridges disappeared, and islands and their attendant species became cut off from other species, a species inevitably lost its vigor, inbreeding passed on genetic weakness, and eventually that species was no more.

Which brings us back to Palestine!

Apologies for the digression.

On p. 55, Ehrenreich introduces us to a man named Hani Amer whose land exists as “a crease” between concrete fences and barbed wire. The Israelis built the walls and gave Amer a choice: either he move and let them demolish his house, or he remained and they would build the wall around him. Amer stayed.

On the day he meets Ehrenreich, Amer says, “I’m tired of telling this story.” But Ehrenreich prods it out of him anyway.

p. 57:

  • Amer’s house was soon surrounded: the wall on one side, the fence on the other. They built a gate and told him to choose a time and they would come and open it for fifteen minutes every twenty-four hours. He demanded a gate of his own with a key of his own, so that he could let himself in and out when he wished, so that his home would not become for him a prison. They refused.

And now, self has spent far too long on this post and will resume reading.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Currently Reading

Sweet like Sunday morning.

Beginning Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The book next to it is self’s newest sketchbook, cover illustration by Irina Troitskaya, whose work you can find in The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books, 2010)

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Sunday, 18 September 2016: Sketchbook and Ehrenreich

Every new book is an adventure.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES, Chapter 8

Never in self’s wildest dreams did she imagine she could go as far as p. 207 of a book about Brazillionaires, but here she is. She did, briefly, consider giving up, but Cuadros is a very dogged and thorough writer and well, she’s pretty sure she’ll never read a book like this again, so what the hey.

Quote from Jorge Paulo Lemann, worth an estimated $20 billion, according to Alex Cuadros:

Brazil is full of people who think equality is great. I think equality is great, too, just that it doesn’t work. Equality of opportunity, yes. But equality for equality’s sake . . . People are not equal.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES

At first, self was skeptical. A book about billionaires? Who needs that? All she needs to do is watch the nightly news . . .

But, she digresses.

She’s currently on Chapter 5: “Prosperity Gospel.”

An offering is an investment . . .  He who gives everything receives everything from God. It’s inevitable. It’s toma la, da ca — a give-and-take with the Lord. If your life didn’t improve, pastors would say your faith wasn’t strong enough, your sacrifices not painful enough.

The chapter spotlights Brazil’s Universal Church, whose pastors are exceptionally aggressive in asking for donations from their decidedly not-wealthy followers. Their leader tells his pastors: “You have to be a superhero for them. You can never be ashamed, never be shy. Demand, demand, demand.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Height of Self-Indulgence: Reading

Self has been reading Austen all day. You know, there must be worse things in life than for a woman to say, “I spent all day at home, reading a novel.”

A week or so ago, self bought an enormous book (It weighed about 15 lbs.) about Anne of Cleves because she wanted to know more about the medieval age (Also, it was on sale: originally $149.99, it had been reduced to $29.99). And she trotted that book with her all over and gave herself a crick in her neck.

Also, the year she went to Berlin to participate in a conference sponsored by the House of World Cultures, she lugged another enormous book (Her copy was hardcover): Claire Tomalin’s Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self.

This morning, she is still reading Northanger Abbey. She’s grown quite fond of it, during the past week. The heroine, Catherine Morland, is so forthright, so inclined to say exactly what she is thinking, and so good. Her only failing is the fact that she has quite an imagination.

SPOILER ALERT

The events near the end of Northanger Abbey have self scratching her head. First, there was this really strange intrusion of the Gothic element, 3/4 of the way through. Catherine was invited to Northanger Abbey by her new best friend, Eleanor Tilney, and she spent a few blissful days there. In her room was an enormous wall tapestry, and Catherine’s imagination ran wild: she started imagining there was a secret tunnel behind the tapestry, which then reminded self that she had just finished reading Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass, and in that YA novel, the heroine does find a secret tunnel, and wouldn’t you know it’s behind a tapestry in her room. Coincidence? Self thinks not.

Anyhoo, self decided to re-read the Tor.com article by Jo Walton, Not Born To Be a Heroine.

She has a different take on Northanger Abbey from Walton, but Walton says something really interesting about Jane Austen:

It’s also easy for us to read her books as romance novels, forgetting that Austen was pretty much inventing the genre of romance novels as she went along, and by Emma she had pretty much got tired of doing them. If she’d lived longer she’d probably have invented more genres. I was going to joke that she’d have got to SF before retirement age, but seriously genre as such wasn’t what she was interested in. She was interested in ways of telling stories, ways that hadn’t been tried before.

Self really feels for Catherine Morland, especially when her former best friend Isabella Thorpe turns out to be a conniving monster (garbed in sweet perfume) and she is informed by her hosts at Northanger Abbey that she must leave the abbey the very next day, unaccompanied, at 7 a.m. She is so stunned that all she can do is cry.

This poor girl has no idea what hit her, and about her plight self can only say: Never ever accept an offer of hospitality ever. Not even if it’s extended by a rich family with an enormous house. Because the power imbalance is simply too great.

People are capricious. Rich people more so than others. The same people who welcomed Catherine Morland with open arms, just 10 days prior, have suddenly turned cold.

Our heroine does find her way safely home, however, and this is what her mother tells her:

It is always good for young people to be put upon exerting themselves; and you know, my dear Catherine, you always were a sad, little shatter-brained creature; but now you must have been forced to have your wits about you, with so much changing of chaises and so forth; and I hope it will appear that you have not left anything behind you in any of the pockets.

Oh, the charm of such an utterance! The scandal of being turned out of a house by the very same hosts who had invited her there, only a short time ago, is thereby reduced to the level of a learning experience.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Catherine Morland Muses on Henry Tilney

This week, self is teaching her writing students about different narrative techniques, like for example musing. Of which Northanger Abbey has many excellent examples.

Northanger Abbey, Chapter XIV:

It was no effort to Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could never be wrong. His manner might sometimes surprise, but his meaning must always be just — and what she did not understand, she was always ready to admire . . . The whole walk was delightful, and though it ended too soon, its conclusion was delightful too . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Forthright Heroine

Self has been musing about literary heroines.

It is a good thing she got a comment from one of her blog readers last week. Made her think more deeply about Northanger Abbey. Made her give it a chance.

She is so glad she did. Thank you, amoralegria.

Self is very bemused by Austen’s heroine, Catherine Morland, all of 17, who prior to spending the season in Bath has lived a very placid country life, where she has received little to no male attention. She is so very forthright in her liking for Mr. Tilney. She feels no shame or embarrassment in putting questions regarding him to Mr. Tilney’s sister. And when another man comes calling, she says at once, “I can’t go out with you; I am hoping to go for a walk with Miss Tilney and her brother.”

BWAH HA HA HA!

She looks for Mr. Tilney in vain, everywhere. Finally, she spots him at the theatre, and spends the length of two entire acts staring at him. In the way we all tend to know when someone stares at us for any length of time, he eventually returns her gaze.

Being a polite fellow, he walks over to her box to greet her. Catherine is thrilled! Absolutely thrilled! (So are readers!) Catherine tells Mr. Tilney how sorry she was not to have gone for a walk with him and his sister yesterday. She was with Mr. Thorpe but she would much have preferred to be with Mr. Tilney. She even tells Mr. Tilney: “I would have jumped out and run after you.”

HAR HAR HAR!

Mr. Tilney, who had walked into the box with a rather distant air, melts at her words, for as Austen writes:

IS THERE A HENRY IN THE WORLD WHO COULD BE INSENSITIVE TO SUCH A DECLARATION?

Dear Jane, self thinks you are absolutely right!

Catherine (who has apparently no filters, reminds self of J-Law) goes on to add: “I am sure by your look, when you came into the box, you were very angry.”

Mr. Tilney: “I angry! I could have no right.”

Catherine: “Well, nobody would have thought you had no right who saw your face.”

Mr. Tilney’s response is to ask “her to make room for him, and . . . he remained with them for some time.”

That’s right, dear blog readers. Mr. Tilney spends the rest of the evening with Catherine Morland. Disarmed by her candor. And that proves that he is a very, very intelligent man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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