Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 1081759 times)

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10860 on: May 06, 2021, 01:00:00 PM »
Gents, I appreciate your great posts of your thoughts. I will reply later.  :)
Florestan, again, delighted to hear that you find the book significant.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10861 on: May 06, 2021, 01:55:35 PM »
Spoiler alert in case you haven't read Silence and want to.

Wow, that was quick! Thanks a lot!

Quote
I don't think that Rodrigues had a messianic complex, either. Okay, maybe a little bit, early on in the book: he does seem to be a bit hung up on the concept of martyrdom, at least until his visions of which were completely shattered after seeing his new friends die brutally on the beach. Nor do I think that Rodrigues was completely misguided in his goal of going to Japan to help the persecuted Christians. While it's true that he never stated a goal of converting more Japanese to Christianity, I don't know if there's any Jesuit in the 17th century who didn't dream of a completely Christianized Japan, which probably in reality never could have happened. But I agree with you; I don't think that was ever really his direct goal.

Agreed, completely.

A parallel could be draw with the case of Christianity in China. The Jesuit missionaries there were so succesful that they could have even converted the Imperial family themselves. If only the Pope would have approved (at the request of many Jesuits, first and foremost Matteo Ricci) of equating the Chinese cult of the ancestors with the Christian feast of the remembrance of the dead... Just imagine how a late 17-th century Christian China would have changed the world's history...

Quote
The character of Inoue was fascinating: especially the whole Pilate connection. I need to brush up on my Gospels, but somehow the comparison feels incomplete. With Inoue, I don't think it was a "forgive them for they know not what they do" situation. But I am having a hard time piecing together his true motivations. I'm not convinced that he was just a violent sociopath or some demonic figure who just wanted to inflict suffering on people, but I'm also not convinced that he was a fervent believer in his own religion of Japanese Buddhism. Still trying to figure out who exactly he was in this book.

Inoue is much worse than Pilate.

First and most important, Pilate himself did not find any fault whatsoever with Christ, sent Him to Herod and when Herod returned Him without any fault whatsoever too, he reluctantly ordered Christ to be harshly flogged --- but not deadly so. He was absolutely convinced that the Sanhedrin would be satisfied with that and no more. Pilate - Inoue 1-0.

Second, Pilate can at least have the (lame) excuse that he simply fulfilled the clearly and vividly expressed desire of the Jewish people assembled in Jerusalem at that particular time. He was fulfilling a democratically sanctioned mandate. Pilate - Inoue 2-0.

Thirdly, Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ alone; he did not order all of his followers to be crucified as well, nor did he see to it that while he was alive each and every Christian should be tortured in order to renounce the Christian faith. Pilate - Inoue 3-0

If you ask me, Pilate is guilty of general human weakness, but not of deliberate wickedness; on the contrary, Inoue is a strong, wicked man.


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While the Japanese Christians as depicted in the book were, as you say, harmless peasants just wanting to live a life of peace and striving toward Christian salvation—it is not quite so simple in my view. Christianity indeed is an existential threat to Japan in the 17th century: a completely Christianized Japan could easily have become a vassal to the Portuguese empire. Obviously, the Japanese are not willing to give up their authority. I wonder if the persecution of Christians in Japan had much more to do with politics than any sense of religious conviction.

Yes, of course, I agree. Time and again, politics and religion are intermingled and the latter is more of a loser than the former.

Quote
My favorite part of the book was Rodrigues' and Garrpe's brief ministry in the mountain shack outside the village. I found their small community of faith very honest and touching, independent of all sociopolitical and historical considerations.

Yes, of course, agreed.

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I wonder if our Western perspective colors our interpretation of this wonderfully ambiguous book.

Well, I'm not Western. I'm Eastern.

Both of them being misnomers, actually.

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Like you, I am a Christian, though surely not the greatest one in the world—I am not (yet) a churchgoer by any means.

I am very glad you identify yourself as a Christian --- ie, a believer in Jesus Christ, albeit an imperfect one. So am I.

That's exactly what Silence questions: can one still be a Christian after one has formally renounced Christianity?

Do you have any answer?


« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 02:07:56 PM by Florestan »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10862 on: May 06, 2021, 02:18:17 PM »
I like Greene's self identification, later in life, as a Catholic agnostic.

I can identify with that in one sense only: I have often doubt God's justice, but never His existence --- a powerful line from a Finnish Christian writer, Mikka Waltari.

"Melody is the essence of music."  --- Mozart

Offline Stürmisch Bewegt

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10863 on: May 06, 2021, 02:46:24 PM »
Sometimes I wonder if there should be a thread entitled:  What Should We Be Reading?

I'd nominate this.  I'm nearing the conclusion of Céline's Journey to the End of the Night (English language edition, the French has too much slang I wasn't familiar with).  Not for the faint of heart.  So many quotable passages, so many insights political, social, psychological.  Even biological.  Eg :  "This body of ours, this disguise put on by common jumping molecules, is in constant revolt against the abominable farce of having to endure.  Our molecules, the dears, want to get lost in the universe as fast as they can!  It makes them miserable to be nothing but 'us', the jerks of infinity.  We'd burst if we had the courage, day after day we come very close to it. The atomic torture we love is so locked up inside us with our pride."  Interesting to me that more than one reviewer of the orig. in '32 recognized the author as fascist. 

Leben heißt nicht zu warten, bis der Sturm vorbeizieht, sondern lernen, im Regen zu tanzen.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10864 on: May 06, 2021, 03:34:41 PM »
Wow, that was quick! Thanks a lot!

Agreed, completely.

A parallel could be draw with the case of Christianity in China. The Jesuit missionaries there were so succesful that they could have even converted the Imperial family themselves. If only the Pope would have approved (at the request of many Jesuits, first and foremost Matteo Ricci) of equating the Chinese cult of the ancestors with the Christian feast of the remembrance of the dead... Just imagine how a late 17-th century Christian China would have changed the world's history...

Inoue is much worse than Pilate.

First and most important, Pilate himself did not find any fault whatsoever with Christ, sent Him to Herod and when Herod returned Him without any fault whatsoever too, he reluctantly ordered Christ to be harshly flogged --- but not deadly so. He was absolutely convinced that the Sanhedrin would be satisfied with that and no more. Pilate - Inoue 1-0.

Second, Pilate can at least have the (lame) excuse that he simply fulfilled the clearly and vividly expressed desire of the Jewish people assembled in Jerusalem at that particular time. He was fulfilling a democratically sanctioned mandate. Pilate - Inoue 2-0.

Thirdly, Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ alone; he did not order all of his followers to be crucified as well, nor did he see to it that while he was alive each and every Christian should be tortured in order to renounce the Christian faith. Pilate - Inoue 3-0

If you ask me, Pilate is guilty of general human weakness, but not of deliberate wickedness; on the contrary, Inoue is a strong, wicked man.


Yes, of course, I agree. Time and again, politics and religion are intermingled and the latter is more of a loser than the former.

Yes, of course, agreed.

Well, I'm not Western. I'm Eastern.

Both of them being misnomers, actually.

I am very glad you identify yourself as a Christian --- ie, a believer in Jesus Christ, albeit an imperfect one. So am I.

That's exactly what Silence questions: can one still be a Christian after one has formally renounced Christianity?

Do you have any answer?

I apologize if I've caused any offense by suggesting we share certain aspects of perspective. I guess what I meant is that neither of us is Japanese, and we don't live in the time period in which the book is set, nor that in which it was written. Our environs are bound to influence our interpretation of a story. In any case, it appears we do agree on certain aspects of the book and its problems, at least superficially.

As for the "Catholic agnostic" bit, my tongue was in my cheek as I wrote that, as I'm sure was Greene's when he said that. Until recently, I would have identified as an atheist if prompted, but to be more truthful, religion was just not something that factored into my life; I was never part of a religious family outside of a devoutly Catholic grandmother who died when I was young. I have been trying to follow the teachings of Christ for roughly one year following a series of personal religious experiences.

I'm sure that I do not have an answer to that last question of yours, especially in light of the book's ambiguous ending. Did Rodrigues stop following the teachings of Christ after his formal renunciation? Did Ferreira? Could it even be said that the renunciation of these two priests was a Christian act (ie. out of a motivation to spare the lives of innocents, or even to keep the fledgling Christian community alive in secret)...? Nope, I don't have these answers. Interesting to think about, though.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10865 on: May 07, 2021, 12:53:29 AM »
I apologize if I've caused any offense by suggesting we share certain aspects of perspective. I guess what I meant is that neither of us is Japanese, and we don't live in the time period in which the book is set, nor that in which it was written. Our environs are bound to influence our interpretation of a story. In any case, it appears we do agree on certain aspects of the book and its problems, at least superficially.

Absolutely no need to apologize, it was tongue in cheek from me but I forgot to add an emoticon. Of course we share many aspects.

Quote
As for the "Catholic agnostic" bit, my tongue was in my cheek as I wrote that, as I'm sure was Greene's when he said that. Until recently, I would have identified as an atheist if prompted, but to be more truthful, religion was just not something that factored into my life; I was never part of a religious family outside of a devoutly Catholic grandmother who died when I was young. I have been trying to follow the teachings of Christ for roughly one year following a series of personal religious experiences.

Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Quote
I'm sure that I do not have an answer to that last question of yours, especially in light of the book's ambiguous ending. Did Rodrigues stop following the teachings of Christ after his formal renunciation? Did Ferreira? Could it even be said that the renunciation of these two priests was a Christian act (ie. out of a motivation to spare the lives of innocents, or even to keep the fledgling Christian community alive in secret)...? Nope, I don't have these answers. Interesting to think about, though.

I don't have the answers, either but as you say, food for thought aplenty.
"Melody is the essence of music."  --- Mozart

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10866 on: May 07, 2021, 07:16:25 AM »
Mishima OST, Philip Glass. Cross post from the Film Music thread.

https://youtu.be/txoqe611j-o?list=OLAK5uy_nVsXCA2i0ehA2apAx7f0UOUa-crQ7SzGs

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10867 on: May 07, 2021, 07:23:41 AM »
Sometimes I wonder if there should be a thread entitled:  What Should We Be Reading?

I'd nominate this.  I'm nearing the conclusion of Céline's Journey to the End of the Night (English language edition, the French has too much slang I wasn't familiar with).  Not for the faint of heart.  So many quotable passages, so many insights political, social, psychological.  Even biological.  Eg :  "This body of ours, this disguise put on by common jumping molecules, is in constant revolt against the abominable farce of having to endure.  Our molecules, the dears, want to get lost in the universe as fast as they can!  It makes them miserable to be nothing but 'us', the jerks of infinity.  We'd burst if we had the courage, day after day we come very close to it. The atomic torture we love is so locked up inside us with our pride."  Interesting to me that more than one reviewer of the orig. in '32 recognized the author as fascist.

Was planning to purchase his books including this one.

Offline Artem

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10868 on: May 07, 2021, 08:46:09 AM »
Some books that I've finished since my last report here. I've been reading mostly short books recently.


Love Shoenberg, but Phaidon biographies aren't all that great.


A brief personal account of the beginning of WWI that was published by the author's grandson only recently. Interesting read.


A fictionalised day in the life of Claude Monet. Beautiful prose and an enjoyable read overall.


Maybe the best book of the bunch that I've read. 4 out of 5 stars. Found it from Patti Smith account on Instagram.


Rather sad little book about the position of immigrants in Londons during the 1950s.

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10869 on: May 07, 2021, 11:43:14 AM »
I hadn't heard of The Lonely Londoners before. Sounds interesting.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lonely_Londoners

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10870 on: May 07, 2021, 12:05:11 PM »
Read on the train back from Barcelona to Madrid, this loving tribute to Giuseppe Sinopoli and his work at the helm of the Staatskapelle Dresden. It includes recollections by people that collaborated with the conductor, interviews with him from different years, and a list of all his performances and of the recordings  he made while in the Saxon capital. What an interesting figure Sinopoli was!

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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10871 on: May 08, 2021, 04:22:55 AM »
Getting near the end of Jacques Vest - Vox Machinae: Phonographs and the Birth of Sonic Modernity, 1877-1930 that Tony found online - https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/146079/jacquesb_1.pdf?sequence=1

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10872 on: May 08, 2021, 04:30:23 AM »
Just started Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West.



This book is insane. To start with, it's riddled with so many vivid descriptions of extreme violence that if I didn't know better, I'd have expected McCarthy to be an avid death metal listener. Then there is the prose. Everyone who's read two pages of McCarthy knows that he writes in a highly individual, mannered style, but here, it's taken to an almost parodistic extreme. The book is set roughly 170 years ago, in the aftermath of the Mexican-American war, and it could be said that McCarthy's use of archaic language is an attempt to evoke the language of the time, but more truthfully, this reads like something biblical: like the events of this book could have taken place immediately before the great flood. In any case, the writing, though occasionally frustrating, is as ornate and detailed as a Gothic cathedral. I'm only about a quarter of the way into the book and looking forward to reading on. These two polarizing factors aside, it's a classic, epic adventure story after the example of Moby Dick or The Odyssey.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 04:33:47 AM by vers la flamme »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10873 on: May 08, 2021, 08:01:06 AM »
Just started Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West.



This book is insane. To start with, it's riddled with so many vivid descriptions of extreme violence that if I didn't know better, I'd have expected McCarthy to be an avid death metal listener. Then there is the prose. Everyone who's read two pages of McCarthy knows that he writes in a highly individual, mannered style, but here, it's taken to an almost parodistic extreme. The book is set roughly 170 years ago, in the aftermath of the Mexican-American war, and it could be said that McCarthy's use of archaic language is an attempt to evoke the language of the time, but more truthfully, this reads like something biblical: like the events of this book could have taken place immediately before the great flood. In any case, the writing, though occasionally frustrating, is as ornate and detailed as a Gothic cathedral. I'm only about a quarter of the way into the book and looking forward to reading on. These two polarizing factors aside, it's a classic, epic adventure story after the example of Moby Dick or The Odyssey.

Looks like a very intriguing book. A quick search and lo and behold! it was translated in Romanian.



On the wishlist it goes, then. Thanks for the tip.

TD



Two chapters in Greene's The Power and the Glory --- the atmosphere, topic and style seem rather similar to Silence. A very promising start.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 08:03:08 AM by Florestan »
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Offline Ganondorf

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10874 on: May 08, 2021, 10:06:45 AM »
Returning to Pride and Prejudice... While for the most part the book is surprisingly modern-feeling in its views there is one major issue. And that is the whole Wickham-Lydia sideplot. The book and every character condemns Lydia, poor naive teenager for being manipulated and molested by the scumbag Wickham who is about twice her age and everyone in the book thinks that instead of doing the reasonable thing and hauling Wickham's creepy ass in jail, they think the best solution is to marry poor Lydia to that creep. I am well aware that the book written in the beginning of 19th century usually would express such sentiments but I don't think that makes the book immune to criticism when judged from a modern age perspective.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10875 on: May 08, 2021, 11:05:56 AM »
The Rich Boy, Fitzgerald. Glamour and loneliness in high life.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10876 on: May 08, 2021, 01:21:09 PM »
Looks like a very intriguing book. A quick search and lo and behold! it was translated in Romanian.



On the wishlist it goes, then. Thanks for the tip.

TD



Two chapters in Greene's The Power and the Glory --- the atmosphere, topic and style seem rather similar to Silence. A very promising start.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Blood Meridian when you get around to it. It's a completely insane book. Something that occurs to me over and over again is just how difficult it would be to translate this book into another language; written in such labyrinthine and archaic English, I reckon it would take a gifted translator to get the feeling of this book to come off in other languages. Glad to see it's been translated into Romanian. It is a very difficult book but a major aesthetic achievement.

Also glad you are enjoying The Power and the Glory. I am overdue for a reread of that book as I've been exploring some of Greene's other "Catholic" novels. I also bought The Quiet American which I will try and read sometime over the summer.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10877 on: May 12, 2021, 01:09:04 PM »
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, McCullers. Loneliness and Deep South.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10878 on: May 12, 2021, 02:53:37 PM »
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, McCullers. Loneliness and Deep South.

I have been thinking about reading this author. She hails from my adopted home state of Georgia and seems to have some things in common with the author I am currently reading...:

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories



I purchased this book after listening to Bessie Smith sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" while in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee where my girlfriend and I were traveling a couple weeks back—I was reminded of O'Connor's story, namesake of this her first short story collection, which I read for a short story composition class in college and loved at the time. Well, it took me until now to explore any of her other work and I'm kicking myself for it. She's a brilliant writer, and it's always a small victory for me to discover a female writer whose work I can appreciate, in light of my shamefully male-centric literary knowledge and collection. She writes a lot about the city I call home, which seems to represent to her everything that the "big city" stands for, especially in comparison to the rural countryside where many of these stories are set. Death and destruction are themes that loom large in her work, but so are grace and redemption; she was above all a Catholic writer, one with a seemingly keen understanding of the suffering of the world. Deceptively simple, fascinating small portraits of my great and terrible homeland, the American South. Reading McCarthy and now O'Connor, I can foresee myself embarking on a bit of a "Southern Gothic" kick over the next couple months...

Also read a bit of the Book of Daniel today (in the King James Version): the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, which was referenced by one of O'Connor's stories, called "A Circle in the Fire"; and the famous Daniel in the lion's den.

P.S. In case I haven't already mentioned it, I finished Blood Meridian a couple of days ago. What a crushing experience that whole book was. I suspect I'll read it again and again over the years, as I feel like I've only begun to appreciate the tip of the iceberg, as it were. There were bits I couldn't make heads or tails of. Blood Meridian marks the 50th book I've read since New Year's Day. I don't know whether I ought to be proud or terribly embarrassed for how much of my valuable time I've sunk into reading (mostly fiction) this year; currently I'm leaning toward the latter feeling. Anyway, I purposely picked a book I thought would make a big impact to ring in this milestone, and I was right to choose it.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 02:57:10 PM by vers la flamme »

Offline Brewski

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10879 on: May 12, 2021, 03:01:39 PM »
I have been thinking about reading this author. She hails from my adopted home state of Georgia and seems to have some things in common with the author I am currently reading...:

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories



I purchased this book after listening to Bessie Smith sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" while in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee where my girlfriend and I were traveling a couple weeks back—I was reminded of O'Connor's story, namesake of this her first short story collection, which I read for a short story composition class in college and loved at the time. Well, it took me until now to explore any of her other work and I'm kicking myself for it. She's a brilliant writer, and it's always a small victory for me to discover a female writer whose work I can appreciate, in light of my shamefully male-centric literary knowledge and collection. She writes a lot about the city I call home, which seems to represent to her everything that the "big city" stands for, especially in comparison to the rural countryside where many of these stories are set. Death and destruction are themes that loom large in her work, but so are grace and redemption; she was above all a Catholic writer, one with a seemingly keen understanding of the suffering of the world. Deceptively simple, fascinating small portraits of my great and terrible homeland, the American South. Reading McCarthy and now O'Connor, I can foresee myself embarking on a bit of a "Southern Gothic" kick over the next couple months...

Also read a bit of the Book of Daniel today (in the King James Version): the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, which was referenced by one of O'Connor's stories, called "A Circle in the Fire"; and the famous Daniel in the lion's den.

Big fan of Flannery O'Connor. First discovered her after seeing the film version of Wise Blood (1979, dir. John Huston), and liked it so much that I read the book. Then came the book above. She is fierce! Haven't read anything by her in far too long (I've been a bit novel-challenged lately), but I admire her style, which is as you say, "deceptively simple."

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