In a sense, Thoreau was a homebody

Should i be doing something more valiant with my free time other than sitting in my chair reading all day, occasionally succumbing to a cat nap.

Reading-wise, i’ve been very gymnastic, bouncing between Ovid’s Metamorphoses (the Penguin Classics translation) and Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, as well as Poetry 180, an anthology put together by Billy Collins, and re-reading Great Expectations in an exquisite and sparkly edition put out by Chiltern Publishing (pictured below).

I recently read Henry Thoreau’s Walden and was enamored not really by his lambasting of conformity and his boasts of individuality, but by his exhaustive accounts of certain features of the forest where he lived, most notably Walden Pond, unashamedly leaving no detail unmentioned. Eg., he describes its color through the seasons and different weather conditions, its aquatic life, its dimensions, how townspeople have used it, how it came to be developed and who once resided in the vicinity.

I had the thought of Thoreau as a writer who is anchored to place, as opposed to someone like Allen Ginsburg, whom I admire and whose life and writing were busy with near-constant and often dizzying movement, with rarely a moment of stillness, with the exception of spiritual interludes, such as Sunflower Sutra, or laments like Kaddish.

Book reviews and why I’m averse to ’em

I read a ton of books, but I’m too lazy to post book reviews. Also, reading for me is a personal experience, and I suppose that could become tainted in a way by sharing my reactions to a book. Like, to give an analogy, one time I was hiking at a high elevation in the mountains and it began to snow. It was so quiet up there that I could hear the snowflakes as they fell onto the trees and bushes. I thought it was so beautiful that my first reaction was to whip out my phone with the intention of taking video. But then I was like, the video would do this no justice. Also, it was a very personal experience that I felt would be corrupted and spoiled in a way by posting footage on Facebook or wherever else. Wouldn’t it kinda be like sleeping with someone then telling about it?

Bach’s spotless image

I just finished a big fat biography on J.S. Bach. I like his music, but one of my primary reasons for reading it was to gain an understanding of why he’s so sanctified as far as how he’s perceived and recalled in the cultural consciousness. He earned his money primarily from composing music for Christian religious services, so there’s that, resulting in a good chunk of his compositional cache sounding liturgical.

Still, as I made my way through the 600 pages, I had hoped to come across some mention of incidents depicting him as fallible or human rather than untarnished/invincible deity. He did land himself in jail once for insubordination against his employer, but it was a minor incident blown way out of proportion by his superiors. Anyway, it’s interesting how his pristine public persona runs parallel with the saintliness valued in Christianity, especially back in Bach’s day. Continue reading “Bach’s spotless image”

Best books and music

These were the top three books and musical discoveries for me this year. They’re alphabetized and not in order of preference.

BOOKS

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – Inspiring essays on preserving our ecosystem and restoring nature, written from the perspective of Native American tradition and spirituality.
  2. Essays One by Lydia Davis – A very rewarding and lively 512-page book, generally about the art and craft of writing. Davis discusses her own practices, and she also looks at the techniques of a wonderfully curated group of other writers. In addition, she discusses elements of visual art and photography.
  3. The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward – A memoir dealing with self-discovery, empowerment and family upbringing, conveyed through prose and poetry, written in a unique voice.

Continue reading “Best books and music”

What I did

Made every effort to avoid my housemate.

Spent most of the day in bed reading, drinking espresso and writing.

I did make a quick run to the bookstore to analyze the difference between Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast as originally published vs. the so-called “restored” edition. I found out the restored edition is largely a sham, with uninteresting filler to aid in the marketing ploy. Filler included a long-winded intro, images of Hemingway’s handwritten notes and a section dedicated to his revision process, which was an absurd addition.

Made popcorn and grilled cheese, as well as an omelet with broccoli, onion & parmesan. Spent 5 hrs in the morning doing chores & errands.

Started a Goodreads account at goodreads.com/cassandra_k.

Black coffee and saucer

Black coffee in espresso cup resting on saucer atop secondhand book purchased for 25¢. In bed I continue reading Allen Ginsberg’s Planet News. Morning outside: the sun struggles against the clouds. Reminded of Whitman while reading. Reminded of proclamations, with Ginsberg’s text stretching from end to end on page after page. Reminded of Ferlinghetti, with text drizzling downward in thin stacks.

Edward Abbey saw it all coming

With leases being sold for gas and oil exploration and development on public lands, it seemed that author Edward Abbey saw it all coming. In his 1968 book “Desert Solitaire,” he wrote:

“Until a few years ago, a simple, quiet, primitive place on the shores of the Colorado, Lee’s Ferry has now fallen under the protection of the Park Service. And who can protect it from the Park Service?”

Of course when he wrote this, he was railing against what he termed “industrial tourism” and infrastructure development at national parks and forests. But it rings very relevant with the public lands sell-off taking place under William Perry Pendley, who, unfortunately, was reappointed by the interior secretary on Sept. 30 to oversee the Bureau of Land Management. Continue reading “Edward Abbey saw it all coming”