Jack Kerouac in his time was an icon, and has since deepened as a cultural ethos much admired by the leaning-towards-Gypsys of our modern youth. He is considered the spokesperson for the beatniks in general, a group that since inspired a whole literary movement in the 50s, and 60s. Understanding this, and the general time frame in America when Kerouac wrote Dharma Bums, 1958, is important to truly understand the gravity Dharma Bums has had on American culture.Continue Reading →
A name that should sound familiar, winner of 1962’s Nobel Prize in Literature, John Steinbeck is a major American writer. In 1954 he wrote Sweet Thursday.
Deep in the heart of Monterey was a district known as Cannery Row, so named for the canning of fisherman’s catches that made the district vibrant. Does it still exist? At the time of this writing it seems like canning had moved to newer grounds. What’s left in it’s wake? Well, Western Biological, Bear Flag, and the Palace Flophouse. Thus the story unfolds.Continue Reading →
I became interested in Anaïs Nin through a few exotic and sensual friends of mine. When I stumbled upon her large Biography, it was practically calling my name. With this approach, I expected to find scandal, sensuality, and allure with exotic escapades in foreign countries with smoke hovering in the air.
Instead, what I found in this biography was Deirdre Bair deep understanding and investigation into who is commonly known as the biggest minor author who lived. Nin lived her whole life exhausting her efforts to get published and recognized as an author, and it was only in the later part of her life that she did manage to find this success, enough so to support herself and the people who had supported her for so long.
Bair did a really great job of fully researching Nin’s life, dissecting her famous diaries and those notes from Nin’s friends she could find, a very complex puzzle given Nin’s affinity to make the truths she wanted. It turns out that Bair is one of the only persons alive who was allowed to see the original diaries in their full, fresh out of the safe they have always been stored in.
If you’re looking to learn about the infamous Anaïs Nin, the real Nin, not the highly curated Nin of her own books and diaries, this book is for you. Bair dives deep into a rather unbiased exposé of her life, her heart, her troubles, her grand illusion, and her many affairs (that reach a dizzying height at times)…. There were many times when reading I had to put down the book (a bit angry) because sometimes the truth is just a little bit too much for my mind to comprehend. At times I found the decisions Anaïs Nin was making were causing me to feel the same anxiety I would feel reading a book and pausing on a cliffhanger! What an exotic life she lead!
But, all of this makes for an exciting biography of a very extraordinary woman who, even to this day, lived her life by a very different and progressive note.
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear how you liked it in the comments below.
With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel is truly an enlightening read. It takes you through a very Western and rather scientific minded investigation into the many facets of Tibetan Buddhism.
In the time this book was written, the early 1900s, Tibet had a very strict policy not allowing foreigners and especially women foreigners into the country. It is understood that David-Neel was perhaps one of the first ever foreign women to enter the very spiritual land of Tibet. Quite a remarkable feat.
Author, and also spiritual seeker David-Neel spent approximately 15 years wandering through the land of Tibet in various caravans and locations. At one point, she lived for two years in a remote gompa (monastery) studying under a Lama in deep meditation, so remote that for all winter, they were cut off from any visitors or food supply.
In her journeys, David-Neel regularly becomes a guest of Lamas, in Northern India in parts of Western Asia. We learn the difference between Tibetan Buddhism, compared to the Indian and Chinese alternatives. Along the borders of Tibet, however, many Lamas, Tulkas, rnal hoyorpas (Naljorpas), or trapas (students) of some sort that find there ways to the gompas she spent her time at and was guest in.
In great detail, David-Neel discusses the entire hierarchy of a typical gompa, from the richer Tulkas to the poorest trapas. She also dissects and teaches the reader about psychic sports (as she calls them) that the trapas undertake to become enlightened. This also involves many of the spiritual training practices and plentiful mystical theories that echo throughout the land.
And as one would expect, she spends a lot of time talking about ghosts, demons, and the dead, considering how much Tibetan Buddhism revolves around this.
One particular fact I found fascinating was that in the most remote locations of Tibet, it was considered an honour to, after one has passed on, to sacrifice the body to the animals of the mountains. So, after death and proper ceremony was performed, the body would be brought to a rocky outcropping, and left for the animals. This was an honourable offering. It was also convenient on account of the rocky ground and nearly always freezing temperatures.
If you’re looking for insight into much Tibetan spiritual terminology, if you’re looking for an account of the truth of Tibetan Buddhism, debunking many of the modern misunderstanding about it, if you’re looking for a fascinating journey in a time before auto cars and televisions ruled our minds, this is a read for you.
Jack Kerouac is one of those American Legends, one of those legendary writers you say you wish you had read by now, and take note of the recommended books of his.
I got my hands on On the Road when I was staying on the road, spending the week at a cousins house. It seems I slip all my Kerouac books from houses I’m staying at, on the road. I’m fairly certain my cousin’s wife got the book in a college class as prescribed reading.
Seth Godin is what you might call a motivator. You may also call him an identifier. I’d say he is also a wise man, who’s done a lot of research on an alternative method of thought.
He talks about shifting away from being a cog in the wheel, a productive yet zombie-like member of the assembly line, in to the realm of artistry; in short, becoming a Linchpin.
A very suiting title for this book, and to be perfectly honest, a great read. 5 stars, thumbs, whatever…
“What will make a Linchpin is not a shortcut. It’s the understanding of which hard work is worth doing. The only thing that separates great artists from the mediocre ones is their ability to push through the dip. Some people decide that their art is important that they out to overcome the resistance they face in doing their work. Those people become Linchpins.”
To understand this as Seth would like you to – aside from reading the book – the reader must be aware of two things. The first is that Godin describes how “art is the intentional act of using your humanity to create a change in another person.” Not just the artist with a paintbrush or camera, but the person with the willingness to put in the effort. The second is that this book is not about creating the next best thing, it’s about becoming indispensable; becoming a Linchpin.
To cheat Godin out of a book sale (in all likelihood it will make you want to read the entire book multiple times) he’s described what makes you indispensable:
- provide a unique interface between members of the organization,
- delivering unique creativity,
- managing a situation or organization of great complexity,
- leading customers,
- inspiring staff,
- providing deep domain knowledge,
- possessing a unique talent.
Rest assured, if you think you know what all these points mean – and that you possess (some of) them – and/or you believe even just one of these qualities does indeed make the artist valuable, this book will be worth your read.
I would highly suggest taking notes of every single point Seth Godin makes that sticks out to you.
If you have read this book, I’d love to hear some points you’ve taken from this book that have changed your life.
Great Expectations takes the reader through the life of Mr. Pip, starting out in his small town outside of London, England “in the marsh country down by the river, twenty miles of the sea.” and through his acquiring great expectations. The story takes place in what I would guess to be late 19th century England.
Let me clarify what great expectations are: a lot of wealth. Pip comes into a lot of wealth. Continue Reading →
Jack Kerouac is one of the beatnik poets, one of the new American poets who sits along side the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti who called themselves the SF Renaissance [there are others: Corso, Snyder…].
Kerouac explores a different style of writing, one that flows from his mouth and plays with words. One that you can really read the rich accents and landscape with. Continue Reading →
Planet News is a collection of Allen Ginsberg’s poems from 1961 – 1967.
If you are new to Allen Ginsberg, then it’s a brilliant thing you’ve found the poet. If you’re returning, then you should be aware of his theme for regurgitating, masturbation, and long forays into a realm that is like a side space between life and dream. A dance with many words arranged in a random order at the authors wil and given to the reader to interpret it as they may, according to their mood and place in the book.
Planet News is a great book of poems. It encourages the reader to release their pre-conceived notions of poetry, and allow themselves to dance disturbingly through a picture that Ginsberg paints.
Journal Night Thoughts is one of the most chaotic verses of poetry conceived. Random rants and circles and un-announced paths discover that which cannot be explained.
Television was a Baby Crawling Toward that Deathchamber is a brilliant exploration of that exactly which the title describes, as much as any Ginsberg poem can stay upon one single topic.
Many of his poems explore city streets of places that Ginsberg is visiting, or places that Ginsberg has possibly been. Waking in New York, Vulture Peak: Gridhakuta Hill, Last Night in Calcutta, and Cafe in Warsaw at least mention the place in the title, and manage to brew up some sorts of raw cunning or unprotected adulterations that describe very true scenes that can be imagined.
I found the little poem First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels a very interesting poem, as it seemed simpler and explored the spaces that Ginsberg likes to leave with less description and instead random observations, rather than his typical dreamscape that he explores with much more words.
Another topic of choice which, given the date the poems come from and Ginsberg’s cultural circle, seems only natural is the US Government. Ginsberg’s way of sarcastically exploiting that which he does not approve of was clear in many of the Wichita poems, such as Wichita Vortex Sutra, or in Today which is yet another complaint about the government.
Planet News is a beautiful read. If it’s not something you’re immediately interested in, the read is worth it for the mere significance Allen Ginsberg has had on the art of poetry.
Sex with Kings, the title, captures the essence of this… documentary. Chronicling five hundred years of kings who, as was the fashion, kept mistresses, or as the french called them, maîtresse-en-titre. Eleanor Herman does not about their military battles, nor about their rare stallions they kept. It does talk about their plumage, and touches on their ability to reproduce, but does not chronicle their lineage nor does it elaborate on their vaults of the finest jewels known to man. Continue Reading →