Category Archives: books

You must be ecstatic

In The Night Manager, Madame Latulipe asks Jonathan if he is in love. “Not that I am aware, madame,” he replies. “You are unhappy? You are lonely?” “I am blissfully content.” “But to be content is not enough! You must … Continue reading

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The Enjoyment in Writing

Past, present, and future are bound together when Henry Miller is writing. “The past is the springboard, the present the melting pot, and the future the delectation.” The past is the springboard because it is from the memories of his … Continue reading

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Orpheus

Orpheus is playing his lyre with tears in his eyes, begging the rulers of the underworld to return Eurydice to him. All Pluto and Persephone want is to be rid of those dewy eyes, tearing at their heart strings. They … Continue reading

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Building

“We have no need for genius – genius is dead. We have need for strong hands …” How to start writing? Take a building block and set it down. It is Paris, 1930 perhaps, and a day in the life … Continue reading

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Tree Spirits in The Golden Bough

In spring, early summer, or midsummer the villagers would go out into the woods to cut down a tree. They’d bring it back to the village and set it up there (“amid general rejoicings”); or, in other villages, they would … Continue reading

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See What I’m Saying

First sentence of William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys: “The camera is the eye of a cruising vulture flying over an area of scrub, rubble and unfinished buildings on the outskirts of Mexico City.” Burroughs thinks in pictures and his books … Continue reading

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Hegel’s Democratic Spirit

The Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit is a good place to begin with Hegel. The key question he’s asking in these pages is: What is philosophy? And his answer tells us a lot about what kind of philosopher he … Continue reading

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Notes on Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”

Stepping off a train onto a crowded platform. Anxious glances of the passers-by. Shevek wonders at this anxiety: is it a function of the capitalist economy here? The fact that each of these people must make enough money to live? … Continue reading

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Notes on Nabokov’s “The Seaport”

The whole scene is bright, with sunshine everywhere. Colours: the blue of the sea, the green of the woman’s dress. These things stand out. The sunshine gives colour to everything. Each thing seems to have its own distinct colour: no … Continue reading

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Fantasy and Escapism

Fantasy books, TV shows, and films all provide entertainment and escapism. I enjoy fantasy but I’m troubled by this notion of escape – of using art to “wind down” and “switch off.” It seems to me that this is potentially … Continue reading

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