Category Archives: books

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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