zappa, shakespeare, and lepore


I want to do a quick post so that I  have some time to read before martini time. I was thinking that today was a Birky (my therapist) Friday. I figured it out early enough to allow myself the time to do today’s New York Times Crossword Puzzle before beginning my morning routine.

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I have been thinking a lot about Morrison’s Song of Solomon. The three lectures which i have mentioned here have helped me understand not only much of Morrison’s beauty and intent, but also have use the book as a light into my own development of a sense of self throughout my life.

Heavy, eh? Anyway, when I was thinking today was a Birky day I wanted to organize my thoughts so I could present them to him as coherently as possibly. The reprieve will be helpful to allow me more time to do this. I finished the third lecture this morning while exercising.

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I have also ran across some cool Zappa videos. I subscribe to “echidnasarf housewife” on YouTube because it posts many Zappa videos. Unfortunately they set up their videos so that they do not show musicians but only a sort of abstract pattern.

On YouTube, when I’m looking at possible videos to view from my subscription I have fallen into the habit of running the cursor over the thumbnail which then plays excerpts of the video silently. It never occurred to me until yesterday to do this with echidnasarf housewife’s pattern videos.

If you look closely at the above, you can see that the top video fourth from the left has a red line under it which indicates I have gotten that far in it. The title is “The Making of 200 Motels.” It’s in Dutch (I think) but all the main players speak English in it.

It pulled me back into remembering how much I enjoy Zappa. So I searched on YouTube and found another video about the making of 200 Motels, this time in English. These are silly little things to pass the time while I exercise and stretch.

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I actually finished a book yesterday. Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. I enjoyed this book immensely. Greenblatt has an excellent bibliographic essays at the end. Last night I pulled books off my Shakespeare shelf to see what I owned that he recommended.

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There were several. I decided that I will want to purchase and read more by Greenblatt, but in the meantime, I think it would be fun to read Pakr Honan’s biography. I started it this morning and like it so far.

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I’m getting close to being done with Lepore’s These Truths. She does an incredible job of writing about the time since 9/11. Her organized narrative is helpful especially concerning times I have lived though. And of course I’m learning a ton.

I did not know that shock-jock Alan Jones was already broadcasting as the Twin Towers were crashing down about how the entire thing was a U.S. government conspiracy to provoke war and bring down Bush.

The madness runs deep.

Anyway, time to get back to reading.

pictures and books


I found a cool YouTube on Finnegans Wake and used it this morning for exercise. It’s a lecture by a man named Terence Mckenna.

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McKenna (above) seems to be a hippy dippy dude who died in 2000. His lecture’s not bad, but what’s really cool is the art that David Patrick Harry (the man who posted the video) puts up in it since it’s only audio.

This is Finnegan falling off the ladder. The thunderclap word is up in the left hand corner.

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I like this one because I can see so many connections to the book.

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These are by John Vernon Lord (above), an eighty year old artist and, according to his Wikipedia article, not to be confused with Jon Lord of Deep Purple.

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The same Wikipedia article says John Vernon Lord studied with Mervyn Peake. You know, the guy who wrote Gormenghast.

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Peake died in 1968, but John Vernon Lord must have got to him before then. I do like the Gormenghast novels.

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Sections from Jill Lepore’s These Truths I read aloud to poor Eileen today.

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“Between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the global war on terror, Americans dragged themselves,  bloody and bruised, from one political skirmish to the next. They fought over guns, abortion, religion, gay rights, and the environment. They fought in the schools, the courts, the press, and the university. They fought with words, and they fought over words. They fought by took and nail and by hook and by crook, and they believed they were fighting for the meaning of America, but, really, they were fighting for raw political power.” (691)

“The new Democratic understanding of the world was technocratic, political, and therapeutic. They believed that technology could fix political, social, and economic problems, and yet they also believed that they owed their own success to their talents and drive, and that people who achieved less were less talented and driven. They tended not to see how much of their lives had been shaped by government policies, like government-funded research, or the zoning laws and restrictive that had created high-quality schools in the all-white suburbs or the occasional swank urban pockets in which they typically lived. Not withstanding all the ways in which government assistance had made possible the conditions of their lives and work, they tended to be opposed to government assistance. Believing in individual achievement and the power of the self, they saw the different political vantages of other people, especially of people who had achieved less, as personal, psychological failings: racism, for instance, they saw not as a structural problem but as a prejudice born of ignorance.” (694)

Riffing  on that last quote I offer this link to a CounterSpin podcast I listened to today.

Here are two books mentioned in the podcast.

Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin

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Duke University Press – Captivating Technology: Abolitionist Codes for the New Jim Code edited by Benjamin

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