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review 2017-10-10 00:25
A geopolitical view of the world
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World - Tim Marshall,Scott Brick

All throughout this book I kept asking what he now had to say about this and that because it is three years since he wrote the book and Korea has a nuclear weapons capabilities now and the US has a new president and a number of other significant changes. Fascinating book. It will give you a whole new understanding of the world we live in.

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review 2017-08-17 11:08
There Are no Golden Ages: "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis
New Maps Of Hell: A Survey Of Science Fiction - Kingsley Amis

“No wife who finds her husband addicting himself to science fiction need fear that he is in search of an erotic outlet, anyway not an overt one.”

 

In "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis

 

To put it in another context, imagine I'd be teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald to undergraduates, some of whom would be of African descent. Do we look at the casual racism found in the books and say "that's wrong?" No, we assume that everyone "gets" that it's wrong. But we look at the fact that this was considered normal/acceptable in F. Scott's day. He's still a magnificent writer, but he reflects his own era. Scott’s similar to Amis. His attitude to women is a reflection of the times. We can't shy away from that and pretend it isn't so, and we can't negate him as a writer, because of it.

 

Imagine yourself living in Lisbon as a young woman; wouldn’t you dread the endless comments, abuse, physical assaults that were part of your everyday experience. Maybe this young woman dreamt of buying an electric cattle prod and zapping those who threatened her. But it was the times in which they lived back then. Women had no rights in the 60s. The literature of the times, reflected that. Shall we zap Amis with a cattle prod for being a man of his time? No. First of all, I believe that all good books, whether niche or mainstream or somewhere in-between, must have an implicit message they are trying to put across, which should stick out almost like a sore thumb. That said, I in no way think this should make books programmatic. Writing a novel with the sole purpose of creating a text more politically correct than anything that has ever been written might take away, all at once, all the drama and conflict that all good novels - needless to say, I am merely expressing my own point of view here - play with to a certain extent. Secondly, SF (fantasy and science-fiction), possibly more so than any other genre, and even at their most mechanically chlichéd, are written and read not simply for "idle entertainment", but as a platform for escapism. And "entertainment" and "escapism" are definitely not the same thing. Sure, escapism includes enjoyment, but there are many other elements to it as well. 

 

 

If you're into SF Criticism, read on.

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review 2017-05-21 00:00
Going Sane: Maps of Happiness
Going Sane: Maps of Happiness - Adam Phillips https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/160903888508/going-sane-maps-of-happiness-by-adam-phillips

…Those of us who don’t find madness inspiring are surprisingly short of options; and, at present, there is not much help available.

Being impelled to record notes while reading is always the most promising sign that once again I have stumbled onto a very important book. There is so much good to retain in Going Sane. But the reader should not be so naive as to not expect a bit of disjointed rhetoric when addressing the subject of sanity. Such a wide-ranging topic that would be difficult at best to pin down and keep focussed on. There are diversions to be expected in a concept so insanely complicated to explain.

…Imagining possibilities for ourselves involves telling stories about what we think we are like, what we think we want, and what we think we are capable of…

…The sanity of True Genius, we must assume, is that the True Genius is a fallen creature who can write—who can describe things—from the point of view of the unfallen…The sane genius transforms everything that might disturb us, “the wildest dreams,” into something that is familiar and reassuring…The horrifying, the dispiriting, the bizarre are made utterly convivial by the sane True Genius…Sanity checks the madness…only the sanity of True Genius can manage and bear madness…Madness requires genius to make it viable. Indeed, that may, ultimately, be what genius is, what sanity has to be: a talent for transforming madness into something other than itself, of making terror comforting…Sanity is this talent for not letting whatever frightens us about ourselves destroy our pleasure in life; and this, for Lamb, is essentially a linguistic talent.


Thank goodness for great fiction and the courage it takes to read it. But then to see and understand the truth in fiction and apply it to our lives is where the trouble begins for most of us. Figuring out what makes one tick is key to enjoying a healthy and satisfying life. Exploring all options that come to mind is critical to developing an understanding of what one truly wants. This does not mean to act out every fantasy or dream one holds. It means to investigate the idea, the possibilities, to extend the behavior out by using reasoning in order to consider the consequences. To think we ever have life all figured out is insane at best. To understand and accept that the best we can hope for is a muddling through is infinitely more sane.

The infantile pleasures of being loved, adored, stroked, held, cuddled, infinitely attended to and responded to, and thought about; of only sleeping, eating, and playing, these are the truly satisfying pleasures…It is, in fact, a form of madness to not know, to forget, to attack and trivialize what really makes you happy…The sane adult is aways smuggling his childhood into the future, refashioning his childhood pleasures as legitimate adult interests…It is the madness of modern human wanting not to want to know about its own wanting….

…The deeply sane must not betray their desire; the superficially sane accommodate their desire to the needs of others…The superficially sane tend to convince us that we are the products of our environments; arguing that if you give people the right upbringing and education, you will make them well adjusted. The deeply sane, on the other hand, tell us that there is always more to us than our environments; that there is something within us—call it genius or a life force or instincts or genes—that exceeds the world that we find, and to which we must pay our most serious attention because it is driving us, one way or another, into what we are and will be…

…The sane person’s first acknowledgement is that her life is moved more by luck than by judgment; she sees her relationships as coincidences rather than destinies, her talents as unearned gifts, her bodily life as genetically contingent, her parents as giving her a good or a bad chance, and so on. The only necessities her life has are the ones she ascribes to them. The second acknowledgement of the sane is that they are, peculiarly, animals who are often unconscious of what they want; and that some of the wants they are most conscious of serve to obscure their keener satisfactions. And this is because their third acknowledgment is that what they most want they must not have because it is forbidden them…

…Sanity should not be our word for the alternative to madness; it should refer to whatever resources we have to prevent humiliation.

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review 2017-05-05 18:21
My Review of Aster Wood and the Lost Maps of Almara
Aster Wood and the Lost Maps of Almara - J.B. Cantwell

Aster Wood and the Lost Maps of Almara by J.B. Cantwell is the first installment of the Aster Wood series. This story is about Aster Wood, who finds out that he is the one to find the sorcerer, Almara.

 

This story is full of magic and different worlds that Aster has to follow to find Almara. This story was good, but the flow of the story was interrupted by the editing. If the editing would have been better, then this would have been an easy 5 star read.

 

I want to add that this book is written by J.B. Cantwell, and not written by R.J. Cantwell. J.B. Cantwell and myself have alerted Booklikes of this mistake, but it has not been amended as of the writing of this review.

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url 2017-03-30 07:35
Lose yourself in this beautiful literary map of London
The Girl - Meridel Le Sueur
Main Street - Sinclair Lewis
War for the Oaks - Emma Bull
In the Lake of the Woods - Tim O'Brien
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values - Robert M. Pirsig
Fiend - Peter Stenson

A literary map of London, with its writers and characters charted by neighborhood. Which, this us just about the coolest. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul have nowhere near the literary relevance of London (not even close), but I would kill for a literary map of my hometown(s). Here's a start:

 

--Dr and Mrs Kennicot from Sinclair Lewis's Main Street honeymoon near Lake Calhoun; she's from St Paul
--Much of the action of War for the Oaks takes place in and around First Ave
--Zombie novel Fiend bops around St Paul and the St Paul suburbs, ending in the St Paul County Courthouse
--Meridel LeSeuer's The Girl takes place in the dodgy part of St Paul circa 1920s; not sure where exactly
--Franzen's Freedom takes place in Ramsey Hill in St Paul
-- Diablo Cody worked as a stripper in Sex World, Sheikh's, and other Minneapolis strip clubs, as detailed in Candy Girl
--Though much of Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods takes place in the Lake of the Woods (doi), it starts in St Paul when the protagonist's bid for governor fails
--Similarly, the (I think only pseudonymous narrator) of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance starts in the Wedge neighborhood. Specific streets are named, something like 25th and Colfax
--For sure there's stuff by William Kent Kreuger, Garrison Keillor, Robert Bly, and Louise Erdrich I can't think of right now.

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