Thursday, 20 April 2017

Potpourri: Reading, Commonplacing & Leisure


 The view at the end of an impromtu bush walk


Over the Easter period I've been soaking up all the loveliness I've found in this complilation of literature: 'Between Midnight and Dawn.' I love poetry and there are some poignant pieces in this book, old and new, and although I'm not usually drawn to contemporary poems but there were some that hit me hard. And this one - Oh my! This made me catch my breath! 'Preparing for Joy: Waiting to be Filled'

I've come to the end of The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas, which I'll write about in more detail later. What an epic this is! All the way through I kept thinking of the biblical admonition, 'Vengeance is Mine!' says the Lord.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, as though a redhot iron were piercing his heart. During the last hour his own crime had alone been presented to his mind; now another object, not less terrible, suddenly presented itself. His wife! He had just acted the inexorable judge with her, he had condemned her to death, and she, crushed by remorse, struck with terror, covered with the shame inspired by the eloquence of his irreproachable virtue, -- she, a poor, weak woman, without help or the power of defending herself against his absolute and supreme will...
"Ah," he exclaimed, "that woman became criminal only from associating with me! I carried the infection of crime with me, and she has caught it as she would the typhus fever, the cholera, the plague! 

Wildflowers in bloom


I'm about half way through The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, which is a compilation of essays on diverse topics. The quotations below are from the essay, 'Why I am not a Pacifist.'

How do we decide what is good or evil? The usual answer is that we decide by conscience...an autonomous faculty like a sense cannot be argued with; you cannot argue a man into seeing green if he sees blue. But the conscience can be altered by argument...Conscience, then, means the whole man engaged in a particular subject matter.

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.





The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

I was looking forward to reading this book as part of my ongoing science education but I've been a little disappointed so far. I'd describe the author's writing as 'breezy' which annoys me, as well as his gossipy style and the inclusion of slang in places. Oliver Sacks and even James Watson were more literary in their style of writing, whilst still being humorous and entertaining. Kean's attempts at both feels forced  - but I should reserve my judgement until I've read more of the book, I suppose.
He does have some helpful suggestions such as looking at a blank periodic table without all the clutter before introducing it to students, and his comparison of the structure or 'geography' of the periodic table to a castle made of bricks - each brick being an element, which if taken out of its position would result in the castle tumbling down, was a helpful one.




Norms & Nobility by David Hicks

Continuing my SLOW read of this book. This book is expensive but you could spend years chewing on the ideas expressed by the author. I gave up trying to keep up with the AmblesideOnline Forum discussion on this book which started at the beginning of this year, but am progressing at a snail's pace on my own regardless. One idea that seems to be popping up in various places for me is that of utilitarianism. One of our boys is in the first year of a Liberal Arts degree and he is constantly asked, "What does that qualify you for?"
 Life??

Dr. Johnson recognized the temptation to make education a preparation for the practical life either by concentrating exclusively on science or by turning all studies into sciences. Predictably, as science took a technological turn and as education began preparing students for work rather than for leisure, for the factory rather than for the parlor, the school itself came to resemble the factory, losing its idiosyncratic, intimate, and moral character...
In its utilitarian haste, the state often peddles preparation for the practical life to our young as the glittering door to the life of pleasure; but by encouraging this selfish approach to learning, the state sows a bitter fruit against that day when the community depends on its younger members to perform charitable acts and to consider arguments above selfish interests. 
(Emphasis mine)






A Game of Risk








Linking up with Celeste at Keeping Company & Wednesday with Words



14 comments:

  1. The Weight of Glory is one of Lewis's finest, isn't it? And Risk is a favorite among all the conquerors at my house, too.

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    1. Yes, it is! The book I have has an introduction by Walter Hooper who spent 3 months with Lewis befor he died & it is lovely. I think Lewis would have been a delight to meet. Almost 2 days were spent by the two above and a couple of friends over this game!

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  2. Very nice pictures.


    I like the quotation from The Weight of Glory. I love such simple to understand explorations of important concepts. I have read some C.S. Lewis. I may give this a try.


    Norms and Nobility also seems like something that I would like.

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    1. I'd really love to read your thoughts on either of those books, Brian!

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  3. Lovely reading update, Carol. I enjoyed your quotes! I have read less for me this month due to the Easter holidays and just busy spring commitments. My TBR pile is not inspiring me. Time to dig out something fresh.

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    1. Thanks Amy :) I've felt the same way with some of the books I'd originally decided to read this year & am having second thoughts about some of my Back to the Classic choices. I'm off to a secondhand book sale in the morning so I might just find some other offerings.

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  4. Your book reports always inspire me to read, and I finally finished The Keys of the Kingdom a week or two ago. I felt so sad when there were no more pages to turn because Father Chisholm became such a friend to me. I like having friends that inspire me to be better, and he will forever be one of my great literary examples.

    Thanks to you for inspiring me, too!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it! It's an unusual book in many ways & Father Chisolm one of my favourite - not perfect, which makes him all the more endearing.

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  5. I love the C.S. Lewis quote. He expresses truths so well for those of us who believe what he's saying but aren't able to come up with the words.

    I don't know the other books but they sound interesting.

    I want to read the Norms and Nobility book. He is describing the Common Core that President Obama mandated for all public schools. Hence a bank technical journal has equal merit to a work by Shakespeare. I agree with the author that turning learning into a factory like existence will suck the joy out of learning.

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    1. ' He expresses truths so well for those of us who believe what he's saying but aren't able to come up with the words.' Oh yes!
      I think both you & Brian would enjoy N & N. Would love to hear your thoughts if you do get the chance to read it.

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  6. thank you, Carol, for finding my poem "Waiting to Be Filled" and sharing it. Means a great deal to me!

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    1. Oh, my pleasure! I was so pleased to see you had posted it online!

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  7. thank you for posting. I am working through C.S. Lewis' titles myself but haven't read Weight of Glory yet. Norms and Nobility is somewhere in my To Be Read list, but not this year. I am intrigued by The Disappearing Spoon - I'm a retired scientist and now that I am several years out of research, I am wanting to add more science titles to my reading stack.

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    1. I like to have a science book going amongst my reading but I've tended more to biography or something biological or neurological. Uncle Tungsten was a very enjoyable read related to chemistry. It will be interesting to read some more of Disappearing Spoon before I decide whether it's worthwhile or not.

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