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T. McLaughlin "Interpretive delirium" RSS Feed (Chatham, NJ)
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In the Spirit
In the Spirit
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2.0 out of 5 stars I thought this was the Larry Campbell who used to ..., April 26, 2015
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This review is from: In the Spirit (Audio CD)
I thought this was the Larry Campbell who used to tour with Bob Dylan. So I bought by mistake. I listened to one track on the off chance - but no.


Shadows In The Night
Shadows In The Night
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Believe What the Bible Told, April 26, 2015
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This review is from: Shadows In The Night (Audio CD)
I didn't read all the reviews: it's kind of easy to anticipate the whole spectrum of praise and disdain, though once in a while someone has something really interesting to say. Anyway, I listened to Sinatra's original versions of these songs - he did have a beautiful voice, like a cello, as Dylan pointed out, but silky and soulless, and the Las Vegas-style arrangements make you cringe. But that was what entertainment was then and what it is now and always will be, masturbatory, meaningless. Dylan found the inspirational current of each song, and it's really more a tribute to the songwriters than it is to Frank Sinatra. This is true I think of many songs on his first album, quite different material obviously, where he kind of instinctively captured the essence of Woody Guthrie and Delta blues songs. People point out that he stole Dave Van Ronk's version of House of the Rising Sun, but actually Van Ronk's version, like Leadbelly's, lacked the raw emotion that undoubtedly inspired the song.


By Heart: 101 Poems to Remember
By Heart: 101 Poems to Remember
by Ted Hughes
Edition: Paperback
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great poems, or even read them, March 8, 2015
I deleted the review I wrote earlier, it doesn't seem so important to me now whether people memorize these old, great poems, or even read them. I don't think mankind is going to improve itself, it will be exactly the way it is, some people will like these poems and many won't even think about them, and some will feel obligated to pretend to like them, and the world will continue to rotate. In the ideal world toward which we were tending years ago, these well brewed thoughts and feelings would be installed in the minds of everyone I suppose. Personally, I wish everyone was inclined to see life the way Shakespeare and Dickinson did. But everyone's not going to.


Dylan: The Biography
Dylan: The Biography
by Dennis McDougal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.37
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars like a solar flare, September 13, 2014
This review is from: Dylan: The Biography (Hardcover)
I 'm sure he worked very hard on this and thought he was engaged in an important undertaking, but he missed everything that I think is interesting about Bob Dylan's work. I remember when I first heard Mr. Tambourine Man, it seemed to come from another realm, like a solar flare. This is what we yearn for in art and religion, manifestations from above, real evidence of something greater than all this crap. Bob Dylan was one of the artists who sometimes found and expressed this, and so, I and many others, loved him for it. It had nothing to do with him personally. I love Emily Dickinson for the same reason. So a biography that dwells on the personal deficiencies of Bob Dylan as a celebrity hasn't much appeal for me. A much more interesting "biography" would explore the nature of inspiration. When Dylan said certain songs came out of the air, I think that's true. A good biographer needs to study the "air".


Verbum Caro - Choral Music for Advent Lessons and Carols
Verbum Caro - Choral Music for Advent Lessons and Carols

5.0 out of 5 stars Dearest Word, February 18, 2014
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It has one wonderful hymn, Verbum Caro, which I've never heard before and might be said to be disarmingly simple and sweet. Not to everyone's taste of course. It redeems the rest of the album, much of which you may want to skip so as not to spoil the Verbum Caro.


Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages)
Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages)
by Pierre Riché
Edition: Hardcover
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit of What Life was Like under Charlemagne, April 2, 2013
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This is a well written and I guess well translated book about just what it says: daily life in Carolingian Europe. It's an easy to read book and it delves into a great many different areas, any of which could be examined in much greater detail. But this was exactly what I wanted for what I was working on.


Let go! Theory & Practice of Detachment According to Zen
Let go! Theory & Practice of Detachment According to Zen
by Hubert Benoît
Edition: Paperback
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Say What Can't Be Said, November 28, 2012
As the other reviewer pointed out, this is difficult reading but well worth the trouble. The author wrote from understanding based on experience using Zen as a context but never succumbing to Zen cant. So people who think they "get" Zen won't get any advantage from that. Dr. Benoit probably didn't want it reprinted because of the exercises he gave at the end which he later regretted. Ignore the exercises.
There is of course a paradox. The title suggests a simple-minded, best-seller type self-help book and is a sentiment everyone understands. Nothing suggests the mental labor required within. The title of the previous book: "The Supreme Doctrine", at least warned you something unconventional and probably unsettling was going on inside.
But if you try to "let go" over and over, always imagining it will be easy, and gradually begin to realize that you are not really free to, you may appreciate Benoit's efforts to examine the psychological situation. I did anyway.
It occurred to me recently re-reading a section of this book that Dr. Benoit tried to do something the Chan masters never did: explain things. Although he said time and again in his last three books, you can't explain the inexplicable, and it's all way too big to be encompassed by our little words and concepts, the impulse to try was, apparently, irresistible. I'm very glad he wrote these books: this one, Supreme Doctrine and The Interior Realization, but I begin to understand why the masters restrained themselves to brief sermons, koan exercises and the short poems of Wang Wei and his colleagues.


Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth: 15th Century Zen Master
Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth: 15th Century Zen Master
by Stephen Berg
Edition: Paperback
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God Bless Ikkyu, June 5, 2011
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I can't speak about the translation though it makes compelling poetry in English, which I am sure Ikkyu would have liked. I think punctuation would have helped, since that is how we here in the West have learned to read, but the lack of it makes you focus and mentally punctuate, so maybe the lack of it is a good thing. Anyway, he obeyed Dr. Johnson's injunction: "Relieve your mind of cant".


How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
by Sarah Bakewell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.74
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Imperfect and the Art of Being Honest, November 20, 2010
Montaigne is not for people who think mankind is improving and that a better world is in the offing. But the truth is that improvement lies in greater perception, greater understanding, not more fervid conviction. The truth is we don't know the truth. We don't know what we're like, what it's like to see us, hear us, and what it's like to be us. And knowing you don't know appears to ruin everything. Success in life seems to require that you have an intention about who you are, who you will be, what your principles are, what your standards of behavior are. As if you made yourself. The dream one has of one's virtues and accomplishments require very light examination if they're going to survive. So to make a virtue of personal honesty no matter what is contrary to the way of the world, but it's the way of understanding, it's a way that feels more alive.

Pascal comes off rather badly in this book but he did say that the heart had understanding that the mind knew not of, and really Montaigne appeals to the heart, to the intuitive sense we have about how we might be, the sense that a truly inquisitive man may have a fulfilling life.


Civilisation: The Complete Series
Civilisation: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Sir Kenneth Clark
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars European Art from the Dark Ages to the Impressionists, September 16, 2010
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"Civilisation" was a BBC series from the David Attenborough days when some really very interesting shows got made and aired, Monthy Python for one, and this superb, subjective survey of European art. I don't think anyone would make it now primarily because Lord Clark believed in the soul and that the purpose of art was to supply the soul with nourishment. It's not the present, prevailing view about art, which he didn't have any sympathy for. It's not all inclusive, he skipped what didn't touch him. But the enthusiasms of well-informed, intelligent man are worth listening to.

This is not an art history course, nor an introduction to art. You probably need some background, some general information about European history to follow it. At the same time, it's not intellectual showing off: Clark told us about art that moved him and told us why. Works were included because of the feelings evoked, with a historical context added.

Episode 2 on Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals is the best television show ever made.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2011 12:31 PM PDT


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