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The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi
The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi
by Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.62
105 used & new from $1.15

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rumi for Boomers / Rumi for Deadheads, May 23, 2014
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This is a VERY heavy-handed translation. It's safer to call it an act of imagination, attributed to a historical figure. The personality of the translator is placed front-and-center, without any shame. It's all about him, Daniel Ladinsky; the book should more accurately be called "Daniel Ladinsky's Dreams of Rumi". I am almost impressed with the audacity and irreverence of this approach. nearly makes me weep to see a figure as important as Rumi treated with so little respect and care.

Because 21st-century America and 13th-century Persia are two very different worlds. Rumi and his poems were born from a specific set of conditions. It is insanity to think his world and ours are the same, that the differences are unimportant. Ladinsky is not a scholar: he is not a historian, not a linguist, not an expert in Persian culture. (In fact, I don't believe he has any academic credentials at all.) It seems he knows very little about the world Rumi lived in, and even worse, he does not think that matters.

I strongly suspect that Landinsky does not speak even Persian, especially as used in the 13th century. He seems to have simply looked at existing English translations, and sprinkled some hippie fairy-dust on them. To call himself a "translator" is an insult to the careful work of countless true translators.

Ladinsky's excessive liberties have been documented, as in this news account of an unsuspecting Canadian politician quoting a Ladinsky "translation" to an Iranian audience who knew the poem did not even exist in the original Persian. [Search on "" and "Ladinsky" -- the headline is "Supposed Hafiz poem recited by McGuinty turns out to be fake".]

I went to this book expecting Rumi, but instead found something very much like the syndicated astrologer Rob Breszny.

If you are OK with an ahistorical, wildly inaccurate Rumi that goes down easy-peasy -- then by all means, buy this book. It's the new-age Rumi Lite, perfect for ex-hippie boomers and Deadheads. Me, I repeatedly threw the book across the room in disgust. Caveat emptor.

These elements made me throw the book across the room:

-- the use of up-to-the-minute Americanisms: "sex addict", "getting laid", "voodoo", "gosh", "golly", "train conductor", "bootlegging".
(These were part of Rumi's world?!? I'm suprised that "lol", "omg", and "whatever!" didn't appear.)

-- a poem Ladinsky entitles "Swat Team".
(A swat team in the 13th century -- imagine that! How very, very, very American.)

-- referring to God as "Her".
(Rumi certainly did not do this.)

-- opening the book with an epigraph about Jesus and Mary.
(Yes, these two are revered in Islam. But to place Jesus on the first page -- and elsewhere throughout the text -- comes off as an unsubtle attempt to de-Islamicize this most Islamic of poets. Could this even be the result of an cynical eye towards sales to an American public leery of Islam and Islamic culture?)

Chaos Theory Tamed
Chaos Theory Tamed
by Garnett P. Williams
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $19.55

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent:-- clear explantions, July 20, 2005
This review is from: Chaos Theory Tamed (Hardcover)
This is an extremely well-written book. It is not a "popular science" book, but if you have a few semesters of undergraduate math, you'll be fine.

The author presents the material very clearly and cleanly, with easy examples and useful intuitive metaphors.

I wish all math and science texts were this well-written.

Taraf de Haïdouks
Taraf de Haïdouks
Price: $16.99
67 used & new from $0.92

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought I'd heard it all, July 14, 2004
This review is from: Taraf de Haïdouks (Audio CD)
Amazing music! Not what I expected + not like anything else I've ever heard. These guys are up to something strange and powerful, and it's a treat to try to figure out what the hell it is.

Swaddling Songs
Swaddling Songs
7 used & new from $14.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing album, long forgotten, July 5, 2004
This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
It's amazing that an album this good could be lost to the ages. This was given to me by a friend who likes all sorts of B-level 60s and 70s music....he likes stuff just because of its 60s or 70s-ness. This album is totally not like that! It holds up as a great piece of work, not just a period piece. It's every bit as good as the best of Fairport Convention or Sandy Denny or even early Yes, but doesn't sound like anything but itself. Mellow Candle were, for one magic moment, the best group in the world.

John Coltrane: Crescent
John Coltrane: Crescent
27 used & new from $2.20

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Coltrane -- A Masterpiece, April 17, 2004
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This review is from: John Coltrane: Crescent (Audio CD)
I own about 20 Coltrane releases. They are all amazing in different ways.
But CRESCENT get played the most. Why?
CRESCENT is about having power and not using it. Trane proved he could scream and burn, years before. But here, there is a beautiful restraint...thoughtful but deeply emotional.
For example: when Trane's solo on "Wise One" builds to a peak, it sounds like he is almost accidentally overcome by emotion. It's not an intentional scream; more like he is speaking quietly, then inadvertently sobs, without planning to.
And on the title track, the intensity comes not from raw power, but from how long and winding Trane's melodic lines complex, but so clear and effortless.
The clarity of his musical conception is simply staggering.
This album makes me think of someone or something looking down on humanity from above, and smiling a bit sadly, sweetly.
Really, this album is about love.
What is love?
Listen to CRESCENT and think about it.

Swiss Movement:  Montreux 30th Anniversary Edition
Swiss Movement: Montreux 30th Anniversary Edition
Price: $9.98
60 used & new from $5.74

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect first jazz record, May 4, 2003
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A thoroughly enjoyable CD. Great fun, but still deep. "Compared To What" is the kind of track that blows away anyone who hears it -- everyone I've played it for has immedietly bought this CD! Like the rest of the album, "Compared to What" is intensely groovin', passionate, nicely loose, positively upbeat with just the right hint of righteous '60s revolution vibe.

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