Putting an end to a reading drought

Well,

it’s a new year,

and,

I need to get back into,

creative,

and,

thinking,

mode.

I have,

lots of pre-occupations,

but,

sitting around in a daze,

in front of the computer,

distractedly gazing at,

face book,

isn’t going to help,

or make things,

magically fall into place,

reading won’t either,

but,

it will keep my mind,

busy,

supple,

(May My Mind Stroll About Hungry And Fearless And Thirsty And Supple-e.e cummings)

acquiring new,

knowledge,

and,

ideas.

I have finished my first book,

of the year,

and,

am well on my way,

to finishing,

the second.

The first book of the year,

is part of my great ideas project-

A Room Of One’s Own,

by Virginia Woolf.

I have to say,

all three of the books,

I have read,

in my great ideas project,

so far,

have been,

stellar.

This essay by,

the handsome and impressive,

Virginia,

is definitely worth your time.

I imagine tons of you,

are thinking,

“B.B I read that in college, years ago, where have you been? living under a rock???”

Well, not,

under a rock,

precisely,

but,

I must say,

I am perplexed that an almost,

fifty year old butch,

such as myself,

reasonably well read,

without a college education,

but,

still,

has managed to have,

not,

read this essay.

It is considered one of,

the great feminist essays.

Who knows,

not enough Women’s Studies classes,

I guess.

I liked it a lot,

and I will write about it,

more,

soon.

For the time being,

I need to sit with it,

in my mind,

digest it.

 

The other book I am,

reading is a classic,

of the LGBTQ canon,

a memoir,

a coming out story,

Becoming A Man by Paul Monette,

beautifully written,

blood and guts stuff,

reminds me of the Hemingway quote,

about writing being easy,

all you need to do,

is sit at the typewriter and bleed,

I paraphrase,

but,

that is the gist.

Monette’s book,

is,

shockingly honest and raw,

and,

angry,

at the way,

gay men and women,

sometimes live half a life,

because,

of their attempts to,

pass,

and lots of time spent in,

the closet.

Now,

to be sure,

that isn’t the experience,

of all gay men,

especially not,

the younger generation,

but,

the feeling of otherness,

that is true and real,

for all,

well,

I think it is.

🙂

I am only one third in,

but,

so far,

it feels like,

one of those books,

that changes you,

like Stone Butch Blues did,

like Bastard Out Of Carolina did,

the naked truth,

of,

feeling,

of hurt,

of surpassing.

I have had this book,

on my shelf for a long time,

this is the year,

I read it.

 

I am following some,

reading advice,

from Austin Kleon,

I find that Austin,

has inspired me,

in many ways,

with his books,

and his excellent blog,

it isn’t touchy feely,

his blog,

but,

it isn’t,

dark and brooding either,

practical advice,

for getting things done,

for creating and reading again.

Here is the link,

to the post on how to read more,

http://austinkleon.com/2014/12/29/how-to-read-more/

his advice on logbooks,

is pretty darn good too,

http://austinkleon.com/2015/01/12/six-years-of-logbooks/

and,

reading Austin’s advice on reading more,

brought me to,

Ryan Holliday and his,

recommendations,

http://ryanholiday.net/how-to-read-more-a-lot-more/

I think both are well worth checking out,

and,

perhaps incorporating some,

of their advice,

into our daily grind and ritual.

So, I have on,

the night table,

the desk,

a bunch of books to read in,

January,

a couple of fiction,

a couple of non-fiction,

I look forward to all of them,

and sharing my thoughts,

with you.

Be well.

I’m off to read

🙂

Later girls,

BB

 

Stevenson and his great ideas

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A bit of grey early December

 

DSC_2580

DSC_2597

First let me apologize for,

my recent silence,

it isn’t so much that,

I have been busy,

more like,

sick,

I have had my third cold,

in less than two months,

and,

Winter,

hasn’t even hit,

good times

🙂

Moving on.

I have read,

another of the books,

in the great ideas series,

by Penguin,

An Apology For Idlers,

by R.L Stevenson,

delightful small book (113 pages)

of essays,

on the power and importance,

of a certain idleness,

I need not be convinced of this:-P

advice on living the life of an artist,

an essay on how age,

does not necessarily bring,

wisdom,

and,

my personal fave from this collection,

On Falling In Love.

Delightful essays,

by a delightful writer,

full confession here:

I don’t believe,

I have ever read any Robert Louis Stevenson.

I might have been read,

Treasure Island,

as a child,

but,

I am not sure,

I remember fragments,

Long John Silver,

not much else.

This is quite an important,

oversight,

on my part,

Stevenson,

if I base myself,

on this book,

is a damn good writer,

I just remembered, I did read The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as a teenager.

So maybe,

I need to look into him,

more.

My Granny,

on my dad’s Scottish side of the family,

was a Stevenson,

Her grandfather,

father,

brother,

were all named Robert.

I seem to recall,

my granny has been gone since 1976,

her mentioning,

that R.L Stevenson was a cousin,

I like to think he was,

a famous writer cousin,

in the family tree,

yup,

sounds good.

Here is a sampling,

from,

On Falling In Love:

The simple accident of falling in love is as beneficial as it is astonishing. It arrests the petrifying influence of years, disproves cold-blooded and cynical conclusions, and awakens dormant sensibilities. Hitherto the man had found it a good policy to disbelieve the existence of any enjoyment which was out of his reach; and thus he turned his back upon the strong sunny parts of nature, and accustomed himself to look exclusively on what was common and dull. He accepted a prose ideal, let himself go blind of many sympathies by disuse…and now, all of a sudden, he is unhorsed, like St-Paul, from his infidel affectation. His heart, which has been ticking accurate seconds for the last year, gives a bound and begins to beat irregularly in his breast. It seems as if he had never heard or felt or seen until that moment; and by the report of memory of his memory, he must have lived his past life between sleep and waking, or with the preoccupied attention of a brown study-

page 29 An Apology For Idlers(On Falling In Love) Robert Louis Stevenson

Love gives your life,

wings,

texture,

falling in love,

gets your blood flowing,

and,

bathes the world in a rosy hue,

love is grand.

I am so far,

very much enjoying,

this great ideas reading,

food for thought,

and,

for dreams,

day dreams,

about my girl,

and,

how,

much better,

my,

life,

is,

since she came into it.

Have a wonderful day, you all.

Later girls,

BB

 

thoughts on reading….

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I hope this grey November,

we are experiencing,

finds you all well,

and who knows,

perhaps your part of the world,

is not awash in grey.

Grey is a colour,

I am familiar with,

lots of grey in,

a city Winter,

I don’t relish it,

but,

I do know it.

I am in,

a very serious,

mood,

mode,

of late,

pensive,

not too social,

not anti-social,

but, more quiet like.

I have been reading,

Montaigne,

On Friendship,

just finished it,

I’m glad I read it,

I found that lots of it,

was,

right on.

I was equally put off,

by much of it,

Montaigne,

although a deep thinker,

is a man of his era,

women are pretty much,

silly ornamental play things,

not even close to being equals.

This bugs me,

as a woman,

it’s bugs me even more,

as a woman who has known,

deep friendship with men.

In order to enjoy,

and,

benefit from these books,

written by great thinkers,

hundreds of years ago,

one needs to push that aside,

that’s ok,

I’m used to it,

as a woman,

as a gay woman,

even more.

Change the genders,

ignore gender,

whatever,

it can be done.

I have often quoted Montaigne,

on friendship,

Because it was him: because it was me,

this describes so well,

the inexplicable chemistry of friendship,

in it’s mysteriousness,

it is much like romantic love.

Why two people,

can be perfect for each other,

‘on paper’

and,

have absolutely nothing,

to say to each other,

and in some cases,

actually feel repulsion,

and,

with others,

instant,

click.

Mysterious.

Friendship,

is a deep relationship,

not something light,

and frivolous,

although it may include fun,

mostly.

it is about dropping one’s masks,

trusting to be,

wholly,

yourself,

without fear of rejection,

judgement,

this is a rare occurrence,

some people,

I am certain of this,

never experience it,

perhaps it is a lack of luck,

or of,

putting their faith in unworthy people,

or an inability,

to open themselves up,

to another.

Perhaps, this too is mysterious.

Friendship,

while mutually beneficial,

is in and of itself,

giving,

not counting,

in order for it to be,

true, deep,

it must be surrounded by,

a leap of faith bubble,

absolute trust,

nothing can bring,

the level of joy,

that friendship can,

nothing can bring us,

greater pain,

when trust is broken.

Nothing.

We often use the word friend,

when what we mean is,

acquaintance,

colleague,

comrade,

even

Moreover what we normally call friends and friendship are no more than acquaintance and familiar relationships bound by some chance or suitability, by means of which our souls support each other.

he goes on to say:

In the friendship which I am talking about, souls are mingled and confounded in so universal a blending that they efface the seam which joins them together so that it cannot be found. If you press me to say why I loved him, I feel that it cannot be expressed except by replying: “Because it was him: because i was me.” Meditating this union there was, beyond all that I can say specifically about it, some inexplicable force of destiny-  Michel de Montaigne, On Friendship, Penguin Great Ideas, pages 9-10

beautiful, heartfelt,

but,

there is more,

All the arguments in the world have no power to dislodge me from the certainty which I have of the intentions and decisions of my friend. Not one of his actions could be set before me-no matter what it looked like-without my immediately discovering it’s motive. page 12

the friendship of Montaigne and La Boetie,

is a rare one,

most cannot count themselves as lucky.

The loss of his friend after only a few years,

makes it,

perhaps,

worse,

I merely drag wearily on. The very pleasures which are proffered me do not console me: they redouble my sorrow at his loss. In everything we were halves: I feel I am stealing his share from him- page 19

After I finished reading,

this small book,

I went through my bookshelves,

because I wanted more,

on friendship,

and I came upon,

a small book of essays by Emerson,

one of the essays,

is entitled,

simply,

Friendship.

Emerson is a dour old,

New Englander,

but,

his words are filled with truth.

I hate the prostitution of the name of friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances- Friendship, page 45 of Self-Reliance And Other Essays

Friendship is as important to Emerson as to Montaigne,

his view is not however of two souls in perfect harmony,

Friendship requires that rare and mean betwixt likeness and unlikeness, that piques each with the presence of power and of consent in the other party. Let me be alone to the end of the world, rather than that my friend should overstep, by a word or a look, his real sympathy. I am equally balked by antagonism and by compliance. Let him not cease for an instant to be himself …better be a nettle in the side of your friend than be his echo-page 47

The types of friendship,

Montaigne and Emerson,

experience,

are different,

but,

both are filled with love, respect, and genuine affection.

I have experienced both in my life,

both are nourishing,

satisfying,

both make life worth living.

These are my thoughts,

on the reading of these two great works.

They are worth the time,

the mental gymnastics required.

Just wanted to share with you all,

what sticks out,

for me,

after a first reading.

Great ideas,

a good choice,

for a grey November,

when there is time,

for reflection and grief processing.

Grief over lost friendship,

is a long process,

well,

it is for me.

I take time to digest things,

always been slow that way.

I imagine some,

of you,

maybe be thinking,

enough time has passed,

move on BB,

I get that,

I also get that people,

think,

and have even said,

not in a mean way,

that losing a friend,

can’t be compared to losing,

family.

At first,

this hurt me,

a little,

it felt a tad,

inconsiderate,

clueless,

but,

on reflection,

I feel,

that perhaps,

they have simply never experienced that,

level of friendship.

I am fortunate,

I have,

I do.

Later girls,

BB

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘great ideas’ challenge to myself

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Good morning you all.

I hope the sky,

wherever you are is less,

grey,

than here in the,

beautiful ugly,

ah November,

the dreaded one.

I have had a wonderful weekend,

time spent with precious friends,

work,

photography,

laughs,

entertainment and even,

a little shopping,

good weekend.

I mentioned a few months ago,

that I would be reading,

Montaigne,

a sort of a tribute to my anarchist,

Montaigne having such,

pertinent,

thoughts on friendship.

I downloaded the complete essays,

on my e-reader,

it has proven to be,

a daunting task,

but,

I will not be deterred,

I have found a,

perfect solution,

I think.

🙂

On Friendship,

in the Penguin Great Ideas  collection,

so,

a small,

easy to handle,

portion of Montaigne,

about a hundred pages,

and,

it is the essays on friendship,

like I said,

perfect.

This collection is made up,

of five phases,

I have read a few,

and,

plan to read a few more.

This is what Penguin ‘says’

about this collection:

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

So, an idea,

came to me.

Why not read,

one a month,

not a big commitment,

and,

will allow me to read some,

quality non-fiction,

which,

sadly,

is something I don’t read enough of.

These are slim volumes,

can be carried anywhere,

pocket, bag, whatever.

The first on my list,

is the Montaigne,

second: A Room Of One’s Own.

Virginia Woolf,

has been a challenge for me,

perhaps,

I am just not literary enough,

this small essay,

I know I can handle,

and,

more than certainly benefit from.

Perusing the list,

I found there were many,

I had a real interest in reading.

On Solitude-Montaigne

An Apology For Idlers-R.L Stevenson

On The Pleasure Of Hating-Hazlitt

The Jewish State-Herzl.

These will bring me into April 2015,

at the one a month pace.

Friendship,

a place to create,

idleness,

I believe anyone who knows me,

or reads my blog,

is aware that these,

are important themes to me.

The Hazlitt on hating,

well,

because,

I think Hazlitt an interesting character,

and,

I have an interest in haters,

I am not one,

but,

I know a few.

🙂

what is that hip hop expression?

Haters Gonna Hate.

The Jewish State,

because I am fascinated by all things,

Jewish,

yep,

I am intrigued to read,

where,

the father of Zionism,

was coming from.

So that is my,

reading project,

well,

one of them for the next few months.

I am still wading through,

Walden,

an important book,

no doubt,

but,

it is tedious,

definitely a broccoli read

🙂

If any of you,

would like to join my in this,

endeavour,

please do,

lots of Great Ideas books to pick from.

Let me know,

guest post?

Why not.

Be well.

Later girls,

BB

***Very sad news, I learned this morning of the passing of Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues shook me to my very core

here is an early blog post in which I describe the experience of reading it :http://bookishbutch.com/?p=157

RIP Leslie***