EppsNet Archive: Literature

Like Virgil

 

Like Virgil, I recognize that I may have falsified reality in my attempt to create beauty . . . Read more →

Voltaire and Me

 

According to LibraryThing, Voltaire’s library and my library have three books in common, even though Voltaire died almost 200 years before I was born. The three books are: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne I also have in my library one book — Candide — written by Voltaire. Read more →

The Blindness and the Wretchedness of Man

 

hen I see the blindness and the wretchedness of man, when I regard the whole silent universe, and man without light, left to himself, and, as it were, lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who has put him there, what he has come to do, what will become of him at death, and incapable of all knowledge, I become terrified, like a man who should be carried in his sleep to a dreadful desert island, and should awake without knowing where he is, and without means of escape. And thereupon I wonder how people in a condition so wretched do not fall into despair. I see other persons around me in conditions of a like nature. I ask them if they are better informed than I am. They tell me that they are not. And thereupon these wretched and lost beings, having looked around them, and seen… Read more →

2016: The Year in Books

 

These are the books I read in 2016, roughly in the order listed. I got off to a good start then had a kind of a breakdown later in the year. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (fiction) and For the Time Being by Annie Dillard (non-fiction). My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

George Orwell: “I Told You So”

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met. — Associated Press Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said that Clinton “has always made an effort to be transparent since entering public life.” In addition to the unrecorded meetings with donors, this effort at transparency includes setting up a private email server to use as Secretary of State, and giving speeches at $200,000 per to Wall Street banks and investment firms, foreign governments and other special interest groups under a contract that prevents anyone from releasing a transcript of what she said. Merrill went on to say, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Read more →

You’re Walking Around With a Mask On

 

You know you’re walking around with a mask on, and you desperately want to take it off and you can’t because everyone else thinks it’s your face. — Pat Barker, Regeneration Read more →

Harper Lee, 1926-2016

 

28 Sep 2008 I took my son to the bookstore to buy To Kill a Mockingbird for his English class. They had two paperback editions available — one with a fancy binding for $15.95 and another one for three dollars less. I pulled the cheaper one off the shelf and my son asked, “Why are we getting that one?” I said, “Because it’s three dollars less for the same book.” “I like the other cover better,” he said. “Gimme three dollars.”   23 Oct 2008 FATHER: Would you take out the trash please? SON: Are you KIDDING?! I’m doing homework! I’ll take out the trash if you read To Kill a Mockingbird and tell me what each chapter is about. FATHER: I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird. You want to know what it’s about? ‘Racism is Bad.’ Now take out the garbage.   RIP Harper Lee Read more →

Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries

 

Shut not your doors to me, proud libraries, For that which was lacking among you all, yet needed most, I bring; A book I have made for your dear sake, O soldiers, And for you, O soul of man, and you, love of comrades; The words of my book nothing, the life of it everything; A book separate, not link’d with the rest, nor felt by the intellect; But you will feel every word, O Libertad! arm’d Libertad! It shall pass by the intellect to swim the sea, the air, With joy with you, O soul of man. — Walt Whitman, “Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries” Read more →

2015: The Year in Books

 

These are the books I read in 2015, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: Hotel World by Ali Smith (fiction) and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton (non-fiction). Honorable Mention: Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Disgrace, Lament for a Maker, Nothing. My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

Huckleberry Finn Banned Again

 

A Pennsylvania high school has removed Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its 11th-grade curriculum after complaints from students who said they were made “uncomfortable” by the novel. The school’s principal defended the decision to remove the book from the curriculum. “I do not believe that we’re censoring,” he said. “I really do believe that this is an opportunity for the school to step forward and listen to the students.” He went on to add, “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” Because if suppression of material you deem objectionable is not censoring, what is? As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, “Have somebody read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution out loud to you, you God damned fool!” Read more →

Cashing In

 

When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy. — Joseph Heller, Catch-22 Read more →

Happiness is Not . . .

 

Happiness does not consist of the gratification of your wishes. Anna Karenina, for example, is quite illuminating on this point. Try reading a book once in a while, you’ll pick up on a lot of universal errors like that. Read more →

All Joy Wants Eternity

 

O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? “I was asleep— From a deep dream I woke and swear:— The world is deep, Deeper than day had been aware. Deep is its woe— Joy—deeper yet than agony: Woe implores: Go! But all joy wants eternity— Wants deep, wants deep eternity. — Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra Read more →

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

 

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. — W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” Read more →

EppsNet Book Reviews: Hotel World by Ali Smith

 

Happy is what you realize you are a fraction of a second before it’s too late. Hotel World takes place in and around a hotel in London, hence the title, but Hotel World is also a metaphor for life: people check in and people check out. It’s about remembering to live, remembering that you won’t live forever . . . it’s about love, not romantic love, but a mother’s love for her daughter, sisters’ love for each other . . . and it’s about how close people come to really understanding one another, which is not very close at all. Rating: Read more →

EppsNet Book Reviews: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

 

Kudos to Francis Ford Coppola for making one of the most renowned films of all time out of this pedestrian soap opera. Rating: Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

 

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand. About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority. I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me. This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . . This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.… Read more →

2014: The Year in Books

 

These are the books I read in 2014, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: My Antonia by Willa Cather (fiction) and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (non-fiction). Honorable Mention: Flaubert’s Parrot, The Fountain Overflows, Nausea, Pastoralia, Revolutionary Road. My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

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