Forging The Darksword


If you are of a certain age and a certain neediness, you probably recognize the names of the authors as the duo behind the Dragonlance novels. Like me, you probably read them several times. And you are probably a little afraid of re-reading them because you suspect they really aren’t very good.

On the evidence of Darksword, maybe it would not be that bad. Not great. And maybe not even good. But not that bad.

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Afterland


My mother introduced me to Mai Der Vang, calling me up after reading about her in The New Yorker. Took me a while to get around to getting a copy and once I did, it was a slow read, rather than something one can plow through. A lot of emotionally difficult poems about alienation, immigration, land mines (Vang is Hmong, an ethnic group notable for being discriminated against by virtually every government in Southeast Asia and which often found itself on the wrong side of bombs from both sides during various American adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos).

Formally speaking, she frequently writes in couplets, which had the added effect of inspiring me to pull out a copy of Pope.

Acid Rain


We went to the National Museum if Women in the Arts the other day. I won’t lie. I picked the day because it’s free on the first Sunday of the month.

The little one was mostly unimpressed and distracted until she saw Acid Rain. She responded to it immediately. Her first reaction was to believe it was made of bones, which also feels like an emotional reaction rather than strictly perception. We spoke about it later and she told me it made her feel sad. Which, in one way, is bad, but she was having a reaction to contemporary art, which is more than most people ever have.

Hafiz Of Shiraz


When, sometimes, it becomes difficult to believe that these are truly directed towards God, you see this:

I have, honestly, never read nor wanted to read much of the trifecta of popular, mystical, Islamic poets known to western, non-Muslims (Hafiz and his even more popular compatriots, Gibran and Rumi), but I was glad I made an exception for Hafiz. And I have read enough into Sufism to understand that the erotic, alcoholic message is, truly a spiritual metaphor (and is it any more erotic than the religious poetry of Teresa de Avila?).

Things Overlooked


Not really adding anything, because I’m not in a great position to go back and re-read and re-examine, but how, when I was reading Julian, did I not think to go back and look at it Pater’s Marius!

Both are about Roman aristocrats from late antiquity with pretensions towards philosophy. Marius, of course, goes from living as a pagan (or, as Julian would have called, a Hellenic) to becoming a Christian, whereas Julian was raised in a rapidly Christianizing empire, but chose to adopt the gods of his ancestors.

A missed opportunity. I did see Marius sitting on my shelf, however, and maybe I will try and go back while Julian is more or less fresh in my mind.