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.


‘Phrasis’ By Wendy Xu

I read her chapbook, Naturalism, some time back, and this fuller collection has a few crossover poems (including the titular Naturalism).

Phrasis is a very good and enjoyable collection, but not truly great. It struck me as the work of a very good poet, but it wasn’t one of those that really bowled me over, you know? Wordsworth bowls me over, but that can’t be the standard, can it? The first books I read by both Cathy Linh Che, Charles Simic, and Anne Carson both bowled me over.

But I don’t want to damn with faint praise. It’s very, very good. Sometimes she engages in some colloquialism or profanity that never quite takes – I don’t think she’s quite ruthless enough in her use of it – but her more ‘poetic’ lines and stanzas (that vast majority) are great.

Journey To The Center Of The Earth

I read this book when I was in elementary and it was a little lost of me, not in the least because Verne almost always have a pedagogical goal, in addition to wanting to tell a roaring good yarn (which he did).

When I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was somewhat disappointed in how the desire to educate got in the way of an exciting tale. Journey to the Center of the Earth had no such problem.

Though I will add, though I hope it’s superfluous, that much of the science has been… superseded by more recent discoveries.

If you have primarily seen the various movies (as a kid, I remember one with James Mason and I was inspired to reread the novel by having my daughter watch the surprisingly fun version with Brendan Fraser), you may be surprised by the lack of dinosaurs. There is a fight between a plesiosaur (of some kind) and an ichthyosaur (of some kind), each of a size that I think rather exceeds that of known members of those groups. There is also a herd of mastodons who are, apparently, being herded by a twelve foot high prehistoric man of some kind. Exciting stuff, but not really what I was looking for as a child. This would have been better for me to have tried to read in middle school.

But if you do want dinosaurs and want to stay in this sort of genre, Arthur Conany Doyle, of Sherlock fame, wrote a novel featuring Professor Challenge called The Lost World. Try that one.