Recent Readings and Intros

Spinozablue welcomes new poetry from Shira Dentz, Dominic Rivron, and Adam Day.

The Last Pomegranate Tree, by the acclaimed Kurdish writer, Bachtyar Ali, is a magical, moving story of war, its volatile aftermath, and the search for a long-lost son who becomes two, then three. Translated from the Kurdish by Kareem Abdulrahman, this fascinating novel mixes allegory, magical realism, and mystical flights to tell the story of Muzafar-i Subhdam, a Peshmerga fighter released from prison after 21 years in the desert. Muzafar soon embarks on a journey of discovery, hoping to find his son, Saryas, born just days before he was captured and thrown into prison.…

The Half has Never Been Told, by Edward E Baptist

Just starting an important history book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward E Baptist. It’s excellent so far, especially in bringing voices normally left out of histories to the fore: slaves. Their thoughts, their viewpoints. It’s admirable work by the author in putting that together, which can’t be easy, for obvious reasons.

Difficult reading so far. Not because it’s intellectually complex or loaded with jargon. This isn’t quantum physics, one scientist talking to another. It’s our historical reality and the flow of time that led to our current Now. It’s the horrific evolution of this nation and we need to know the complete, unvarnished truth, without hiding from it, ever, in any venue, in any school, in any institution, to prevent anything this monstrous from happening again.…

Forget the Alamo, and Other Myths that Divide Us

I love mythology. Reading it, studying it, pondering its sources and patterns. I love uncovering common mythic threads in multiple cultures, and how we humans repeatedly tell stories about ourselves that strike the same or similar chords — usually without realizing this. East to West, North to South, and all points in between, our myths, when studied holistically as myths, remind us of our commonalities far more than our differences, which is one of the reasons why that study is imperative.

If we take a bird’s eye view, if we fly above it all, mythic journeys generally follow the same basic routes, and they’re naturally, deeply connected with our own, personal travels from birth to death and beyond — often in hopes of that beyond.…

The Passing of Tony Judt

One of our finest historians passed away on August 6th. Tony Judt, the author of numerous historical works, with a primary focus on French intellectuals, passed away after a long battle with ALS. He was 62.

I recently read his excellent Ill Fares the Land, which would have been a strong and timely work regardless of how it was written. Given the fact that he dictated it while suffering from the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease made it all the more poignant and moving. Here is the opening section, first published in the New York Review of Books:

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today.

The Ground of Change

William Blake’s Elohim Creating Adam. 1795

Wright’s book is picking up steam. He writes with compression, gets to the point quickly, after marshaling his facts and evidence. And the story he tells is enthralling. Polytheism, to monolatry to monotheism. Some of it I already knew. But much of it is new to me, based upon recent excavations and readings of better, more accurate translations of existing scripture. Wright’s gift is to put it all together in a very accessible, organized manner.

There is much evidence to suggest that Yahweh evolved from at least two Canaanite gods before him, El and Baal.

The Sting of the Sun

Evolution of God, by Robert Wright

About 100 pages into a fascinating new book, detailing the rise and fall of gods, goddesses, the religious impulse and its repercussions. The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright, is a general history, starting from the earliest hunter-gatherer societies, moving into chiefdoms after the discovery of agriculture, onto city-states in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and through the advent of Levantine monolatry and monotheism. I’ve reach the foot of Mount Monolatry and fierce storms are taking shape.

Wright reminds us how much religion permeated every culture, from the dawn of human time to the present. All things were tied to the gods, especially early on in our evolution.…

Out of the Many, Uno

I have been saddened lately by a strong sense of national disharmony. By a screaming, aggressive, desperate atonality. By a discordant barrage of sharps and flats that not only hurt the ear, but the soul. In fact, I think it has never been this bad before, though I do acknowledge that the shrill bombs of hatred and hostility have been with us always. They just seem louder now.

Right now, it feels like it’s never been worse, though undoubtedly in the past it has. Either way, I ponder and am depressed by reality, the waste, the senselessness. The sheer ugliness of the decibels.…

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