Tag Archives: Books

If You Can Pass Philosophy…….

You can pass any other college gen ed class. Unless you have eccentric tastes in recreational reading material or have actually taken a philosophy class, you have no accurate idea of what philosophy is. Even if you meet either or both of those criteria you may not still. On Wednesday I have an oral final in PHL 201 then I am done with the Fall 2014 semester, and more importantly, done with philosophy. It’s not a fun class, but you can learn a lot from it. Applying what you learned and showing that you learned it is the challenge, so in a way I’m happy I took it at the same time I wish I didn’t have to. Whatever the case, I’m just glad I didn’t take care of that requirement when I was still in community college. My community college had one class, and it was online so instead of lectures you had to watch VHS tapes from the ’80s which only had one set available at each campus library. Screw that. Taking PHL with an actual professor was a much better course of action, so I’m glad I took that route. On Wednesday I will say goodbye to Plato, Descartes, and Aristotle.



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Aristophanes and the Creation of Man

Right now I’m Philosophy 201 and we’re going over Plato. Here’s an excellent adaptation from one of his books that we watched in class:

This story is derived from Symposium and is told by Aristophanes, who was the bitter enemy of Plato’s mentor Socrates. Its notable that Plato gave the best speech in the book to a rival, and I find the story itself a very bizarre alternative to Genesis or most other First Man and First Woman Stories.


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My Year Without Books

Yeah it was about a year. It was like the last year or so of college and I’d gotten into playing 360 instead of reading. I started reading again when I entered community college and the first textbook I started with Intro to Theatre by Dr. Oscar Brockett.


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Queer Diction

I’m usually cautious not to use words I’m uncertain of, but when I was younger I did use words I read in books that have since acquired very different primary meanings. I remember reading the word “gay” and looking it up in my children’s dictionary (which was written in the ’70s, a very “gay” decade), and later using it myself to mean happy. This was maybe around 2000 or so, so I was like six. Suffice to say I had no knowledge of homosexuality, and wouldn’t until a few years later when it was all over the news about how California and Massachusetts would be legalizing same sex marriage. I first encountered the word “ejaculate” while reading Mark Twain and when I looked it up, this time in an unabridged Webster’s, the first definition was not the one the book meant. Amusingly a lot of these terms have been sneakily used in the past with our modern meanings.


I only read the first four or five Hardy Boys before getting utterly bored with the contrived formula and outdated dialogue using words phrases like “swell fellow,” but now I wouldn’t mind rereading them. Too bad the modern editions are censored.

Hardy Boys

Lots of people have noticed this: http://richmerritt.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/whats-your-egi-earliest-gay-influence-or-the-hardy-boys-made-me-gay/


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I’m more like Archie…..

You know, that asshole who’s been going back and forth between two girls (who also happen to be BFFs) for like seventy years. Fiction and nonfiction are like apples and oranges, sometimes you want the fictional one and sometimes you want the other. I just couldn’t settle on one, so I have to find a balance. As a general rule I do read nonfiction must faster then fiction, probably because the former doesn’t have to be read linearly. I don’t think its good to limit yourself to one type of reading, so maybe it isn’t a good idea to compare reading habits to someone like Archie who really needs to pull his shit together and stop being a selfish prick who wants everything.



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As is ugliness

And every other concept that is a judgment of worth. Every read Umberto Eco, everyone’s favorite semiotics professor turned novelist? He wrote a book titled on beauty. Okay read, nothing special. Then he wrote On Ugliness, in which he argues that art is actually dominated by ugliness and that beauty is defined as being the opposite of ugly.



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Old Books

Some brush off yellow’d pages
But knowledge is wine
Greatly enrich’d over time



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You Read it Here First

The English Honors Society publishes an annual collection of student writings, and I submitted my poems The Wild Hunt and Ballad of William Walker to them. This back in like February, but I recently received notification that they would be published in this year’s anthology and on Wednesday everyone who made it will be presenting their work. This coupled with getting hired by the school paper are significant steps towards realizing my dream of being a professional writer. While these will greatly increase my audience it is you, my faithful Friends, who were my audience first.

Here are the poems:



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Review of King Leopold’s Ghost

I have just finished reading King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild. It tells about how Belgium’s King, Leopold II, managed to purchase the Congo as his personal estate. Many people are familiar with Stanley’s expedition of the Congo River, where he famously found Dr. Livingstone. What people do not know was that Stanley went to Congo in Leopold’s behalf, and that the duration of the journey was marked by monumental death and destruction. Torching villages, wiping out elephant herds, all of which laid a template for how Leopold would mismanage the Congo for the next several decades. What the book focuses on is how Leopold manipulated the global community into believing he was some great philanthropist (who took over the place simply to end bad things like slavery, female genital mutilation, and eating Pygmies), and how brave visitors eventually blew the whistle and led to his downfall. Congo’s resources have been proven to be more of a curse than a blessing, because the ample ivory, minerals, palm oil, timber, and rubber make it a very attractive place for exploitation. If Leopold didn’t take over someone else would have. Westerners have long viewed Africa as the Dark Continent, and this has proven to be a self fulfilling prophecy. Spreading lies that Africa was a savage place provided an excuse to exploit it, and as a result for the past three hundred years Africa’s history has been very Dark. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been one of the worst places in the world, and reading King Leopold’s Ghost will help you understand how it got that way.

amputee snake tintin

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Master and Margarita: A Review

The most recent book I have finished reading is The Master and Margatita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It tells the story of the Devil showing up in Moscow one day, some time in the late 1930s and follows him and his entourage across the town as they cause a number of outrageous incidents. While the satirical elements may not resonate with those unfamiliar with Stalin-era Soviet history (such as the Apartment Crisis), the events and characters will definitely compensate. The titular Master is a novelist who is writing a novel within a novel, which tells the story of Pontius Pilate and creates an amazing juxtaposition between modern Moscow and ancient Jerusalem. This overlaps with a retelling of the Faust legend. What makes the novel so brilliant are all of the characters, including the Devil who is shown as a stage magician and professor of the occult, a witch who is always naked, a dwarf vampire, Jesus, and giant talking cat who gives Garfield and the Cheshire Cat a run for their money. Oh, and accordion playing chimpanzees show up at one point. This is the best book I have read all year. You should read it. You shouldn’t be disappointed.


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