Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What I’m Reading

Well, already I have not honored my commitment to write every day. I thought that setting up themes would make it easier. And as much as I would like to say it's about time, it's not. I spend a lot of time lately staring off into space, or just sitting on the couch eating. Maybe I'm more depressed than I thought. But here's a beginning…I'll post some pictures and call Monday. I think Monday will have to be my picture day as I spent 12 hours at the university and when I come home, blogging is the last thing on my mind.

Tuesdays are my reports on the multiple books I have going on. I'd love to hear what you, my dear readers, have been reading in the comments and your opinions (if any on what I'm reading).

Here's my list, some with comments and others with just quotes.

Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy by Anne Dufourmantelle. Translated by Catherine Porter. Thanks to dear John B-R for this recommendation.

"Sex is the subterranean fiction that makes us beings pledged to 'the other,' without fail. Philosophy, for its part, is a derivative, secondary obsession. Because philosophy requires that the world be a source of astonishment for us, a source of anxiety and pardon. Thus that there be otherness"(6).

"…we prefer to forget that one enters into words with one's body"(6).

I am not far into this book but already it is inspiring me creatively. I can see that these words will inspire some writing soon. They stick to me, and come to me in my dreams. Sara Ahmed in The Cultural Politics of Emotions writes about emotions as sticky things that adhere to the body. The words in this text are sticky as well. They are like super sticky notes that won't go away. I am fascinated by the phrase 'subterranean fiction.' What does that mean? What it is it? Is sex the only one? Could love be there or is love the same as sex for Dufourmantelle? And I wonder if sex is not also a source of anxiety…but I haven't read yet to begin a critique of her theory….right now I am dancing with her words.

Witchcraft in Europe: 400-1700: A Documentary History Edited by Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters

Obviously this is a text for school. I do love primary sources though, and this one is quite fascinating. It contains various Papal Bulls concerning witchcraft and heresy as well as various treaties on witchcrafts in addition to witch-hunting manuals. There is a general attitude from the editors that the focus has been misplaced on women, and yet it is hard to not miss the outright misogyny in the texts. There was a call in class tonight to not blame "these people" for this hatred and to try to understand. I don't know if I can do this, and nor am I entirely convinced that we should. I have never been asked to sympathize with the Nazis when reading such primary sources. I wonder if understanding has to involve empathy or sympathy.

But my quote is funny: "And what, then, is to be thought of those witches who in this way sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird's nest, or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eats oats and corn, as has been seen by many, and is a matter of common report? It is to be said that it is all done by devil's work and illusion, for the senses of those who see them are deluded in the way we have said. For a certain man tells that, when he had lost his member, he approached a known witch to ask her to restore it to him. She told the afflicted man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take which he liked out of a nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said: You must not take that one; adding, because it belonged to a parish priest(203).

Hold onto your members…

Fluffy reading. I don't normally engage in fluffy reading during the semester but my lovely reoccurring insomnia struck again so late exhausted nights don't lend themselves well to my school texts.

First, I read Hard Row by Margaret Maron. I do love a good mystery, and Maron's books are all set in NC so they're fun. Plus she's a good writer, and I like her characters. But this book bothered me on many levels. First it involved migrant workers in NC which wasn't bad in itself. There was an "interracial" relationship in the book between a Mexican landscaper and one of the female detective. The woman's family is racist and disowns her until she leaves the man. One of the main characters in the book, when told this story, says "Family is important." Ummm…yeah okay. Even when they're racist assholes? The whole implication is that maybe it's better if we all get along but don't breed together. Whoa. I'm hoping that in her next book, she fleshes this out more. And then her take on abused women. God it was horrible. It was basically that they didn't do enough to protect themselves, and that their deaths could not be laid at the feet of law enforcement. So fluffy reading gone bad.

And speaking of going bad…Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn't even finish this one. Her self-righteous attitude rankled big time. Basically, she moves her family from Arizona to the Appalachian Mountains in order to farm, and to live off locally, seasonally correct food for a year. No grocery stores, etc. The book has interesting tidbits about farming (including a rousing endorsement for tobacco farmers while pointedly ignoring that tobacco KILLS people because hey tobacco sent her to college), but it also contains a great deal about how those of us who don't buy organic, seasonally, etc are totally destroying the planet, and putting small farmers out of business. And I'm sure she's right on many levels but the manner in which she puts it is so…patronizing and judgmental. She seems to have no awareness that what she's doing is totally a middle-class venture available only because she has money (no doubt she had a book contract while she was doing this experiment in living). She made ridiculous critical statements about those who could not make their own pasta…of course we ALL have the time to do this…Basically she really made me ill. I felt that her lack of class consciousness was very sad. She bemoans the poor farmer but says nothing of the fact that most people can't afford to pay 6.00 for a few lbs. of zucchini which is the going price at our local farmer's market…or how about $8 for a small bottle of honey? I do try to shop at Farmer's Markets but they are very pricey. And they are also quite far away, as in 45 min. of driving so I'm using up my own fossil fuel to get there as are the vendors who don't usually grow in Charlotte. Couple this with some outright racist farmers who will not get my business, and well sometimes our local grocery store (a block way filled with wonderful local people) is a better option. I'm curious to see what others have thought about this book.

But it did inspire me to try to make some small changes. I'm going to start taking the bus on Wednesdays (the bus doesn't come out here late on Mondays). It's only one day without a car but it's a start. In addition, H and I have committed to do something about our reliance on paper towels.

A rather dull post but hey I wroteJ


John B-R said...

I don't think you're capable of a dull post.

Jess said...

I have to say I am having some similar reactions to the Barbara Kingsolver! I think the most frustrating thing about it (as far as I am into it) was that she didn't seem to really acknowledge that she could do this because of her financial situation, and that not everybody has that ability. And if you discover how to break free from paper towels, let me know. We use WAY too many of them. And dishcloths aren't really an answer for us, because we don't have our own washing machine and can't them clean enough quickly enough.

Lolabola said...

we have a huge pile of rags under our sink that we use instead of paper towels (except in those greasy meat dish moments) an old flannel sheet became a bit too old so I cut it up into decent sized squares and there they sit under the kitchen sink. I use them to mop up a mess and then rinse in the sink and hang to dry on the cupboard door. For the extra clean, I use a dish cloth after. works pretty well. once they get really gross I throw them in the wash but a sheet really provides a lot of rags!

just reading about that Kingsolver book made me angry so thanks for the heads up.

am currently in the process of reading what's on my shelf that has been there for too long. making a pile of books that are going out of here by the end of the year whether I've read them or not.

by currently, I mean after I read the other book someone just gave me ;)

Lolabola said...

oh yeah, and YAY bus! you're going to get even more reading done....

Horacio said...

first of all, i couldn't agree more with John.

"Blind Date:..." thanks to John for the recommendation since i am, also and indirectly, reading and enjoying it as well. I love the idea of words as post it notes: all covered in post its, sticky!

Witches and members (of the C. party): i thought Les Claypool from Primus had said that it was bass players that had the biggest dicks... i guess is priests now.

barbara kingsoliver... guacala!

riding the bus: "she's got a ticket to ride"!

Ginger said...

Thanks John.

Jessica, I also love it that she choices a place with a much longer growing season than many places. I mean can you imagine living of the bounty of the season in Maine? I mean, there was a reason why people often died of malnutrition!

I'll let you know how the paper towel battle goes. We do have a washer (we'd sink without one...too many kids).

Lola, yes the bus...will give me lots of extra time as our buses do not run on any kind of logic. Basically, I have to ride all the way downtown, transfer and ride to the university even though it would be much quicker to not go downtown. It's the main reason I've put off the bus for so long...but I figured I could read.

Lolabola said...

hey that sounds exactly like my bus route, only then I have to get the bus at the uni to work. stupid bus map! but once I got over it, I actually need that time to unwind now.

word verification:jumqek

neverneutral said...

i like that lolabola gal

Lolabola said...

yes well people with good taste tend to clump together no?