17 December 2012

Too Good Not to Share

I have attempted to tell people this, but they simply do not want to believe it.  Their wrong beliefs regarding other religions are nearly as strong as the beliefs they have for their own.

It seems as if religious faith and open mindedness cannot co-habitate in the same mind--at least in the cases I have encountered.

Don't be closed minded....

Think About It

11 December 2012

Review of Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and CreationMagic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is upsetting: I wrote a review here, about an hour ago. It's gone. I wrote the whole thing, clicked save down there at the bottom and ...

What have I learned from this? In future I will write reviews in a word processor or text editor and save them; then, I will cut and paste them here. This is a very frustrating experience: first, because I don't like writing reviews about collections--whether of essays or short stories or poems. My mind tries to go too many ways, even when, as in this collection, there is clear connection between the individual works.

Bissell connects his essays with the theme of the creator and the act of creating, whether that is in film, TV, fiction or video games. I'll confess that I did not read that essay: i.e. "The Invisible Girl," because I have no interest in video games or in how they are made.

The essays I most enjoyed are: "The Theory and Practice of Not Giving a Shit," in which Bissell visits the author, Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall) and "Writing about Writing about Writing."

Harrison has the persona of the gifted artist; that special person who has been touched by the Nine Muses, maybe he has. There is a definite agon, here, with Hemingway, et al; it could be fun to look at Harrison in light of Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence.

Well, sadly, that's about all I can recall from my earlier attempt.

I do look forward to reading more of Tom Bissell's work, which I'll approach with curiosity and pleasure.

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07 December 2012

A Review of The Book of J

The Book of JThe Book of J by Harold Bloom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bloom shares his interesting ideas about the parts of the Torah/Pentateuch which were written by the Yahwist, whom he calls J. Rosenberg's translations of these parts is amazing; really bringing out the irony that Bloom mentions so often in this book.

Religion doesn't play a part in this project, in fact, Bloom makes the argument that J should be considered blasphemous when taken in conjunction with the orthodox views of God, Yahweh, or whatever one happens to call this character; that is what Yahweh is to J: a character.

Knowing something of the Bible is more than helpful; and actually, I can't imagine anyone who doesn't know the Bible fairly well being interested in this book. Even lit geeks, if a knowledge of the Bible is lacking, may have trouble with most of what Bloom says about the sections which scholars believe were written by J.

Bloom discusses J, E, P, D and R: writers and redactors who had a hand in what we now call the Torah or the Pentateuch. Some religious believers don't like this, because the Bible itself says that Moses is the author. However, scholars have been able to recognize different styles, and certain aspects of an earlier writer which were missed inadvertently by a later one.

I will spare the details, because Bloom does a much better job of expounding them. But, he doesn't go into depth with any writer, except J.

My interest in this book was from a textual comparison point of view; I have been fascinated by the differences, often glaringly contradictory, in many translations of the Bible (as well as other books). This is evidence that translations do indeed usually signify interpretation. Therefore, no translation can be 100% accurate, as even the original is open to interpretation. This can become a thorny mess and has led to many arguments, which thankfully, Bloom doesn't spend too much time on. His interest is mostly literary, so he avoids much of the theological/philosophical arguments concerning the meanings, etc. This also gives him freedom to take off the "rose colored glasses" of religious interpretation, which often blind readers to what is actually written.

If you are at all interested in the history of the text of the Tanakh/Old Testament, specifically the Torah/Pentateuch/Books of Moses; or in textual comparison, interpretation, criticism, etc.; then, I recommend this book. It does lack a scholarly apparatus, as many of Bloom's books do, making it difficult to do further research, etc. from this text. It is, however, a good place to begin, and (as it was meant to be) to be enjoyed by the lay reader/general public.

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