I loved the Play "Cats". It tells a story based on the poems from T.S. Eliot’s book- “Old Possum’s, Book of Practical Cats. My very favorite part of the play was the beginning of the second act. As it started out it said- “We had the Experience but missed the meaning”. We don't want our lives to be like that, we want to find the meaning of our experiences.
The story is of a tribe of cats called the "Jellicles" and the night they make "the Jellicle choice", which was to decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.
Andrew Loyld Webber produced the play. Late in the production, and probably not part of the original plan, the director, Trevor Nunn, wrote the song Memory. He based it on T.S Eliot’s poems, “Preludes” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night”. The song, "Memory", proved to be the most popular song from the play. It was sung by the cat character Grizabella who was once a glamour cat but had become only a shell of her former self. The song is a remembrance of her glorious past and of her wish to start a new life. It is presented in the first act, but then again near the beginning of the 2nd Act. The song results in Old Deuteronomy choosing Grizabella to be able to go back and have another life.
Music has a way of taking us back to a time and a place. Memories are found by the music, as it seems to activate the brain. This happens in the medial prefrontal cortex region of the brain, which is one of the last to be changed with Alzheimer’s disease. That may help to explain why music can elicit such strong responses from people with Alzheimer's disease.
Many songs will bring back specific memories for us. Musicals often introduce songs, that are so powerful years later they easily bring back the first time you heard them. Examples of musicals that do this well are: Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera, and Cats.
Barbra Streisand recorded “Memory” in 1981. Her presentation was awesome. It seems like it was made just for her to sing. The song took Grizabella and those that heard it back to a time and place and those memories expressed earned her another life.
In 2009 when Scottish singer Susan Boyle performed this song, at her audition for the third series of the British reality TV show Britain's Got Talent, her career sky rocketed. She seemed in many ways to be the character Fantine.
Midnight, not a sound from the pavement, Has the moon lost her memory, She is smiling alone In the lamplight, The withered leaves collect at my feet. And the wind begins to moan
Memory, all alone in the moonlight, I can dream of the old days, Life was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the memory live again
Every street lamp seems to beat, A fatalistic warning, someone mutters and the street lamp sputters, and soon it will be morning
Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise, I must think of a new life, And I mustn't give in, When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory, too, and a new day will begin.
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, & Cats,
It has been at least 20 years since I first read “Things Fall Apart” and discovered it's author, Chinua Archebe. The book must have resonated with others because today it is the most translated African work of all time. It has been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 8 million copies.
In “Things Fall Apart” the main character was Okonkwo from a village in Nigeria. He was a warrior, father, and husband. A single minded hard man.
In the beginning of the book the Africans appeared uncivilized. As the book proceeded we understand that they were indeed a African tribe with strong traditions and values.
The dignity and humanity of their lives just falls away with the influence of the white missionaries and intruders, whose teachings are foreign to the tribe and of which resistance is impossible. The Christian salvation just doesn't resonate.
Okonkwo can't change himself, and seems to be alone in his understanding of what is happening, and he commits suicide. The culture is lost and a civilization is lost
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
“There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
Harold Fry is a retired sales rep, and a worn down husband. Up to the time he retires he was a "passive observer of his own life", but that changes as we walk with him and ponder over his life.
His passive response to his past has a lot to do with his wife, his son, and events at work over a long career. He receives a letter and learns that his friend from work twenty years ago, Queenie Hennessy, has cancer. It has been years since he had any contact, but he decides to go see her. It requires him to walk 627 miles and takes 87 days. (Not sure why he felt he had to walk but the book wouldn't be the book if he had just jumped in the car)
The journey and the experiences frees him from his past but it also seems to offer some freedom to the reader. His wife worries a lot but then she winds up being freed from her past. We experience the walk ourselves and as a lifetime of problems seem to slip away for Harold maybe some of our own problems start to seem a little different?
Three questions occur to me about Harold's Pilgrimage. Does making this trip make sense?
Could things really change because of the trip? Do the things that happened make sense?
A question of interest would be to learn "Why" Rachel Joyce wrote this book about Harold Fry? What did she want to do? Did she want the reader to leave wondering about Queenie Hennessy, his work friend who wrote him the letter, enough to then buy her next book? ( I haven't done that) She could have just wanted to write about why dull lives are not really dull if you think a lot about them. So go ahead and read the book and think about that
The book is well worth reading even if your not sure why it was written?
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Books about writing. especially those that are done by someone who is very skilled at the process, give you a boost and renew you.
Carolyn See, Natalie Goldberg, Mary Karr, Anne Lamott, Anne Dillard and a few others are all very talented, and it is just a pleasure to read what they write about writing.
Anne Lamott's seems to have been born a writer. I mean most of these talented people loved writing and books from an early age, but she really seems to have been a actual writer at an early age.
Her father was a writer and her accounts of her early life and his influence are a unique side of her. In this book she transitions into her chapters on writing technique from her own life story and the advice her father gave her brother. The book took it's name from that advice where he counseled him to tackle his story on birds, one bird at a time.
Her advice on writing is pretty basic, but it just feels different. It is her ability to offer simple advice in such a easy to read, free flowing style, that is so effective. You find yourself relaxing and just enjoying her language and her perspective on the process.
Some authors seem to put an unusual word or phrase into the dialog to "wake you up", but with Anne she evolves quite naturally from instruction to the language of life itself.
It is a good book and it can help you go back and "sharpen the saw" as Steven Covey would say.
Paula Hawkins is a British author who wrote "The Girl on the Train". It has been published in over forty languages, has been a #1 bestseller around the world, and is now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt. The book is a psychological thriller novel which deals with themes of domestic violence, alcohol, and drug abuse. The books success is amazing. Amazon has over 56,000 reviews for the book. Even though the overall rating is 4 stars out of 5 there are negative comments and people have mixed comments. The negatives are that book is a “fast read”. The plot moves you quickly, but it doesn’t stick with you too long when you finish.
With this kind of former success, and another book coming, you wonder how the new book will do?
I wanted to know more about this author? She worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. Paula moved to London in 1989. She moved to darker fiction as a style after her book The Money Goddess: The Complete Financial Makeover was released in 2007.
"Into the Water", is scheduled to be released May 2, 2017. It is her second dark fiction thriller.
Will “Into the Water” do as well as “The Girl on the Train”? We will have to wait to see. The book will be released on May 2nd, 2017.
You can click on the book link and order it here through Amazon or just put it on your to buy list.
This is a book that surprises you. It surprises because reading Steinbeck isn't like this, I thought. Yes it is about the land but it is about the man, the dog, and the camper crossing it.
It was first published in 1980 and told the story of a 1960 road trip the author had taken. The three key characters in the plot are Steinbeck, the dog, and the camper.
His dog is a French Poodle named Charley who is the perfect dog for Steinbeck. The pick up truck is a camper that he created, ahead of his time, and was named Rocinnte.
It seems likely that Steinbeck gave some thought to choosing the name, Rocinante, which was also the name of Don Quixote's horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante was not only Don Quixote's horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he was awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his level of skill.
Steinbeck wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he made his living writing about it. I felt like I was learning about the land and the people through his eyes. The dog was an important character in this story and seeing the land through Steinbeck’s eyes was the story.
I had never had a high regard for French Poodles but apparently I was wrong.
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” ..
“I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness.
“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.”
“I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger.”
“I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”
“We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat.”
The new book that has recently been released by George W. Bush is a wonderful book. Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors
I don't know how, as a reviewer, I could do this book justice it deserves? To find a former President and Commander in Chief who shows his heart this long after his term was over, and to do it in in such a touching way, is the real message.
He wrote about why he took up painting, and also why he focused on veterans. I just don't want to try to improve on what he said.
The book contains has his own paintings and then brief stories about those in each painting. He talks about their challenges. The faces are real, and it makes the book real. Buy the book. If you buy it online, click here to do so. If not here then just go to some of the many book review sites or pick it up locally.
His book matters.
Several years ago I had an opportunity to speak to a group as one of two planned speakers. The other speaker was Stephen Covey. Yes, it was a little intimidating and before I mention one of his books I will tell you a little about it. It was at a Singles Ward in our Church. He was the invited speaker and I was the assigned speaker from our Stake. I had no idea that I was going to precede him that day. I sat by this bald guy on the stand and wondered who he was at first.
At the time we were living in Salt Lake City and it was easy enough to pull a speaker from the Provo area if someone had a connection. I wish I could tell you what I talked about that day, or even what he talked about. I just don't remember but I do remember how I felt. This is sort of the flip side of Maya Angelo. Remember she said:
“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Well I could change that to read like this: At the end of 20 years you won't remember anything about what you said when you were the first speaker with a man like Stephen Covey, but you will remember how you felt. I remember clearly that no matter what I said as the first speaker that no one would want me to be taking up the time.
When I was in college I took a speech class. The last time we each presented a talk to the class was a big factor in our grades. I had a very good speech ready and knew I would do well. What I didn't know was that the speech before me was so good it blew everyone away. We were awestruck. When I got up I just gave my speech. I should have gotten an A. It was a good. When the instructor discussed my talk with the class afterwards he said the lesson to be learned was that when you follow a amazing speech the only chance you have is to diffuse the excitement. He said don't just jump in with your message but comment on how wonderful the other message was and let the excitement come down a little. I got a B because I didn't do that.
When I preceded Stephen Covey I did think of that. I figured the excitement was coming, so I shortened my talk some. I also mentioned that I was excited to hear from him. It seemed to work.
I wrote a new post in the Creativity Tab about "The Habit of Creativity". In that post I mentioned Stephen Coveys book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I do want to recommend that book. Those habits can help creativity, and also help us develop personal excellence.
Aristotle said “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. It is choice, not chance that determines your destiny.” It seems clear that excellence can be the end result of good habits.
The 7 habits are listed below. The book was first written in 1989 just a couple of years before my speaking event happened. These habits are still of value and I would recommend the book and these habits for your study.
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen The Saw
Adam Weiner's book, "How Bad Writing Destroyed The World" takes some of the thinking that has influenced the world for the last 75+ years and ties it to a surprising source.
The "Bad Writing" refers to a Russian author, Chernyshevsky. In 1863 he wrote a book "What is to Be Done". One chapter in the book, "The most atrocious work of Russian literature", sums it up.
Chernyshevsky socialist philosophy was called "rational egoism". How this philosophy became the foundation of Ayn Rand, the arch-capitalist, is the shared belief that "the rational pursuit of selfish gain on the part of each individual must give rise to the ideal form of society". The book also caught the attention Lenin, Dostoevsky, and Nabokov. How their philosophies (also?) meshed with the book was also also discussed in the book.
Ayn Rand's fled to the south where she went to the University of Petrograd. Years later she came to the United States.
She is best known for her book "Atlas Shrugged" and "Fountainhead". Capitalism, limited government, the individual, the free market, and eventually trickle down economics, were her areas of focus.
Her book "Atlas Shrugged" was reviewed by Whittaker Chambers who, with William Buckley, were the other well known conservatives of the last century. When Chambers said of her book that it was a "fairy tale" their relationships ended. (I think he was right)
In other writings Rand said of herself that she was the smartest philosopher the world had ever had, except Aristotle. She also said that with a free market that, the rich get richer and the poor are hurt sometimes, but then "they deserve it". For her the free market rewarded brains. She thought people would naturally do the right think in a free market, because self interest meant people would protect their reputation.
A early disciple of her's was Alan Greenspan. He would later say he knew economics but didn't know why people acted the way they did. He felt Ayn Rand had helped him with that.
By the time he served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 he was very much in her influence. After the banks crashed in 2008 the congress called him in and asked him why he had reduced all the regulation that was in place that seemed to have caused the crash? He said he had made a mistake. He said he knew economics but didn't understand people, and felt that the free market would cause people to do the right thing for the sake of their reputation. He misjudged greed, and admitted it.
The book is interesting, relevant, and worth reading.
A trapper found a chunk of gold, and in six days Confusion, a new gold-mining boom town near todays Ely, Nevada, appeared where there had been nothing for thousands of years. New discoveries always attracted honest men who came to work the mines, but along with them came thieves, gamblers and outlaws. In just a few days several thousand men and some women came.
Dick Felton was committed to digging his fortune out of a muddy hillside but the town itself was his biggest challenge. Matt Coburn found himself in the new town and his reputation for being a hardened realist and a man that had cleaned up tough towns before had followed him. The town lacked law and order and the mines themselves became the target of a violent plot. Matt Coburn wanted no part of Confusion because too many of his enemies knew he was there, but he found himself with only one way out with honor, but it could cost him his life.
On one side are those who understand only brute force. On the other are men who want law and order but are ready to use a noose to achieve their ends. Matt Coburn and Dick Felton are the only thing separating these two sides, outnumbered and outgunned, they can’t afford to be outmaneuvered. For as the two unlikely allies confront corruption, betrayal, and murder to tame a town where the discovery of gold can mean either the fortune of a lifetime or a sentence of death, they realize that any move could be their last.
Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton came out in 2013. It was the next step for a blog that had been started in 2010. Currently the blog, including social media, has almost 25 million followers.
The appeal of the book was of course the quality of the photography, but it also was the real interest in the people in the pictures. People wanted to know more about their lives. Brandon must have gotten a lot of feedback telling him that and that lead to the most recent version, Humans of New York, Stories. The key thing is that stories telling more about the lives of the people were added.
We want to know more about each other and that has come up in many of this blog's posts. My very first post on this blog talked about experiences I had with a group of men listening regularly to their life stories. We grew closer together and we saw our own lives differently. The success of Humans of New York and our interest in personal stories points to the rise of the the literary genre of Memoirs.
This blog contains a lot of pictures in the various tab sections. This is because the visual images take you out of where you are, and stimulate thoughts, so that you can then connect with the images.
The author/editor, Meredith Maran, put together a book on the subject of life stories and memoirs; her approach is a good next step looking into why this is so interesting.
“Why we Write About Ourselves, Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and others) in the name of Literature.
She wrote the introduction and provided comments in the book. She presented twenty successful and interesting authors thoughts on "why they wrote works of memoir". She compared this to the age-old tradition of oral history as well as their strong popularity.
I can relate to the idea of learning life stories through oral histories. My father told me stories of all our ancestors, as he recalled them. Great Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and more. He told their stories and I should add that he did it over and over again. I often thought that I might just tell him, “Dad, I heard that story before” but I never did. I'm glad I didn’t.
The twenty writers chosen by Merideth presented their thoughts in similar formats. They each answered the question of "why they wrote about themselves".
One author, Ishmael Beah, is well known for his memoir “A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Boy Soldier”. I remember when this was released, some critics said it wasn't authentic. It was about the author having been pushed into service in the army of his country, Sierra Leone, as a 12 year old boy. This author talked in Merideth's book about how that made him feel to be called a fake. He also addressed the question of why he wrote, saying he wrote his memoir to “prove his existence”.
Kate Christensen has written several books, and her comments about her memoir caught my attention, particularly when she discussed her divorce at about age 50, and then marrying a man 20 years younger than her. She said it worked out great and talked about it some. She said that over her years as a writer, journal-keeping had really helped her develop her skills. She also said that at a young age she became enthralled with autobiographies, biographies, and journals, especially of famous people, and that she wanted to explore the existence of others. (She wrote The Great Man and other books)
Kelly Corrigan, explained that “she had an insatiable hunger to know the intimate details of other people’s lives”. It seemed like that helped her to understand that her readers could want to know more about her. A lot of what she is about relates to her family. (She wrote Glitter and Glue: A Memoir and others)
Jesmyn Ward tells her story of being a poor black women growing up in rural Mississippi. It is a success story, even though her life had plenty of challenges. She started out as a fiction writer. Like so many good writers she had a purpose. She said “that there were other people out there living through (what she did) who were wondering why nothing of their experience was being reflected back to them in the media, TV, books, or anything.” They couldn’t see themselves in the outside world and she wanted her book to reach them. (See wrote Salvage the Bones: A Novel and others)
These books have similar implications. They show the interests we have in each other. The book “Why we Write About Ourselves" was well worth it.
Thank you to those new people who logged on to see the post on “Craft A Life You Love, by Amy Tangerine. The book had a good story and good message that has application to gaining insight into inspiration and creativity.
I also like the book “The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr”. It’s focus is on writing and a the love of literature but it still reveals a lot about what real passion for one’s craft or work is. Right at the beginning she says that “there is a place in hell for writers that quote themselves………….” It worries me! It was a great book. Her love of writing just shines through the message.
Brene` Brown is a well-known author. She comes across very polished as does her book. The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think Your're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Your Guide To A Wholehearted Life, by Brene` Brown.
The book is very well done. In some ways I would call it polished. Dr. Brown seems polished too. It put me off a little, at first.
I have read so many self-help books that they tend to blur together. Remembering her talking on "Ted talks", giving a flawless presentation, just reminded me that the subject of personal imperfections just doesn’t have solutions that can be presented with such polish.
Her book started out to quickly take her out of the world of research she had spent so many years in, and bring her to the same table with those many folks who had such personal struggles with self-doubt and identity. She needed and obtained common ground with the problems she discussed.
In the preface of her book she said:
“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a “Wholeharted life”: loving ourselves.”
She presented her own version of re-inventing herself, to tell her story, and this is the book that resulted from that. She suggested that love and compassion were the keys to the change but early in the book talked about the challenging reality of digging into those type of subjects.
I liked her finding and comment that we only can love others to the degree that we love ourselves.
I thought this finding was interesting in that it verifies how insightful many of the scriptures are. Both the books of Matthew and Mark talk about the two greatest commandments. First, to love the Lord, and the second was, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Loving your neighbor, according to this advice, needs to follow having learned to love yourself first. This was an important part of Dr. Browns message, and her findings also.
I liked her comments on how we define our self. She observed that people struggle with the question often asked, “What do you do”? She said offering a simple answer just for the sake of the one asking it, was and is, unfair. Her approach of instead saying “How much time do you have?” was great.
I also liked the idea of offering a series of answers since we are all somewhat complicated. If it were me answering I might say that I am a Thinker/Reader/Writer/Entrepreneur/Business Owner/Business Executive/Lover of a good movie/the Utah Jazz/ and a night out. This answer works for me.
Reading her book softened the perception I had of Brene` Brown. Her insight was real and based on hard work on her part.
I don’t think there is any one book on self-improvement that I would say is the solution. She talked about her point in time when her imperfections forced her to look in the mirror. The right book might do that for you. If it is the right 20th book that is ok too.
Click on the link. Go to Amazon and buy her book. Check out our Books Tab and our Arts and Creativity Tab
Does loving what you do attract creativity? Does it feed your soul?
In the book, "A Life You Love by Amy Tangerine", the book starts out discussing how to “craft a life and soul that you love”. Amy asks “what is it that we love?” She then presents this quote from Howard Thurman, an influential African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive.”Amy’s makes you feel her love for her craft and it is a very good book.
Thoughts on Creativity
Emotions and feelings fuel action and they are discussed as tools to break through to the subconscious. The conclusion is obvious that we need to find ways to think good thoughts and have good feelings.
Leonardo da Vinci said that artists are "links in a chain”. They build on what they find, and what they add becomes something that the next artist can continue to build on. "Creativity" is what is added.
Connected Life Events flow from books,from your creativity and the creativity of others.
William F. Buckley Jr. died in 2008, but a new book has been just released, "A Torch Kept Lit", put together by James Rosen, his editor over many years.
It has 50 eulogies that Buckley had wrote. They are presented in 3 main categories. Close friends and family, successful people in general, and then those he didn't like.
I found it particularly interesting to read some of those from the "not liked" group".
His life long support for his own Catholic Faith never changed and is impressive. He often expressed his love for the religion. So many intellectuals are quick to tell you that they are not "believers". It seems to be a badge of honor for them.
The eulogy on Ayn Rand that was reprinted in his new book and is one from his not liked category. He said that the first time he met Ayn Rand she came up to him at a party and asked him why someone as intelligent as he was believed in God.
He was put off by that but then he mentioned that she also said of herself that "she was the 2nd most influential philosopher next to Aristotle".
She is known for a couple of books which I will mention, Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead.
Buckley mentioned a couple of her quotes and they seem like good ones to go on her tombstone, in my opinion.
She said: "Greed is Good, Compassion is Bad". She added: "Capitalism rewards the rich (good) and punishes the poor (even better, cause they deserve it)".
(Wow, her books won't be on my recommended reading list)