Monday, February 12, 2007

we had thunk to go out yesterday, maybe a museum, but a slow start to the day (none of us is at physical acme right now) precluded that, so we visited Barnes and Noble. give 'em credit, they've made the bookstore an event. the place was packed. the parking lot, fairly large and without the piles of snow you might find other years, was a system of carefully shifting cars in and out. I must say, I get excited just going to the library, there's always something that will interest and surprise me. this B&N is large, a 2 story, castle-like structure. at the entrance stood someone proffering samples of cocoa and some sweet thing that she daubed with whipped cream. I passed. a toddler had his spoon of sweet, which he immediately dropped. and cried forlornly. so the father revisited the cornucopia. we roamed around per usual. I now make a habit of looking at mountaineering books. particularly Everest. I think I've now read 6 books with accounts of the 1996 disaster on the mountain. can't get enough. one book was titled something like Greatest Mountain Disasters of all Time. it's not all like that, the appeal, but certes it plays in. Beth got a new book on Sir John Franklin's tragic polar ordeal. Franklin led an expedition in 1840 something to the Arctic, seeking a passage thru. all were lost, tho the last didn't die till some 6 years after they got trapped up there. the interesting discovery is that one cause of troubles was the LEAD-lined cans of food that the expedition depended on. there's exactly a zillion history and biography books I'd grab, which is hard to focus. I depend on Beth to select. I owe a lot to Beth. I never read psychology or philosophy, not usefully, till I met her. she encouraged my interest. and while I'm going well I dunno over a book, she says get it. I did quickly grab the new translation of Tibetan Book of the Dead, 1st complete translation into English, which the Dalai Lama ordered done. when Beth's father died in 2003, we felt we had to do something, tho he requested no service. at the gravesite, on a beautiful autumn morning at an incredibly beautiful hillside in West Virginia, Beth and I read from the Thurman translation. just us, Beth's uncle, the funeral director and three very local looking gravediggers were there. it was a moving experience. anyway, I look forward to that. Beth urged me to get this other Tibetan Buddhist work, I don't even remember the name of it. translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, who has done translations for the Dalai Lama. I flinched because it was so long and recondite looking. yet got it. Beth got a book by the Dalai Lama, about the meeting of Buddhism and science. it is a poor imagination that cannot (for example) comprise creationist myths and Big Bang simultaneously. I don't believe they cancel each other. the DL has the wisdom to accept truth, truth in the sense of things explained within a system. his moral strictures centre on empathy and compassion rather than dogma. science, of course, can be as rigidly fundamental as any religion. the DL's stancce is very illuminating and compelling. we got a couple of books on US history, one pre-Revolution, which both Beth and I are fascinated by. the poetry section, by and large, feh. the only possible this time was a New Directions collection of Rosmarie Waldrop. no offense but she's kinda dry, and if I got poetry yesterday, it would have to be wet. I like poetry because it is adventurous, yet B&N's selection of sameness just feels oppressive. phooey to 80 page books and serious author photos and Creative Writing Program imprimatur. those boring people on the Poetics list are promulgating these weak little publishing entities. let's make them stop. anyhoo, got a few minutes now to read...
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