Here it is... the book thread!

Started by scatcat, November 30, 2007, 03:55:17

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SueC



The other day I was at the local rubbish tip, where we go every 2-3 months to drop off a feed bag of recycling and the little landfill waste we produce (half a bag to a bag and that's only because I'm currently getting rid of old polybraid that can't be re-used in our fencing and no, I'm not buying any more, I'll favour plain wire from now, which does require some fence modifications to do).

Aside: If you're wondering how we produce so little recycling and rubbish - about a quarter in two to three months of the capacity local suburban dwellers are given in their waste and recycling bins every week - it's because we compost all organic material (BTW including human excrement via compost toilets), try to avoid buying excessively packaged goods, avoid packaged foods, grow much of our own F&V (and I rinse and reuse the bags we freeze surplus produce in), and we've really cut down waste from meat trays by producing our own meat and packing it in sturdy plastic bags which we wash out, hang up to dry and then put in the soft plastics recycling we drop off to a Replas collection point to be made into usable items like garden benches (and did you know you can wash and re-use cling wrap many times, and when it tears you can wash and dry it and put it in the soft plastics recycling).

If you don't produce your own meat you can save money and support high environmental and welfare standards by going to a local butcher who offers that choice and buying bulk packs of meat you ask them only to pack in bags, no trays, then you can wash and send the bags off to Replas and not have landfill waste from that stream.

Other things that have really reduced our waste output is to buy milk directly from someone with a milking cow so we can keep using the same containers while enjoying fresh milk and paying a fair price to the cow owner without the middle man taking a bigger cut (we pay them the same as we'd pay in a supermarket because we want to support local family-owned farming), and we've stopped buying bottled fruit juices and instead juice oranges ourselves and compost the waste (you won't want to buy commercial juices if you look at how they add "flavour packs" and colours etc and how many companies source their fruit, trust me - you'll want to support your local fruit growers instead), and I'm finally successful enough with my backyard tomato growing to be able to get through the whole year without buying any tinned tomatoes or bottled puree. Grow your own = fresher produce and less packaging, and what you can't grow yourself you can buy off a local grower.

Plus I just heard the average Australian now buys 27kg of clothes a year and we certainly don't do that, and never have done. As a professional I bought well-made classic outfits (some from op shop) instead of disposable fashionable items and some of those lasted me 20 years and still looked great. I've never thrown out clothes that weren't worn out, and jeans and T-shirts that looked past it I wore hiking, in the garden and around the farm until they wore out, and then used as rags, scarecrow stuffing etc (cotton and other natural materials also burn well and safely should you have a wood fire for home heating - or you can make rag rugs etc). Some of my old classic outfits I've passed on to friends when we moved to our smallholding, and they are in turn getting a lot of wear and enjoyment out of those.

We're nowhere near the not-producing-waste top level though - that's people like this:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/06/zero-waste-warriors-meet-the-people-whose-household-rubbish-fits-in-a-jam-jar

Of course, if everyone just halved their waste it would have a far higher impact than if a few people go to incredible lengths to produce just a jam jar of waste a year (which is not to take anything away from those people, well done, just to say that you can make a good start by aiming to halve the rubbish you produce).

But I digress. At the tip I look through the "looking for a good home" section our lovely tip worker curates, and found some plastic netting that will come in handy for supporting the peas in my garden, as well as the book pictured above. I said, "That looks like I could learn from it!" and our tip man and I had a good laugh.

I've started reading this book and now have a theory as to how it ended up at the tip, even though it was in excellent condition and recent, and could have gone to a second-hand bookstore. My theory may betray significant streaks of cynicism and misanthropy, so beware, but here it is anyway: I can picture one of the local Neanderthals (of which we have a few - this is conspiracy theory country, and we were amongst the very few people in our neighbourhood to vote for marriage equality) picking up this book just based on this cover.

You know the type: "Ugga ugga, I like saying fvck, I think I'm so cool for saying fvck, and I don't know about punctuation so I use fvck instead. I like saying fvck around old ladies just to scandalise them, hahaha ugga ugga. It's so fun to offend other people and this guy must be way cool to put Fvck in his book title."

So our Neanderthal takes this book home and is then utterly disappointed to find genuinely good advice in it that he could actually have benefitted from. Plus maybe the print was too small and the word count too high, because Neanderthals find reading painful and prefer getting the IV drip of commercial television to tell them how to think and what values to have.

My apologies to the original Neanderthals who lived a long time ago, and were far more resourceful and intelligent than the people upon whom we now bestow this title metaphorically.

It seems to me that The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fvck was written by someone who had an epiphany about the BS of the dominant values in the West as an adult, and is now seeking to educate other adults who have not yet had this epiphany. I think the book contains good advice for people who are just going along with the shitty external values proffered by our mainstream culture, instead of determining their own. There's many people like that - it's a "wake up" to them. But those of us who have always been "outside" and thought independently have picked our own values and terms since we were teenagers regardless of peers and culture.

There's some entertaining anecdotes in this book, like did you know the guitarist of Megadeth was kicked out of his first band when they'd just scored a recording contract and spent his whole subsequent professional life trying to get revenge by being more successful than that band. And while he became successful, unfortunately (or karmically?) for him, his first band was Metallica, and because he defined success by being more successful commercially than his first band, he never really got to enjoy his own success (and there's karma for you). Megadeth actually sounds like senseless revenge music to me (and it appears there's a vast market for that) while Metallica have good moments (I'm not a metal fan, can you tell?) - so that was an interesting snippet to come across. :-D

On the whole though, long-time independent thinkers are going to find this book a bit B-grade and some of the advice in it flawed, and a lot of assertions not properly thought through, e.g. the way you feel after being kicked out of your band or other social grouping isn't necessarily self-pity - it's natural to be in shock and to grieve and to want to make sense of it. For a far superior treatment of that situation, read Haruki Murakami's wonderful novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.



I'd suggest  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fvck is worth a quick read - you'll probably know most of what the author is trying to tell you already (since you're reading this on a Cure forum :P), and there's some fun stories in it - and then you can pass it on to someone who's a bit more mainstream and in greater need of basic advice on what's wrong with the mainstream way of thinking and doing things.

Here's a nice quote from this text which might easily go into one of our music discussions - why is it important for musicians to make songs which acknowledge that pain, evil and unfairness are a real aspect of life and that it's OK to grieve, and not just to write "glossies" - indeed if you ask me, the "glossies" I could most do without, I like the acknowledgement songs of both darkness and light best of all because they're looking at both the down sides of life and the truly best sides of life honestly and unblinkingly, not just offering candy and distraction...

Quote from: Mark MansonThen there are those who measure their lives by the ability to be positive about, well, pretty much everything. Lost your job? Great! That's an opportunity to explore your passions. Husband cheated on you with your sister? Well, at least you're learning what you really mean to the people around you. Child dying of throat cancer? At least you don't have to pay for college anymore!

While there is something to be said for "staying on the sunny side of life" the truth is, sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.

Denying negative emotions leads to experiencing deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and to emotional dysfunction. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life's problems.
SueC is time travelling

SueC



Just finished Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects - excellent debut, really well observed, to the point of being physically disturbing. Basically, a young reporter is sent from Chicago to her hometown in Missouri to investigate an apparent child serial killing there. Camille hasn't been home in eight years and when you meet her dysfunctional family you'll understand why. In her mother you'll meet the pillar-of-the-community narcissist who is a nightmare to have as a parent but always manages to publicly be seen as the devoted mother of difficult children. Quite a trick, not infrequently performed - and since I grew up in a dysfunctional family, I saw the general formula firsthand.

So Camille deals with the fallout of not having been seen or loved as a child, while being viewed as spoilt and difficult through her mother's poor-me, ungrateful-child propaganda. There's a sickly younger sister who died in the back story and I immediately thought, "Could well be Munchhausen's by proxy," and so it turned out. In the present day there's a 13-year-old sociopathic half-sister. The protagonist doesn't "label" this kind of thing - most people don't - but if you've grown up anything like this, and done your background research in consequence, you'll get to that point eventually. The most useful thing when dealing with narcissists and sociopaths is knowing that's what it is - but Camille is still second-guessing herself, and still significantly susceptible to the emotional BS.

Mother and young daughter were my equal prime suspects from the go-get in consequence - based on narcissism/sociopathy. Sure, they weren't the only warped people in the little community, and were off most people's radar for the mysterious child killings in the town - but both struck me as eminently capable of it, and I could see how either of them could have dealt with the practical problem of separating and killing the victims, even as most of the small town thought the murderer had to be a man.

So which one was it? The protagonist got into hair-raising situations - to an observer with that perspective - with both of them, which again showed me how easy the child killings would have been for either of them. Meanwhile, we see a social tableau of systemic dysfunction - a small town where the wealthy care for little besides their status and being "higher-up" than the working folk - a distinction that repeats generation after generation, and begins in pre-school. These people live shallow, self-absorbed lives that do actual damage to the have-nots in the community (and the planet in general) - while those lower on the totem pole scrabble to make a living, and their labour enriches the wealthy more than it does them.

The pig factory farming backdrop is gruesome - I already don't like intensive animal production (I say that as a free-range producer) for all sorts of good reasons pertaining to environmental impact and animal welfare. Some of the practices described I'm pretty sure aren't legal in Australia, but wouldn't surprise me in the US, where the right to make an almighty dollar seems to be seen as holier than any other principle. Factory pigs have about the same living standards as battery chickens - or barn chickens, if they're lucky - meaning, they're never allowed to live anything resembling a normal life for a social animal. It's pitiful. Not living a long life is one thing, but never actually living a proper life is quite another.

In the book this serves to draw interesting parallels to the way we treat each other, as well. How much do we stand by and accept as "normal"? Or do we challenge the system, and face the personal consequences?

For me, doing the latter has been impossible not to do from the go-get. Maybe because I've seen the absurdity, injustice and cruelty in society from little, even when it's presented as normal and laudable. I could never not see it, so I never had to wake up to the fact that there are huge problems with human "standard mode" in our society and systems. Possibly it was made easier by never benefitting particularly from these, compared to some people. There was less to give up that way... but still so much that needed giving up, and it takes a lifetime apparently... Also, I had some excellent people in my life along the way, which helped hugely (some of those, I only knew by their work, but even that can make so much difference).

A book to make you think, and squirm, in equal measure.
SueC is time travelling

SueC

After an initial random flick-through when I first got it over a year ago, I've been properly reading Mike Scott's autobiography Adventures of a Waterboy in the normal front-to-back manner. I'm up to the bit that recounts the recording of This Is The Sea and its aftermath and have enjoyed the read so far. Mike Scott writes excellent prose, reflecting extensive reading as well as listening to music in which lyrics actually matter - the best prose I've read by a rock'n'roller, if occasionally patchy - though that's a natural consequence of the breadth of subject matter which is part of what makes this bio interesting.

It's not just, "I did this, I did that, he said this, she said that" but little asides about what it's like to live in certain places, deft character sketches, the politics of the music industry, love affairs gone wrong, all sorts of commentary. Dry stuff like the logistics of touring clearly isn't going to bring forth soaring verbal flights, but talking about his favourite stuff is - and there's a lot of that.



The thing I like the best about this autobiography is that Mike Scott is largely grounded, even as he recounts some cringeworthy anecdotes of 20-something learning experiences. We've all had these; I respect that he's so honest about this, instead of editing it out or glossing it over. He wrote this bio 40+ and it's interesting to read as a 40+ and compare notes.

The Waterboys were one of my favourite bands growing up and remain so, but I'd never really read any interviews, feature articles etc, so this was the first solid printed thing related to Mike Scott and his group that I've immersed myself in. As a 40+ looking at a 40+ person's recount, I had to laugh: At 15 you're listening to the lyrics going, "Oh, I want to be that articulate and deep-thinking when I'm 25!" and then at 40+ you're looking at this autobiography going, "OMG, he was naive and had shipwrecks at 25, same as I did!"  :lol:

With me it's pretty obvious why that happened given my dysfunctional upbringing and all the corresponding baggage, most of which you don't even know you have and takes a fair bit of detective work to unravel. But as far as I know, Mike Scott didn't grow up in a violent, manipulative, distorting refrigerator household that never sorted out its shiitake or made peace in any meaningful way. He seems at any rate on good terms with his mother (although people aren't always frank in public about that kind of thing for various reasons) - but the father had deserted the family in Scott's childhood.

Almost everyone has something like that to grapple with, some hollow place that makes life difficult especially in early adulthood. However, compost can be used for growing flowers, even while you're still having blind spots and shipwrecks, and people can come out of things like this with a lot of compassion for others and a clearsightedness they'd not otherwise have acquired. The mind has that in common with muscles - if you don't use them for difficult things they kind of turn into custard.

The "Kate Lovecraft" story in Mike Scott's autobiography is worth reading as a prototype dysfunctional romantic relationship not uncommon in early adulthood - and I think her name must have been changed or she would likely have sued his ass off for printing the story, given the character traits and incidents related. And, it's not the last cringeworthy romance related either - and that's how it often goes in real life anyway.

So how can someone write such amazing lyrics at 25 and still get sucked into a manipulative romantic relationship? The same way you can write excellent scientific literature at 25 or dance a beautiful ballet at 25 or discover a new mathematical theorem at 25 and still end up with personal shipwrecks. The same way marriage guidance counsellors themselves don't necessarily have glowing, trouble-free marriages. Because intellect and emotion are two different beasts and intellect is far more straightforward to work with than the subconscious. So you can sound intelligent and wise and deep and still struggle with interpersonal stuff. Also because it's always easier to deal with the things that are one step removed from your own life, than with your own stuff.

Another thing I like about this autobiography is that the person writing it mostly has his head screwed on straight about priorities in life. He doesn't give a damn about fame and wealth and status, he doesn't schmooze and play the game and constantly name-drop in self-important ways. He relates anecdotes about meeting his musical heroes that mostly don't make me cringe; he respects artists for their work rather than for their status etc.

I particularly liked this little snippet about going to Dublin, on the invite of a fiddler who's on quite a few of the albums in my personal collection:

QuoteI flew into Ireland on the fourth of January 1986 to visit Steve Wickham for a weeklong trip that turned into six years...In Steve's basement flat I was introduced to his wife Barbara and shown the guest room, a tiny chamber with a single narrow bed and a window onto a grimy backyard. Then we went out into the soul of a Dublin Saturday night...

Finding myself in Dublin was like going through the back of a Narnian wardrobe. I was in a convivial parallel universe, led by The Fellow Who Fiddles down colourful streets into dusty cafes where roguish men with scarves and glass eyes said things to each other like, 'I hear you're playing chess for money these days.' Or archaic newsagents' shops with fifties decor, which sold Irish cigarettes - Major and Carroll's Number One - and whose magazine shelves contained little songbooks with titles like A Collection Of Sea Ballads or Sing An Irish Song. I gathered this strange new world around me like a fog, quickly realising Dublin afforded me space and distance. The wilful voices of agents, managers and record companies were out of hearing. And after the shock of discovering, as I believed, that Kate Lovecraft could read my mind, Dublin was a safe haven. Even if Kate really was psychic the Irish cultural fabric was a hazy, mysterious domain of which she had no experience and couldn't penetrate. She didn't know where I was, didn't have my phone number or a mental image of my whereabouts. I felt secure.

I set about enjoying myself, regrouping my band and planning my next assault on the citadel of rock'n'roll. I wrote to Gary Kurfirst (American agent), split with him, hired a solicitor-cum-big-brother...and found myself a flat, a bright little cave in a leafy lane a mile from the centre of town. And that would be the end of one part of the story, and the beginning of all the others...

There's a few things in this book that raise the eyebrows of people not in Mike Scott's particular branch of human endeavour - like the apparently inevitable 1980s after-gig cocaine. Clearly a different work set to my own - as a science educator, my idea of fun shenanigans was to drink neon-orange fizzy Berocca straight from a laboratory beaker at a department meeting, as a layered metaphor. And my Berocca was the plain basic B-and-C vitamin type, not the American stuff with added caffeine and guarana. Trust me on two counts:  1) Berocca looks much more at home in laboratory glassware than in an ordinary drinking vessel, and 2) typical department meetings make extra B-and-C necessary for your health.  :1f635:

In Ireland, brown recreational liquids probably superseded white recreational powders, but you'd have to ask Mike Scott, and anyway, that's inconsequential overall; as are the occasional assumptions that appear to be made about certain situations being related (...you don't know for sure what's going on in someone else's head and heart unless they tell you, and are honest, including with themselves). I'm much enjoying this bio for its language, stories, settings and illumination of what it's like to be on the other side of music I've loved since I was in school, and think it's one of the more readable rock autobiographies out.

And isn't this true...

SueC is time travelling

MeltingMan

"Buy from us, not from Amazon," said a bookseller. A short time ago I smiled tiredly at this sentence. In the meantime I scratch my head, especially when it comes to messages like this:

Quote from: AmazonThis article is not available in your postcode area. Please choose a different delivery location.

Amazon thinks I trade books (!). Instead, I collect foreign-language specialist books. It is quite possible that I (and a few others) belong to a species that is in extinction. These books have to be ordered anyway. I can't constantly question my buying behavior then. I would like this time to read.
« Hors du temps » devise mystique, exagérée,
seulement décorative; « hors de son temps »
excellente formule qui exprime non la comba-
tivité, mais le désintéressement de l'éphéme-
ride.

(La science de l'amour, Éd. 1911, p. 296.)

Ulrich

I've been reading the aforementioned Garry Disher book "Barrier Highway" and enjoyed it so far.  :cool

Quote from: MeltingMan on August 15, 2021, 10:25:50Amazon thinks I trade books (!).

Strange! How can you convince them of your collector-status?  :?
It doesn't touch me at all...

MeltingMan

Quote from: Ulrich on August 15, 2021, 14:51:51Strange! How can you convince them of your collector-status?  :?

Good question. Based on my purchases, Amazon Business thought I was a book dealer and they made me an offer. However, I deleted the mail immediately. I am currently reading L'art idéaliste et mystique from 1894, more precisely a facsimile of the book. Slightly lighter food for the (late) summer.😉 
« Hors du temps » devise mystique, exagérée,
seulement décorative; « hors de son temps »
excellente formule qui exprime non la comba-
tivité, mais le désintéressement de l'éphéme-
ride.

(La science de l'amour, Éd. 1911, p. 296.)

Ulrich

Quote from: MeltingMan on August 15, 2021, 17:35:33Amazon Business thought I was a book dealer and they made me an offer.

Ah well, an offer is okay, I guess. (Better than a threat...)  :-D
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on August 15, 2021, 14:51:51I've been reading the aforementioned Garry Disher book "Barrier Highway" and enjoyed it so far.  :cool

I know I complained about the first one in the series, but I've thoroughly enjoyed it from the second book on and I think he's getting better every book. I'm reading Consolation which may be the same book you're reading, just with the Australian title - and I think it's magnificently written. Having skim-read the one particular sub-plot I didn't want to read in dribs and drabs, I'm now back to reading the book in proper order, slowly, and savouring the wordings, descriptions and astute observations about people and society!  :cool

Also I'm very fond of the main characters.


Sorry to hear about those troubles, @MeltingMan. Amazon are pretty evil anyway.

SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on August 16, 2021, 13:16:31I'm reading Consolation which may be the same book you're reading...

Indeed that is the original title (it is mentioned in my book), no idea why they changed it (probably "marketing", because it sounds similar to "Bitter Wash Road")!
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

@Ulrich, have you figured out who's stealing the underwear yet? I'm pleased to say the character I suspected from the moment I first "met" him indeed turned out to be the culprit!  :cool
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on August 17, 2021, 11:02:48have you figured out who's stealing the underwear...

Well I didn't.  :pensive:
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

You mean it wasn't who you thought it was?

One of the spin-offs of growing up in a vastly dysfunctional household is that you end up collecting a lot of data that's useful for the finding of the culprits in crime novels.  :-D

SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on August 17, 2021, 11:54:36You mean it wasn't who you thought it was?

No, I didn't have any "suspects" in mind at all.  :1f636:
(I guess I should not start writing crime novels...)
It doesn't touch me at all...

SueC

Maybe you can just be grateful for your relatively stable, positive childhood!  :winking_tongue  :smth023

I don't think it necessarily diminishes the experience of reading crime stuff if you don't pick the culprit. But what diminishes the experience for me is if an author introduces us to five different suspects, writes in detail about each of them, and then you find out it was the postman, who was only mentioned in passing!  :1f635:
SueC is time travelling

SueC

Well, I've just finished the proper read-through of Consolation, and can't recommend it highly enough to anyone else - and thanks @Ulrich for getting me onto this author.  :smth023

I know I had some issues with the first one in the series, but from the second there was no more irritation for me - just the pure enjoyment of reading intelligent, thought-provoking fiction with a huge sense of place, main characters you can thoroughly care about, astute observations about the ubiquitous dark side of human nature and the almost inevitable corruption amongst those endowed with power and prestige in the "upper echelons" of institutions and general society: Politicians, councils, boards, police, banks, schools, churches, corporations, prestigious businesses etc etc.

As a person living in rural Australia, I find his observations about Australian rural life very on the money and nowhere near caricature. Garry Disher has in my view constructed one of the most realistic parallel universes you'll ever likely encounter in fiction - it's so grounded, so believable, so aware of good and bad and in-between. This is crime fiction but doesn't do cardboard heroes and villains. There's a deep humanity to this author's writing, and a keen understanding of landscape, rural life and Australian history.

I thought Consolation was particularly remarkable for breaking the usual mould of crime fiction by not actually having a distinct "major case" with perhaps a few minor ones on the side. This was a quite organic story about various problems and crimes needing to be solved at this particular time in Constable Hirschhausen's universe, who is, after all, a village policeman from a one-person back-of-beyond station (who got kicked out of being an urban detective years ago because he spoke out against corruption).

Some of the problems are unrelated, some are connected; and it's the shining of light on all of this, the gradual solving of various puzzles, and above all, the way Hirschhausen goes about solving these various problems, that make this series very different from what my other favourite crime authors construct. You ask yourself, "Wow, what would I do in this situation?" as the protagonist goes about his job, and also as he confronts various issues in his personal life.

In the midst of the often depressing realities of human society and the human heart, so well conveyed in Garry Disher's series, there's this lighted candle in one ordinary, flawed person's determination to do the best he can by his own conscience, and the people around him. I guess you could say that it's the consolation of living in the world we live in, that people like this do exist, usually in obscurity, thanked by few, and often loathed and targeted by those who live with less personal integrity. And there's the lesson that it's this ordinary, flawed, unsung heroism that changes things for the better - there is no Superman who's going to fix it all, it's up to each of us to live with integrity and try to leave our own circle a better place than we found it.

Garry Disher "gets" the Australian landscape just as well as celebrated Australian literary author Tim Winton does - but it's my view that Winton rarely constructed particularly believable characters in his adult-audience books - while Disher excels at this. Yet Winton is on the school curriculum - because, as we all know, "mere crime" can't possibly be literary, oh no...  :P
SueC is time travelling