Archive for the 'Books & Reading' Category

Three Short Essays

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I recently read Toby Tyrrell’s new book, On Gaia, which provoked me to write three short essays. The first is a review of the book, and the subsequent two are further ruminations inspired by this reading. Gaia Is Dead Long Live Gaia The Name of Gaia I feel well out of my depth here and […]

Epistle to the Ecotopians

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

I don’t often do this, but here are some words written by someone else. I guess I should add a few words of my own. I read Ecotopia in the late 80s. Written by Ernest Callenbach, it’s an imaginative novel that speculates on what would happen if the west coast of the United States seceded […]

Context Clues

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

What’s in an Acronym I work at an HBCU. That acronym is not recognized by my spellchecker, nor was it in my vocabulary until I came to work here. It stands for “Historically Black College or University,” a term which requires even more unpacking. In a nutshell, the story is this. Once upon a time […]

Absalom, Absalom!

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner My rating: 5 of 5 stars It took me a good long while, but I finally finished a book by William Faulkner. I’d read a few pages from The Sound and the Fury a few decades ago, gave up, and avoided him like pellagra ever since. It took me almost […]


Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Choice quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on Gilles Deleuze: Overlooking many important nuances, we can say that Deleuze’s basic notion is that in all realms of being intensive morphogenetic processes follow differential virtual multiplicities to produce localized and individuated actual substances with extensive properties. Simply put, the actualization of the virtual proceeds […]

Third Chimpanzee

Friday, March 18th, 2011

What with all the bedrest I’ve been catching up on my reading. The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution & Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond My rating: 5 of 5 stars I first became aware of Jared Diamond while having lunch in Tampere in the summer of 2001. I was there in Finland for […]

Midnight Robber

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I like science fiction. I like Caribbean cultures. But I’ve never looked for the intersection of the two. Actually, now I think about it, I have encountered lots of science fictional themes in reggae lyrics. But certainly I never thought to look for a […]

Reading Frenzy

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I seem to be reading more these days. I’m a slow reader, but nevertheless I persevere. I’m simultaneously working my way through no less than four books right now. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I’m reading this for the aptly-named Difficult Book Club, which was formed here at the University as part of our Read […]


Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Item #1: According to Editorial Anonymous (a blog of a children’s book editor): Trend Watch: Persephone Is the New Zombies/Vampires Well, I certainly wouldn’t have predicted this one. We’re seeing a lot of YA Persephone retellings. Maybe this is in part due to the greek myth renaissance effected by Mr. Riordan? I don’t know. Maybe […]

Don’t Fear the Epigraph

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Throughout my childhood my family made regular visits to my grandfather’s place, a doublewide trailer at the dead end of a long rural road, secluded acreage at the edge of Pottawatomi State Park in scenic Door County, Wisconsin. On one visit, I excavated (from a drawer in a nightstand in a guest bedroom) a remaindered […]

We’re Number 15

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

My friend Anne, with whom I’ve been in a book club for nearly ten years now, alerted me to the fact that Central Connecticut State University has released their annual rankings of America’s Most Literate Cities. What especially intrigued Anne, and me, is that New Orleans is ranked #15 (out of 75). We were #17 […]

Best of 2010

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

It’s entirely ridiculous for me to offer up an annual “best of” list. I don’t keep up with the latest and greatest. I’d rather plunder the riches of the past than fetishize the new. Of the twenty or so books I read this past year, only one was published in 2010: The Heart of Higher […]


Monday, December 13th, 2010

A package arrived at the office Friday containing the latest edition of a psych textbook, hot off the presses. It’s Psychology Applied to Modern Life by Wayne Weiten, Dana S. Dunn and Elizabeth Yost Hammer. That’s right, my boss is one of the co-authors. We (meaning her staff) knew a little something about this book, […]

Celebrating Saturday, Morning and Night

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Saturday morning I was out early conducting a short tour of the Lafitte Corridor. I was skeptical about how many people would be up for a hike at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but pleasantly surprised when a dozen people showed up, plus a half dozen more who joined us in progress. We walked from […]

Dark Green Religion

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future by Bron Taylor My rating: 5 of 5 stars Here’s a rarity — an academic book that is also a page-turner, at least for me. I couldn’t put it down. This is a broad survey of an emergent global phenomenon which might be called earth worship […]

Connect the Dots

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Some people criticize the green movement for being almost like a religious faith. Others say the green movement has lost touch with its spiritual roots. Now Dark Green Religion by Bron Taylor has landed on my reading list. I’ll report back if I figure anything out.

Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I recently finished Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry by Arthur Zajonc. Here are a few brief notes. It’s rare for me to finish a book and immediately think I need to start over at the beginning and read it again. Yet that’s the case here. I found this book engaging and compelling yet increasingly challenging. I’m […]

Perils of Reading

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I wanted to write something here about how to enjoy a book, novels in particular. I’ve touched on this before, but I wanted to expand on that theme. It’s not enough to read for an hour or so before you go to bed. Read when you first wake up in the morning. Read at lunch […]

Air in the Paragraph Line #13

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

As if I didn’t have enough problems, Air in the Paragraph Line #13 recently landed in my lap. It was sent to me by a distant acquaintance with dubious motives. I consider it nothing less than an all-out assault on my mental health. I didn’t know quite what to make of this thing when it […]

Ten Years of Issa Online

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Dear Issa, Of all the projects I’ve worked on in a decade of such work at the University, one of the very first remains one of the very best. I’m talking of course about the website, Haiku of Kobayashi Issa. Through this project I learned plenty about scripting search queries and managing Japanese character encoding. […]