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Septober, Octember, Nowonder...

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WHERE did October go??  Two weeks since my last post, can't believe it.

Book-wise... I did finish The Art of Loving and need to write up my final post this weekend.  For a short book it was quite a journey, and thought-provoking - I'm grateful Cleo hosted it as a readalong!


Also in non-fiction land, I read Permanent Record, Edward Snowden's new autobiographical memoir.  I knew very little about him previously, and it actually blew me away.  It might be because I'm a millennial: I saw bits and pieces of my own life experience in his, and it was kind of surreal reading it in book form.  Of course it focuses on his path from dutiful employee to whistleblower, which was fascinating from a psychological and technological perspective.  Definitely recommended.

The one classic I read was Macbeth.  To be honest, I found it massively underwhelming, which is probably just me.  I may try to share some thoughts about it.

I am still reading Moby-Dick for Brona's readalong...and …

The Art of Loving - Questions on Chapters 2.2-2.3

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Previously: The Art of Loving - A Ramble on Chapters 1–2.1

This post will be rather more disjointed than my first one, as these sections left me with more questions than conclusions.  Bear with me!

As for the picture - especially in this part, I was having flashbacks to 12 Rules for Life, and anyone who found value in that book should probably read this one (and vice-versa).

Chapter 2.2, "Love Between a Parent and a Child" The big theme of this part was Fromm's definition of fatherly and motherly love.  He describes motherly love as unconditional, forgiving, and organic to the mother-child relationship - C. S. Lewis's "Gift-Love," in other words, with no limit.  Motherly love and validation of the child is present whether the child "deserves" it or not.  Fatherly love, by contrast, is rules-based and must be earned in order to be granted:
Since [Father's] love is conditioned, I can do something to acquire it, I can work for it; his love is not…

The Art of Loving - A Ramble on Chapters 1–2.1

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This month, Cleo is hosting a readalong of The Art of Loving (1956) by Erich Fromm and On Friendship by Cicero. It's a sequel to the Four Loves Readalong - which feels recent but was actually back in June(!!).  Fromm and C. S. Lewis were contemporaries (and Lewis's book was published just four years later), so it adds interest to see how their perspectives correspond or differ.  I'm also looking forward to Cicero, as I haven't read many ancient classics.

You can find the full schedule on Cleo's post.  I felt the need to break down my check-ins a little more, so this one will cover the first 1 1/3 chapters.

Chapter 1, "Is Love an Art?" Fromm opens with his short but pithy thesis - that love is not just a flurry of feelings, but an actual scientific art, like music or medicine, which must be learned and practiced.

He posits three interrelated societal problems.  First, culture is overly focused on the state of "being loved," particularly for supe…

Moby-Dick - Chapters I-XVIII - Quick Check-In

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Though dreadfully behind on Brona's readalong, I am still plugging away at this American tome and really savoring it.  This is my second time reading Moby-Dick, the first time being nearly a decade ago.  The familiar scenes and phrases are coming back to me like old friends.


The first 18 or so chapters cover Ishmael's land journey to his ship the Pequod, anchored at Nantucket, and meeting his unexpected, cannibal friend Queequeg.  Much has been written about the exploration of religion and culture that Melville covers in this introduction, where we see both conflict and communality between different characters, both on a broad scale and on a personal level.

What really gets at me this time is the range of emotions and "worlds," if you will, which Melville shows us.  You feel Ishmael's wanderlust in the first chapter, his mix of fear and humor on meeting Queequeg, and the gloomy aura of the church where Father Mapple preaches.  The whale bones which decorate the P…

Spellbound vs. Laura - Two creepy movies for October

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First, an apology/disclaimer... there WILL be classic literature reviews coming soon!!  I often watch movies/TV in batches, so this is one of those phases for me.  :)

Spellbound (1945)Spellbound is a twisted tale of the romance between an ambitious young doctor (Ingrid Bergman) and her unlikely boss (Gregory Peck).  The two work as psychoanalysts in the same mental health facility, and in spite of the office gossip, Constance finds herself falling in love for the first time.  Anthony, on the other hand, begins to show signs of mental distress, haunted by fears he cannot remember nor explain.  When Anthony becomes implicated in a crime, Constance - terrified of losing him - decides to apply all her knowledge on mental health to try to discern the truth from his scattered memories.


Laura (1944) Laura (Gene Tierney), a charismatic young businesswoman, is found dead in her apartment one morning, brutally shot in the face.  Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) arrives on the scene and b…

Ad Astra vs. Heart of Darkness - Movie review (spoiler free!)

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On Saturday, my brother and I went to see Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt.  This is a film that's been compared - by its director James Gray, no less - to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (one of my axes).  Being in the middle of a Conrad "renaissance" if you will, I felt it was perfect timing.  A couple of my coworkers had seen it already and liked it, so that was another reason I was interested in watching it.

Pitt plays Roy McBride, a young astronaut whose impeccable career is overshadowed by memories of his absent father Clifford and the much-nearer loss of Eve, the devoted wife he sidelined for his career and who's recently left him.  After a series of devastating electrical surges sweep across the solar system, Roy is tasked by U.S. Space Command to investigate the situation, which they believe could be linked to his dad's scientific research on Neptune.  Roy sets out to confront Clifford, embarking on a journey through space that is every bit as perilous as…